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How to Fix the Yankees

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yankees_ny.jpgLook, I’ve sat back and watched this Yankee team play baseball this year, and I can just tell you – these guys don’t have it. Whatever it is, they don’t have it. There are too many hired mercenaries who care only about the money. They lack the fire and motivation to go out there every night and grind out a win. Damon, Abreu, Giambi, Mussina – these guys don’t have it anymore, some of them never did.

They have to get back to the basics. The Yankees need to be reloaded with hungry players who don’t play for their paychecks but play for the game. It’s that simple. Yes, they need these players to have real talent, not Doug Mientkiewicz types. But the bottom line is they don’t play with any fire in their belly and chips on their shoulders.  They hide when the going gets tough. They just care about the money. Here is a list of current Yankees that need to exit the stage.

Johnny Damon has to go.
He could have stayed with his beloved red sox for a few million less than the Yankees offered him, but he bolted to the biggest RIVALS of his team, just for the money. He’s a disgrace. He won his world series in 2004; he just doesn’t have it in him anymore. All he cares about is his paycheck.

Mike Mussina has to go.
I could not be more adamant about this. He has to go, period. He lacks all qualities of a pitcher who can shut an opponent down. He’s soft, gives up leads time after time in big games, and his stuff isn’t good enough anymore. He can’t be counted on anymore to give them a chance to win each game. He needs to go; I said it in the off-season after 2006. It was a huge mistake to resign this guy for two more years. And his excuse making after every lousy start is pathetic. Bottom line, Mike Mussina is not a winner. He just doesn’t have it in him, he’s too soft.

Jason Giambi has to go.
Much like Johnny Damon, Giambi swore he wouldn’t leave his Oakland Athletics after 2001. Then, Yankee money came knocking on his door and swept him off his feet – the mark of a man who just cares about the dollar and not the game. His actions speak louder than his words, and he’s not half the player the Yankees signed him to be. He doesn’t show up in big games, save the occasional home run, and his production at the DH spot is nothing special. He’s old and has really started to break down. I don’t see any fire in this mans eyes when he’s up to the plate, I just don’t see it. Not a winning player, and at this point, nothing more than a mistake hitter.

Bobby Abreu has to go.
A complete loaf in the field who smiles after he strikes out. Philly fans were right about this guy, he’s not clutch and he’s not a winning player. God forbid a fly ball is hit to the wall, he crumbles at the knees. He was a big help last year to help solidify the lineup, but he’s clearly not a player you want to have in a corner OF spot as he has very little pop in his bat at this point in his career. I feel very strongly that Abreu just cares about the money. He plays like a man who feels he has nothing to prove.  He couldn’t care less about the Yankees, and I firmly believe that.

Joe Torre has to go.
The leader of the Yankees and a symbol of the overall lackadaisical nonchalant unmotivated Yankees play in recent years. He just sits on his bench as the umpires make the wrong calls on the field against his team. He has no fire and shows no emotion. He must believe the security would arrest him if he left the bench and ran on the field to argue a call. This team needs a jump start and Torre is not the man for the job. He has no idea how to manage a pitching staff. On top of that, he continually allows his star players to get plunked not once, but sometimes twice in a game and never has his pitchers retaliate to protect his own hitters. That is unacceptable, there’s no other way to put it. He’s too old and too passive at this point in his career. He’s lost it, doesn’t have it anymore and that is the truth. His old approach of just sitting back and letting the players do the job themselves worked when he had a ball club that motivated themselves with the likes of Paul O’Neil, Scott Brosius , Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Joe Girardi, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada.  The list goes on and on. But the way this current Yankee team is constructed, Torre is simply not the man for the job.

To summarize this rant on the current Yankees team, I do feel they are fully capable of making a run at the playoffs, but NOT with the current roster. Something has to be done here. Yes, they will have a very nice rotation when Clemens and Hughes come back, but I don’t see it being enough reach the playoffs if the team continues to play unmotivated baseball. Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, and just a few others seem to be the only Yankees that are doing their jobs and showing that they really care about the struggles that the team is going through. The Yankees might turn it on and go on a tear and destroy teams en route to a World Series championship, but the odds are stacked against it.

If the Yankees happen to miss the playoffs in 2007, so be it. The world will not go upside down if the Yankees miss the playoffs. But clearly the Yankees approach to the game needs to change and new blood has to be brought in.

The 2007 offseason will be very telling and key to their success in 2008 and beyond.  They need to add a power bat in the outfield, a solution at 1st base, another arm in the bullpen and some solid role players on the bench. There might not be any free agents to come in and be permanent solutions in the OF or 1st base, unless you want to sign another hired mercenary like Andruw Jones or Tori Hunter. I’d pass on those two.

Not everyone on my list will leave, but a few of them will, and rightfully so. Here are some players the Yankees need to look at, right now and in the off-season.

Rocco Baldelli – is squeezed in a crowded outfield in Tampa Bay with the likes of Dukes, Young and Crawford. Signed thru 2011, he will be available via trade and is rumored to be available right now, as he has been in the past. He is everything you want in a baseball player. If they can swing a deal for him, he could very well be the solution in centerfield. He’s a very talented hitter, maybe the fastest right handed batter in the game.  He does the small things, has great range and arm in the outfield, and will be a 20 home run guy. He’s had hamstring and other injury problems, which is something to consider, but he’s a throwback to the Yankee players that won world championships in the recent past. I’ve been a huge supporter of him for many years now. A true baseball player.

Aaron Rowand – is another player to consider as an option in the outfield. He’s a free agent after the 2007 season. He’s a winning type of ballplayer, always has been. There might not be a centerfielder with more range in the game today. The jumps he gets on balls off the bat are tremendous and he has a very good arm.  Don’t forget that he is a tough ballplayer who will do what it takes to win. Currently having a huge year with the Phillies. The complete opposite of Bobby Abreu, safe to say that Aaron Rowand is not afraid of the wall. The red sox have the bloody sock; we could have the bloody nose. Checkmate!

Scott Linebrink – solid option in the bullpen as a setup man. Has been coveted by teams for a few years now, and is set to be a free agent after the 2007 season.

Joe Girardi – Did an amazing job with the Marlins in 2006, only to get fired because of power struggles between himself and the owner Jeffrey Loria.  Girardi knows the game inside out and he’s a tough minded coach who isn’t going to take any nonsense. Might be a little young, but in the next few years the Yankees will continue to become less of a veteran team. The successor to Torre will likely be Mattingly, but in my opinion that would be a huge mistake. We don’t need another player cuddling coach like Mattingly.  Forget about Mattingly, Girardi should be the guy.

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