Once again, the Yankees were not built for the postseason. They need more grinders and fewer hackers. How will they address that?
-- David R., New Jersey
General manager Brian Cashman was asked a similar question after the American League Championship Series, with the Yankees dressing for the final time in 2012 just down the hallway in the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park.
His response was largely that the offensive outages that marked the ALCS against Detroit, and to a lesser extent in the AL Division Series against the Orioles, were not indicative of flaws in the Yanks' planning.
To the contrary, after ranking second in the Majors with 804 runs scored during the regular season (only the Rangers had more, with 808), Cashman believes the Yankees just hit their cold spell at the wrong time.
"You open the postseason with one of the better run-producing clubs in the game," Cashman said. "Just because you might not have produced in the last two to three postseasons or whatever, it doesn't mean that that offense is really anemic and that's what they really are.
"It's almost like you put together a 162-game season with an offense that does what it does, and then you want to turn yourself into something that never would have gotten you into the postseason when you get there," he continued. "That makes no sense for me."
The lineup will look different in February, when Joe Girardi welcomes the Yankees to camp, but Cashman said that the front office still wants to gravitate toward "quality players with plate discipline with power, when possible," a blueprint that began years ago with the input of Gene Michael and others.
"If you have a philosophy you believe in, that's been tested, I have no problem with people asking about it, clearly trying to challenge it, trying to dissect it and tear it apart," Cashman said. "But I am not going to turn myself into the Bronx Bunters because all of a sudden we didn't hit for this week in October."
If Mariano Rivera decides to retire, and Rafael Soriano opts out, do the Yankees re-sign him or use David Robertson?
-- Yehuda, Brooklyn
That's a big hypothetical on the part of Rivera, so let's start with Soriano, who opted out on Wednesday. The Yankees are expected to offer Soriano a qualifying one-year contract, at a price tag of $13.3 million, to ensure that they'd receive Draft compensation if Soriano signs elsewhere.
Adding the $1.5 million buyout, the deal would actually give Soriano an $800,000 raise if he accepted, but that's not the idea. Initial reports are that Soriano may be seeking a four-year contract, and it seems questionable that the Yanks would go that far to keep him; for one thing, that $189 million payroll target we've heard so much about looms for 2014, and for another, Cashman wasn't all that excited about giving Soriano a three-year deal the first time around.
They'd probably prefer to go two years with Soriano. It is possible that Cashman could be overruled by his bosses again, but it's easy to envision a scenario in which the Yankees end the relationship here. Much will depend on how serious they believe Rivera is about flirting with retirement, and how much stock they want to put into that a 43-year-old coming off a devastating knee injury will still be as dominant as we all expect.
Will the Yankees take a run at signing Josh Hamilton? He'd be dynamite at Yankee Stadium.
-- Jack L., Boca Raton, Fla.
They'll probably seek a power bat to replace Nick Swisher, but I just don't see Hamilton being a fit; his on-field talent is tremendous -- none of us will forget the power display he put on during the Home Run Derby at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008 -- but the off-field temptations of having him play in a major market like New York present too great of a risk.
You'll also have to consider the price tag and the fact that the Yankees are now preaching fiscal responsibility. For what it's worth, the Red Sox and Dodgers also aren't expected to get involved with Hamilton.
Is there a Curtis Granderson trade coming soon now?
-- Ian C., Atlanta
It's possible, but doesn't seem likely. Now that they've picked up his option, the Yankees could float moving Granderson as a way to trim $15 million from their payroll and bring back more cost-effective players, but it'd also be difficult to replace Granderson's 43-homer production in the outfield, despite his increasing strikeouts.
There will be speculation this winter, and Cashman hasn't exactly declared Granderson untouchable. But since they're perpetually in a win-now mode, the Yanks shouldn't consider dealing Granderson for prospects. They'd need an offer to come along that would help the 2013 club.
What's up with Michael Pineda? Will he pitch next season for the Yankees?
-- Justin T., Brooklyn
The Yankees figure that he will, but not to begin the season; Cashman recently said not to expect Pineda until June. Pineda has been quoted as saying he would be ready for Spring Training, and you'll probably see him throwing in camp. He had labrum surgery on May 1, so a recovery period of 12 to 13 months is not out of line.
What do you think the fate of Francisco Cervelli will be?
-- Mark L., Connecticut
Cervelli is probably in the same mix to fight with Chris Stewart for a backup role, unless he is traded. Russell Martin is a free agent, but the Yankees don't consider Cervelli or Stewart replacements for the starting role. If he can't beat out Stewart, Cervelli could be ticketed for another year in the Minors.