Who would you rather: Matsui or Damon

Girardi finishes third in Manager of the Year voting
Heyman: Yankees 'have a real reason to believe' they can land Halladay


Decisions, decisions, decisions. For the Yankees, with a few key older players hitting free agency, this winter is chock full of them. None of the choices the team will have to make is more fraught with emotion and potential impact than the one that looms regarding Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.

By many accounts, the Yankees will try to bring back one of their two left-handed bats but not both. Right now, Matsui is the sentimental choice. Rebounding from an injury-plagued 2008, he had a stellar 2009 and single-handedly beat Pedro Martinez and the Phillies to help the Yanks clinch the decided Game 6 of the World Series. Damon, on the other hand, stole two bases on one play earlier in the World Series. He is in better physical shape than Matsui and represents a combination of speed and power atop the Yankee lineup.

So let’s try to answer it: If we had to pick one, which player would we resign: Hideki Matsui or Johnny Damon?


To start, let’s look at these two players’ offensive contributions this year. Although their individual contributions differ in style, in sum these two players are nearly identical. On the season, Damon hit .282/.365/.489 with 24 home runs and 36 doubles in 626 plate appearances. Matsui hit .274/.367/.509 with 28 home runs and 21 doubles in 526 plate appearances. Matsui outslugged Damon, but the Yanks’ left fielder went 12 for 12 in stolen base attempts. Eleven of those were steals of second, and as Matsui stole no bases this year, Damon’s speed is a plus.

On a contributory level, the numbers are awfully identically. Damon had a runs created per 27 outs of 6.8 while Matsui produced a 7.1 mark. Damon was 25.3 batting runs above average while Matsui was at 22.1, mostly due to the variance in playing time. Since that number is position-neutral though, we can’t gloss over the fact that Matsui is limited to DH duties. More on that later.

Drilling down on their respective positions through Baseball Prospectus’ Positional Marginal Value rate (PMLVr), Matsui’s offensive production begins to take the lead. His PMLVr was 0.164 while Damon’s was 0.124. The Yankees may want to use the rotating DH as a way to rest aging regulars next year, but Matsui as a good full-time DH offered the Yankees a lot of offensive value in 2009. However, on the position-dependent VORP scale, Damon (39.3) bested Matsui (33.4), but Matsui’s total was 11 VORP points above Jim Thome. Johnny was among the elite-hitting left fielders last year, but with Matt Holliday and Jason Bay out there, it’s far easier to replace Damon than it is Matsui.


On the defensive scale, the pendulum swings toward Matsui simply because Damon’s defense created a liability in left. Joe will have more about Damon’s defense later tonight. For now, I will just note that Damon’s fielding runs above average was -9.2. That total ranked him seventh worst among all Major League left fielders. Matsui, on the other hand, never had to play defense. The Yankees may have gained roster flexibility with Damon, but the numbers suggest that he shouldn’t be out in the field too often.

Damon’s defense, though, did not drop his value below that of Matsui’s. According to Fangraphs’ value figures, Damon gave the Yanks $13.6 million in production in 2009 while Matsui gave the team $11 million. The left fielder outperformed his contract value while the DH underperformed, albeit slightly.

Age and a Conclusion

Finally, we arrive at the age analysis and a few final thoughts. As hard as it is to believe, Damon is actually seven months older than Hideki Matsui. Yet, he hasn’t had the same physical problems with his knees as Matsui had and still has. Both players are at the age, though, where they can easily fall off a cliff production-wise. In fact, PECOTA pegged Damon for a 278/.352/.420/8 HR season, and he beat his 75th percentile projections. Matsui beat his 90th percentile projections. What this means for the future is more uncertainty. The two could stil be productive or they could crash and burn in 2010.

If the Yankees, then, are committed to keeping one, logic would lead me to take Damon over Matsui even if my emotions say otherwise. (I have, after all, always been a fan of Matsui’s.) Although a liability in the field, Damon is still physically capable of playing left, and he can still run. His 12 stolen base attempts were the fewest he made since 1995, but that has more to do with his role as a two hitter than anything else. His 12-for-12 mark in that category is what counts.

There is, however, a rub. I wouldn’t sign Damon to be the left fielder. Instead, I would ask Damon to DH. His production is in line with that of Matsui’s, and at Yankee Stadium, he has the power to man the DH spot and could fill in at left when needed. The right replacement left fielder could help the team recover from the loss of Matsui as well.

In the end, though, if the Yanks are thinking properly and Damon is expected to DH, there isn’t a wrong choice. The team shouldn’t go into Spring Training without a big bat in the DH spot. A lineup sporting one of Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena, Jerry Hairston, Jr., or Brett Gardner every day would represent a significant downgrade over the 2009 team. So pick your poison. Just pick it for the designated hitter spot.

Girardi finishes third in Manager of the Year voting
Heyman: Yankees 'have a real reason to believe' they can land Halladay
  • JMK aka The Overshare

    Paging The Artst. You are needed in the thread.

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t re-sign both. Both players were extremely important to our World Series winning season this year. How do you justify subtracting one of their important bats in the line up in favor of platooning FAR WORSE hitters in order to give the other (possibly declining) other position players a half days rest at DH?

    1 year contracts to both if possible.

    • Ed

      I think Ben was implying to sign one of these guys as the DH, and then look elsewhere to find a good left fielder. He even ended the post saying that regularly playing the far worse hitters was a bad idea.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        If that’s the case…I think we have to look at who we could pencil in as a #2 in the order…or as a #5, #6.

        I, personally, would rather keep Matsui. He’s super clutch and the only thing he knows (in the US) is the Yankees. But his batting position in the line up is more replaceable than Damon’s is. You could pencil Cano in the #2 spot I guess…but for some reason I don’t like it. Damon was perfect because he would hack off 10+ pitches every time around while Tex and Arod watched…

        Smart money goes to Damon…but my heart goes to Matsui…

        • pete

          ixnay to cano in the 2 spot. Swisher, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit for #2, in the no-damon scenario

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            Very true. I was strictly thinking “hacker”…and not as much the OBP portion…Swisher is capable of both…

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          He’s super clutch and the only thing he knows (in the US) is the Yankees.

          As to “super clutchiness”:

          Matsui with RISP: .301/.386/.481
          Matsui career: .292/.370/.482

          Damon with RISP: .296/.375/.446
          Damon career: .288/.355/.439

          Matsui has always been more of a power hitter than Damon, but in terms of not making outs with RISP, they’re about even.

          The second factor you mention is an invalid reason to select one over the other. Unless Matsui’s only knowing New York in the U.S. leads to a significant discount, it doesn’t matter.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            Agreed. The “all Matsui knows is New York” was more of a personal satisfactional thing. Kind of like that cliche ridiculous “Real Yankee” motto being thrown around…

          • pon

            super clutchness means neither RISP nor meaningless RBI of A-Rod but game winning RBI, such as his homers in game 2 and game 6 in the WS.

            • aerod500

              “meaningless RRBI of A-Rod”? Were you watching the postseason games at al? I must not be understanding your point because A-Rod had a but load of meaningful RBI’s.

            • Usty

              Holy crap…they still make you people after this October/November?

    • andrew

      I still don’t understand why they wouldn’t re-sign both
      1 year contracts to both if possible.

      Well, that answers your question i guess. Damon doesn’t want a 1 year deal, and can likely get a 2 year deal atleast, somewhere. Matsui doesn’t want a 1 year deal either, but may have to settle for 1 year somewhere.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        I said the same thing yesterday but TSJC started positively talking about the chances they could happen ala the “glass-half-full” method. Ask him to repeat it…I’m writing something at work and can’t find it as quickly as he might be able to.

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

    LF: Damon
    DH: Matsui
    CF: Cameron
    Aggressively Used 4th OF: Melky.


    • JMK aka The Overshare

      For shits and giggles, let’s have Damon play CF, Matsui play LF and have Cameron DH.

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

        Matsui catches. Posada plays CF. Damon moves to shortstop, Jeter to first, and Tex to LF.

        • jsbrendog

          jeter to first is a cop out. jeter to right swisher to short, posada in center tex in lf, arod catching damon at 3b cano at 1b matsui to 2nd

          • pete

            and gardner or pena DHing!

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      What about Swisher?

      • mike c

        5th starter

        • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

          I think he’s a little better than that, no?

          If you’re going to keep them both, I would think a trade of one of our other bench guys is in order.

      • Jordan

        tHe EightTHhH!!1!

  • Bill

    Honestly this all depends on the contract these guys want. Whoever signs a cheaper deal is probably the better option. Damon does give us more defensive flexibility, but I feel like Matsui is probably going to give us better offense.

    Offer 1 year deals at relatively modest money to both of them.

    p.s. I don’t want Holliday and REALLY don’t want Bay. Neither is the type of player I want to invest a lot of money in longterm when there will be better players in future free agent markets.

  • http://www.lennysyankees.com lenNY’s Yankees

    Damon. He can actually occupy a position on the field.

    • jsbrendog

      poorly. it is irrelevant anyway because if you sign him and not matsui then who dhs? the dh in the al is a fulltime all bat position these days whether people like it or not. and it is an important one as well.

      • radnom

        Having a DH who can also play the field is not “irrelevant”, it helps flexibility.

        For example, we sign Matsui + Cameron:

        On days which Posada or Arod DH, we loose Matsui’s bat in favor of Cervelli etc.

        Compare to signing Damon + Cameron:

        Damon can shift to left and Cameron to center, so we loose Melky’s bat in favor of Cervelli’s. Not as significant a downgrade.

        Sure its not a huge deal, but I wouldn’t say irrelevant either.

        • pete

          wouldn’t cameron be playing center anyway?

          • theyankeewarrior

            I think the Yanks should sign Matsui and Cameron to 1 yr deals and use that as leverage to tell Boras: we have a DH and a LF/CF right now (including Melky). We would love to bring Johnny back on a 1+1 but we really don’t NEED him. Here our offer….. (insert Cash-money here)

            This does a few things:

            1) Gives them a decent OF for 2010 without Damon

            2) Gives them a + outfield for 2010 with Damon (Damon, Cameron, Swisher >>> Damon, Melky, Swish) on both O and D

            3) Keeps their 2011 options open (Crawford, Damon, Ajax, Melky etc.)

            4) Gives them the option to bring back Damon again in 2011 as the fill-time DH

            5) Gives them the chance to re-up either Cameron or Matsui in 2011 for that same DH/4th spot

            • Slu

              I love this idea.

              • Lanny

                What has Cameron done with the bat that warrants a 10 mil deal?

                • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Lanny: “What has Cameron done with the bat as a baseball player that warrants a 10 mil deal?” (fixed)

                  Me: This.

  • Free Mike Vick

    Johnny Damon.

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

    I choose the Kobayashi Maru.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      You can’t do that. It’s against the rules of the scenario.

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


    • Free Mike Vick

      i thought you would have taken Nick Swisher.

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

        You do not take Nick Swisher.

        Nick Swisher takes you.

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

          To Pleasure Town.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      What about Manu-Manu the Slender?

  • pete

    get them both, and cameron. How come nobody seems to consider this an option? (Besides tsjc)

    • TheLastClown

      Because Boras is unlikely to take a 1+1 deal on Damon.

      He probably won’t get a chance to sign another multi-year deal in his career, so if he can get it, he’s going to try.

      Damon of course wants to stay with the Yanks, but he said whilst w/ the Sox that he’d never play for the Yanks, and then saw the contract offer, and boom.

      You never know what could happen. He may want to forego another guaranteed year for another shot to win the WS, or he may opt for his & his family’s long-term security with more of a guarantee.

      Matsui, on the other hand, I think can be had for the 1+1, with perhaps a bump in AAV, or incentives for playing time.

      Time will tell.

      • pete

        but neither would be worth more than 1+1, and both would be worth 1+1. As far as preference/pursuit goes, I want/think we should go after both. If you can’t get them both, you get the one you can get.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      Everybody considers it…but being able to sign them all to 1 year deals isn’t realistic. Sure there are certain strange scenarios where it COULD happen…but in all likelihood, it wouldn’t…and it won’t.

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

        Well, Cameron taking a one year deal is exceedingly likely, all things considered.

        Matsui taking a one year deal is also exceedingly likely. He also has no great interest in leaving the team, is limited to the AL due to his knees, and limited to contending teams in the AL (otherwise, he’d likely retire). Outside of us, where’s he going? The Angels, maybe, if they dump Vlad, but they’re already pretty crowded with DH types; the Mariners and Rangers have no room for him; the Red Sox, White Sox, Rays and Twins already have DH’s, the Tigers have no payroll room… where’s Matsui going? It’s Yankees or bust.

        Damon is the only one who realistically could expect more than a one year deal, but I doubt highly he gets a three year deal. Someone would give him a guaranteed two years, though, and while I’d prefer a 1+1, we could give Damon two years and not break a sweat.

        • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

          That’s what I was thinking…

          I would watch them hand out a 2 year deal to Damon, 1 year deal to Matsui, and 1 year deal to Cameron with a smile on my face.

          Cameron would have quite a few suiters though. There was an article on ESPN or CNNSI where some analyst was talking about how well Cameron would fit in St. Louis…instead of signing Holliday or Bay…saving millions of extra dollars that could eventually be used to lock up Pujols. Personally, I don’t think that’s a major concern in St. Louis…but maybe he knows something I don’t.

          • pete

            Eh, if St. Louis is our competition for mike cameron, color me happy.

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


              Cameron over Holliday makes sense to us, because we already have ARod, Tex, Cano, and Jeter.

              They need to pick Holliday over Cameron, though. They’ve got Pujols and… Rasmus?

              • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

                They can rely on their pitching a bit more than we can…but I agree with you both.

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

                  Can they? They have Wainwright, Carpenter, and… question marks. (Lohse?) Pinero is a FA and is likely gone.

                  We have CC-AJ-Joba-Hughes, plus probably Andy.

  • Reggie C.

    Damon. positional flexibility gives him the advantage.

    However, i kinda expect Boras to find a wild card offer & he’ll get a mulit yr offer. Damon’s gonna play elsewhere. Mats will DH in 2010.

  • currambayankees


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

    Look at that glorious picture.

    The smartest play in WS history on the left hand, the sonning of Pedro Martinez on the right. YOU CAN’T PICK JUST ONE, I DEFY YOU TO! WE MUST HAVE BOTH!!!

    • Free Mike Vick

      Dare i say…

      “The Smartest play in the history of professional athletics”

      • Chris

        What about when Ellsbury stole home?

      • radnom

        Only if you’re referring to the Jeter flip play.

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

          Damon stealing two bases (and thinking about doing it all along) >>>>>>>>>>>>>> the Jeter flip play (which was kinda fluky and just instinctual)

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


            Watch the Jeter play again, closely.

            I’m not even really sure Jeter did anything at all. The throw was on line, headed straight to the plate. Jeter might have slowed it down, if anything. I love the Captain, but the fantastical “Jeremy Giambi Relay Flip” is probably the single most overrated play of his career.

            • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

              As opposed to the truckloads of other plays he’s done that get the same amount of hype lol. The only other play you can compare is the one where he ran into the stands…which was uber-badass…

              Nothing else comes close to getting the same hype and therefore, while they could be overrated, they wouldn’t be AS overrated as something hyped millions of times more.

            • pete

              eh, i still think that if jeter doesn’t make that play it’s not an out. the ball would have continued to slow down and also wouldn’t have been as on-target as jeter’s flip.

              • TheLastClown

                Exactly. While I think it would have been as ‘on target,’ I don’t think it actually reaches the plate before Giambi.

                The little bounce it takes, on which Jetes barehands it, doesn’t show me enough momentum to make it to Jorge on one more hop, which is essentially what Jetes turned it into.

                While I don’t think it was as momentous of a play as it’s been enshrined, it was still heads-up in a huge situation in the playoffs.

                • larryf

                  The Oakland play was better. Giambi out by inches only if Jeets makes the play. if you look at the pop fly catch at the Stadium he actually makes the catch WAY before he goes into the stands. Only famous because of the blood!

          • radnom

            Three things:

            1. Flip play was >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> more important than Damon’s steal. Both were big plays in playoff games, but that play at the plate was much bigger.

            2. It impossible to speculate and come to any sort of verifiable conclusion, but I can’t see how anyone can watch that play and think an out is still made without him there.

            3. The most overrated Jeter play is CLEARLY the ‘diving into the stands play’. So overrated I can’t even handle it.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      That picture of Matsui sonning Pedro is so badass…it’s the background of my blackberry for obvious reasons…

  • CountryClub


  • radnom

    This analysis is kind of pointless without considering contract demands.

    In a vacuum…yes of course you would choice Damon for all the reasons listed.

    Considering likely contracts…..almost certainly Matsui. The AAV is probably similar, with Matsui getting a shorter deal.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I’m not sure why you would just assume Matsui would sign for one year though. He’ll be 36 next season, not 42. He’s hardly that close to retirement.

      • radnom

        Where did I say that?

        I just want to minimize committed years. Do you not think that
        Damon can (and will) get a longer contract than Matsui on the open market?

        Its not just about age. Matsui’s knees are older than the rest of his body, whereas Damon has been near superhuman in his avoidance of the DL over his career.

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

        Who else is offering Hideki Matsui a two year deal? Who’s gonna trump our one year offer?

        Matsui suitors and their DH situations:
        Boston: committed to Big Papi, also have Mike Lowell to consider
        Tampa Bay: committed to Pat Burrell, with a full OF
        Minnesota: moving Kubel back to DH after the temporary stint at 1B relieving Morneau, with a full OF
        Detroit: a logical opening, but the Tigers are flat broke. They’ll probably play Magglio there and open a spot in the OF for someone else like Raburn
        Chicago: A better option… the only one I can’t fully eliminate.
        Angels: Just like there’s no real reason for us to flip-flop Vlad for HazMat, there’s no reason for them to do the reverse.
        Rangers: They’ll keep the spot open for whomever doesn’t play 1B amongst Smoak and Davis. Besides, they’re spending money on pitching, if anything.
        Mariners: Just re-upped Griffey. No room.

        So, it’s us or the White Sox. I think we can give him a one year deal and Chicago won’t trump it. They’d sooner bring Thome back.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Just like there’s no real reason for us to flip-flop Vlad for HazMat, there’s no reason for them to do the reverse.

          Disagree. Vlad is just seven months younger than Matsui and in worse physical shape. I’d certainly take Hideki over Vlad right now, and I bet the Angels would too.

          • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

            I think any team would take Matsui over Vlad right now.

            But those same teams that would take Matsui over Vlad right now would rather take Damon over either of them. So anybody interested in Matsui…would be interested in Damon.

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

            Okay, so, it’s a three team race for Matsui of the Angels, White Sox, and Yankees.

            Even if we accept those two other teams as legit competitors for his services, I don’t see either of them besting our offer, if our offer is anywhere north of 1/10.

            Matching it, maybe. Besting it? Doubt it.

            • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

              What kind of a deal do you think Cameron gets? Matsui?


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

                What’s the Padres rumor, that Cammy’s got a 1/7 on the table from them?

                My guess is Cameron gets a 1/8 from someone, and we trump it with a 1/9 if we’re interested.

                Matsui gets a 1/11, from us.

  • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

    Do you throw the 2 year guaranteed to Damon if you know you can get Matsui for 1?

  • LarryF

    Matsui…realistically the Yankees can probably sign him for less money and less time. Damon will not only be likely to get a two year deal he may very well get a three year deal from someone. And he does not have three years in him as an outfielder. So in effect you are signing him to play a little left field next year and then less and less the next two years. The rotating DH spot is a bit of a mirage frankly. I know Posada is a concern, and his days as a catcher are about over…unfortunately I think the bat will vanish for him before it does for Damon and Matsui. As such I don’t see the wisdom in building a rotating DH spot with him in mind. To the extent people are concerned about Jeter and ARod, absent major injury, these are guys who still can play 130+ games in the field if not 140+.
    Given my druthers I would resign Matsui before Damon.

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

      Damon will not only be likely to get a two year deal he may very well get a three year deal from someone.

      I still cannot fathom of who would actually do this. The three year deal talk from Boras is just a negotiating mirage.

      • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

        Cardinals? White Sox? Angels? or any other team like that?

        • Mike Pop

          No way.

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

          None of those teams would give Damon THREE YEARS.

          Two, yes. Three? No.

      • http://www.newyorkjets.com/image_assets/8997/052109_coach_rex_ryan_presser_320.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Last year, at the same age as Damon is at now, Raul Ibanez got a three-year deal.

        I don’t think Damon gets three years, but I’ll be less than shocked if he does. If some team really wants him and knows they have to throw in the third year to get him, they’ll throw in the third year. We’ve seen it happen countless times.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      Agreed…so you sign Matsui…and Cameron…and pencil in Melky in LF? Not SO SO bad…

      An outfield of Melky in LF, Cameron in CF, and Swisher in RF with Gardner as the 4th OF wouldn’t be too shabby…and would be a much better long term option if Damon is demanding 2+ years.

  • http://sports-odds.com/images/stories/yankees-arod-teixeira.jpg JobaWockeeZ

    Both is preferred but since the question is only one I would go with Matsui.

    Damon struggled a lot during the last couple months of baseball. He was heating up in the playoffs but I really don’t know. It also depends on the contract these two are asking but I think I would go with Matsui.

    Sure he’s got bad legs and can’t play the field but if they go sign someone like Cameron then it shouldn’t be all that bad.

    • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

      I agree.

      Damon + Matsui + Cameron > Damon + Matsui > Damon + Cameron > Matsui + Cameron > Just Damon > Just Matsui > Just Cameron

      That probably is my order…although Damon + Cameron and Matsui + Cameron COULD be switched…

      If we’re talking about Damon being LF then his package is better…if it’s Damon as a DH? Matsui’s package is better…

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        I don’t get the love affair with Cameron. Considering relative ages and salaries, either Melky or Gardner would represent a far better deal.

        Basically, if Melky continues to improve (which is not guaranteed) and Cameron continues to age (which is unavoidable), odds are good that Melky will be as productive if not more so than Cameron in 2010. Cameron will probably still play better defense, but is that really worth the cost increase? I don’t think so.

        • http://kyivpost.img.com.ua/img/forall/a/355/5.jpg Rose

          I don’t really love Cameron at all to be honest…I’m perfectly content with just Damon and Matsui back. Cameron is just an upgrade on every level over Melky and Gardner…but he isn’t entirely necessary. But I certainly wouldn’t be upset if we did get him (in addition to Matsui and Damon)

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

          It’s just like the love affair with Lackey: getting him allows us to have ridiculous depth and pushes Melky or Gardner back into bench roles.

          The difference is, Cameron only requires a one year depth commitment unlike the 5 year commitment for Lackey, and stunting Melky and Gardner’s growth is far more palatable than stunting Joba and Hughes’s growth, since the latter pair has better upside and more importance to the team going forward.

          It’s just like how we didn’t really want to trade Nady last offseason after we picked up Swisher: sure, he’s kinda superfluous, but it’s nice to have some superfluousness. He’s a quality bat off the bench if healthy, and he’s a starter-level player if an injury happens.

        • Free Mike Vick

          ::shakes head at Mike Cameron love affair::

          i just don’t get it.

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

            He’s a good defender. His bat has pop, and his total offensive production would outstrip Melky or Gardner, unless one of the two of them suddenly makes “The Leap”. His net production will play at CF, LF, or even DH, if need be. He’d be a great mentor to all three of our young centerfielders.

            He’s shown fewer red flags of decline than Damon and he’s a much smaller injury risk than both Damon and Matsui.

            He’s also only going to take a one-year commitment. Use him for a year and then dump him in 2011 when AJax is ready.

            There you go.

            • Free Mike Vick

              The Yankees won a championship with Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner playing CF on a every day basis.

              There you go.

  • theyankeewarrior

    theyankeewarrior says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 4:23 pm
    [Read Comment]

    I think the Yanks should sign Matsui and Cameron to 1 yr deals and use that as leverage to tell Boras: we have a DH and a LF/CF right now (including Melky). We would love to bring Johnny back on a 1+1 but we really don’t NEED him. Here our offer….. (insert Cash-money here)

    This does a few things:

    1) Gives them a decent OF for 2010 without Damon

    2) Gives them a + outfield for 2010 with Damon (Damon, Cameron, Swisher >>> Damon, Melky, Swish) on both O and D

    3) Keeps their 2011 options open (Crawford, Damon, Ajax, Melky etc.)

    4) Gives them the option to bring back Damon again in 2011 as the fill-time DH

    5) Gives them the chance to re-up either Cameron or Matsui in 2011 for that same DH/4th spot

  • Kered Retej

    As much as it pains me (since I love both guys, Matsui especially), I would have to say “neither.” The Yankees got lucky this year, where almost everyone outperformed their projections, and I think both M & D are going to regress. Both had fine years this year, but there is no way that they can reproduce that next year. We are better off bringing in someone younger/cheaper, even if it means promoting AJax early.

    If I had to pick one over the other, I would take Matsui. Damon’s game is based on his legs, and those are weapons that just don’t age well. Matsui’s already pretty much lost the use of his legs and has shown that he can still hit. Damon may beat the odds for another year or two, but eventually age will catch up with him and it will not be pretty. Stick with the “better one year early than one year late” philosophy.

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

      We are better off bringing in someone younger/cheaper, even if it means promoting AJax early.

      Even if we decided to promote AJax early and stick him in LF (or stick him in CF and move Gardbrera over to LF), which would be a gigantic mistake, IMO, that still only plugs one of the two holes you create by letting both vets walk.

      So, who DH’s?

      The crux of the Damon/Matsui question is that while both of them come with decline/age red flags, there’s not really palatable replacements available, so we might be best served gambling on them holding up and producing for one more year until next year’s FA class, where we can get more creative.

      (Like, for example, moving Posada to DH, Gardbrera to LF, and handing CF and C to a more mature and more ready tandem of AJax and Montero, for example. Or, signing Joe Mauer if he actually hits free agency. Or, trading Joba for Hanley Ramirez and moving Jeter to LF after Nova, Aroldis Chapman, and Arodys Vizcaino all have dynamite years in the minors and look like super-studs in the making. I’m just saying.)

    • theyankeewarrior

      Then we have to replace 2 hitters of their 2009 caliber. Who would you suggest?

      • theyankeewarrior

        Exactly. Man I’m slow on here compared to you nerds.

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

          My comfortable mother’s basement garden apartment gives me the ergonomic comfort that empowers me to think and type very fast.

          • theyankeewarrior

            Haha well I’m just as bad and I still can’t type or think or link or wink? as fast as you all so where does this leave me?

  • RKelly39


    But if it’s an either or-


    A great DH and a class act all the way around.

  • bob b.

    Both, but if I had to chose one…


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

      Are you and RKelly39 the same person?

      • RKelly39

        No, I’m Roberto Kelly and I won’t turn my back on the 2009 World Series MVP

  • GG

    Me? I want Godzilla and Holliday but there is little chance I feel that happens

  • BJ Mason

    Matsui over Damon, if you must have only one.

    If it’s a toss-up, Matsui pays for himself with all the Japanese advertising and merchandising sales. All this goes if Matsui leaves. Matsui for free or Damon for say, $10 million? Matsui is the easy choice.

    I would take Matsui even if they cost the same. But if you consider team revenues considerations, it’s Matsui all the way.

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

      Matsui pays for himself with all the Japanese advertising and merchandising sales.

      Wasn’t this idea debunked? I doubt Matsui’s really worth 10M in direct advert/merch revenue.

      • http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/blog/images/2008/05/04/melky_cabrera_cant_believe_it_phixr.png Drew

        There’s no substantial evidence but Mike posted a tweet on mlbtr that placed Matsui’s value(not production) at 15 million.


        You can click the coinciding link, then bring the url into google and get it roughly translated.

    • Free Mike Vick

      i think the LAST POSSIBLE thing the yankees are considering when weighing the Matsui vs Damon debate is the amount of money Matsui generates from japan….which is basically next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.

      • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

        I agree. I think the Yankees, and MLB like the attention it generates for their businesses but outside a couple of billboards I do not see the direct $ tie for the Yankees.

        Now MLB and all the teams busting up merch and TV rights I bet see more money because of this, but to quantify the direct benefit to the Yankees is hard to do.

        I do like the fact that future great Japanese players are growing up watching Matsui win the WS with / for the New York Yankees. I would like to think that this has some effect, even though I know that is pretty far fetched.

        With the roster inflexibility this team already has and will get more of we can not afford any more roster spots for marketing reasons. With that said either or Damon / Matsui or both on one year deals would be great.

  • http://thesportshernia.typepad.com/blog/images/2008/05/04/melky_cabrera_cant_believe_it_phixr.png Drew

    Depends on the contract. I’d love to get Cam and then one of Damon/Matsui.

    Damon scares me because he absolutely disappeared for the last couple months of the year.
    Assuming we can get them on a one year deal, it’s a wash. Assuming Godzilla is good for one but Damon needs 2, Godzilla.

    Either way, I’d love to get Cameron. Then we can slide Melky to left and focus just on finding a DH.

    • Mike HC

      Damon and Matsui are far superior to Cameron as a hitter. Adding Cameron by moving Melky to Left would be a bad idea. We need a big hitting LF and Damon is the obvious choice unless we want to pay big for Holliday, which I don’t think they are willing to do.

  • tomster

    You can make a strong case for keeping Matsu just by his contributions and production alone. Despite that it seems like everyone keeps saying we should resign Matsu if its cheap enough. Well, if he’s not resigned you can pretty much kiss the Japanese sponsorship money goodbye and much of the Yankee brand exposure and goodwill in Japan. I don’t know the numbers but I know the revenue he generates for the Yankees is not insignificant and offsets much if not all his salary. Particularly since he will be taking a healthy pay cut. Given that wouldn’t you keep him if he’s virtually free? Hell, with his bat and character at his net price I’d keep him just to have him on the bench if I had to.

  • Lanny

    They cannot go into the yr with the DH spot open and spread out among the bench.

    Whether it is Damon or Matsui or both. That spot is key. And the left handed bat is as well.

  • Mike HC

    Both should get more than a one year deal, depending on the health of Matsui’s knees. Damon surely deserves more than a one year deal, and the Yanks should be willing to offer more than a one year deal in my opinion. Two years for Damon would be good in my book.

    If the team thinks that Matsui’s knees are in good enough condition, then two years for him would be ok as well. If the knees don’t look so good, then only one for him.

    I can see Cameron taking a one year deal with the Yanks, rather than a two year deal elsewhere if it comes to that, in the hope he has a big year on a winning team so he can cash in more next off season. This was not the best year for him to be coming into free agency. He should want a do over with the Yanks.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    egads, Melky-Gardener-Swisher, do we have a AAA at Scranton or a AAAA at pittsburgh we can bring up just in case?

    I want Damon and Matsui back, but why do we need Cameron?

    Did we not just win a WS with these guys? X-man’s salary is gone, as well as the ‘can wang pitch today’ experiment, so we’ve got a little cash and an extra game or (five) to lose without being any further back than we were this year. Reup them pluse give Nady’s salary to Damostui and be done with it.

  • hornblower

    Matsui will be back for a lower number. Damon is gone.

  • Voice of Reason

    Damon admits he was thinking about doing it (double steals) before hand.. Jeter ran across the infield, anticipated exactly where he needed to be, and made an accurate toss. Though Damon’s play gave us heart attacks, I think Jeter’s play is the clear winner. Regardless, they are both top 10 in my book of plays I have ever seen.

    If I had to pick one… Damon is more versatile, Matsui is the better bat. It’s a tough one, but I think in a clutch bases-loaded situation I’d rather see a Matsui holycowIjustswungreallyhard rather than a Damon Ilooklikebrettgardnerwiththispopup fly out.

    Matsui, please.

    Then again, if Damon will take 1 year and Matsui wont.. go with Damon. Or, sign them both on 1 yr’s. I would hate us to commit to Holliday and have to sit out the mother of all free agent classes next year.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      If the choice somehow becomes Holliday or Bay I would much rather pay Damon more money than he is worth for a 1 year deal. Holliday and Bay are not great players, and we do not need another guy locked up till he is in his late 30’s early 40s.

  • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

    My thoughts are Damon does a money grab, and end up with whatever team gives him years and $. Hopefully that will not be here. A one year deal is all I would offer.

    I see no other reasonable landing spot for Matsui. If anybody gives him more than one year they are nuts.

    I would offer both a one year deal and whoever accepted first is who would be the DH / bat off the bench when not a DH next year. I do not view Damon as anything but a DH. I think Matsui could give you as good a LF as Damon could but I would want neither in my OF ever again unless we sign both and I would still like to see Damon pulled for a defensive replacement anytime a game in in hand (as much as a game can be).

    Anybody have these two pics at higher rez? I want to get a shirt made up with them on there. All my Phils fan friends will love to see that.

  • deadrody

    Signing Damon to be the DH is where this analysis falls apart. It is a well known fact that some players can be a good DH and others cannot. Between Damon and Matsui, one is a proven capable DH, the other is a complete question mark. So unless you are signing Damon to be the left fielder, then this is a no-brainer decision at DH – Matsui.

    • DonnieBaseballHallofFame

      Damon is enough of a professional hitter to do the job as DH. It also may help him with his recurring leg problems. I think it is a moot point though as he will get a multi year offer and Matsui most likely will not.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      It’s a well known opinion never backed up with a rigorous statistical analysis.

  • Pingback: Assessing Matsui’s and a DH’s values | River Avenue Blues

  • mick

    Damon has been damaged goods since they got him. He can not throw at all. It is more important to have a corner outfielder that can throw as opposed to a great fielder. Most balls to the outfield are routine. A great centerfielder is the exception. A great centerfielder makes a good outfield.
    Matsui has been as good a clutch hitter as the Yankees have had since they got him.
    Losing Matsui would really hurt the team. Damon must be allowed to go.

    • Jack

      It is more important to have a corner outfielder that can throw as opposed to a great fielder. Most balls to the outfield are routine.

      All of this is false.

  • Sean Bose

    Matsui is the Big Game hitter. Most hitters can hit the minnows but get shut down by the good pitchers and good teams. Damon, Swisher fall in that category. Its hitters like Matsui who does an exceptional job in the post season to carry a team to the championship. He hits the clutch and home runs against Red Sox and other premiere teams in the league. Damon was just a bit productive in the last year of the contract and he is not worth the big money. Yankees will make a terrible mistake if they choose Damon over Matsui.

  • BJ Mason

    Matsui will be back. Why?

    1) The money he brings in more than pays for his salary.
    2) He is single-handedly helping the Yankees build an international brand — something that will deliver benefits long after Matsui retires
    3) He will conceivably earn less over the next year or two — not able to be a regular outfielder reduces his value relative to his last contract when he was considered a full-time outfielder, and finally,
    4) He can still hit as well as any of the headline free agents — and even if Halliday is better, he’s not that much better to make up for all the others reasons above.

    Swapping Matsui for Holliday will cost the Yankees ALOT — $15-20 million in revenue, another $5 million in higher salary, and cost htem the long term value Matsui builds for the Yankee business internationally. No, Holliday isn’t worth it, relative to Matsui’s value to the team. Now, Holliday instead of Damon or even Melky? That might be a different story.