Every day the tabloids of New York are beating the drum linking the Yankees to top free agents, chief among them CC Sabathia. Immense in size and talent, Sabathia will command an appropriately hefty sum to take his left arm to a new team where he'll anchor the rotation for, its hoped, most of the next decade. After spending most of the summer with Darrell Rasner and Sidney Ponson taking turns on the mound, that's just what the Yankees need, right?
I'm not a buyer of that notion. You could add A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe and any other big-ticket free agent starter to that list as well. The Yankees need an infusion to their lineup much more than they need one in the rotation. Take a look at the numbers from last season. Without Chien-Ming Wang for most of the season, with the flameouts from Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, a cameo rotation role for Joba Chamberlain and with an abysmal defensive club, the Yankees allowed 50 fewer runs than they did in the 2007 season. They lost 179 runs over that span, however, which explains their absence from the playoffs a lot more than starting pitching.
There's a glaring hole in centerfield which the Yankees should be addressing before entering into a long-term, expensive deal for a starting pitcher. Therein lies the rub, though. No one on the free agent market makes any sense for that spot so the Yankees should make Mark Teixeira, an excellent fielder to go along with his bat, their top free agent target. A full season from Chamberlain in the rotations and a healthy Wang will keep the rotation strong enough but without juicing up the offense the Yankees will find it hard to return to the playoffs in 2009.