It was an exciting night for baseball fans as the Texas Rangers beat out the New York Yankees to advance on to the World Series. There are a bunch of things to like about this Rangers team - but given that they're heading to the big dance, I'm sure enough will be written about them.
For now, what's on my mind is a bit of fear. With the Yankees getting knocked out last night, it certainly begs the question of how they plan to strike back this off-season.
The Yankees missed the playoffs two years ago, and responded to their struggling pitching and offense by adding the two top free agent pitchers on the market, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and one of the best hitters to reach the open market in years, Mark Teixeira.
Last year, even when the Yankees won the World Series, they still went out and traded for a star, young centerfielder in Curtis Granderson, as well as Javier Vazquez, who despite his struggles this year, was coming off a season where he led the National League in WHIP.
This year, we can probably expect something between the two. This Yankees team is undoubtedly terrific, and general manager Brian Cashman is smart enough to know that the results of six games does not necessarily mean that the team needs a major overhaul. With the Rays expected to lose some key players this winter, it would seem that the Yankees could sit perfectly still this off-season and still go into 2011 with great odds of making the playoffs.
Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the Yankees have some pitching issues. CC Sabathia is incredible, and Phil Hughes should only improve, but the rest of the rotation is full of question marks, for various reasons. Andy Pettitte may call it quits, Javier Vazquez is heading to free agency, and AJ Burnett is a mess. As much as Cliff Lee says that he's more than open to remaining with Texas if the offer is right, it's hard to imagine him not being in a Yankees uniform next year. Lee is going to cost a ton, and despite the new Rangers' ownership group's desire to make a splash, investing that much money in one player may not be the best move for the team. Plus, when the Yankees are set on grabbing a player, it's nearly impossible to compete with them dollar for dollar.
But will shoring up their rotation be enough to satisfy the Yankees fans and front office? There are a bunch of great bullpen arms available, and you can figure that the Yankees will pick up their fair share of them. Will the Yankees go after another major offensive threat? Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and a bunch of DH-types like Adam Dunn could all fit into the Yankees, though adding an outfielder might take some secondary maneuvering. Just signing one of those players would certainly send the Yankees into 2011 with the best offense in baseball.
And then there's the questions of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, both of which are free agents this off-season. Most likely, they'll be back in New York next year, getting paid for their reputations. It's virtually impossible to imagine them in any other uniform. But there is always a chance for the improbable. Do either of them elect to call it quits? Do the Yankees actually worry about the dollars it would cost to keep the seemingly regressing Derek Jeter?
See, that's the thing with the Yankees. Everyone outside of New York curses them, and cheered in unison as Neftali Feliz poetically struck out Alex Rodriguez to eliminate the Bronx Bombers last night. But there's no doubt they make the game of baseball more interesting.