There is disappointment in the Bronx for the New York Yankees and their fans. Anything less than being one of two teams playing in late October, or not taking another championship is unacceptable. So the process began last Friday evening, after that last pitch in Arlington Texas.
The organizational process of making sure the Yankees return to the World Series a year from now began Monday. General Manger Brian Cashman has more than one decision to make which will result in an interesting off season. The first priority is signing manager Joe Girardi to another contract.
Girardi will become one of the easiest priorities for Cashman. A two-year deal, most likely, for a manager who has lived up to management expectations, even if he was scrutinized by media and fans in the six game ALCS series loss to Texas. There were some questions as to how Girardi set up the pitching rotation and how he used his bullpen in the series.
But time heels some wounds of the unacceptable finish. Girardi will return with a nice contract and get his troops together for another long campaign when the Yankees assemble again come February in Tampa Florida.
What has to be resolved is the contract status of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two of the core four of the Joe Torre managed four championship teams. Andy Pettitte, another of the core, once again was the Yankees best starter in the post season and is contemplating retirement. The 38-year-old Pettitte, according to Cashman will take his time and make a decision when the time is right.
Then there is Jorge Posada, signed until the end of next season. The soon to be 39-year old catcher, and another member of the core showed that age has caught up to him. His knees are hurting and the ability to throw out runners has become futile as Texas took more than one extra base. Will posada agree to become an everyday designated hitter or backup catcher?
Simply put, the Yankees, with the second oldest roster in baseball showed that age caught up to them. Cashman has another task of possibly trying to make his team younger and may have to do that by promoting some of the promising youngsters waiting in the organization.
“I think that our players can do it but maybe not at quite the same pace they did when they were 25-years old,” commented Girardi Monday at Yankee Stadium in his last season press briefing with the media. In essence, what Girardi stated has now become an imminent issue that Cashman and the Yankees organization needs to address.
The team needs to get younger, top catching prospect Jose Montero may be ready to succeed Posada. The Yankees can continue to build from within, or making a trade or two. And with their financial flexibility, they always seem to get their man in the free agent market.
On the market, if they can outbid Texas is pitcher Cliff Lee. He, along with CC Sabathia would give the Yankees a devastating one-two punch in their pitching rotation. And perhaps a new pitching coach, now that Dave Eiland has been terminated, can attempt to put A.J. Burnett back to form.
So here are the issues Cashman and the Yankees need to address after going 29-30 after August 1st despite scoring the most runs in baseball.
– Mariano Rivera will turn 41-years old and there appears to be no successor if and when his throwing days are over. Though Rivera still showed he can close a game despite blowing four saves in September.
– Kerry Wood will go somewhere else because the Yankees will probably decline his $11 million club option. He proved to be a valuable set up man out of the pen but still has a tendency of being wild and who knows about his elbow issues.
– Joba Chamberlain is no longer an experiment and not an option before Rivera. He could be good trade material to obtain another outfielder or bench help.
– Maybe move Curtis Granderson, that is, if the Yankees can obtain one or two of the other coveted free agents outfielders Carl Crawford of Tampa or Jason Werth of the Phillies.
– How much to pay and how long of a new deal for Jeter who has shown that age has caught up to him. The Yankees captain is on a decline, though nobody will admit that claim. Jeter, 36 years of age hit a career low .270 and in the Texas series was not his usual post season threat at the plate. Playing him at the top of the lineup for the duration of his career also becomes a question
Texas was not intimidated, but they at one time also had similar questions, instead going with youth that got them to their first World Series and an occasional free agent. They showed they were the younger team and did everything that the Yankees used to do. Pitch, hit, and manufacture runs can once again get the Yankees there.
And as long as the Yankees are willing to spend, they will always be in the post season. But it is not acceptable unless they get to the World Series. Not acceptable or fulfilling unless they bring another championship trophy to the Bronx.