Without Cliff Lee, What Do the Yankees Do With Their Rotation?
The sky is falling in New York right now, but when the dust settles the baseball world will get back to the realization that the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball. No one expected Cliff Lee to turn down years and money to sign with the Phillies, but that’s what happened. Now, Brian Cashman needs to deal with it. So the question remains: what do they do now?
The Yankees won the wild card last year and retained every single starter this offseason, so that’s a start. While a lot of their core players are getting up there in age, there aren’t many people who are concerned about this team being able to score runs — especially playing in the friendly confines of Yankees stadium. New York’s starting rotation is a different story. Cashman need not panic just yet, but he should be very, very concerned about his starting pitching depth.
With Andy Pettitte still a free agent, Yankees.com has C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and … wait for it … Ivan Nova listed as the team’s top four starters for 2011. Who? Exactly. To make matters worse, the only one of the four who can be counted on is Sabathia. Burnett had a terrible year last year and finished with a record of 10-15 and an ERA of 5.26. Hughes began the year looking like a Cy Young contender, but the league caught up to him a bit before he was eventually shelled in the ALCS against the Rangers.
Cashman will likely do everything in his power to bring Pettitte back and give the Yankees another lefty to stabilize their rotation and counter the Red Sox new lefty-loaded lineup. At age 38 and having battled injuries all throughout 2010, there’s no telling how much stability Pettitte can provide. The most likely scenario would be either bringing back Pettitte or adding another an injury risk veteran like Brandon Webb, and then making a trade. The trade could come this winter, or Cashman could decide to wait until July.
As for making a deal, the biggest name being floated around is Zack Greinke. I don’t see the Yankees getting Greinke. He has a history of psychological issues and has a no trade clause in place to prevent his being dealt to big market teams like New York. The Nationals and Rangers are supposedly pursuing the 2009 Cy Young Award winner, and both would likely be better fits. Any deal of that caliber would also require the Yankees giving up a prospect like Jesus Montero, which they’ve been extremely reluctant to do in the past. However, desperate times may call for desperate measures.
New York is still a powerhouse team with plenty of resources at its disposal, but missing out on Cliff Lee was the worst thing that could have happened to them this offseason. When you have the financial resources that the Yankees have there are always alternatives, but there’s no arguing that signing Lee would have made life much easier in the Bronx.