The Yankee season ended sooner than many people hoped, so it is now time to start looking forward to the 2012 season. This week, we'll look at five big decisions the team has to make as they prepare for the offseason.
Alex Rodriguez has bore the brunt of the blame for the Yankee offense's role in their ALDS defeat to the Tigers.
Such is life when you're A-Rod. It's still something of a mystery as to why police departments around the country don't just pin all their unsolved crimes on Rodriguez. They might not stand up in court, but it isn't as hard as it should be to picture people nodding their head when you tell them that A-Rod was the guy who stuck up that check cashing place in Gary, Indiana a few years back.
A-Rod's ability to draw scorn from all corners wasn't without its benefits. Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher were almost as bad as Rodriguez, continuing a trend that has seen the two switch-hitters fade into the black every time the calender flips to October.
Teixiera's status as an October wallflower isn't something the Yankees can do much about. He's got $112.5 million coming to him over the next five years so the Yankees can't really do anything other than hope he doesn't continue to turn into a better fielding Jason Giambi.
They have more choice about how to deal with Swisher and his .160 batting average in the postseason, however. Swisher has a $10.25 million option for the 2012 season and the Yankees could give him $1 million and try to find a player who doesn't give away outs in the biggest games of the season.
If we were just talking about the playoffs, it would be an easy choice. The fact that Swisher's been a productive player for the Yankees during all three of his regular seasons with the team makes things a good bit more difficult.
Swisher has been worth more than 11 wins to the Yankees over the last three years and, according to Fangraphs, that makes him worth considerably more than $10.25 million to the team each season. There isn't a right fielder on the open market who can give the Yankees that kind of production and trading for one could wind up costing the Yankees more in prospects than it would be worth to simply keep Swisher and hope that he finally remembers how to hit in the postseason.
That's not the only concern. Swish's power was down a fair amount in 2011 and that's always been a big part of his offensive value, so any further slippage would definitely limit the Yankees' return on investment. He walks a lot, though, and his overall numbers look a lot better when you consider he was abysmal for two months before becoming one of the team's best overall hitters.
There's also the makeup of the entire team to consider. The Yankees need better pitching more than their lineup needs an upgrade which means that their assets -- financial or human -- have to be put toward that end.
Barring a blockbuster that's not on the radar screen, Swisher should be back in pinstripes next season because the good still outweighs the bad.
Previously - The CC Sabathia Opt-Out