NEW YORK – New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman proudly took the brief walk under a tent Monday evening on the small red carpet set up by the Ziegfield Theatre in Manhattan He and manager Joe Girardi were there to celebrate the premiere viewing of the 2009 World Series DVD produced by Major League Baseball Productions.
Naturally the assembled baseball media was more interested in getting a perspective of roster moves Cashman was looking at in a short off-season. It is barley three weeks since the Yankees won their 27th world championship and there are some issues to address before spring training commences down in Tampa Florida in mid February.
“We haven’t game planned yet,” said Cashman dressed in casual attire, not typical for a Red Carpet type of affair. He recently completed organizational structural meetings with team brass and it may be too early as to making major decisions. What to do with the contracts of Johnny Damon, World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and pitcher Andy Pettitte?
And do the Yankees go after some of the high powered free agents that ate available, such as pitcher John Lackey, or trade for an outfielder, or acquire the highly sought Matt Holliday off the free agent market? “We’re going through everything that transpired in the meetings,” said Cashman. “Once I get some firm numbers, I can go ahead and start putting together some ideas,” he said.
Those ideas become interesting, because the Yankees seem to be solid at every position, with the exception of course in the outfield when it comes to the futures of Damon and Matsui. Then there is the obstacle of finding a viable fourth starter as Chien-Ming Wang continues to rehab from right shoulder surgery.
“I had a couple of agents call me,” said the GM with a smile. There is reason to smile. Players on the market know coming to New York increases their chances of getting a ring, because the Yankees are willing to spend. But how much will it take after Cashman and company spent about a half billion in payroll, last off- season to get pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J, Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira?
Cashman alluded to making the right decisions when it came to the financial aspect of getting the top three, players that no doubt were a vital contribution to the Yankees success. “I am real pleased at the financial aspect of last winter,” he said. “It puts us in a much better position than before.”
So the Yankees will shed more salary without Matsui, leaving them the ability to re-sign Damon Their six years of futility to get back on top was done with their core of veterans, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and of course, Pettitte, who became the all-time post season pitcher with most wins after the game 6 clincher against the Phillies.
There was also the mix of players that came together, with some new and returning players that stayed healthy. To that Cashman said, “Truthfully we won with older guys and stayed healthy.” In particular he mentioned the healthy year that came from Posada and Matsui..
“With the exception of Wang and Nady (Xavier) that’s why we are here today,” he said about the Yankees overall staying free of injuries and getting the contributions they needed. Nady is one of the options the Yankees have for the outfield, if indeed they decide to tender him a new contract.
So getting younger and reducing payroll also can enable the Yankees to obtain another high caliber type of player off the free agent market. In particular Cashman will take a look at outfield prospect Austin Jackson, and maybe take someone out of the bullpen and make the conversion to starter.
“Do we promote Austin Jackson and way do we do at DH,” said Cashman who was anxious to see the 80 minute DVD that captures the Yankees run to another championship and their post season success. “Do we get younger, that remains to be seen,” he concluded.
And as Cashman and Girardi posed in front of their new World Series trophy they know the task is ahead to defend the title and get number 28.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: [email protected]