‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
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One by one, Brian Cashman crossed each targeted starting pitcher off his wish list. With the exception of the returning Freddy Garcia, every option available to Cashman appeared to be a risk he wasn’t willing to take.
That doesn’t mean he won’t acquire a worthy arm to add to the Yankees’ rotation but rather that he’ll continue to wait patiently for the right opportunity to improve upon his current roster.
C.J. Wilson proved to be overpriced and probably prefers pitching in his laid-back home state of California with the Angels compared to the pressure-cooker atmosphere in the Bronx. Mark Buehrle will turn 33 in March and will begin the first year of a four-year deal he signed with the Marlins. Many teams including the Yankees were unwilling to go that length.
Yu Darvish is actually the biggest gamble of all. The Rangers paid $51.7 million dollars for his posting fee alone. Still smarting from the disastrous Kei Igawa signing, Cashman’s final bid for Darvish was just $15 million according to CBSSports’ Jon Heyman.
Meanwhile, many baseball analysts believe Huroki Kuroda will return to Japan if he doesn’t find the right deal in America. Kuroda opted to stay with the Dodgers past the 2011 trade deadline instead of pushing for an opportunity to join a playoff bound team on the East Coast. It remains to be seen whether he’ll consider signing for an Eastern contender such as the Yankees or Red Sox.
The Athletics’ asking price for Gio Gonzalez was far too steep. Cashman desperately clung onto top prospects Manny Banuelos, Jesus Montero and Dellin Betances as Gonzalez was eventually dealt to the Nationals. He’s prepared to keep the same resolve when it comes to less-attractive trading block starter Matt Garza of the Cubs.
Roy Oswalt’s age and back issues are a deterrent and Edwin Jackson’s contract demands are sky-high. It appears that Cashman is willing to go into the 2012 season without giving the Yankees’ roster a major facelift.
His only notable additions so far this offseason are former Red Sox left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima and utility man Jayson Nix. There’s a fair chance that neither will make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster.
With Eduardo Nunez penciled-in as New York’s top utility infielder and Eric Chavez likely to return, there’s no place for Nix. Okajima must prove he has something left in the tank in Spring Training after spending most of 2011 as a Red Sox minor leaguer.
The impact of Chavez’s probable re-signing is also felt on Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. After winning the $2 million dollar bid for Nakajima’s rights, Cashman will allow the player to return to the Seibu Lions after contract talks went nowhere and the Yankees will recoup their posting fee.
Andruw Jones signed-on for another year to serve as a backup corner outfielder and part-time designated hitter. Cashman opted to bring back Jones and picked up Nick Swisher’s $10.25 million dollar option for 2012. A strong case could be made that Carlos Beltran or Michael Cuddyer would have served as an upgrade to the Yankees’ offense. Beltran and Cuddyer went on to sign for the Cardinals and Rockies respectively.
Cashman didn’t believe in giving either veteran a longer-term contract than Swisher who was a low-risk player to bring back for another year. It’s hard to argue with Cashman’s logic. This offseason hasn’t presented the Yankees with clear ‘no-brainer options’ via trade or free agency.
Is less more for the Yankees going into 2012? Share your opinions below and send your tweets to @HartyLFC.