Front Office: I seriously doubt Cashman is coming back, so that leaves the door open. George has all but officially cut ties with his one true great baseball mind, Stick Michael, so any dreams NYY fans have of him taking over are just that--dreams. I've read up on this clown Oppenheim, and quite frankly, I'm disgusted. I'm not sure what I'll do if he or any of the other jackasses from Tampa get the job. Somebody send George a letter, seriously. He seems to be easily impressionable.
Bottom line is, I don't know enough about the FA market for GMs to be able to give a realistic or good alternative. Just keep it out of those Tampa guys' hands. I wish Steinbrenner had the good sense to give Stick the job, but I don't even know if Michael is part of the organization anymore.
Coaching Staff: I think it would be a joke to fire Joe Torre. He's done a great job for them and he actually got this roster playing like a team over the last month. That's why I believe he was so emotional when they won the division, and so heartbroken when they lost, saying that it was worse than any of the other losses (including the 2004 collapse). He does not deserve to go.
Stottlemyre basically resigned today, so that opens the door for pitching coach. We can all dream about Leo Mazzone, but there is no concrete evidence to suggest that he'd move to New York, outside of rumors, started by Yankee fans and memebers of the New York media. More realistic options include Ron Guidry (who would get my vote), Gil Patterson the AAA pitching coach, or Neil Allen the MLB bullpen coach. The two coaches are greatly respected from what I've heard, so I wouldn't have a problem with either of them.
Girardi is likely going to manage the Florida Marlins, or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, so that opens up the bench coach spot. Don Mattingly would likely assume this role, and take another step towards what we all know is an inevitible shot at the Yankee managerial job.
With Mattingly moving to bench coach, the hitting coach spot opens. I read that Ruben Sierra, who has been helping Donnie out alot as a player/coach for the past two seasons, would take over full-time. I don't know how effective he'd be, but I don't really believe in hitting coaches anyway.
Catcher: I'd hate to say it, but if there was ever a time to move Jorge Posada, it is now. He's going into his contract year, and he's been steadily declining for years. He's getting up near the age where the bottoms usually fall out for catchers, and though he is an original Yank, moving him would be best for the organization. With only $12 million left on the contract, the Yanks could likely eat a few million and trade him off for prospects, or a possible bullpen arm (although there aren't many available).
With Posada gone, you'd have to pursue one of the two premeir catchers on free agency; Bengie Molina or Ramon Hernandez. I'd pursue Molina first, but either one would be a good accquisition. Molina is two years older but he's a superior defender and had a great offensive season this year. His arm is one of the best in the game and he'd help the Yankees. Hernandez is a little more injury prone, though he'd be a fine consolation prize if we were to miss out on Molina.
I'd also like to see them get a younger backup catcher who has potential like a LaRue or Toby Hall, instead of a near 40-year-old Flaherty.
First Base: I'd like for the Yankees to get a first baseman that can actually play a little defense, but also not be a major liability with the bat. Giambi is better served playing DH. There are no real options at FA for 1st base outside of Konerko, but I don't want him. Just another high profile 40 homerun hitter that the team doesn't need. The only other FAs are like Hatteberg, Olerud and Tino. None of them very appealing. The NY Post suggested that they offer for a player like Lyle Overbay, who is on Milwaukee's trading block. Carlos Pena from Detroit would be another option.
Nick Johnson could be another possibility and one that I'd be very interested in. He's played in New York before, has a very good glove, and has developed a very nice bat. The Nationals lost Schnieder this offseason, could they be interested in taking on Posada for Tino? We'd of course have to pay some of Jorge's contract but we'd have to no matter where we sent him. Nick is arbitration eligible and the Nats would likely lose him after this year, so it would be an interesting situation.
Second Base: Cano is locked in as our second baseman and I'd turn down any offers for him, including the Torii Hunter offers. I'd also try to dump Womack on another team, as he's only been a distraction. They'd need to find and sign a good backup MI. Cairo and Graffanino are both FAs, perhaps they could bring one back to be the backup?
Third Base: Obviously A-Rod isn't going anywhere.
Shortstop: Either is Jeter.
Left Field: They need to sign Matsui back. He's almost assumed a Paul O'Neil type role in the offense since he got here in 2003. He is a major part of this offense. The Yankees need to address one of the other big issues they had last year: bench depth. They had nobody to come of the bench; complete opposite from the championship years. When you look at the 1996-2000 Yankees, you notice the amazing depth of their bench. Charlie Hayes, Darryl Strawberry, Jim Leyrtiz, Tim Raines, Cecil Fielder, Shane Spencer, etc. The Yankees need to get a threat to come off of the bench.
Jeff Conine is a FA and had a very good season for Florida. I don't know what his interests are in coming to a new team to be a backup, but he's a player who can bring a good bat, and play defense in the outfield, third base and some first as well. Other options would include bringing Bernie Williams back as a bench player, or perhaps someone else.
Centerfield: I do not want Johnny Damon, Juan Pierre or any other marquee name like that. Both have major flaws and Damon in particular wants a ridiculous contract. The Yankees would be better served signing a player like Jacque Jones for a short term answer, or trading for someone like Mike Cameron, who could provide great defense and a decent bat for one year until his contract expires. They cannot give up anything of value for Cammy though, he isn't that good.
I don't know if I'd keep Bubba Crosby around, although I like him. I'd probably use him as the backup/pinch runner early in the season, but bring up the Thompson kid later in the year after he get some more AAA experience.
Right Field: If I could, I'd trade him for a centerfielder like Aaron Rowand of Chicago, and then sign Brian Giles to play right field, but Sheff made it clear that he doesn't want to be traded, and he'll do everything in his power to whine and b!tch to get his way. It appears the Yankees are stuck with the baby for another year. I only hope that they decline his option after 2006 and let him go. They need to get younger, faster and more positive, and Sheff satisfies none of those needs. He's a great hitter but even his numbers have declined. Signing him over Vlad is a mistake this organization will be kicking themselves over for years to come.
Starting Pitching: Randy Johnson obviously isn't going anywhere and he'll assume the number 1 rotation spot going into next season. Hopefully he follows A-Rod's lead and becomes more comfortable in New York in year 2, and does what we brought him here to do.
With Mussina entering his final year, I'd look to see if there's any interest for him from other teams. He's got roughly $19 million left on his contract if I'm not mistaken, so they'd likely have to eat some of it, but they can probably get solid prospects for him. If he doesn't generate enough interest, I'd just leave him and not worry about it.
It would be dificult to trade Wright, but since he missed 60+ games with his shoulder injury, the third year of his contract can be voided. Therefore, this would be his final year, and he'd only have about $7 million on his deal. Not completely untradable. If you can get any noteworthy prospect for him, I'd do it. He would be the 6th or 7th starter on the team, and he sucks anyway.
I'd obviously resign Shawn Chacon, as he proved that he could pitch in big games in New York. You can't let those guys get away. Wang would obviously assume a rotation spot, and you'd have to assume Pavano does as well. He has way too much money owed to him to be traded, although I did read that he's already unhappy in New York. I'd take the same attitude with him as I'm taking with Wright. If you can find a taker, dump his ass.
I'd look to go into next season with a rotation of Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Chien-Ming Wang, Shawn Chacon and Carl Pavano. I'd put Aaron Small in the bullpen and hope to hell I can trade Wright so that I don't have to occupy a roster spot with his sorry carcass.
Bullpen: I'd dedicate $50 million to the bullpen this offseason if that's what it takes to make it dominant. Games in today's age are won in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. I was listening to Bobby Murcer on WFAN today and he said the average starting pitcher only goes about 5.1 innings per start. Bullpen is so essential to winning, yet it doesn't get as much attention as starting pitching. I'd dedicate all my time to turning this bullpen around.
BJ Ryan is a must-sign in my opinion. He supplies a dominant lefty that has been missing since the good Stanton left. I'd let Gordon walk, he sucks. I'd also probably let Sturtze go, especially if something is really wrong with his shoulder (he's having an MRI tomorrow or the next day I believe.) Other guys I'd look to acquire would be Billy Wagner, Ugueth Urbina, Bob Howry, Mike Timlin, Bob Wickman or trade for a good reliever such as Danys Baez.
Bullpens win ballgames. Look no further than the dynasty Yankees for proof of that.