Who should the Yanks target?

Now that the Yanks brought back Kuroda, and know that Mo is coming back, who should they target?

We don’t know about Andy Pettitte yet, and rumors are that they are interested in bringing back Ibanez.

There’s one problem with all that, and I’ve mentioned it a lot. Kuroda is 38 next year, Mo 43, Pettitte and Ibanez turn 41 next June.

I won’t go into Chavez (35), Andruw Jones (35), Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano or Nick Swisher here. Chavez may be back, I don’t want Jones. Martin could be back, and I hope so. Despite the poor .211 batting average, he did have 21 HR, handled the staff well, was good defensively, and let’s face it, Romine isn’t ready. Cervelli isn’t a starting catcher. Sanchez is a few years away. Stewart is a nice backup who can’t hit. Martin is still the best option for catcher for the Yanks next year.

I expect Soriano and Swisher to be gone.

We know that Jeter (39 in June) and A-Rod (38 in July) are coming back. There is an age issue.

We also know that the Yanks are watching their pennies much more than when the Boss was alive.

So who among the top free agents out there would fit the Yanks’ needs?

Here’s who I would target. You can offer your own opinions, and I’d be glad to hear them.

1) Shane Victorino.  Victorino will be 32, seven years younger than Ichiro (39). I like Ichiro, but see the age issue I mentioned above. I don’t want to see the Yanks with 1/3 of the 25 man roster 35 years old or older. Ichiro has 10 Gold Gloves in his career, Victorino three. You could move Granderson and his bad routes to the short RF at the Stadium, move Gardner to CF and play Victorino in LF. The switch-hitting Victorino could bat second and along with Gardner’s comeback, give the Yanks the speed they lacked last year. He had an off-year in 2012 (.255-11-55, 39 SB, OPS+ 91) but has a 162 g. average of .275-14-62, 30 sb, OPS+ 102. He also has postseason experience, a plus in NY.  You’d have a speedy OF. Of course, you’d have to get Granderson stealing bases again and not just hitting HR (you’d also have to get Curtis to get the batting average up and cut down on the strikeouts).

2) Joakim Soria. He missed all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery. The Yanks are taking a flyer with David Aardsma, who’ll be 31 next year, why not Soria? Aardsma missed all of 2011, and only pitched in one game for the Yanks in 2012 (1 IP, walk, K, solo HR). Soria will be just 29 next spring and has expressed the desire to set up for Mo. He could come cheaply, loaded with incentives. His 162 g. average is 3-3, 2.40, 37 saves, ERA+ 181. If he can come back to a semblance of his old self, the Yanks won’t miss Soriano. Not only that, if he is back to his old self and Mo falters, he is a fallback. Him, Robertson, Mo and Joba could be formidable.

3) Jeff Keppinger. The Yanks have been interested in him in the past. If there are concerns over Jeter being ready on opening day or Nunez playing SS (with his shaky defense) while Jeter gets ready, Keppinger could be a fill-in. He can play 2B, SS, and 3B, and (no offense to Nix), would be an upgrade over Jayson Nix. Keppinger hit .325 last year, (.325-9-40, 127 OPS+) and is a .288 career hitter, (162 g. average .288-9-59, OPS+ 97).

4) Stephen Drew. A lefty hitting SS who had a rough year. .223-7-28, OPS+ 79 this year. Once again an option if Jeter isn’t ready. But despite a lefty bat that the Stadium may help, he doesn’t offer the versatility of Keppinger. 30 next year, his 162 g. average is .265-15-70, OPS+ 96. I rate Keppinger higher because of his versatility, esp. with the age issues of Jeter and A-Rod.

I don’t see the Yanks making a big splash. So forget B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton, Dan Haren, etc.

I was looking for guys still in their prime. I also wasn’t looking at guys like Chavez, Ibanez, Pettitte and Martin who could be returning who were with the team last year.

One person I’ve heard that the Yanks should trade for is Shin-Soo Choo of Cleveland. I’m on board with that. He’s 30 (another in their prime player), who could replace the (probably) departing Swisher. Choo, a lefty hitter, hit .283-16-67, 21 SB, OPS+ 131 this past season. He provides some much needed speed. His 162 g. average is .289-19-86, 20 SB and an OPS+ of 132.

If they could sign Victorino and trade for Choo, it means Jones and Ibanez are gone, and they get younger and faster. I am all for that.

As mentioned, I’m looking for guys affordable (which guys like Soria, coming off injury and probably amenable to an incentive-laden contract are), who would fit needs, and who are IN THEIR PRIME.

The team needs to get younger.         

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