It pains me to write this post, it really does. I’ve already written my rah-rah, let’s go Yanks post leading into the second half, now it’s time for the other side of the coin. What happens if they come out flat after the All Star break, or just tread water?
The answer is simple. If, on July 30th or thereabouts, the Yankees find themselves at or below .500 and/or more than say 7 games out of first place in the division and/or the Wild Card race, they have to become sellers.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, and maybe one that George will never accept, but it’s the right move. Step one is to sit down with Alex Rodriguez and make every effort to sign him to a long-term extension. (According to ESPN, Cashman is laying the groundwork to do just this now.) The sooner the better. If A-Rod is going to opt-out of the remaining $81M owed to him on his current contract, he has to be moved. This is going to be difficult to do, but if you talk extension and he says no, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t care about being in New York beyond this season anyway, and he may be amenable to a deal. It’s impossible to get fair market value for the best player in the game, but there will be no shortage of bidders. Even if A-Rod is only a rental, I think the Yanks could get a top-line prospect and a young major-league ready player. There are a lot of ifs in this paragraph, and honestly, I doubt it comes to this, but if it does, he must go.
The odds of A-Rod leaving town this year, or next, are very slim as far as I’m concerned. Someone’s going to have to offer him $30+ million per year to get him, and hopefully he’s learned that when any team other than the Yanks pays him that much, they don’t have enough left over to put the talent around him to compete. Let’s table that discussion for now.
On to the rest of the team. The Yanks have assets that contending teams are going to want. We’ll start in the bullpen. If I’m Brian Cashman, the first call I make is to the Phillies. The Phils will be in the N.L. East race the whole season, and their bullpen is probably the only thing standing between them and the playoffs. I’d start the conversation at Kyle Farnsworth for the Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino. The deal would probably wind up being Proctor or Bruney for Michael Bourn. I can live with that. Bourn put up nice numbers in the minors, he’s got speed to burn, and he’s young. A slap hitter with a high OBP, the lead off man of the future, and rumor has it he’s available.
Mike Myers is also expendable, and probably has enough value to bring back a B-level prospect. There’s no reason to keep him around if there’s a market for him.
Now, we come to the fun stuff. Two names jump out at you when you start talking about selling. Mike Mussina and Bobby Abreu. Moving Mussina would be much more difficult (I can’t find any info on a no-trade clause). Mussina signed a $23M, 2–year deal this past off season. If the Yanks were to move him, I have to think they’d eat some of that contract. I would be 100% in favor of that. I say send him packing for a prospect or two. He has nothing left in the tank, and honestly, I’m sick of watching him flail for the Yanks. There is such a dearth of starting pitching out there, someone is going to bite, maybe even the Mets.
Abreu, on the other hand, could probably be moved. Abrue is due $15 million this year, and his contract has a club option at $16 million for 2008, with a $2 million buyout. If he gets hot and pushes his average up closer to .300, someone out there will be willing to rent him for three months. Again, a prospect or two would be fine.
The point is, these guys are old, and getting older. Cashman would be loathe to sit on his hands as this season goes down the tubes and not at least make some phone calls. Teams on the fringe will be desperate, and eating part of contracts is no problem for the Yanks. I say pull the trigger and work on next year. You’re still going to fill the stadium, most of the tickets are sold already. Bring in some youth, restock the minor league system and come back ready to compete next year. This seems like a much better option to me than playing out the string with a group of guys who won’t be part of the solution going forward.
There, I said it. No we can completely forget about this conversation because the turnaround starts tomorrow against Tampa.