Whether or not Andy Pettitte returns for another run at a World Championship will have not have much impact on the Yankees Plans to make pitching a priority.

The Yankees Rotation will definitely contain CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte if he wants to return. It is no secret that the Yankees absolutely love Cliff Lee and its not hard to see why. Lee is 48-24 over the last three seasons and has a post season record of 7-1 and holds a career ERA under four. The down side of it all is that he is 32. No that 32 is old but it doesn’t mean he is likely to improve over the course of a five year deal either. After his success over the last few seasons he is likely to demand a contract in the range of 5 years and 150 million dollars. Is it worth it? Perhaps it is. He is obviously the best of the free agents this offseason the rest of what I would consider the top five would be :

2. Jeremy Bonderman

3. Rich Harden

4. Carl Pavano

5. Bronson Arroyo

and Ian Snell gets an honorable mention.  I do want to mention that there is a possibility that the Nippon Ham Fighters might post Yu Darvish in a money making effort. Now many of you might not realize or understand the whole posting process from Japanese Baseball, but if you think back to the Dice K posting the way that it works is teams bid secretly for the rights to negotiate with him and pay an obscene amount of money in the process. The Ham fighters are not one of the Elite teams in the Japanese league and it would certainly help them financially. Darvish  will almost certainly draw a posting fee higher than Dice K. To put in retrospect on how good Darvish is i’ll say this. He is 24, he throws in the upper 90s and the last three seasons his era has been 1.82, 1.88 and 1.72. Now I know what you are all saying that its the Japanese league and not the MLB. This is true, but I have seen this kid throw and he is beyond all doubt the best pitcher in the world. One of the things that makes him nearly unhittable is his ability to change speeds. He throws a two and four seem fastball, a fork ball, slider and a curve ball. His fastball sits around 92-94 mph but tops out around 98. The scary part is that he can change speeds and has a curveball that can bottom out at 60 mph. He also can throw a slider at 90 and turn around and throw another slider at 75mph. This kind of changing speeds is devastating to hitters on any level. So to say that he is in the Japanese league and would not cut it is ridiculous. Show me one guy in the MLB that can match those numbers then we will talk.

Until it happens though counting on them posting him is not realistic. however it eventually will happen and he eventually will be grossly overpaid. For now just remember his name.

Another Pitcher that comes to mind is Zack Greinke. Although he will not be a free agent this year the Royals have expressed that they will entertain offers for the young flamethrower. His career record is 60-67 and doesn’t really accurately represent how good this guy is. Just the fact that he has a career ERA under four having spent his entire career on the Royals should say something. At 27 years old it would certainly take a considerable amount of young talent to bring him to NY but it might be worth it. I would certainly think a package built around Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova might get their attention.

As far as the other free agents on my list go  Pavano is a no way in hell as we have already seen him in NY. Bonderman although younger than Lee has not been good in a few years so I don’t think the Yankees will even look unless they see something I don’t. Rich Harden fought injuries in 2009 and 2010 may be better served in the National League. The Rangers hold a 11 million dollar option on Harden which they will certainly decline.  Bronson Arroyo can only be categorized with one word. “Workhorse” He threw 215 innings for the Reds this year with an ERA under 4.00. Bronson probably wont see the open market though as the Reds are attempting to work out an extension that will keep him a Red for the next few years. For some reason the Yanks have had a thing for Snell, hes not very good and his numbers show that but he does have really good stuff an he has never had the luxary of being on a good team. Perhaps he gets a look on the cheap but if he was just liked by Dave Eiland that obviously carries no weight anymore. the rest of the free agent class is looking pretty old, most on the wrong side of 30 but here’s the list:

Erik Bedard SEA *
Kris Benson ARZ
David Bush MIL
Chris Capuano MIL
Bruce Chen KC
Kevin Correia SD
Doug Davis MIL
Jorge De La Rosa COL
Justin Duchscherer OAK
Jeff Francis COL *
Freddy Garcia CWS
Aaron Harang CIN *
Hiroki Kuroda LAD
Ted Lilly LAD
Braden Looper MIL
Rodrigo Lopez ARZ
Noah Lowry SF
Kevin Millwood BAL
Brian Moehler HOU
Jamie Moyer PHI
Vicente Padilla LAD
Carl Pavano MIN
Brad Penny STL
Ben Sheets OAK
Ian Snell SEA *
Jeff Suppan STL
Hisanori Takahashi NYM
Javier Vazquez NYY
Brandon Webb ARI
Jake Westbrook STL
Dontrelle Willis SF
Chris Young SD

So with all this information where does this leave the Yankees? With a Brinks truck parked outside Cliff Lees house of course.

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