Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Return and Moves for the 2012 Season

Fanatics!! Look who decided to come out of hiding. Yes, folks, I'm back. I have figured out a way to keep up with my busy life and continue to bring you guys my take on everything Yankees. The secret? Force myself to write at least every week no matter how tired I am, even if it's just a paragraph. I feel as though I've been completely disconnected from you all, and I can't have that. You guys are my extended family, and so, here I am, ready to talk Yankees.

On the ALDS - I won't go into great detail on this; the last thing I want to do is re-hash horrible memories of a loss that hurt like crazy. All that I will say is that the offense was abysmal and Joe Girardi's management was again, questionable.

It's time for a shake-up, people!

So where should it begin? Let's talk about this lineup. If I'm Brian Cashman, my first move is to put Nick Swisher on the trading block. It hurts me to say because I love Swish, but the downfall in his production this year, combined with another failed postseason, means it's time to go. The Yankees have a $10 million option on him for 2012, and if they decide to pick it up, it should only be for the sake of trading him. I give Swish much credit for the adjustments he made at the plate mid-season, which obviously helped him end the season batting .260, and for his home run production. But it's no longer enough. At this point, Carlos Beltran sounds like a viable option if he can stay healthy. If not Beltran, why not Andruw Jones? Jones is still a great outfielder and I believe he will produce more if he can play everyday.

Next up is Derek Jeter. For those of you who believe that to say anything adverse about Jeter is sacrilege, please skip ahead to the next paragraph. It is time to move The Captain to the end of the lineup. The days of Jeter being the fastest, most productive hitter and base stealing threat are long gone. Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson have clearly taken over that role, and I say, they should fill the 1-2 spots, respectively. I'd place Jeter in the 9-hole to not only tighten the back-end of the lineup, but also to give him opportunities to hit as the second lead-off man. It would be quite the scene to watch eight players' names be called before Jeter's, but Girardi must not continue to allow the reality of Jeter's present to be superseded by the legacy of his past.

And it's time for a switch-up in the middle of the lineup. I say, have Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira hit in the 3-4-5 spots, respectively. Sure, the Yankees had nothing to show for this set-up in the playoffs, but over a season, I think this will work well. Robbie is clearly the best hitter on the team and should have the 3-spot. If Tex bats behind A-Rod, he'll see better pitches which will hopefully translate into more hits and a better batting average. And, regardless of what any of you fanatics may think, if A-Rod comes back as healthy as he was during Spring Training and the beginning of the season, he will still be their best clean-up man. In A-Rod I still trust!

Russell Martin will no doubt be back as the everyday catcher, but my vote for his back-up is Francisco Cervelli. If the Baseball Gods would allow this kid to get through a full season of baseball without injury, I see no reason why he can't back-up Martin. He's a decent hitter, he's fearless and he calls a great game; particularly when the ace of the staff is the mound.

Which brings me to all the hullabaloo over CC Sabathia. If any of you believe that he will not be back with the Yankees next year, you also believe that the Yankees will pick up David Ortiz. CC will opt-out of his contract, as he has every right to, but it will only be to force the Yankees to pay him more money. He's become accustomed to life in New York and his family loves it here. But besides that, he knows that the Yankees can't afford to let him walk; he's going to get every bit of money he asks for, even if it means Cashman giving up his own salary to do so.

Speaking of Cashman, he's expected to sign a new contract with the team any day now. Sorry to you fanatics that hate him, and too bad to the Red Sox fans who secretly pray that he will become the new GM in Beantown. It ain't gonna happen. With a questionable rotation to sort out last offseason, Cashman put on his best poker face with the signings of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia and came out a winner; he also gambled and won by bringing in Jones and Eric Chavez. He's not going anywhere.

But Colon and Garcia will most likely not be back in 2012, so again, the Yankees head into another offseason in desperate need of viable starting pitching. Texas' CJ Wilson seems to be on the list of everyone's favorites; he's pitched .500 over the last 2 seasons with a 31-15 record and an ERA just over 3.00. He also ranked in the top 10 lowest ERAs this season with a 2.94. The cardinals' Edwin Jackson has also been mentioned as an option for the Yankees. Yu Darvish, the phenom from Japan, is also picking up steam around the blogosphere as a possible candidate, but I doubt if the Yankees are open to signing another Asian pitcher; it hasn't worked out very well for them so far. I'm guessing all roads will probably lead to Wilson and the resurgence of talk about "King" Felix Hernandez. I'm resigned to giving up on that dream, however; he's not leaving Seattle.

So as the offseason gets underway and the Hot Stove heats up, I'm gearing up for an exciting few months of ridiculous rumors, speculation and the chase for Sabathia. Should be a really good time, fanatics.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on twitter: @ra_cooper

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