Understandably, the signing was met with mixed reaction by Yankees fans, but personally, I liked the move to sign Andruw Jones as the team’s fourth outfielder.
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Marcus Thames came up with a few clutch hits last season but it was fearful to watch him play the outfield. With Jones, the Yankees have someone that can spell all three outfield positions and can be counted on to provide adequate defense. With the bat, when hitting in his spots, he can still perform as evidenced by his 19 home runs with the Chicago White Sox last season.
I realize that Andruw is a shell of the superstar that he used to be despite being only 33, however, he is still young enough to turn it around for a few seasons if he can make a commitment to conditioning and the other factors that make older players like Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter successful. I know, he’ll never hit 51 home runs again or even 30 or 40, but so long as he can hit a few clutch shots, I’ll be satisfied. The Yankees are only paying him $2 million for one year…a far cry from the $18 million per season the Los Angeles Dodgers were paying him only a couple of seasons ago.
The sad part of the season is that it meant the Yankees would not be pursuing Johnny Damon. Jones had the advantage of being the better defensive player (at this stage of their respective careers) and that ensured him of the Yankees primary focus. Damon, meanwhile, has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays where he’ll see greater playing time than he would have with the Yankees. Aside from all the love and positive statements that Johnny will be professing about Tampa and the Rays, I wish him all the best.
Speaking of the Rays, they also signed Manny Ramirez as their DH. I was a bit surprised by that move considering that the Rays have been so selective about bringing on quality, team-first guys. Perhaps they feel that Damon will be able to keep Manny in check. Or perhaps it really was just a move to help drive up attendance. Either way, it is going to be hard to take the Rays as seriously as I have in the past. It could be a long season in Florida or maybe the joke’s on us. Time will tell…
Back to the Yankees, they’ve made all the necessary moves…except the final one or two pieces…namely the #4 and #5 spots in the starting rotation. When I heard that the Detroit Tigers had designated pitcher Armando Galarraga for assignment after signing free agent pitcher Brad Penny, I was a bit skeptical and leery of Armando. However, after additional thought, he might be someone the Yankees should pursue. So long as they don’t have to relinquish any top shelf talent, the gamble would be worth the risk. He might blossom under the tutelage of pitching coach Larry Rothschild. He is the type of pitcher that I’ve wanted the Yankees to acquire. Someone who hasn’t quite fulfilled his promise or potential but who is still young enough to have that breakout season. Maybe Armando is that guy…
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If the Rafael Soriano signing was Hal Steinbrenner’s idea, hats off to him. It was a bold move and I have been concerned that Hal, as an educated bean counter, would not make those seemingly crazy moves to improve the team. I should qualify that by saying that I do not want to see another Ed Whitson or Steve Kemp signing, but you want an owner who sometimes sets aside rationale and conservative thought to go with a gut instinct. When I first heard that the Yankees had signed Soriano, my immediate thought was that Hank Steinbrenner was behind the move. Perhaps it was and he sold his brother on the idea, but if it was Hal’s idea, that’s even better. As a fan, I do not view GM Brian Cashman any less than I did before. Ownership always has the right to have the final say and of course it’s their money. Brian does what is right for the organization. The Steinbrenner family is responsible for ensuring a marketable and performing asset for the YES Network and their Yankee Stadium season ticket holders.