Rough Waves Abound For Yankees This Offseason
By Michael Avallone
Will George Steinbrenner
fire Joe Torre?
If he does, it’s the worst move the Boss has made since the days of Clay Carey and Hensley Meulens. Remember them? With Lou Piniella a free man, having wriggled out of his contract with the Devil Rays, that scenario has grown more likely than not. Still, if it happens, it’s a lunatic move made by a lunatic owner.
Will Brian Cashman resign
as the team’s GM, or run to saner, less dysfunctional, less
The whispers around the Stadium say Cashman has had it with working in the nasty, treacherous, no-win atmosphere of the Bronx, and might bolt for the Phillies’ GM opening. Cashman is sick and tired of being considered a loser every season when he doesn’t win a world championship, yet never viewed as a winner when he wins because of ridiculously high expectations and the Tampa faction of the organization that likes to get the glory. The question is: Does the Boss even want him back? Somebody will take the fall for this season, and it’s either Cashman or Torre. Look for it to be the former.
Is Shawn Chacon the real deal?
Tough call. He’s deceptively good, as we all saw for six innings in the most pressurized start of his life Sunday night. And for the first time in his career, he’s pitching in a ballpark that not only allows his breaking balls to…well break…but also keeps fly balls from zooming into the stands. He could win 15 games with the talent behind him but a solid two months doesn’t a career make.
Should the Yankees resign
free-agent Hideki Matsui?
Are you kidding? This is a no-brainer. I don’t care if Matsui left 20 men on base in Game 5. Matsui is one of the best clutch hitters and professionals in the game. You sign him no matter what, even if it costs $10 million a season.
How do the Yankees get
Alex Rodriguez to overcome his choking in the clutch?
The Yankees might force him to go to a sports shrink. Either that, or put him on the DL every October. That was one brutal performance and certainly not the play of an MVP-player. His regular season stats – .321 48 130 – rival those of any hitter in Yankee history, but a .133 0 0 performance is ugly.
Do the Yankees automatically
give Aaron Small another shot at the starting rotation?
Nope. As well as Small did as a starter this season; the Yankees see his value as a long guy out of the bullpen or an emergency starter. But he’s definitely earned a spot on this team, whether he has a great spring training or not.
Will Carl Pavano and
Jaret Wright ever pitch well enough to justify all the
millions of dollars the Yankees spent on them?
Even before the injuries, these two didn’t exactly tear it up. They’re just not tough enough to pitch in this city. Of the two, Pavano has the greatest chance to succeed simply because he is not a walking medical case, but even after an 18-8 campaign in Florida last year, the Connecticut native is still below .500 in his career. Before a rebound 2004 season in Atlanta, Wright hadn’t pitched 100 innings since 1999…when he sported a 6.08 ERA.
What do the Yankees do with Tony Womack?
They desperately figure out an escape clause to a contract that runs through 2006. If the Yankees can’t trade Womack, or reach a mutual agreement to part ways, they’ll simply release him outright. Womack, whom Torre made disappear when the Yankees brought up Robinson Cano to play second base in early May, will chalk up his signing with the Yankees as the worst move of his career. It didn’t work out so hot for the Bombers, either.
What do the Yankees need most?
In this order:
A center fielder – Would you believe singing free-agent Johnny Damon or trading for Mike Cameron or the Twins’ Torii Hunter? Signing Damon would be a coupe for the Bombers, strengthening themselves while weakening their main opposition. Deals with the Mets don’t often happen, and you can be sure that GM Omar Minaya will hold the Yanks over a barrel. Hunter might be the most logical – and best – choice.
At least one decent starting pitcher – There are already rumors that the Yankees will make a strong play for Japanese League ace Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Seibu Lions; A.J. Burnett, Kevin Millwood, and Matt Morris are also available on the open market.
A late-inning reliever to replace 38-year-old Tom Gordon, who has come down with A-Rod-it is in his two postseasons in the Bronx. Look for the Yankees to push hard for Orioles free-agent closer B.J. Ryan, who has expressed interest in coming to the Yanks and said he’d be honored being Mariano Rivera’s set-up guy.