Back before joining Baseball Prospectus, I spent a lengthy portion of my winters writing for my own site, The Futility Infielder, systematically exploring the Yankees' options for rebuilding in the hope of restoring their championship luster. I first did this in the winter of 2001-2002, and if you've noticed a dearth of titles since that point (or the year before it, actually), you can blame Yankee GM Brian Cashman for not taking my advice.You'll have to read the article to see how I got to that point, and no, Underpants Gnomes weren't involved. If you watched the recent Bronx Banter video series you had hints of where I could go with this, so a special thanks to BB's Alex Belth and Cliff Corcoran because we've kicked some of these ideas around at length. Additional thanks to Nick Stone and Christina Kahrl for further sounding board duty as well. And apologies to Brian Cashman for reassigning him to the mailroom, at least for a day.
My duties on the BP annuals have overtaken my attempts to remake the Yanks, but today I take the reins from Cashman and put forth my blueprint for the 2009 club. For the purposes of this exercise, I'll assume there's no turning back the clock. Colleague Joe Sheehan rightly upbraided Cashman for failing to offer Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte arbitration, and those decisions are in the books; I won't cheat by hitting the magic "undo" button. We move on.
...As for the price tag on this, with the Yankees moving into their new cash cow of a stadium, money is hardly their biggest concern. Even so, this is actually relatively restrained by their standards. Using the worksheet at the excellent MLB Trade Rumors, and contract data at Cot's Baseball Contracts, the 25-man roster above comes in at $189 million before the raises due Wang, Bruney, and Nady, and generously assuming straight average annual value figures for the big-ticket free agents. Right there, that's $20 million less than last year's Opening Day payroll, and even if the free agent figures creep up a million here or there, the 2009 Yankees will be cheaper than their predecessors — and hopefully more successful.
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