Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Postmortem: Part 2

Time to play who stays and who goes.

After three postseasons ending prematurely, it's time to discuss which players belong on a playoff roster and which do not.

Johnny Damon - proved against the Indians that he is still one of the few true leadoff hitters in the game today. Hits in the clutch, can slap balls past shortstops or plant one in the rightfield upper deck. Bright lights don't bother the Demon.

Andy Pettitte - Lefty quieted every critic during the regular season and then inspired every Yankees fan in the postseason. The perfect veteran to anchor a young rotation. Put his player option on the table and then employ Luca Brasi to make an offer Andy can't refuse...

Derek Jeter - the Captain GIDP'd at inopportune times, but that's lightning which won't strike twice.

Bobby Abreu - some discussion has emerged about rejecting his option in order to acquire a player like Aaron Rowand. His fence-fobia may be tough to watch at times, but his one year commitment and tendency to hit against Boston or in the playoffs makes him a marginal risk.

Alex Rodriguez - if he wants to be a Yankee, sign him up. If he wallows let him go.

Jorge Posada - absolutely indispensable piece of a New York championship puzzle. As far as replacements, the Yanks have no internal options even close to sniffing the bigs and there are even less on the 2008 free agent landscape. Cashman will overpay to secure the resurging backstop, but he'll have no other play here.

Chien-Ming Wang - impossible not to be disappointed and slightly worried by the horrendous effort he put forward in Game 1 and then Game 4, but the kid wins 19 games a season and is still making the transition from "thrower" to "pitcher."

Robinson Cano - after shining this past week, Robbie is emerging as a lethal weapon at the bottom of the order. So much so, that he will be rewarded with the #3 spot in the lineup, forcing Abreu into a #5 hitter.

Mariano Rivera - see Posada, Jorge

Luis Vizcaino - with the dearth of relief pitching becoming more and more problematic, the Viz is a necessary return, regardless of the horrid lone appearance he made in October.

Kyle Farnsworth - dispose of at all costs. His value is restricted to losing clubs like Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

Hideki Matsui - ensure that Godzilla isn't attempting to terrorize foreign cities on a bum wheel. If his physical decline continues, attempt to trade for less powerful but potent righthanded contact hitter.

Jason Giambi - see Farnsworth, Kyle

Doug Mientkiewicz - showed heart in coming back from multiple injuries and contributing in September. An annual logjam at firstbase is not something Cashman desires, however, and Andy Phillips deserves it more.

Shelley Duncan - on the field and off, he earned himself a spot on next year's 25 man roster. Proving himself to be more than just a freeswinging ogre, Duncan put together some outstanding postseason atbats and didn't dwarf under the pressure.

Wilson Betemit - at just 25 years old, he offers the Yankees flexibility for years to come. Now if he could only cut down on those whiffs...

Jose Molina - the backup catcher we've all been waiting for. The middle-child of the Molina trio, Jose's proven to be more than just a defensive upgrade and held his own with the bat.

Mike Mussina - at the time, the Moose had earned a two year extension. Since a 2006 season in which he tossed 200 innings, struck out 172 and posted an impressive 3.51 ERA, he has suddenly regressed into an aging replacement-level starter. If a national league team will bite, make a value for value deal. If not, allow the Moose to be a solid safety net for a rotation which would potentially house three starters under 23 years old.

Melky Cabrera - unless a Johan Santana deal becomes plausible and Aaron Rowand whets George's appetite, Leche will patrol centerfield in 2008 and beyond.

Joe Torre - The man has done nothing but win ballgames since donning the pinstripes. Unfortunately, the last seven years have seemed an eternity, highlighted by a monumental collapse and a string of early playoff exits. Sometimes a change is a necessary evil. But it only becomes possible if a viable replacement awaits in the wings.

Don Mattingly has been groomed for the position, working his way up the assistant coach depth chart, but he's still never managed a game. Joe Girardi's excellent in-game managing is reminiscent of Billy Martin, but like Martin, Girardi's flashed an ability to burn out his pitchers. Sending, then ace, Josh Johnson back into a game which had been halted by an 82 minute rain delay certainly contributed to the Cy Young hopeful's eventual Tommy John surgery. Nevermind that Johnson supposedly complained of forearm tightness earlier in the year. Applying that level of carelessness to franchise jewels like Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes would be cause for capital punishment in Yankeeland.

The baton goes to Mattingly, with Girardi a tight second. Somewhere on the periphery will remain Tony La Russa and sidekick Dave Duncan.

1 comment:

Ted said...

I agree with most if not all of these. But I will be curious to see how much Jorge asks for and if Torre leaves if he will follow.