Posts Tagged ‘Ted Lilly’

I realize there’s still a lot of work to do before we wrap 2010, but it’s never too early to think about next year. After all, the Yankees as a team are about one thing, and one thing only: winning World Championships. That means this year, next year and all the years after.

Without a doubt, one of the big questions going into next season will be the starting rotation. What began this year as a pillar of strength has eroded, as injuries to Andy Pettite and sub-par performances from AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez have left gaping holes in the rotation. Let’s face it, there have been times in the second half where it seems the starters were playing CC Sabathia and the Seven Dwarfs. Taking a look into the crystal ball, here’s what I see for next year’s starting five:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Phil Hughes
  3. Cliff Lee
  4. Andy Pettite
  5. AJ Burnett

Let’s break them down.

CC Sabathia: CC has been the quintessential ace for the Yankees this year. Forget the numbers; what he’s provided the Yankee braintrust (and us fans, too) is stability. In a season when every game begins with everyone wondering of the starting pitcher will survive the 5th inning, CC has gone out there every 5 days and given the team 7 or more quality innings. He has been worth every penny of his contract. Yes, CC will be a year older and you have to wonder when all the innings over the past five seasons will begin to take a toll on his very broad shoulders, but for now CC is the undisputed Bronx Ace.

Phil Hughes: Phil-thy has blossomed into the top of the rotation stud the Yankees envisioned when they picked him in the first round in 2004. Although he’s struggled some in the second half, he’s also pitching more often than at any time in his career. With his effort this season, he’s earned the right to be considered the #2 started for 2011.

Cliff Lee: I know he’s not a Yankee. Yet. But there can be little doubt that Lee will be the #1 target of the team this off-season. While the Rangers will certainly make a serious push for Lee, I can’t see anyone seriously trying to outbid the Yankees. (I smell something along the lines of a 5 year, $130M contract, with a couple of mutual options thrown in). Lee would be considered the ace on most teams; it says something about this team’s depth that he would start the year as the #3 guy.

Andy Pettite: Andy remains a question mark. Will he want to come back next year? If he does, the Yankees will slot him into the 4 spot. He certainly deserves to come back. The injury that’s kept him sidelined for most of the second half is the kind that happens to older pitchers, but no doubt he’s been extremely effective when on the mound. If not, then the 4 spot goes to…

AJ Burnett: The Yankees answer to the enigma wrapped inside a riddle. He possesses ace stuff, but has yet to demonstrate that he can reliably command any of his pitches . A career .500 pitcher is ok in the 5 spot, though – although the Yankees certainly expect more from their huge investment than a number 5 starter.

There are questions, of course. What if Lee signs elsewhere? What if Pettite doesn’t come back? I think the Yankees can withstand one of those two possibilities, since there are plenty of other options for a fifth starter type. Certainly, the Yankees would consider internal options (Joba Chamberlain) and external (Ted Lilly). But this is my best guess as to how things work out for 2011. As for Vazquez, i fully expect him to be kicked to the curb faster than you can say “85 mph fastball.”

We’ll see if I’m right in March. In the meantime, what does the rest of the Universe think?

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OK, Yankees Fans: we are now in the home stretch of the 2010 trade season and so far the Bronx Bombers have… well, they’ve bombed on getting any fresh blood, much less an impact type of player. That being said, neither have the Red Sox or the Rays so the status quo in the AL East remains. It seems rather hard to believe that July 31 will come and go without one of the premier teams in the East doing something to try to separate themselves from the others. So here’s a quick link dump on what’s being whispered about by various sources:

*Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees tried to pry away Joakim Soria by offering Jesus Montero. That seems to confirm a report from John Heyman, but I remain doubtful. As much as I’d love to see Soria wearing Pinstripes, that simply is a trade that doesn’t match up well. KC’s farm system is well stocked at catcher and first base, so as big a bat as Montero looks to be; he would have nowhere to play in KC (unless the Royals could move Jose Guillen to another team and slide Billy Butler to the primary DH role, or jettison Jason Kendall).

*Heyman also mentions in the same report that the Yankees seem more intent on picking up bench help, mentioning Ty Wiggington, Cody Ross and Jhonny Peralta by name. Personally, I wouldn’t Peralta anywhere near this team, even as a bench player. His defense is suspect at both short and third; and his bat is now slider-speed, at best. I still like Ross as a fourth outfielder. Wiggington would be interesting; he has a reputation as good clubhouse guy and immediately seems to go on a tear whenever he joins a new team. But I doubt the Orioles will trade him within the division.

*There are numerous reports, including from Heyman, Stark and Bob Klapisch, about Adam Dunn, and they all say basically the same thing: the Nationals asking price is beyond exorbitant.

*One final note from Heyman: he tweeted earlier today that he thought the Yankees have interest in Ted Lilly, but not Roy Oswalt. For our sakes, I hope he’s wrong and the Yanks don’t even bother asking about Lilly. And from everything we’ve heard, the Astros price for Oswalt is typical Drayton McClane; which is to say it’s a lot like those old “Crazy Eddie” commercials – INSANE!!!

*Klapisch also wonders what it will take to fix Joba Chamberlain. I think most Yankee fans are wondering what it will take to convince Brian Cashman to trade Joba Chamberlain, especially after he nearly blew an 8-run lead yesterday. Even Joe Girardi sounded exasperated after Joba’s latest meltdown. (You got me. It’s not really a trade rumor. But even long-time Joba supporters like me are starting to think it might be time for him to go.)

*Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi suggested that the Yanks and Red Sox are bidding against each other in pursuit of Scott Downs. I wonder if Toronto is trying to inflate Downs’ price, though. Although, Downs would be a significant upgrade over Chan Ho Park.

That’s all that seems to be percolating in the Bronx today. I suppose we can only hope that the reports about the Rays interest in Chad Qualls is more than speculation. J

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