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6 things the Yankees can still do

Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against the

Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez throws against the Yankees in the first inning at Yankee Stadium. (July 27, 2011) Credit: AP

The 2010-11 offseason marked the Yankees’ most frustrating in ages, yet they proceeded to win 97 regular-season games, thanks significantly to winter acquisitions Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez and Rafael Soriano.

This Hot Stove campaign has lacked such despair, largely because the Yankees prevented disaster when they extended CC Sabathia’s contract in return for the big lefty foregoing free agency. That occurred on Halloween night, however, just three days after the World Series concluded. The ensuing two months have been rather quiet, again prompting concern about the defending American League East champions’ starting rotation.

With the likes of C.J. Wilson (signed with the Angels), Mark Buehrle (signed with Miami), Gio Gonzalez (traded to Washington) and John Danks (signed an extension with the White Sox) off the board, what else can the Yankees do to upgrade a group that currently features Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Garcia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Hector Noesi?

Here are six suggestions, ranging from grandiose to, well, the equivalent of buying a lottery ticket.

1. Grandiose:

Call Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik and tell him you want Felix Hernandez and won’t take no for an answer. He can have anyone on the Yankees’ roster with a year or less of big-league service time.

Is it a good idea? Yes. Hernandez is signed through 2014 and is an absolute stud. He’s as good as anyone in the major leagues right now.

Odds of it happening: 30-1. Zduriencik has said repeatedly that King Felix isn’t going anywhere.

2. Aggressive:

Acquire Matt Garza from the Cubs by giving up a strong package of prospects headed by either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances, but not both.

Is it a good idea? It’s not bad. Garza has two years of control left before free agency, and he proved from his Rays years (2008-10) that he can handle the AL East. It’s just a matter of how good the Yankees think Banuelos and Betances can be.

Odds of it happening: 7-1. The Yankees really like Garza, but they have become increasingly protective of their own prospects in recent years.

3. Old-school:

Throw money at the problem. Sign free-agent righthander Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $48-million contract.

Is it a good idea? It’s approaching “bad.” A righthander who doesn’t miss a great number of bats, and who struggles to keep lefties off base, competing in the ferocious AL East?

Odds of it happening: 12-1. The Yankees don’t seem very excited by Jackson.

4. Stopgaps:

Sign a veteran free agent such as Hiroki Kuroda or Roy Oswalt to a one-year deal — let’s say $11 million for Kuroda or $6 million plus incentives for Oswalt — holding a space for promising youngsters such as Banuelos and Betances.

Is it a good idea? Yes. Kuroda has put together four solid seasons since coming over from Japan. Oswalt, a fierce competitor, is motivated to prove that last year’s struggles and back problems weren’t as bad as advertised.

Odds of it happening: 8-1 for Kuroda, whom the Yankees always have liked. 15-1 for Oswalt, whose back problems concern the Yankees.

5. Same time next year:

Re-sign Bartolo Colon for one year and $2 million, plus generous incentives.

Is it a good idea? No. Maybe Colon can duplicate his miraculous first two-plus months of 2011. Probably not, though.

Odds of it happening: 17-1. The Yankees saw firsthand how shot Colon was at the end of ’11.

6. A new lottery ticket:

Find the Colon of 2012. Rich Harden? Jeff Francis? Jamie Moyer?

Is it a good idea? No. They’re better off giving a shot to youngsters such as David Phelps or Adam Warren.

Odds of it happening: 4-1 that they’ll sign some well-known veteran to a minor-league contract; 25-1 that any of those veterans actually contribute.

New York Sports