Nov
10

Could the Yanks keep all three free agents?

By

When discussing the pending free agencies of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the refrain all season long was that the Yankees would probably keep one and cut loose the other. On the surface, that seemed to make sense. Both players will be 36 next year, so they don’t fit with the Yankees’ supposed plan to get younger. Yet they’re both productive players, so holding onto one makes sense.

The problem is of replacing production. The Yankees got a lot out of Matsui and Damon, and it’s unlikely that an internal candidate could replace their production. In 2009 Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira replaced Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu. But if the Yankees are leaning away from entering another long-term contract, who will replace Matsui or Damon?

The answer, as Joel Sherman notes this morning, could be themselves. Not only that, but they’re looking for a way to retain all three of their major free agents, which includes Andy Pettitte. Sherman quotes a team executive, who says, “I hope we can figure out a way to have them all back.” According to the exec, the Yankees are more focused on those guys than external free agents.

This makes sense to me. No, retaining all three veterans would not make the Yankees younger, but getting younger for the sake of getting younger is not a productive strategy. The Yankees need offensive output and solid pitching, and their own guys can provide that. Why go out on the market when the solution stands right before you?

The key to bringing back all three is getting them on one-year deals. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Pettitte, who will likely only want a one-year deal anyway, and Matsui, who enters a free agent market flooded with DH types. It’s unlikely another team would give Matsui multiple years, so his return to New York could come at one year and a reduction to his $13 million 2009 salary. For Pettitte, it could be a one-year deal at perhaps double his $5.5 million 2009 base salary. If the Yankees bring him back, I doubt it will be a heavily incentivized deal.

Damon is a bit tougher a case. His defense declined markedly in 2009, and at his age it’s tough to call that a blip. He could certainly recover in 2010 — he was, after all, one of the top devensive left fielders in 2008 — but that’s not a given. Still, his bat is still valuable, especially in Yankee Stadium, and his postseason run shows that is season-ending slump isn’t too big a worry. Another team might be willing to offer Damon more years and money than the Yankees, though again I’m not sure other teams will be so apt to take the risk on an older player.

The Yankees could find themselves in a good position in these three negotiations. Bringing back Matsui, Damon, an Pettitte on one-year deals, perhaps one plus and option for Damon, seems like the best possible solution this off-season. That brings little risk to the Yankees, since these are short deals. It also reduces payroll because Damon and Matsui would not make the $13 million they did in 2009. The Yankees could then use their remaining resources elsewhere, rather than tying up money in a long-term contract for a player in his 30s, or trading prospects to fill a hole.

Getting younger is nice, but it is not a goal unto itself. The idea behind it is to get more flexible and more durable. The Yankees, however, could bring back these three veterans and still have a strong club for 2010. There aren’t many, if any, better options on the market that don’t come with their own sets of risk. I think it’s a good idea to bring back the guys they know, conserve their resources, and reassess after the 2010 season.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • A.D.

    The issue is if you don’t resign these guys, its either going to cost a lot more for similar production, or you’re going to get worse production.

    On the DH front they could probably go after Thome if they don’t sign Damon, but in terms of a starter to replace Pettitte or a LF to replace Damon, you’re either going to pay way more, for younger similar or better production, or pay the same to less for worse production.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I’m assuming you meant Matsui in your first sentence about Thome? Either way, I’d never really thought of Thome. My line of thinking was more about replacing the OF rather than the DH. Perhaps they could let Matsui walk, bring in Thome to DH full time, and bring Damon back? Or, let them both walk, bring Thome in for DH, and then bring in a cheaper OF to fill in for Damon or move Melky to left? Hmm, interesting thought.

      • A.D.

        Yeah it should be Thome if they don’t sign Matsui.

        Basically outside of Matsui there’s some other bats you could live with at DH for the season in Thome & Nick Johnson, which should cost similar or less.

        But when you look at LF…after Holliday, it’s DeRosa, Cameron, Byrd… none of which is really an upgrade over Johnny, aside from Cameron and Byrd defensively, and may not be much cheaper than Damon.

        There is always Melky to left and BG in CF or then bring in another CF such as Byrd or Crisp….but I think that’s worse case scenario, and we’d probably see some type of trade before that.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Johnson’s nice because of his on-base skills, but I’d really want more power out of the DH.

          Any OF alignment that has both Gardner and Cabrera for a whole game is unacceptable. In that “worst case scenario” a trade would have to be made.

          • Tom T

            I agree, I’d like to avoid this scenario. But moving Melky to left and BG in center would give us unbelievable outfield defense.

            • Doug

              but unbelievably awful outfield offense

        • A.D.

          …eh on Nick Johnson, didn’t realize his power completely disappeared, but he’d be a nice 2 spot hitter, with that OBP

          • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

            what’s Johnson UZR in LF? or maybe full time DH?

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              Johnson’s strictly a first baseman. He would be a nice full time DH, as it would keep him off the field, but like we’ve said, you’d prefer more power out of the DH spot. I could definitely live with Johnson as the DH, but he’d be a lower choice than Damon, Matsui, or Thome.

              • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

                I know Johnson is strictly a 1B. I remembered he did played LF a couple of times. Johnson’s UZR in 1B was -6.6, his lowest since 2003. He could Tex a break at 1B sometime during the week.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  He could Tex a break at 1B sometime during the week.

                  So could Swisher, Posada, and Juan Miranda, if they’re around.

                • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

                  the chances of Miranda making the bench, hmmm…?

                  Although I wouldnt mind having Miranda being the DH if all free agents signing failed.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  Although I wouldnt mind having Miranda being the DH if all free agents signing failed.

                  I’ve got a feeling you probably would.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  The UZR is misleading. Johnson is an elite defender at first. It’s a waste of his skills to stick him at DH. You’re basically forfeiting half his value.

                • Tom T

                  Why do you say the UZR is misleading? I remember he *was* an elite defender.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Nick Johnson has played a sum total of 7.2 innings in LF.

              There’s a reason. He’s a 1B/DH. He’s not nearly athletic enough to play the field consistently, and he barely has the durability for 1B, I don’t want him running and diving and hitting the wall.

              • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

                thanks bro.

                I seriously would welcome back Nick the Stick with open arms. I was bad that Cashman traded him away, and Giambi blocked him at 1B.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  Like we’ve said, he’d be a good DH, but not the best available. Johnson’s got a great skill set and would be dangerous in the Yankee lineup, but I’d still list him as a third or fourth DH option. I’d consider putting him above Thome because of cost alone.

                • andrew

                  i’m not your bro, buddy

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  I’m not your buddy, amigo.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  I’m not your amigo, pally.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  I’m not your pally, guy.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  I’m not your guy, hombre.

                • pollo

                  I’m not your guy, friend.

                • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                  I’m not your friend, muchacho.

        • manny

          I Say… Bring our boys back. All of our guys have great chemistry and the will to win another championship. If we get the wrong player, that special bond can be easily broken.Why mess with something great for an uncertainty.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Production >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> chemistry

  • chriskeo

    Keeping all three guys could be part of the long term of getting younger and reducing payroll. The one year deals essentially keeps the team the same and almost puts off longer-term desicions until after the 2010 season.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    If I’m Cashman, I list the three in order of priority as:

    1. Pettitte
    2. Matsui
    3. Damon

    I list Matsui over Damon because I think his power output at DH would likely outweigh Damon’s. Despite his knee problems, I think Matsui’s more well rested/in possibly better condition than Damon, since ‘Dek didn’t have to play the field at all in ’09. However, if Damon is brought back and not Matsui, I’d prefer Damon to be the DH and bring in another outfielder, such as Mike Cameron or maybe Marlon Byrd, to play center and shift Melky to left. In that scenario, I’d prefer Cameron because I believe in his power more. His bat would play very nicely in CF and I think it could counter-balance Melky’s lack of a bat in LF.

    • Nady Nation

      Well said. Totally agree with everything.

    • Tom T

      There was a recent article on fangraphs about Mike Cameron providing more value in ’10 than Jason Bay due to his underrated offensive skills (AHHH HE K’s!) and his still great defense.

      • Doug

        cameron was worth $19.4M in ’09 while bay was worth $15.7M

  • Bo

    Since when is strong LF defense a key to winning titles? Damon, Burrel, Manny, etc etc. God knows the Yankees had a rotating squad of avg players out there in the late 90′s.

    Damons bat certainly makes up for any defensive liabilities. Getting younger for the sake of getting younger isnt a good strategy. Especially if they feel that Crawford in 2010 makes more sense than Holliday or Bay now.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      But, realistically, what are the chances Damon can repeat that season with the bat? Guys who have career years this late in their careers usually don’t have an encore performance of that.

      Bringing up the ’90s is also a little off because those teams were able to outweigh the lack of offense in left because of great offense at CF and SS. The Yankees don’t have great offense out of CF anymore, and despite Jeter’s awesome year, we shouldn’t be counting on that again.

      Chances are Damon does not repeat what he did in 2009. Combined with bad defense, the probable decline from 2009 will hurt the Yankees.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Since when is strong LF defense a key to winning titles?

      Since when does a statement like that matter at all to anyone about anything?

      That’s a red herring.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “Getting younger is nice, but it is not a goal unto itself. The idea behind it is to get more flexible and more durable. The Yankees, however, could bring back these three veterans and still have a strong club for 2010. There aren’t many, if any, better options on the market that don’t come with their own sets of risk. I think it’s a good idea to bring back the guys they know, conserve their resources, and reassess after the 2010 season.”

    This. I couldn’t agree more with this post. We’ll see how things shake out, and of course we have no idea what the trade market will bring this offseason, but given the information we have, as fans, right now, I’m all for this plan.

    I’ve had similar thoughts recently, some of which I posted in this thread. Here’s a short bit I’ll restate here:

    “I think a lot of people got so used to the idea of saying ‘Damon and Matui are gone, the Yanks want to get younger and they command big contracts’ without thinking about what happens if/when, in all likelihood, at least one if not both of them are looking at 1-2 year offers. An older player isn’t always a bad thing to have, it’s only a bad thing to have when he’s signed to too many years, makes too much money, blocks another player, hurts flexibility, etc.”

    If the Yanks determine that Damon’s not about to fall off a cliff and Matsui’s knees will hold-up as a DH, and if either or both of them can be had on 1 year deals (or 1 + of some sort, to be determined), I think the best strategy this offseason is to just bring them back, go into 2010 with a very strong team, and, to use TSJC’s oft-used saying, kick the can down the road another year or two before having to make any big moves with those slots on the roster.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      What he said.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        Thirded, holmes.

    • A.D.

      An older player isn’t always a bad thing to have, it’s only a bad thing to have when he’s signed to too many years, makes too much money, blocks another player, hurts flexibility, etc.

      Exactly, its bad to sign aging vets to long contracts, not to short ones, as continued stop-gaps.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Right… And, you know what? Sometimes it IS bad, but it depends on context. If there’s a young stud out there who you can sign and who is better than anything that will be available to you in the coming years (a la tex in 2009), then it’s bad to go with the aging stop-gap. We just need to always think of the context and not get carried away with platitudes about getting younger.

        • A.D.

          true, true.

  • http://twitter.com/hopjake Jake H

    I would bring back Andy and Godzilla on 1 year deals. Damon 2 years. This would give A-Jax to develop more in AAA so that he could take over in center for Melky.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      Damon on a two year deal is no good, IMO. He’s just going to get worse out there in LF and his bat is likely to decline as well.

      • kevin

        Damon on a two year deal isn’t bad if we have the dh spot freed up for the second year. He could dh and spot start in the outfield.

        Matsui one year deal
        Damon two year deal
        Andy one year deal

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          Sure, you could plan like that but by 2011, will Damon’s bat still justify DH? I’m definitely not willing to count on that.

          • kevin

            ya it is a risk but with the short porch you know he will get some cheap hr’s and will probably hopefully hit for a decent avg. I would just be afraid of an injury.

        • Doug

          posada will need to dh that 2nd year

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            That, too.

  • Señor A. Boy

    You guys disagree with Nomaas!

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      OH NOES!!1111! Not Nomaas.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Yeah, but they didn’t really say what their plan would be, did they? It’s all well and good to say that the Yanks should get younger, but how should they do that? Let Damon and Matsui walk and replace them with… who?

      What I think they’re missing is that re-signing these guys for another year doesn’t make the Yanks older in the sense we used to bemoan. They don’t clog up the roster, they actually create flexibility by allowing the team to plug in productive players with little time-commitment and a lower financial commitment than in the past. They’re a stopgap, and sure, they’re a risk since they’re older and have their health issues, but I think you actually do get younger by signing them in that you kick the can down the road to 2010 or 2011, when the prospects should be ready to step in and when the free agent classes will be much stronger than in 2009. In the long-term, I think signing Damon/Matsui actually gives you the opportunity to get younger. You have to think past 2010.

      Or maybe they have some great ideas over there they just haven’t shared with us yet, who knows.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    I agree. Bringing Pettitte back is a no-brainer, but bringing both Damon and Matsui back on 1 year deals or 1+1 deals is also the smartest move when you consider all alternatives.

    The only LF/DH strategy I can endorse other than bringing back both Damon and Matsui is bringing back one of the two and signing Mike Cameron to a 1 year deal for the other spot. Cameron represents a downgrade offensively from both Damon and Matsui, but his far superior defense makes him a net production equal to Damon and Matsui, IMO, and he would give us some flexibility as he can play not only LF and DH but also CF as well.

    To be frank, signing all three wouldn’t be a bad idea either (although that kinda entails killing Brett Gardner’s career, since there would barely be enough PA’s for HazMat/Damon/Cameron/Melky with 4 guys for 3 spots every night.)

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      To be frank, signing all three wouldn’t be a bad idea either (although that kinda entails killing Brett Gardner’s career, since there would barely be enough PA’s for HazMat/Damon/Cameron/Melky with 4 guys for 3 spots every night.)

      This wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. You’d have Damon in left, keeping his bat in the lineup (it may decline, but it’d still be better than Melky’s bat there), put Cameron in CF (good CF bat, good defense, what’s not to like?), Swish stays in RF (do I still need to state his case?), and Melky’s the 4th OF/LIDR for the OF. We all seem to agree that Melky’s a 4th OF at best, so why not keep him there? It does hurt Gardner, but what’s his future? Melky with better defense, a little more on-base skill, and less power, right?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Plus, the flexibility is nice. You can roll with the offensive plus lineup of Damon/Cameron/Swisher w/ Hazmat at DH. You could go defense with Cameron/Melky/Swisher with either Damon or Hazmat at DH.

        HazMat: DH or rest
        Damon: LF, DH, or rest
        Melky: LF or CF
        Cameron: LF, CF, DH

        Plenty of flexibility, plenty of opportunity to rest one of the two older guys (or both of them at once), and all the lineups are fairly solid both offensively and defensively. Plus, none of the four of them are on long-term deals, so anyone can be dumped at a moment’s notice.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          I think I just fell in love with this alignment.

          • pete

            seconded. tommie, i love brian cashman, but i’m pretty sure you should be the yankees GM.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Well, genius is a pretty strong term, but, if you insist on using it, I can handle it.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        “At best” Melky is, and was, the starting CF for the World Champions. Going forward it’s hard to say what Melky will be. Chances are he is the ideal 4th outfielder. He has the range, and the arm to play all 3 outfield positions. But I wouldn’t give up on him entirely on being a productive starter.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’m not saying to give up on him. I’m saying, if you sign Cameron, you still play Melky a lot by using Cameron not simply to be the starting CF but to play a ton of LF and DH while you rest Damon and Hazmat.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            I’m with you.

            • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

              Okay, Avril.

              • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                Now when I say I’m with you, I don’t mean I understand where you’re coming from; I mean, I’m with you. I’m part of the FBI.

                /Vinny’d

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          That’s a very fair point. But, as you said, he’s an ideal 4th OF–about an average bat, can play all three positions, and can handle starting if needed. I’d rather roll with what Tommie suggested above, but if Melky’s the opening day CF for the Yankees in 2010, I won’t have much of a problem with it.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I’m on board with this. I’ve made no secret of my wariness of Cameron coming to the Yanks at this point in his career, but if they can sign only one of Damon/Matsui and can get Cameron on a 1 year deal to fill that second slot, I’m behind that strategy. It’s like Damon/Matsui light in that the offense takes a hit, but you still have a decent bat on a very short contract, with better defense. I’m just not enamored of the FA options and I don’t think Cashman is looking to lock himself into a long-term contract with any of the FAs. I love the idea of gaining flexibility by signing these older guys, it seems like a perfect fit for this team, at this moment with their current personnel and farm system, and this management team’s philosophy.

      • Camilo Gerardo

        keep in mind cameron slugged .534 against lefties, .430 against righties

    • pollo

      Cameron, to me, seems like a no brainer. What he lacks in offense he more than makes up for in defense and he’s a nice 1 year stop gap. I’d rather see him than Damon.

  • Frank

    I think Damon stays if he’s willing to accept a 1+1 year deal as the primary DH/backup OF. Move Melky to LF, sign Ankiel for CF (I like him more than Cameron or Byrd) and Swishwer in RF with Gardner as a backup. I also believe Posada also needs to see more time at DH and less as the primary catcher- his defense is just not cutting it. Whether it’s Cervelli or someone else, Posada needs to be phased out as the primary catcher. If Damon signs elsewhere, then bring back Matsui.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Frank for GM…..of the Red Sox. Ankiel is horrible.

      • jsbrendog

        golf clap

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      sign Ankiel for CF

      Aaaaaand that’s where I stopped reading. No. No. No. No. NO to Rick Ankiel. Injured a lot? Yep. Below average on base skills? Yep. Disappearing power? Yep. Overrated defense? Yep. Absolutely not worth it at all.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I wanted to sign Ankiel for CF… three years ago.

        I stopped wanting it.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Rick Ankiel:
          2007: 190 PA, .285/.328/.535 (120+), 137.0 CF inn, -0.2 UZR
          2008: 463 PA, .264/.337/.506 (119+), 766.1 CF inn, -5.0 UZR
          2009: 404 PA, .231/.285/.387 (76+), 458.2 CF inn, -4.2 UZR

          Rick Ankiel: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.co.....0jeans.jpg

        • http://www.facebook.com/dougchu Doug

          Tremendous holes in his swing that the league has slowly figured out in the past three seasons.

  • kevin

    I think we should try to trade low on BJ Upton.

    What do you guys think it would take to get him?

    • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

      the Rays would seriously ask for a kings ransom for him. they wouldnt trade him within the division.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Too much.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      The opposite of a little.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      A ton. They really have no reason to trade him. Yeah, he’ll make seven figures in arb, but it’s his first year. They’re much better off sticking with him next year, letting him boost his value, then trading him for a freaking ransom.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      I don’t think there is such a thing as “trading low” on a talent like BJ Upton. He is too highly regarded in baseball to “steal” him away from a small income market team like the Rays.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Particularly intradivisionally. The Rays have no interest in filling our CF void for the next decade, and we have no interest in giving the Rays another crop of talented and cheap youngsters to reload with.

        • pete

          not only do the rays have no interest in filling our CF void for the next decade, they have no interest in creating one for themselves. They’ve got a CF with 5 elite tools, and has two skills that dont slump – speed and defense, to go along with what could become elite power for a CF. Who the hell would trade that way, unless you’re getting someone like felix hernandez in return?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Exactly.

            Carl Crawford is available because he’s older, more expensive, a year from free agency, plays in a corner, and they already have an in-house replacement (Desmond Jennings).

            None of those apply to Upton, which is why he’s not available (unless someone bowls them over).

  • JobaWockeeZ

    That’s good. Going with Bay or Holliday would be bad moves considering the money the Yankees will have to pay for their decline.

    Cashamn aleady said he wasn’t going to be as agressive as last year but we’ll wait and see.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Hey–just wanted to say thanks for all the comments in the last thread–yes, even the constructive ones =)

    A post has done its job when it provokes good discussion, so thanks!

    As for Damon and Matsui, sign both to one year deals and revisit the issue in 2010.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Awesome post Rebecca. My brain hurt after reading it, which is a good thing, I think.

  • theyankeewarrior

    My favorite part about Matsui and Damon or 1 yr deals is that Carl Crawford will be our LF in 2011 with AJax next to him in Center. That will be our “youth movement”. If Damon gets 2 years, or has his option picked up in 2011, he can be our full time DH and sit the bench if Alex, Derek, Tex, Jorge need a day off. Mo’s son Jesus will be DH’ing by then as well.

    IM REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Mo’s son Jesus will be DH’ing catching by then as well.
      He’s stays at catcher for years to come until it is a proven fact he can’t catch.

      • theyankeewarrior

        True, but I’m assuming Jorge will be catching most of the games while baby Jesus works his way into Pinstripes (and legally drinking beer)

      • pete

        i have to say, i disagree with this, and i think the yankees do too. People sometimes forget that a) DH is a legitimate position in the major leagues (my affectionate nickname for the AL), and b) that being an every day catcher damages both a player’s longevity and his offensive production. Personally, I think having a legitimately elite offensive player for the next 15 years is more productive than having a slightly lesser offensive player who is also a weak defender behind the plate whose production falls off a cliff in 10 years from knee damage.

        I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that montero gets injured or even isn’t a good defender, just that his bat is as close to a guarantee as one can get. Chances are, no matter what montero does he will be of extraordinary value to this team. But catcher is our deepest position in the minors and we also have the resources to acquire a catcher, if none of those guys work out. I get the sense with romine that he could turn into the next varitek (solid contact, solid power, solid d, little obp, strikes out a lot). With montero, i can’t help but feel that at C he’d be more like V-mart, whereas at DH his production could practically reach pujolsian levels.

        I know it’s an unpopular argument, and that it sounds a lot like the B-Jobber debate and seems like taking him off catcher lowers his value. But does it really? The DH’s spot in a lineup is every bit as valuable as the catcher’s, is it not? Considering the fact that we have a plethora of promising minor-league catchers, and no promising minor leaguers at 3B or SS, if you buy into the Jeter/A-Rod to DH theory, wouldn’t it be nice to have a regular DH who was a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat?

        That said, I don’t think we should take him off catcher immediately. If Montero has the ability to catch a decent game, then that gives the yanks the option of half-resting A-rod or jeter or posada (while he’s still around, anyway), without putting an auto-out in the lineup. You could still keep a third catcher (Frankie C – type) for defensive purposes, but you wouldn’t need to use him for anything else.

        I think what ends up happening with Montero (and not just out of necessity, but also because it will be the most beneficial to the team, long-term), is that he becomes our DH and primary backup catcher in the future. This will give the yankees the most flexibility as well as their strongest lineup, imo.

  • Tubby

    Bring back Andy and Matsui for sure and sign Matt Holliday to a ridiculous contract. Holliday at his worst will still give you more production than Cameron, Crawford, Byrd, or Ankiel at their best.

    • Doug

      no thanks

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Holliday at his worst will still give you more production than Cameron, Crawford, Byrd, or Ankiel at their best.

      That’s true, but not the point. Nobody disputes that Holliday will outproduce Cameron, Crawford, Byrd, or Ankiel in 2010.

      The problem is, we don’t want to be paying Holliday in 2014 when his production will no longer justify his contract. We want to have a clean slate by 2014 so we can go get someone better, or give the spot to an internal promotion.

      It’s a cost-benefit analysis. The smaller benefit of Damon or Cameron over Holliday is better than the massive cost of Holliday.

      • Doug

        “We want to have a clean slate by 2014 so we can go get someone better, or give the spot to an internal promotion.”

        make that 2011

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Well, yeah, but I was just emphasizing the full nature of the Holliday contract. We’re tying up LF not just for 2010, but for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Possibly longer.

          • Doug

            yes, sir

          • r.w.g.

            Well.. Holliday is what? 29? 30?

            A lot of elite hitters are still pounding the ball and driving in a lot of runs through their age 35 seasons. Matsui and Damon did it. Giambi did it. Alex is doing it. Jeter is doing it. Posada, too. We’ve got Tex signed up until he’s 38.

            I think if you can get Matt Holliday for 5 years, $100 MM, you do it. It’s not just whether he’ll outproduce Crawford in 2010, he’s going to outproduce Crawford for the rest of their careers. And I don’t see how getting Holliday would stop the team from still getting Crawford, anyway, if they wanted.

            Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettitte, Matsui/Damon (if back), would all have their contracts come off the books shortly after a Holliday contract were inked. He wouldn’t be blocking anybody because honestly, the team really only has 2 realistic position player prospects at this point.

      • Tubby

        I understand your point, but I don’t think there’s any indication that Holliday won’t be productive into his mid-30s. The Yanks are one of the few teams that can afford to lock up one of the best players in the game. We should take advantage of that, not shy away from it.

        • Doug

          but he’s not one of the best players in the game, right now, in his prime. and he certainly won’t be in 5 years’ time

          • Tubby

            He’s easily one of the top 5 outfielders in the game and it could be argued that he’d be the best OF in the AL in he joined the Yanks.

            • Doug

              you realize that his production was way down when he was playing in oakland, his 1st time in the AL. what makes you think he’d be the “best OF in the AL” playing in the AL East, having to hit guys like halladay, beckett, lester, garza multiple times a season?

              • Tubby

                He doesn’t have much of a sample size against those specific pitchers (5 for 15 lifetime), but his career numbers against AL playoff contenders are:

                BOS – .320/.358/.520
                TB – .323/.408/.548
                LAA – .275/.333/.550
                DET – .487/.574/.590
                MIN – .313/.405/.625

                And his OPS in Oakland was still better than Crawford’s career high and was better than 13 of Cameron’s 15 seasons.

              • r.w.g.

                His production was awful.. all the way down to a 120 OPS+.

                The scouting is pretty clear that he did something regarding a toe-tap when he was traded to Oakland, either eliminating it or adding it [don't remember which] after working with Mark McGwire. He ditched it a few months into his time in Oakland. His numbers were already getting nutty before the Athletics shipped him out.

                You want to worry about something, worry about his career .454 SLG on the road. However, considering his BB/K numbers and doubles numbers, coupled with playing his entire career in a /humidor’d Coors Field, I find it VERY hard to believe that the disparity in his Home/Away HR totals (100/52) isn’t enormously effected by a right handed hitter playing 57 of his 81 road games a year in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

                Or considering that the home/away split pattern stayed practically identical in 2009 should tell us the guy just gets jacked up playing at home. Or maybe Oakland and St. Louis have pitcher-ish parks.

                Or maybe Matt Holliday sucks. You never know.

                • r.w.g.

                  that 57 of 81 statistic is wrong. ignore that, throw it out, criticize me if you want.

                  i just added up the amount of total games played against divisional opponents and had a brainfart in not understanding that half of those games are at Coors.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Yeah and when the Yankees are paying for his decline years his production will equal a Cameron today. Difference is one is cheap and one is expensive. Pass.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        I’m with you guys on this, I don’t want any part of Matt Holliday in pinstripes in 2010, but this reasoning is way oversimplified. You could have said the same thing about the Tex signing last offseason, Tex’s production at the very end of his contract won’t match the money he’s being paid. The difference is context. Context, context, context.

  • pollo

    Any situation which has a player with a -38ish uzr/150 see the field is never desirable to me. Damon’s done as an outfielder..please don’t re-sign him to play the field.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I share your concerns. Show me a desirable alternative. That’s the problem.

      Damon in LF is the lesser of many evils.

      • pollo

        i’ve already co-signed you on Cameron. Done.

  • currambayankees

    I think it would be great for the Yankees to bring all three players back on one year deals but not more then that. I hope the Yankees learned their lesson with Bernie that sometimes it is better to let them go one year too early then one year too late. I

  • CharlieD

    the Yanks will get instantly younger when they don’t resign Molina and let Cervelli do the backup catching next year.

    • Rey22

      That would be the more irrelevant part of the youth movement.

      • pete

        yeah, but it’d still be the awesomest.

  • Joseph D

    If the Yankees don’t sign Damon or Cameron is there any realistic trade possibilities out there for a corner outfielder?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      No.

  • 5th Starter

    I think that the Yanks should offer Damon arbitration. Its a one year deal and if he walks the Yanks get a draft pick.
    $15 million for one year > $20-25 for two year, IMO

    • Doug

      “$15 million for one year > $20-25 for two year, IMO”

      i agree

      offer him arbitration and if he accepts, see if you can work out something in the $10-12M range. maybe add a team option in 2011 for the same ($1M buyout)

  • cor shep

    How about Damon for DH and Cameron for CF shifting Swish to LF and Melk to RF? I like this

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I’m fine with that.

      The more I think about it, though, the more I like the idea of signing all three (Damon/Matsui/Cameron). Even if we brought back Damon and HazMat at the identical 13M salaries they made last year, we’d still have like 17M in expiring money from Wang/Nady/Molina/Hinske/Bruney. We could give Cameron like a 1/8 or so and still have money left over for arb raises.

      2010 13-man position player corps:
      C-Ol’ Man Urine Hands
      1B-The Best Tex I Ever Had
      2B-The Lazy Dominican
      3B-Nails Krzyzewski
      SS-The Blazing Copper Horse
      LF-Johnny Rightfieldporch
      CF-Mike Cameron
      RF-The Most Interesting Man in the World
      DH-HazMat

      Backup C-Cervelli
      UTI-Jerry Hairston
      4th OF-Leche Suckmynuts
      13th man-Gritt Guttner

      J-Hair can give ARod and Jeter the occasional day off; Swish backs up Tex, and Melky (and to a lesser extent Gardner) see a good amount of OF time while Damon is resting/DHing, Cameron is resting/playing LF, or Swisher is resting/playing 1B.

      Or, if you want to start Melky in CF, then Cameron is like an upgraded version of 2008 Xavier Nady or 2009 Eric Hinske: A quality, veteran bat who gives you solid production off the bench, but he actually can play LF/RF well and can play CF, giving more flexibility.

      Mike Cameron is a good fit for the 2010 Yankees.

      • cor shep

        Oh believe me I love this. I just don’t see the Yankees signing Damon Hazmat and Cameron. I think it’ll be 2 of the 3, and maybe (hopefully not) 1 of the 3.

        My order goes Damon then Cameron then Hatsui.

        Well I’m real fucking confident in this team no matter what so whatever they do I’ll be happy with. In Cash we trust.

  • Mister Delaware

    A guy like Dejesus could be a nice fit. Very good defender in LF with the ability to play CF as well and he’s in line for $4.7MM next season. KC might see that as an opportunity to reallocate money and bring in a decent prospect or two.

    Wonder if there are any other buy low candidates out there beyond Hermida. Chris Young would give stellar CF defense with plenty of offensive upside. Arizona could be somewhat tempted to get out from under his contract ($25MM+ guaranteed over the next 4 years) and they have Parra ready to play but I imagine there would still be a decent price tag attached.

    I wouldn’t be against adding both a CF and a LF (non-Holliday/Bay category) and putting Melky into the 4th OF role that he’s best suited for. He was fine this season as the lineup above him was one of the best of the decade but with an injury or two, you might start to feel the downside of a .336 OBP / .142 isoP hitter who puts up decent but not special defense in CF.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Boo both DeJesus and Young.

      No need to trade for an inferior guy when there are better options available for nothing but money.

      • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

        very tempted to say Church if he’s definitely non-tendered.

  • danny

    i would rather have damon and matsui on 1 year deals, and maybe with an option for damon, then to have Bay or Holiday on multi year deals

    with the money and years that they are going to ask for, its just not worth it

    • Doug

      agreed, except with me it’s more the years than the $. if somehow, holliday would agree to a 3/75 contract, i’d be all over that. it’s him wanting 5 years that has me saying no thanks.

      • danny

        eh, im more of a crawford fan anyway.

        • Doug

          well, next year if somehow, crawford would agree to a 3/75 contract, i’ll be all over that. it’s him probably wanting 5 years that will have me saying no thanks.

  • Mister Delaware

    I think you’re underrating DeJesus’s defense and ability to play CF here and a quick look at his spray charts say he could probably pop 20 given a move to NY. I’ll take that over Damon assuming the prospect cost wouldn’t be anything crazy.

    (And how does someone with “ridiculous upside” in their name not like Chris Young? C’mon! Every year a new Swisher trade.)

    • Mister Delaware

      Balls, missed the reply button. This one was for you, TSJC.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      A) Please use the reply button. It keeps the convo more organized.
      B) You’re severely overrating DeJesus’s ability to play CF. He’s not that good. He’s like Rick Ankiel: they’re both corner OF’s playing in center because there was no other option at the time. But DeJesus’s poor CF play was the driving force behind the Royals trading for Coco Crisp.
      C) DeJesus’s WAR the past 4 years: 3.8, 2.7, 2.7, 3.2. Mike Cameron: 4.4, 2.2, 4.0, 4.3. Mike Cameron is a better baseball player than David DeJesus is. And, Cameron costs nothing but money.

      Cameron >>>>>>>>>>> DeJesus

      • Brooklyn Ed – slacking in class now

        your take on Ryan Church? he could be nontender.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Meh, perhaps. He’s not really any better than Cameron, DeJesus, or Ankiel, but maybe he’s cheaper.

          Two big Church problems, though: 1) He can’t stay on the field 2) He can’t hit lefties.

          • Mister Delaware

            From what I’ve read, Johnny Damon to Ryan Church might be the biggest personality change a team could have from Yr 1 to Yr 2 at a single position.

      • Mister Delaware

        A) Agreed, hence my note below the comment. This ain’t my first RAB rodeo.

        B) I don’t think I am. He’s not a 150 game CF but he can play CF if need be. He’d do more for us out there than Gardner would if its a DL injury to the starter and Jackson isn’t deemed ready. Besides, statistically (the various ZRs) he’s not all that different than the guy we have out there now.

        C) I don’t see where Cameron vs DeJesus comes into play since their acquisitions wouldn’t need to be mutually exclusive (from either a cost or a roster space standpoint). Its not like Melky needs to either start in CF or LF; we’re most likely a better team if he doesn’t. Cameron & DeJesus would be a net upgrade on offensive and a massive upgrade on defense over Cabrera & Damon.

  • DJ

    I say just sign Nick Johnson to be the DH. His OBP will defintely do wonders for the line-up in the 2 spot, and his HR power should go up in Yankee Stadium. He should be cheap to.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Nick Johnson makes Hideki Matsui look like Cal Ripken Jr.

      • Mister Delaware

        I’d accept this as either a statement of durability or a statement of attractiveness.

  • larryf

    Damon proves you don’t need an arm in center (2004) or left (2009) to win. Whew! At least we can all agree on that….

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Glad we put that controversial discussion topic to bed, I was getting tired of hearing about it all the time.

  • pete

    guys to sign:
    1. Pettitte
    2. Matsui
    3. Cameron
    4. Damon
    5. Wang, if you can get him on a minor league deal (might happen)
    6. J-Douche, if he’s willing to come sit in the NY bullpen (probably won’t happen)
    7. Nady, if minor league deal (not gonna happen)

    guys not to sign:
    1. Lackey
    2. Holliday
    3. Bay

    The reason i want damon, hazmat, and cameron, despite they’re combined age of over 350, is specifically BECAUSE they’re old. damon and matsui have both shown that rest can be extremely beneficial to an aging player, and i think resting damon a good amount would improve his defense and offense, and getting cameron some regular rest would keep him fresh, thus allowing his defense to remain elite all season. This, my friends, is the true value of melky cabrera. As a starting CF, he’s not ideal, but as somebody whose 4 starts per week keep our three OF/DH vets performing like they’re 33/34, not 37/38, he is immensely valuable. With someone like joe torre, who likes to set a lineup in april and call it a season, i’d be a little more worried, but for all the knocks on girardi, founded or unfounded (mostly un), he has proven that he has an exceptional ability to get all his players the right amount of playing time and rest to keep them performing.

  • Mike bk

    Andy comes back if for no other reason to stop this Lackey crap, please. As far as the offensive side goes signing Cameron and trading for Brad Hawpe would give us more flexibility similar production and better defense for the same money and time commitment Damon and Matsui will require.

    • Mister Delaware

      I could play a better corner OF barehanded than Hawpe plays with a glove.

      • pete

        really? for some reason i had always though of hawpe as a good defender, maybe it was just his arm.

  • Jeff Nelson

    I agree sign all three to one-year deals. Think of this as the Yanks’ two year window, use the veterans while they still have some left in the tank. Re-evaluate after 2010, maybe AJax and Romine/Montero will be ready?

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