Counting the minor leagues, the Yankees currently have 12 free agents. And, while the first four (Posada, Pettitte, Rivera and a certain third baseman) have gotten plenty of ink, the other eight haven’t. Let’s look at each of them and talk about what the Yankees should do.
Since we are going alphabetically, Colter Bean is at the top of the list. Let’s face it, Bean never got a fair shot here and since he just came off of a 5+ ERA season, I think it is best to let him walk.
Jim Brower is next and he isn’t worth bringing back either.
Next up is an interesting name, Roger Clemens. The Yankees made a mistake in 2003 by not offering arbitration, but this year the decision is already made for them. Clemens is not a type A or B free agent, so the Yankees wouldn’t get any compensation for losing him anyway. Enjoy the Texas sun, Roger.
Doug Mientkiewicz is a luxury the Yankees cannot afford. Doug had his best year since 2003, .277/.349/.440, but it would seem a foolish bet to expect him to do that again. The Yankees have four guys who could play first besides him on the roster now so the need isn’t there either.
Jose Molina would seem to be a no-brainer to return, but that is more a reflection on the catching talent available that anything. Molina put up .318/.333/.439 for the Yankees in 66 AB’s, but his career rates of .243/.279/.345 are much more reasonable expectations going forward. He does catch a good game and play good defense, so retaining him isn’t the worst idea, but the Yankees should aggressively look for a new backup catcher this offseason.
Wil Nieves makes Molina look like DiMaggio and the Yankees should be happy to let him go.
Conveniently, the next four names are the “Big 4” so we can skip them and go right to Ron Villone. Villone ‘s one redeeming factor is that he is left-handed, but he doesn’t get lefties out anymore than he gets righties out. While Sean Henn hasn’t shown much either, the Yankees would be better off giving this bullpen spot to someone who can get outs, regardless of which side they come from.
And that brings us to the last name on the list, Luis Vizcaino. Throw April, May and September out of the equation and Vizcaino was absolutely lights out. Of course, you can’t do that, so what can we make of his body of work? You could make the argument that the first two months are due to adjustment to New York and the last month is due to adjustment to joe Torre. That’s fine, but perhaps the answer is just simply that Vizcaino’s numbers ended where they should have ended up. His ERA+ was 104 which is also his career average.
So, perhaps the best way to look at him is as a pitcher who is slightly better than league average. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have value to the Yankees, but I also wouldn’t hand him millions and a three-year deal. He made $3-million last year and is a Type B free agent. Offer him arbitration and maybe two years and $6-million would be my play.