Let’s dip into the mailbag again. Clearly, the Yankees’ outfield situation, while not an overwhelming priority, doesn’t stand to be a strength of the team without some serious upgrades. Bobby Abreu may be gone; Xavier Nady’s production remains anomalous; center field is a huge question mark; and only Johnny Damon, soon to be 35, is a known quantity out there. While I’d advocate for Manny Ramirez, he’s more of a DH type than anything else right now.
To that end, a lot of fans have been inquiring about our thoughts on various trade options. Yesterday, I looked at Magglio Ordoñez. Today we tackle Aaron Rowand. Long-time reader and frequent commenter Stu writes:
Last year at this time, there was much talk about how the Yankees should sign Aaron Rowand. He was coming off a career year at age 29, however. I now wonder whether, after a sub-par year, the Yankees should trade for him. It seems like a decent fit: he wasn’t great, so the Giants should want to pare some of their payroll, while he’d be far better than anything the Yankees have now, and eventually can move to left or right when Austin Jackson is ready. 4 years and 52 million left on his contract is a hefty sum to most teams, but pretty reasonable to the Yankees.
Rowand is an interesting case. With OPS+ numbers of 130, 93, 86, 123 and 94, he seems rather inconsistent. Known for his fielding, his zone rating slipped in 2008, but his range factor remained high. This would seem like your typical case of the Giants’ selling to clear payroll. In that regard, if the Yanks could land Rowand for a B-level prospect and money, it seems like it wouldn’t be a terrible pickup. But there are a few red flag.
Of his last five seasons, Rowand has had two above-average offensive years. One of those came at the age of 26 during his first full year in Chicago. The other came while he was playing in Philadelphia during a season in which Citizens Bank Park seemed to favor hitters. That year, Rowand sported a .937 OPS at home and a .843 OPS on the road. This year, he had a .714 OPS at home and a .784 OPS on the road.
So right now, in Rowand, the Yanks would be getting an aging outfielder whose range seems to be on the decline, can’t hit and is under contract for four years. Rowand would become just another useless, old outfielder on a team that, recently, has specialized in them. He was never as good as Johnny Damon and won’t age gracefully. I just don’t think Rowand is the answer to the Yanks’ center field issues.