Apr
06

Former Yankees on Opening Day

By

On Sunday night we got to see the new Yankees in action. Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson batted in the starting lineup, while Chan Ho Park pitched two thirds of an inning out of the bullpen. But what about the guys they replaced? Here’s a rundown of how former Yankees fared in their new team debuts.

Hideki Matsui: 2 for 4

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/AP

Matsui made an impresion in his Angels debut. With runners on first and second with two out during a tie-game in the fifth, Matsui singled to right field to give the Angels a lead. That chased Twins starter Scott Baker from the game. Then, with the Angels holding a one-run lead in the eighth, Matsui led off the inning with a 401 foot home run to center field. Kendry Morales followed with a shot down the left field line, sealing the Opening Day victory for the Angels.

Johnny Damon: 2 for 5

In his first at-bat as a Tiger Johnny Damon grounded out to second. No big deal. In his second at-bat he flied out to right. He was facing Zack Greinke, so again, it wouldn’t have mattered if Damon went 0 for 4. He didn’t, though. Leading off the sixth, he singled to right off Greinke, advanced on a Magglio Ordonez single, and then scored on a third straight single, this one by Miguel Cabrera. Then, with Roman Colon in for relief the Tigers broke open the game, and Damon contributed by doubling home two, including Austin Jackson.

Austin Jackson: 1 for 5

The Tigers found themselves down 4-2 heading into the seventh, but luckily for them Greinke had left the game by that point. Scott Sizemore walked and Ramon Santiago, pinch hitting for Adam Everett, singled, setting up Jackson with runners on the corners and none out. He lined a double to left for his first major league hit and RBI. He scored his first run one batter later on Damon’s double. He struck out looking twice in the game.

Phil Coke: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R

Joel Zumaya pitched a scoreless sixth for the Tigers, and then came out to start the seventh. After allowing an infield single to Jason Kendall, Jim Leyland lifted him for Phil Coke, who came in to face the lefty troika of Chris Getz, David DeJesus, and Scott Podsednik. Getz singled, DeJesus popped out in foul ground to third, and Podsednik singled. Kendall, had he been a bit faster, might have scored, but Austin Jackson gunned him down at the plate.

Melky Cabrera: 0 for 5

The Braves rallied for six runs in the first inning on Opening Day, handing Carlos Zambrano yet another poor season debut. Melky got things started with a walk and eventually scored on a Chipper Jones single after going first-to-third on a Martin Prado single. Melky made the last out of that inning, and then made outs in his next four plate appearances. He was the only Braves starter, non-pitcher, to not record a hit, though his walk did set up the definitive inning for the Braves.

Categories : Players

123 Comments»

  1. No fun for Melky in the 16 run outburst, eh?

  2. Rose says:

    Matsui made an impresion in his Angels debut. With runners on first and second with two out during a tie-game in the fifth, Matsui singled to right field to give the Angels a lead. That chased Twins starter Scott Baker from the game. Then, with the Angels holding a one-run lead in the eighth, Matsui led off the inning with a 401 foot home run to center field. Kendry Morales followed with a shot down the left field line, sealing the Opening Day victory for the Angels.

    This one hurts the most. Matsui was such a poised potent bat in the line up. I actually preferred him up at the plate over anybody else in crucial situations for several years.

    I really liked Nick Johnson’s 2 walks and had Tex contributed it all the game probably could have had a different outcome…but Matsui is just the type of hitter you can’t explain. At the end of the year his line looks just above average but when you take a look back…it was always much more than that (or so it seemed).

    I don’t miss Damon nearly as much. He was a great catalyst in the 2 hole…but Nick Johnson did was he was suppose to do. His OBP was .400 – in line with his career average.

    And let’s face it…Damon got his hits against the Royal’s crappy bullpen (might even be crappier than ours! lol) and Matsui took Kevin Slowey deep. They weren’t exactly facing Josh Beckett and the Sox bullpen (albeit they have and have been successful).

    In conclusion, I’m happy for them…especially Matsui…because I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy. As long as the Angels don’t make a drastic mistake with ruining Matsui’s knees by playing him in the field often…I believe Matsui will see a line that’s pretty respectable.

  3. Snakes on the mother effin Temple Of Doom says:

    I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of this from Damon and Matsui all year. As long as we go 100-62ish the knuckleheads should more or less stfu.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

      I’m not sure why. The Yankees never got to make an offer to Matsui, and then they offered the most to Johnny Damon.

      • Snakes on the mother effin Temple Of Doom says:

        You’re not sure why the knuckleheads would grouse? Simple – if Cash wanted those guys, he would’ve had them.

  4. 20/20 Vision says:

    Let’s see, Matsui is too fragile to play DH so Cashman signs the Human DL Machine Nick Johnson.
    If you are keeping score at home:
    Matsui – 1
    Johnson – 0

    • Rose says:

      Yeah. Looking at one game usually makes up my mind about everything too…

      • Thomas says:

        Looking at one game usually makes up my mind about everything too

        You forget though that he is looking at it with 20/20 vision.

        • Steve H says:

          Well in that case, I’m sold.

        • Rose says:

          Dr. Farthing: I know there’s really nobody to blame for this but myself, well, I don’t know, maybe the Buffalo Bills, the Boston Red Sox, or Mr. T or, or the Jets…

          Mitch: Wait a minute, Mr T.? Are you telling me that you bet on the fight in Rocky III, and that you bet against Rocky?

          Dr. Farthing: Hindsight is twenty-twenty, my friend.

    • Steve H says:

      Without the benefit of the DH, Nick Johnson made more plate appearances than Hideki Ripken last year.

      • Thomas says:

        That is a bit unfair, since Matsui played in more games than Johnson. Johnson was able to accumulate more PAs since he batted mainly 2nd in the lineup compared to Matsui at 5. Additionally, Matsui’s PA were limited, since he couldn’t start in interleague play for NL games (no DH and no other Yankee was going to sit) and the Yankees often sat him to allow A-Rod, Posada, Damon, etc to DH.

        • Steve H says:

          I think the fact that Johnson had to actually play more than 50% of the game makes up for any unfairness though. Injuries certainly can happen in the field (see Johnson’s broken leg), and Matsui was spared those opportunities.

          • Rose says:

            Agreed…but NJ was signed to be a DH just like Matsui. We weren’t exactly looking for a backup 1B. It was kind of a bonus that NJ can do that…but we already have Nick Swisher who could do that too.

            They’re both DH’s this year regardless.

            • Steve H says:

              Yeah, I’m just saying that as a 1B Johnson was healthy enough to compile a bunch of AB’s. His odds of matching that this year greatly increase by only having to DH.

            • Yes and no.

              NJ wasn’t signed to be a DH just like Matsui, he was signed to be a table setting #2 hitter just like Damon (but better). The fact that he plays DH is secondary.

              We weren’t signing him to replace Hideki, we were signing him to replace Damon’s production in the #2 hole and make it possible to let Damon walk (since his price demands were ridiculously high).

              • JSquared says:

                Correctamundo.

              • Rose says:

                You may be right…but Granderson could have filled the #2 hole (or so a lot of people thought). We really don’t know for sure what the Yankees priorities of intentions were when signing – other than some of the obvious production replacement. But you certainly may be right.

                I still love the NJ signing. And I also think Cano is going to have a ridiculous year certainly capable of the #5 slot.

                I’m not going to let one game ruined by pitching (we certainly had some offense) make my mind up about a decision that was based on a season’s performance.

                I do miss Matsui though…

          • Thomas says:

            I agree completely. Matsui cannot play OF, while Johnson can play first very well. Thus, Matsui has been spared a lot of injury risk.

            The way I look at it, Matsui likely would have had to miss 20-25 games this year as a DH due to knee swelling from running and sitting on the bench to let other players DH/not playing in interleague. Johnson has yet to DH for a season, so we do not know if he will stay healthy doing (hopefully he will). My main fear with Johnson is that while some of his injuries came in the field (broken leg, bone bruise in his wrist), many have come while batting/baserunning. Johnson has strain a muscle in his hand checking a swing, fractured his cheek on a foul, injured his wrist on a swing, had a heel contusion avoiding a tag, and has had back problems (which I assume swing a bat is a cause). Hopefully, Johnson misses at most the same amount of time (including sitting so others can DH) as Matsui, in which case Johnson will likely be more valuable to the Yankees than Matsui would have been.

      • dalelama says:

        Factually wrong also…Matsui I believe had 2 more plate appearances in games that mattered….

    • kmarx says:

      I’m just glad that Nick Johnson won’t be trying to stretch any more spring training singles into doubles…

    • Let’s see, Matsui is too fragile to play DH so Cashman signs the Human DL Machine Nick Johnson.
      If you are keeping score at home:
      Matsui – 1
      Johnson – 0

      Your math is off. It should be:

      Matsui – 1
      Johnson – 1

      Because since you’re talking about health, I can only assume the numbers refer to games played. Currently, Matsui and Johnson are tied at one game played (out of a possible one).

      You’re welcome.

    • dalelama says:

      But hey Nick Johnson got 2 walks…..

  5. mustang says:

    Out all these Matsui is the only one that really bother me. I know the difference in salary, but are Matsui knees really so bad that an injury-prone Johnson is that much better?
    I’m sure Johnson will be fine, but Matsui is so fucking clutch it was a little hard to watch the highlights.

    • V says:

      Quick answer: yup.

      Get back to me when Matsui sits out 7 games to have his knees drained, or has a grand total of 7 at bats in interleague play.

      • Thomas says:

        I would be quite surprised if Nick Johnson gets many more than 7 interleague at bats, considering there is about a 0% chance the Yankee let him start at first over Teixeira (Maybe he gets one game). Johnson will likely end up pinch hitting for the pitcher just like Matsui.

        You also could easily say get back to me when Nick Johnson hurt his back, wrist, knee, etc.

      • mustang says:

        Day 1 of Spring training already sitting.
        Catches cleats on the field.
        Fouls ball of knee.
        This is before opening day.

        Get back to me when Johnson is out for month because he slipped on a bar of soap in the shower.

        • whozat says:

          Aaaaand case in point. Why can’t you admit that a 35 year old with arthritic knees that have already required surgery several times is JUST AS MUCH of a health risk as Nick Johnson?

          • Steve H says:

            Yes, arthritic knees are a chronic condition that will not go away.

            Nick Johnson missing a year and a half (IIRC) because he collides in the field is not only a freak accident, but will not happen while he is playing DH. If that were any other player, their leg would have snapped as well.

          • mustang says:

            Why can’t you stop reply to my comments.

        • Day 1 of Spring training already sitting.
          Catches cleats on the field.
          Fouls ball of knee.
          This is before opening day.

          And you know what? He played on Opening Day. All that stuff you mentioned that happened before Opening Day: irrelevant.

          • Steve H says:

            He even fouled a ball off his foot on Opening Day, and stayed in the game.

            This is the new and improved Nick Johnson, takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

        • bexarama says:

          Matsui came to Spring Training and pretty much immediately said “Hey guys, my knees hurt.”

    • Spaceman.Spiff says:

      We will come to love Nick Johnson and his massive, massive OBP. When Teix and A-Rod start mashing, solo homers turn into two-run, three-run shots with guys like Jeter and Nick ahead of them.

    • pollo says:

      One thing’s for sure though, I’m going to be standing and clapping for every Matsui at bat when I’m at the games next week.

      Godzirra =(

    • Out all these Matsui is the only one that really bother me. I know the difference in salary, but are Matsui knees really so bad that an injury-prone Johnson is that much better?

      My answer: Your question is moot. Nick Johnson wasn’t signed to replace Hideki Matsui, he was signed to replace Johnny Damon.

      Hideki Matsui can’t be a reliable table-setting #2 hitter who gets on base 40-45% of the time. Therefore, he wasn’t a consideration for the role that Nick Johnson was signed for.

      The moment we added Curtis Granderson, Hideki Matsui was eliminated from contention to return to the team. Granderson replaced Matsui and made HazMat needless (and risky) duplication.

      • dalelama says:

        Debatable, Matsui=DH and Johnson=DH

        • No.

          Matsui = DH
          Johnson = 1B who plays DH for us because we already have an all-star 1B

          Furthermore,
          Johnson = #2 hitting table setter
          Matsui ≠ #2 hitting table setter

          • dalelama says:

            They are both DH’s…one has power the other doesn’t

            • They are both DH’s…

              No, they’re not. Nick can still play at least one other non-DH position. Hideki cannot.

              one has power the other doesn’t

              And one gets on base 40-45% of the time, the other only gets on base 35-38% of the time. OBP >>> power.

              Futhermore, Matsui’s career ISO is .191. Nick’s is .174. Let’s not act like Nick is some punch and judy Brett Gardner slap-artist here. Nick has power. A .174 is solid.

              And he accumulated that .174 playing home games in some severe pitcher’s parks (RFK Stadium, Olympic Park, ProPlayerJoeRobbieLandsharkDolphinFieldStadiumYards, etc.)

    • mustang says:

      “I’m sure Johnson will be fine”

      Guys I just miss the big Dinosaur .

  6. ADam says:

    Good for Deki…

  7. theyankeewarrior says:

    Could this season have started off in a more frustrating fashion?**

    First we got blue balls watching the Yanks play picture perfect baseball for half a game only to implode in the mid-to-late innings.**

    Then we got to sit around for 2 days watching every other decent team in MLB celebrate opening day wins, half the time with former Yankees playing major parts.**

    Now we get to look forward to watching Jon Lester blow away Curtis Granderson etc. and watch Jorge let 5 more balls get away from him with wild thing on the mound tonight.**

    ** These comments are brought to you by a spoiled, greedy and never-satisfied Yankees fan since 1995.

    • pat says:

      Heh, at least you can admit it.

    • dalelama says:

      But hey Nick Johnson will get two walks….

      • bexarama says:

        I love how derisively you say this, as if it’s a bad thing

        • dalelama says:

          I would rather have Matsui’s homer and rbi single…but walks are ok

          • If the Yankee bullpen hadn’t imploded, nobody would be talking about Hideki’s homer and RBI single (off of two fairly “meh” Twins pitchers).

            They’d be talking about Curtis Granderson’s MAMMOTH homer to dead center off of Josh Beckett that spurred the Yankees to victory.

            • dalelama says:

              As my grand daddy used to say, “piss in one bucket and wish in another, and see which one gets filled first.” LOL….no seriously I think Cashman made some gutsy moves over the post season, will they pay off I don’t know. I am just playing devil’s advocate to those who state they were unsurpassed moves of brillance that can’t possibly back fire.
              As a Yankee fan since 1962 when I used to go see Whitey and Mickey at the old park I know what it is like to go 15 years without a title which makes me less inclined to bust up a proven winner. Giving up guys with proven track records in NYC and in the post season for two unproven guys, one who has difficulties hitting lefties and a guy who is hurt alot and I think may shirk when we need a hit and a walk won’t do, is certainly a big risk. I just don’t want to have to wait another nine years.
              To sum it up, last series we had only 5 guys who seemed to have any chance to get a hit and we got rid of two of them.

              • I am just playing devil’s advocate to those who state they were unsurpassed moves of brillance that can’t possibly back fire.

                If that’s what you think you’re doing, you’re not doing a very good job of it.

              • bexarama says:

                I am just playing devil’s advocate to those who state they were unsurpassed moves of brillance that can’t possibly back fire.
                Huge strawman, nobody is saying that.

                To sum it up, last series we had only 5 guys who seemed to have any chance to get a hit and we got rid of two of them.

                Right. Sure. Except that’s not guaranteed to carry over to the next World Series we are theoretically in. Why can’t you get that?

                Also, we could have an awesome team and still not win the World Series. See: 2001, 2002, 2003. On the other hand, we could have a team that’s not great and win the World Series. See: 2000. Luck plays a big part.

                • dalelama says:

                  Never said guarantee…just prefer proven winners to those who haven’t won the big dance before…I place more emphasis on clutchness than some

                • But the point of what Bexy is saying is, placing more emphasis on clutchness than some other people do isn’t a wise decision, because playoff small sample sizes are notorious for being unsustainable and random.

                  The fact that Hideki and Johnny have performed well for us in certain postseason series does not mean they’ll continue to perform well for us in others. And the fact that Curtis and Nick haven’t played in many postseason series doesn’t mean they won’t perform well when they play in one for us.

                  Over time, a player’s postseason numbers tend to equal their regular season numbers as the sample size increases. Johnny and Hideki aren’t “clutch”, they’re just good hitters who have played in a ton of postseason games (so any SSS issue has been eliminated as their career playoff PAs increased).

                  Nick and Curtis are also good hitters (in fact, probably better hitters than Damon and Matsui, all things considered). As they play in more playoff games, they’ll also improve their postseason numbers and get more of that “clutchitude” that you love so much.

          • Steve H says:

            So you’re basing your argument on one game against two significantly different pitchers and teams. Perfect.

            • No, he’s also basing his argument on Carl Pavano getting injured and on Ed Whitson not being lights-out dynamite (even though his career ERA+ when the Yankees signed him was 101+, so the real question should be “Why the hell did anyone have any levels of expectation for Ed Whitson anyway?”)

              • Steve H says:

                Pavano’s career ERA+ when the Yankees signed him:102
                Wright’s career ERA+ when the Yankees signed him:91

                And they were both signed out of the NL. Epic fails……that have nothing to do with replacing Damon/Matsui with Johnson/Gardner.

                • bexarama says:

                  Well, Javy’s from the NL too. Though he’s clearly better than those other guys because he has very good peripherals and will give you a ton of innings and strikeouts, and he at least has some AL success.

          • Steve H says:

            So by the same exact argument, you’d take Posada over Mauer, right?

            • dalelama says:

              I didn’t know Mauer had a hard time with lefties and was hurt alot. Reductio ad absurdum.

              • bexarama says:

                because saying you’d take Matsui’s HR and single WHILE FACING TOTALLY DIFFERENT AND LIKELY INFERIOR PITCHING wasn’t the original reductio ad absurdum.

                Also, Posada isn’t hurt a lot nor does he struggle with lefties. Unless you’re comparing him to NJ and Granderson, which I suspect you are, which has nothing to do with anything. You’re just bad at this arguing thing.

  8. Brian says:

    So glad to Austin Jackson get off to a good start. Was always looking forward to seeing him the show. Glad he is getting an opportunity earlier rather than later. He also threw a seed to gun out out Jason Kendall at the plate for his first outfield assist.

    • Mike HC says:

      Yea. Reading about how hard he worked and how great a guy he is, I really do want to see him succeed. Too bad it can’t be for the Yanks but I guess we can’t have everyone.

  9. Mike HC says:

    This will be interesting for Cashman this year. Last offseason, he really only made additions. This off season, there were many subtractions and all of them very talented players (Melky excluded?). There is no way he will have made the correct decision in each case, so there will definitely be plenty of heat coming Cashman’s way no matter how well their replacements play on the Yanks. I don’t envy Cashman’s position.

    If I were GM, I would have kept Damon, Matsui and A. Jackson instead of trading for Granderson and signing Nick Johnson. I know it is not that easy considering Matsui and Damon probably wanted multi year deal from the Yanks. Whatever. I still love this team.

    • “If I were GM, I would have kept Damon, Matsui and A. Jackson instead of trading for Granderson and signing Nick Johnson.”

      Yet you’re not bitching about the GM doing things differently. What a novel concept.

  10. DSFC says:

    I had no problems seeing Matsui go – it was the right move. Just hate seeing him in that ugly Angels uniform

  11. Tank the Frank says:

    Heh. Kendall looked safe to me. Looks like he got in there before the tag.

    • Agree.

      Also, that “great throw” was from VERY short center, not far from second base–and it bounced off the mound.

      Methinks he got a little lucky there; the ball could have bounced any direction once it hit the mound.

      Just sayin’–it was still a good play.

  12. Kered Retej says:

    I agree that letting Matsui go was the right move, but I will always have a soft spot for him. I’m happy to see him have a good debut with the Angels, and I hope he has a great season with them.

  13. Tank Foster says:

    We know Hit-Deki and Donny Jamon are both in the serious decline phases. Granderson and NJ should have at least 2 more plateau seasons. I would have kept the old guys for the right price. Damon (or Boras) decided the Yankees’ price wasn’t right, so what can you do?

    • I would have kept the old guys for the right price. Damon (or Boras) decided the Yankees’ price wasn’t right, so what can you do?

      That.

      Way back in last September/October/November, I personally advocated for Damon and HazMat to be brought back. I did so because

      A.) I thought Damon would price himself appropriately
      B.) I didn’t think we could get a good price on Granderson via trade
      C.) I didn’t think Nick Johnson would accept a 1 year deal

      I was wrong on all three counts. Damon’s price point (for us) was ridiculously high, Nick’s was ridiculously low, and Granderson cost much less in a trade because the D-Backs were willing to take on Edwin Jackson and kick in prospects, lowering our cost on our end. It was the perfect storm.

      I wanted to bring back Matsui and Damon because I thought they’d be the lesser of many evils, but Cashman played the market perfectly (and lucked out with a market that unfolded the way he’d hoped) and better alternatives were discovered.

  14. 20/20 Vision says:

    Matsui 1 HR
    Johnson 0 HR
    You’re welcome

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