After locking up the three biggest free agents on the market and trading for Nick Swisher, it would seem that the Yankees are essentially set for 2009. However, there are still holes.
The fact that the one year, ten million dollar contract offer to Andy Pettitte hasn't been rescinded shows that the Yankees aren't quite ready to go to the season with a rotation of Sabathia/Wang/Burnett/Chamberlain/Hughes? Kennedy? Aceves?
So what should be done with Andy Pettitte? The first thing that should be done is that a hard deadline should be made for Pettitte to accept the offer and move on. I'd say give Pettitte two more weeks to decide. If he doesn't accept the offer, then the Yankees should go into the season with the rotation listed above. While it's nice to have an "innings eater" (code for: the guy generally sucks but at least he can throw a lot) on a one year deal who would essentially be keeping Phil Hughes's spot warm, the Yankees can do with out him. His 07 ERA was decent at 4.05 but his 4.54 mark this year and 07/08 WHIPs of 1.426 and 1.412 respectively can be done with out.
Next there is the issue of the OF surplus. There is a simple solution to this. Make Brett Gardner the fourth outfielder, play Xavier Nady in left, Johnny Damon in center, and Nick Swisher in right. This would yeild a good amount of runs, defense could be a problem. Of that alignment, Nick Swisher is the only one projected to be a plus defender. While the offense could probably out-slug the defensive issues, that approach hasn't always worked for the Yankees.
Another problem with that alignment is that Brian Cashman has said that Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera will battle for the CF spot in spring training and that neither Swisher nor Damon will be in CF. So, that could eliminate my idea. However, Brian Cashman also said Nick Swisher would be the first baseman going forward, and we all know how that turned out.
But I'm gonna take Brian Cashman at his word and believe that only Brett the Jet and the Melk Man are CF candidates. That leaves us with three outfielders for two spots. Or, two outfielders for two spots. Johnny Damon is a lock in left--he's a great defender there and his bat can still more or less hold up there; after all, he was second on the Yankees in VORP last year.
So who gets the nod in right and what do we do with the odd man out? In my mind, Nick Swisher is the right fielder. He's got a better track record as a hitter and a fielder. Want the numbers to prove it? Okay!
Alright you get the idea. As for fielding, the two would be up for the right field job. Swisher has a career UZR/150 of 14.2 in right, compared to Nady's 0.5. Swisher has to be out there in right.
What, then, do you do with Xaiver Nady? My gut reaction is to trade him. But, for the life of me, I can't think of what I'd ask for in exchange and what could be given back. Nady's got the highest value coming off of a career year and would be the easiest to move, but he's in a contract year so would teams really be willing to take him on as a rental? Maybe, maybe not.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense for the Yankees to keep Nady on. Now, he's not great, but he's definitely better than a bench outfielder, especially with one of Gardner or Cabrera already there. So what I suggest is a platoon between him and Hideki Matsui at DH. Nady absolutely crushes lefties and is 'meh' against right handers for his career and this platoon could help Matsui stay healthy. Keeping Nady also allows for more off days for Damon when he needs to take one as he's no spring chicken.
Then there's the issue of the bench. Jose Molina's definitely the backup catcher, with new acquisition Kevin Cash waiting if he or Posada gets hurt. One of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner will be on the bench as an outfielder obviously, and probably one of Swisher or Nady. However, there doesn't seem to be anyone who can fill the middle infield positions or third if need be. Who can do that job? There were rumblings that Justin Christian was being converted to infield but I haven't heard anything of that lately. The free agent class for infielders this year isn't all that great either. I really have no idea what they're gonna do here. I'm gonna throw this out there just for shits and giggles: Nomar. I'm not sure if I'm serious about that(EDIT: You know what? Forget that I said that. Just being comical). When I hear more about what the Yankees are doing about the bench, I'll post more seriously about it. Anyway, thanks for reading the essay. As always, feedback is encouraged.