Great stuff from Joel Sherman today -
The phone calls were one after another. The first to an AL executive I greatly respect followed directly afterward by one to an NL executive I feel similarly about. The question was the same: How do the Yankees look after failing to sign Cliff Lee?
AL executive: “The way they are constituted right now, they are one injury to a veteran in their rotation or a bad stretch from CC (Sabathia) from losing their season.”
NL executive: “The Yankees won 95 games last year and Cliff Lee was not on the team. To say the Yankees are worse, why? Just because they lost Andy Pettitte and they might not even lose him? Every year I hear they are too old. We’ll see. I think they will win 95 games again.”
These are the Yankees of late December 2010, that proverbial glass of water: Hall full or half empty, depending on your perception.
They need at least one proven starter. Badly. That could be Pettitte. If the veteran lefty shuns retirement yet again, then the club’s rotation is thin, but acceptable as long as there is good health. But without Pettitte, the Yankees’ Nos. 4-5 starters would be Nova and Sergio Mitre.
On a team with a $200 million payroll, Nova and Mitre probably should be the Nos. 6-7 starters; protection against injury, not main pieces.
And exacerbating the situation in the AL East is that though the Yankees have been unable to address their major need, the Red Sox have added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, plus Bobby Jenks for bullpen depth.
“Right now, they are very far behind the Red Sox,” an NL official said. “I thought the Red Sox were more talented than the Yankees last year, but won 89 games because they had so many injuries. I don’t think the Yankees are facing a doomsday scenario. In fact, I think they make the playoffs. But Yankees vs. Red Sox, I don’t think those teams are close right now.”
But they went into the offseason with Cashman claiming the focus was “pitching, pitching and pitching,” and they so far have added Pedro Feliciano and possibly lost Pettitte. They whiffed on Lee and are trying to portray a brave face that they can win with what they have. But when I posed the possibility of Nova being a key piece in the rotation, an AL East executive said, “Yeah, and Bubba Crosby is going to play center before they sign Johnny Damon and Jesus Montero is going to catch before they sign Russ Martin. They will do something.”
Ah, the clock is ticking…with eight weeks until Pitchers & Catchers report for Spring Training…should be very interesting to watch and see what happens.