11.25.2006

Yankees Offseason Part Deux

The offseason has started out with a furey at least as far as hitters are concerned. It looks like this offseasons spending will surpass almost all estimates. The Yankees so far have dealt away two players they had almost no need for, for a bunch of useful young arms. I like both moves by Cashman a lot. Unfortunately they didn't fix any of the Yankees needs at the big league level. Now it looks like the Yankees still need a righty first baseman, a lefty reliever, and a backup catcher.

I think the reasons the Yanks have been so dormant so far is compensation. They didnt plan on being players for any of the big name guys so why waste draft picks on non impact players. I expect the Yankees to wait until after the December 1st deadline to start signing guys. The first need out there is a backup catcher, and their seems to be a perfect fit on the free agent market.

Greg Zaun is 36 years old and seems to be used to the backup role. He has excellent plate discipline and is a good enough reciever on defense. He got himself a ring in 1997 and hasnt sniffed the postseason since. I bet he would love a competitive team. The Blue Jays seem set to sign Rod Barajas and the other teamed rumored the have had interest, the Royals, just traded for another catcher. I think Zaun could be had for 2 years at about 3 million per. That might seem to be a lot for a backup but Zaun would give the Yankees the first legitimate backup catcher since Posada was backing up Girardi. It would give Torre the option of resting Posada without losing too much offense.

First base is a little harder position as their isnt any great fits on the market. The Yanks need a righty to balance out their lineup a little bit and a good fielder would be good too. Craig Wilson would have been a good option but he just didnt look comfortable as a Yankee and Torre didnt seem to trust him. The free agent market also offers Hillebrand and Aurillia. Hillebrand I have no interest in as he should be restricted to DH, not to mention his cranky attitude. Aurillia would be a great addition but he is a type A free agent and it seems like the Giants may pluck him up before December 1st. That would leave the Yankees to explore trades for a first baseman. One team that could be a really attractive trade option is the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Their first base situation is packed with Ty Wigginton at the MLB level and Joel Guzman, Wes Bankston and Elijah Dukes all minor league options. The team seems to be planning on using Dukes at first to get his bat in the lineup that would lead me to believe Wigginton and Bankston could be available. Lucky for the Yanks they are righties. They also all have their pros and cons.

Wes Bankston- He is a 22 year old righty first baseman from Texas, who finished last season at AAA Durham. He would be the most attractive option due to his age, which also means he would be the most expensive. The downside is also he doesnt seem to be ready yet, he probably needs another half season in AAA before he is ready. He did hit .297/. 333/.441 in just about 200 at bats at Durham last season. However he only slugged five homeruns and he needs more plate discipline.

Ty Wigginton- He is coming off his best year as a pro and is still on the right side of 30, however he stills show very little plate discipline to go with the power. His fielding is pretty much average as he posted a rate of 96 over his career at first base. He could look good at the bottom of the Yankees order but the DRays may want to gamble that last year was for real and keep him, as he is still cheap. Bill James projects a .268/.328/.445 year for Ty with 21 homers and 33 doubles.

If I was Cashman I would offer a package of Steven White, Chris Britton, and a low level prospect for Bankston and then go sign a less attracttive free agent such as Doug Mientkeivicz to fill the hole while Bankston develops.

Here are some other free agent options that I am not crazy about but could work. I added their projections for next season from the Bill James handbook.

Travis Lee- Lee is a former Devil Ray free agnet who could be an attractive option. Lee was atrocious last season but he is still only 31 and plays very good defense. He probably shouldnt be a teams only option at first but I still think he could hit .260 or so with 15 homers and 25 doubles. .245/.329/.395 84 G 6 HR 10 2B

Doug Mientkiewicz- Dougie is one of the top three fielding first baseman in baseball, too bad his bat was never good enough to make him good. He just doesnt have enough power to be play a power position on a good team. He could be had real cheap but he is a lefty who would make our lineup even more unbalanced. .264/.356/.401 100 G 6 HR 20 2B

Kevin Millar- The Ex-Sock is one of the most attractive options IMHO. He hits righty plays good enough defense and is one of the better hitters of the bunch and one of the few who could deliver average-above average production for a first baseman. Also I would like to see how well he does when reunited with his buddy Damon. He may be reluctant though to go to the Yankees and to lose his fans in Boston. .275/.364/.447 114 G 13 HR 25 2B

Eduardo Perez- He kills lefties and that is really the best thing you can say about him. He is a butcher in the field and is nothing special against righties. He could be an attractive option on our bench but as it looks like we will carry 12 pitchers it is a luxury we cant afford. .247/.330/.438 84 G 9 HR 10 2B

As you can see it isnt the greatest year to be looking for a first baseman. If we sign a one year stop gap next year we could go after Carlos Guillen or Adam Dunn. Overall the options are uninspiring but after Cashman got something for Jaret Wright I would like to see how he fills this hole.

The last major hole on the Yanks is in the bullpen. They need a second lefty, it would be ideal if he could also get righties out and occasionally go long innings. We basically need to replace Villone. I think the Japanese guy Kei Igawa would be perfect in this role as spot starter and second lefty, and it sounded like the Yankees put in a bid on him but I doubt they would slide him into the bullpen as that would probably make his conversion even more difficult. The free agent options are sparse their are very few guys who can get both out the list of lefty relievers is full of guys who have been Yankees before (Chris Hammond, Buddy Groom, Alan Embree). I will trust Cashman here. Maybe he can get Drombowski back on the phone and talk about Will Ledezma who would be absolutely perfect.

The last thing I have to say about this offseason is I hope the Yankees bring Dotel back. He was very good and should be fully healed this upcoming season. It would be a shame to have paid him to rehab and then have him go and dominate on another team. He also seemed to genuinely like the Yankees we need more guys like that.

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