Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Center of Attention
2005-11-10 05:29
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

"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]."
(Hartford Courant)

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.

2005-11-10 06:18:17
1.   KJC
"I want to be respected."

Sounds like Matsui's taking a page from the Pedro Martinez playbook: respect = money.

2005-11-10 06:24:44
2.   Ryan
A .348 OBP in the leadoff spot? Ugh.
2005-11-10 07:14:37
3.   Ben
Furcal in center. huh. It's great to see the Yanks tossing a lot of ideas around. Can't we put together furcal's speed and age, with brian giles' OBP and experience? Oh, Bernie Williams, 1998 where have you gone?

And regarding Matsui's respect = money thing. Well, yeah. Nothing odd about that. I mean, I'm looking for a new job right now, and the higher the offers have been, the more these guys are expressing in business terms that they value my work history, respect my abilities and exhibit a desire to bring me onto their team.

I think Matsui, who just seems no-nonsense, is using a formal meaning or the word respect which is completly appropriate.

2005-11-10 08:01:19
4.   Alvaro Espinoza
Please don't entertain signing free agents and playing them ot of position. You can get away with it when you're talking about Alex Rodriguex but Alex is an exception. He's a tremendous athlete that will play any position well. Furcal in CF is just plain stupid.

Here's a thought: maybe the Yanks needs aren't addressed by this free agent crop. There's a lot of "Yeah, but..." free agents out there. Example:

"How about Damon?"

"Yeah, but he's like 32 going on 40"


"How about Brian Giles?"

"Yeah, but he's on the wrong side of the hill."

If that's the case, don't sign these guys. Get creative w/ a trade or make due w/ what you got in your system.

(In Napoleon Dynamite voice): Gosh!

2005-11-10 08:24:30
5.   Ben
Great point Alvaro. And anyway, if the Yanks want to make big headlines, not signing anyone huge would probably be a bigger story for them. Come on Cashman, use that million dollar head of yours!
2005-11-10 08:45:15
6.   Schteeve
I like the furcal idea if he bats 9th. Depending on what they'd pay him it may or may not make sense, but i could easily see him becoming a decent CF.
2005-11-10 09:11:31
7.   Zack
I just know that if we resign Bernie, even as a "sub," the only two possible outcomes will be Bernie once again playing centerfield or DH everday, or rotting on our bench in oblivion. Its all Joe seems to know how to do. I don't think the concept of part-time player really exists for Joe.

And lets be honest about Phillips. When Joe says give him a shot, he probably means about 1 weeks worth of ABs.

2005-11-10 09:13:42
8.   Ben
I just read in the Newsday link that the Phils are dangling B. Abreu. Holy shit. Furcal and giles put together = Abreu. here are some of his averages according to ESPN.

Avg # of games per year: 156
Life time BA: .303
lifetime OBP: .411
Avg HR 29
avg RBI 95
okay, okay, let me come down.

I know it's a long shot, but chiggity-check out the guys OBP during the first month last year when he couldn't hit for nothing.

Okay, breathing again. Fantasy baseball, I know, I Know

2005-11-10 10:13:38
9.   Alex Belth
Yeah, I caught the Abreu rumors floating around but haven't put any stock in them because it'd just be too good to be true. He's probably already peeked--I remember pining for him to be the guy that replaced Paulie O back in '02--but he's such a nice ballplayer.
2005-11-10 14:20:19
10.   Rich
If Matsui insists on a four year deal, which I strongly oppose granting him, the Yankees should insist that his stupid streak ends.
2005-11-10 14:22:21
11.   Rich
If the Yankees sign Furcal, Jeter would become the third best SS on the team, yet he would still play SS. That's insane.
2005-11-10 16:28:25
12.   randym77
This article was in, of all things, Reader's Digest last month:

They did a special issue about "The Secret Lives of Men." About men's emotional lives, near as I could tell. Anyway, the article is about the deep friendship among Rivera, Posada, Jeter, and Williams. (They started hanging out together in Columbus because Posada was a family man, Rivera was very religious, and Jeter was too young to drink. :)

The four of them seem painfully aware that such friendships don't survive retirement.

//Then, as if describing the final fear, the one that, traditionally, has bedeviled men, the fear of losing their purpose and their friends when they retire, Williams blurted: "I have no idea what's going to happen after the game. None. If I think about it, it takes my breath away."

...Early in a player's career, fear is simply an energy, an itch. As a player matures, fear becomes a vision, a picture of one's final game.

"We say we will always be close. But you always think that every moment is always. And it never is," said Posada the next day, as the clouds vied with the sun to dominate the midmorning light. He joined Williams, Jeter and Rivera in front of the dugout for photographs, and continued. "I see how it is, once a guy leaves the game. We're all happy when he comes back, and there's a lot of catching up, and then there is this moment when there is nothing left to say." //

Wouldn't surprise me if Bernie took a paycut and a reduced role to stay on with the Yanks.

2005-11-10 20:02:41
13.   Jen
Great article. Thanks for the link, randym77.

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