Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outfield 2010

The year is 2010, the New York Yankees take the field on opening day in Yankee stadium, with the excitement of their World Series championship still fresh in their minds. CC Sabathia takes a few warm up pitches from the mound and then takes a look around the field to see the team backing him up. At first, Mark Teixeira, who has won another gold glove, is stretching in preperation for the first inning. Robinson Cano, who had won a silver slugger for his offensive prowess at second stands next to Jeter who used the short porch in right to break his single season homerun record the year before. A-Rod, fresh from his second hip surgery moves quickly around third base as he catches a wayward throw from Teixeira as they continue their warmup, and Posada stretches behind homeplate getting ready for the game action. Then, Sabathia looks to the outfield to see Nick Swisher playing catch with Melky Cabrera as they warm up their arms. Melky had a great season at the plate to win the centerfield job, and Swisher broke out of his May slump with a monster June to help get the Yankees in first place. Sabathia then turns to left, and squints trying to make out the figure playing catch with the ball boy. Who is that? He wonders. Is Damon back there after an incredible walk year which saw career highs in homeruns and RBI's? Is it Gardner or AJax, who battled it out during spring training to see who would start? Or perhaps, Cashman dipped into those deep New York pockets and signed a fresh face. Matt Holliday? Jason Bay?

The question of who will play left field in 2010 is an interesting one. Holliday looked like the best free agent option, but has gotten off to a rough start. Jason Bay of the Boston Red Sox, has been quite the bat and has essentially propped up the Boston offense in Ortiz's absence. Damon and Nady are both in walk years, but Damon's age becomes a question and Nady's elbow is a huge concern. If Damon continues producing at this stage, the Yankees could hope to sign him for a couple years as they groom the next big outfield prospect. Both Damon's $13 million contract and Matsui's $13 million will be off the books, and Nady's $6 million will also be dropped. If Swisher's a lock in right, and Gardner, Melky and perhaps AJax hold down centerfield, it leaves a decent amount of money to play with for a left fielder. If current contract trends continue, then someone like Damon could probably be had at a discount. On the other hand, the big free agents will still demand big money. If the Yankees go for Bay, who turns 31 in September, you can expect Boston to fight us tooth and nail. Holliday, who turned 29 in January would expect to get several years on this contract and he will not be cheap. With so many players on the Yankees signed to long term deals, you have to wonder if signing another big ticket free agent for 6 - 8 years is the way to go. It probably isn't. You could put left field in the hands of Gardner or AJax, but there's no guarantee that AJax will perform, and Gardner is more of a 4th outfielder type than a regular player. Perhaps Damon for a couple years would be a good call, but he'll likely want more years since he wants to play until he's 39 (he turns 36 in October), and signing Damon would certainly not be in line with the whole "lets get younger" philosophy. However, if you use Damon as a leftfielder/DH with AJax spelling him, you could see if AJax is big league material while having Damon's bat as insurance. There's several options, and I'm not sure what the right answer is.

So what do you think the Yankees should do?

14 comments:

Steve said...

Jeter in left. Pena has taken over at short. Posada is on the bench as the dh and Cervelli is behind the plate

Hunter said...

i think they sign damon to a 2 year contract and keep him on as LF/DH.
at the trade deadline in july, they trade Matsui to a team that needs a bat to get them to the post season and start to see what AJax can do at some starts in LF this year, and option gardner back to AAA for some time.
if AJax doesnt work out in left this year, and because they yankees dont want to sign another long contract yet, they could ink a one or two year deal with abreu to play RF and move Swisher to LF and keep damon on as a DH.

Jon Roberts said...

I think Damon is a good option for a couple more years. If it took three years to do the deal, that would be fine. He can still hit, that's for sure. Signing him does go against the getting younger goal, but the second part of that is athletic, and Damon is a better athlete than quite a few left fielders in the league, including the two big free agents you named.

The team in general has a greater degree of athleticism than last year by bringing in Tex and Swish and having Pena on the bench, putting Cervelli behind the plate really makes a difference in that area too.

Fernando Alejandro said...

Steve, Jeter will not be leaving short stop next year, and Pena just isn't a big league hitter. Cervelli might not be either though he's certainly been raking of late. After Jeter's contract expires then we might hear about a position change for him.

It seems like people like the Damon idea, and I agree that Damon is still a better athlete then the other available outfielders. I'm curious to see what AJax can do too. I wouldn't want Abreu back though. He's a below average fielder with an above average arm.

Hunter said...

how do you feel about trading matsui?

Fernando Alejandro said...

As a permanent DH, I just don't see Matsui bringing back much. You're idea to trade Matsui and use AJax won't work unless you make Damon the new DH, and even then I don't know if we want to get rid of Matsui's bat just to see what AJax can do. If the Yankees want to give AJax a shot, I think they should wait for his September call up and have him play centerfield for a couple weeks. Then he can be the 4th outfielder for the 2010 Yankees, and perhaps a starting outfielder for the 2011 Yankees. With his speed though, you definitely want him playing center.

C V said...

what makes Swisher a lock in RF? right now, he's the 4th-best OF. once Matsui is left unsigned (and I'll hate to see him go), DH would be freed up for Swisher (sharing time w/Jorge), with starts as 4th OF. I'm intrigued by AJax, and I hope he'll get a mid-season call-up, if only to have a look around, get some ABs, and learn what he needs to fine-tune to be ready for next year (this seemed to have helped Gardner in '08). I hope Damon could be lured back with a 2-yr w/1-yr-option deal, to continue as LF/DH. if spring training '10 proves that neither AJax or BG is ready to take over as the new CF, then you're back to Swisher RF, Melky CF, Damon LF, with BG on the bench. which wouldn't be bad, based on what we've seem so far this year.

Roberto Alejandro said...

you're all wrong. The outfield next year will be Jeter in left, Cano in right, and Melky in center. Nick Swisher will play first while Teixeira takes over at catcher. Posada will pitch because he feels like it and Girardi's not going to tell him no. Pena will play short and A-Rod will continue to make so much money I don't even feel like talking about it.

RSiciliano said...

I don't see the point of going after Holliday. I think he's way overrated. If they can get Bay, then they should go for it. Plan B can be Damon. However, I love what Steve said. Since there will be a need in left field next year, maybe 2010 is the time that Jeter goes out there. I don't think anyone has the guts to confront him about it though.

Fernando Alejandro said...

Swisher's a lock only because as long as he's under contract they're not going to go looking for another right fielder. He's cheap and we have him for a few years. Plus, DH needs to be used more for our aging stars. Swisher may be the 4th best outfielder, but DHing him will mean putting the 9th best batter on the team in the game.

I think Holliday is overrated as well, but Bay sounds like an intruiging option. The Yankees need to learn the patient process of growing their own prospects though, and with AJax in the wings, it would be a shame if they didn't bring him up next season.

RSiciliano said...

What kind of player does Jackson project to being? Like a BJ Upton?

Anonymous said...

To hear some reports, Jackson projects to be the young Mickey Mantle. But not this year. Maybe not next.
With Gardner down, we see that it's necessary to carry 5 outfielders. Swish needs a day off really bad, and it would be nice to have him available to play first and spell Tex.
Matsui can't DH every day, either, but I don't think you trade him this year. No telling what Nady will be like.
I don't see any way to let Damon walk, even if it takes 3 years. All the guy does is produce. He's the most consitent player on the team. And he's definitely Co-Captain Intangibles.

Roberto Alejandro said...

Damon is a major presence in the clubhouse. He also helped recruit all of our big ticket free agents. They should bring him back.

Fernando Alejandro said...

They say that Jackson is a 5-tool player, but the power isn't there yet. In my own limited opinion, I think that at best, he could be like a young Bernie Williams only faster (Good average, decent power, good defense, more stolen bases) and at worst he could be like Brett Gardner (Good defense, good speed, no bat). However, it may take him time to reach his potential, and the Yankees will need to be patient.