In 2008 the Yankees faltered on many levels, from offense, to defense, to pitching, pitching, and pitching. As a result, the beginning of the hot stove season has been focused on pitching, pitching, pitching. With offers made to Sabathia and Burnett with Lowe and Pettitte next in line, its obvious that the majority of the $80+ million coming off the books this season will be spent on pitching. Although I agree with the focus on pitching (though I'm not sold on Burnett), this focus draws all attention away from what was an anemic offense last season.
The Yankees scored 789 runs, their fewest since 1995 when Buck Showalter was the manager. The Yankees lost 10 games last season where their opponents scored 3 or fewer runs. Hitting in the clutch was non-existant, and the Yankees rarely had big late game rallies. If the Yankees were losing after the 5th, they were probably going to lose the game.
My concern is that by signing all these pitchers, do we really expect the offense to start performing? The mentality seems to be that with so many Yankees slumping last season, there's a whole lot of Yankees set to have rebounds next year. This may be the case but lets be real, this team is going to be one year older, Matsui is coming off another knee surgery, Posada is coming off a shoulder surgery, Giambi and Abreu are gone. Where exactly is this offense going to come from? Damon and Nady are playing for contracts so they will likely do well, and A-Rod, Swisher and Cano can be expected to do better, but none of that is a given, and if any of those players are injured than where does that leave us? The Yankees need another bat, preferably a big one.
This leads me to Manny Ramirez. The former Red Sox left fielder whose character and personality are listed among his faults. Among his virtues are a power bat that hit .396 with 17 homeruns and 53 RBI's in just 187 at bats for LA. He will be 37 next season, but for a hitter like Manny, is this really an issue? Now his deficincies will lead many Yankee fans to say that he's not a true Yankee and should never disgrace the Yankee uniform. My response is that neither was Reggie Jackson, yet when he hit 3 homeruns in a single game to put the Yankees ahead in the post season, all those feelings about Reggie dissapeared. For two maybe three years of Manny Ramirez, I honestly think its worth it. The Yankees can pay the money now, and then have his hefty contract off the books in a few years. Do we really pass up on a bat like this in the hopes that half our lineup will reverse the trend they followed last season? Our chances of winning in 2009 are greatly increased with Manny in the lineup.
Some may say we needed Teixeira, but that's behind us now. Swisher will be our first baseman, and as much as I like Teixeira, his contract would be just as immovable as Manny's only 5 years longer.
The Bronx Bombers could suffer another power outage next season if they do not bring in a big bat. I know Manny is a risk in both personality and character, but if they make sure to write a hair cut into his contract the Yankees will be fine. Girardi wanted to manage the Yankees, he can now figure out how to manage a guy like Manny. Torre somehow did, as did Francona for several years. Time for Mr. Girardi to step up.