What the Yankees Should Do

by Ross Friedman

<!-- Article Starts Here --!> The first assumption I'm going to make when discussing the three-time defending World Champions is that they do have some budgetary constraints. What does that mean? They will not sign Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Hampton, and Mike Mussina. In other words, they have decisions to make.

Possibly the best thing that has happened to the Yankees so far this off-season was Alex Rodriguez announcing that he will not play for the Yankees (although his agent Scott Boras denies that he ever said that). George Steinbrenner was considering doing whatever was necessary to make sure ARod didn't end up a Met. Now, he can instead put his focus where it should be, on signing Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez is one of, if not the best hitter in all of baseball. He would immediately give the Yankees a revamped lineup. The Yankees can make this move with the $12 million being freed up from David Cone, along with $3 million from Jose Vizcaino, $5 million from Jose Canseco, and $1.5 million of Glenallen Hill.

If the Yankees get Ramirez for rightfield, this does not mean they should just discard their free agent rightfielder, Paul O'Neill. They should resign O'Neill (at the $6.5 million price tag he got last season) and put him in leftfield, which he stated he'd be willing to play to remain a Yankee. They can take a few at bats away from the aging outfielder and give them to righty Shane Spencer. Also, having O'Neill and Spencer in left, gives a good chance of keeping Justice healthy by having him DH most of his games.

Of their other free agents, the Yankees need to keep Jeff Nelson so they can keep intact the winning combination of Stanton, Nelson, and Rivera. Then, if they can keep David Cone for $2 million or less, and put him in the Ramiro Mendoza role (spot start, mid-relief), he'd be more than worth it.

The only other move the Yankees need to make for their 25-man roster, would be for a top quality number 4 starter (in other words another team's number 2 starter). They can either resign Denny Neagle, or make a trade for someone such as Colorado's Pedro Astacio. The Yankees can then insert their 25-year old ready Cuban, Adrian Hernandez in the 5 spot, which would add some needed youth to the rotation.

The Yankees should then look to get some youth into the lineup and the organization as well. This may happen on its own mid-season. Super-prospect Nick Johnson may be ready to take Tino Martinez' job at first base by the all-star break, moving Tino to the bench.

Also, the Yankees should trade Chuck Knoblauch. If they pay part of his salary, they can get decent prospects in return for one of the game's premier leadoff hitters. This would make room for highly regarded prospects D'Angelo Jimenez and Alfanzo Soriano to get in the lineup. Then they should trade Ramiro Mendoza. The Yankees are not confident his arm will hold up, but there are many teams enamored with the righty. The Yankees could command three prospects in return for him.

In conclusion, the Yankees should try to sign Manny Ramrez, get a top quality number 4 starter, and add youth to the team.

PLAN B: If they can't get Ramirez, go for Mussina instead of the number 4 guy, still trade Knoblauch, and try to pull off a deal for Johnny Damon.

2001 Suggested 25-man Roster:

SS-Derek Jeter
C- Jorge Posada
CF-Bernie Williams
RF-Manny Ramrez
DH-David Justice
LF-Paul O'Neill
1B-Tino Martinez
3B-Scott Brosius
2B-D'Angelo Jimenez

C- Chris Turner
In-Luis Sojo
In-Alfanzo Soriano
UT-Clay Bellinger
OF-Shane Spencer

Roger Clemens
Andy Pettitte
Orlando Hernandez
Pedro Astacio
Adrian Hernandez

Mariano Rivera
Mike Stanton
Jeff Nelson
David Cone
Jason Grimsley
Randy Choate <!-- Article Ends Here --!>

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