Derek Jeter just played his final home game and after three in Boston, Jeter-Haters can crawl back in their holes for five years and emerge to argue that the man with the sixth most hits in MLB history doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
The New York Yankees have a much bigger problem than replacing Jeter in 2015. This is the second straight year the Yankees won't be playing into October and Yankees' fans should chill as it's going to take some time to fix a team a tune-up won't fix–it needs an overhaul.
What to Keep:
1. Joe Girardi: It is a testament to his managerial skills that the Yankees remained in the thick of things in both 2013 and 2014. A lesser manager–Bobby Valentine anyone?–would be looking up from the basement. Girardi is goofy looking and unassuming, but he gets a lot of mileage out of Yugos.
2. Dellin Betances: He looks to be the next coming of Mariano. Maybe he won't be, but he's good enough that the Yankees won't have to overpay David Robertson.
3. Shane Greene was a pleasant surprise and is just 25. He won't be an ace, but he'll be superb as a number 3 or 4. Michael Pineda is your #2 and even though he's been injury-prone he's still just 25 years-old.
4. Masashiro Tanaka is worth every dime the Yankees paid to get him if stays healthy. If not, he's unmoveable, so pencil him in every five days.
5. The pitching was much better than anyone predicted when four of the top five went on the DL. Brandon McCarthy should be retained–if he'll sign for #4 money. If his agent talks like he's a #2, say thanks for the memories. I'd also throw another contract at Hiroki Kuroda, though word has it he's retiring. If that happens, pray Ivan Nova recovers from Tommy John surgery quickly and that C. C. Sabathia can at least pitch like a #3.
6. The everyday lineup flat-out sucks. Brett Gardner deserves to stay; Mark Teixeira will because no one is going to take on his contract given his injury history. I still think Brian McCann will end up being a good signing and figure out the AL. If they don't ask for the moon and half the solar system, both Chase Headley and Martin Prado are useful. There are some young outfielders in the minors, but I'd pencil in Chris Young as the backup.
What to Dump:
1. Brian Cashman has been a great GM, but he's an old-style thinker has simply overstayed his welcome. The primary thing the Yankees need to do is sign players who will be good, not ones that once were. Not all of the bad contracts have been Cashman's fault, but he's been lousy at getting top players to come to New York and has overpaid over-the-hill talent out of desperation. And we must ask: who'd you rather overpay, Robbie Cano for ten years or Jacoby Ellsbury for seven?
2. The minor league system needs a complete remake. David Robertson was the last proven player to come through the ranks and that's unacceptable.
3. I don't care how highly regarded he is, when a team hits as poorly as the Yankees, hitting coach Kevin Long has to go.
4. Just cut A-Rod. Let him take his sorry steroid-pumped butt elsewhere. The Yankees will end up paying for him one way or the other, so make it far from clubhouse harm.
5. Aside from perhaps Preston Claiborne, who pitches well though the scouts don't like him, every bullpen role player is expendable–especially the lefties. Enough with the friggin' "lefty specialists;" a southpaw that can't get out right-handers as well is a roster clogger. I think we've seen Adam Warren's best. Trade him when his value is highest. Say goodbye to Chris Capuano–please!
6. Move Frankie Cervelli and make J. R. Murphy the backup catcher. Cervelli is the backstop version of Nick Johnson, so get some low-level prospects for him so he be on someone else's DL.
7. Now the hard part. We need to see if these guys can play: Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. We know these guys can't: Stephen Drew (who ought to sue Scott Boras) and Brendan Ryan. All you UZR guys can go to hell–Ryan's glove isn't good enough to compensate for a sub .200 batting average.
8. Even harder: Even if you have to eat some of his contract, move Carlos Beltran and get prospects for him. He's yesterday's news and was a horrible (and desperate) signing.
9. Controversial: I am not a Jacoby Ellsbury fan. He's Gardner with more power, but a worse arm. If the Yankees can move him and get value back, sayonara. I'd rather see the Yankees throw dumb money at Nelson Cruz or Cuban prospect Yasman Tomas.
10. More controversial still: Stay away from free agency, admit that 2015 will be challenging, and wait for the kids on the verge: pitchers Luis Severino, Ian Clarkin, and Jacob Lindgren; catcher Gary Sanchez; and position players Aaron Judge, Eric Jagielo, and Jake Cave. Accept that attendance will drop 20%, shave payroll, and do that most un-Yankee thing: wait.