The New York Yankees began their offseason today, much earlier than they had hoped. It will be an offseason filled with questions as they deal with an aging roster, an uncertain pitching staff and a general manager who does not have a contract beyond this year. Here are several questions the Yankees have to deal with before the 2012 MLB season rolls around.
1. The Future Of Brian Cashman: The GM's contract expires at the end of the month. He says he wants to stay, and the organization has previously said it wants to keep him. Cashman has been the GM since 1998, Who could blame him if he was tempted to go elsewhere and find out if he can build a team without the Steinbrenner resources.
2. CC Sabathia: The big left-hander has an opt-out clause in his contract, and even though it seems almost certain he wants to stay a Yankee you bet that he will exercise it. This puts the Yankees in a really bad spot. They are paying in a lot of ways for bad long-term contracts that take players well past their fully productive seasons. Sabathia opting out and holding the Yankees over the barrel for another one is a problem. If the Yankees don't pony up whatever their ace wants they are stuck without an ace for the short term. If they do pony up what Sabathia wants they will likely be stuck paying the 31-year-old, 300-pound Sabathia huge money long after he breaks down.
3. Jorge Posada: The question here isn't whether or not Posada will be back with the Yankees. He won't, and he seems to know it. The question is, can the Yankees bid farewell to the proud 40-year-old veteran without a bitter split?
4. Nick Swisher: The energetic 30-year-old right fielder is a free agent. Do the Yankees want to bring him back? Or, do they let him go and look for an upgrade? Swisher is limited defensively, does not throw well and has a .169 career batting average in 38 postseason games with just six RBI. The Yankees might be better served here by looking for a younger, more athletic player.
5. What About The Catching Situation? Russell Martin had an excellent year for the Yankees, even though his .237 batting average does not indicate that. Martin was brought to the Yankees on a one-year contract, though, so he can be a free agent. There will be plenty of teams willing to offer the 28-year-old a long-term deal. Should the Yankees be one of them? If they do, how does that impact catching prospects Jesus Montero, Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez? If they don't, and Martin leaves, can Montero, Romine and Francisco Cervelli do the job?
6. What About Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon? The Yankees got far more from the two veteran castoffs than they ever could have hoped for. Was it enough, however, for them to bring either one of these guys back for another year? Probably not, but that depends on the answer to the next question.
7. After Sabathia, What Happens To The Starting Rotation? Ivan Nova stepped forward, and if his forearm tightness is nothing worse than that, he will have a spot in the 2012 rotation. Who else will? Can the Yankees, via trade or free agency, find another front of the rotation starting pitcher to take some pressure off Sabathia? Can they find someone to take A.J. Burnett off their hands? Can they count on Phil Hughes, or should they try to package him for someone else in a deal? Will any of the highly-acclaimed young pitching prospects be ready to take a place in the rotation? Lots of questions, no easy answers.
8. Is Alex Rodriguez Officially An Albatross? A-Rod is coming off the worst season of his career with just 16 home runs and 62 RBI in 99 games. He came up small once again in the postseason. He will turn 37 next season, and wondering just exactly how much Rodriguez has left in the tank is a fair question.