Dec
04

Are there any left field options not named Damon, Cameron, or Holliday?

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To fill the vacant left field vacancy, we’ve mostly talked about players not under contract. Johnny Damon remains the favorite, but we’ve also discussed Mike Cameron and Matt Holliday. It doesn’t appear that the Yankees plan to move quickly on a left fielder, so maybe we’ll see a few other options emerge over the next few weeks. Since there aren’t any other strong options on the free agent market, perhaps the Yankees will seek to trade for a player who will cost less than the above-mentioned three.

Among its many resources, MLB Trade Rumors has a trade market analysis for each position. Here’s the one for left field. Since most teams don’t possess a corner outfield surplus, the list doesn’t contain many enticing names. A few could be interesting ideas, but I doubt the Yankees move on any of them.

David DeJesus comes up every once in a while, and the Royals might dangle him this off-season. He posted the lowest OBP of his career in 2009, but even then it was .347, not bad by any stretch. If he can hit more like he did in 2006 and 2008 he’d be an asset in left and at the bottom of the order. Since we don’t know how he’ll hit, though, I think he’s more of a backup plan than anything.

MLBTR lists Josh Willingham among the trade candidates, though I don’t see why Washington would trade him. His .260/.367/.496 line ranked among the best of his career. He’s 31 next season, true, but he still has two more seasons of team control and made just $2.9 million in 2009. Washington GM Mike Rizzo set a high asking price for Willingham over the summer, and that’s not likely to change. He’s one of their better hitters, so I assume they want him starting in left field next season. If they do plan to trade him, though, the Yankees will probably inquire.

Other than those two, there are assorted bad contracts, like Juan Pierre and Eric Byrnes, and some other middling players. Matt Murton appears, but I doubt the Yankees would use whims anything more than minor league depth. None of the remaining names should interest them at all. But, because Nick Swisher can slide over to left, the Yankees can also check out right fielders.

The only player worth a look on the right fielders list is Brad Hawpe, and he might not be available. Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd said that the team has “no desire to move him at all.” Hawpe has posted an OBP of .380 or higher in each of the last four seasons, and his lowest slugging percentage in that time is .498. His left-handed bat would play well at Yankee Stadium, though he does have a pronounced platoon split. UZR also ranks him worse than Damon in the field. Still, it’s more likely that the Rockies keep him, or else demand more than the Yankees are willing to offer. Hawpe is a good player, but probably not a fit for the Yanks.

The Yankees should be open to any possible solution to fill the left field void, and that includes through trades. Few teams, though, have corner outfielders to spare, or at least corner outfielders who could start for the Yankees. They’ll find a solution somewhere, even if it does cost them a few dollars. I don’t think George Steinbrenner will mind. As Brian Cashman said, “He wants to win again.”

Categories : Hot Stove League

134 Comments»

  1. AndrewYF says:

    Thank god for Nick Swisher.

  2. joe says:

    Conor jackson could be a decent reclamation project

  3. pat says:

    Unless we can reanimate the Babe I’d prefer to keep Swisher in RF. I’d love to pry Ichiro away from Seattle, but that’ll never happen.

  4. Evil Empire says:

    Why is Jason Bay not mentioned in this post?

  5. trent says:

    has juan miranda ever played the outfield?

  6. trent says:

    didn’t i hear that the angels were thinking of trading juan rivera? he’d be a great fit.

  7. iYankees says:

    I would love to see the Yankees acquire Murton — I think I’ve written about it twice — and just hand him the keys to LF. It won’t ever happen but the guy deserves a shot at a full-time gig somewhere.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      100 Career OPS+ …so maybe for a backup job but not starting. But we already have one of Gardbrera for backup.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      He has decent power and gets on base at a fairly good clip. How he produces a positive UZR number I will never understand, but the numbers don’t lie, which means he’d look like Griffey Jr. in his prime compared to Damon, but whatevs.

      Some career numbers for you guys: .286/.352/.436/.788 100 OPS+ in over 1,000 PAs

      Splits: Against RHP: .275/.339.410/.749 OPS+ 90. Against LHP: .304/.372/.480/.853 OPS+ 116

      Home: .281/.347/.432/.779 OPS+ 98
      Away: .290/.356/.440/.796 OPS+ 102

      Career UZR/150: 9.1(!)

      Now, having said all that, I hear one of the knocks on him is he can’t hit off-speed pitches and his poor showing against righties means he might be a platoon-type player, but he looks like he could be a valuable player overall.

      He’s unlikely to put up Damon’s offensive numbers, but if his defensive numbers are taken into account, along with his decent offensive production, he could definitely start on some teams. For the Yanks, if I could sign the guy for depth and get Cameron as well, I wouldn’t mind that set-up in the least. He’d play the role Nady was supposed to.

      LF Melky
      CF Cameron
      RF Swisher

      Gardner and Murton as occasional starters and depth. Oh, that’s a frickin’ good defensive outfield between the five of them.

  8. Mattchu12 says:

    I really like the David DeJesus idea, and I think we should really call up Kansas City now and be aggressive before the guys that miss out on Jason Bay and Matt Holliday turn their sights to Johnny Damon and guys like DeJesus. DeJesus would be a great option for LF, and then we could look at Damon and Matsui for the DH spot and each would have less leverage than they do right now.

    It might be worth signing both Damon and Matsui as well as acquiring DeJesus. If Melky should prove 2009 a fluke, then DeJesus would be a great option to put in center field. I love the Melk-Man, but I gotta wonder if he can keep it up. Gardner is much better off the bench than as a starter, he changes a game late with that speed, so I don’t know if I want him starting with a .260 – .270ish clip and no power.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      The question is, what would you be willing to give up for DeJesus? There are other options out there that only require money. If it’s a reasonable package, sure, why not? But DeJesus isn’t all that great; he’d do fine, but it’s not like he’s much of an upgrade from Damon, if he is at all ((although his defense would offset some of the lack of power you’d like at a corner OF spot).

      As for signing all three—you’re spending a lot of money on three guys, only one of which can play the outfield without the assistance of a Segway. One of them can’t play everyday. So then you move Melky out of the lineup? So DeJesus in CF and Johnny in LF and Matsui as DH? Pretty much the same as last year with a marginal upgrade of DeJesus from Melky, one that you’d be paying a good amount of money and prospects for. I don’t necessarily object to the idea, but Melky wasn’t playing over his head last year. 2009 was pretty much where most would expect him to be. He’s going to be a .270-.280 hitter with an OBP of about .340 and an OPS+ of around 100 unless he really finds his power or learns some degree of plate discipline.

      • Doug says:

        nope, dejesus would be damon replacement. and no thanks on moving dejesus to CF. UZR tells me he can’t play there anymore.

        • JMK aka The Overshare says:

          Gotcha. He has nil power for a corner outfielder. That’s worrisome, even for the 2-hole. Sure, it would be partially offset by the rest of the lineup having good power and his good corner D, but something about it just doesn’t sit well with me. Then again, his on-base skills look pretty okay, he can likely play all of the outfield in a pinch (I’ll explain that in a moment) and he may just be a good stop-gap to a long-term solution in Left. I’m conflicted. I wouldn’t mind seeing him, but given the choice, I’d rather re-sign Damon or grab Cameron and not have to trade away promising prospects for maybe, just maybe a marginal upgrade at the position.

          By the way, I almost used the CF UZR argument as well, but I noticed this: he posted a -9.0 UZR in CF in 2008 in 68 games, but the three years prior he posted strong numbers (at least a 7.1).

          You can look at it a few ways: 1) His decline was obvious, which is why they moved him to the corner and signed Coco Crisp 2) The sample size in his poor season is pretty small, hardly conclusive. He may be able to not just play there, but could be good.

          • The DeJesus talk is totally dependent on what the Yanks would have to give up in any potential trade, but I think I like the guy a bit more than a lot of my fellow RAB commenters. Yes, there are other options out there that cost only money, but that’s true of any trade vs. free agent situation, and the Yanks would be saving some money if DeJesus was their left fielder (since he’d cost less than just about any other suitable option being discussed). Defensively, yeah, his CF UZR dropped precipitously the last couple of years, but at this point in his career he’s a left fielder just about exclusively (only played 3 games in CF in 2009) and he’s a damned good left fielder, if UZR is at all accurate (never a LF UZR below +15 in his career). So, since the Yanks would be acquiring him to play LF, his defensive value is seemingly pretty high. Offensively, he’s no world-beater, but the guy’s going to give you about a .350 OBP with a little bit of pop… If the guy could hit 12-13 HRs the last two years as a Royal, I kinda figure that at ages 30-31, in the Yankees lineup and playing half his games as a left-handed batter in YS3, you’re looking at a guy who’s going to hit about 15 homers a year, or maybe even up to 18 or so. A good defensive left fielder with a .350 OBP and 15-18 HRs? That’s not too shabby, depending on the cost in talent. Then again, I’m not sure why the Royals would want to trade him, but I don’t know much about their situation/wants/needs.

  9. Mac says:

    If Figgins can still steal 42 bags then he can still play LF. He would also be insurance and a fill in at 3rd and 2nd.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Jeter stole 20-30 bases when he won all his GG awards before 2009. That means his defense in that time period is the best.

    • No. No Chone Figgins EVER.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      If Figgins can still steal 42 bags then he can still play LF.

      Wait, what? He’s able to run, so he can play LF? There’s more to playing the outfield than just running. It requires good reads off the bat, taking the right route, a strong arm and range. Jacoby Ellsbury is fast and can steal a ton of bags; he doesn’t do the other things though, so he’s not even an average outfielder.

      Figgins hasn’t played the outfield in a LOOOONG time. And when he was playing the outfield, this is the career UZR/150 he put up: -6.4 (and I included CF, which gives him more credit. Just LF is -17.7).

      He would also be insurance and a fill in at 3rd and 2nd.

      We already have Ramiro Pena.

  10. Doug says:

    dejesus > willingham….more speed and better defense

    • Doug says:

      i actually think dejesus would be a solid replacement for damon (if it comes to that) in the 2-hole. sees a lot of pitches (#P/PA: 2009 – 4.01; T23 in AL; has increased each of the past 2 years) , makes a lot of contact (contact % was 22nd in all of baseball last year; and better than damon), and runs well (even if it’s not to steal bases)

  11. T-Dubs says:

    How about this guy? He used to play LF and THEY CAN’T AFFORD TO KEEP HIM!!!!!!!!!11!!!1

  12. Bo says:

    The plan has to be for a 1 or 2 yr guy out in LF so Jeter can eventually move there.

  13. T-Dubs says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing someone come on a 1 year deal (or the final year of his contract) and bide time until next offseason when Crawford will be around.

  14. A.D. says:

    Another option is DeRosa, while I’m not a fan of the Yankees getting him, he would allow them to rest regulars as a rotation DH & Still have a decent bat. Essentially Yanks could sign DeRosa & Damon, and then have DeRosa play LF, 3B, 2B, 1B all once a week to rest the guys as they rotate through the DH spot.

    • T-Dubs says:

      I think someone will offer him a more consistent starting spot (and more years and $) than the Yanks would be willing to.

    • No DeRosa. His bat likely isn’t good enough for LF consistently and he’s not a better option than anyone in the infield. Plus, how often are the players at first, short, and second going to need to be rested? A-Rod will likely be rested more than others but I’d rather not sign someone as his back-up/sub-par LF.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        …why do i feel like most of these posts are missing the last sentence, which is ‘we already have Ramiro Pena?’

  15. Mike Pop says:

    Justin Upton to counter the Marco Scutaro move.

  16. jramey says:

    are we forgetting about Nady?

  17. ColoYank says:

    The Denver Post ran an item this morning that the Rockies are thinking of using Hawpe to back up Helton at first base to free-up at bats for Spillborghs, Seth Smith, and Carlos Gonzalez.

    Maybe they wouldn’t drive to hard a bargain for him? Coors/road splits are not bad, but then there are those 145 whiffs in 2009. Career slash lines: Coors Field: .286/.379/.508. On the road: .280/.375/.489.

  18. theyankeewarrior says:

    Jeter will be at SS for the next 3-5 seasons. If he turns into a guy who can still hit .300 and get on base, but can’t field a ball unless it’s hit right at him, I think he should move to RF and this is why.

    Though RF is supposed to be a power position, the Yankees will have plenty of power between guys like Tex, Alex, Montero, DH etc. RF is small in Yankee Stadium III and Jeter wouldn’t have to cover much ground. He could even play shallow to make up for whatever arm strength he loses as he ages. He has never had a problem running down pop ups and he moves well going back for fly balls. It would only be a one or two year trial until he couldn’t play any more.

    Also, he ranges back to the RF wall before every home game and easily throws the ball to Cano at home plate. I’m sure if he mixed in a few crow hop sessions and took some advice from Eiland (similar to the way Swisher did this season) he could use his already accurate arm to throw base runners out.

    • theyankeewarrior says:

      Clarification: I don’t think this is a good idea… But I’d rather see him struggle in RF at age 39 than at SS.

      • So, presumably, he’d be playing bad defense and not having offense that lives up to the position? No thanks. I’d rather just have him stay at short–at least his bat would still be a plus there.

        • theyankeewarrior says:

          True, but if we have the power to make up for his lack-there-of, his bat wouldn’t hurt us in right nor would his defense at short. Plus, he might turn out to be an upgrade over the Swishers of the world out there.

          • Yeah, but I doubt he would be at age 39. Chances are, he’s not going to have another season like this one with the bat and chances are he’s not going to be able to play a good RF. Unless there is someone knocking really hard on the SS door in the next year or two, Jeter’s staying there.

            • theyankeewarrior says:

              Maybe I’m looking too far down the road, but I’m talking about 3+ years from now when he may really struggling in the field, but still knocking balls around the park.

              His bat speed will most likely decline slowly, and his quickness quite, well…quickly.

              If he happens to have an eye for the ball off the bat, he could make up for his lack of lateral quickness by making solid reads in RF and using his fly ball skills to patch together a couple of solid seasons and extend his career.

              Lets continue this convo in 2013…

  19. JohnC says:

    What about Rick Ankiel? His left handed stroke would be perfect for Yankee Stadium.

  20. T-Dubs says:

    Am I the only one against the rotating DH strategy? To me, it only works if you have one starter-quality super utility guy and there just aren’t any available. Figgins? DeRosa? Inge, maybe? No thanks.

    Even as a hypothetical, say the Yankees LOVED Figgins and called him and said “we want you, you’re going to play 3rd, LF, whatever, SS, 2B, C, bullpen coach, blah blah blah.” Why would he want to do that when he could play every day at one position for the Angels ooor Cubs ooor Phillies, etc?

    It seems to me that you would have to convince a player to sacrifice positional consistency with a larger contract and at that point you’ve defeated half of the purpose.

    The alternative of having a very talented player to fill that role is playing Cervelli, Pena, and Gardner in the majority of your lineups. How is THAT a good idea?

    • I’d say most people here don’t like the rotating DH.

      • JMK aka The Overshare says:

        Yep. I do think The Artist likes it though, which is baffling considering he’s usually pretty on point.

    • theyankeewarrior says:

      Yeah, the rotating DH strategy sucks. It’s what happens when one or two of your best players hit the 30-day DL. It’s not what you’re supposed to go into the season with.

      • There is a rotating DH strategy that would work:

        1. Sign Johnny Damon and Mike Cameron and Hideki Matsui (or a suitable DH replacement).
        2. The OF alignment becomes: Damon/Cameron/Swisher
        3. Melky is the 4th OF who can “aggressively spell” (TSJC, 2009) Cameron, Damon, and even Swisher, when needed in the OF and one of those three can DH for a day or move over somewhere.

        • T-Dubs says:

          This doesn’t really help what seems to be their main concern of resting/DHing Alex though. Posada too I guess.

          • Is that their main concern, though? Even if you wanted to rest Posada, you could DH him and still keep an A lineup out there, by keeping Damon in left.

            • T-Dubs says:

              I think Alex is the main concern. I’ve heard Posada as part of the rotating DH theory but I don’t really buy it considering the natural need to rest catchers anyway.

              The rotating DH option I think (please correct me if I’m mistaken) is predicated on signing Damon, or someone like him, and DHing Damon, Alex, Posada, and possibly Jeter and Swisher once every week or 2 and inserting Pena, Gardner, and Cervelli more frequently to spell (aggressively or not) the regulars at a higher rate than last season to combat fatigue due to aging.

              • That’s the rotating DH we don’t like.

              • Rose says:

                You need a full time DH. If you need to rest Alex for half a day…you rest Alex for half a day and sit Matsui (just like we did in 2009 successfully – we won the World Series).

                Not having a full time DH…means that Ramiro Pena and company are going to be in the lineup ALL OF THE TIME…EVERY SINGLE GAME.

                Sign Matsui…have him bat the majority of the time at DH…if Posada or Alex need a half day off?? Give them one!! And give Matsui a full day off! He’ll need one too. This way, you only have Ramiro Pena and company in the lineup 1/5th of the time as opposed to the WHOLE time.

        • Melky is the 4th OF who can “aggressively spell” (TSJC, 2009) Cameron, Damon, and even Swisher,

          A-thank you.

        • theyankeewarrior says:

          Yes, that is technically a rotating DH strategy, but it’s really just a good way of stockpiling DH/OF types and utilizing the DH as a way of giving vets the day off. (See 2009 New York Yankees)

          Basically, you’re turning 2009 Nady into 2010 Cameron. But this time, Cameron can play CF, so there is no RF battle, and it gives the Yankees breathing room incase of injury.

          But even here, Matsui is likely to be the DH 4 to 5 times per week.

          This is what I proposed going into this offseason.

        • That strategy could work… And I think is evidence that the terms “rotating DH” and “non-rotating DH”, to describe the two different schools of thought, are really misnomers. The people (including me) who are against the so-called rotating DH idea aren’t against the idea of players rotating in and out of the DH slot, they’re against the idea of having one of the bench players in the A-lineup in Matsui’s 2009 slot. The point is to fill Damon and Matsui’s roster slots with plus MLB bats (like Damon and Matsui, or Damon and Cameron, or Matsui and Cameron, or some other combination of players) so that you’re not guaranteeing an A-lineup with 2 of Melky, Gardner, Ramiro, and the rest of the bench crew, especially considering that Cervelli will likely be in the lineup very often in 2010 (meaning you’re looking at an A-lineup with 2 of the bench crew and a B-lineup, for probably not much less than 35% of the time, with 3 of the bench crew).

          I think it’s less “rotating DH” vs. “non-rotating DH” than it is “good offense” vs. “weaker offense,” or “deep lineup” vs. “shallow lineup,” or something like that.

          • Rose says:

            Precisely. This is exactly what it is.

            Because you can give a half days rest to Arod, Posada, etc. regardless of whether or not Matsui is signed as our primary DH or not. Perhaps not as unnecessarily frequent…but you can still appropriately get the job done.

        • scoopemup says:

          Don’t forget Posada in that DH rotation.

    • ColoYank says:

      A full-time DH is a very very good thing, and I get so I would prefer having Matsui back than Damon.

    • A.D. says:

      It’s not a good plan unless you have a DH that can play the field, and thus you’re keeping all the same bats in the line-up, just at different positions.

  21. Mark says:

    Corey Hart as a Nady-esque bat with the benefit of some stolen bases?

  22. Steve H says:

    Manny. Though I’d rather see him as the full time DH.

  23. GAZU says:

    i really thougt that the yankees should look at the medical records of carlos beltran and try to square off the mets the all star cf

  24. David says:

    I say get Cameron, and try to trade with Washington for Dunn. The Nats need a catcher (we have about 30 in the minors), would need a 1B if they let Dunn go (Miranda is blocked in NY anyway), a middle infielder (we have a log jam on the 40 man) and some pitching (another position of strength in the Yankees high-minors). Would Miranda and Russo get it done? Maybe add a decent pitching prospect?

    Cameron’s offense would be a step down from JD, but his defense is so much better, and Dunn would offset the offensive difference. Dunn and Cameron would more than make up for the loss of JD and Godzilla. And Dunn, for all of his defensive shortcomings, is still capable of playing out there if the need arises. I can’t imagine Washington would be too upset to have an extra $10MM to spend this off-season.

    Plus, both would probably be here on 1 year deals.

  25. themgmt says:

    The idea that the Yankees would want a rotating DH is a narrative of Mike Francesa.

    No way they’d do that.

  26. Please Mr. Brian Cashman, sign Mike Cameron and stop this DeJesus, Willingham and Hawpe nonsense. Cameron makes so much to the Yankees that it’s not even fair to the others. He will not cost prospects, is a CF with above average to great defense, good power, and I suspect won’t demand multiple years. But, of course, I’m biased. I have a man crush on Mike Cameron. Just love him.

  27. JasonT says:

    Nobody mentions Marlon Byrd, not a terrible option and to me not far away from Dejesus without the prospects cost.

    All in all I vouch for Cameron over Damon and Matsui as DH.

    A-Jax is your OF injury insurance.

  28. Tommy B says:

    I would say are there any options for us . Yes there is .. namely Swisher (LF)Melky (RF) Gardner (CF) bring in A. Jackson sign X.Nady to incentive contract and see where the RAYs sit before the trading deadline if we are doing well then dont Fix it .. if we are NOT doing well with that idea .. then if the RAYS are going down . Carl Crawford will probably be available .. that would Fit !! and for a few years as well.

  29. [...] side of the ball, the leftfield plans do not include Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. However, there are plenty of other options out there, including Mike Cameron. The Yankees won’t consider Hideki Matsui’s [...]

  30. [...] the most part we’ve focused on free agent acquisitions, mainly because we’ve discussed trade options and haven’t found much. But things change as Spring Training nears. The Yankees acquired Javy [...]

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