As we have pointed out numerous times, the New York Yankees don’t have a whole lot of roster or payroll flexibility with which to make wholesale changes to the club that won 87 games in 2015 and went to the AL wild-card game, only to lose to the Houston Astros in their first playoff appearance since 2012.
So it doesn’t make sense to do a full “Take ’em or trash ’em’’ feature as we have in the past, simply because in a lot of cases, the Yankees are “stuck with ’em.’’
Instead, Andrew Marchand and Wallace Matthews have pinpointed a half-dozen cases -- which will be presented over the next three days -- where the Yankees could, if they so choose, make a move this winter, with their own recommendations as to what owner Hal Stainbrenner should do.
MARCHAND: The Yankees are in a cycle right now, where they are trying to allow their young prospects to grow into a new core and then complement them with top free agents. They are attempting to do this, while still are expected to win. For 2015, they did a pretty good job.
They developed two guys who may be future stars -- Greg Bird and Luis Severino -- while keeping another one, outfielder Aaron Judge, instead of trading him away. Add it up, that is a pretty successful season for the GM.
Cashman should stay.
MATTHEWS: In the plus side, he acquired Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius and Justin Wilson, and let David Robertson walk but signed a more-than-adequate replacement in Andrew Miller for $10 million less. He also held on to his top prospects -- Luis Severino, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder and Aaron Judge -- and saw two of them flourish in their first crack at the big leagues.
On the minus side, it appears he overpaid for Jacoby Ellsbury, who just finished the second year of a seven-year deal. Same for Chase Headley, who underperformed in the first year of his four-year deal. He re-signed Stephen Drew and made a mistake with David Carpenter, who never pitched effectively for the Yankees. He stood pat at the trade deadline, which now looks like a mistake but at the time was the right move. And his hands are tied by four onerous contracts, at least one of which -- the Alex Rodriguez deal -- he publicly opposed.
On balance, he has done well with what Steinbrenner has given him and his long-maligned farm system is beginning to show dividends.
MARCHAND: At the end of the season, Joe Girardi appeared tighter than a wet suit. Does this trickle down to his players, who ended the season struggling? That is hard to definitively say.
What is easy to understand is that he does a pretty good job. The one thing he usually has on his side is logic. When Girardi makes a move, it is usually with numbers and facts to back it up. That is why it is hard to say that Joe should go. He isn’t Mr. Personality, but he mostly puts his players in good positions to succeed.
So I’d say, keep him.
MATTHEWS: For preparation, insight and (mostly) intelligent use of the vast array of numbers, some useful and some not, that are available to baseball managers these days, it’s hard to do better than Girardi. The guy actually kept a chart in his locker of every pitch thrown by his relievers this season. So there’s no doubt he’s always on top of things.
But when the pressure is on, Girardi seems to become a different manager. He can become inconsistent with his dearly-held -- and sometimes rigidly-held -- policies as the games become crucial, and as Andrew pointed out, this could cause tension and insecurity in his players when you most need them to be loose.
Still, he did a fine job with a fragile, ailing roster this year, and besides, name me a better manager who’s currently unemployed.