This is a very good line-up; it should not be broken up because of a very small sample in which it underperformed. A bigger problem might be the underlying reason why they didn’t even seem like they showed up in Detroit, but that may have more to do with the manager, and I’ll get back to Mr. Torre in a minute. As I was saying, this team doesn’t need a major overhaul. Sheffield’s option should be picked up to play first base. Who’s better and available? Even ARod should be retained unless he can be traded for young front of the rotation starting pitching. Again, who’s better and available? That would set the lineup as Jeter (he should lead-off), Damon, Abreu, Giambi, Sheffield, ARod, Matsui, Posada, Cano, or some variation thereof. Recent small sample failure notwithstanding, that is a very good lineup and there is no reason that all of them shouldn’t be back for another run.
As for the bench, why not bring back Bernie and Wilson. Bernie played very well this year, especially when he had plenty of rest. Assuming the injury problems that were suffered this year do not recur, he would have enough rest and should be just fine as an elder-statesman reserve, provided he’s willing to play for a fairly small contract. Wilson underperformed this year as a Yankee, but he is a good first baseman, certainly good enough to be a backup and would be a strength as a bench player. The biggest problem next year would be getting Melky the at-bats he needs to continue to develop, but with rotation of the outfield players with each getting rest and Melky filling in at all three positions, he should be able to get sufficient at-bats and keep the other players fresh as well. Now that Matsui’s streak is over, there is no reason he shouldn’t be rested from time to time just like anyone else.
The pitching staff is certainly the weak link on this team. Even that though is not very far away from being a strength. All that is needed is to sign Zito as the number one starter. Push everyone else back one spot and this becomes a very good rotation. The other moves would be to sign Mussina, buy out Wright, let Lidle go and expect Hughes to be called up during the year. Imagine this pitching rotation: Zito, Mussina, Wang, Hughes, Unit (we’re probably stuck with him so we might as well accept it, but he’s not so horrible as a fifth starter during the regular season and should he fail to return to form could be left off the post season roster). Until Hughes is ready, Karstens or Rasner could fill in, and, who knows, Pavano may eventually reappear. The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter who is the fourth or fifth starter in the rotation during the regular season, the offense will carry the team to a division title. The bullpen could stand to be bolstered a little, but it’s not all that far off either, especially if the starters could provide just a little more length, which should occur with Zito added and Hughes called up.
As for the manager, I think it’s time for him to go and I hope Mr. Torre step’s down voluntarily. After his eleven years in New York, he is widely believed to be a great manager, which is in stark contrast to his reputation coming in. I ask you though is that change to his reputation really warranted or is he actually a reason why this team, with all of the talent that has put on this uniform over the last decade plus, only won four times for him. Should he be praised for the four or castigated? Who knows, but he has certainly never been much of an in-game strategist. His major strength was always his reputed skill in managing the personalities of his star players, but after the team entirely failed to show up at all in Detroit this weekend the question is where was Torre’s renowned player management - I’m not saying they would have won either of those games, but they could at least have shown up to play. If Torre can’t get them fired up to play in the postseason, then there is no reason for him to remain as manager. If he steps down gracefully, we can all remember his time as manager fondly, but step down he should or he should be fired.
As for who should come next, I, for one, hope it’s another Joe. I seem to remember that it was Girardi in the pre-game show of Schilling’s “sock” game who suggested that the Yankees should bunt early and often to make Schilling come off the mound. During the game though, I don’t remember a single bunt and that from our current manager who loves and misuses the bunt so often I can’t even remember all of the times I’ve wanted to throw something at the television during games. Maybe slightly underhanded, but at least it suggests that he would try to obtain every advantage he could. It’s true that Girardi is certainly not a completely tested commodity yet, but he did a great job in Florida this year, and I’d love to see what he can do with the Yankees.