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?

7 Comments

As a die hard Yankee fan, I was thrilled at the outcome of the 2009 season. However, I am completely saddened that it is over and absolutely dreading April. I’m usually the first to ask, “is it April yet?” after every season is over, but I’m going into the 2010 season with an anxious feeling because I know the team that made me the happiest person alive in 2009 will not be the same in 2010. I’ve always disliked change, but this time I despise it.

Unfortunately these changes must be made. Players are getting old, contracts are up and it’s time for America’s favorite past time to turn into just plain business here in the off season. And the Yankees take it as just plain business…unless your Jeter, Posada, or Rivera. Not even Pettite can go to sleep comfortably. Poor guy. Pettite can definitely keep pitching and I would love him to, but if I were him, I’d walk out on top.

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As a die hard Yankee fan, I was thrilled at the outcome of the 2009 season. However, I am completely saddened that it is over and absolutely dreading April. I’m usually the first to ask, “is it April yet?” after every season is over, but I’m going into the 2010 season with an anxious feeling because I know the team that made me the happiest person alive in 2009 will not be the same in 2010. I’ve always disliked change, but this time I despise it.

Unfortunately these changes must be made. Players are getting old, contracts are up and it’s time for America’s favorite past time to turn into just plain business here in the off season. And the Yankees take it as just plain business…unless your Jeter, Posada, or Rivera. Not even Pettite can go to sleep comfortably. Poor guy. Pettite can definitely keep pitching and I would love him to, but if I were him, I’d walk out on top.

As for players like Hinske, I doubt he’d be seeing the pinstripes next year. Was he even on the team this year? If he was the Yankees sure didn’t realize. Nady seems like a standup guy that is very well liked in the clubhouse and was a tremendous baseball player. But after two major surgeries on his elbow, he’s a risk to put back out there on the field. No one knows how well he’ll be able to play. Swisher proved he can play out in right field all season long and provided much power. It may be too late for Nady to make a comeback. Jose Molina has been an important part of this team defensively. Honestly, he’s a better defensive catcher than Posada. However, his offense is nonexistent. I think it’s time for Cervelli to take the role of back up catcher to train him for a starter role when Posada’s time is up. Cervelli proved he is up to the challenge.

Continued in the next post…

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In the end, it’s more than just who’s available and for what price. Obviously, Cashman will have to consider what they’ll be giving up in return. In other words, they can choose not to resign any or all of the free agents but need to find out how to plug those holes without debilitating a championship team.
Molina and Hinske are probably expendable, but the rest all have significant plusses in their favor, even with their respective drawbacks.

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If the Yankees don’t get Damon, who will they go after? Who do you think they will go after either way?

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Yankees Could Keep Pettitte, Damon, Matsui
By Ben Nicholson-Smith
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/11/yankees-could-keep-pettitte-damon-matsui.html

Could the Yanks keep all three free agents?
By Joseph Pawlikowski
http://riveraveblues.com/2009/11/could-the-yanks-keep-all-three-free-agents-19772/

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If the Yankees in the off season are going to bring in Halladay and Holliday or Lackey and Holliday or some other star outfielder they’re going to have to get rid of some salary. They can’t hire all the old guys and bring in a top of the line starting pitcher and outfielder, which is what they need going forward. Cervelli can do the job as back up catcher. We don’t need Molina. He’s hopeless at the plate. As good as Damon and Matsui have been they are now in the twilight of their career and are banged up and won’t be able to much more than DH and you can’t carry guys in the lineup just to DH game after game. Should be interesting to see who Cashman goes after in the off season and who in the end he is able to land. I’d love to see him get Halladay and Holiday. That would be a great coup.

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With the exception of Molina–it’s time for Cervelli to take his place–I’d like to see all those guys come back. Then again, either Hinske or Nady would have to go as well. Like you, Bryan, I wondered many times if Girardi had simply forgotten about the former, and the latter was one of the few good things about the ’08 season.
Oh, well…

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