From the mailbag: the case for Aaron Rowand

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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.

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  • T-Dizzle

    We could get him for Austin Jackson and Melancone I bet. Or add Kennedy. Just don’t throw in Hughes. He’s much better than Garner so at least it’s an upgrade.

    • Joseph P.

      I would never, EVER, E-VER trade Jackson for Rowand. Or Melancon. I wouldn’t do that straight up. An average player on a ridiculously overpriced contract? Pass every time.

    • Thomas

      I agree with you that Rowand is presently better than Gardner, but how much? If Rowand puts up another 86 OPS+, is it that much better than Gardner (Gardner will be better on defense)?

      Also in four years are you really going to want Aaron Rowand on your team over Gardner or a possible free agent?

      No way should the Yankees make this move.

    • radnom

      I thought this was a joke at first but then I noticed it was the infamous T-Dizzle….

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

        Poster of the year

        • GG

          Aj and Melancon. Why not throw in Hughes to sweeten the deal for Rowand?

          • nick blasioli

            man talk like that means you dont have much baseball knowledge…forget rowand…

            • Jamal G.

              Talk like that means you don’t have much in the way of a sarcasm detector. ;)

          • T-Dizzle

            I made a point to say NOT to trade Hughes moron.

            • steve (different one)


  • Mike A.

    Below avg player + bad contract. Why would they be interested?

    • EKH

      The only way I’m interested is if this is part of a larger package that gets us something really sexy — like Timmy or the Cain&Bum — at a monumental discount. As that shit is crazy talk, even to Sabean, I agree.

  • Ashish Skaria

    Forget Aaron Rowand. That’s just stupid. When A-Jack is ready, he’s our center fielder. No questions asked.

    • radnom

      There is a very good chance that Jackson will never be good enough to be a starter in major leagues.

      • Mike A.

        However it is already 100% certain that Rowand is a below avg player with a bad contract. Lesser of two evils.

        • radnom

          I know that and I wasn’t advocating trading for Rowand.

          But people are getting ahead of themselves here.

          “A-jax will be our CF, no questions asked.”

  • TJ

    I like the idea of getting Aaron Rowand. He was a gold glove center fielder in 2007 and would cover a lot of ground in the outfield for the Yanks. I think coming over to the Yankees lineup will also help him offensively. He was asked to be too much for Giants and I think with better hitters around him he could put up good numbers once again.
    As long as the Giants do not ask too much for him, I would not mind seeing Rowand in pinstripes.

  • TomG

    I’d be wary, you really can’t expect a guy who plays flat out like that to age well.

  • LC

    so much for the Yanks trading for Jacobs. He just was traded. That sure was fast

    • Thomas

      Should the Yankees go after one of the Royals other first basemen?

      They could probably get Shealy pretty cheap and then try a platoon with Miranda.

      Or maybe give up better prospects for either Butler or Kila.
      I am not sure what it would cost, though.

      Any thoughts?

      • pat

        dammit ive benn thinking butler since i heard this jacobs thing and my internet decided to crap out before i could say anything

        • steve (different one)


          just kidding….

          • GG

            jacobs and his under 300 OBP.

            I guess that fits in with Melky and Cano and Molina.

  • pat

    Despite those few horrendous errors in toronto or wherever i think damon could man cf about %75 of the time with gardner filling in the rest. Id much rather entertain trades for a good young corner outfielder than some old crummy cf. Maybe we could dangle some combo of ipk sanchez cervelli coke jones, kontos or maybe even hughes for a guy like billy butler. Hes only 22 and put up a 94 ops+ on a terrible royals team. We could put nady in left and move billy ray to right. Maybe butler sucks maybe everybody hates him im sure you guys will poop on me if so. Bottom line is id much rather trade for a good youngster than effing aaron rowand.

    • Joseph P.

      Butler in the OF is no good. I remember a story I heard a while ago. I won’t go into detail, but it involved him taking a fly ball in the mouth, and then complaining that the coach was hitting them too high.

      • Count Zero

        No…that can’t be true?!? lol

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

          I’d believe it. My buddy is a Royals fan, complains how atrocious Butler is in the field. He’s a DH. Think Jack Cust.

  • Count Zero

    I would sign Jr. as a FA before I would trade anything of value for Rowand.

    At least with Jr. there’s a chance that knee surgery restores his power numbers, and he always did have a Stadium swing. Wouldn’t be all that surprised if he posted one more 140 OPS+ season before he’s done.

  • Kulish

    The Yankees should look into getting Nick Swisher from the White Sox. Can play all three OF positions and 1B. Had a down year but could rebound.

    • steve (different one)

      i would also like to see the yankees look into Swisher.

      i doubt he’s available though.

  • gil

    texiera at first and mostly gardner with some edmonds in center hitting with the short porch…or jr

  • Mike A.

    Mike Cameron or bust.

    (please decline the option, Bob Melvin)

    • NYFan50

      I’ve been thinking the same thing. One year contract, perfect stopgap solution.

  • Reggie C.

    Does anybody know if Alex Gordon is available, and if so, can he play 1B? I’d trade IPK + Miranda for him.

    • Mike A.

      Yeah, he can play 1st. He frequently moves over there later in games to get a better defender in at third. Kennedy and Miranda won’t even come close to getting it done, he’s their franchise player.

    • Ben K.

      So would anyone on the receiving end of Alex Gordon. Too bad the KC GM isn’t the dumbest person alive.

      • Joseph P.

        Are you the biggest idiot ever?
        So this isn’t a dream.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

      Maybe they can throw in Joakim Soria as well.

      • Reggie C.

        I know it was a weak offer. Okay .. it was downright insulting. Alex Gordon is the kind of player i wish the Yankees could get instead of bending over backwards for Teixeira.

        • steve (different one)

          they could get a player like Gordon.

          they just have to go 62-100 for a few seasons.

          they’ll eventually draft a stud or 2.

    • Thomas

      I doubt Gordon is available, and if he was he’d take a lot more than IPK and Miranda. He’d probably require like Hughes. Or Jackson and Melancon and another prospect (IPK/Betances/etc).

      Gordon though can play first, but it just be smarter to move ARod to first and let Gordon play third, because Gordon is very good defensively.

    • radnom

      Does this offer mean Miranda is the new Melky?

      • GG

        The trade proposals by some here get more laughable as I go up the list.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Mr. Snarky Irrelevant Non Sequitur Jones

    I just bloodied my nose thinking about the horrors of trading for Aaron Rowand.

    • Count Zero

      WTG Tyler Durden…

  • dan

    I’m just throwing this out there, as it would never happen. Giants offer Zito and Lincecum for some scrub, like Mitch Hilligoss. Yanks take on all the salary. Yes? No?

    • Joseph P.

      Why the hell would they give away Lincecum?

      • steve (different one)

        he’s asking if the Giants would “sell” Lincecum for $90M, since Zito is essentially worthless.

        it would never, ever happen. but it’s a fun question.

        the answer is yes, the Yankees would do that. but the Giants wouldn’t.

        • GG

          The award for most hilarious post is already won. No more need apply.

          Maybe we can get Greinke if we take back Gil Meche and Jose Guillens contract too. Throw in Mitch Hilligross (who I am 100% sure this guy has never even seen play and only heard about because of the Santana trade)

    • patw

      no way yanks def couldnt take on all that salary and then that linescum person u mentioned. esp not for a top 5 prospect like hilligoss

  • Matt M.

    brett gardner will suffice. he plays great defense and has the potential to get on base at a better clip once he gets adjusted to the league. the yankees can pick up the slack for his weakish bat as we wait for him to get his feet under him.

    because next year you have to assume:
    A) its ’09 so thus AROD is due for another MVP season out of his habit
    B) Jeter will have a healed wrist and wont be captain DP (yes…his defense will leave a lot to be desired still. but thats a problem for another day)
    C) Wang will be healthy and ready to hopefully give 200innings
    D) Cano can at least better his abysmal 2008 campaign
    E) you hope posada catches 120 games optimistically…but you can count on him catching more than 30 (2008) at least
    F) Hughes (and IPK) turned in horrid seasons last year and we STILL finished with the 4th best record…they wont be CY young in 2009, but i think u can reasonably expect one or both to pitch to an era of 4-5 as opposed to 6-9.

    sure to some degree the loss of abreu and giambi will hurt an already hurting offense. but the expected rebound years of a few of our core players, coupled with Teixeria would almost ensure that the yankees can “deal with” Brett Gardner as their CF/9hole hitter.

    AND if you happen to sign CC. (with the reentrance of the absent wang) the rotation becomes a strength.

    to start the season:

    Warm body till Hughes stakes his claim.

    and come playoffs time you’ll assume that Joba’ll slot ahead of pettitte.

    lol i guess that was a long winded way of saying that if we get the top two FA options…we’ll be fine. but its more than that. Murphy’s law was in effect last season….and we still won 89 games. i expect a lot of rebound years from players

  • GG

    Rowand. Pass.

    If they wanted him they could have signed him.

  • DCR

    I would take Rowand if it weren’t for his awful contract. I am patiently waiting to see how Cashman can screw up this winter. There are visions of Gardner in CF and someone not named Mark Teixeira at first base.

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    No way and I like Rowand but he is just a glove, and not even that great but he use to be super speedy. He is NOT a tuff out and is a bad overall hitter.

  • Bryan

    Apparently Chad Cordero is now a free agent, I think that would be a tremendous free agent pickup for the yanks as it would fill the 8th inning bridge (that is if he doesn’t want to close anymore). Any thoughts?

    • A.D.

      assuming hes healthy….which is a big assumption

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  • RobC

    wasn’t Rowand waiting to see if the Yanks traded Melky in a Santana deal last winter?
    He plays hard always nice to have guy like that
    some off days might help
    I would take him if he doesn’t cost much more than $$$