Forum Spin Doctor
NEW YORK - The offseason began quickly for the Yankees on Friday with a trade that sent Gary Sheffield to Detroit. It won't be long before the team makes more moves.
The Yankees last won a championship in 2000 and were eliminated by the Tigers in the AL division series this season. Because many of the postseason problems the last six years have involved pitching, that's the area the Yankees will focus on.
"It's just geared on pitching. As far as our lineup, I don't think you can look up and down our lineup and try to find a place that seems to be a soft spot," manager Joe Torre said Friday night at a dinner for his Safe at Home Foundation.
"There are some decisions to be made but they're good decisions. Ability wise from the offensive end of it we should be fine."
After scoring a major league-best 930 runs in the regular season, the Yankees batted just .246 against the Tigers in the playoffs and managed just 14 runs in the four-game series. The Tigers, meanwhile, batted .309 against Yankees pitching, which posted a 5.56 ERA in the playoffs.
That's why the Yankees could be courting a familiar name free agent, left-hander Andy Pettitte, who went 14-13 with a 4.20 ERA for Houston last season.
"When there's pitching out there and if it's appealing you certainly are going to try and help your ball club," Torre said. "I really haven't talked about it with (GM Brian Cashman) in terms of names. But Andy Pettitte is a winner."
Pettitte won 149 games for the Yankees from 1995-03 with over 200 innings pitched in six of those seasons. But New York let him leave for Houston as a free agent after 2003, when he was 21-8 with a 4.02 ERA.
Pettitte, however, pitched through elbow problems last season for the Astros and at 34 is contemplating retirement.
"I don't know. It's still just up in the air whether I want to play or not. I want to make a decision and get it behind me," said Pettitte, one of many guests at Torre's dinner celebrating the Yankees' 1996 championship team. "Obviously, I love New York I loved being here. But Houston's been awesome too. I can't even really speculate on it now."
The Yankees' rotation going into next season includes 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang, but also contains 43-year-old Randy Johnson coming off back surgery - and Carl Pavano, who missed all of last season due to a myriad injuries.
The Yankees are negotiating to bring back Mike Mussina and also put in a bid for Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka. They could also pursue free agents Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt and Mark Mulder.
The Yankees are also in the market for a left-handed reliever, a backup catcher, and possibly a right-handed hitting first baseman, with Jason Giambi expected to play primarily as the designated hitter next season.
Besides Pettitte, the Yankees are also pondering whether to bring back veteran outfielder Bernie Williams, 38, for a 17th season.
"I don't know what's going to happen but I guess they're getting close to making some decisions on how the team is going to look like next," said Williams, who like Pettitte is considering retirement.