"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Musical Chairs: The Outfield and DH


The Yankees have a lot of parts that could use some fixin’. The team has decided to focus on the starting rotation despite the many young starting pitching prospects working their way up through the organization. Last week, I largely focused on first base, where the Yankees have a big hole and the free agent market offers the perfect player to fill it. During the 2008 season, two major areas of concern were second base and catcher, but the Yankees have very talented players signed to long-term contracts at each of those positions, both of which are very shallow in terms of the talent available league-wide. Third base is not broken, nor, for the moment is shortstop or the bullpen, but the Yankees’ outfield and designated hitter situation very much is.

Here are the players who started for the Yankees at the three outfield positions and DH last year:

Player Starts LF CF RF DH Stats OPS+
Bobby Abreu 152 - - 148 4 .296/.371/.471 120
Johnny Damon 133 75 33 - 25 .303/.375/.461 118
Melky Cabrera 112 1 109 2 - .249/.301/.341 68
Hideki Matsui 88 20 - 2 66 .294/.370/.424 108
Xavier Nady 58 45 - 6 7 .268/.320/.474 105
Brett Gardner 32 15 17 - - .228/.283/.299 53
Jason Giambi 26 - - - 26 .247/.418/.506 140*
Jorge Posada 15 - - - 15 .231/.365/.385 97*
Justin Christian 10 6 3 1 - .250/.320/.325 65
3 others 13 - - 3 10
Total LF 162 162 - - - .284/.349/.427 98*
Total CF 162 - 162 - - .261/.320/.391 89*
Total RF 162 - - 162 - .290/.362/.451 104*
Total DH 153 - - - 153 .282/.378/.461 118*

*adjusted for position

Center field was a disaster, the aggregate numbers at the position having been inflated slightly by Johnny Damon’s .294/.378/.529 line in 33 starts there. With Damon helping out in center and DH, the team’s performance in left field dipped below average. Designated hitter was also buoyed by Damon, but even moreso by the outstanding work of Jason Giambi, who has since departed as a free agent, as well as seven strong starts from Alex Rodriguez (.333/.414/.625). Meanwhile, Bobby Abreu, who started all but ten games in right field and kept that position in the black, has also headed off to find perhaps his final fortune as a free agent, leaving right field in the hands of Xavier Nady, whose .268/.320/.474 line as a Yankee was a far more accurate representation of his abilities than the .330/.383/.535 he hit in Pittsburgh over the first four months of the season. Last year, the average right fielder hit .276/.347/.451. Nady’s career line is .280/.335/.458, and he’s a sub-par defender.

Here are the Yankees’ other in-house options in the outfield:

Player Age* Level LF CF RF DH 2008 Stats OPS+
Johnny Damon 35 MLB 75 33 - 25 .303/.375/.461 118
Hideki Matsui 34 MLB 20 - 2 66 .294/.370/.424 108
Xavier Nady 30 MLB 45 - 88 8 .305/.357/.510 128
Nick Swisher 28 MLB 16 69 11 - .219/.332/.410 92
Melky Cabrera 24 MLB 1 109 2 - .249/.301/.341 68
Brett Gardner 25 AAA 20 71 - - .296/.414/.422 -
Justin Christian 29 AAA 44 19 3 1 .306/.357/.444 -
Shelley Duncan 29 AAA 3 - 21 17 .239/.365/.483 -
Austin Jackson 22 AA 2 111 - 17 .285/.354/.419 -
Colin Curtis 24 AA 92 23 1 14 .255/.329/.368 -

*on Opening Day 2009

The problem with this list is that the Yankees’ best outfielder (setting aside the career year Nady won’t repeat) is their oldest, while their youngest (from among those with major league experience) is their worst. As it stands now, the Yankees have a giant hole in center field, a rapidly aging DH coming off knee surgery who is no longer viable in the field (Matsui), an average-at-best right fielder, and a 35-year-old Johnny Damon in left with little on the way other than Austin Jackson, who just hit .246/.298/.377 in the hitter-friendly Arizona Fall League and has yet to play above Double-A.

The good news is that there are some free agent solutions out there, but the Yankees need to clear the decks a bit to make room for them. Specifically, the Yankees should try to trade any or all of their thirty-something outfielders, with particular focus on selling high on Nady, whose value will never be higher than it is right now coming off that career year while still in his arbitration years. Such a trade would be less about what the Yankees could get in return for Nady, or Matsui, or even Damon, and more about getting something for them while making room for better, younger players.

First compare the career lines of Nady and switch-hitting Nick Swisher, the latter of whom is two years younger and both a superior and more versatile fielder (though he’s not really a viable full-time option in center field):

Player Age Hits Career Stats OPS+
Nick Swisher 28 Both .244/.354/.451 112
Xavier Nady 30 Right .280/.335/.458 108

Note that those career rates follow a season in which Nady played far above his established level, while Swisher played well below his. The Yankees did the right thing by buying low on Swisher, now they need to finish the job by selling high on Nady.

Matsui and Damon are both entering the final year of their matching four-year contracts. Damon is a candidate for trade because of his value. Some teams might still be willing to play him in center, he’s coming off a career-high OPS+ in 2008, and despite hitting the DL for the first time in his career last year, he played more games than in 2007 and hasn’t played fewer than 141 games since he was a rookie in 1995. Matsui is a candidate for trade because he’s gumming up the works because his knee problems have rendered him a full-time DH, thus impinging the Yankees’ roster flexibility. Unfortunately, his value is likely as low as it’s ever been.

With Nady, Matsui, and/or Damon out of the way, the Yankees could cast their net toward one of the three reliably productive free agent outfielders on the market:

Player Age* 2008 Stats OPS+ VORP Games-Position
Manny Ramirez 37 .332/.430/.601 164 84.1 119-LF, 31-DH
Adam Dunn 29 .236/.386/.513 129 37.4 119-LF, 23-RF, 19-1B, 2-DH
Pat Burrell 32 .250/.367/.507 125 34.8 155-LF

*as of June 1, 2009

Ramirez dominates the competition in terms of pure production, though it’s unclear exactly what the Yankees would get out of Manny when he’s not playing for a new contract. In his final season and a half with the Red Sox, Ramirez hit .297/.392/.508, which is much closer to the 2008 lines of Dunn and Burrell, who are two of the most consistent hitters in baseball. In each of the last four seasons, Burrell has posted an OPS+ between 122 and 128 and played in a minimum of 144 games, playing between 154 and 157 in three of those seasons. Dunn, meanwhile, has hit exactly 40 home runs in each of the last four seasons, has posted an on-base percentage between .386 and .388 in four of the last five seasons, and has played in fewer than 152 games just once since 2002.

None of the three are good fielders, but Ramirez is alarmingly erratic, and Burrell is a statue, while Dunn saw an uptick in his fielding stats last year and has the flexibility to play left, right, or first base. Dunn also averages about eight stolen bases a year at a 75 percent success rate, which suggests he’s not quite as immobile as his big frame would suggest. Given the fact that the Yankees have no long-term solution in place for their outfield issues, there’s no reason for them not to offer Dunn, the youngest player on the above list and the only left-handed hitter, a four-year deal, particularly given the fact that Dunn tends to be undervalued around the game due to his low batting averages and high strikeout totals, stats the Yankees should be able to look past. That said, the Yankees will want to maintain some flexibility as Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and Carl Crawford are all due to become free agents after the 2009 season.

Of course, none of that solves the biggest problem the Yankees have entering the 2009 season, which is their hole in center field. Brett Gardner is an excellent defender and a tremendous weapon on the bases. If can he hit like he did in Triple-A last year, he’ll be a tremendous upgrade over the Yankees’ center fielders of 2008, but that’s a huge “if,” particularly given the fact that he was one of those 2008 center fielders. Then again, Gardner hit .300/.347/.414 in his 18 games in center field for the Yankees last year, so there is some hope there. There’s less hope for Melky Cabrera, who was largely responsible for the Yankees’ poor showing in center last year and whose production at the plate has only gone backwards since he made his proper debut playing primarily in left field in 2006. Jackson needs at least a full year at Triple-A. What the Yankees need, then, is a stop-gap, a veteran who could be had on a one-year deal who can offer high upside while allowing Gardner to be Plan B rather than the default center fielder.

Enter Jim Edmonds. Edmonds will be 39 in June, has a dreadful injury history, and was actually released by the Padres early last year, but after catching on with the Cubs in mid-May, he hit .256/.369/.568 (136 OPS+), while blasting 19 homers in 85 games. He’s no longer the highlight-reel gold glover he used to be, but he’s still a capable defender. No one is going to give him a multi-year deal, but he was still healthy at the end of the year, and the Yankees have very little to lose by bringing Edmonds in and hoping the future Hall of Famer has one more outburst like that left in his bat. While the Yankees would have to balance an offer for Dunn with their other big-money offers to players such as Mark Teixeira or any of a number of starting pitchers, a one-year deal for Edmonds wouldn’t impact their ability to sign any other free agents. It’s a move they’d be foolish not to make.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Hot Stove

Tags:  DH  Outfield

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45 comments

1 tommyl   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:45 am

As usual Cliff, great analysis. Lets all hope Cashman reads this board, these are the kind of under the radar novel moves the Yankees should be making.

2 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:57 am

Thanks for the fine overview. I'm got some problems with the conclusions, however.

Edmonds is no answer. You ding Nady for piling up his numbers in the NL Central while praising Edmonds for the same? I'd rather have Damon out there on that same one-year contract. Their ranges are about the same, and JD is more likely to hit in the AL.

Knocking Manny for his defense ignores the fact that it's exceedingly difficult to evaluate based on his time in Fenway. As I've said here once or twice, his numbers in the big LFs of the NL West would seem to indicate that his range is good enough, still, to play RF in Yankee Stadium 2.0. Plus, the Yanks could get him on a three-year contract. Which team will offer him four? Every indication is that Manny was not happy in Boston that last year and a half. Assuming he'd want to play in his hometown, I don't see how his family and friends would let it slide if he began to dog it. That's pressure enough for him to stay productive.

Indicating Dunn's speed on the basepaths is very different from playing an OF position. In the former, you're running in a straight line without having to judge a ball off the bat. And he's not going to be getting any faster. I'm fine with Dunn as a 1B/DH/LF provided they can trade Matsui. I agree that four years should be sufficient, but at how much? Seems like they should be prepared to pay the same 13 million that Matsui/Damon.

If I'm doing the signing:

RF/DH - Manny at 3 years and 75 million.
CF - Damon/Gardner as LIDR
LF/DH - You sold me on Dunn - 4 years at 52 million. But this only works if they can trade Matsui - monetarily and position-wise.
LF/RF - Nady plays the open position for whoever DHs.

Then we're looking at Swisher at 1B. Dunn can rotate over on occasion. That's not too shabby. And they won't have committed stupid money to a 1B - money they can use on Holliday next year.

P.s. The more I look at Melky, the more it becomes obvious the Yankees rushed him. Where Jackson should spend a full-year at AAA, Melky never did.

3 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:01 pm

If the Yanks could move Matsui, I'd be all for seeing an offer to Dunn, especially since it seems interest in him is quite low. Admittedly, with Matsui's value so low, that may be a big "if". Too bad the Mariners now have a front office staff that seems to know how to run a baseball team, or they'd have been an ideal destination. =)

The only problem I have with signing Edmonds is that he's strictly a platoon player at his age: he can't hit lefties (he only had 52 PAs against LHP last year in 34 games). But if the Yanks don't trade any of their outfielders, and don't sign one of the OF FAs, who is his platoon partner? Its hard to figure out, without knowing for sure what the roster looks like (eg, if the Yanks sign Tex, Swisher can easily handle CF vs LHP, with Nady playing RF), but that's one thing that bugs me.

Unless Justin Christian is going to be on the 25-man roster.

4 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:07 pm

For reference, Melky has had 260 ABs total in AAA.

5 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:16 pm

@3

Great find on Edmonds against LHP. Even more reason not to sign him given the LHPs they see alot of in the AL East.

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:18 pm

Shaun, excellent point on Edmonds vs. LHP. I left that out and should have at least mentioned it. You're right. Then again, Gardner's Triple-A splits had him doing better against lefties, than righties, so that could provide Brett with an opportunity to get some starts without hurting the team too much. I like the sign-Tex-platoon-Swisher idea, too.

Bum Rush please find where I mention the NL Central in the above post? I "ding" Nady for having had a career year, a fluke that would have been possible no matter where he was playing and equally difficult for him to repeat in 2009. He was no better than his career rates with the Pirates in 2007. His division had nothing to do with his surge last year, in my opinion. Don't put words in my mouth.

7 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:28 pm

LF/DH - You sold me on Dunn - 4 years at 52 million. But this only works if they can trade Matsui - monetarily and position-wise.

Not really. You can make him your full time LF, or mix and match some combination of Dunn, Swisher & Nady between RF/LF & 1B or between him and Matsui @ DH.

Even @ DH, I am not convinced that Matsui will be able to hold up over a full season. I'd be worried about Damon as well.

Having Dunn allows the Yanks to regain one of the .800+ OPS bats that they lost with Giambi & Abreu.

8 monkeypants   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:28 pm

This post and thread really picks up on a sparse thread discussion a few threads ago. The Yankees are going to need offense next year, more than many realize (or at least admit). Whether it is Manny or Teixera or someone else (Dunn? ), the lineup needs a thumper next to replace Giambi and Abreu.

I'll even go out on a limb. I predict that if the Yankees stand pat on pitching (except for re-signing Pettitte), their pitching will improve more (Wang + improved Hughes + full season of Joba) than the offense would (Posada returns + improvement from Cano + maybe some bounce back from Jeter).

I'm not sure I believe that prediction. But I do think that offense will prove to be the greater concern next year. Anyway, that should get y'all talking.

9 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:29 pm

@6

Sorry, I misread what you were saying. But the logic still applies, if not about the NL Central, then about career years. Edmonds in 2008 with the Cubs was vastly exceeding his current ceiling. You have to go back to 2005 for similar numbers. That's just as fluky and not worth betting on moreso than Damon's one-year deal. Edmonds is an average hitter, or slightly above, at best right now.

Regardless of what Gardner did in AAA against LHP, no major league manager would trust those numbers to give him starts, as a young left-handed hitter, against the likes of Lester, Price, Kazmir, perhaps Sabathia, etc.

10 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:32 pm

Bum Rush, Cliff, thanks. To try to rescue my horrible fantasy baseball team last year, I took a shot on Edmonds, and quickly learned that Sweet Lou never let him see a LHP. I didn't know about Gardner's reverse splits Cliff, but that gives me hope he could fill the bill.

I have to say, a lineup of:

Damon (LF)
Jeter (SS)
Tex (1B)
A-Rod (3B)
Dunn (DH)
Cano (2B)
Posada (C)
Edmonds (CF)
Swisher (RF)

looks darn good to me. Too bad last year's "Matsui for Cain" deal is not on the table any more, if it ever was. I think its going to be hard to move Matsui, which is a shame because Dunn would be a great get.

11 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:37 pm

[8] I think you're exactly right, monkeypants. That's why I'd be a big fan of (in addition to signing Tex) adding Dunn (entering his age 29 season) and losing either Matsui or Damon (both entering their age 35 seasons). Dunn has upside, or at least consistency on his side. I expect Damon to decline and I don't know what to expect from Matsui.

12 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:47 pm

I think the first time Pat Burrell went on one of his three month long .215 slums he'd be run out of town.

13 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 12:57 pm

@8

I agree. If they don't sign some offense, this team is going to be scratching for some runs, as they were last year. The 2008 pitching was in fact better than 2007. The problem was the lost offense. And while Cano might bounce back, they can't assume that plus better seasons from A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada will make up for the loss of Giambi and Abreu. If Cashman isn't bluffing then it's going to be a long year with a 750 run offense.

@10

Sorry, but I'm not that impressed by that OF nor that lineup more generally. The OF could easily be average across the board and while giving away runs on defense. The only thing preventing that is a return to Earth from Damon. And that's if Swisher rebounds.

Also, Dunn in the 5 hole is a mistake, especially passing the baton to Cano. Put Dunn at 3, to get on-base, and then let A-Rod hit him in with Manny as protection at 5. Posada at 6, then Cano, Swisher, and Gardner/Nady bringing up the rear.

Dunn isn't a run producer. His career high for RBIs is 106 and that's with all those 40 homerun seasons. That's the effect of his low average.

14 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 1:08 pm

That’s the effect of his low average.

I would say more the effect of no one being on base in front of him? Cincy hasn't exactly been an offensive powerhouse.

15 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 25, 2008 1:21 pm

In case you guys haven't noticed, we've added our latest Bronx Banter Breakdown to the top of my post above. Alex, Jay, and I talk hitting sleepers, including Edmonds . . .

16 The Hawk   ~  Nov 25, 2008 2:24 pm

It's my impression that trading Matsui ain't gonna happen. The question is, can the guy play LF at all? If he can, then I'd prefer him over anyone else readily available. You could do worse for a DH, I guess ... It's not great, but with Giambi gone, the DH is freed up a bit. You could have Matsui be the full time DH, with Posada in there once or twice a week.

Center field is something of an issue but since there is nothing exceptional out there, I'm all for giving ol' Melky another shot, or even Gardner, though I get the impression he's never going to get it going in the bigs.

I submit that if Cano is really going to have a comeback year, as Kevin Long suggests, and if you replace Molina with Posada, that is potentially a huge difference in the offense. The Yanks' offense shouldn't succeed or fail based on the center fielder, not with that lineup.

17 SteveAmerica   ~  Nov 25, 2008 2:58 pm

@8: Totally agree. My take on the Yankees is that if they don't add 2 more .850 ops bats they're dead in the water.

18 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 3:27 pm

@16

"I submit that if Cano is really going to have a comeback year, as Kevin Long suggests, and if you replace Molina with Posada, that is potentially a huge difference in the offense."

At best, they make up for Giambi and Abreu, and that's assuming none of Jeter, Damon, or Nady regresses while Swisher rebounds. I don't see how all of those cards come up diamonds. Given Manny or Dunn, better to pick up the extra offense when the only cost is cash. Both help the team in 2010 too and as upgrades over Nady, Matsui, and Damon.

And that's the rub - the Yanks should be planning the 2010 outfield this year as well. If they have no intention of re-signing any of the three (and they shouldn't), the 2010 market doesn't offer much. The Sox will choose from Holliday or Bay. That leaves the other for the Yanks, if they're lucky. Manny or Dunn are both better options than Crawford. So, at best, they can maybe upgrade at one OF position in 2010 while losing three OF/DHs.

19 monkeypants   ~  Nov 25, 2008 3:47 pm

[11][13][17] Whoa...so many people agreeing with me! It's freaking me out...

Actually, I still think that Cashman is going to surprise with another big bat, or at least a supposed big bat. We'll see if the move works out. I like Adam Dunn, indeed I was hoping they would pick him up last season. Unfortunately, he's LH, and that would put the team back in much of the same bind as last year. Though I guess Nady for Abreu and Swisher as a switch-hitter balances the lineup a little more.

20 ny2ca2dc   ~  Nov 25, 2008 4:35 pm

[19] I don't think we need to worry about the LHP problem as much - we're down to really Cano and Melky/Gardner(presuming his AAA reverse splits are a fluke and that JoeG will too) as LHP-inept. Swapping Nady and Swisher for Abreu and Giambi does that, as does getting JoPo's big RH stick back. Damon and Matsui are fine vs LHP, and you've got to assume Jeter and ARod will go back to hitting lefties. I'm actually more worried about the lack of a big LH bopper (hence Tex or Dunn)...

21 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 5:12 pm

Manny and Dunn are great/excellent bats, but not the well rounded players you rebuild a team with. They are 'we gotta win this year we are desparate' guys. I agree with [8] MP. As is, we don't have a winning team, but we could get lucky with a few GOOD mid season pickups.

In 2010, one would guess with the economy, that prices on FAs might be more reasonable. I'd go hard at Holliday and Crawford. Bay and Magglio are available. Even Rick Ankiel.

They may not be available, but Erik Bedard, Rich Harden, Tim Hudson, John Lackey, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb are FAs.

This year I get Tex. He isn't against the Yankees (like Sabathia) and Sheets (reasonable $$ and contract length). With these 2, and luck, we have a shot. Add some of the FAs listed above in 2010, and we have a pretty young, flexible, athletic team.

People pissed and moaned about Giambi, and now you want Dunn? Manny is a GREAT hitter, but 3 years of ONE dimension (not to mention will he play hard?) at $25m per? Is this the direction we want? In 2010, we have NO OUTFIELD at all.

Screw 2009 (but go for Tex and Sheets). For 2010, I like:
Jeter/SS
Bay/Crawford/RF
Tex/1B
ARod
Holliday/LF
Posada/DH
Cano/2B
Swisher/Melky/Brett/Ankiel/CF
FA/Young catcher

Wang
Sheets
Bedard/Harden/Lackey/Lee/Webb
Joba
Phil/AA/Kids/another in the #3 group

Isn't that worth waiting for a year? Lots of choices. Not ONE guy we have to get. More pirching on the farm, and a strong offense for years.

22 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 5:20 pm

People pissed and moaned about Giambi, and now you want Dunn?

Age
AD: 28
JG: 37

150+ games per season
AD: 6
JG: 6 (last time 2003)

Positions played
AD: 3
JG: 1

Go for it.

23 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 5:21 pm

Also, the Yanks aren't going to punt 2009, nor is there reason for them to do so.

24 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 25, 2008 5:34 pm

Not sure if I like any of the first four pitchers you mentioned except maybe Harden, and with Cliff Lee you may be thinking twice after this season is over (but we will see). I always liked Crawford, but he's a guy that depends on his speed, and has been hampered with leg injuries the past couple of years. Bay, if you wanted him this year would have been the year to get him; now you have to compete with Boston, who may not be keen on giving up their major return for Manny. Ankiel? Here we go again...

So if none of the major FAs get signed this year with us, I think that affects our ability to sign the ones you listed for the year after. The team would have to go full-speed into rebuild mode with picks and traded-for prospects to justify any of those signings. Here are the ones I would perceive they push for:

Bay or Crawford (but not both)
Holliday
Harden/Webb

Cliff Lee if he remains consistent, in which case you can drop Harden to lower priority or slot in Sheets' place if he's not signed.

The rest can be filled with trade of surplus arms, unless you decide instead to balance the farm with position prospects.

What young or FA catcher do you have in mind?

25 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 5:41 pm

[23] If they get Tex and Sheets, it's not 100% punt. Granted, we will need strong performances from most of our guys and we certainly won't be the favorite.... but Wang, Sheets, Joba, Andy, Phil/kids ain't exactly giving up.

If we get 2, or even 3 or CC/AJ/Lowe/Sheets/Manny/Dunn, will we have money for an OF next year? And if Po can't throw (I made a rhyme!), do we want more DH types?

26 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 6:05 pm

@21

Crawford is a downgrade, offensively, from Damon. Holliday could be a downgrade from Abreu, until he proves otherwise outside of Coors. If Holliday proves himself, signing Dunn and Manny to short deals doesn't preclude signing him as well. Indeed, both are better hitters than Holliday.The Sox will likely re-sign Bay as soon as this season, as he's already proven himself. Magglio may not be much better than Nady going forward and the Tigers have two options on him for 2010 and 2011 for a reasonable 15 million going forward. His 2007 sticks out as a fluke but if he heads north of 120 OPS+ they'll pick up the option. And Ankiel gets on-base 33% of the time. I'm not sure how that's an improvement.

Line all those guys up, with Damon, Matsui, and Nady, and Dunn and Manny are both clear upgrades over what next year's free agent market offers. It's not just about this year. It's about planning for the vacancies of next year - DH, LF and RF. Dunn can be had for three or four years at much less money than Giambi was making. And he can play the OF. Indeed, LF has been his dominant position. Giambi could barely play 1B. Big difference. You keep saying Manny can't play defense. His stats in LA prove otherwise. I'll take stats over ill-informed opinion any gameday. If Holliday is legit, sign him to play RF and slide Manny to DH for the last two years of his contract. That leaves a 2009 to 2010-2011 lineup of (assuming they can trade Matsui):

Damon to Jeter
Jeter to Holliday
Dunn to Dunn
A-Rod to A-Rod
Manny to Manny
Jorge to Jorge
Cano to Cano
Swisher to Swisher
Nady to AJax

Sabathia is better than all of the pitchers named, except maybe Webb. And Arizona has an $8.5 million option on Webb for 2010. Yeah, they'll be picking that up if not signing him to an extension.

27 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 25, 2008 6:29 pm

If Jorge is done as a C, then it's very good if they signed Manny over Teixeira. There's more flexibility from having a RF/DH and a 1B/DH than have a 1B and a DH for the next three years. Then, after that, Teixeira would still be sign for three-five more years while Manny and Jorge would be gone. Sure, Dunn would start to clog things up a bit. But on a four-year deal, there's no reason to think, at his age, he couldn't be a strict LF. He's been decent enough in LF so far.

28 The Hawk   ~  Nov 25, 2008 7:36 pm

It's hard to believe anyone is worried about replacing Giambi after such an unremarkable season. Blech.

29 The Hawk   ~  Nov 25, 2008 7:55 pm

[16]

I don't think they make up for Giambi and Abreu, I think they make up for Molina and ... 2007 Cano. Which means other positions don't have to pick up the slack for 2nd base and catcher. So any downgrade at first or RF would be mitigated by improvements at 2nd, catcher, and anywhere else the Yankees underperformed last year. If someone wants to posit they didn't underperform, be my guest. Yes, some players will be worse than they were but I think we're looking at a net gain.

Obviously there's room for improvement, but it seems like I'm hearing a lot of glass half empty talk ... the guys who did well last year are definitely going to fall off, yet the guys who had so-so years, you can't assume they're going to do better? That doesn't track for me. I say yes, Damon likely won't have a season as good as 2007, but neither will A-Rod have as mediocre a season as he had.

As for Giambi and Abreu, I'm fine with Swisher and Nady. If they get Texeira, all the better. Either way I'll take my chances without the cherry picker and the cipher. Glad to see them both gone.

30 The Hawk   ~  Nov 25, 2008 7:57 pm

That shoulda been [18] not [16]

31 Raf   ~  Nov 25, 2008 8:01 pm

[27]

Worse comes to worst, they could be traded.

32 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 8:22 pm

[27] What? Manny is a below average fielder, Jorge will be below average at 1B, and Tex is an above average fielder. More flexible? I guess, with poorer defensive perfomance at 2 positions. And God knows what will happen to Manny's fielding over the next 3 years. You keep talking about offense. Doesn't speed and defense have any value to you?

"Holliday could be a downgrade from Abreu, until he proves otherwise outside of Coors." ---- Well, 1/2 his ABs are outside of Coors.
Furthermore, over the last 3 years, Abreu has an (adjusted) OPS+ of 120. Holliday of 140+. You consider this close? Now wanna compare defense?

Over the last 3 years, JD has had an OPS+ of 110, Crawford 106. Crawford is a better defender and a better base stealer. I would say their OVERALL value is close. However, if I thought JD would continue to give us 110 in the future, I'd be happy to re-sign him, but I don't know if I would bet on it.

Chyll... do we lose draft picks THIS year signing CC? AJ? If we 'only' spent $33m/yr on Tex and Sheets, doesn't that give us lots of cash for 2010. And after another year of seeing AJax, Brett, Melky, Cano and the kid pitchers, might we better be able to identify our most pressing needs? If we spend $65m/yr on FAs this year, who do we get for our OF in 2010, when our OF is EMPTY? Based on our farm system, what are our needs going forward? Pitching or offense/defense? Our pitching on the farm has potential, while I might expect Jeter and Posada to decline this and/or next year.

In 2010, we have ARod, Jeter, Posada, Cano and maybe Swisher. And Po might not be catching. It seems to me we will have a BUNCH of positions and offense to fill. And of the 5 names above, I would guess ARod will be the only one with an OPS over .800.

I might be dumb, but I see our issues this year and next as being position players/offense... not pitching. And as good as Manny and Dunn hit, I'm not crazy about spending money on DH types when Po may need to DH. You want Dunn and Manny in the same OF? Oy!

33 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 8:28 pm

[29] I agree with your post for the most park, however:
"but neither will A-Rod have as mediocre a season as he had."
ARod had an OPS+ of 150 in 2008, vs a career avg. of 147. Being out 3 weeks did cost him a few HRs. He could have a better year in 2009 (being an odd year and all), but he wasn't bad in 2008.

34 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 25, 2008 8:37 pm

What about Dunn at 1B then with Swisher int he OF? or did someone already mention that above? the busy-again Banter is passing me by...

if the sign either Dunn or Tex, then the lineup would surely have enough "bop"?

oh, and they have to keep Matsui so I continue to get the Yankees on tv here 3 times a week..if they trade him to Baltimore or Pittsburgh..oh no!!!

35 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 25, 2008 8:46 pm

[32] Yeah, but I'm not advocating such a move, I'm predicting what would be prudent if they were to go that way. Trades and international FA signings would be the most logical way to go, given what the system does have, and if they actually were to sign so many FAs. The quest is, do you want to win big now or win big two years from now?

36 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 9:26 pm

From MLBTradeRumors, and 2 comments:
Pettitte Considering Dodgers
By Tim Dierkes [November 25 at 5:40pm CST]

According to Ken Rosenthal, free agent lefty Andy Pettitte spoke to Joe Torre multiple times about the possibility of signing with the Dodgers. Rosenthal notes that Pettitte has a history of leaving when he doesn't feel wanted, and the Yankees are taking a laid-back approach toward him this winter. Still, the Yankees remain Pettitte's first choice. Rosenthal does not see Pettitte returning to Houston.

"Randy Johnson: 2008 ERA+ 117. 2009 salary: $8M?
Andy Pettitte: 2008 ERA+ 98. 2009 salary: $13M?
Add into the fact that Johnson is chasing win #300, would definitely only require a 1 year deal"

"Unit in a heart beat. Pettitte has never been as good as his reputation and Johnson is a legitimate box office draw that will easily pay for himself, which is something The Parking Lot Attendant likes."

Logical, but scary.
Will the Yankees let Andy walk AGAIN?

37 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 25, 2008 9:54 pm

[36] Meh. I'll believe it more when Andy or his agent speak for themselves (agenstspeak aside). Doesn't look like Andy would have anything to gain by jumping on a Dodger deal this early anyway.

38 monkeypants   ~  Nov 25, 2008 10:03 pm

[29] We've already been through this in a previous thread. A-Rod had a fine season, just about average or slightly above average for him. He *may* have a better season next year, when he's a year older, but I wouldn't want to rely on that.

Swisher + Nady are a most likely a downgrade offensively from Giambi 2008 + Abreu 2009; at best it's break even.

Posada (IF he can catch) is a huge improvement over Molina, though he gives back some on defense. Cano 2009 MAY be an improvement on Cano 2008, but by how much? Frankly, I am skeptical about Cano's improvement. He is going to be 26 next season, and his offensive performance has declined the last two years from his (so far) peak in 2006. Is he going to learn K-zone judgement at this point? Even Long claimed that he still needed to improve in this area, and that is not a skill that is usually picked up at this stage. He'll be better this year--he can't be much worse--but I wonder if he hasn't already peaked.

And what about possible or even likely decline from Damon, Jeter, and Matsui?

I go back to my prediction at [8}: the offense is going to be trouble next year without the addition of at least one big bat.

39 The Hawk   ~  Nov 25, 2008 10:05 pm

[33]

I've read time and again in regards to A-Rod (and others) that they had a good OPS when I watch nearly every game and know that he was not as effective as OPS-wielding defenders suggest. I just don't think OPS is definitive as to a player's value anyway, and that's not even getting into extra-statistical "intangibles" (which are actually sometimes quite tangible).

Putting that aside for a moment, my experience with A-Rod last year for most of the year was that he cherry-picked an awful lot. Before the season was down the drain, I know for instance that he hit a hell of a lot of meaningless home runs. I mean, a home run is always nice, but it's like the one he hit vs Cleveland in the 2007 ALDS game 4. It looks on paper like it might have been meaningful but anyone watching the game knows it wasn't. Similarly, he had a lot of HRs in 08 when the Yanks were up or down by a lot.

This may be a slippery slope to bringing up that old chestnut "clutch", but it is what it is.

40 Just Fair   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:23 pm

[37] Chyll. Didjya see this? http://tinyurl.com/5pfbr8
Man. When's p's and c's?

41 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:50 pm

OYF, RJ won't come back to the Bronx. He hated it here.

42 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 25, 2008 11:59 pm

[41] I agree, and he only needs 5 Wins. I did think it was interesting that at 45, the MoFo put up much better numbers then Andy.

[39] There are a number of clutchy type stats and if you look at them all, some players seem more clutch then others. Whether this is just random coincidence or there is something to it, I can't say.

That said, over his career, ARod's 'Clutch' OPS is better then his OPS. But not last year. And there can be no doubt that ARod, and especially Giambi, failed in many, many RISP situations. When you consider how many games we scored under 4 runs, I'm afraid ARod and Jason have to take a lot of responsibility. And I say this as a fan of both players.

Actually, I think CC stays on the West Coast, and hopefully, we can bribe Tex to come to NY.

43 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 26, 2008 8:51 am

@32

Manny was average in LA. That tell me more than his unique stats playing the ugly wall in Boston.

We don't know if Jorge would be below average at 1B. He started his career at 2B. He could just as easily be average there. And that's only if he can't be a C/DH. Cause, again, over the course of a six to eight year contract for Teixieira, at least Jeter and A-Rod will need time at 1B too.

To throw back at you: "And God knows what will happen to" Teixeira’s "fielding over the next" 6-8 "years". Yeah, I'll take a three year contract, with a better offensive player, than a 6-8 year contract with a 1B.

It's not that I'm advocating re-signing Abreu. It's just that the best possible free agent OF (Holliday) next year is not as likely to be better than Manny or Dunn. And yet he'll require a longer contract than either of them. The Yanks should be looking at upgrading the OF this year, because next year the opportunity isn't as good. If that means carrying Damon, Nady, Matsui, Manny, and Dunn, then so be it. Damon's range is still good enough for CF. Put Dunn in LF or 1B if Swisher doesn't recover. Manny goes into RF. Matsui is the DH. And Nady is a part-timer. Now that's assuming everyone stays healthy or no one is traded. That's a big assumption.

Then in 2010-2011, Dunn and Manny are at the corners. If Holliday can be had he takes over in RF. Gardner or Jackson in CF. That's a pretty solid group for the OF and DH slots and only Holliday would be signed past 2012. As he ages, he shifts to LF. 1B remains free for Jorge and Jeter then A-Rod and Montero. That's flexibility.

"Doesn’t speed and defense have any value to you?"

In it's proper place. Speed and defense only goes so far. An aging, and powerless, Carl Crawford ain't it.

"You want Dunn and Manny in the same OF?"

Sure, why not? They bring in more runs with their bats than they give up with their gloves. That's much preferable to an OF of Crawford, Jackson, and Magglio as you were previously suggesting.

44 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 26, 2008 9:22 am

[40] Yeah, I heard about that. I give all the credit to mehmattski >;)

45 The Hawk   ~  Nov 26, 2008 11:45 am

If they can't get Sabathia, they should go after Texeira for sure. Those are the two best players available.

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