Honestly, the Yankees have been playing so well the past few weeks I’ve been afraid to say anything to jinx it. Couple things to note:
- Johnny Damon should be done as a Center Fielder. The major problem with Melky Cabrera as a regular player is that a corner outfielder needs to hit for power (why you ask? Well because the average AAA corner outfielder will have some pop, so by having a right or left fielder that hits less than 10 HRs a year is a waste, no matter how many HRs the rest of your team hits). Now center field isn’t the same: Melky hits, runs and plays defense well enough for that position. And everyone who follows the Yankees know by now how infectious his enthusiasm is. Damon has the power to play LF or RF (and maybe 1b down the road). For now, DH is fine.
- Roger Clemens, despite a tough loss on Friday, has looked good. When all is said and done, the Yankees will pay him approx 18-19 million in salary. Consider this: The Yankees cleared away 18 million in payroll this offseason by jettisoning Randy Johnson (14 million) and Jaret Wright (4 million). Does Roger Clemens for Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright seem like a good trade?
- The “A-Rod will opt out” story is getting way overdone at this point. I personally think the best scenario for both A-Rod and the Yankees would be to simply extend his current deal by 2-3 years at 20-26 per. This way the Yankees will continue getting their discount from Texas (and of course keep MLBs best player) while A-Rod will receive the added money that he (read: Scott Boras) wants. This will be A-Rods big chance to gain the respect he craves: if he leaves NY for the money, he will be hated in NY and will forever be labeled as the face of free agent greed. If he stays however, and let’s remember he is in the midst of the largest contract in professional sports, the fans would have no choice to accept that A-Rod wants to be a Yankee, in fact loves being a Yankee, and will do whatever it takes to cement his legacy as a winner on the world’s greatest stage. You know Boras will want to take him to free agency again, especially if a team like the Giants or White Sox will offer another 200 million. Here’s hoping A-Rod stays strong.
- Miguel Cairo has looked great over at 1B. That said, for the same reasons Melky Cabrera is a tough choice at this age as a corner outfielder, I imagine the Yankees will look for an option with some more pop (the rumor now is for Shea Hillenbrand). Josh Phelps would seemingly be a fine in house candidate, but his defense is terrible. He is a statue at first base: the average observer might not notice how bad he is because he simply doesn’t even attempt to make a lot of plays and many of the catches he botches end up being attributed to the fielder who threw it. Andy Phillips is hitting well at triple-A and could be a good in house candidate. Phillips is a good defender (and he is also serviceable at 2B and 3B) and could hopefully develop some patience in what could be his last chance to be a Yankee. Those calling for Johnny Damon to begin manning 1B, that is likely a project for the offseason.