"Absolutely, staying with the Yankees is my first priority," [Hideki] Matsui told Sankei Sports. "But I want to feel that the Yankees really need me. I want to be respected. If I feel the Yankees do not need me anymore, I am ready to [talk to another team]."
Brian Cashman met with Hideki Matsui's agent, Arm Tellem last night (in an editorial today in the Times, Murray Chass explains why Tellem is such a shrewd operator). It is expected that Matsui will remain in New York, but he won't be a bargain. While Joe Torre has acknowledged that Matsui is most comfortable in center field, it is unlikely that the Bombers will go that route. Well, how about Rafael Furcal? Say again? Well, according to Ken Rosenthal:
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman asked one of Furcal's representatives if Furcal would be willing to play center. Furcal, 28, likely will rule nothing out at this early stage of free agency he routinely shags fly balls with Braves teammate Andruw Jones and jokes about replacing him in center. He not only is athletic enough to play the position, but also could bat leadoff for the Yankees, forming a dynamic 1-2 combination with Derek Jeter.
Even if the Yankees aren't completely serious and when are they not? the high demand for Furcal almost certainly will enable him to land a five-year contract and possibly a six-year deal.
That's rich, huh? Meanwhile, Joe Torre tells Daily News Yankee writer Anthony McCarron, that he's spoken with Bernie Williams:
The two old friends had played phone tag for about a week before finally talking yesterday and Joe Torre came away with the sense that Bernie Williams wanted to continue his career as a Yankee, though Williams knows that he'd be a sub rather than the team's starting center fielder.
..."I think he'd like to stay. Nobody's making commitments either way and he knows center field isn't what I've had for 10years, where he's been the first man on the field.... I sense that he wants to come back in a different role."
In the same article, Torre also endorsed the idea of giving Andy Phillips an opportunity to be the second-string first baseman.