Breaking up the Yankees
One of the realities of that great parade down the Canyon of Heroes was that it was probably going to be the last time these 2009 Yankees were together as a group. That was confirmed yesterday when Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, two of the biggest keys to the World Series title, officially filed for free agency.
Jose Molina, Xavier Nady and Eric Hinske also officially filed on Monday, one weekend of celebration after rolling down Broadway on a float.
Brian Cashman said yesterday that he does not expect to lock up any of his seven free agents before they splash onto the open market, which means that none of those five are likely to get a quickie deal, along with Andy Pettitte and Jerry Hairston, Jr.
What I keep telling people who ask is this: If you’d asked me at the All-Star Break who the Yankees would be more likely to keep, Damon or Matsui, I would have said Damon. But then Damon tailed off in the second half and Matsui was a monster, and now I really can’t be so sure.
The fact that the Yankees don’t see Matsui as anything but a DH hurts his chances, because the idea of a revolving-door DH between guys like A-Rod, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira and company is appealing and makes sense.
As for Damon, he was a great Yankee, which I wasn’t sure he’d be when he was shaving off his Red Sox scruff. But the moment I truly believed the Yankees were going to win the World Series was his dash in Game 4. People don’t understand how incredibly smart of a play that was.
So Cashman vows he does not do things for sentimental reasons, and I believe him on that topic. Just because a guy was the World Series MVP doesn’t mean you have to bring him back. Heck, the Yankees did it in ’96 with John Wetteland.
As for the other three guys in that group, Molina brings a lot to the clubhouse in terms of relationships and wisdom. If the cost isn’t crazy, a return isn’t out of the question, and if not they can entrust the backup catcher job to Francisco Cervelli – who really did seem ready for it.
Hinske never really got as many at-bats as I thought Joe Girardi would give him down the stretch — it almost seemed at times that they forgot he was on the team — and Nady will be permitted to leave as a free agent, since it’s difficult to
count on a guy who is coming off his second serious surgery.
Should be a good Hot Stove. Who said baseball has an offseason?