The Who Should the Yankees Sign Debate Verdict

November 8, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer.

While the post-season celebration in the City by the Bay may finally start cooling off, the old Hot Stove is just heating up. Mere days removed from the San Francisco Giants World Series championship, some 29 other teams are already thinking about how to unseat the Giants during the 2011 season.

With huge contracts and blockbuster deals in the works, the baseball landscape as we know it could be in for a major overall. The actions in the days to come serves as a crucial indicator for the upcoming season as teams make statements about their willingness to compete or rebuild by being buyers or sellers on the off-season market. It is during this pivotal time that championship contenders are made. This is a very exciting time for a baseball obsessed seam-heads like myself, but especially so for Yankees’ fans in particular.

The Yanks are already making waves with high profile drama about the anxiety ridden task of finding an appropriate deal for the Yankees captain, Derek Jeter. But the Bombers will not be content to just sit on their laurels and re-sign core players. This season is about reloading. Now, deciding which free agents and players on the trading block are worth the asking price, and which players are the next overpaid (yeah I’m talking to you Javier Vasquez and Carl Pavano), is the necessity of the time.

There has been much speculation that the Yankees will make a run at acquiring Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. While the Yankees have the economic resources to sign both players (not to mention pay off a good portion of the national deficit while they are at it), today’s debate explores the hypothetical scenario of: If the Yankees could only sign one person between free agent pitcher Cliff Lee and free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, who should the team sign?

Bleacher Fan provided what can be aptly called a thorough argument for the Yankees to sign free agent left fielder Carl Crawford. His main premise hinged on the fact that while the addition of Lee would be nice, it was not necessary. I have to admit that I wasn’t completely convinced that the need for another top tier pitcher would be entirely superfluous, but his description of the advantages of adding Crawford to the Yankees’ lineup were undeniable.

The Yankees have clearly been moving towards a more all around athletic club. This ascension of players, like Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson, are proof enough of that, and Crawford fits that mold perfectly. He brings the speed of the former with the power of the latter. Not to mention the best fielding in the AL. It is tough to argue with the attractiveness of adding a player like that, but Loyal Homer was more than willing to give it a try.

Loyal Homer made a strong case for the New York Yankees to acquire free agent pitching phenom Cliff Lee. As is often the case in Yankee Universe, the team has become enamored with a player that has dominating success against the Yankees. As Loyal Homer adeptly points out, Lee nearly single handedly eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs, and if that doesn’t qualify as success against a given team then I don’t know what does. This has no doubt made him an all the more attractive option for the Bombers. Add to that the fact that the Yankees made a huge push for Lee and failed to land him before the trade deadline, and we are talking about team wants Lee more than Brett Favre wants attention.

Aside from C.C. Sabathia, the Yankees’ rotation is about as stable as a Milton Bradley meltdown. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are both hot and cold pitchers that cannot be counted on during the post-season. As Loyal Homer’s observes, Andy Pettite’s Brett Favre-esque “will he or won’t he” retirement melodrama only serves to further undermine the stability of the rotation. So it’s clear that acquiring Lee would be a great first step in shoring up a beleaguered rotation, not to mention providing them with a great one-two punch in the post-season.

What ultimately determined the outcome of this debate was a statement Loyal Homer made about what might have been if the Yankees acquired Lee in July, rather than see him slip to the Rangers.

We all know that scenario actually played out – with Texas beating the Yankees in six games and going on to their first World Series in franchise history – but Loyal Homer’s hypothetical scenario got me thinking about how the 2010 post-season would have played out with Lee in pinstripes. The Yankees probably would still have beaten the Twins, and would probably handled a Lee-less Rangers rotation with relative ease. But would the World Series have proven any better for the Yankees than it did for the Rangers?

I have to believe it would not.

Lee proved less effective in the World Series, and that was with a much hotter offense than the Yankees displayed this October. Although Lee’s presence would undeniably make the Yankees a better team, there is no proof that it would have made the Yankees into World Series champs. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary. Crawford, on the other hand, packs more potential. Based off of the numbers that Bleacher Fan presented, it seems likely that Crawford’s potent bat behind Derek Jeter would certainly prove more effective. It could even have a trickledown effect providing relief to the rest of the lineup by bumping a bigger bat like Nick Swisher further back in the order and removing questionable DHs like Marcus Thames altogether. While Crawford isn’t a sure thing (because really, who is besides Mariano Rivera) he has more potential upside given his track record. That’s why I’m awarding this debate win to the Bleacher Fan. While I don’t have a fat contract offer for you, you have my congratulations and another notch in the victory column.

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The Who Should the Yankees Sign Debate

November 8, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer.

Anyone familiar with baseball knows that for the New York Yankees, their season does not even begin until October. Other clubs may desperately seek to make the playoffs or even have a winning record. But for the Yankees, each season that does not result in a World Series championship is, by, definition a failure.

Although the Yankees made it to the ALCS and posted 2010’s ,third best record 95 wins and 67 losses – only bettered by the Philadelphia Phillies (97-65) and the Tampa Bay Rays (96-66) – it will be counted a failure because the Yankees did not accomplish what they set out to do. Now Brian Cashman and company will set out to make a plan to bring home the next title, perhaps without the decade long wait this time.

Today, however, The Sports Debates enter the realm of the fantastic as we explore a hypothetical scenario – what if the New York Yankees had a limited supply of money?

As ludicrous as that proposition may be, it is somewhat plausible considering the Yankees enter a new era with different Steinbrenners at the helm. So what should the Yankees do if they only have the funds to sign one big name player this off-season? Which bring us to the debate at hand: If the Yankees can only sign one person between pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Carl Crawford, who should they sign?

Obviously the Yankees have a penchant for chasing guys who get in their way in the post-season (see Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano, and Randy Johnson). Likewise, we all know that pitching wins championships and Cliff Lee is unquestionably an ace. But this debate is no open and shut case. It was not New York’s pitching that looked the most vulnerable this past post-season, rather the lack of punch in the offense. The Texas Rangers outscored the usually potent, but suddenly anemic, Yankees offense in the ALCS. Adding the speed, quality glove, and capable bat of Crawford could also be exactly what the Yankees need in 2011.

It is up to Loyal Homer to make an argument that proves Cliff Lee is the more important target this off-season while Bleacher Fan will make a case that Carl Crawford should capture the hot stove attention of the Bronx Bombers.

As an obvious Yankees fanatic, I can hardly wait to hear these arguments. Gentlemen, let’s “Play Ball!”

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The Who Should the Yankees Sign Debate… Cliff Lee is a Luxury, Carl Crawford is a Necessity

November 8, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

I can absolutely see the attraction that Cliff Lee holds as a free agent, and from the New York Yankees’ perspective, Cliff Lee is basically the reason their season ended in October rather than November. To be able to add a pitcher like Lee to the Yankees rotation would absolutely be a major plus, but if Brian Cashman and the Yankees organization are afforded the ability to only sign one free agent this off-season, then Carl Crawford should be the primary target.

This is a simple question of need versus want for the Bronx Bombers.

Do they NEED another pitching ace? In short – no.

C.C. Sabathia remains one of the frontrunners to win the AL Cy Young Award AGAIN for his performance in 2010. He was the only 20-game winner in the American League this past season, and at a pricey $25M per season, he is the undeniable anchor of the Yankees’ pitching rotation.

If the Yankees were to sign Lee, he would become a luxurious complement to Sabathia, but he would neither supplant nor replace Sabathia as the top pitcher in the Yanks’ rotation. As much as the Yankees may enjoy opening up the check book, I don’t think they NEED to pay upwards of $150M for a number-two pitcher.

Now, left field in New York is a different story.

Brett Gardner had a decent season in left, but this is an area where they could absolutely use an upgrade. Enter, Carl Crawford.

At the plate, Crawford is exponentially more productive than Gardner. In 2010, his average was 30 points higher, and he racked up 52 more hits, 14 more home runs, and 43 more RBI than did Gardner.

Just imagine Crawford at the plate in pinstripes, batting behind, say, Derek Jeter (who I am confident the Yankees will re-sign). Yankee Stadium is a home run paradise for left-handed hitters, which should inflate Crawford’s home run total, and Jeter will give Crawford many more RBI opportunities than Jason Bartlett, Tampa’s leadoff hitter. As for those at-bats where Crawford doesn’t go yard, his base-running ability will be another huge boost for the Yankees, who have hitters like Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, or Robinson Cano to move him around the bases.

The best lineup in baseball just got better. Oh yeah, did I mention that Crawford provides an upgrade in the field as well?

Gardner may have only committed one error in the field for the Yankees last season, but Crawford’s speed, range, and athleticism make him a much better defensive left fielder, especially when paired with Curtis Granderson in center field.

Crawford, who is in line for his first career Gold Glove award this season, led all left fielders with a range factor of 2.24, and his 306 put-outs were second only to Juan Pierre (307) of the Chicago White Sox.

The addition of Carl Crawford to the New York Yankees further solidifies their positioning as the best lineup in baseball, and elevates their outfield into the ranks of being the best defensive trio in the league.

Any way you look at it, Carl Crawford IMPROVES the Yankees, while Cliff Lee only COMPLEMENTS them.

If Hal Steinbrenner signs only one free agent this off-season, it had better be Carl Crawford!

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The Who Should the Yankees Sign Debate… A Glaring Need For Lee

November 8, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees are going to attempt to make a big splash after failing to even make the World Series in 2010. Obvious weaknesses were shown on this season’s team and that’s why they made a big push in July to acquire pitcher Cliff Lee. They knew back then holes existed in the pitching rotation. Those holes didn’t go anywhere in the closing months of the regular season. Facing Lee in the ALCS against the Rangers was a painful reminder of what could have been for the 2010 Yankees. The Yankees saw firsthand how dominant Lee could be, and with problems still remaining in the starting rotation, I believe signing Cliff Lee should be a higher priority than signing Carl Crawford.

The Yankees have one of the top pitchers in baseball in C.C. Sabathia, who happens to be a former teammate of Lee’s from their days in Cleveland. Sabathia very well could be named the American League Cy Young winner later this month. But that’s where the stability ends in the Yankee rotation.

On the surface, it looks like the number two spot in the rotation is nailed down with Phil Hughes. After all, Hughes did win 18 games this past season. But he struggled somewhat in the second half of the season and after the All-Star break was just 7-6 with an ERA of 4.90. In the post-season he totally blew up with an ERA of 6.32, and he took two losses in the ALCS loss to the Rangers. Andy Pettitte, a stalwart of all of these dominant Yankees teams, has finally (maybe) let that retirement age catch up to him. He’s entering the off-season unsure of whether or not he will be pitching next year (haven’t we heard this before with him? Haven’t we heard this before in another sport?). And A.J. Burnett? My goodness, where do we begin? His two years since signing that ridiculous contract have been a huge disappointment to say the least, especially this season. A 10-15 record with an ERA of 5.26 will get you skipped over in the rotation in the first round of the playoffs every time, and that’s what happened to Mr. Burnett. In his one start in the ALCS, he took the loss by giving up five runs in six innings, though I admittedly thought his line looked worse than he actually pitched. Still, this is unacceptable for what he is getting paid. And Javier Vazquez? Does the word “bust” come to mind? The bottom line is that this rotation desperately needs Cliff Lee.

What all of Major League Baseball saw this post-season was the domination by the San Francisco Giants and their starting rotation. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner gave everyone a blueprint to follow on how to win a championship. By combining Lee with Sabathia, general manager Brian Cashman knows he would have two front line starters that would make the Yankees extremely difficult to beat in a short series, regardless of what the rest of his rotation looks like. As Cashman said after being eliminated by the Rangers, “It’s always pitching. Pitching is the key to the kingdom, which is why you try to collect as much of it as you can.”

Cashman obviously agrees with me because apparently the Yankees have apparently already contacted Lee’s agent. They need Lee much more than they need Carl Crawford. Pitching wins championships. The Giants just proved that, and that’s where the Yankees want to be.

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