Hypothetical: Inside the Yankees front office

Hughes, continued
This does not make me happy

There are a lot of great points from both sides of the Hughes/Santana issue, and I expect the conversation will continue through the weekend (might we have to start a third overflow post??). Anyway, just to steer the conversation in a slightly different direction, I’m going to pose a hypothetical.

Stick, Cash, Opp, and Hank are sitting in the Tampa offices. They’ve already traded Melky and Hughes for Santana, and have signed Santana to an enormous extension. As a bonus, Andy Pettitte has announced that he will return, so the Yankees rotation looks as formidable on paper as any other in the league. The only problem that remains is a center fielder.

Two of the guys in the room want to stick with internal options. Damon can start the year there with Matsui in left, which would have the added benefit of allowing Jason Giambi to play as the everyday DH. That, according to Buster Olney, is the current thinking from a confident Yankee front office. However, as we all know, this plan might not fly. Damon still has plenty of range in center (personally, I trust him more than Melky for tracking flyballs), but he throws like a girl. Matsui’s arm isn’t as bad, but he’s not gunning out Curtis Granderson going from first to third on a single to left.

The other two guys in the room want to sign a free agent. They say that both Jones and Rowand have good range in center (don’t believe the hype regarding Jones’s supposed defensive decline; if he is declining, it’s not significant enough to fret over).

Somehow, the “sign a free agent” couple convinces one of the “internal options” guys to sign either Jones or Rowand. In fairness, the majority says to the sole “internal options” guy: “It’s your choice. Rowand or Jones?”

Which do you choose? Remember, this is inevitable. Carved in stone. Either Andruw or Aaron is guaranteed to be the Opening Day center fielder.

Me? I’m going Jones, and it isn’t even close. Jones is just four months older than Rowand, and has a far better track record. Jones has had two below-average years, and he socked 34 and 26 homers in those years, which is tremendous for a center fielder.

Rowand, on the other hand, has has only three years of over 500 plate appearances. Over the past four seasons, when he has been a regular, he has had two good seasons and two well below average seasons. He doesn’t draw a lot of walks, and he strikes out his share — once every 5.84 plate appearances, as opposed to once every 5.21 PA for Jones.

Now, Rowand isn’t going to get the five years and $90 million that the Angels gave to Torii Hunter. But he’s looking for somewhere between five years and $60 million and six years and $84 million. Jones is likely seeking six years and $108 million…same deal as Hunter, just with an added year, which makes sense considering Jones is nearly two years Hunter’s junior.

The overarching idea is that if you’re trading Hughes and Melky for Santana, you might as well go all in. Why half-ass a 2008 championship run?

Hughes, continued
This does not make me happy
  • mike

    I still can’t understand how Rowand thinks he is worth that kind of money? Love his grind but come on I’ve watched him hit like Byrnes and jacque for years. And definetly Jones over Rowand. In NY with all that talent around him he could be a great pick up but at what price Mr. Boras?

  • http://www.mvn.com/mlb-rays Eric SanInocencio

    Joseph, I couldn’t agree more. I think people are tied into Andruw’s last season, which was a disaster. However, if you look at the whole body of work, Jones is by far the better player. He is just a few years removed from an MVP level season with 50 plus homeruns.

    If his defense slips at all, he just goes from superhuman to still well above average. In a properly motivated setting playing for a chance to win it all may push for better conditioning. He’ll also be surrounded by tons of talent, and not feeling that he has to carry the club like he had to in Atlanta.

    For all of Rowand’s “grittyness” he basically had a career year in the best hitter’s park in the majors. The extra space in Yankee Stadium would bring Rowand back down to Earth.

    These two players aren’t even in the same tier of center fielders. If you intend on purcashing your CF this offseason, to me there is Jones and everyone else (including Torii Hunter). I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Eric SanInocencio

  • Donnie Baseball deserves to be in the Hall

    I would say NONE of the above if I had to give either of them more than a 3 year deal.

    I also think that Jones name may be on a certain list, as well as possibly Rowand.

    I would say “you can pick because neither of them is a good fit”

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G

    I would easily prefer Jones, he might benefit from the Yanks stacked lineup a la Bobby Abreu and not try to swing for the fences every AB because he does not need to. Hell if he is signed he could very easily be the #7 hitter or #8 if Cano continues his progression. I think Jones would prolly hit around .250 as he adjusts to AL pitchers for the 2008 campaign and then in 2009 I think we will see the 25-30 HRs and quite possibly a 100 RBI season. I like the idea of Jones in CF for the Yanks but I despise with all intent the reason we would consider signing him.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G

    Another thing that has to be considered is that the Phills will offer arby to Rowand who is a Type A (http://tinyurl.com/yuly4s). On the other hand the Braves will not offer abry to Jones who is a Type B which makes no diff to us anyways since it wouldnt cost us a draft pick signing a Type B guy.

    When looking at it this way Aaron Rowand is not worth 5/$60m and a #1 pick.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Sorry. I edited down your URL. It was screwing up the margins.

  • Rob

    If anything, I’d be most disappointed in that scenario that Gardner isn’t given a shot. He could easily provide the offense of Melky, the range of Damon but with a better arm, and an added dimension to the lineup and the bench that neither Rowand or Jones would provide.

    Ellsbury – 250 G, 105 SB, 27 CS – 80%
    Gardner – 290 G, 116 SB, 22 CS – 84%

    This isn’t Bubba Crosby we’re talking about. Gardner is 23 years old and still has upside with almost 100 points of isolated discipline (.289 AVG – .381 OBP). Him getting on base ahead of Jeter, Abreu, and A-Rod would be a very good thing.

    • JP

      I totally agree. I think Gardner gives them an added dimension that this team needs more than another all-or-nothing power hitter like Jones. Otherwise you may as well blow this whole thing up and go back to being the Yankees of 6 years ago.

      The great thing about Gardner is that he’s still learning how to be a better stolen base threat. He doesn’t steal much against LHP’s and he’s still very selective about picking his spots. Plus I really think he turned a corner in the AFL this year… I could see a much better year out of him in ’08

      • Rob

        That’s exactly it! The guy gets on base and can fly. What more do they need from a leadoff or #9 guy. Indeed, he’s better than Melky on both those counts. If he can track balls better and has any semblance of an arm, he’s an *upgrade* in CF and in the lineup at least until Ajax arrives.

    • Count Zero


  • save hughes

    i would prefer jones over rowand

  • homey G

    A-Jones can still swat. He was stuck on a shitty rebuilding team for two years with a bunch of rookies.

    I love the logic.

    We should trade for Miguel Cabrera as well just to stick it to the Red Sox… Not bad! I am sure Cano can find someone new to jump up and down with 50+ times this year…


    hmmmm, if that isn’t stacked I don’t know what is…. They only better lineup would be f’ing Utley a 2nd and Manny in LF

  • barry

    The yankee payroll is going to be ridiculous. Andruw gives you plenty of pop but Rowand delivers a better career average. If i had to i sign Rowand, he’s cheaper. But in reality I hope they sign neither. Iwould rather deal with CF internally. For one thing these guys are both good but they really arentworth the money, especially when we already have a CF in Damon. Don’t sign either of em.

    • brxbmrs

      Rowand had two big offensive years – 07 and 04 I think – strip those out he’s a .270/.330/.395 guy – he’s not that good and he’ll K 100+ times.

      Melky’s a better player on both sides of the ball – and no one here would give Melk 10 mil + for 5 years.

      As for Joseph’s comments on Damon’s routes being better than Melky’s – unfortunately many here are judging Melky on his horrid September where he was spent physically – he looked awful and I’m thinking it was fatigue – he tired earlier in 06 – he’s still a kid and he wasn’t rested at all thanks to Dr. Torre.

      There can be no honest criticism as to how he played from June through August – he was excellent in every respect except HR power including situational hitting.

      Damon is not going to stay healthy if he plays CF every day – he’s 33-34, has recurring shoulder, calf and foot injuries – he’s an example of why we shouldn’t give big deals to Rowand or Jones.

      Tell Jeter its time for him to play CF if Jones wont take a 1 year 20 mil showcase contract.

  • The Scout

    Do you think Jomes or Rowand can pitch the 7th or 8th innings? Because if not, close games against good teams are going to slip away, especially in the play-offs. So while the Yankees are throwing money after a CF (and I agree they will), they may as well pull out all stops in 08. That means overpaying with other prospects to secure hard-throwing set-up men.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      That will be a much-talked-about topic next week at the Winter Meetings.

  • Dan

    If this offseason ends up like i think it will, we could be in for a lot of yankee hating from other fans, considering what the payroll wil be. Over/under: 250mill?

  • Rob

    No, but I think they can find a few guys from among:


    Yeah, I think they can find three or four decent arms from that list and better than paying 5 million/year for Riske or Hawkins or even Farnsworth.

    • The Scout

      Good arms, yes. But not a sure bet among them. So IF the plan is to win in 08 (contrary to what Hal suggested when Girardi was hired), it would follow that the Yankees will throw $$$ or prospects at every weakness in order to put the strongest roster together. After all, you can’t afford to fall too far behind in the play-off race while you hold auditions for set-up men until July. The Yankees have tried that route before and they have survived, but how many times can a team use one-third to one-half of the season trying to make odd parts fit and still expect to make the play-offs? If Santana is acquired and given the enormous investment in Mo and Posada, it now appears the Yankees see themselves with a window to win, regardless of the cost.

    • Rob

      Bull. Who had heard of Okajima or Delcarmen before last year? They can win with what they have and filling in the pieces from within. Even worse than the failures to get an ace have been the failures to sign a decent bullpen arms. If they drop a dime more on what’s available, they’ll get the same results. Better to trade more arms for Joe Nathan.

      • The Scout


        I’m playing along with the scenario, not suggesting what the Yankees should do. I agree with you the Yankees may very well trade arms for Nathan. I think dealing more young talent for good bullpen help is exactly what they would do in order to win in 2008. Throwing money at has-beens is plan B. The least plausible scenario is three months of trial-and-error testing of a succession of kids.

  • Chuck

    Rowand looks tough, kind of a Paul O’Neal mode.

  • steve

    ughhh. i want gardner in center if this happens and if not just stick damon there. i dont want either of them near this lineup because of the years and $ they will demand.

  • zack

    Jones is 100% the way to go.

    • http://sportsmusings.wordpress.com JCP

      agreed completely with that if it’s at the right cost…. just shows you the myopia of yankee fans – brett gardner over andruw jones????

  • LouG

    Gardner, absolutely.
    Please please please, lets not go back to being a team of aging, overpaid dinosaurs.

    • The Scout

      Sorry, Lou. Did you think the Yankees would stop at Santana? Not a chance.

  • Count Zero

    Assuming I HAVE to pick one or the other, it’s not even close. Jones by a mile.

  • brxbmrs

    Depends on what Jones costs – I love his D, I think he has a ton of wear on him and he’s gonna bring 135+ K’s to this overrated offense.

    I was hoping the Yanks would be able to get Jones on a 1 year 20 mil showcase deal ala Milwood.

    Would be nice to have some RH power but overall he could really be an offesnive bust – that’s a huge risk if you are going to give him Hunter money.

    Maybe its time to move Jeter to CF…he’s going there eventually – can’t see him at 2nd or 3rd.

    If Gonzales really is a defensive +, we could live with him at short – if egos weren’t an issue put A-Rod at short and Bet at 3rd.

  • Fuzzy

    I’m continually surprised to read how Cashman’s plan all along has been to build from within. Yes and no. Build from within, but have enough chips to make the megatrade for the superstar at the top of his game. This is Santana. Remember the trades for Cone, Clemens, Martinez, O’Neill, etc. This is how championship teams were made – from within with trades to fill in those needs the system couldn’t generate. In this case it is the LH starting pitcher who is a true Ace in the American League.

    If NYY trade Melky in the Santana deal (I hope) they won’t even sniff either high priced free agent CF. Start with Damon in CF, sprinkle in Gardner (and even A-Jax depending on his performance at AA) and make a trade at the deadline if you need to. Signing someone for 4-5 years makes NO sense.

  • brxbmrs


    Trading at the deadline thanks to the WC and the flush coffers on mlb isn’t a real option anymore.

    How many platoons is this team going to have to begin the year – 1st base, lf and cf? That is a mistake.

    Damon can’t play CF, Matsui is a bad DH at best, Giambi is a supreme embarassment – Yanks can’t spend 500+ mil on 4 players and patch three derfensive positions and the bullpen.

  • Jeff

    Giving Jones a long big money contract is wa too much of a gamble in my opintion. He already showed that he could shit the bed and I’d hate to have to carry the contract like we’re doing with Giambi now.
    I’d stick with who we have… if Gardner can prove to fit in the big leagues fine but even the status quo works for me if we have the right pitching in place.

  • Jeff

    Giving Jones a long big money contract is way too much of a gamble in my opintion. He already showed that he could shit the bed and I’d hate to have to carry the contract like we’re doing with Giambi now.
    I’d stick with who we have… if Gardner can prove to fit in the big leagues fine but even the status quo works for me if we have the right pitching in place.

  • kunaldo

    are we swinging for the big 300(mil)? At least we can have a slogan, THIS IS SPARTA! err, THE BRONX!

  • ohbwonhomie

    shit! well I guess its gonna happen anyways. the trade that is. so if melk has to go then bring in gardner. he has speed and he’s gutsy. he’ll get on base make pitchers nervous with all the other guys coming to bat. hope yanks dont fall all the way from their ” youth movement”, even though at this point cant know any more. jones to much money and years and rowand is a bad sign waiting to happen.

  • Bart

    Re your carved in stone Jones — I take Jones over Gardner and Jackson — unlike other Yankee fans I cna’t worry over the “real Yankee up from the minors credential” — we have no control over who drats us or what hapens to us after so why worry about the path the player takes to the Yankees as long as he plays like a Yankee when he gets here.

    I got to see the Bernie, Jorge, Pettit group come through the Prince William Canons — and they were special — but so was Coney, and Paulie, Wettland, Tino — heck we even loved Boomer until he quit on us

    So I’d stop worrying about how and worry about the character of who plays for the Yankees. BUT we don’t have to make a dumb deal — if replacing Melky is all that is required I am happy to go with Damon, Gardner, and Jackson — we still have to worry about 2010 when Jeter and Posada can no longer be relied upon in the field at SS and C (many comments on Jeter’s lack of defense) and neither Jones nor Rowland helps get younger.

  • Fred Arena

    Also, Jones does not cost you your first round pick like Rowand would since he is a type B free agent.

    Sign Jones and let Vizciano go so that we get an extra sandwich pick and hope that we find another Hughes between our number one pick and the sandwich pick.

    Don’t forget, letting Tom Gordon go turned into Joba and Kennedy.

  • Ross E.

    I can see signing Andruw to a 3 year (2 guaranteed and 1 mutual option) contract. We need a righty bat and some speed never hurt. When Abreu’s gone, he can move to right field and he’d be a good teacher for the kids coming up.
    My only regret about having to replace Melky is how Robbie will take the loss of his best friend on the team.

  • Brian – So Cal Yankee Fan

    First option – Jones on a 2 year + option

    Next – see what KC wants for David DeJesus

    Next – Brett Gardner and please leave Johnny Damon in Left Field.

  • ……

    1. Kosuke Fukudome (he can’t be worse than Damon in CF + he wants only
    3 years.)
    2. Lofton (then bring up Gardner when he’s ready (I like Gardner’s approach
    despite no power)
    3. Andruw Jones (you could argue that we should go “all in” if we get Johan)
    4. Aaron Rowand (c’mon now, he’s pretty overrated)
    5. Johnny Damon
    6. Bring up Gardner already (he’s not ready imo)

  • Mitchell’s Eleven

    Come on Joseph, you’re running what’s supposed to be an intelligent Yankee blog. Why even post a question like this? Why “half-ass” it? Because none of the mercenaries you mention will bring this team any closer to a championship.

    To placate your question, my answer would be to have some sort of sensibility and try Brett Gardner at CF.

  • eric from morrisania

    These should be our options, in order from best to worst, when we trade away Melky…

    1) Trade for Bill Hall. I’ve said this a few times… Hall is on the block because the Brewers have a surplus of outfielders, and we can deal them some of our mid-level pitching prospects (like a Jeff Karstens or a Chase Wright), or possibly Kyle Farnsworth, and make this deal happen. Hell, I like this even more now that we may be signing Mark Lorretta… a package of Farnsworth, Wilson Betemit, and Darrell Rasner would be more than enough to get Hall.

    2) Trade for Joey Gathright. Like the above, Gathright is available, he’s fast, he tracks down everything in center, and also like Hall, once the young kids (AJax and Tabata) come up, he’s a great 4th outfielder to have (think a Dave Roberts speed weapon off the bench). His deal wouldn’t cost more than what we’d have to give up for Bill Hall.

    3) Brett Gardner. He’s like Gathright, but without the ML experience and seasoning. He can fly, he can play a great CF, and he won’t cost us a dime more than we’ve already spent. For safety’s sake, platoon him with Bronson Sardhina on opening day and see which one of them sticks.

    4) Kosuke Fukodome. If we do sign a free agent CF, the single most critical determining factor should be the length of contract, most specifically, how short it is. With Gardner, AJax, Tabata, and even guys like Tim Battle in our minor leagues, we have strength in prospects in the OF, and signing a guy to a 5 or 6 year deal is only going to block the path of our youngsters. This is significant, because both AJax and Tabata project to be much better options than anybody in this year’s FA pool. Fukudome wants only 3 years… he’s the perfect bridge to the next crop of youngsters.

    5) Johnny Damon. I know, playing Damon in CF and Matsui in LF is a horrible, horrible idea. The only reason it’s better than Jones/Rowand is that we would be doing this with the intention of putting Gardner/AJax/Tabata in Scranton to see who reacts the best, and promoting one or two of them in July for a Melky-like trial-by-fire audition. At least one of the trio could be able to handle it…

    6) Do nothing and pray to god that something miraculous happens, like, say, Kirby Puckett comes back from the dead and signs a 2 year, $3M contract to play CF for the Yanks. This is a much better option than everything below.

    7) Andruw Jones. Of all the OTHER options, he’s the best player. But, I don’t want to give him a 6th year. (Hell, I don’t want to give him a THIRD year.)

    8) Forfeit the 2008 year. Just do nothing, and wait for 2009. Why not?

    9) Fold up the franchise and quit MLB, or move to London and start playing soccer in the EPL instead. It would suck, but not as much as…

    10) Aaron Rowand. I don’t believe it at all. He’d be perfect, if he realized what his actual worth was and asked for a 2 year, $18M deal. But for what he’s asking? He’s a white Gary Matthews Jr. (That’s not a compliment.) Do we really want to sign a guy for 5 years, $80M in December 2007 that we’d be putting on the market in July 2008?