So we’ve got a game at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. Let’s while away the hours debating the 2009 Yankees. And as an added bonus, we’ve even got a rare RAB poll.
When the season draws to a close in a few months and the Yanks’ Front Office begins the process of reconstructing a roster for 2009, the folks in Baseball Ops will have a few decisions to make. Two of the tougher choices facing the Yanks this year will come internally and involve two of their more productive but older players: Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi.
In one corner, we have Abreu, the Yanks’ right fielder. On the season, Abreu is hitting .291/.363/.474 with 15 home runs and a team-leading 76 RBIs. While still good, his triple-slash numbers are well off from his career norms of .300/.400/.500, and at 34, Abreu is definitely past his offensive prime. In the outfield, his defense is merely okay. He has a stellar arm, but throwing accuracy has always been an issue for him. He isn’t the quickest guy in right, and his range has never been a plus baseball trait.
For the Yanks, Abreu represents a dilemma. Bobby wants to stick around, and he would be a good guy for the Yanks’ outfield. There is, however, a but. Right now, the Yanks are waiting for Austin Jackson to land in the Bronx. With an ETA of 2010, the Yanks don’t really need to sign an aging and declining player like Abreu to a deal longer than one or two years. Abreu will probably want a three- or four-year deal monetarily in line with what Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon have.
Meanwhile, the Yanks should have a glut of outfielders next year. For better or worse, Melky will probably still be around; Damon and Matsui — who should be healthy — are under contract; and Xavier Nady will play a role on the 2009 Yankees as well. Does Bobby Abreu fit in or do the Yanks say, “Thanks, but we’d rather have the draft picks”?
In the other corner, we have Jason Giambi. His situation is a bit more delicate. Similar to Abreu, Giambi has expressed a desire to stay in New York, and the Yankees are holding a $20-million option or a $5-million buyout on the Giambino’s deal. On the season, Jason is hitting .256/.391/.518 with 22 HR and 65 RBI. He seems to run hot and cold, and while he had a great series in Texas, he had been scuffling of late.
The Giambi decision is a bit more nuanced than the Abreu situation. First up is the option that the Yanks won’t pick up. If the Yanks cut Giambi and he signs somewhere else, the team will have, in effect, paid him $5 million to play against them, and the Yanks have never been too keen on that approach. Next up is age. Giambi, while healthy this year, will play his age 38 season in 2009 and doesn’t figure to be around for too long. The Yanks need to get younger, and they need a first baseman. Mark Teixeira looks awfully appealing.
So what do you do with Jason Giambi? Should the Yanks pay him to play elsewhere? Should they re-sign him to split time at first base and DH again? While Chuck Johnson recently penned a piece for the YES Network’s site calling for the Yanks to dump Giambi, I don’t think there’s an obvious answer to this one. It’s far, far easier to make the case against Abreu than it is to advocate for or against Giambi.
As always with these open threads, play nice in the comments and vote in the poll below. At this point, I’m voting for Jason Giambi but not Abreu. Number 53 still has a chance to change my mind though.