Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Checking In On The Offseason To-Do List

It's been almost 3 months since I moved on from the rough ending of the 2011 season and started looking towards the future with what, in my opinion, should have been the Yankees' list of offseason priorities.  How's the progress looking on that list now that they've had that 3 months?

1) Get Cash's New Deal Done- Check

The official announcement was made slightly after the details of the new CC came out, but it's safe to assume that the Yankees already had an agreement in place with Cash earlier than that.  Before they could execute any offseason action plan, they needed to have their GM, and they were wise to bring back the best man for the job.

2) Re-Sign CC- Check

Like the Cash deal, this situation was resolved very quickly by the Yankees, and in a very wise fashion.  They made CC the highest paid pitcher in the game again while still maintaining enough payroll flexibility to not have his deal weigh them down in the years to come the way A-Rod's is right now.  And they also didn't get locked into another 7-, 8-, or more-year deal for big money.  Definitely a win-win for both sides.

3) Address The Starting Pitching Situation- Check

Before they even got involved in talks with the big FAs of the year (Wilson, Darvish, Buehrle, etc.), the Yankees were quick to make decisions on all their incumbents.  Nova was declared an official part of the 2012 rotation, as was Phil, and then he was quickly shuttled off to fat camp to get in shape.  They also decided to give A.J. another vote of confidence, let Bartolo go, and re-sign Freddy.  You can argue whether some of the moves were right or wrong, but the fact that the Yanks made decisions on each player and had a rotation in place made their plan for going after FAs more clear and easier to execute.

4) Develop and Execute Offseason FA/Trade Plan- Check

And execute it they did.  It's been a lot of low bids, preliminary talks, and excessive trade demands, but the Yankees' plan was clearly to go into the Winter Meetings with a rotation in place and only get seriously involved in upgrade options if the price was right.  Money has been the name of the game as usual this offseason, only this year it's been about trying to save and conserve money rather than spend it.  Again, you can argue whether this plan by Cash and the front office was the right one, but you can't say that the Yankees didn't have a plan and didn't stick to it.  Well, at least so far they've stuck to it.

5) Define Jesus Montero's 2012 Role- Open
6) Develop Plan for A-Rod for 2012- Open

Neither of these things have been officially addressed by the team, but you have to think behind the scenes some discussions have been had.  I've already talked about the A-Rod situation at length, and whatever is going to happen with Jesus next year is handcuffed to how the Yankees choose to manage A-Rod's playing time.  But with the majority of the roster set for next season, now is the time to finalize these details so the players can prepare themselves for their roles and not have to adjust to things mid-season.

7) Fill Out The Bench And Bullpen As Needed- Half Check

This was last on the priority list, but it's something the Yankees have been quietly doing all offseason.  From bringing back Andruw Jones to signing some guys to MiL deals to adding potential bullpen arms through the Rule 5 draft, the Yankees are slowly but surely filling up the 25-man roster.  And with word coming out that asking prices are starting to come down for the remaining FAs on the market, they might not be done.

For as quiet as this offseason has seemed, the Yankees have actually done a pretty good job addressing their key needs.  They have their GM in place for the long haul, ditto their ace starting pitcher, and they have the majority of their roster set for the 2012 season.  There's still some fine tuning to be done, but the major goals of this offseason have been accomplished, and that's the important thing.

Not The Free Agent Pitcher I Had In Mind

Via Ben Nicholson-Smith: 

"Yankees maintain interest in re-signing Luis Ayala, who spent '11 season w/ NY."

That was pretty much my reaction to reading that news late last night, right down to me almost shooting my computer in horror.  Luis Ayala sucks, plain and simple.  He served a purpose last year and then all of that was ruined when Joe decided to use him in a high-leverage spot in the ALDS.  I don't need to be reminded of that every time I see Ayala take the mound again; no Yankee fan does.  Let some other team take Ayala and use the last few bullpen spots for young guys.  One of them is just keeping a place warm for Joba anyway.