Yanks need a clean slate for 2014

a-rod-got-moneyPhilosophers called it a tabula rasa back when latin was the predominant language of the world. Fast forward to 2013, and it is the Yankees who need a tabula rasa, which directly translates to English as “blank slate.”

It would be impossible for the Yankees to start completely from scratch with A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, Ichiro, Derek Jeter and Vernon Wells all under contract next season. In addition, Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne appear likely to be found in the 2014 team picture. That’s 10 players out of the 25 man active roster.

I’m not a mathemetician but 15 players leaves a lot of wiggle room. The front office has it’s work cut out for them especially when you consider the possibility of having to replace the production three of the best players on this current team; Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte.

First, let’s look at the expiring contracts who are unlikely to be re-signed. Joba Chamberlain is all but gone. Phil Hughes appears unlikely to stay, as his value is much higher in a larger ballpark than it is to the Yankees. Mariano is retiring. Lyle Overbay is unlikely to be back, although Travis Hafner could return to take on the role he was meant to before all of the injuries, DH against right handed pitcher. The Yankees are also not showing much interest in re-signing Curtis Granderson.

A few qualifying offers later and the Yankees could find themselves with another draft in which they have three first round draft picks just like 2013 (or four if they fail to sign Aaron Judge).

The Yankees will definitely do their damndest to re-sign Robinson Cano, and they should because there is no one in the organization who can hold a candle to him offensively or defensively. Boone Logan is a wildcard, but there’s a good chance Cashman will look for cheaper alternatives. At this point I don’t think the Yankees have a choice but to make Cano an offer he cannot refuse.

David Phelps and Adam Warren have shown they can handle the big leagues, at the very least as relievers, and Ivan Nova will certainly compete for a rotation spot. Dellin Betances will get his chance in the bullpen, and he will either sink or swim. Austin Romine and Chris Stewart will be back, and JR Murphy and Cervelli will compete with the two for a spot on the roster.

In the infield, a lot depends on whether or not Cano returns and if a trade is made in the coming days. Assuming Cano departs, the Yankees will have a lot of work to do in the infield. David Adams, who currently owns a sub .200 average, is the most likely in house replacement. Jeter will obviously remain at shortstop assuming health. Teixeira will be back and healed from his surgery and manning first base. Who knows what will happen with A-Rod. If he does happen to get suspended for a year, or injured, or retires, hopefully the Yankees use that insurance money wisely. If not, then there’s not much in the way of help on the way from the minors, although you could play Adams at third and Corban Joseph at second.

The outfield will be interesting. With the way Zoilo Almonte has played he has a good shot to start somewhere. Ichiro, Brett Gardner, and Vernon Wells will all be back, and it will be up to Girardi and company to decide if they want to carry a fifth outfielder.

There will be four rotation spots up for grabs after this season assuming no free agent acquisitions or trades occur. It’s highly likely the Yankees will pursue some free agents, unless of course Hiroki Kuroda and/or Andy Pettitte wants to come back for another go around. Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Jose Ramirez will all be in the conversation for the starting pitching staff one way or the other.

With all of this uncertainty one thing is clear. The Yankees are a tough team to watch right now. They offer very little in the way of excitement, almost no power hitting, and even the pitching has been inconsistent lately. There just isn’t much incentive to tune in right now, unfortunately. That said the Yankees are in a position to make major changes in 2014.

The one positive to all of these one year contracts that Cashman has been dishing out is that next year, the Yankees get a fresh start. Hopefully he doesn’t wait until the last minute to make some free agent signings this time. The Yankees have a good amount of salary and a decent amount of roster flexibility next year, and it’s up to Cashman and Steinbrenner to turn that into a successful 2014. The wild card for that success could be whether or not the Yankees are willing to spend their insurance money even if it puts them over the $189 million threshold.

It’s not my money and it’s not my team, but I can guarantee that if the Yankees continue to put teams like this on the field, there will be low attendance at games and bad ratings on television year after year. If they’re not willing to spend the insurance money, I have serious doubts that they will be able to put a playoff contender on the field next season.

The Yankees have about as close to a blank slate to work with next season as one could imagine for a major league baseball team, and this will probably be the most important off season faced by the Yankees in recent memory. The last time they had an off season this important was 2008. Needless to say people would be happy if 2014 were remotely similar to 2009.

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12 Responses to Yanks need a clean slate for 2014

  1. Tanned Tom says:

    Start cleaning the slate now. 1) Trade Hafner now. He can't stay healthy and is hitting .235 against righties. We don't need that in 2014. 2) Trade Chamberlain now. The team has many options for middle relief. 3) Face the fact that Wells is a platoon player. He cannot hit righties. Inexplicably, Suzuki can't hit righties either. Trade one of them. 4) Trade Hughes now. There is no way he turns down a qualifying offer, so it's trade him and get something or keep him and get nothing for him. 5) Trade Overbay. he's been a nice pick up, but he's not in the picture for 2014 and probably has some trade value. 6) If you're truly serious about a fresh start trade Kuroda. His availability would set off a minor bidding war.

    • gcorcoran says:

      I'm not ready to give up on this season just yet. If they make a savvy trade and Jeter and Granderson come back as expected they could be right back in the hunt before you know it. That said I hate watching them right now.

      • Tanned Tom says:

        With the exception of Kuroda, none of these guys are making much of a contribution. Trading Hafner is not exactly abandoning the season. Trading Wells or Suzuki and replacing them with Almonte and Granderson is not giving up.
        Cashman is intent upon repatching the tire when it's clearly time to throw it away and get a new one. There is simply no way, when the team's problem is age and the inability to stay healthy, that the off season moves made any sense at all. Adding Youkilis (always injured), Hafner (ditto), Wells (nothing like the player he was before HIS wrist injury), Suzuki (40), and Overbay (in serious decline) just perpetuates the problem.
        Clean house.

        • gcorcoran says:

          Fair enough. I just don't see the Yankees getting much, if anything, in return for anyone except Kuroda, and I still don't think it's time to unload him.

  2. Triple A- Columbus says:

    This isn't fantasy baseball. Overbay and Hafner have no trade value. Who do you think would even accept a trade. The only guys with any value are possibly Hughes and Chamberlain. Furthermore why would they trade ichiro after just signing him last offseason. Same with Vernon wells.

    • Tanned Tom says:

      I disagree about Overbay and Hafner have no trade value. It might not be large, but it's not negligible. And a team that needs a 1Bman could do worse than Overbay. The reason you trade Suzuki and/or Wells is that they too have some trade value, and it would accelerate the rebuilding process. You don't rebuild be keeping 40 year old OFs.

      • Overbay and Hafner really have no trade value considering the month they just had. What could you really expect? You won't get even a decent prospect out of them, you probably can't get a reliever (and don't need one anyway), or even a bench player that will contribute. The best you could legitimately hope for at this point is a Casey McGehee type — a player who is about to be DFA'd anyway that you would basically be avoiding waivers to get.

        • Tanned Tom says:

          You're probably right. But when a club is in rebuild mode they should at least try to extract value out of every player. It will be minimal from Hafner, perhaps a bit more from Overbay (or perhaps not). The point is they won't be in NY in 2014 so try to move them now, open up roster spot and play the kids.

  3. If they are unwilling to go over $189 million next season and are still paying A-Rod and Teixeira, which they will be, I can't see next year's team being significantly better than this one. That is to point out that this team is not that terrible (overall) and they were winning back in April when just 3 more position players (Hafner, Youkilis, and Wells) were contributing. Just getting Granderson and Jeter back will be big. I think you are looking at another 85-90 win team next year though.

  4. Fred says:

    If you buy into the 189 million budget plan, this is pretty much what was supposed to happen. A team full of rookies and washed up veterans. That continues through next year as well, for better or for worse.

    The interesting parts for me are 1) can the Yankees continue to remain competitive despite hardly making any free agent signings and 2) will the floodgates actually open in the 2014-2015 offseason.

    If you had to pick 2 years to throw away, these are a couple of pretty good ones. You're wasting 2 years of Robbie Cano's prime along with 2 years of CC and Brett Gardner. Just about everyone else is either too old to rely on, still developing, or thoroughly expendable.

  5. Joe says:

    Why is it that we do not have any player in our minor league system that is major league ready? Baseball is becoming a young man's game. Other teams bring players up to the majors and they perform very well. Why not clean house with our player development organization?

    • The Yankees don't have a Puig or Harper, but they have gotten production from Ivan Nova (his 3rd year), David Phelps (his second), and Adam Warren (rookie). Preston Claiborne has also been great and Zoilo Almonte is off to a great start. So it's not like they have none. I know what you mean though. With so many young stars in the game, the Yankees have none. Maybe Pineda or Gary Sanchez can change that.