Dec
16

Revisiting the trade market for a left fielder

By

With Mike Cameron now with the Red Sox and with Johnny Damon holding out for more cash, the Yanks have to explore new options to fill their left field vacancy. They might choose to sign a solid DH and keep Melky Cabrera in left field, but because they let Hideki Matsui sign with Anaheim, it appears they won’t explore that option immediately. Right now they’re looking for a solid left field option. There might not be a ton that interests them on the free agent market, but what about in a trade?

We’ve explored the trade market previously and have found little of interest. There are two names on the list, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus, who could, under the right circumstances, be attractive. The problem with both, though, is that they have two years left of team control at reasonable prices. Neither the Royals nor the Nationals have good reason to trade them, unless they got something significant in return — say, Austin Romine. That doesn’t make sense from the Yankees end. Why trade your No. 2 prospect for the relatively small upgrade from Melky to DeJesus or Willingham?

If the Yankees plan to upgrade their left field situation, they’ll have to sign a free agent — Damon, Matt Holliday, Jason Bay — or get creative with a trade. This might hurt. Since most of their top prospects aren’t near major league ready, they would probably have to deal a major league chip. For the Yankees, that means Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain. No, dealing either is not an ideal scenario, but perhaps the Yankees could find a situation where trading one of them would bring back a pitcher and a left fielder.

That means bringing back a bad contract — or at least an overvalued one. These trades get tricky, and chances are the Yankees wouldn’t want to take this path. With that in mind, these ideas are just for fun. They’re just different, albeit highly improbable, ways of acquiring a pitcher or left fielder. In fact, I’ll even call myself out before I start: my trade proposal sucks.

Would the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp?

With the Dodgers owners going through a complex and messy divorce situation, the team finds itself in a tough financial spot. Counting their obligations to players no longer on their team (Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jon Garland), they owe $62 million to their 2010 team. That’s before their bevy of arbitration-eligible players. Matt Kemp, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, and Hong-Chich Kuo will all get big raises in their first arbitration years. Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, and Jon Broxton are in their second years. George Sherrill is in his third. This could end up costing the Dodgers a ton of money, so perhaps they’d be willing to trade one of those players for a most cost-controlled one.

Of the arbitration players, Matt Kemp is obviously the most attractive. Ethier put up good numbers as well this year, but he has poor lefty splits. For one player that’s not a big deal, but with Curtis Granderson in the fold, the Yankees should avoid any player with big platoon splits. Kemp can play good defense at a corner, and has a good bat. Would LA want more than just Hughes or Chamberlain, though? Kemp, after all, is the more known quantity. Or would they just accept a year of cheap production from Joba or Hughes? I’m figuring they’d want more, which makes this a bit tougher deal to stomach.

Would the Reds trade Jay Bruce and a pitcher?

One way to get more in a trade is by taking on a bad contract. The Reds have a couple of those in Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. Neither is an ideal fit for the rotation, making any potential deal tougher to stomach. But if it meant bringing back Jay Bruce, would that make it more enticing?

In his short major league career, Bruce has been mostly a disappointment. He suffered a few injuries and had embarrassingly low on base percentages when healthy. He’s still just 22, 23 in April, so there’s time for his bat to develop. He’s particularly bad against lefties, or at least has been so far in his major league career, making him a bit tougher option. The Yanks would take a gamble not only on his development as a hitter in general, but also his ability to hit major league lefties.

Then there’s the pitching end. Arroyo has had his ups and downs in Cincinnati, and could be an option at the back of the rotation. Unfortunately, his salary is more in in with a No. 2 starter, $11 million next season with a $2 million buyout of his $11 million 2011 option. Is that a worthy trade-off for the gamble on Bruce? Probably not. The Reds would get a young pitcher in return, but would lose a young, promising outfielder. I have to wonder if they’d do this type of deal.

What about Josh Hamilton?

There’s little to no chance that the Rangers trade Josh Hamilton this off-season. He still has three years left of team control, and has been one of the team’s best run producers. Yet maybe, as Hamilton enters his first year of arbitration, the Rangers will look to cash in on him.

Hamilton has three years of service under his belt, but has amassed just 1406 plate appearances. He’s missed time in 2007 and 2009 with injuries, and in 2009 it appears that his injuries sapped his production. He fell from a .901 OPS in 2008 to .741 in 2009 and had just more than half the plate appearances. We know that Hamilton was disappointed with the Rangers’ contract extension proposal, so maybe, just maybe they’ll look to unload him now, hoping for a bigger return.

The Yanks would probably have to include more than Joba or Hughes, which, as with Bruce, is difficult when there’s such a risk involved. Hamilton is very good when healthy, but again, he has just a little over two years’ worth of plate appearances in three seasons. Still, he doesn’t demonstrate a terribly pronounced platoon split, and would likely see a power boost at Yankee Stadium. He’d fit perfectly at one of the corners and in the No. 5 spot in the lineup.

Of all the crazy, high-risk moves on this list, I like the Hamilton one the best. But, like the rest, it’s probably not feasible.

Outside option: Seth Smith

The Rockies probably have no reason to trade Garry Seth Smith. He has two more years of reserve-clause time, then three years of arbitration. But with Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Brad Hawpe in the outfield, it appears Smith is again destined for a reserve role. Maybe the Rockies would be better off cashing in on him now.

The issue is of matching on prospects. The Yankees would not trade Joba or Hughes for a player with Smith’s home/road splits: .998 OPS at Coors vs. a .770 one on the road. His platoon splits aren’t terrible, .745 OPS against lefties and a .898 against righties, which is good, but it still doesn’t justify the move. The Rockies have no reason to trade Smith on the cheap, and it’s unlikely the Yankees would overpay for that type of player.

Brad Hawpe has better home/road splits and similar platoon splits, but he’d cost even more in a trade, even though he’s 31 years old this season. For his production he’s still cheap, $7.5 million in 2010 with a $10 million 2011 option ($0.5 million buyout). I imagine the Rockies would want even more for Hawpe than for Smith, probably one of Hughes or Chamberlain. I’m not sure I’d do that. It would also mean signing another starter, of which there are few on the market.

What all this tells me is that the Yankees probably won’t deal for a left fielder. They’ll either re-sign Damon, sign Holliday, or sign a big DH and go into the season with Melky as the left fielder.

Categories : Hot Stove League

297 Comments»

  1. Ross Trudeau says:

    I don’t get it. Random list of left fielders, none of whom appear to be actively being shopped, most of whom would require more to obtain than we want to give up…

    Was this worth the effort to pen?

    Can’t we all just agree that we A) hold the line on 2/$20-22 for Damon or B) Let Gardbrera defense in left field do the talking? “Bat plays in left” only applies relative to the defense.

    • ev says:

      Just because we don’t see their names plastered all over MLBTR doesn’t mean a GM won’t listen to a trade proposal that might benefit their team.

      The Yankees are surely exploring all options and this post is simply listing some potential targets in the Yankees’ minds while they wait for Damon’s price to go down

      • KK says:

        All of these options are far more costly than Damon (since Damon won’t drain the farm) so it seems this was pointless speculation – something that RAB doesn’t like, if I remember the guidelines) =\

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      The point of the post was to prove that there really isn’t a viable trade option out there.

      So yeah, it was worth the effort.

    • Jordan - Anybody But Melky 2010 says:

      “These trades get tricky, and chances are the Yankees wouldn’t want to take this path. With that in mind, these ideas are just for fun. They’re just different, albeit highly improbable, ways of acquiring a pitcher or left fielder. In fact, I’ll even call myself out before I start: my trade proposal sucks.”

      • Ross Trudeau says:

        Haha. i.e. “Content for the sake of content.” Bleh.

        • Keanu Reeves says:

          No, it wasn’t content for the sake of content.

          Left field is a question mark presently. There are three options:

          1) Leave it to Gardbrera.

          2) Sign Holliday or Bay.

          3) Make a trade.

          This post was an in-depth look at why option number three probably isn’t viable. I’m not sure what your issue with this post is.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          I’m sorry someone held a gun to your head and forced you to read it.

          • Keanu Reeves says:

            Axisa: 1
            Ross Trudeau: 0

          • Ross Trudeau says:

            I’m a longtime reader and a RAB fan.

            If you’re not going to give your reads the benefit of a doubt in assuming they’re trying to be constructive, you really shouldn’t be responding to their comments. Defensive bloggers who take critique personally lose credibility really quickly.

            “These trades are dumb and would never happen but I’m going take 20% of our page space to opine about it” seems more suited to a lower-quality blog where speculating about Seth Smith is par for the course. Especially considering the “this content is inherently unilluminating and not really worthwhile” caveat came four full paragraphs in.

            • If you were the friend you claimed to be, you probably would have emailed your critiques to Mike to share your constructive criticism in private, where it can be received without public debate or referendum.

              Like countless other posters have done with proofreading catches, suggestions, or requests over the years.

              Doing it here, in this forum, in the manner you chose doesn’t seem like the constructive criticism of a friend, it seems like the whiny complaints of a non-friend.

              JMHO.

              • DH=a dime a dozen says:

                tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada,

                Just because he didn’t like the content written , it doesn’t mean he has to email mike privately.
                Isn’t that the point of having a section to post your comments?

                • It is.

                  It’s not constructive criticism, though. It’s public debate. I critique friends in private.

                • John Willumsen says:

                  I gotta say I don’t think Ross Trudeau’s comment can fairly be characterized as an unfriendly critique; he wasn’t mocking the writing, he wasn’t putting Pawlikowski down, and he wasn’t being especially peevish. I think the question of “why write this” was not intended to come across as the “wtf guys, why are you publishing this garbage” comments you often see on blogs such as this. I think it was meant to be a) an expression of disapproval of the trade ideas being pondered, and b) an expression of consternation over content being created either to fill a void or to rumormonger for the sake of rumormongering. I think more attention should be paid to his third paragraph than to his one throwaway line in the middle. Sometimes long-time, hardcore RAB commenters have a tendency to jump on those who don’t toe the party line and who might be critical of Joe, Mike, and Ben. It can also devolve into a battle of who is snarkier. That doesn’t strike me as overly friendly or productive. (NB: just because this is under a TSJC comment doesn’t mean I think he is guilty of this.) I love the three guys as much as anyone, they’re smart and great writers, but they’re tough and they’re adults and they can handle criticism so I don’t think we should jump on those who offer criticism.

                • John Willumsen says:

                  Can’t***** be fairly characterized. Damn typos.

                • John Willumsen says:

                  Oh wait, i had it right to begin with. ok i retire from the english language, i’ve clearly passed my prime.

              • You know, that’s true. I always view comments that complain about the post as unnecessarily whiny, but I’ll easily accept criticism by email. Just another bias, I suppose.

              • Ross Trudeau says:

                That’s valid. In the past I’ve only ever emailed relevant breaking links. I think I was first to their inbox re: Manny/Ortiz positive test when ESPN broke the story. If email RAB before my little brother isn’t proof positive, I don’t know what is!

              • Also, apparently Mike writes every post on this site.

            • DH=a dime a dozen says:

              Axisa: 1
              Ross Trudeau: 1

    • mdw says:

      what would you guys think of trying to trade for adam dunn as dh? none of our regulars really need too many days at dh and posada days off, he could use full ones anyway, dunn is only 31, with 1 year and like 10 mil left on his contract, in our park hitting behind alex, he could hit 45+ hrs and make up for the lack of offense melky provides, i kknow he’ll strike out abit too, but that line up would be scary……..

      • I love Dunn. A lot. But there’s no way he joins the Yankees.

        1. We’re not sure he’s available.
        2. It’s probably not worth it to trade for just one year of a DH.

      • Keanu Reeves says:

        The idea has been discussed and I think these are generally the things people bring up:

        1) Hell yes, of course we’d like Adam Dunn as the DH.

        2) Are the Nats looking to move him in slightest bit?

        3) How much would it take to trade for him? More than they’d likely trade for one year of a DH?

        4) Why trade prospects for him this year when you can sign him as a FA next year?

    • Yes, it was. I like writing.

    • ROBTEN says:

      “Was this worth the effort to pen?”

      It is precisely these kinds of posts that make RAB such a useful resource.

      Rather than simply proposing some absurd, knee-jerk reaction to start an empty discussion, we get a thoughtful examination of who might be realistically available, what the costs might be, and why it doesn’t make sense for the Yankees to make an immediate move to acquire a LF.

      So, yes, it makes sense that it would be better to stick with Melky (for now) and hold the line with Damon, but why not seriously consider the situation before declaring the discussion over and done.

      RAB is the oasis in a sea of ledge-jumpers and the always disappointed.

    • Hey ZZ says:

      You should start a blog. One post on option (A). One post on option (B). Boom, your done. Just sit home and let the readers and advertisers flow in until Spring Training.

    • John Willumsen says:

      Hey Ross Trudeau, did you happen to go to high school on the upper west side?

      Either way, I completely agree. Gardbrera’s D is plenty value enough, and it’s not unlikely that together they produce league average level of offense. Ideal for a corner outfielder? No, but good enough, and way way way better than any of these trades, or the possibility of overpaying Damon.

      • Tom Trudeau says:

        Is this John Willumsen of Trinity high school?

        • john.willumsen says:

          Yup, that’s me. I’ve been a RAB reader for a looong time, but I don’t often read the comments, so I was pretty surprised to see a familiar name. But more importantly, I completely agree with your brother, and would rather see the Yankees stand pat rather than make a move for the sake of it (at least they’re not the ones overpaying for Lackey just because their owner got antsy). I think they should be looking at a player like Gabe Gross, someone who will come cheap, provides good defense and actually will hit decently, and above all, is a right handed bat.

    • GEO says:

      Ask your coach – who coached the Markins when Willingham was there. Josh is a no nonsense player and would be great on any team.

  2. No trades, please. I’d rather just bring back Damon or a big time DH (I’m really starting to sweeten on Delgado). Holliday’s looking a little better, too, but 5/90 is the absolute highest I’d go.

  3. Steve H says:

    Manny B. Manny.

    LF or DH problem solved.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

      Yeah, but Manny is such a big draw there and he’s only on a one-year deal. It doesn’t make sense for the Dodgers to get rid of him and it wouldn’t make sense for the Yankees to grab him considering the prospect cost. And if they do have a strict budget, he alone may fill it.

      It’s a good idea in theory, but in reality, I’m not sure it’s really viable.

      • Steve H says:

        Yeah I know the odds are tiny. The only chance is if the divorce gets uglier and uglier, and the Dodgers are forced to pare even more payroll.

    • mustang says:

      Manny LF

      LMAO
      LMAO

  4. Phil McCracken says:

    I like the way you thought up some outside the box scenarios Joe.

    The time to strike for Kemp was last year when he was really struggling. He really made a big leap this year into a highly productive player for his age.

    I’m not sure the Reds are ready to throw in the towel on Bruce just yet. But if you’re going to give up a big player like Joba or Hughes and on top of that take a big risk and monster salary back with Harang, isn’t it a better option just to go out and pay the big bucks for Holliday?

  5. Rose says:

    You would think that Cashman would have seen this coming from Damon and Boras who have done this before. Damon is one player who, despite having a good attitude in the clubhouse, is a complete mercenary. Could we still have a shot? Sure. But odds are, after Holliday and Bay are signed…one team may make a drastic move.

    Does this open the door a little wider for a Nick Johnson to be a primary DH for a few more years? He was reportedly only looking for a 2 year deal. If Matsui can play a full year at age 36 with Gumby-knees…Johnson can probably do that much better (albeit, they have had entirely different injuries).

    The only down side to grabbing a DH that cannot play the outfield…is not being able to keep their bat in the lineup while Jorge, Arod, Jeter, etc. take their turn at DH.

    Oh well. I personally would have gone hard after a pitcher and re-signed Matsui…but that boat has sailed. Now we have to make the best of what’s left.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

      Johnson would be way overpaid. Damon being overpaid you could at least justify because he offers more flexibility being able to patrol LF on an occasional basis. We really have no need for Johnson’s 1B defense and he’d get paid for that ability (as he damn well should). If it’s just a strict DH situation, would you rather

      A) Spend $5.5 million on Delgado for one year

      B) Spend $18 million on Nick Johnson for two years

      I’d go with A) eight days a week. Hell, you could probably do $12 milion p/y for 2 years of Damon. If you got super crazy you could sign Damonand Delgado. I think his versatility would represent a better value, despite him likely just being the DH the second year.

  6. pollo says:

    omg Matt Kemp in LF

    *drool*

  7. Jordan - Anybody But Melky 2010 says:

    Give it a few years before Torre moves into the LA front office like speculated.

    Then Cashman can call him up and ask him if he’d like to swap #8 hitters.

  8. Bronx Ralphie says:

    Chances are we are not going to get Holliday or Bay. So instead of looking to trade for a DH (nobody is out there), we should have just re-signed Matusi and went with Cabrera in left field. Damon/Boras could take a walk.

  9. Evil Empire says:

    Is the fact that Adam Dunn is not even listed imply that RAB doesn’t perceive him as a viable option?

    I’d see him in the Johnny Damon mold in the sense that he’d be good for, like, 81 games in LF and 81 games as the DH or whatever.

    • For LF, no, I don’t think Dunn is an option, and we know how much I love Dunn.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      I’m not even sure you could seriously run Adam Dunn out in LF for 81 games.

      I’ll take him as the DH any day of the week and seven times on Sunday. But I don’t think I could watch him play the field except in case of an emergency.

      • ROBTEN says:

        Dunn in left would be a disaster of epic proportions.

        Here’s Dunn’s UZR/150 for LF for the past several years:

        2005: -18.0
        2006: -13.3
        2007: -21.0
        2008: -20.0
        2009: -38.0

        Or as Fangraphs succinctly put it:

        “Adam Dunn is so bad in the field that he loses roughly two wins of value by not being a DH. And that includes factoring in the hitting penalty faced by full time DHs.”

        http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....007-9-dunn

  10. JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

    I’m shocked no one has mentioned Carlos Quentin (not that I’m advocating a trade for him).

  11. Charlie says:

    matt kemp in lf would be fucking ridiculous. he’s nothing short of a superstar imo and he’s only 25. but it’d be shocking if the dodgers dealt him. and if they did shop him, they’d be asking for a shitload, and rightfully so

  12. pete says:

    I’m strongly of the opinion that we sign a DH and have gardbrera play left. I’m confident that Girardi can milk acceptable production out of those two (95 OPS+, 35 SB vs. 5 CS, +10 UZR) to fill the 9-hole and create an exceptional defensive machine in the outfield (with the late-inning defensive option of Gardner-Grandy-Melk (I know that Swisher has better numbers in right than melky does, but i think its a SSS issue. If the guy is average in center, he’ll be above average in right, and has the arm to back it up)), and allow us to pursue a cheaper option than Damon at DH (damon would be fine too, but I’m a big fan of Delgado’s power potential in YSIII), which would allow us to push hard for Sheets, which would let us start hughes slow and build him up in AAA to start the year (PLEASE let this happen Cash – the ‘pen will be fine, even if it’s worse than last year it won’t kill us). Having a capable 6th starter is more important than having 9 guys with OPS+s north of 115.

    • Steve H says:

      You read my mind.

    • mdw says:

      i kno im pushing dunn, but as a full time dh, not in left, hed mash behind jeter, grandy(or swish), tex and alex………

    • “Having a capable 6th starter is more important than having 9 guys with OPS+s north of 115.”

      I agree with this, and this was the point I was trying to make earlier when someone asked whether, if I had to choose between the two, I’d sign a DH plus either Sheets or Damon. The value-add of Sheets is potentially enormous – the guy could be your second starter. The flip-side is that you’re replacing your 9th hitter with what would be the ninth 120+ OPS+ bat.

      The pitcher adds more value to your team, especially when you already have A-Rod, Tex, Jeter, Granderson, Posada, Cano et al in your lineup.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

      Could you imagine the brouhaha if Hughes were put down in AAA to start? I’m not saying it’s a bad move, just that it would be gangbanged by the media.

      • Eh. Let them throw a fit. If the Yanks make it clear he’s just in the minors for a month or so in order to keep him fresh for MLB late in the season, I think they’ll bitch about it but they won’t necessarily freak out.

        • Just throwing this out there:

          what happens if all 5 guys in the ML rotation are absolutely killing it and Hughes has no place in the rotation?

          • Then welcome back to the bullpen, Phil.

            Look, I want Phil and Joba to be starters in the long-term, but if the Yanks have the opportunity to sign a potential number 2 starter on a short-term contract, which contract might push one of Joba/Phil to the ‘pen in the short-term, then so be it. We’re not talking about signing Derek Lowe for 4 or 5 years, here. We’re not blocking the kids forever.

            • Keanu Reeves says:

              Exactly. We all want them to succeed in the rotation, but this is a problem they want to have. It means the rotation is performing well and the bullpen is strengthened.

            • Steve H says:

              Yeah, you don’t bump one of them to the pen for J-Duke or someone of that caliber (Lowe as you mentioned/Arroyo, etc).

              Healthy Sheets=#2 Starter for this team, and the ace for most.

          • ROBTEN says:

            It means that the Yankees are winning a lot of games and can be even more patient with Hughes.

          • Steve H says:

            There’s enough injury risk there that the odds are slim.

        • Am I the only Kevin? says:

          Hughes to AAA is never going to happen unless he is really scuffling at the major league level. He will either be the 4/5 starter, or a setup man with the big club.

          Are you still willing to sign Sheets knowing that this means Joba or Phil have been relegated to the bullpen again, likely permanently this time?

          • “Are you still willing to sign Sheets knowing that this means Joba or Phil have been relegated to the bullpen again, likely permanently this time?”

            There’s no reason why either one of them would have to stay in the bullpen permanently if the Yankees sign Sheets to a 1 or 2 year deal. Phil Hughes is going into his age 24 season in 2010. Also keep in mind that Andy Pettitte is signed to a 1-year contract, so it’s not guaranteed that he’s back in 2011.

            Not to mention that there’s no way the Yankees go through the next season without needing a sixth, seventh, and probably eighth starter at some point.

            • Am I the only Kevin? says:

              What happened when Phil went to bullpen last season? Wang sucked, Mitre sucked, etc., and Phil still stayed in the bullpen. Why? The manager likes him there, and they don’t want to stretch a starter out again mid season like they did with Joba. If they weren’t willing to sub out super duper crappy Wang and Mitre, do you really think they will pull Sheets or Joba if they put up merely pedestrian numbers (e.g., bad peripherals but a ~0.500 record)?

              Everyone kept saying in June 2009 “no worries, Phil will get his innings – someone will get hurt” and he ended up with a measly number of innings and little experience to develop his 3rd pitch because there were virtually no missed starts by your 1-3 starters and your manager was willing to send out a sacrificial lamb every fifth day in July.

              If you value Hughes as a starter long term, then this season he must be given every opportunity to be in a rotation (MLB or AAA) for as long as he can handle it. You can’t yo-yo him between bullpen and rotation. Since I see no chance whatsoever of him being sent to AAA absent a complete meltdown, your choice is rotation or bullpen. Which is it?

              • Even if he stays in the bullpen for the duration of the 2010 season, why wouldn’t he then go right back to the rotation for 2011?

                I disagree with you. I value Hughes as a starter long-term, but I don’t see 2010 as some sort of make-or-break season for him as a starter. We’re talking about a rotation that would have, if they sign Sheets to a 2-year deal, one contract expiring after 2010 (Pettitte) and one contract expiring after 2011 (Sheets).

                I don’t really agree with the rules you’re laying down, but I’ll play along… If the choice is Sheets in 2010 plus a DH, but they have to move Hughes to the bullpen for 2010, then I choose that option and then I move Hughes back to the rotation for the 2011 season. I won’t, however, play this game as if the choice on Hughes today is somehow a career-long choice. You want the question framed that way because it leads to the answer you like better, but I reject that framing because I don’t think it necessarily reflects the reality of the situation.

              • JMK The Overshare says:

                I agree completely with the last paragraph.

                Sheets, while potentially a big upgrade in the rotation (but remember, it’s only potential—we have no idea how he’ll be not having played in a while), pushes out Hughes. I just worry that we can always find an excuse to justify taking Hughes out of the rotation and say, “Next year we’ll get him to 170 IP.”

                I just think there comes a point when you decide to develop that third pitch and give him a whole year as a starter. You lose too much potential value dropping him to the bullpen. Do it now, fill in the depth with options like Lowry, Escobar, Dusch (if he’s willing to take a swingman role).

                I’d rather have Hughes struggle a bit this year and potentially be a very good, cost-controlled starter for the next four years THAN sign Sheets, have him pitch well for two years, pay him top dollar, and have Hughes be a reliever.

                But I understand where the Sheets advocates are coming from.

                • I hear you guys, but why can’t you just make that decision for the 2011 season? What’s so magic about 2010 that he simply must be in the rotation to start the 2010 season?

                • Keanu Reeves says:

                  I agree.

                  I love Phil, and I want to see him succeed as a starter. But there’s no way I could be against a rotation that included a healthy Sheets.

                  Even if that meant him being in the bullpen another year.

                • JMK The Overshare says:

                  Maybe it’s just a wive’s tale or baseball narrative, but going from a starter role to relieving is seemingly a pretty easy one. But going from relieving to starting just isn’t that simple. By the time 2011 comes by, he would not have had more than 110 IP since 2006.
                  2010 is one more year he hasn’t developed a reliable third pitch, the stamina, routine and intricacies of going through a lineup multiple times. It’s one more year he’s reduced his potential value tremendously while increasing his arb. date. Just saying he can be starter in 2011 is incrementally more difficult, far more, I think, than allowing him to do it in 2010.

                  I just think it’s at the point where it needs to be done. There just aren’t a lot of John Smoltz’s capable of jumping back and forth.

                • JMK The Overshare says:

                  Sorry about the formatting. Weird work computer.

                • “Maybe it’s just a wive’s tale or baseball narrative…”

                  I don’t know the answer, but I’m inclined to agree with you that it’s an old wives’ tale. Earl Weaver certainly disagreed with that premise. I don’t bring that up as an appeal to authority, I just bring it up to show that this idea that relievers can’t move to the rotation is most certainly not universally held.

                  I get the value of having Hughes in the rotation. I also get the value of having a 2010 rotation of CC, Sheets, AJ, Pettitte and Joba and then a 2011 rotation of CC, Sheets, AJ, Joba and Hughes.

                  I wouldn’t be into this idea if this was some middle to back of the rotation starter or someone who would require some long-term commitment, but this is Ben Sheets on a possible 2 year deal we’re talking about here. For him, on that contract, I push Phil Hughes to the bullpen for one more year, if need be.

                • JMK The Overshare says:

                  Hey, if the idea of relieving-to-starting is all just nice-sounding crap, I’m much more onboard with signing Sheets and pushing Hughes to the ‘pen.

                  Now, I still worry about Hughes not developing a third pitch this year, meaning he’d be less likely to be a capable starter two years later (when he’s around arb. eligible, but whatevs.), but it’s not as hard a pill to swallow, particularly if Sheets can put up #2 starter numbers.

                  Summary: all of this hinges on the validity of the relief-to-starter transition theories.

                • Either way, I’m certainly not saying that it’s ideal to have Hughes in the ‘pen and then to have to transition him back to the rotation. I just don’t buy this idea that Hughes either must be in the rotation in 2010 or he will never again be a viable starting pitcher.

                  Whatever… This is why I’ve been so confused all offseason. The path is certainly not a clear as it was last offseason, when a few big moves could be made to answer everyone’s concerns.

                • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Milton Bradley Fat Park Factor says:

                  I just don’t buy this idea that Hughes either must be in the rotation in 2010 or he will never again be a viable starting pitcher.

                  To retort, I don’t buy the idea that a guy who, at that point (2011), hasn’t thrown 110 innings in five seasons can develop a 3rd pitch, stamina and nuances of being a starting pitcher. I hope it’s true; your scenario, having Sheets for two seasons and then a solid Hughes in 2011 and beyond, is more attractive if true.

                  Regarding the moves: yeah, completely agree. Lots of variables, fewer good options, many reclamation projects. It’s a dicey off season. I’d be okay with Gardbrerra in LF (unless Gardy is traded for something of value), Delgado as the DH, Dusch, Escobar and Chapman. Then you call it an off-season.

                • I think the idea that Duchscherer would sign here to be a reliever is kind of far-fetched because I think he’ll get a chance to start for someone, but we’ll see.

    • I know that Swisher has better numbers in right than melky does, but i think its a SSS issue.

      It’s not.

      • pete says:

        how do you know that? when has melky gotten consistent playing time in right? He’s an average defensive CF with a good arm. You don’t think he’s probably capable of making a few more plays than Swisher is in right, considering his superior speed and arm? Swisher has a proven track record of being a capable RFer, and the yanks offense is good but it’s not good enough to have melky cabrera start in Right, so I’m not advocating that. I just think that Melky, in a sample of 3 full seasons (never gonna happen i know) in right, would pull down a UZR/150 between +5 and +10.

        Look I’m a huge swisher fan, and I do consider him an above average (though not by all that much) defender. But Melky has shown himself capable of reading balls well in both center and left, and has superior defensive “tools”. There’s not a whole lot of reason to believe that he couldn’t develop into a better defender than Swisher, who, while fairly consistently in the “slightly above average” category, is unlikely to ever surpass his current defensive output, given his speed and arm strength (and no i’m not over-considering arm strength, but it does play a small role in RF defense, so I won’t ignore it).

        Think about it this way – would you rather have swisher’s -5 UZR in center, or ellsbury’s -18, going forward, offense not considered. Personally I would take the younger, more athletic guy with better defensive tools because while swish has proven himself a capable outfielder, he is not, never has b

        • pete says:

          een, and never will be an exceptional defender. In center, neither will melky, but in right he could. COULD. that is the part that you aren’t seeing in my argument. Players develop and improve throughout their early twenties on both sides of the ball, not just offensively. At this point, nick swisher is what he is – an average right fielder. There’s really no way of knowing, considering the sample size and spread-out-ness of it, what kind of RF melky would be defensively, other than by looking at his tools. In Right, his speed would be well above average, and his arm would also likely be well above average. Add in that nothing from his much larger sample sizes in left and center suggests that he doesn’t take solid routes to the ball (his speed was at best average for center, and his defensive numbers correlate to his being an average centerfielder), and I think it’s fairly safe to say that Melky is capable of being an excellent right fielder, and therefore better than Swisher, who is an average to slightly-above-average right fielder. Of course this is entirely irrelevant since there is no reason why melky would ever BE the yankees RF. In fact i’m not even sure how this came up, or why we’re arguing about it.

  13. A.D. says:

    This might hurt. Since most of their top prospects aren’t near major league ready, they would probably have to deal a major league chip. For the Yankees, that means Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.

    The other “chip” could be Robbie Cano, in which case they either let Russo/Corona/Nunez battle for 2B, or bring in Hudson, DeRosa, O-Cab, Kelly Johnson, etc for the position.

    I don’t support this move, but its possible.

  14. mdw says:

    im looking at him as more of a full time dh, and only like 5 names were thrown around, are they the only viable options considering theyre all you came up with? just stepping outta the box, dunn only makes 10 mil, so hes actually cheaper then the 2year/22 mil being proposed.

  15. Granderslam says:

    Imagine an OF with Kemp, Granderson, and Swish. Ok. I’m going to stop dreaming now…

  16. Kyle says:

    What trade value does Robbie Cano have? I am curious….

  17. pete says:

    kemp in left would be melvtacular but there is no way in HELL that it happens. It would probably be either Joba/Phil + Cano/Jesus + 2 solid prospects. Not a good long term decision. It’s never smart to spend heavily on guys whose production is, while splendiferous, not at all necessary. Jeopardizing the future for excessive present dominance, especially in an area in which you are already better than any other team in baseball, is DUMB.

  18. theyankeewarrior says:

    Damon for the applebees 2/20 sounds about right to me. Sheets on an 8+incentives and maybe a pen arm.

    That rounds out the 205 million payroll and gets the Yanks to spring training as he favorites

  19. Rose says:

    I would certainly entertain a trade for Matt Kemp. Probably nobody else on that list though…

    Do you think it would really take more than Hughes or Joba?? Before, we were talking about Cano for Kemp heads up…

    I personally think Cano was/is more valuable that Joba and Hughes were/are now but it still could be pretty steep in my book. Let alone MORE than one of them.

    However, he is seemingly cheap and it would solidify the outfield for some time (leaving RF for Slade? free agency? after swish?)

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      Well, we were talking about Cano for Kemp before he had a monster year in 2009. His stock has gone up considerably.

  20. jim p says:

    Am I mistaken, or didn’t I read that Gardbrera was the 3rd best offensive CF overall in the American League last year?

    I really really don’t get the “We need another outfielder” thing people have going.

    Okay, they shift to LF now that we’ve got Grandy, but where’s the problem? Melky’s young and improved last year. What, he’s going to slack off this year, resting on his laurels, and too stupid to know he needs to improve and unable to be coached into doing so?

    Brett had pretty decent numbers in his 1st real full season in the majors (except for power), and his pitch selection was greatly improved. His numbers declined, but that was after a broken thumb and a long lay-off.

    Granted they aren’t All-Stars, but they sure did a good impersonation if you take a look at the splits when the game was late and on the line.

    We’d have been better served if instead of looking for the ultimate outfielder we had been busy signing Matsui or finding an equivalent DH who can protect A-Rod. Especially now that we have a CF who can’t hit lefties, unlike Mats.

  21. Card Key says:

    There’s always Xavier Nady

  22. cheddar says:

    At present, I can see no reason to offer Damon for more than 1 year/$10M. There are just too many other ways to put that to good use (Sheets, Chapman, Capps, numerous cheap DHs).

    I respect what he did for us, but this posturing about money that no one will ever give him gets old fast.

  23. Mike bk says:

    if we traded for kemp he would not play left field. at worst he would play rf if not center as he has better defensive numbers the past two years than granderson and a much better arm.

  24. Granderslam says:

    Does anyone think Nady would be a viable DH option?

  25. rconn23 says:

    Because the trade for Granderson is only maximized if he’s playing centerfield, giving the Yankees a significant offensive at advantage at that position over most teams.

    Gardner/Cabrera were palatable last year because the rest of the lineup – one that included Damon and Matsui – raked, meaning you could fit one of those guys as your No. 9 guy and be OK. Also Melky went from being downright atrocious in 2008 to merely OK in 2009.

    Don’t know if I’d count on another “quantum” leap from the Melk man.

    Losing Matsui, and possibly Damon significantly weakens the offense making a light hitting platoon in either center or left much less acceptable.

    • pete says:

      wrongo. let’s say the yankees sign delgado. I think it’s fairly safe to say that, in 2010, factoring in YSIII, Delgado has a pretty good shot to be at least Matsui’s equal, and Granderson should be roughly equal (again, at least) to Damon. Thus the lineup is, despite the fact that Melky is playing a different position, almost exactly the same as before. Now factor in the defensive upgrade from melky to granderson in center. now factor in again the defensive upgrade from damon to Melky. Both of those guys should be around +10 UZR at those positions, which would be a 10 run increase in center, and anywhere from a 20-30 run increase in left. That’s up to 4 wins (at least 2) from defensive upgrades alone, without an offensive downgrade. Now add in the fact that the financial flexibility created by keeping melkner in left and signing the cheaper Delgado allows you to invest in adding depth to the pitching staff, be it in ben sheets or in the bullpen, and you have improved your pitching and defense, while (at least) maintaining your offense. All while lowering your payroll. And people are still gonna call Brian Cashman an idiot.

      People forget that Damon and Matsui both had their 2007 Jorge Posada years last year, and while keeping posada made sense because good-hitting catchers are crazy hard to find, keeping matsui and/or damon right off the heels of seasons they almost certainly won’t repeat as they limp their way into their late thirties playing the two positions that are easier to fill than any other right now, is not.

      If the yankees don’t sign damon or matsui or make any trades for a left fielder, and instead move melkner to left and sign either Carlos Delgado or maybe Thome or Dye to cheap one year deals that allow them to sign ben sheets as well, then they will have 110 win upside next year, with the downside being, barring some freak turn of events, around 95.

      Right now your options are either to seriously jeopardize your future payroll and roster flexibility by signing matt holliday, banking on a repeat year from damon, or improving defensively while keeping your lineup essentially the same but with different names and having some loose change to improve the team somewhere else. I’d go with the third.

  26. Bronx Ralphie says:

    what about Mark Derosa for left/DH?

  27. mdw says:

    they have a young catcher in flores, but they might take a package of one of jr murphy or gary sanchez, wud u move ivan nova, plus aanother B level prospect?

  28. Mike bk says:

    Cano, Joba, Melky, maybe Nova for Kemp and Billingsley? i would do it, not sure LA would because it wouldnt really save them any money and Billz has proven more as a starter than Joba has.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      No way I’m giving up that much for Kemp and Billingsley.

      I feel the exact opposite about Billingsley. Dude pitches in the NL West, for the Dodgers, whose best pitcher turned out to be Randy Wolf and couldn’t crack the postseason rotation.

      • pete says:

        aaannd, much furthermore, the yankees have a goddam centerfielder who is actually pretty frickin good in curtis granderson. trading cano would create a hole to fill a non-hole…why would you do that?

  29. Gloves says:

    What does everyone think about Hinske? If they truly can’t find a LF then can’t he be a platoon guy?

    • Steve H says:

      They’d find a cheap DH and roll with Gardbrera in LF before considering Hinske as a platoon. If they can’t find a LF (Holliday/Damon/Bay, etc.) they will have no problem finding a DH.

    • cheddar says:

      Can Hinske still play 3B? If so, I’d like to have him back to spell A-Rod when he DHs and as a backup outfielder. That could make it easier for us to carry a DH-only like Delgado or Thome.

  30. pat says:

    I think Cashman is lurking in the shadows waiting for the right moment to throw some ninja stars, a smokebomb and abscond with Matt Holliday. This is a little reminiscent of the quiet before the Teixiera storm last year.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      Possibly. But I feel like last year, Cashman was more in “Fuck Shit Up” mode, where he was gonna sign whoever the hell he wanted for whatever money it took.

      This year, it feels like he’s more in stealthy, “I’m gonna watch people outbid themselves because they think I’m in on this shit” mode.

      Still, I’m not counting them out on Holliday.

    • Mike bk says:

      if he could do it for 5/90ish i would do it. i mean if bay is talking about 5/75 and the cards are taking it slow assuming they are the only real suitors 5/90 is a bargain in comparison.

  31. Steve H says:

    Cash sucks. I don’t get why he doesn’t just trade for Adrian Gonzalez and move Tex to the OF where he has played 32 career games. Seriously, how is Cash just going to let the Sox trade for A-Gonz and sit around and let it happen? In fact, if Cash trades for A-Gonz and doesn’t get Heath Bell thrown in, he’s still teh suxor.

    /mryankee’d

  32. Brooklyn Ed says:

    . Neither the Royals nor the Nationals have good reason to trade them, unless they got something significant in return — say, Austin Romine.

    the Nats needs pitching. like I been saying, perhaps some B+ pitching prospects should entice the Nats for Willingham.

    proof: http://voices.washingtonpost.c.....trade.html

  33. dsss says:

    We need a SP more than a DH.
    Even if Hughes makes it as a SP, he is probably innings limited.
    Sign Sheets to an incentive-laden deal.
    Let Damon find his hearts desire somewhere else.
    Sign Holliday to a 4 (hopefully not 5)year with options.

  34. Matt says:

    I know I’ll probably be shouted down for this but what about making a trade for Gary Matthews Jr? He’s a albatross contract so he should come relatively cheap. I think he is still capable of playing a competent LF.

  35. Steve B. says:

    This is what we do….Sign Damon to a two year contract for $ 24 million, maybe a team option in the third year…The Yankees then plan to spend BIG dollars for Carl Crawford in 2011. He’s the perfect left fielder. He’s bat 2nd or maybe switch with Jeter.. He’d only be 29…Plus he could eventually replace Jeter as the leadoff guy. He hits for average and steals a ton of bases. Plus his power will increase as a lefty in Yankee Stadium…Meanwhile in 2010, we live with Damon, Granderson and Swisher as our starters, Melky and Gardner as the backups…OR we put Gardner in a package for a pitcher, then have Hoffman as the 5th OFer.

    For 2010: Sign Damon, then sign Sheets, Duchsherer and Bedard to ONE year contracts, and hope TWO stay healthy

    • then sign Sheets, Duchsherer and Bedard to ONE year contracts, and hope TWO stay healthy

      There’s not enough money or roster spots for all those pitchers.

    • dalelama says:

      I like the Crawford idea it may even be an option if the Rays are out of it come mid-season…that is why I think the Yanks aren’t interested in Bay or Holliday.

      • pete says:

        i think it might have something to do with the fact that they’d be fine with melky/gardner in left, getting a solid one-year DH, and letting the studly 1-8 make up for the average 9 hitter

      • Steve B. says:

        I LOVE Carl Crawford…if the Yanks get him, he can be a part of a nice YOUNG (kinda young) corp that will slowly replace Jeter, Posdada, Mo, Andy, A-Rod in 2011:

        CC………….SP……..30
        Tex…………1B……..31
        Granderson…..CF……..30
        Cano………..2B……..28
        Crawford…….LF……..30
        Joba………..SP/RP…..25
        Hughes………SP/RP…..24
        Robertson……RP……..26
        Melky……….LF/CF/RF..27
        Swisher……..RF/1B…..30
        Cervelli…….C………24
        Pena………..2B/SS/3B..25

        All the above would 31 and younger, in the prime of their careers…PLUS, we would have Montero coming up at the age of 21 !!…OR we can get Josh Johnson…Maybe…I saw on mlbtraderumors.com that the Marlins might not be able to sign him….How sweet would that be !!!

  36. Granderslam says:

    This may be a bit of a stretch, but is Jayson Werth on the trade market now that they have signed Halladay?

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      Interesting read.

      But Gardner needs to get on base more consistently for him to be worth that much, IMO.

    • pete says:

      i’m all for giving him a shot, but i think his lack of power will hurt him more than that projection has it hurting him. I do think, though, that a combination of melky and brett could, like with the first half of this year, be worth tons on defense while providing a couple runs on offense too

      • larryf says:

        Yes-let’s give our home grown guys a shot in LF. We have 2 players from other systems in CF and RF. We have 2 inexpensive, young, healthy guys in Gardbrera. Some KLong time and experience-I am optimistic. These guys will play hard for sure. If they are the reason we are not in a good spot come July-then we make a move. I don’t see why we have to have 25 HR’s from our #9 hitter…

  37. Matt says:

    Lots of lesser name DH’s instead of getting raked over the coals for Damon. Guys like Vlad, Dye, even an Aubrey Huff would come cheaper.

    • ColoYank says:

      But please, no Jack Cust. He hits way too much air for me. 536 whiffs the last three years? Wowzers! I know strikeouts are only marginally worse than other outs, but that’s simply too many.

      • Keanu Reeves says:

        To be fair, nowhere in his comment did he suggest Jack Cust.

        On a side note, I took a look at his splits yesterday to get a sense of how much he strikes out in certain situations. My father and I noticed he had only 4 sac flies, suggesting he was not putting the ball in play nearly enough with a runner on third base. So that’s where I started.

        Cust had 25 AB’s with a runner on 3rd base and less than two outs, when a fly ball would mean a run. In those 25 AB’s, he struck out 11 times (44%).

        I’m not big on criticizing guys who strike out, but that’s pretty awful.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      Huh. Hadn’t thought about Aubrey Huff. Pass on Vlad and Dye though.

      Delgado, Thome, maybe Huff. Left-handed power hitters in YS3 FTW!

  38. Granderslam says:

    I honestly think a DH is the least of our problems. Cash said it best. No matter where you turn, a DH is begging for a job. I think LF should be our top priority and then focus on a SP. With the loss of Matsui and possibility of Damon not returning, we need someone who can fill that void and replicate similar production value. Holliday would be best, but if he doesn’t come at the right price, then Cash is going to have to make a trade. The problem is what is he willing to give up? That is why I would rather see him just sign Holliday and maybe focus on giving up lesser prospects for a DH.

  39. Yankee Dudel says:

    You could also go for a rightfielder and slide Swisher over to left. Thererare some free agents available (Jermaine Dye) and more options on the trade front.

    • Keanu Reeves says:

      Jermaine Dye is no longer capable of being an everyday outfielder.

      An outfield alignment of Swisher-Granderson-Dye would be a significant downgrade from last year, IMO.

      • I’m not anti-Dye anymore, but I am anti-Dye the leftfielder. He’s a DH only.

        • Keanu Reeves says:

          I definitely understand your reasoning for warming up to Dye, but I’m not there yet, even as a DH.

          Aside from the awful second half (though I do note, as you say, the significant drop in BABip), I’m very partial to the DH being a lefty power hitter. Just seems to be the best way to go with the short porch.

          • I’m very partial to the DH being a lefty power hitter. Just seems to be the best way to go with the short porch.

            That’s fair. The downside of that, though, is that all those lefty power hitters don’t hit lefties well, and we’d already have two other guys in the lineup who don’t hit lefties well (Granderson and Gardbrera). That might be too much.

            • Keanu Reeves says:

              That’s true. I hadn’t really thought about it like that.

              Thome’s LHP splits are pretty awful:
              .238/.341/.422

              Delgado’s are a bit better:
              .263/.344/.462

              So yeah, I see your point.

            • whizkid says:

              In that vein, plus taking Cash`s contention that Miranda can be a DH seriously, Dye becomes a viable option. Righty-lefty DH platoon of Dye/Miranda, and Dye can provide 6-7 innings of OF for 10-20 games. Dye @3-4M ish can also save us enough money for Sheets AND Chapman, no? (Sheets @9M, Chapman @5M)While I do think Delgado`s upside is higher, if we can sign Chapman the difference is more than negated in my mind…..

              • Keanu Reeves says:

                Problem with that is there’s probably no way Dye settles for being a platoon DH when other teams will offer him a starting job.

  40. Granderslam says:

    Latest tweet by Buster Olney:

    “Standstill in Damon-NYY talks.He wants $13 m. a year;indicated through a conduit to team he doesn’t want an NYY offer if for less than that.”

  41. Godzillas Replacement says:

    I think Vlad Guerrero would be a good DH. I think his numbers were down last year because of his injury and if he comes back in shape– he could be a huge get for 1 year hitting behind Arod.

    Bill James projection for him in 2010 is 305/369/508 with a 377 wOBA

    I think he’d be the perfect DH.

    • Steve H says:

      I’m warming to Vlad as he finished strong last year, but those projections seem very optimistic.

      • Godzillas Replacement says:

        They definitely do… but I think the torn pectoral muscle had a lot to do with his down year. If it’s a 1 year deal and he checks out physically I think he would do the trick of protecting Arod.

  42. dre says:

    why are we only intersted in LF? couldn’t we try to trade for a RF or CF and stick them in LF?

    How about Hughes, Romine and some other propsect for Josh Johnson and Cody Ross?

    i know Cody is a centerfielder but he can play left can’t he?

  43. YankeeGaGa says:

    A little quote from Nick Johnson’s agent.
    “We have had dialogue, things are moving forward,” Johnson’s agent Rex Gary said of the talks with his client, a former Yankees first baseman. “Something could happen to speed things up but it’s hard to predict.”

  44. Pasqua says:

    I’m not sure if this was mentioned yet, as I haven’t parsed through all the comments, but I would be leery of Josh Hamilton (no matter what the price tag) if only because of his history. Coming to New York could do funky things to a man who battles demons every day. He’s fallen off the wagon before, and he would be scrutinized to death in this town.

  45. If the Yankees want to be competitive and if they want another shot at the World Series title then they have to sign Jason Bay if Johnny Damon walks out.

    Matt Holliday is as pricey as Bay but he is not that good playing in the American league.

    And if the Yankees will bite to Damon’s terms ($13 million for 3 years) it will be better for the Yanks to sign Bay instead ($16 million for 4 years plus 1 year club option).

    Bay is much younger (31) than Damon (36). Bay has better home run power and will be productive for 3-4 years.

  46. macxz says:

    suggestions..

    Sheets – 9 million/1 yr + incentives
    Justin D. – 7 million/2 yrs
    Garland – 5 million/1 yr

    Ankiel – 4 million/2 yrs
    Delgado – 6 million/1 yr
    Dye – 7 million/1 yr
    Thome – 5million/1 yr

    OR TRADE
    Gardner + B level Prospects for Dejesus & Meche
    Pena, Joba + B level Prospect for Brad Hawpe & Jeff Francis
    Melky, Pena + B level Prospects for Kershaw & Kemp

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