So it's now 2010 and Cashman and the Yankees have made a splash again with their off-season transactions so far, but not nearly the splash they made last year. Even so, I think the team is in better shape now than at seasons end.
They first added a legit CF in the prime of his career. Some are going to bark about his strikeouts and his weak average against lefties. But from I what I've seen, he is already committed to bettering those things. He has already solicited the advice of CC Sabathia (one of the best pitchers in the game, who happens to be a lefty) about how they go about getting him out. He has already discussed thoe things with Kevin Long as well. Let's not overlook that the Yankees had one of the worse OF defensively over the past couple of years. This goes a long way in rectifying that as well. Granderson is borderline Gold Glove quality.
The Vazquez acquisition gives the Yankees a great starter in the #4 spot who will pitch well and eat innings. Exactly what you want at the back of your rotation. People will complain how he struggled previously in NY. I see the opposite. He made his only All-Star appearance as a member of the Yankees in 2004, then was hurt the second half of that season. I wouldn't be surprised if he leads the team in strikeouts giving the Yankees 3 guys in the top 5 for the league leaders in K's (CC, AJ, & Javier). I would also expect that Vazquez will have more wins and a better ERA than Pettitte this year.
Then there's Nick Johnson...good OBP guy, maybe not your prototypical #2 hitter, or your prototypical DH for that matter, but I think he will have a very good season. If he sticks to mostly DH'ing I would think that greatly reduces his injury chances. If he gets 500ABs this season, he could go .310 20HR...we'll be saying Johnny who...
This offseason isn't without some disappointment. We have the loss of a true Yankee in Matsui. This was especially difficult since he has signed with the West coast rivals...on the cheap ($6.5MM). I guess it's good that the Yankees let him go because they were worried about his knees and not a money issue. It was however a money issue for Damon. That's a little sad...on one hand I'm upset with Damon, he's coming off a $52MM contract, and he's arguing over a couple million. Then I'm upset with the Yankees because they've never been about not spending money, and all of sudden they're worried about a budget with a key part of their lineup no less. Then I get over it because I realize Damon may be the second worst OF in the game today (Jermain Dye is arguably the worst in the league). Other disappointments: I think Cashman could have been more aggressive to acquire Roy Halladay. The loss of prospects and young players has to be a little disappointing. After holding on to prospects the last couple of seasons, Cashman finally traded some for the above mentioned players. Gone are Austin Jackson, Michael Dunn, Brian Bruney, Ian Kennedy, and Melky Cabrera. The only one that I really question here is Jackson. The organization seemed really high on him the last couple of years, but felt he was still a year away. Funny how the Yankees feel he is a year away, but he will most likely get a shot at starting CF for the Tigers this year. Ian Kennedy while I like his stuff on the mound I don't think he was cut out for NY. He could thrive in Arizona I wouldn't be surprised to see him in double digits win next year with an ERA in the 3's, he wouldn't get anywhere near that with the Yankees. Melky came up big last year, but I think he has a problem with being complacent...almost bordering on laziness. I don't think he should unpack in Atlanta because he will probably be dealt again. Wonder if Melky being traded will have an impact on Cano. It will either serve as a wake up call and we could see Cano's best season or he could go in a season long funk.
The obvious hole the Yankees have is in left-field. With options drying up fast (Byrd signing with Chicago, DeRosa to the Giants, Cameron to Boston, etc) I can see the Yankees going to camp with Gardner as their starting LF. There are some rumors out there the Yankees are interested in Josh Willingham from the Nationals, but I'm afraid the Yankees would have to give up too much for him. Give Gardner the shot he deserves it.