Johan Santana becomes a free agent in 2009 at the age of 29. I think the Yankees will be willing blow baseball out of the water with an enormous deal that brings Santana to New York. If not, they should...it's much wiser to spend the money on him than on Giambi or even A-Rod.
This is 2009 - exactly 2 years in the future. What do we do between then and now? I say give Mussina is two year deal. Mussina can pitch for us in 2007 as the 3rd starter, and in 2008 as #4. Then he retires and we bring Santana in.
With Randy Johnson, Giambi, Sheffield, Wright, Mussina, and Pavano off our payroll, we can afford to give Santana atleast $100 million for 5 years.
I was already reluctanty about signing big name B+ guys like Zito, Smicht, etc to long term deals, and now I'm even more against cashing out precious money prematurely.
I don't think we need them. Consider a 2007 rotation like:
1. Chien-Ming Wang
4. Pitcher from Sheffield Trade
5. Randy Johnson
Nowhere near our 1998 rotation, but it sets up 2008 and 2009.
I've heard a few trade rumors based around Sheffied for pitching:
1) The Cubs offered a package revolving around some combination of SP Angel Guzman, LHP Scot Eyre and RHP Bobby Howry.
2) Phillies willing to center a deal around Brett Myers if Yankees give back something fair that includes Sheffield.
3) Angels are also interested if they don't land with the big free agents. They have a plethora of starting pitching and an overly deep bullpen (compared to their horrific offense).
Overall I think we can get something quite decent for Sheff.
With Sheff gone, we move Matsui to DH and play Melky at LF. Giambi plays 1B (his defense isn't pretty, but one weak link won't kill us). Meanwhile we get corner outfielders with amazing arms. Our line-up:
This is still Murder's Row, except with Melky it hopefully won't look like it's waiting to be executed.
In 2008, the rotation gets younger and better.
1. Philip Hughes
2. Chien-Ming Wang
5. Sheff Pitcher
We may not have a lefty, but if all goes well this is a nasty rotation anyway. Johnson's departure opens up $16 million, which I feel we should invest into expanding our farm system.
Our bullpen will be young and deep in the next few years thanks to the subtle defferences that Cashman has made by bringing in Bruney and also having Rasner and Karsten. We could even reach out for Ray King or Steve Kline (both free agents, I think), or Jamie Walker if Detroit doesn't wrap him up - if these guys don't cost absurd money.
Then 2009 comes, we lose bunch of the expensive veterans on our payroll (Giambi, Pavano, Moose). We use part of this cash to try our very best and land Johan Santana (hey, nobody expected A-Rod ).
Now look at what we have as our starting four:
Murderer's Row, meet your new friends: they call themselves the Firing Squad.