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?