Cashman not planning on adding a big bat
Pujols, Fielder not in cards for Yanks, who will focus on pitching
NEW YORK -- The Yankees' potent lineup scored the second-most runs in baseball this year, and general manager Brian Cashman said he isn't eyeing a big free-agent bat to further boost the offense.
Asked specifically about the likelihood of Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder trying on pinstripes, Cashman -- who agreed to a three-year contract extension Tuesday -- said that adding a hitter isn't the Yankees' concern, and they will be much more interested in starting pitching this offseason.
"As we enter the process this winter, I don't anticipate a bat being of need at all," Cashman said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. "I anticipate people knocking on our door about the current bats we have. Offense is not a problem with this club, despite what happened in the Detroit series here in the first week of October. I don't think we're offensively challenged at all."
Large parts of New York's lineup went cold in a five-game American League Division Series loss to the Tigers, but the Yankees' 867 runs scored during the regular season were second only to the Red Sox, who scored 875.
The Yankees already have an upper-echelon first baseman under a long-term contract in Mark Teixeira, but some have wondered aloud if New York would get into play for a star slugger like Pujols or Fielder, especially with its designated-hitter role appearing to be open.
But while the Yankees are unlikely to re-sign Jorge Posada for a return engagement as the DH, they are intrigued by the possibility of using the DH role to give at-bats to young Jesus Montero, who impressed with a strong September.
"I think he can be catching for us or he can obviously be a DH for us, or he can be a lethal bat off the bench for us," Cashman said. "I guess all of the above. He's a very young, talented player that obviously we feel can have an impact at the Major League level for us now. The tools he provides provide us those options. I guess it depends on how the rest of the roster looks."
Alex Rodriguez could also see time as the Yankees' DH this year, coming off what the three-time MVP called his most frustrating season to date, and manager Joe Girardi has liked to use the DH spot to rest players like Derek Jeter and Teixeira at times.
As usual, the Yankees will have money to play with, but their checkbook doesn't boast unlimited funds. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner has historically set the team's budget close to the $200 million mark. Pursuing a player like Pujols or Fielder would require a huge chunk of that budget, and Cashman said that he has other pressing needs.
"Our main focus and efforts are going to be to continue to support and reinforce the pitching rotation and bullpen, and depth and insurance policies that we would have," Cashman said. "That doesn't mean that I'm not open-minded to anything else that may benefit the club, but in a realistic fashion, offense is not an issue that we'll be focusing on. It will be the pitching. I feel our offense is very, very strong."