Matsui Returns–Who to Drop? August 19, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Bobby Abreu, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon.
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The Yankees announced over the weekend that injured DH Hideki Matsui is coming back tonight against Toronto. Considering he needs knee surgery over the offseason, he can only play DH. However, that creates a logjam with Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Xavier Nady, Brett Gardner, and Jason Giambi in the OF/DH mix.
First, who to send down? It’s not that obvious. Justin Christian can play any OF position in a pinch and has blazing speed. The Friday night pickoff hurt his chances, though. Of course, there’s always Chris Britton, whom I hope Yankee fans realize kinda sucks after a homer to freggin’ Ross Gload. I still think Christian gets sent down, because otherwise he’ll just get no playing time.
Now, Girardi said that Gardner was the team’s center fielder. He has more speed and a better arm and better range than Johnny Damon, and with fluky flyball pitchers like Sidney Ponson and Darrell Rasner on the staff, that really helps. None of the OFers deserve to be benched offensively, but Matsui needs to play because he excels in RISP where other members of the team don’t. Yet when Damon doesn’t play the team doesn’t have a legit lead-off hitter. Here’s my idea of a lineup when he comes back:
At this rate, Abreu, Damon, and Matsui are in the rotation, where in a game two play and one doesn’t. The above lineup is the example of one day’s rotation. It’s advantageous, because Matsui can’t just play everyday on turf on that knee, and the other two are 34, not to mention that Damon is almost constantly nicked up. Despite the interest in a consistent lineup, this is likely the best idea.
Thoughts: Injuries August 8, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Hideki Matsui, Injuries, Joba Chamberlain, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada.
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Over a span of a few weeks, Hideki Matusi, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, and Joba Chamberlain went down, hampering the Yankees’ postseason efforts. Matsui’s issues are now with his right knee, as opposed to his left. He had it drained out after feeling pain it, before just not being able to play because of it. While Matsui has been a solid offensive contributor to the Yankees, his home runs and slugging are way down while is average is way up. He has shown to no longer be durable, and his bat can’t be counted on for a 162-game season. I think it’s best to trade him in the off-season for a solid package, considering he’ll have only 1 more year on his contract but will likely sneak into the Type A free agent group.
Johnny Damon’s injury was a short-term stint but has a long-term effect. His shoulder pain, he says, will likely persist with him throughout the season, which might not hamper his bat but it will restrain his limited power at this point. Moreover it will force manager Joe Girardi to rest him more often, forcing noodle bat Melky Cabrera into the lineup. It shouldn’t matter for next season, but the Yankees need him for them to make the playoffs.
Jorge Posada missing the remainder of the season was, in my mind, inevitable with the type of injury he had. It restrained his power and throwing strength, and his play was lacking as a result. I don’t think the Yankees were counting on him much at all from Day 2 (remember he injured it on the first day of the season), so it isn’t much of a loss, per se. His current level of production is now replaced and surpassed with Pudge. However, if this is still an issue next year and beyond, the Yankees will severely regret his 4-year contract, as, at that point, he would be unmovebale.
What hurts more than any of these losses is that of Joba Chamberlain. Jobamania has been insanely nasty, particularly since moving to the rotation, and he was a fixture and the #2 starter on the team. It’s supposedly only rotator cuff tendinitis, caused largely by the insane heat in Texas that night (NOT HIS MOVE TO THE ROTATION!). He should be back by September 1, though with the Yankees’ ultraconservativeness we might not see him again this season. I do not think this a long-term problem.
Mailbag #1 January 12, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Brett Gardner, Johnny Damon, Mailbag, Melky Cabrera, Yankees: Looking to the Future.
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Presenting…our first ever mailbag! We had two-emails this week:
If Melky is traded as part of a Santana deal, who plays CF for the Yanks this year? Does Damon move back, or do they pickup a stopgap until Austin Jackson is ready?–Eric
Great question. I don’t think Damon moves back, because Damon is on the decline in every aspect of his game, most notably range and speed. Mike Cameron would have been a great stopgap, but he has already signed with the Brewers. That leaves us with Brett Gardner. Gardner is a speedy, slap-hitting outfielder with an outstanding glove. He has good plate discipline, and an arm between Damon’s and Melky’s. He is just about major-league ready, and is a low-ceiling pick, such that he can easily transition to the fourth-outfielder slot that would be vacant. All that said, I don’t think Melky gets traded, unless it involves a, say, Damaso Marte deal.
Here’s a question: How will YankeeLand feel at the end of the year when the Red Sox repeat? And a follow-up question:
How do the Yankees feel about finishing in second place and below the next several years?….or at least until ARod leaves? Just wondering from a Boston Fan’s curiosity. Thanks in advance!
Very funny. Ask me again at the end of the season, when the Tigers knock you out.
Thanks for all of the questions, and continue e-mailing email@example.com for another mailbag next week!
Evaluating the Likelihood of a Salary Dump Trade December 9, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Atlanta Braves, Bobby Abreu, Chicago Cubs, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Kansas City Royals, Mike Mussina, Phillies, San Diego Padres.
As we know, the Yankees aren’t fully out on a Johan Santana trade. However, to proceed, they need to rid themselves of their glute of outfielders and pitchers. The likely victims of any such trade would be one of Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, and Mike Mussina. The probability of any such deal is evaluated below.
Hideki Matsui, DH/LF, $13M per year for 2008-9 Considering the current market, Matsui is signed reasonably, as he brings to the table good power and contact skills, but below-average defense. Also, waving his no-trade clause likely isn’t a problem. Matsui has been a slight disappointment in New York, as his “Godzilla” moniker hasn’t quite showed up. The Giants are in preliminary talks with the Yankees, and, per Kevin Davidoff of Newsday on November 8th, the Yankees prefer to deal him over Johnny Damon. The Giants are willing to give up Jonathan Sanchez or Noah Lowry, but the Yankees should be able to garner more from such a solid player. If the Yankees sweeten the deal with a prospect–say, Alan Horne or Humberto Sanchez–the Yankees could conceivably get Brian Wilson, the “closer of the future” for the Giants. Include both, and the Yankees have themselves Tim Lincecum. Something can get worked out. Odds: 50%
Johnny Damon, DH/LF/OF, $13M per year fr 2008-9 Damon is overpaid, considering his decline and now lack of impressive skillset. Damon’s range has declined, but he is an average left fielder now. His power isn’t what it was, particularly with his current behemoth of little, nagging injuries that have taken away some of his skills, and his 2006 season, in terms of power, was a fluke. What should be expected next season is a .285/.370/.410 line of some sort, a happy medium between 2006 and 2007. His speed, a large part of his game, also suffers with these injuries. The White Sox have been mentioned with Joe Crede, but Crede isn’t necessary for the Yankees anymore. He could conceivably join the Royals–Justin Huber, a 1B for the Royals, has no place to play, and the Royals have had on-and-off talks with the Braves about moving David DeJesus. Speaking of the Braves, they have also been mentioned in Damon rumors. Money would be somewhat of a concern for both of these teams, and the Yankees would likely have to eat 9 or 10 million of the remainder of the deal. I like the Royal matchup better, as it gives us a power-hitting 1B with 15-20 HR power and isn’t a platoon player. However, Huber’s glove might be a problem. The Braves could probably offer Joey Devine, and I would take that too. But my gut feeling is that, in accord with Davidoff, the Yankees like Damon more than Matsui. Odds: 35%
Bobby Abreu, RF/DH, $16M for 2008 Abreu is also overpaid, considering he is slipping defensively, isn’t a power hitter, and has lost some of his trademark plate discipline. We all knew that Abreu wasn’t going to be the Abreu we got just after the trade, but I would have expected something between 2006 and 2007–again, a happy medium. What makes Abreu attractive is that he has a good arm in right with decent defense, and is also a lefty bat with deceiving speed for his size. His game is more gap power and doubles now, and that’s fine–just not with $16M as he is now. Regardless, he could fetch something good on the market, except that expectations for Abreu in 2008 are that he improves over 2007. That gives him more value to the Yankees than it does to another team, making it a better idea for him to stay. If the Yankees somehow jump into the Kosuke Fukodome race, Abreu is expendable. The Cubs are seeking a lefty bat as well, and there is a very real chance that Fukodome, whom they love, will land with the Padres, a team who offered him a substantial amount of money along with being on the West Coast. That would make Abreu attractives to the Cubs, who could also afford him. Though Sean Gallagher might be a need for the Cubs, he is a potential reap for Abreu. In a dream world, the Yankees could get Jeff Samardzija (RHP) or Tony Thomas (2B), but I would be surprised if that could happen. The Padres could definitely use Abreu, but money might be a concern for them, and the Yankees would have to eat money. The Yankees could reasonably reap Kevin Kouzmanoff, a platoon-playing 3B who is a power bat and could be an improvement over Wilson Betemit, or maybe OF Cedric Hunter. The Yankees definitely don’t have to move him if it’s not a deal they like, especially considering that, if he has a fine season next year, he could be a Type A free agent and net two draft picks. The clear thing is that Abreu will not be back after 2008. Odds: 25%
Mike Mussina, RHP, $11M for 2008 Any deal involving Mussina would have to involve eating money. He simply isn’t worth $11M, especially that Greg Maddux makes 10. Mussina’s stuff really showed a decline–his fastball is around 85 MPH, his changeup wasn’t as good a setup pitch that it was in 2006, and he didn’t have a lot of confidence in all of his pitches, even in his best pitch, his knucklecurve. This deal, however, is one the Yankees should wait to make until Spring Training. The likely event is that Ian Kennedy will beat out Mussina for the 5th starter spot, and, if Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, and Kennedy come out of Spring Training healthy, there will be no place for Mussina. He doesn’t like to relieve, being
soft a creature of habit, so he will have to be dealt. The only obstacle is his no-trade clause now that he is 10-5 player. He has specifically said that he doesn’t want to pitch in Philadelphia, where, even in the National League, his stuff won’t stand a chance in that bandbox. If he would wave it to go to Philly, though, the Yankees could conceivably re-acquire C Jesus Sanchez and add catching depth to the system. The Yankees could conceivably get Wes Helms, a utility player, or 1B/OF Greg Dobbs. The Padres could also seek an upgrade over de facto 5th starter Justin Germano, and well-traveled former Rule 5 draft pick Wil Ledezma could be a return. Potential fifth OF Jason Lane could also be a reaped return. A little out there would be righty reliever Cla Meredith, but that might involve a package with Kei Igawa, and thus a lot of money-eating. The Yankees have other, better, higher-ceiling arms that can fill in for injured or innings-capped starter. However, manager Joe Girardi might be hesitant in having a rotation with three kids and two veterans. Odds: 25-35%.
Andy Pettitte Declines Option; Tejada to Yankees? November 11, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chicago White Sox, Joe Crede, Johan Santana, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Melky Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Mike Mussina.
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On Wednesday, Andy Pettitte declined his $16M player option for 2008. This was a move purely to allow him time to decide whether to retire or not. With this, we see that the drama last winter was not all posturing and fake, but real deliberation. The Yankees, in short, would be screwed without having Pettitte on their team, as he provides a healthy lefty who always competes, especially in big games. He is a stopper, but no ace. Now, the Yankees would have Ian Kennedy to take his place in the rotation, but that would force Mike Mussina to start (ugh).
On Thursday, a rumor surfaced: Miguel Tejada to the Yankees. I am not enamored with that deal. In Tejada we have a declining, now league average shortstop that would only be average at third at best, who would not excel in a left-handed hitters’ park, and makes $13 M over the next two years. Even if it takes Kyle Farnsworth off our backs, I’d rather get rid of him for something else than Tejada, considering that it would also take Melky Cabrera in that deal. We can see that Cabrera is increasingly available, but I like what he offers and would only trade him in a Miguel Cabrera situation–Yes, I would rather see him in New York if it were for Johan Santana, because I am not enamored with Santana for reasons I will explain in another post.
Crede-for-Damon dead? It looks like Joe Crede for Johnny Damon talk is dying. Good. This would have been a mismatched trade, and the Yankees certainly would have been on the losing end. Besides, the White Sox have to decide what to do with the man–offer him arbitration (in which he would likely make the roughly $4M he did last year if he accepts), non-tender him, or re-sign him long term and move Josh Fields to LF. No matter what they do, the White Sox aren’t going anywhere next year, either.
Crede-for-Damon Swap Gaining Steam November 4, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Joe Crede, Johnny Damon.
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According to MLB Trade Rumors, the idea of a Johnny Damon-for-Joe Crede trade is gaining steam. Crede, 29, made $4.94 M this past season, and had a .216/.258/.317 line in 47 games while battling a back injury. He is coming off major surgery on his back. Damon, 33, had a .270/.351/.396 line in 141 games, struggling in the early months of the season while being nicked up by various nagging injuries.
I view this trade as acquiring a low-cost, short-term solution for a declining, expensive veteran. The Yankees do have an excess of outfielders, and top-prospect Josh Fields is ready to take Crede’s position. Crede has never hit for a particularly high average except for his career year in 2006, and although he provides some badly-needed right-handed power, he is not patient and thus is a low-OBP player. I would make this trade if Crede is then flipped to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera, costing the Yankees one less prospect and giving the Marlins cheap, right-handed power.
Damon, who had a career-high in home runs in 2006, dropped off dramatically after coming to Spring Training out of shape. He had a variety of little injuries that limited his performance, including a long layoff in June due to back spasms. He was coming off a little bit of a down year in Boston when he signed a 4 yr/$52 mil contract with New York. Since he is only getting older, he could repeat these numbers next year because of decline and not injury.
This trade has potential positives and negatives for both sides. Damon gives the White Sox a relatively secure center-fielder with a good glove, but who is on the decline while only being under contract for 2 more years. He is signed for not much cheaper than what Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones will likely command, though, and Hunter or Jones is a much better value for that price. Crede is a major risk after serious back surgery, and his lack of patience doesn’t go well with the Yankees lineup. Moreover, he doesn’t project well as a clean-up hitter, so he doesn’t fill a need. However, Crede has greater upside. This trade generally doesn’t make sense for both sides, but if it happens, Crede could have a nice year if healthy or could be traded to Florida for Miguel Cabrera.
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Had the midges not attacked, we would be leading this series. But let’s not talk of what might have been.
Had the Yankees lost last night, we would be eliminated and Joe Torre out. Again, though, let’s not talk of what might have been.
Roger Clemens started last night, lasting a mere 2.2 innings while giving up a run in all of them. His hamstring flared up, and there is some likelihood he’ll never pitch again (if he doesn’t, at least he struck out some one to end his career.) Phil Hughes then came in, and after allowing a fly ball double to Jhonny Peralta in the third, he threw a very solid 3.1 innings, striking out 4 and walking none, and allowing only one other hit. If Clemens doesn’t pitch in the ALCS, should the Yankees get that far, count Hughes for Game 3 and Ian Kennedy (remember him?) for Game 4.
However, the momentum changed in the fifth. With the Yankees cutting the Indian lead to 3-2, Johnny Damon steps up to the plate with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera on base. He homers, and, seemingly out of nowhere, the Yankees have a 5-3 lead. Then, in the next inning, with the bases loaded on a questionable IBB for Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano singles to right, but Trot Nixon lets the ball gets past him and all runners score. With the score then 8-3, the Yankees all but won the game.
Chien-Ming Wang will start tonight, and Andy Pettitte will likely start on Wednesday. However, with Clemens likely out for the rest of the postseason, the Yankees can add another pitcher to take his spot? The four candidates are Ian Kennedy, Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, and Ron Villone. It seems, after the first two games, the Yankees needed a long reliever, so that goes for Villone. Joe Torre’s preference for AAAA arms whom he tries to ride out, plus his changeup, states Ramirez’s case. Ian Kennedy gives them another starter, but he has never relieved, shouldn’t relieve with his finesse stuff, and we really don’t need a starter until the ALCS. Britton…well, I have previously written about him. The best bet is for Villone to make it, as he is a lefty, anyway.
George Steinbrenner on multiple topics:
On Joe Torre: “His job is on the line. I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.”
On A-Rod: “I think we’ll re-sign him. I think he’s going to have a good run the rest of the (postseason). I think he realizes New York is the place to be, the place to play. A lot of this (postseason) is laying on his shoulders, you know, but I think he’s up to it.”
On his health: “I’m doing all right. I’m fine.” (Courtesy of Peter Abraham)
Yankees Eliminated from East, ALPicture Set September 29, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Alex Rodriguez, Baltimore Orioles, Edwar Ramirez, Jay Payton, Johnny Damon, Jose Veras, Mariano Rivera, Mets, Phillies, Ron Villone, Ross Ohlendorf, Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
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The Yankees won 2 of 3 from Tampa Bay, but lost a very winnable game yesterday to the Baltimore Orioles. Mo Rivera (him?) allowed a triple to Jay Payton (his second of the night) to tie what was once a 9-6 lead. Then Edwar Ramirez all but completed his pitching himself off a playoff roster, as Ross Ohlendorf is picking up on him and Jose Veras, despite Veras getting the save on Wednesday (I called it first, here at YLF!). His spot on the 40-man eligibility for the postseason will substitute Carl Pavano, although Pavano would still get a ring if the Yankees get so far.
In other news:
- Ron Villone has all but made the postseason roster.
- A-Rod homered #54, and Johnny Damon was the first player this season to hit a ball out to Utah Street. Not a bad season for him, eh?
- The Mets lost last night but won today, and, looking at the Phillies right now, probably will tie it again.
- The Yankees are debating whether to take 5 bench players or 7 relievers. The seven would probably include various options of Britton, Veras, and Igawa, while the fifth bench player would likely be Alberto Gonzales (at least this one doesn’t lie!)
To let you faithful readers know in advance, on October 8th (my next off day) I will start a segment of top 10 Yankees prospects.
New Poll September 15, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Austin Jackson, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukodome, Melky Cabrera, Torii Hunter.
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In response to an article over at Pending Pinstripes, I thought I might add a new poll.
Is Austin Jackson for real? Is he this year’s hot, hot hitter with passable defense, or last year’s seemingly average player with bad defense. Maybe, like EJ Fagan, the article’s author, says, he has cleaned up his swing and has learned to use his tools. Or, it may be a fluke.
I hope its the former, as Jose Tabata is starting to scare me a little with his lack of power, and the Yankees outfield its in its mid-30′s (including Johnny Damon and excluding Melky Cabrera), and they need someone to take one of these players spots eventually.
Now, most NY newspapers declare that the Bobby Abreu should be picked up. I am against it, and would instead go after Kosuke Fukodome or Torii Hunter, but at least Abreu can hold the fort for Jackson or anyone else since it is simply a one-year commitment. If somehow they find someone to take his spot, I would decline it, since he’s not work $16 million, or even the balance between option and buyout, $14 million.
Yankees Lose in Toronto, Go Eat Beans in Boston September 15, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Chien-Ming Wang, Chris Britton, GCL Yankees, Hideki Okajima, Ian Kennedy, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Veras, Robinson Cano, Sean Henn.
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The short-handed Yankees lost in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1, with another poor offensive showing. Ian Kennedy was spectacular again, with a line of 7IP 1H 1 ER 7K. AJ Burnett gave up 7 hits in 8 innings, but K’ed 8 and dominated the Yankees. The Yankees weren’t prepared to play extras, so they sent Chris Britton out to lose the game and go to Boston. You may disagree, but come on, it only took five pitches, and it wasn’t exactly a heart breaker.
The Yankees were poised for a blowout loss yesterday, with an ineffective Andy Pettitte starting and Jose Veras and Sean (The Egg-Laying) Henn, then being plagued by Derek Jeter’s throw and Jason Giambi’s glove…or lack of it. After it being 5-1 after four and 7-2 after six, Boston sent out the first-half wunderkind, Hideki Okajima, in the eighth inning. He served up back-to-back jacks to Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano, and then walked the badly slumping Melky Cabrera before everything unraveled, and Johnny Damon (4-6, 2 2B) as well as Derek Jeter got on, and by then it was 7-5. Jonathan Papelbon came in, but that was no relief. Bobby Abreu doubled in the tying runs, and he stole second. A-Rod then singled him in, and after seemingly having lost the game, the Yankees won, 8-7.
All Boston has to do is win one, but they still have a chance. Chien-Ming Wang probably will win today, considering how the Yankees hit Josh Beckett, but I have little confidence in Roger Clemens, as the Yankees will need their longmen (Kei Igawa, Ross Ohlendorf, Sean Henn, Jeff Karstens, Matt DeSalvo) ready in case something happens to the Rocket.
Prediction for today: 6-4 win.
Prediction for Sunday: 8-4 loss.