The Yankees will almost definitely have to sign a free agent starting pitcher. Obviously, C.C. Sabathia is the best guy available. However, it looks increasingly likely he will not not come to the Yankees. The three other guys who are the most likely options are Ben Sheets, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe.
Ben Sheets has been an ace when healthy. He flat out dominates and could be the true #1 the Yankees would love to get. However, their's two problems with him. First, he`d be coming over from the NL. Second, he`s a HUGE injury risk. This screams of the Carl Pavano signing. Its extremely tempting to go after him. However, ideally I would say no.
A.J. Burnett is probably the most popular of these guys among Yankees fans. He`s pitched in the AL East for the past few years and he`s killed the Yankees and Red Sox. Again though, their`s problems. He`s only slightly less of an injury risk then Sheets and he`s really not been as good. He`s been hyped as an ace which he just isn't. I`m totally against signing Burnett. I think it would be a major mistake.
Derek Lowe is the least hyped of these guys. Nobody would mistake him for an ace but he`s a reliable #3 or #2. He`s had no major injury problems. He`s a ground ball pitcher but he also maintains a very good K/BB. He`s also been through the AL East before. Looking back at his last year in Boston it seems like a disaster. However, his periphereals indicate it was more a lack of luck then a lack of skill.
Their`s pretty much no guarantees for the Yankees rotation next year. Wang should be fine but is coming off of an injury, Pettitte and Mussina may not be back and if they are then they will still be one year older, Hughes/Aceves/Kennedy are certainly no sure things, and I would hesitate to call Joba a sure thing as well. Do you want to gamble on a Ben Sheets or A.J. Burnett as well? I think they need to take the safe bet in Lowe and hope Hughes and Joba can emerge as front end of the rotation starters.