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Yankees preparing to recalibrate for 2013

Lots of questions as the Hot Stove season begins
10/29/2012 3:00 PM ET
By Jon Lane

The Yankees' mission to win title No. 28 began when the Giants won the 2012 World Series.(AP)
The San Francisco Giants’ four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series marked the official end of the 2012 baseball season and the start of the annual Hot Stove discussion that will last for the rest of the fall and into the winter. The 29 teams that fell short of the championship goal achieved by the Giants will be hard at work to reach the Giants’ standards, while the folks in San Francisco will be working harder to raise the bar.

In terms of standards and expectations, none are higher than that of the New York Yankees. Despite overcoming a slew of injuries to win 95 games, the American League East and the ALDS, the Bronx Bombers were swept out of the ALCS. That means team brass will soon convene for the annual organizational meetings in Tampa, Fla., determined to recalibrate the roster for a quest at title No. 28.

Considering how the Yankees offense shut down against the Tigers, and the several names headed for free agency, things could look very different upon reporting to Spring Training in February.

"Some years, obviously, we have more success than others, but you can count on us trying to stay in it to win it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters. "That's the Steinbrenner philosophy, which is do anything you can to make sure that the team is competitive and the fans of New York have a belief that this team has a chance to do something special."

The following Yankees filed for free agency at 12:01 Monday morning and the team will be able to negotiate with them exclusively until Saturday, when the free-agent market is open to all teams: Eric Chavez, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Hiroki Kuroda, Derek Lowe, Russell Martin, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki and Nick Swisher.

Martin batted .211, but slugged 21 home runs and drove in 16 of his 53 RBIs in September. Joe Girardi loves Martin’s defense and Martin wants to stay in New York, though the Yankees will have some leverage after Martin previously turned down a multi-year offer. Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli are Major League backup catchers and on the farm, Austin Romine – coming off a back injury – is the closest to being big-league ready.

Jones and Garcia – and mostly likely Swisher -- are goners. Derek Lowe could be back, but only if he can’t land a job as a starting pitcher. Expect Chavez, a solid reserve infielder despite his 0-for-16 postseason, to return another season. If Pettitte and Rivera want to continue their careers, each will be back. The big question surrounds Kuroda, who for one year and $10 million gave the Yankees 16 wins and a career-high 219 2/3 innings pitched. They can gamble on one more season or move on to a rotation of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, David Phelps and if he returns, Pettitte.

The Yankees on Monday exercised the club options on David Aardsma ($500,000), Robinson Cano ($15 million) and Curtis Granderson ($15 million). Closer Rafael Soriano has a $14 million player option that he’ll very likely decline and become a free agent. If Soriano leaves, and Rivera either retires or is rendered ineffective by age (43) and the ramifications of knee surgery, there could be a changing of the guard in the ninth inning.

The long and the short of it all is there are tons of decisions facing the Yankees for 2013, especially with the specter of the goal to get under $189 in payroll for the 2014 season. Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement that “nothing has changed. Nothing will change. My family—and our organization—has a long-standing commitment to provide all of our fans a championship-caliber team year after year.” However, Yankees co-chairperson is hoping some of the Baby Bombers grow into bona fide big-league players to ease the burden on future spending

"We'll still do more than any other team would do to win, but at some point with the new rules it's going to become imperative to be a little more fiscally conservative," Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told The Associated Press. "That's where we've got to rely on our young players, and we'll still be able to get players when we need them now and then."

Who’s staying and going? Voice your opinion and vote in our polls to express who you’d optimally like to chant for during roll call once again come April 1.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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