You’ve had all day to deal with your Cliff Lee Phantom Limb syndrome. He’s not coming here, ever. (Though he’ll only torment the Yankees in the World Series now, so that’s something.) We insist that, come 2014, Yankees fans will ultimately be happy that they’re not paying a 35-year-old gimpy lefty more than $20 million to rehab in Tampa. But that doesn’t do the Yanks much good right now, does it? So: What’s the plan?
The way we see it, the Yankees have three options:
1. Go nuts to get Zach Greinke. Or whoever. Fangraphs has a list of potential targets, from Greinke to Ricky Nolasco to Chris Carpenter (not bloody likely) to Derek Lowe. Greinke’s the best pitcher there for a large spot, and the Royals are eager to trade him. But the Rangers can offer a lot more from their farm system than the Yankees can, and there’s that whole (already tired) debate as to whether or not he has the Mental Fortitude to Play in New York. Every time this is mentioned, the social anxiety issues he suffered from three years ago are brought up. If you wanted to know whether or not there’s still a stigma with such issues in sports — and why so many players are loath to admit they might have a problem — there’s your answer. No one outside of Greinke is really worth trading a top prospect for, at least not right now.
2. Go sign Carl Pavano. Ha, okay, well, they’re obviously not going to do that. (Though that would be funny.) Still, Pavano might be the top free-agent pitcher remaining, and the Yankees do have some extra cash hanging around, so …? Naw, we kid, but other free-agent flotsam left include Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young and … blech.
3. Give Andy Pettitte whatever he wants and see what happens. This is almost certainly what they’ll do. Brian Cashman has cautioned fans to be patient, saying that he’s unlikely to trade Jesus Montero, that he doesn’t think “we have a lot of holes,” and that it’ll be a big year for Ivan Nova, who he says “has taken the next step.” This seems prudent to us. The Yankees can put out their outstanding lineup with a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Ivan Nova, and they will win a lot of games. And then, if they need help when teams get desperate at the trading deadline, they can do what needs to be done.
Contrary to how it might feel right now, the Yankees are still one of the best teams in baseball and will play like it next year. There are moves to be made, sure, but the Yankees didn’t fall out of the pennant chase because they didn’t get Cliff Lee. And seriously: In 2014, you’ll be ecstatic today happened. Honest.