What do the years 2001, 2003 and 2010 all have in common? They all involve deep playoff runs and subsequent disappointing playoff exits for the New York Yankees.

Following the 2001 and 2003 seasons, the Yankees acquired a dynamic hitter and veteran pitcher in each offseason, Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina after ’01 and Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Brown following ’03, and now it is very possible 2010 will also share that distinct similarity.

Don’t get me wrong, every postseason that doesn’t end with a World Series title is a disappointment to the Yankees and Yankees fans, but the 2001 World Series was a huge letdown and the 2003 loss was the official end to that Yankee dynasty.

2010 wasn’t a World Series loss, but an ALCS exit where the Yankees were truly over-matched and could not perform in the clutch was still hard to watch.

So who might the Yankees be targeting this offseason? Well, the popular pick is Cliff Lee and I think (hope) that he will be in pinstripes next season, after what he has done to the Yankees in the past, just signing him and keeping him away from other teams would be a bonus.

By the time it is all said and done he very well could be the highest paid pitcher in baseball history, because a bidding war is certainly going to take place between Texas and New York, along with whoever else is interested in him.

As for the bat, that remains to be seen, but some two of the most talked about hitters out there on the market are Adrian Beltre and Adam Dunn.

Beltre is coming off of a fantastic year in Boston hitting .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI, along with 49 doubles to lead the league. He also has a two Gold Gloves at third base.

Dunn is a much more one-dimensional player being a typical middle-of-the-order power bat, having not hit fewer than 38 home runs since 2003. His defense is nothing to brag about, but he can play first base and the corner outfield spots.

Both players would make the Yankees lineup even more stacked than it already is, but there would be one problem with signing either one of these All-Star caliber players. The DH spot would be jammed.

Beltre could play third base and A-Rod could move to the DH, but with an aging catcher, I have a feeling Jorge Posada is going to be the everyday DH next year, which brings me to my next point.

The Yankees don’t really need to sign either of these expensive free agents, because they have the young phenom catcher Jesus Montero waiting for his opportunity and next year the starting catching job could be his.

This is a player the Yankees have been high since they signed him as a 17-year-old. Now at age 20, he has shown at every level of the minors that he has a major league ready bat, having hit 21 home runs and knocked in 75 RBI this year at triple-A Scranton, while hitting .289. His defense was a concern but it is reportedly improved this year.

I have no doubt that by the end of next year, that Montero is the Yankees starting catcher and is an impact bat in the lineup, maybe not to the degree of Dunn or Beltre yet, but he certainly looks like he has the potential to hit 30 home runs in a season. And obviously, he is a much cheaper option than most free agents out there.

So maybe the Yankees just sign Cliff Lee and a few lesser free agents, possibly Johnny Damon, and go with Montero as their new starting catcher. Either way, if history repeats itself, the Yankees are going to have some new faces around in 2011.


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