The left field conundrum continues…
Maybe GM Brian Cashman has the perfect solution already set in motion, but then again, maybe not. I am not quite sure how you could spend $200 million on salaries and then suddenly become very frugal over $3 or $4 million as an insurance policy to protect your investment. From the sounds of it, the Yankees are willing to go to camp with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann as a projected platoon in left. I know that it’s a bluff, designed to await the lowered salary expectations of free agent options in January.
But if you have a left fielder who has proven that he can handle New York, thrive atop the Yankees’ batting order and carries the intangibles necessary to bring a championship to New York, why can’t you work out a deal for a few pennies more? It just doesn’t make any sense. I agree with the logic that the Yankees don’t need a superstar in left, but they need something better than a fourth outfielder looking for his fifteen minutes of fame.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
If the Yankees successfully cause Johnny Damon to sign elsewhere, and are left to be scrounging through the bargain bin, they’ll regret it in July when they attempt to make a trade for an upgrade at the high cost of key prospects. Again, I’d rather pay more now and protect the farm system now and later.
John M. Setzler, Jr.
I was disappointed to see the San Francisco Giants successfully sign one solid option in Mark DeRosa. With DeRosa, the Giants get a very versatile player who will fit well into their lineup. His ability to play third base allows them to slide Pablo Sandoval to first which fills a big need. Had the Yankees been successful in luring DeRosa to the Bronx, he could have been the primary option for left field with the potential to back up Alex Rodriguez from time to time. Isn’t that worth a few dollars more? Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean…he scored one over his former team.
If Johnny Damon is my first choice, Xavier Nady would be the remaining option in my eyes. Another guy who has proven he can handle New York albeit not the injury bug. If healthy, Nady would be a great fit for the Yankees. Prior to his injury last season, he was slated to be the starter in right field.
Cataffo/New York Daily News
Outside of the organization, there just isn’t much to be excited about on the free agent market. I really don’t want a ‘past his prime’ player like Brian Giles or Garret Anderson. I’d rather take a chance on a sleeper like Cleveland’s Shin Soo Choo or Atlanta’s Matt Diaz, although I doubt either team would be willing to let either player go cheaply. In a blast from the past, the Angels’ Juan Rivera is another attractive option. But I seriously doubt that Cashman would be able to pry any of these options from their respective teams.
Los Angeles Times
Hopefully, the left field question is answered sooner rather than later. The Yankees still need to replenish their bullpen options for 2010 after several key departures this off-season. Plus, bench strength is another area that needs attention before the Yankees head for Tampa.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the Greater Boston Area, a Red Sox fan is gleefully enjoying the Yankees’ indecision and financial constraint…and listening to Toby Keith singing “Whiskey Girl”…
In a departure from baseball, I’d like to weigh in on the decision by Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell to rest his key starters like Peyton Manning in the second half. Everyone knows that the result was a New York Jets’ 29-15 victory over the Colts to end their pursuit of perfection. Of course, the company line is the decision was made to protect the health of their key performers and ensure going deeper into the play-offs with the Super Bowl as the key objective.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument, but I am inclined to believe that Caldwell blew it. He had a chance to do something that no team has done before (19-0, capped by a championship). The 1972 Miami Dolphins were 17-0 since the regular season consisted of only 14 games. Had they accomplished what the New England Patriots could not, the Colts would have gone down in history as one of the greatest teams ever. Now, they’ll just be another Super Bowl champion if they happen to win it all. Sure, a championship is great, but to be among legends is immortal. The Colts missed a great opportunity…
All things considered, I am glad that University of Florida coach Urban Meyer made the decision to take a leave of absence rather than step down as the Gators coach. College football needs guys like Meyer, but he needs time to repair his health. If a year from now, Meyer decides that it’s time to hang it up, so be it. But I’d rather see Florida go a year with an interim coach to make sure that Meyer makes a decision that he’ll never regret. I am not a Gators fan, but Meyer has been great for college football and the Florida job is clearly one of the best. It’ll be strange seeing new coaches patrolling the sidelines at both Florida and Florida State next season.
One final thought…if the Chicago Cubs can successfully trade Milton Bradley, why can’t the Yankees unload Kei Igawa? I still think the guy could thrive in a low-pressure environment like San Diego or Pittsburgh…
I hope everyone has a great new year! I have enjoyed your friendship and support in 2009 and I look forward to be being a part of the great MLB Bloggers in 2010. It’s a very talented and impressive group of writers, and the sum total of all makes MLB.com the best blogging environment on the internet! Keep up the great work everyone!
The return of Larry Bowa’s nephew…
Although they never wore the pinstripes at the same time, former coach Larry Bowa’s nephew, Nick Johnson, is coming home. Traded to Montreal in 2003 for pitcher Javier Vazquez, Nick has signed a one-year deal for $5.5 million, with a mutual option for 2011, to return to the Bronx.
During Nick’s “exile”, winning baseball was not necessarily a common theme among his teams with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and Florida Marlins. Nick is eager to return to a team with a “win at all costs” attitude. Nick could have signed with the San Francisco Giants as their first baseman, however, his first love remained the Yankees. So, once the Yankees expressed interest, no other team really had a chance with Johnson.
Hector Gabino/Miami Herald
Nick slots in nicely at the top of the batting order behind leadoff hitter Derek Jeter. Nick has a knack (no pun intended) for getting on base. His career on-base percentage is .402.
Welcome home, Nick! We’re glad you’re back!
Given that the Yankees have now reacquired the two primary players in the December 2003 deal that sent Nick to Montreal and brought Javier Vazquez to the Yankees (the first time), they should consider calling the Los Angeles Angels and the Tampa Bay Rays about the availability of outfielder Juan Rivera and reliever Randy Choate, respectively.
Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Although those are positions of need, I do not really want to see the return of either Rivera or Choate, but the Yankees do need to get creative about filling the hole in left field. It bothers me that the team hasn’t figured out a way to unload pitcher Kei Igawa, particularly when his salary could go a long way toward bringing in a solid left fielder. The Yankees say they’ll go with Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffmann. While I don’t feel you need an All-Star in left, I don’t think that Gardner and Hoffman, individually or collectively, are the answer. I have genuine concerns about Nick Swisher’s encore performance and the Yankees do not need simultaneous struggles at both outfield corners. I’d rather pay for a sound and dependable solution for left and then be prepared for Plan B in right.
Best case scenario is the return of Johnny Damon. It could still happen but Damon’s price tag will have to come down. The other solid option (Mark DeRosa) appears to be dissipating as DeRosa is apparently favoring an agreement with the San Francisco Giants. Hey, as a Bay Area guy, I can’t find fault with someone who wants to call the area home. San Francisco’s a great town with a terrific ballpark.
Reed Johnson’s name has been mentioned but I am less than enthused. Johnson missed 49 games in 2009 for the Chicago Cubs after fouling a pitch off his left foot which caused a fracture. A career .282 hitter, Reed only batted .255 in 65 games last season with 4 home runs and 22 RBI’s.
His scouting report¹ says that “Hustle is his strongest suit. Makes consistent contact and hits well with runners in scoring position – especially against lefties. Is a good outfielder.” The report goes on to say “he struggles against finesse pitchers and righties. A quality platoon or 4th outfielder.” It sounds like he would be more capable as a back-up for Curtis Granderson in center than a starter in left.
¹Source: Sportsnet.ca Ontario
Lobbying for the Cubs to re-sign Johnson in September, pitcher (and former Yankee) Ted Lilly was seen wearing a t-shirt that read “With Reed, we will succeed”. Maybe for Lilly and the Cubs, but not for the World Champions. Pass…
So now Jason Bay and his agent are calling the Boston Red Sox? Maybe Jason has started to send Theo fruit baskets like Julia did every day last season! Ha! I bet the Red Sox offer of 4 years and $60 million is looking very appealing these days. But of course, after Boston’s signing of John Lackey and Mike Cameron, the money offered to Bay is probably no longer available. Bay has a 4 year, $65 million offer from the New York Mets. However, $5 million extra over 4 years is not worth the mess known as the Mets. Bay’s best option is to remain in Boston but it is questionable whether the Red Sox have room in the 2010 budget at this point. Bay, at this point in time, appears to have overestimated his worth in the current free agent market. Financial constraint being shown by both the Yankees and the Red Sox…what is the world coming to? 😉
Finally, I’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May this be a season of joy for you and your family, and here’s hoping that 2010 fulfills your every dream! Well, except for a World Series championship…I reserve that one for Yankees fans! J