The New York Yankees insist they are not in any sort of panic mode after finishing out of the money in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. After coming up with zilch at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, the Yankees GM, Brian Cashman, immediately went out and made a couple of moves; signing two players with a history of injuries--catcher Russell Martin and pitcher Mark Prior.
While the Yankees claim they are looking past Lee's back-door move to the Philadelphia Phillies, they do seem to be a little desperate. Cashman has gone from waving a blank check at Lee to Plan B. "Plan B is patience," Cashman said yesterday. Everyone assumed Plan B was acquiring outfielder Carl Crawford. Didn't he end up in Boston?
The Yankees and Cashman have become so accustomed to whipping out the checkbook and getting who they want, wheeling-and-dealing are never an option. Cashman just wrote a check and pulled A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia off the rack. Being spurned is never in the equation. Just like the K girls.
Then in the next off-season episode, Cashman had a business dinner with Carl Crawford. He must have had corn in his teeth because the outfielder signed with the Red Sox two days later.
The GM's last off-season storyline continued with Michael... I mean Cashman watching Lee flee back to the Phillies while all the baseball pundits all but had the lefthander posing for a Monument Park plaque.
Now Cashman has to get his hands dirty by making a big-time trade--something it seems like he's done once in the past decade--the Curtis Granderson swap last year--then go to Plan P.
Plan P is getting Andy Pettitte to stop pulling his annual Brett Favre imitation and come back for one more year. Cashman keeps speaking of patience and it could end up being a profitable virtue for Pettitte. If the Yankee free-agent had signed a couple of weeks ago, when Lee looked like a slam dunk for the Yankees, he would have had to fight for every penny in his contract. Now he knows Cashman has Lee's offer of $148 million still in hand and an ineffective A.J. Burnett as the number 3 starter. Can any one say leverage?
"The one thing the Boss taught me is you have to get in the arena and fight, " said the Yankee GM. "We will engage the remaining free agents and trade market and pursue what interests us at the level that we feel appropriate," he continued.
What is appropriate is another reliable starter and the only way to get one now is by wheeling and dealing. After Sabathia and Phil Hughes, his rotation is fragile--even if it is bolstered with the 39 year-old Pettitte. Rounding out the rotation with Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova is risky at best. Prior, who was signed to a minor league deal and hasn't pitched since 2006, will go straight to the bullpen.
After wooing Pettitte, Cashman will realistically target former Cy Young winner, Zach Greinke. The Kansas City Royal, who has admitted to past anxiety problems may come at a high cost and there is speculation he could be a bad fit in the Bronx. Yankee fans have seen stronger players wilt under the New York media glare before.
There is talk about jumping in on the Tampa Bay fire sale and trading for Matt Garza as well as making an offer to the Florida Marlins for Josh Johnson and the possibility of a face-saving shot at Seattle Mariners Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez. Beyond that, the pickings are slim--an injured Brandon Webb and ex-Yankee flame-out, Carl Pavano. Webb hasn't thrown since 2008 and Pavano already knows what it's like to be run out of the city.
The final Yankees option is waiting for the July 31 trading deadline because most of the pitchers named are in the middle of their contracts and teams would be asking too much right now. Their prices might come down in mid-season.
For now, if Cashman wants to prove he's more than a Chloe or Kim with a checkbook jiggling through an off-season designer sale, he would make a move for Hernandez--even if it means parting with his prize catching prospect Jesus Montero. Yankee fans have been hearing about Montero for years and well...where is he?! Reality check. The Yankees have three regular starting players they have brought up since 2005--four if you count Joba.
Cashman keeps harping about his young pitchers, Manuel Banuelos and Dellin Betances, down in Single-A and how the Yankees must nurture them to be championship players. Sounds like trade bait to me. It's Cashman's version of the Joba Rules and looked what that pitcher has produced.
Seeing Hernandez in pinstripes would be a bigger deal than getting the 32 year-old Lee and make Cashman look like John Wayne and George Steinbrenner combined. The only question remains is if the Mariners are willing to trade their current ace for future stars?
Cashman should make an offer to the Mariners. He has trade bait and $148 million. I wonder what the Kardashian girls could do with that kind of cash?