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The New York Yankees are changing very fast. With a new manager, a slugging 3B gone, and with 2 franchise players with one foot out the door, the Yankees are a rapidly changing franchise. It has aleady been a bizarre offseason for the Bronx Bombers. And it's only going to get crazier. It will be very interesting, with the Red Sox being WS champs and the Mets trying in the worst way to get a big move done, how the new front office for the Yanks does things now.

The biggest need for the Yankees has been pitching. That has been their biggest need for the last few years now. But this year, for the first time in a while, they have a young core of pitchers who appear ready to take their full time rotation spots. But, it's everything but automatic. The bullpen is a different story. Even with the potential re-signing of Mo, the Yankees still need to find good set-up men(which they haven't had really since the last dynasty.) It depends on what unfolds with these 3 guys:

Andy Petitte- He has stated he will either stay with the Yanks or retire. Obviously the guy still has stuff. He can still pitch pretty well. And the Yankees could use a clutch pitcher with the rest of these young guns. If the Yankees don't get Pettitte back, it's a huge downgrade. With the inexperience present among the young pitchers, Petitte will remain very important. And it won't take much to get him. This is about his health and family, not the money or a big deal.

Mariano Rivera- The Yanks and Mo are reportedly very close to agreeing on a 3 year/$40 million deal. This is a no-brainer. Mo will probably wait alittle while longer to at least see if he gets any offers from other teams. He will, but I don't think he will leave the Yanks. Even if another team makes a big offer for him, the Yankees will go the extra mile. Yes, Mo is not as dominant as he once was but he still means so much to this team. They have no other closer.

Joba Chamberlian- Of course, he's staying. But the issue with him is what do you do with him? Set-up man or Starter? Or, if Mo leaves(which isn't totally out of the question) closer? I would keep Joba in the pen and eventually move him into the closer's role. He seems like the perfect guy to take over for Mo when he retires. He seems like the guy who can handle the pressure, like Rivera, of closing for the NY Yankees. But it looks like he will become a starter, since that is what the Yankees have been saying for this whole time.

The starting rotation should look like this:

1. Wang

2. Hughes

3. Petitte

4. Joba

5. Kennedy/Mussina

Mike Mussina is a tough issue. He's still under contract and they probably won't find a team that's willing to trade for him.  I wouldn't want him. He did show some of his old stuff toward the end of the year, but he is way too inconsistent. I guess all you can do is keep him and stick him in the pen. Or the Yankees might wanna give Kennedy more time, because they rushed him up last year. So Mussina can just be a stopgap.

The bullpen is something that might be very hard to improve. The Yankees will have to find another set-up man. Or maybe 2. I would say the best 2 guys on the market for middle relief would be Scott Linebrink and Kerry Wood. Everyone knows Wood's past injury problems. But if the Cubs don't re-sign him, he'll be a nice, cheap option with tremondous upside. I would give him a try for a 1 year deal. Overall, here is the thin list of potential free agent relief pitchers:  *= players who have option for 2008

Jeremy Affeldt COL
Antonio Alfonseca PHI
Armando Benitez FLA
Joe Borowski * CLE
Doug Brocail SD
Hector Carrasco * LAA
Randy Choate ARZ
Francisco Cordero MIL
Rheal Cormier CIN
Elmer Dessens COL
Octavio Dotel * ATL
Scott Eyre * CHC
Aaron Fultz * CLE
Eric Gagne BOS
Eddie Guardado CIN
LaTroy Hawkins COL
Matt Herges COL
Roberto Hernandez LAD
Todd Jones DET
Jorge Julio COL
Joe Kennedy TOR
Byung-Hyun Kim FLA
Ray King MIL
Scott Linebrink MIL
Ron Mahay ATL
Jose Mesa PHI
Trever Miller HOU
Brian Moehler HOU
Mike Myers CWS
Ramon Ortiz COL
Troy Percival STL
Al Reyes * TB
Chris Reitsma SEA
Arthur Rhodes SEA
David Riske KC
Mariano Rivera NYY
J.C. Romero PHI
Rudy Seanez LAD
Aaron Sele NYM
Mike Timlin BOS
Mike Venafro STL
Ron Villone NYY
Luis Vizcaino NYY
Bob Wickman ARZ
Scott Williamson BAL
Jay Witasick TB
Kerry Wood CHC

You also have Todd Jones in there, but I think his career is pretty much done. Ray King could be a good lefty option. So the Yankees could use some bullpen help.

And now you have the hitting. Alot of interesting situations among the position players. The most important is not 3B, but actually the catchers position. The Yankees need to being Posada back. He is still a part of the core of this team and he is still a great player. Posada is without a doubt one of the most consistent catchers during the past 10 years. And add the fact the Yankees have no one else to catch. They have no prospects and the free agent market is dead. These are the free agent catchers. WARNING: May cause eye damage.

Sandy Alomar Jr. NYM
Paul Bako BAL
Rod Barajas * PHI
Michael Barrett SD
Gary Bennett * STL
Raul Casanova TB
Alberto Castillo BAL
Ramon Castro NYM
Mike DiFelice NYM
Sal Fasano TOR
Wiki Gonzalez WAS
Jason Kendall CHC
Jason LaRue KC
Mike Lieberthal * LAD
Paul Lo Duca NYM
Damian Miller MIL
Doug Mirabelli BOS
Chad Moeller LAD
Jose Molina NYY
Josh Paul TB
Mike Piazza OAK
Jorge Posada * NYY
Kelly Stinnett STL
Yorvit Torrealba COL

I don't even know who some of these people are. The best option is Lo Duca, who is extremely average. Posada must be signed. If he isn't, I could see him in a Mets uniform. Why not? The Mets need a catcher, he'll stay in NY, and he loves Willie alot more than Girardi. If the Yankees don't re-sign Posada, they are in some serious trouble. Because another position where the Yankees have no real options is 1B. The Yankees have no good everyday 1B. Giambi is a DH, Doug Mientkiewicz is a bench player, and Phillips can't hit that well. Andy Phillips is basically like Mientkiewicz only he is right-handed and he's younger.

The rest of the infield will be the same. So will the outfield. But the 3B position will be completely different. A-Rod is gone, that's a given. And for the money he is asking, I'm glad the Yanks won't sign him(Crime Of The Century My other blog on the A-Rod contract). The pending players to take his place all have their upsides and downsides.

Wilson Betemit- At the start of last season, he was the starting 3B for the Dodgers. This was his numbers as a 3B last year:

.205 AVG, 7 HRs, 18 RBIs in 56 games

Not that good at all. Actually, that's terrible. Obviously, he did not last long in that role. He has power but he strikes out alot and he has not panned out as an everyday player.

Mike Lowell- I would be shocked if the Red Sox don't re-sign him. If they don't(which would mean they would go after A-Rod) I wouldn't want him anyway. He had great numbers for the Sox last year, but that's because of hitting in Fenway Park. Which is the perfect park for him. Here are his home/away splits:

           R   H  2B 3B HR RBI 

Home- 53 109 15  1 14  73 

Away-   40 100 15  1  7  57 

His AVG at home=.373  His AVG away=.276

He will be asking too much for the numbers he has away from Fenway.

Joe Crede- The rumor of the Damon/Crede deal has been floating around lately. If the Yankees couldn't get anyone better, I would make this deal. Damon is aging and it would be good if the Yanks could dump his contract. Crede had a rough year in 2007, but you have to remember he was injuried all year. Everyone forgets he hit 30 HRs in 2006. I would make the trade if you can't get anyone better. The Yankees need a 3B more than another OFer.

Miguel Cabrera- He is one of the best hitters in baseball right now and he's a guy you build around. But, he'll cost alot and his weight issues are a big problem. The Yankees would have to give up at least 3 big league ready young guys for him. He won't come cheap. Or, here's an idea: Move him to 1B and trade Damon for Crede. Then you could trade Giambi for some popcorn and get him finally off the team. Cabrera will probably become a 1B or DH anyway.

Adrian Beltre- It wouldn't surprise me if we find Beltre's name on a list of HGH users.

His 2004 career year:

AVG .334, 48 HRs, 121 RBIs

Then you have his average ever since that season(over 3 years):

AVG .266, 23 HRs, 92 RBIs

I wouldn't want anything to do with him.

Scott Rolen- Here is a sleeper. When you think about, it wouldn't take much at all to get him. Him and La Russa have grown thin with each other. And he's a 32 year old who has been hurt by injuries and he's still owed $36 million until 2010. When you think about, he could be a steal. The Cardinals probably won't be asking much for him at all and $36 million is not much to the Yankees. Then again, another aging, injury prone player isn't the thing the Yankees(or anyone) is looking for(except maybe for the Giants and Reds).

Other options include Hank Blalock, Chad Tracy, Corey Koskie, and Garrett Atkens.

Either way, the Yankees are in a transition period. No other way to put it. Not really a "rebuilding" period yet, but the team and the focus is changing.  It's never a dull day in Yankee Land.

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