The World Series is over, awards season is in full swing, leaves have changed colors from green to Cardinals red and the time has come to clean up the Yankees' figurative house. Six Yanks have already filed for free agency, and while simply filing does not mean that the Yankees can't or won't resign them, it does allow Big Stein and the Gang (not to be confused with Kool and his Gang) to ditch some dead weight and look for greener pastures. Free agents can't sign with a new team until November 12th, giving the team they played for this year a chance to make an offer before other teams swoop in (and by "swoop in", I mean "begrudgingly decide to sign someone after realizing that the anemic market inflated Barry Zito's asking price to $2349084329082 million").
Tanyon "Bring In Da Noize, Bring In Da Hurtz" Sturtze (right, accurately imitating the face I make whenever I see him pitch)
, Miguel Cairo, Craig Wilson, Octavio Dotel, and Ron Villone were the first Yanks to file this week. The Yanks have not given any indication that they will resign any of these five, but I wouldn't be surprised if Big Stein and the Cash Man decide to keep Villone, Dotel, or Sturtze around, simply because the Yankees' bullpen is a disaster and any one of these 3 will be cheap.
Bernie (left, partying like the rockstar he is)
joined the free agent list yesterday, though he hasn't even decided if he will return to baseball for any team next year. He's been with the Yanks for 16 seasons - he's never played for a different team - and at 38 years old, he might be ready for retirement
. On the other hand, he played very well this year, hitting .281 (and winning the Yankees Chick $20 in a bet!)
with 12 homers and 29 doubles in 131 games, a performance significantly superior to any expectations placed upon him at the beginning of the season. Since the Yankees have Matsui, Damon, Abreu and Melky to play the outfield, Bernie could feasibly rejoin the Yanks in the role he was intended to play this year
(before the Sheff/Matsui injuries): occasional DH/pinch hitter. If the Yankees do not make Bernie an offer, I believe Bernie would likely forgo an offer from another team in favor of retirement as a Yankee.
As for Gary "Sir Easy to Pleasey!" Sheffield (right, in a super-intimidating terry cloth hat)
, he will also become a free agent this year if the Yankees choose not to pick up his $13 million option. That is probably a moot point, though, since the Yankees have made it pretty clear that they do intend to pick up that option. Whether they turn right around and trade him remains to be seen, but regardless of the outcome I know I can rest assured that Sheff's reaction will be completely inappropriate and deliciously comedic!
Like the Sheffster, Moose (left...obviously)
and Jaret Wright
also have options on their respective contracts this year. Mussina's is for $17 million
, which the Yankees can "buy out" for $1.5 million. It looks like the Yanks may go ahead and pay the $1.5 mil for the buy out and then resign Moose to a contract worth less than the $17 million, but if they opt to go that route they'll have to make the buy out decision by the 15th. Wright's option is for $7 million
and the Yankees haven't announced what they plan to do with him, but it would cost them $4 million to buy out the contract and allow Wright to become a free agent, so I imagine they will go ahead and pick up the option.
In other housekeeping news, bench coach Lee Mazzilli has been given the boot and Don Mattingly has been promoted from hitting coach to Torre's right-hand man on the bench.
Donnie has made managing an MLB team one of his career goals, and if he does a good job with Torre in 2007, we may be looking at the Yanks' future skipper...
Labels: bern bernie bern, free agency/arbitration