Rachel writes: What do you think about the Yankees signing Doug Mientkiewicz to play first, or at least platoon? I thought when he was on the team a couple of years ago that it was worth dealing with the slightly below-average offensive production for the fantastic defense he provided. The way he went all-out on every play was something we didn’t see much of this past year from most of the Yankees players, and something I was hoping (expecting?) from a Girardi-led squad. Also is there anything the Yankees can get for Wilson Betemit?
Answer: Rachel, I was a big supporter of Doug when he was here. But I do believe his time has come and gone, at least as far as the Yankees are concerned. He was a part-time player for a bad Pirates team last season and that should tell you something. The Yankees can do better at first. As for Betemit, he has little to no trade value. His one skill is that he occasionally hits a home-run off a lefty. But he’s otherwise pretty useless as a player given that he can’t run, field, throw or hit for average. They should just non-tender him.
Anthony writes: I was informed a few days a go by a friend of mine who works in the NY Yankee organization that he was told by several of Manny Ramirez’s family members who he personally knows that Manny wants very much to sign a four-year deal to play for the Yankee’s next year. He wants to finish his career and play for the one team he grew up with. It will not be all about the money.
Answer: So let me get this straight, Manny Ramirez dumped his agent, hired Scott Boras then sulked his way out of Boston (and two $20 million options) and it will not be all about the money. That makes perfect sense. But let’s say Manny does want to play for the Yankees. Why would the Yankees want him? They have greater needs than a left fielder. And any team that signs Manny for four seasons is crazy.
David writes: What are the chances that the yankees sign two free agent pitchers if Andy Pettitte actually comes back? Now that Jake Peavy is no longer a viable option, who should the Yankees focus on?
Answer: The Yankees clearly need to acquire two starters via trade or free agency. I believe the Yankees should (and will) focus on CC Sabathia. A.J. Burnett and Ben Sheets are too risky in my estimation but they seem interested in Burnett. Somebody like Derek Lowe would make more sense. I suspect you’ll see a trade bring back a starter before the winter is over.
Rich writes: Do the Yankees embrace the team thing? A-Rod just getting his numbers doesn’t sound like a team thing to me. The past Yankee winners did seem to be a team.
Answer: When a team wins, they look like a team. When a team loses, they look selfish. I don’t think it’s fair to pin it on Alex. That said, the incentive clauses based on his chasing down Barry Bonds were a bad idea. When Hank and Hal went back on their promise and caved in to Alex last year, it sent a terrible message.
Nora writes: I have even a dumber question then the spitting one from the last mailbag. Why do a lot of the managers wear their jackets in the dugout when it’s over 70 on the field? Take Joe Torre, he wore one during the playoffs and it wasn’t that cold in LA was it? I could never figure it out, but you may know the answer.
Answer: Joe Torre is 68 and he gets cold. He’s an old man. Seriously, this is a great baseball mystery. Former A’s and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson used to wear a jacket every day, even when it was 100. I think some baseball guys just like wearing jackets. It may be hot but they think they look cool I suppose.
Gifford writes: Do you think the Yankees can afford to spend a good amount more than their 2008 payroll? If they drop $86 million in payroll, have triple the luxury suites in the new stadium, and a higher luxury tax threshhold, could they handle adding $100-125 million back in payroll? If so, can’t they afford all their free agents needs plus some more?
Answer: In theory, sure. But in practice, it’s unlikely. The Yankees finished last season with a payroll of roughly $220 million. I can’t see them going above that and it’ll probably be below. The plunging stock market has to have hurt the Steinbrenner family fortune. They also put out a lot of scratch to build the new Stadium. George Steinbrenner spent money wildly in pursuit of championships and his own legacy. His sons are younger men who have children, one ex-wife apiece and other commitments. They don’t figure to be as casual with the checkbook.
Chris writes: It’s obvious that the Yankees could use a good deal of help in the starting rotation. What are the chances they’ll take a flyer on a former highly thought of guy through free agency, such as Mark Prior, Gustavo Chacin, or Horacio Ramirez?
Answer: The Yankees need guys they can count on, not rehab cases. I can see them giving somebody like that a minor-league contract. But don’t expect much. Beyond that, they already have Eric Milton and Victor Zambrano in the rehab pipeline.
Miel writes: What do you think the Yankees will do, and what do you think the Yankees should do, about the Hideki Matsui/Jorge Posada situation? There is no way to know whether either one will even be able to be productive at DH, much less 1B or LF/C. Is it wise to leave 1B and/or DH open for them?
Answer: Matsui had arthroscopic surgery to repair a cartilage issue. He’ll be ready for spring training and at the very least will be the DH. Posada is more complicated. He had extensive shoulder surgery and is still five weeks away from starting a throwing program. The Yankees believe he will be ready to be their catcher by Opening Day based on what his surgeon said. With all their other needs, they can’t really go out and get a catcher now.
Thanks to everybody for writing in.