Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

October 11, 2005

Rebuilding the Imperfect Machine
by Larry Mahnken

So, they lost. I'm angry, because of how they lost -- had Crosby not run into Sheffield, I figure they probably would have won that game, had Torre pulled Mussina a little faster, acting like it was actually an elimination game and Anaheim actually had a bullpen that was capable of holding a 2-run lead, they might have won that game. But, I'll get over it. As I said earlier, I'm satisfied with what I got out of this season -- they had their first real pennant race since 1995, and that was enjoyable enough for me.

Still, it's a failure. Derek Jeter was upfront about that after the game, and the mere fact that they spent $200 million on this team makes it a fact. They failed.

There have been other high-paid failures, several of them from the Bronx. This was is the most disgraceful, because of the amount spent. For $200 million, you shouldn't have to struggle to make the playoffs, and you shouldn't be so brutally exposed in a way that everyone could see coming as the Yankees were. For $200 million, you shouldn't have holes. You should be solid everywhere, strong in some places, and generally carry and aura of inevitability. I'm not saying that would be a good thing, but that's how it should be, for $200 million.

They need to go at it again, and now it's a year too late. Last year, there was a young, talented centerfielder who could fill the position for the next seven years effectively, this year there's Johnny Damon.

But that's the past, now they've gotta do what they can.

There are several players leaving the team now, and some who could leave as free agents. There are 20 players who will be returning next season, including seven starting pitchers: Johnson, Mussina, Pavano, Wright, Wang, Chacon and Small. It's not a great rotation, but could be quite good, and they shouldn't look for any starters this year. Not that there really are any good choices.

The bullpen is now Rivera, Sturtze (assuming they pick up the option) and Scott Proctor. This is more of a positive than a negative, since Gordon is they only effective reliever they have to re-sign, and the rest of the garbage can be left behind.

The lineup is basically the same. Posada, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez and Sheffield are all returning; Tino and Bernie are almost certainly gone, and Matsui can sign elsewhere if he chooses (though he's likely to return). Again, not much pickings on the market, so this is generally a positive.

On the bench, Flaherty and Sierra are free agents, and should be let go. Whether they will be -- well, they should be. Womack and Crosby are returning, though Crosby can obviously be cut for free if they get a legit backup outfielder.

So they need a starting DH (or first baseman), a starting centerfielder, a backup catcher and first baseman, and bullpen help.

Tino Martinez was brought in to give Jason Giambi time off at first base and provide good defense. Except for a couple of weeks in May, his offense was putrid, and his defense has clearly slipped badly. It was nice to see Tino back in New York, but they really have to let him go and retire.

There are two options here. If the Yankees want to fill their need at DH with this hole, Paul Konerko is a free agent, though the White Sox will clearly want to re-sign him, and a big ALCS (and possibly World Series) would make him overpriced. Still, he'd be a good bat.

But they have a good bat at first -- Giambi, and really his throwing is the only bad thing about his defense, and his OPS is 140 points higher at first in his career than it is at DH. They should play Giambi at first everyday and get a gloveman to back him up, and replace him on defense in the late innings.

Doug Mientkiewicz. He's not a good hitter, so there probably won't be much temptation to play him every day, but he's spectacular defensively, and shouldn't cost too much. The DH bat would be better filled by signing a fourth outfielder and cycling Sheffield/Matsui/Giambi through the spot.

Like Reggie Sanders. He's got all the postseason experience the Yankees want, having played in October six times, and five of the last six years. He's solid offensively and defensively, and has played all three outfield positions. With a DH rotation in effect, he'll get regular playing time, and be more useful off the bench than Ruben Sierra.

Center is the big hole. Maybe the Yankees can swing a trade for Torii Hunter, or sign Johnny Damon. Either will provide good defense and reasonable offense, and certainly an upgrade over Bernie.

They could try something bold, though. Bill Mueller is a free agent, and the Red Sox will likely let him walk. The Yankees could shift Derek Jeter to center, A-Rod back to short, and put Mueller at third... well, we've been advocating this kind of thing for years. It's not going to happen. But it would probably be better than just signing Damon.

As for the bullpen, the Yankees need lots of help. The first, obvious move is to re-sign Gordon. The second, equally obvious move is to sign B.J. Ryan, who will provide the team with not only a strong second setup man, but the lefty reliever they've been desperate for.

The team can't stop there, they'll need at least one, maybe two more good relievers, and fortunately there are options available. Julian Tavarez, Bobby Howry, Mike Timlin -- maybe Ugueth Urbina? These aren't stoppers, even with the closer label some of them have, but they can all do something the Yankees need -- pitch the middle innings effectively.

All told, the Yankees have about $33 million coming off the books this offseason, and if they're willing to spend a little bit more than they did this year, they'll have enough money to buy up all those players.

As for a backup catcher, I'd like to see them bring in someone with a little offense who can give Posada effective time off -- they'll probably bring someone in like Flaherty who can't hit a lick, so they'll call him a defensive catcher.

They're already buying players, and they've been losing. There's no point in trying to create an impression that they're not doing it, they just need to start doing it right.

Are these the right guys? I dunno. But they're who I'd sign.