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

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.”

Pending physical, Scutaro to join Red Sox

The draft giveth and the draft taketh away. Although the Red Sox earned themselves two first-round picks when the Braves signed Billy Wagner last night, they may be surrendering their other first-round pick as they are on the verge of signing Marco Scutaro. Lídre Deportes first broke the news, and Ed Price has confirmed that the Sox will give Scutaro two years. Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald says the deal will include a mutual option for a third year. As we thought at the time, the news about Dustin Pedroia’s potentially moving to short was just a negotiating ploy.

Scutaro turned 34 on Halloween and is a career .265/.337/.384 hitter over eight seasons with the Mets, A’s and Blue Jays. He had a career year last year, hitting .282/.379/.409 with a career-high in home runs (12) and RBI (60). It was his first season with an OPS+ over 100. My, how Jed Lowrie’s stock has dropped. No word yet on the money.

Open Thread: Recapping what went right and wrong

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at what went right and what went wrong for the 2009 Yankees. Obviously, the former category got much more play. There were 13 posts in all, so in case you missed any of them, here’s a recap:

What Went Right

  1. The Seventh Inning On
  2. Gardbrera
  3. The Bullpen Makeover
  4. The Offseason Pickups
  5. Injury Bouncebacks
  6. The Midseason Pickups
  7. The Kids Are Alright
  8. The Improved Defense
  9. Andy Pettitte
  10. New Yankee Stadium

What Went Wrong

  1. Chien-Ming Wang
  2. Robbie Cano with RISP
  3. The Joba Rules

Yeah, we probably could have drummed up a few more What Went Wrong posts, but I can’t think of any glaring omissions. Maybe Xavier Nady or the April bullpen?

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the evening. The Jets are taking on the Bills in Toronto, and the game will be on WPIX (channel 11) if you’re in the Tri-State Area and don’t have the NFL Network (like me). Rex Ryan brought Joe Girardi in to help Mark Sanchez with his slides, though that might not have been such a good idea considering how bad the Yankees were at running the bases in 2009. The Isles are also in action. You know the routine, so have at it.

Yanks’ farm system again ranked middle of the pack

At SI.com, Baseball America’s John Manuel posted his personal rankings of the best and worst farm systems in the game. The Rangers and Rays top the list, while the Astros and Cardinals bring up the rear. The Yankees come in somewhere in the 6-15 range, which is better than last year’s ranking of #15 (assuming they’re not #15 again). The Yanks did graduate some talent this year (David Robertson, Al Aceves, Phil Coke), but they had a few players really break out (Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova) while adding some nice pieces via the draft (Slade Heathcott, Graham Stoneburner), so it’s no surprise they’ve inched up a bit.

Olney: Behind closed doors, the honest truth

As Mike noted earlier today, the Yankees Brain Trust has assembled in Tampa to begin preparing for next week’s Winter Meetings. One name bound to come up — as it has numerous times this week — is Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays want to trade him, and the Yankees have the pieces to acquire him.

As Halladay’s name has been the most talked-about this Hot Stove League, we have a general sense of what the Blue Jays want from a potential trade partner. Since the team has to replace one of its most beloved players who also happens to be a high-impact player, Toronto wants a Major League-ready arm and a top hitting prospect. Yankee fans have filled in the gaps for this to mean Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes along with Jesus Montero or Austin Jackson. That’s not an unreasonable expectation for Toronto’s initial demand.

When or if a trade goes down, Toronto’s price will come down, and with Halladay’s desire to see this wrapped up before Spring Training, the Yanks can wait out the Blue Jays. It’s beginning to look like The Son of Johan Santana. But not quite, as Buster Olney writes today.

In one of his better blog posts in recent months, Olney challenges the Yankees to be perfectly honest with themselves. We know that they publicly say Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are both starters with high ceilings, but after a few years of watching the pair develop, Olney wants the baseball experts in the organization to lay it on the line. I quote at length:

But here are a couple of things that are different since the Santana talks: Hughes and Chamberlain. They are two years older, two years further along, with (generally) two more years of major league service time. Both players will be eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after next season. Hughes, 23, is coming off a year in which he demonstrated that he could be a shut-down reliever during the regular season — he struck out 96 in 86 innings, with a 3.04 ERA — before he struggled in October. Chamberlain, 24, had flashes of excellence as a starter, but generally was erratic, before finishing his year with some strong outings in the postseason.

If I were sitting in Brian Cashman‘s chair, I would identify the smartest pitching people I have on my staff, whether it be manager Joe Girardi or pitching coach Dave Eiland or others, and I would ask them two questions: What are Hughes and Chamberlain now, and what do you think they will be going into the future?

In other words, do you think in three years they will be middle relievers? Do you think they will be dominant closers? Do you think they will settle in as back-of-the-rotation starters, or do you think they will be frontline AL East starters?

And if the smart people that Cashman trusts believe that Hughes and/or Chamberlain will be anything other than (A) dominant closers, or (B) No. 2-type AL East starters, well, then I’d call Toronto immediately and be ready to talk about trading one or perhaps even both of the young pitchers.

Olney is spot on right here. For three years, we’ve been touting the Big Three and the youth movement, but at some point, the Yankees have to recognize when to cash in some of their chips. I don’t know if Roy Halladay is the right move to make; I don’t know if now is the right time. After all, we can’t consider Joba or Phil disappointments, let alone busts, until years have gone by, and it’s very challenging to predict the baseball future.

But if the Yankees’ experts — if the men and women assembled in Tampa — are not sold on a stellar future for either of these young players, the time to make a move is nigh. As pitchers go, they don’t come much better than Roy Halladay, and the Yanks must ask, “What price an ace?”

Breaking News: Chapman is a risk

In piece for SI.com, Melissa Segura wrote about how Cuban lefty Aroldis Chapman first got involved with baseball and how he ultimately came to defect, though more importantly she touched on the weaknesses in his game. If you don’t have time to read the 3,000 word article, then check out The Artist’s recap at TYU. I highly recommend checking out Seguara’s original article, though.

This is a common MSM timeline for these perceived super-prospects. First comes the absurd amount of hype, then comes the poo-pooing of their game by emphasizing their weaknesses, and the final stage is the subtle admission that the guy is extremely talented, but not perfect.  Stephen Strasburg went through it, Justin Upton went through it, Joe Mauer went through, even A-Rod went through it. Chapman is riskier than most, but the potential reward is the greatest we’ve seen for an international amateur since Felix Hernandez.

Mets asked for Matsui’s medicals

NPB Tracker passes along a report (translated article) that says the Mets have asked agent Arn Tellem for the medical reports on Hideki Matsui‘s knees. We’ve already seen some speculation that the Mets could bring Godzilla to Flushing, possibly to play first base.  Despite his fantastic year with the stick, Matsui is a man without many options. There are more available DH’s than DH spots (like every winter), so Homer-deki needs all the leverage he can get, even though he’s going to use it against the Yankees.