Compared to last year, Yankee fans must feel that the offseason is developing at a snail’s pace. At this time last year we were all dissecting, theorizing, and hypothesizing every minute detail in the pursuit of Cliff Lee. This time around, not only are the fish not as big, they don’t seem quite as ready to bite yet. Or, maybe the front office isn’t quite ready to cast their line into the free agent ocean.
That doesn’t mean we are without rumor and speculation. Once again, starting pitching has taken center stage as the Yankees top priority. Much of the discussion is based around the cost and where the best available options lie. CJ Wilson is the prize of the 2011 free agent pitching class. And he may command a big salary because of this fact. But at the end of the day, he is still CJ Wilson. Just because he may be the best available pitcher doesn’t turn him into Sandy Koufax. Some experts believe he is seeking for AJ Burnett money. If a team is willing to give him that, good for them. If it comes to that, I believe the Yankees will pass.
Another pitcher poised to make a splash is Yu Darvish. Though, after the Kei Igawa experiment, the Yankees will probably tread very carefully. And whether or not you believe the Red Sox mishandled Dice-K, most will agree that dipping into the far east pitching market has been less than prosperous.
Edwin Jackson is out there as well. And a World Series ring may raise his sticker price above what a pitcher of his stature may otherwise command.
There is also the possibility of trading for a starting pitcher, but it seems, for the time being, the prices may be to high. There was some interest in the Braves Jair Jurrjens. But knee issues and the high asking price of Nick Swisher and Eduardo Nunez seems to be enough to make the Yankees balk at the deal. It is rumored that Billy Beane wants a Dan Haren type ransom for Gio Gonzalez, so don’t look for the Yankees to have to many conversations with the A’s.
All of these pitchers are viable options for the Yankees. But it should be only for the right price. There’s no reason to pay an Ace’s salary for a number three starter. And one can’t discount AJ Burnett or Phil Hughes I was the Yankees 2012 rotation. Expectations have been dramatically reduced for both. But if AJ’s Game Four performance in the ALDS is a sign that Larry Rothschild has finally found his way into Burnett’s head, then 2012 may be a bit more like 2009 for the much maligned pitcher.
The situation for Hughes is a bit different. His is an enigma of lost strength and velocity. It is believed that he has hooked up with a well known trainer in Southern California in order to improve his conditioning in time for Spring Training.
If these two pitchers can be counted on with regularity, the Yankees rotation isn’t nearly as flawed at it is believed to be at this moment.
However, they can’t be counted on until they prove themselves next spring. Which leaves the Yankees with the task of continuing the search.
There will undoubtedly be more names, Garza and Piniero to name a few. But one thing is clear. The market is developing very slowly. And so… we wait.