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Observations From Cooperstown--The First Base Rumor Mill
2007-06-22 09:57
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

It almost makes you pine for the days of Danny Cater. That’s how badly the Yankees’ first base position has degraded during the first half of the 2007 season. Planned poorly from the beginning, ever since Brian Cashman signed Doug Mientkiewicz during a dark winter day, first base remains a quagmire that is now dragging down the efficiency of what was supposed to be a powerhouse offense.

When the Yankees decided to take a fielding-first approach to first base, the strategy was somewhat defensible given the rest of the lineup. After all, how many times have we heard that the Yankees have the best lineup, one through eight, in all of major league baseball? Well, that’s partly the problem. The Yankees no longer have such a lineup. With Jason Giambi on the disabled list and Johnny Damon saddled with a slew of performance-altering injuries, the Yankee lineup is no longer as vaunted as it once was. The Yankees are now carrying three offensive weak spots—the underachieving Melky Cabrera in center field, the depreciated Damon at DH, and whoever happens to be playing first base on a given day.

There isn’t much the Yankees can do about Cabrera or Damon, unless they’re willing to place the latter on the disabled list in the hopes that his body can recover some its vim and vigor. First base is a different story, however. The Yankees should have used the injury to Mientkiewicz as a positive, replacing him with a competent bat in Josh Phelps or Shelly Duncan. Instead, they designated Phelps for assignment, left Duncan buried at Triple-A, and have now decided to collect utility infielders and masquerade them as first basemen. Miguel Cairo and Andy Phillips hit like middle infielders, not corner infielders who are supposed to provide power and punch. The Yankees have also badly fooled themselves as to the defensive value of both players. They act as if Cairo and Phillips are borderline Gold Glovers, and that’s a case of overrating them severely. Prior to the recent stretch in which he replaced Mientkiewicz, Cairo has always looked tentative at first base, a position where he lacks experience. Phillips, for all of his supposed defensive charm, made eight errors as a part-time player last year. That’s a testament to his shaky hands. He’s no Don Mattingly, or J.T. Snow, which he would have to be to make up for his chronic inability to handle a major league breaking ball. (Frankly, the fondness for Phillips is confounding. At 30 years of age, he’s actually three years older than Shelly Duncan, who has been the best hitter at Scranton/Wilkes Barre with an OPS of .946 but is somehow a non-prospect compared to Phillips.)

Plain and simple, the Yankees need to find a real first baseman, someone who can hit with a modicum of power while playing the position appreciably better than Giambi. Brian Cashman needs to act quickly before the recent offensive slump results in the Yankees losing all of the ground they picked up during their recent nine-game winning streak.

There are several candidates on the trade front, ranging from a star in his late twenties to a journeyman in his early thirties. I’ve chosen not to include Todd Helton, who has given mixed signals as to his interest in playing for the Yankees, a major factor given his no-trade clause. My guess is that Helton doesn’t like New York; if that’s the case, forget about him.

Mark Teixeira

: The stud. He’s the headline name on the trade rumor front, an All-Star caliber player who is only 27 years of age. He will also cost the most in a trade, which is probably the main reason the Yankees should look elsewhere. Now forget any talk of the Yankees trading Phil Hughes for Teixeira; they wouldn’t give up Hughes straight-up for Tex, much less as part of a larger package for the Rangers’ first baseman. Still, the Yankees would have to surrender a parcel of at least three players, with any package probably including Melky Cabrera. A package of Cabrera and two pitching prospects—let’s say Ross Ohlendorf and Chase Wright—might be enough to entice the Rangers. But can the Yankees even give up Cabrera at this point? With Damon ailing and no one at Triple-A capable of playing center field every day, the Yankees may have to hold on to the player known as "Leche."

Adam Dunn

: The second choice. While not the refined all-around player that Teixeira is, Dunn brings plenty of home runs and walks to the table, making him a younger and cheaper version of Jason Giambi. Cincinnati’s general dissatisfaction with Dunn, specifically his failure to reduce his strikeout rates, makes him available at a potentially reasonable price of two pitchers. The Reds badly need bullpen help, which likely translates into Chris Britton becoming part of any package for Dunn. (Britton continues to waste away at Scranton/Wilkes Barre, despite having enough talent to close for teams like the Reds, Phillies, and Pirates.) A package of Britton and either Ohlendorf or Tyler Clippard might interest the Reds, at least enough to keep the teams talking. A note of caution on Dunn: the "Big Donkey" will look awfully bad at times because of his strikeouts and dismal defensive play, which could make him a target of boo-birds at the Stadium, especially if he struggles early. He’s also not known as a particularly hard worker, which could make somewhat undesirable in a clubhouse that prides itself on work ethic and businesslike attitude.

Shea Hillenbrand

: The bargain basement. The 31-year-old Hillenbrand can be had more cheaply than any of the available trade alternatives. In fact, if the Yankees just wait, they can probably sign Hillenbrand as a free agent, after he’s been given his unconditional release. The Angels can’t wait to part ways with Hillenbrand; they’d give him away for a low-level minor leaguer or cash, if that much. While Hillenbrand has struggled in Southern California, he’ll likely hit better in the second half, and is a far better major league hitter than either Cairo or Phillips. He would also give the team some depth, capable of filling in for Alex Rodriguez at third, the outfield corners, or in a pinch, as an emergency catcher. There’s plenty of down side, too. He’s not a good defensive first baseman, has selfish tendencies, and possesses an over-inflated opinion of his worth as a ballplayer. If Hillenbrand could ever accept being a backup, he’d be one of the best bench players in the league. Unfortunately, he regards himself as an All-Star. He somehow did make it to two All-Star games, but didn’t deserve either selection.

Carlos Pena

: The best choice. An above-average defender, Pena has the kind of left-handed power that would partly compensate for the loss of Giambi. At 29 years of age, he’s a Jim Spencer/Oscar Gamble type player who could platoon with either Phillips or Cairo, thereby reducing their at-bats and making them available to spell at other positions. While no one expects Pena to keep up his current home run pace—he’s at 17 through 58 games—he has always shown good power against right-handed pitching. Just as importantly, the Devil Rays appear to be reasonable in trade demands for Pena. According to a source, the Rays would take left-hander Sean Henn for Pena straight-up. (Man, do the Devil Rays need pitching.) If that’s true, the Yankees should make the deal in a Manhattan minute.

Of course, the Yankees could have had Pena for free last year, when he was actually part of the organization, playing for Triple-A Columbus. For some reason, the Yankees didn’t envision Pena as an upgrade over either Phillips or Cairo and never promoted him, which is an indictment of the organization’s ability to evaluate talent from time to time. Sometimes, you wonder just what Cashman and Joe Torre are thinking when it comes to deciding who should play Triple-A and who should play in New York.

 

Bruce Markusen is the author of eight books, including A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley's Swingin' A's and The Team That Changed Baseball: The 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates. He also contributes frequently to MLB.com.

Comments (62)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-06-22 10:19:11
1.   rbj
"the "Big Donkey" will look awfully bad at times because of his strikeouts and dismal defensive play"

Hey, I can strike out and play a dismal defense. And I'd do it for the league min. & not cost any prospect.

2007-06-22 10:25:33
2.   Jim Dean
Thanks Bruce.

I'd be fine with Teixeira if he wasn't already trending to below average defensively. That suggests he'll be a light hitting DH in the middle of a huge contract in three years.

And I don't think a package of Melky, Ohlendorf, and Wright is enough. For one, none are likely to be full-time MLBers. Maybe something like Melky, Clippard, and more.

No thanks from me for Dunn or Hillenbrand.

Pena would be fine - but why would Torre play him when he has Cairo? And what a hilarious solution given last year.

There's also Hatteberg. Me, I'm not sure why they need an established ML'er. Why not a swap of borderline prospects? Chris Carter in the D'backs organization still intrigues me.

2007-06-22 10:33:55
3.   scareduck
I was convinced 2-3 weeks ago that the Angels were going to either trade Hillenbrand or DFA him. I'm not so convinced now, because he's probably the best option as a perma-DH, especially now that Garret Anderson looks like he's just plain done for the year, and maybe his career; those hip injuries aren't coincidence. Sure, he's struggled, but he's swinging the bat reasonably well in June, if that only means hitting singles, he's hitting a lot as essentially a pinch-hitter who starts every third or fourth game. Besides, Bill Stoneman and "trade" show up in the same midseason sentence only in extremis, as in the Ramon Ortiz dump three years ago.
2007-06-22 10:36:05
4.   ToyCannon
2
"I'd be fine with Teixeira if he wasn't already trending to below average defensively. That suggests he'll be a light hitting DH in the middle of a huge contract in three years. "

Could you define light hitting?

2007-06-22 10:52:34
5.   Bama Yankee
What about moving Posada to first and trying to find a new catcher? Would the Braves part with Saltalamacchia (that guy should be on a team without names on their jerseys) for a deal that involves Melky and two pitchers (maybe they take Farnsworth back if we chip in some of his salary)? Getting Melky would allow them to trade Andruw Jones and since Salty is blocked by McCann... Hey, a man can dream can't he?
2007-06-22 11:07:08
6.   Jim Dean
Competent AAA 1B's 25 yo and under (car = all mL numbers):

Joey Votto (23 yo - CIN):
2007: .314 .419 .471
Car: .288 .386 .475

Joe Koshansky (25 yo - TEX):
2007: .328 .404 .476
Car: .276 .361 .539

Daric Barton (21 yo - OAK):
2007: .311 .409 .457
Car: .305 .425 .468

Chris Carter (24 yo - ARI):
2007: .329 .387 .477
Car: .307 .396 .526

But if they're not going to make a hard push for Teixeira, why not go cheap with any of these guys? They're surely not going to be any worse than Cairo.

Problem is, if Cashman were to try this route, he would have done it in the off-season. Thank God Mfhdxg was still available.

2007-06-22 11:12:19
7.   Jim Dean
5 Salty would be great - but he looks like a superstar. It doesn't hurt them in any way to hold on to him for another year or two.

And they could still trade Jones for a CF replacement.

2007-06-22 11:15:27
8.   standuptriple
6, 7 I don't think any of those teams part with those pieces without bending the Yanks over a barrel. Outside of Jackson in AZ non of those clubs have (or will have) established 1B in the way of those prospects and they're all mid-to-low market teams who survive on cheap talent.
2007-06-22 11:15:42
9.   Count Zero
2 There's nothing that says you have to re-sign him at the end of '08. I also question the "light hitting" part. He's slugging .532 on the road this year, and .526 over the last three.

However, I'm basically in agreement with you that it will take a lot to get him...quite likely too much. I was hoping for an Obi-Wan like misdirection from Cashman. :-)

Pena does look like the best option at this point...but man, we could really use a RH or a switch given what lefties keep doing to us.

2007-06-22 11:18:29
10.   Bob B
5 Has it right. The best long term move is to get Jorge to First base and find a young catcher. I don't think the Braves would part with Saltalamacchia, but if you dangle enough bullpen arms (Farnsworth, Proctor ad nauseum) the Braves might think they would have enough to make a WS run this year (which we obviously don't). Then you have a star at first and behind the plate for the next three years.
2007-06-22 11:24:02
11.   Jim Dean
8 Oakland might be set at 1B if they think Swisher will end up there. Koshansky is already getting old and do they think he's Teixeira's replacement? And Carter, well I don't see any reason why couldn't have been an easy addition to the Unit deal if they weren't moving Jackson.

4 9 RE: the light hitting part - I meant more where he'll be in three years as a DH - if his defense continues to get worse. At 27, he's already playing the position at below average. As a DH, would he hit enough? True, his SLG does seem to survive (but takes a big hit) on the Road, but his AVG dips to .260.

2007-06-22 11:26:21
12.   Jim Dean
10 Problem is: They've been unable to find a young catcher for at least five years. Decent catchers are much harder to find than decent 1B's.

Meanwhile, who's to say Jorge re-signs with the Yanks? He's already said he'll test the market.

2007-06-22 11:27:07
13.   cult of basebaal
boy, this thread has the chance to be soooooo fun ...i count the carcasses of at least 3 dead horses littering bruce's article
2007-06-22 11:30:22
14.   Jim Dean
14 Isn't 1B the ultimate dead horse?

Except it's like a mutant alien zombie deadhorse. Shoot, you can go back to 2004 and the Tino and Tony Clark Experience.

2007-06-22 11:35:38
15.   Jim Dean
Whoops! Silly me!

2004 = Tony Clark and John Olerud
2005 = Tino and Andy Phillips
2006 = Andy Phillips and Craig Wilson
2007 = Mfhdjxkg, Cairo, Phelps, and Phillips

That's brilliant! Almost as bad as the CF deadhorse.

2007-06-22 11:36:27
16.   Rich
I can't believe that Melky, Ohlendorf, and Wright would bring back Texeira, but I would do it yesterday even with him on the DL.
2007-06-22 11:37:45
17.   Shawn Clap
I don't understand why Ryan Doumit isn't a mentioned in trade rumors.

Pittsburgh seems content with running Adam Laroche out there for some unknown reason.

Maybe Jim Tracy is betting against the Pirates every night. But let's trade for Doumit before the league gets wise.

2007-06-22 11:38:31
18.   cult of basebaal
16 yeah, that's really nothing to give up, even if he walks afterwards
2007-06-22 11:39:34
19.   Shaun P
6 Welcome back, Jim. Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

Votto is the Red's 2nd best prospect (behind Jay Bruce, with Homer Bailey now in the bigs). They aren't trading him.

The A's recently moved Barton to 3B, because the team has no 3B prospects at the high levels. Beane ain't trading him.

Koshansky is actually in the Rockies system, which may skew his numbers up some (they have some mid-90s-Coors-like parks there). He and Dunn are essentially the same player - lots of power, lots of walks, lots of Ks, no AVG to speak of. I say "essentially" because Dunn has already proven, beyond a doubt, that he can hit MLB pitching. Koshansky hasn't.

I'm not touching anything involving an AZ prospect, because I'm not going down that dead horse road.

The Reds would, IMO, jump at an offer of Dunn for Farnsworth (they want a proven closer badly), Chase Wright (everyone loves lefty pitching prospects, and IIRC the Reds don't have one), and, say, Alberto Gonzalez (who isn't hitting, and who the Yanks don't need anyway, with Jeter and Cano in the middle infield).

If Dunn doesn't do well, the Yanks can let him go as a free agent, and get a first round draft pick in return. That alone is worth Krazy Kyle, C Wright, and the AG.

At the least, the Yanks get the equivalent of a younger Giambi to fill the lineup hole left by Giambi's absence for the rest of the season. Yeah, he's a lefty and his defense sucks - but if Giambi was healthy, and hitting, and helping the Yanks win, no one would be complaining about him being a lefty and his defense sucking. So why complain if the guy doing it is Adam Dunn?

2007-06-22 11:41:46
20.   Shaun P
Bruce, what do you think about Pat Burrell? Yes, he isn't hitting now, but unless he's hiding an injury, he seems due for a major course correction. He could be had for cheap, and the Phils would probably be happy to be rid of his salary (they tried trading him in the offseason). And IIRC he played 1B (well enough) at Miami.
2007-06-22 11:44:55
21.   cult of basebaal
6 and the other reality is, if we traded for any of those guys, if they didn't start hitting as soon as they hit the bigs, torre would find a way to have them ride pine while cairo and his bellyful of guts gobbled up at bats like john kruk at a vegas buffet
2007-06-22 11:53:04
22.   Jim Dean
19 Thanks. I did!

Barton played 1B last night. So they can't be all that serious in moving him to 3B. Sure, I can't think Bean would move a 21 yo with upside but still.

Koshansky performed just as well last year when he was in Tulsa. And he's blocked by Helton, especially if the Rox continue to play well.

The point on Dunn and free agency is good. But I'd rather not replace one Giambi with another.

17 Doumit has been playing and hitting this year. - 137 AB .314 .369 .482 - I don't see why they'd trade him. He's exactly the type of player they should be hanging on to.

2007-06-22 11:55:04
23.   Jim Dean
21 That's why I'm dreaming. The time to do it was in the off-season. Good thing they found Mgdhjdfsk.
2007-06-22 12:07:45
24.   Yankee Fan In Boston
what a great thread to welcome back mr. dean, champion of the 1B debacle and BUC nightmare.

too bad you had to return to this, though.

ugh.

2007-06-22 12:09:16
25.   Yankee Fan In Boston
24 ...i didn't mean to imply that jim dean championed these situations, but i did...

we all know where he stands.

oh, and welcome back.

2007-06-22 12:13:44
26.   Sliced Bread
20 Burrell's an interesting "out of the box" option at first.
Not sure if he's played there for a while, but he's certainly ready for a change of city, so why not 1b for the Yanks? Hey, he's used to being booed so if he stinks up the joint it'll feel like old times for him in the Bronx.

The Phils surely would take a slab of sod for him as long as he's not going to the Mets.

2007-06-22 12:14:57
27.   Jim Dean
24 Don't forget the "Cashman sucks" and the "Bench blows" sentiments.

Yeah, I was psyched to come back to a 9 game winning streak. A three game sweep in Denver - no thanks.

2007-06-22 12:16:03
28.   Sliced Bread
20 Oh, and I'm told he's probably not injured, but his confidence is pretty much shattered at this point. Still managing to work counts and draw walks though.
Interesting restoration project for a team with time and money to burn. Sound like any team we know?
2007-06-22 12:18:01
29.   cult of basebaal
i really do wonder if the rays would give up Pena so cheaply? If the price is Henn, we ought to make the trade if only to free up the roster spot, it's pretty obvious that torre's not going to use him.

seriously, henn last pitched 11 fucking days ago, against pittsburgh. in that game, he wasn't perfect, so what does joe do ... right, bury him. of course, if he does get to pitch again, will he be sharp? well, it's not fucking likely. so he won't be perfect, joe will bury him again and the circle of wasted roster spots continues ...

2007-06-22 12:19:22
30.   Sliced Bread
20 and how's Matthew P. settling in at home? Hopefully he slept through the Rockies series... like the rest of Yankeeland.
2007-06-22 12:26:39
31.   Mike in DC
I was looking around this morning at firstbasemen and there really aren't all that many good ones annyone has a shot at getting.

Anyone the Yanks trade for has to be of sufficient reputation that Torre will actually play him. I don't think that is Pena, though if all they want is Henn I make the deal, immediately!

2007-06-22 13:26:14
32.   Zack
2 "For one, none are likely to be full-time MLBers. Maybe something like Melky, Clippard, and more."

That is, of course, a highly, highly questionable statement, based purely on your judgement. But we can leave it at that.

I find myself agreeing with you Jim, rather shockingly I might add, on your overall point though. None of those 1B options are attractive enough when combined with all their other elements (price, age, attitude, general suckatude in the case of Shea) to warrant going after them. I advocate the younger cheaper experiments, including giving S. Duncan at least a legit shot (not a Torre 1 game to prove your guts chance, that is).

1B is a mess, but its part of a larger problem of an aging, cranky, streaking team.

With Montero and our 2nd round pick a catcher too, there is at least some catcher depth in the minors, its just buried all the way at the bottom. So i would say its far easier to find a 1B than a C and move Jorge...

2007-06-22 13:45:24
33.   bob34957
Bottom line is that we have to get young. Some of the trade options will lead us away from being young and picking up a one dimensional player,strong hitter or defense. The concept of Jorge going to first and picky up salty boy from Hotlanta is great. Don't want Dunn, Tex or whomever. Cash get it done!
2007-06-22 13:47:18
34.   monkeypants
32 et al. One problem with moving Posada to first base in the future is--will he hit enough to warrrant playing full-time at the position? Sure, he'll outslug the Cairos and Phillips of the world, but while a brilliant hitting catcher, Posada's career .850 OPS is not really that good for a 1B. Sure, it would probably extend his career, but at the expense of an aging player possibly not carrying his weight at the poistion. Now, if he split time between C, DH, and 1B, that would be another story. But in that case, presumably teh team would still be looking for a full-time 1B and a new starting C. Personally, I would rather ride Posada at C as long as he lasts, with (ideally) increased numbers of days off as the years pass.

29 And what a big circle it is: Basak, Thompson (on the roster, never play, totaly redundant in the case of Basak), Damon (should be on DL--either hopeless or resting), Henn, and increasingly Mo (no save opportunities, no appearances). Christ, it's like they would rather play with an 18 or 20 man roster.

2007-06-22 13:49:29
35.   Eric Enders
Dodger fans everywhere would appreciate it if you would add Nomar Garciaparra to your list.

C'mon! Batting champion! Clutch veteraniness! Stick a fork in Boston's eye!

Please?

2007-06-22 13:55:39
36.   cult of basebaal
35 nice try eric, but Colletti's a bellyfull of guts guy himself, and we ain't got none of them to trade, dontcha know?
2007-06-22 13:58:33
37.   monkeypants
35 That's exactly the sort of young, healthy player the Yankees are kown for. A perfect fit!
2007-06-22 14:05:02
38.   OldYanksFan
In the News:
NEW YORK -- The Associated Press asked a federal judge to make public the names of baseball players a government agent said were implicated in drug use by former major league pitcher Jason Grimsley.

In an application filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, the AP said a sworn statement signed in May 2006 to obtain a search warrant for Grimsley's home in Arizona should be released in its entirety based on legal precedent and public interest.

David Segui told ESPN in June 2006 that he was one of the blacked-out names, and the Los Angeles Times reported in October that Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Miguel Tejada were also named, along with Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons.

Smoke? Or fire?

2007-06-22 14:08:37
39.   monkeypants
38 And it's only a matter of time until Miguel Cairo comes clean.
2007-06-22 14:13:24
40.   weeping for brunnhilde
Well, I've already expressed my abhorrence for the strikeouts Adam Dunn will bring. If his defense and work ethic are as poor as you say, Bruce, that doesn't exactly bolster his case in my eyes.

Hillenbrand seems all right because he's basically what's known as a professional hitter, right? If so, he's the kind of guy I'd like to see in the lineup, but not if he has an attitude problem. But who knows, maybe Joe and the rest of the team can handle that.

As to Pena, do we really need a left-handed bat? We've been looking pretty bad against lefties these days.

I have no answers.

2007-06-22 14:14:57
41.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 That seems a fiasco waiting to happen, Bama.

If Jorgie's going to be a first-baseman, I really think it ought to be established during spring training, not mid-season.

2007-06-22 14:17:13
42.   monkeypants
I would take Dunn in a second if the price was low--the worst case scenario is he is half-year rental. I'll live with the Ks and the bad D (of course, Torre won't)--he's got to be better than the current options. And, if they do dredge up another 1B, or decide to go with the Shelley Duncan experiment, or whatever--then Dunn slots instantly into DH, the position for which he is most suited. But it all depends on the price.
2007-06-22 14:19:01
43.   weeping for brunnhilde
35 36 Oooh, maybe we could manage to get Piazza too and use the two of them as a righty-righty platoon at 1B/DH.

Let the good times roll.

2007-06-22 14:21:26
44.   OldYanksFan
Until we know the Giambi and Damon situation, I don't think the Yanks will pull a major move at 1B unless something really tasty presents itself (unlikely).

I believe, if he is not injured, the JD will become our 1st baseman. He is not only becoming a liability in the OF, but I don't think there's anyway he can stay healthy while in the OF. Between JD, Giambi, Posada, Cairo, DougOut and Phillips, 1st base is covered.

And if we are willing to settle for poor D at first, we can put Mats there. OFers will be in better supply in the offseason. I personally think that Ichiro offers a well rounded package of excellent D and good OBP. He would be a very tasty leadoff guy in from of Jetes.

But if Giambi is good for 2008, there really is no place but 1st base for JD.

2007-06-22 14:25:06
45.   monkeypants
'Between JD, Giambi, Posada, Cairo, DougOut and Phillips, 1st base is covered."

Rarely has a sentence depressed me more than that.

2007-06-22 14:25:18
46.   OldYanksFan
I think the fact that Dunn is just a 'Giambi Lite' rental has merrit. Bringing in a draft pick when he leaves would be a nice bonus. It's hard to get young when our draft picks are always bottom of the barrel. Who did we get again with Pettitte's draft pick?
2007-06-22 14:27:57
47.   OldYanksFan
45 I'm not saying it's pretty, just a reality. What are we gonna do with $26M of Damon? Is there anyone here who believes he can play an adequate OF AND stay healthy for 2 more years?

Like DH, 1st base become our Rest Home for overpaid, aging players.

2007-06-22 14:29:49
48.   weeping for brunnhilde
47 2 years?

God.

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The trick now is to not panic and only make a move that's sensible for the long-term.

2007-06-22 14:30:51
49.   monkeypants
44 If Damon is the starting 1B next year, let alone this year, then they are just pissing the position away again. If he can't play CF (or the occasional LF), then he's not worth his contract, because he sure as heck won't hit enough to warrant starting at DH or 1B.

I really think the Yanks need to just bite the bullet on Damon. Everyone knew they overpaid him and gave him too many years. I think the team (and I) hoped they could get three good years out him, the critics said two years, and the skeptics said one. Despite the best offensive season of his career last year, the skeptics were right.

So, put him on the DL; if he can come back and play CF, great. If not, he's an expensive BUOF.

2007-06-22 14:34:28
50.   monkeypants
45 Our posts missed each other. I think that they have to eat his contract, more or less. It's a sunk cost.

Who knows what the team's budgetary restrictions are (real, perceived, or self-imposed), but much will also depend on what is done with Mo and Posada (and A-Rod) in the offseason. If they leave, that frees up lots of money, but also will bring about a typical Yankee spending spree.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-06-22 14:36:26
51.   monkeypants
44, 45 I am also convinced that Giambi is cooked for the rest of the year, and Minky might be too (hmmm, rehabbing from wrist injuries--we've heard that before).
2007-06-22 14:36:58
52.   monkeypants
OK, I need to stop now--I'm becoming "that guy" again.
2007-06-22 14:42:38
53.   El Lay Dave
The CF replacement part of the equation could be answered by the now-available Milton Bradley; wouldn't he be fun in the Bronx?
2007-06-22 14:47:54
54.   Daniel Zappala
I would also consider Robinson Cano a weak spot in the lineup, making a total of four.
2007-06-22 16:07:03
55.   Peter
17 The Pirates just claimed Phelps off of waivers.
2007-06-22 16:16:29
56.   RIYank
55 Poor Josh.

54 I don't think so. He was weak in April and May, but he always is (career April, May OPS .717, .677). He'll be good in July and great in September, judging by past performance.

2007-06-22 16:46:31
57.   monkeypants
55 And I see that gave Pete Abe one last chance to make a snarky comment about him.
2007-06-22 16:46:31
58.   monkeypants
55 And I see that gave Pete Abe one last chance to make a snarky comment about him.
2007-06-22 16:53:33
59.   debris
47 That believer certainly wouldn't be Theo Epstein.
2007-06-22 17:38:03
60.   OldYanksFan
56 Not so bad. The kid will at least get to play.

50 Just eat $26 million? If JD 'heals' enough to 'do his thing', he is an .800+ OPS guy, with good speed, who sees a lot of pitches. No, he's not the prototypical 1st baseman, but until we find somebody BETTER, I think it's no so bad.

The Yanks have a LOT of rebuilding to do with position players. ASIDE from 1st base:
2008: We may need to replace ARod
We may need to replace Bobby
We need a CF. I like Melky, but we need another impact bat in the OF.
2009: We may need to replace Posada, behind the plate. Giambi is gone.

Take Giambi and ARod off this team, add a year or 2 to Posada, and JD may not be a throw away (assuming he is at least healthy).

2007-06-22 18:53:50
61.   monkeypants
60 I see your point, but if Damon is the only impact player on the--along with Posada--then this team is screwed. In that case, sure play him at first, let him pitch, who cares.

But if the team is going to try to be competitive, the easiest position to replace should be a slugging firstbaseman, DH, or corner outfielder, rather than a good hitting catcher or CF. It makes little sense, in my mind, to play a substandard bat (for the position) at first while attempting to fill all those other position. At the very least, since he's an OF, move him to LF, Matsui to right (or DH), and look for a real 1B.

And for get planning on Damon in two years--again, no one really believed he would amount to anything in year four of that contract. The whole contract was a rob peter to pay paul deal, paying too much up front for too many years because they were desperate for a CF at that time.

Finaly, where do we get this idea that he is an .800+ OPS guy? His career OPS is .786. He had one of his career best seasons last year at age 33 (read: fluke) with an .841 OPS, and he had a very nice season in 2004 at age 30 (OPS .857). All of his seasons from 2002, when he went to Boston: .799, .750, .857, .805, .841, .690.

At 34 y.o. with a rash of injuries, we are looking at .800 OPS at best, and more likely .750 or lower for the next couple of years. If he hits like that, yeah, he should be a very expensive back up OF.

2007-06-23 09:02:41
62.   Bruce Markusen
Burrell wouldn't be a terrible option, assuming that the likes of Pena, Dunn, and Teixiera have been exhausted. I can't imagine the Phillies would ask that much for him.

Then again, GMs today tend to so overrate their own talent and ask for such ridiculous amounts of talent in return that it seems like fewer and fewer trades are getting made.

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