If I were Cashman….
Ok. There are a lot of thoughts out there as to what someone would do if they were the GM of the Yanks. If they were Cashman. Here is what I would do. Here is what some think will happen. Feel free to add what you would do.
Remember, you don’t have an unlimited budget. You have to work within the constraints and budget that Hal Steinbrenner gives you.
Also, realize that you are stuck with some ballplayers. McCann has four years left on his deal. A-Rod and Teix two, CC a couple, two for Beltran, six for Ellsbury and Tanaka, etc.
So, I’ll take this position by position, and check into free agents and upgrades.
Catcher: McCann has four years left. He led the Yanks in HR and RBI in 2014 with 23 and 75. He only hit .232. The OPS+ was just 93. I’ll take the power numbers, but the average has to increase. Now, as for Cervelli, Romine, Murphy and Sanchez, you now have five catchers (inc. McCann) for the majors and AAA. That is too many. Someone (or two) has to go. McCann will get most of the playing time in the majors. Someone has to get most of the time at AAA (Sanchez?). That means you have to choose on backups. There isn’t enough playing time to go around. The Yanks have to decide who will back up McCann on the MLB level, and who will be the top starter (prospect) at AAA. Someone, or two, have to go. The Yanks have to decide who stays, and who gets included in a package deal. They also need to know what the market would bring for a Cervelli, Romine, Murphy…
So… if I were Cashman, I move one or two of these catchers in a package deal.
Infield/DH: You are stuck with Teixeira at 1B. You are stuck with A-Rod as probably the DH (with some time at 3B and maybe backup to the fragile Teix at 1B). Martin Prado fits in here somewhere at 2B or 3B. Ok, do you bring back Chase Headley for 3B/1B? Apparently the Yanks are talking to him about doing so. If they bring him back, does that mean Prado will be at 2B in 2015 and Headley at 3B (with A-Rod mostly DH-ing and playing 3B or 1B only when Headley or Teix need a breather?)
What about Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder? Both hit .300 at AAA in 2014. Pirela is more versatile than Refsnyder. Do you give one, or both, a chance?
And what about SS? Brendan Ryan has a good glove, but couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. Hanley Ramirez is a free agent, but he has been injured recently and some think he is better suited for 3B now than SS. That doesn’t help the Yanks. Ramirez, 31 next year, if healthy, can give .290-20-95 with 20 SB. If the Yanks don’t get him, they could go after a lower-tier SS like bringing back Stephen Drew, or going after Asdrubal Cabrera or Jed Lowrie.
What I would do is something different. Last year at the trade deadline, the Cubs picked up a top SS prospect from the A’s in the Samadzija/Hammel deal. Now, do they want the young prospect at SS, or do they want to keep Starlin Castro there? Is Castro available now that they have that young top prospect? Castro is 25, a 3x All-Star. Eventually the Yanks have to get younger. A 3x All-Star who is only 25 is a nice way to go. The only thing is, will the Cubs trade and who will they trade? They have a lot of money and some indications are they will go “full Steinbrenner” mode and spend a lot on free agents this offseason. So are they open to a trade?
Another trade possibility could be with the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo, like Ramirez, would come with injury questions. Great players, but they have to stay on the field. Ramirez is a free agent, while you would have to work out a trade for Tulo.
My first option: with the young prospect that the Cubs have for SS, see about a deal (and include one of the catchers listed above—Cervelli, Romine or Murphy) in a package deal for Castro. Maybe include Sanchez if necessary (after all, you have McCann for four more years). Tulo and Ramirez are some five to six years older than Castro. Maybe the Cubs don’t go for the package deal. Maybe they are fixed on free agent Russell Martin for catcher. See about a trade first for Castro. Then see about one for Tulo. Then go after Ramirez if the trades are not there. There is less talk about Castro or Tulo not cutting it at SS any more than there is with Ramirez.
Of course if Castro, Tulo, Ramirez fail, then there is plan B—-Drew, Lowrie, Cabrera.
I also let Headley go. I go with the kids Refsnyder and Pirela, and play Prado at 3B. I don’t think the Yanks will do that. I think they will go full in for Headley at 3B, want Prado at 2B and want to give Refsnyder more time at AAA. What they do with Pirela, I don’t know. Maybe a backup. But I give Refsnyder the job at 2B. I make Pirela (who can play five positions) a utility guy and I let Headley go.
Outfield: You have Gardner, Ellsbury and Beltran. If A-Rod Dh’s, Beltran has to be able to play RF. They could use a righty bat to compliment these players. Soriano is gone. Chris Young was there late last year.
My choice: sign Michael Morse as a free agent. His defense isn’t the best, but the dude can hit. He can play LF/RF and back up Teix at 1B.
So if I had 13 position players to start 2015 with, here are my choices.
C: McCann 1B: Teixeira 2B: Refsnyder (give the rookie a shot) SS: Castro (or Ramirez or Tulo) 3B: Prado. LF: Gardner CF: Ellsbury RF: Beltran DH: A-Rod.
Ok, that is 9. Now, four backups.
My choices: Backup C: Cervelli (or Murphy, whoever isn’t dealt). Sanchez at AAA with Murphy or Romine, whoever is still here.
Jose Pirela: He can play 1B, 2B. 3B, LF or RF. Versatile. Give the kid a shot, along with Refsnyder.
Mike Morse. Can fill in at LF/RF/1B and DH.
Brendan Ryan. Last guy on the bench. Glove man. All infield positions. Mostly backup at 2B and SS.
Pitchers. Assuming Kuroda is retiring.
Let McCarthy go via free agency.
Go full bore after Max Scherzer. Lester and Shields are available as Plan B if you don’t get Scherzer. Apparently the Cubs want Lester, Boston wants Shields. The Cubs could go for Scherzer AND Lester. But Scherzer, 30, 39-8 in the past two years, is priority #1.
The rotation could then be Scherzer, Tanaka, Pineda, CC (aging and coming off a knee injury, he drops to #4) and Shane Greene. It’s nice to have two aces at the top. Even three.
If Greene fails at #5, Ivan Nova comes back from TJ surgery next year, probably at mid-season.
You also could fill the #5 slot with Phelps, Manny Banuelos (if he isn’t dealt in a package deal), Bryan Mitchell (package deal?), or Jaron Long (same thing).
Go full out in keeping Robertson (the Yanks made him a qualifying offer, will he accept?). That way, Betances can stay as a setup guy (and you could use him two innings at a time). Phelps, Warren and Kelley make five relief guys, with Phelps and Warren able to give more than one inning and being available to spot start if needed. This leaves room for two lefties. Give Jacob Lindgren a shot. Maybe bring back David Huff, who can give innings also.
There are still problems with the team. I’m not sold on Beltran, A-Rod, McCann and Teix being the 4-7 hitters (in whatever order). There is still some age.
But I try to bring in some youth in Lindgren, Refsnyder, and Pirela. I try to have a two or three-ace pitching rotation with Scherzer and Tanaka. It’s three if Pineda (1.89 ERA in 2014) can stay healthy. Four if CC can be CC again (I don’t think it’ll happen).
I look for some versatility in Prado (mostly 3B, but can play 2B, LF, RF), Morse (LF/RF/1B) and Pirela (1B/2B/3B/LF/RF). Look for A-Rod to mostly DH but fill in at 1B/3B.
Anyway, for me, I go one big free agent splash (Scherzer), one minor one (Morse) and then see about acquisition #3… either big free agent splash (Ramirez) or big trade (Tulo or Castro).
That is what I’d do… as for others….
MLB Trade Rumors and SI have the Yanks getting Scherzer and Ramirez.
However, in the NY Post, Ken Davidoff has them getting neither, but getting cheaper alternatives.
So here is my team, with the crossouts from my team with a line through them, and then the Davidoff replacements following in italic.
McCann, Cervelli or Murphy, Teixeira, Refsnyder, Headley , Prado, Ramirez (or Tulo or Castro), Drew, A-Rod, Ryan, Pirela. So it would look like the infield would be Headley at 3B, Prado at 2B with Drew at SS. No offense to Drew, but a big comedown from my hoping for Castro, Ramirez or Tulowitzki.
Outfield: Gardner, Ellsbury, Beltran, Morse. (maybe the Yanks go cheap and instead of Morse, keep Chris Young. Again, a comedown?)
Pitching: Scherzer, McCarthy, Tanaka, Pineda, CC and Greene. (with Nova coming back mid-season if someone falters/gets hurt)
Robertson, Betances, Warren, Phelps, Kelley, Lindgren and Huff. Andrew Miller. Not sure who would be scratched, Huff or the rookie Lindgren.
But with Davidoff’s team, it appears like Refsnyder and Lindgren get more minor league time. Also, the Yanks go with cheaper alternatives (McCarthy and Drew) than the big play Scherzer/Ramirez types.
If the Yanks are able to get Miller and retain Robertson, that bullpen could be lights out.
But the offense really worries me, esp. if they go on the cheap and hope for a rebound from Drew instead of going in the direction I am going in.
Ok, you’ve seen some scenarios.
Now if YOU were Cashman, what would YOU do?