Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yankees handling rotation uncertainty the right way

When Cliff Lee failed to recognize Philadelphia's inherent orphan brother status and Andy Pettitte decided to GTL his remaining days in Deer Park, the Yankees were left with something of a quandary.

Suddenly without out two-fifths of their projected starting rotation with just weeks before spring training was set to open, the panic button was pressed across the tri-state area.

Had old George been around, Brian Cashman's head would've been rolling down River Avenue at roughly 40 miles per hour. But this is the new Yankees, a multi-headed beast of a hierarchy where the general manager retains a margin for error that didn't exist in the days of Munson and Mattingly.

Cashman surveyed the post-snub market, and made what we may ultimately remember as the best move of his tenure. That move, of course, was to do nothing at all.

Cashman knows that the Yankees' rotation is CC, Hughes, a whole lot of bad news. But he also knows there's enough talent on the roster to stay in the hunt into the summer, opening him up to a brand new market ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Yes, there is the unsettling specter of banking on A.J. Burnett. And yes, asking the likes Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia — and to a lesser extent, Ivan Nova — to meaningfully contribute is a huge leap of faith.

But the alternative — trading away Jesus Montero to get Francisco Liriano, to cite one rumor — just doesn't make sense in the big picture.

The Yankees are now a global business giant, which means the idea of a "rebuilding year" doesn't exist in their vocabulary. But Cashman's non-action is as close to a rebuilding move as you'll get from the Bombers. They're dealing with age and depth issues, not to mention a Red Sox team that loaded up much the way the Yankees did heading into the 2009 season.

The Yankees are obviously in a highly vulnerable position as a new year approaches. But in a six-month season, patience will help win a lot of battles. Brian Cashman's head remains firmly affixed to his body. This will come in handy at the end of July.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

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