As expected, I got a lot of Pinch Hitter suggestions in favor of the Yankees offseason approach. I selected a few who gave slightly different versions of why they were in favor of the conservative approach. But certainly not everyone agreed.
Our next Pinch Hitter is Brendan Sennott, a Yankees fan living in Detroit, where his wife of eight years, Angela, says he loves the Yankees more than he loves her. “To which I always respond,” Brendan wrote, “’But at least I love you more than football.’…All kidding aside my family is my life.” He has a a degree in broadcasting and worked as a part-time sports reporter in Detroit until giving it up in 2009. He now works in marketing, but he says he would love to get back into sports media some day.
For today, he dips back into writing to explain why this wasn’t the best winter for a conservative approach. The moves of earlier this month redeemed the Yankees somewhat, but Brendan believes this is a time for aggression, not patience.
The Bombers acquired young, fire-balling starting pitcher Michael Pineda and pitching prospect Jose Campos from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. While consummating the trade, the Yanks signed veteran right hander Hiroki Kuroda. The moves solidified the New York rotation and instantly improved a team that won 97 games and the American League East last season. The Yankees are now the prohibitive favorites to duplicate that very feat in 2012.
My question is, why stop there? This team still has many holes and question marks to address before pitchers and catchers report in three weeks. In my humble opinion, Yankees GM Brian Cashman still has more work to do to try and upgrade this ball club from a potentially great team to an unbeatable one.
It is my feeling that Cashman’s sense of urgency should be heightened this offseason as compared to any other in his tenure as GM. The reason being the loss of a truly indispensable cog in the Yankee machine is looming.
The Steinbrenner Doctrine has always been championship or bust since the beginning of the family’s reign in 1973. Constant talk of new luxury tax thresholds, payroll limitations, and developing young players from within is quite prudent for the Braves and Royals organizations. It just doesn’t fit the New York Yankee brand and what the late George M. Steinbrenner stood for. This is especially true approaching a season that may well be the last for the undisputable most valuable player of the last five Yankee world championships, Mariano Rivera.
Rivera will begin 2012 in the final year of the two-year, $30-million contract he signed prior to the 2010 season. He will be pitching at age 42 in his 18th major league season, all of which have been gloriously spent in Yankee pinstripes. All signs point to this season being the last of his storied career. Rivera is baseball’s all-time saves leader with 603. He has an incredible career ERA of 2.21.
The scary thing is, Rivera continues to be as dominant as ever. In 2011, he was 44-for-49 in save opportunities with a 1.91 ERA. He retired all four batters he faced in the Yankees’ Division Series loss to Detroit with one strikeout. Rivera has 42 career saves in the postseason, with an obscene 0.70 lifetime ERA. It is that continued dominance on the game’s biggest stage that makes him the ultimate weapon in baseball, a weapon that no other team in the majors possesses.
So why then is a global conglomerate like the Yankees getting away from what it allegedly stands for in winning at all costs??? Why are they selling its fan base on the values of fiscal responsibility and developing young talent? It really doesn’t make much sense now, does it?
I truly hope all of the members of the Yankee hierarchy have the same recurring nightmare that every single Yankee fan has had for the last decade or so. The Yankees are clinging to one-run lead in a pivotal game and there is no Mariano to protect that lead. There is no “Enter Sandman” blaring through the Yankee Stadium loudspeaker. Another, less qualified relief pitcher is coming into the game. That nightmare is getting far closer to a reality for all of us, so why stand pat?
Stop talking about budgets and prospects. It is time to act. Find a way to get rid of A.J. Burnett, even if it means eating the money owed to him. See if Edwin Jackson will take a one-year deal to be the fifth starter. Try to trade Nick Swisher and Phil Hughes for an experienced, clutch righty bat. Help keep A-Rod healthy by signing a quality big leaguer that can actually field (apologies to Eduardo Nunez). Sign Johnny Damon to be the DH and add another lefty reliever to solidify the bullpen.
The Tigers, Angels, and Rangers clearly don’t care about increasing payroll or the future ramifications of the new luxury tax rates in 2014. Why the heck should the Yankees?
After all, the Yankees still have the one guy that all of those other teams don’t: The Great Rivera.
Associated Press photo