31 Dec 2011
The beauty of baseball is that you just never know what will happen. Entering the 2011 season, almost everyone predicted that the Red Sox and Phillies would meet in the World Series and that the Cardinals were not going to do much after losing their ace to injury. Yet, the Cardinals walked away with the hardware in 2011, giving the National League its first consecutive titles since 1982.
Some fans view the 2011 Yankees as failures, but I don’t. Perhaps it was the fact that I came of age in the fallow period of Yankee history, but anytime the Yankees win the division, I view it as a successful season. Brian Cashman gambled on a suspect pitching staff and he drew an inside straight. I never thought we would see another Aaron Small-type season, but Bartolo Colon’s 2011 came close. And while Colon faded down the stretch and the starting pitching wasn’t much behind Sabathia and Nova, it’s worth remembering that in the end the offense cost the Yankees a chance to move on.
And what will 2012 bring to Yankees’ fans? It’s foolish to try and predict things when the roster is still in flux, but one thing I can almost guarantee is to expect lots of surprises. Cashman has stood by this offseason and watched the top free agents (except for Fielder) come off the board and the top pitchers in the trade market go elsewhere. It seems that it is all part of his plan to make the Yankees younger and less expensive, but I wouldn’t mistake his inactivity for complacency. If I had to guess, here are five moves we might see occur in 2012.
1- Yankees trade a bunch of prospects for a premium starter. This is hardly going out on a limb, but it remains the most obvious need.
2- Russel Martin get signed to a three-year deal. Again, not a shocker, except for the length of the deal. But, the Yankees have become a very statistically-oriented team and Martin’s defense is superb. Throw in a better than average bat for a catcher and I think they keep him around while they try and develop Montero into a catcher.
3- The closer torch is passed to David Robertson. You read the reported quotes about Mariano wanting to play until he is 50, but I don’t buy it. I think Mo is far too smart to hang around and let age rob him of his abilities and he is also a man who has lots of interests outside of baseball. I think 2012 will be it for him.
4- The Yankees make a trade for a young outfielder. I love Nick Swisher, but let’s face it, he isn’t going to be a Yankee in 2013. The Swisher trade could go down as Brian Cashman’s greatest coup. He got one of the best rightfielders in the game for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. But, he is 31 and has Scott Boras as an agent. He will be seeking a big deal in the offseason and the Yankees won’t give it to him. The Yankees don’t have an obvious in-house candidate to replace him in 2013, so I think they go outside the organization and find a replacement.
5- Derek Jeter hits 8th in 2012. I don’t think it will happen right away, but at some point in 2012 it is inevitable in my mind that Jeter drops from the top of the lineup. I would bet that the Yankees start the year with Jeter only leading off against lefties, like they did in 2011, but start moving him down against righties by May.
Those are my five, how about yours?
Finally a big thanks to all the readers out there for a wonderful 2011. It’s all of you that make this a fun endeavor. I hope you all have a Happy New Year and please come back in 2012!