A lot is being made this past week or so about the Yankees’ impending contract talks with captain Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera. That’s nothing new — New York media is a joke and will inflate anything they can with drama. In this case, it’s a longtime Yankees policy to negotiate after the season for expiring contracts. It makes sense too — how would it look signing one and not the other in March?
My colleague at MLB.com, Bryan Hoch, wrote a little about this faux drama this week and makes some good points — of course these guys will be back. Unless Rivera completely falls apart and is sidelined with injuries, I’d expect he comes back for another year or so. Jeter will be taken care of no doubt.
Both Jeter and Rivera know the routine, so I’m not concerned, but I do worry about the Yankees dissing them a bit (at least in the public’s view) when these talks heat up next winter. No one wants to see another Bernie Williams situation.
What worries me (as worried as a Yankees fan can be) right now heading into the season is the outfield situation. I love Nick Swisher (see my photos of Nick on his official website, nickswisher.net) but he’s pretty streaky and struggles at times; he hit .227 with runners in scoring position in 2009 and .244 against left-handers. Eh.
Not a fan of the Randy Winn signing, he’s a veteran on the decline who had pathetic numbers last season in a watered-down NL West. You can’t claim fiscal responsibility and then go blow $2 mill on a guy like Winn when the bullpen needs all the help it can get.
Brett Gardner will again have a job to lose, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does by June. He needs to be an OBP machine and steal a ton and I’m not sure he’s got that potential, nor will the Yankees be patient enough to wait him out. Winn isn’t the answer, even as a band-aid, so I’m kind of expecting Cashman to make a deal by the deadline at the latest for a corner outfielder.
Curtis Granderson will need to prove himself again with New York — fans were warming up to Johnny Damon in 2009 and honestly I think he’s a huge loss. You can’t preach youth and energy and then go sign Randy Winn. I’d rather have Damon back, and instead the Yanks have Winn and Sergio Mitre eating up the supposed tight budget.
I think Granderson will be OK though, but Damon and Jeter worked well at the top of the lineup and that loss can’t be overlooked. Joe Girardi moved Jeter up last spring, a surprising move, and it generated a World Series. Now you’ve got Granderson and Gardner looking to spark the team.
We’ll get to Joba-Hughes and the bullpen situations soon. What are you thoughts on the upcoming spring battles?