Thank you to everybody who contributed to PinstripedBible.com’s conversation during this week’s Yankees Hot Stove on the YES Network. Here is video from my appearance:
Jan. 29 appearance on Yankees Hot Stove:
Jan. 8 appearance on Yankees Hot Stove:
Dec. 18 appearance on Yankees Hot Stove::
Dec. 4 appearance on Yankees Hot Stove:
What did you think? Leave a comment below.
Jon Heyman of SI.com had an interesting tidbit in a recent posting about the Yankees shopping Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady:
Johnny Damon isn’t in the trade mix, as the Yankees need him to be their leadoff hitter and part of a center field rotation. The other in-house candidates for center field are Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner.
That’s interesting, though not in the basic meaning of it — even though Damon is in the last year of his contract and is coming off something like a career season, it seemed unlikely the Yankees would try to move him, given the two roles he plays on the team, leadoff hitter, as Heyman mentions, as well as defensively overqualified left fielder. Many observers tend to focus on Damon’s poor arm, but his speed makes for a corner outfielder who can cover an unusual amount of ground.
Now, if you think about it, the most potent offensive outfield the Yankees could field next year would be Nady in left, Damon in center, and Swisher in right, rather than the presumed alternative, Damon in left, some combination of Gardner and Cabrera in center, and Xavier Nady in right — and Swisher playing the Ghost of Christmas Past, or Hamlet’s Father, or something. The problem with doing that, beyond the misuse of Swisher, is that at Damon’s current stage of the lifecycle, he’s better off not being overtaxed. Further, while his speed still does wonders in left, it’s not quite as spectacular in center — Damon had already slid off his peak the position before the Yankees moved him.
That said, being part of a center field rotation, as per Heyman above, makes all kinds of sense in that it gives the Yankees a great deal more flexibility in being able to waltz other players in and out of the corners. The more positions a star can play without compromising the defense, the better off the team is, because the club begins to close off openings for the replacement-level players that are so damaging to the winning effort. Similarly, Joe Girardi needn’t be married to any one center fielder.
There is yet another hand, which is that the Yankees might want to get married to a center fielder. Damon is in the last year of his contract, and as good as he was at 34 and may be at 35, asking him to keep it up at 36 and 37 will likely be pushing it. Given that the class of free agent center fielders next winter is going to be no fun, the Yankees will be in much better shape going into 2010 if they have the next center fielder lined up now. That could mean getting Gardner established, finding some way to electrify Melky, or even giving Austin Jackson a shot in the second half of the season, should his work at Scranton demand such an audition. Obviously the needs of 2010 have to be balanced against the goal of winning in 2009, with any luck the two goals will be mutually compatible.
One supposes the Yankees will need another leadoff man after 2009 as well. Traditional images would suggest that Gardner is the man, but Gardner may never have enough sock to justify taking up so many plate appearances, regardless of how many bases he steals. The Yankees will need to remember that your leadoff hitter need not match the picture of the singles-hitting speedster. That way lies madness. That way lies Juan Pierre. Remember, Wade Boggs was a great leadoff hitter, and he almost never stole a base. It’s about how often you’re on, not about how fast you can run. In an era of home run hitting, the rest takes care of itself.
SO LET’S TAKE THIS TOPIC ON THE AIR
Later today (6:30 EST) I’ll be appearing from the Bunker on the Yes Network’s Hot Stove show. As usual, I’ll be asked to summarize what we’ve been discussing this week. Let’s try a simple vote, which I’ll relay to the fellers on the air: who should be the starting center fielder in 2009? Damon? Gardner? Cabrera? A rotation split roughly in equal thirds? Or a write-in candidate of your choice? Jim Edmonds is still out there, and he murdered the ball for the Cubs last year. He’d be a heck of a platoon player in center. Argue it out in the comments section below, and I’ll tally up your responses while waiting for smilin’ Bob Lorenz to cast his dancing spell my way.
10. Sports radio talk show hosts and callers that endorse $100 million over four years for Manny Ramirez, but not $200 million over eight years for Mark Teixeira.
9. People who can never admit when they’re wrong, even on the brink of disaster. That is, grown-up infants.
8. Those same Manny Ramirez advocates who insist that the Yankees cannot sign Teixeira because they must keep first base open for a superannuated Jorge Posada, as if there’s some equivalence there, as if an elderly Posada would hit and field like a first baseman, any first baseman, in the prime of his career.
7. My complete inability to get a contractor to commit to redoing my front walk. How do these guys make money when they never, ever show up? I’ve had four separate guys give estimates, then disappear.
6. The realistic possibility that the Yankees will have no young players in the lineup or starting rotation to start the season. In the long term this is a recipe for disaster.
5. The guy in this very crowded train who either just expired of a digestive meltdown or is consuming rancid sauerkraut. Also, the woman who, prior to the radioactive cabbage incident, perfumed herself in this same car. You’d think this was a German attack at the Somme. Ladies: spraying your perfume around in enclosed public spaces is just selfish and cruel. A rose by any other name would smell just as rank if its odor had been forced on you.
4. The Baltimore Orioles. The most competitive division in baseball could be one-fifth more exciting with a real team in Maryland. Exception: their automatic Rookie of the Year catcher.
3. So-called collaborators who leave you holding the bag. Also, the Carolina parakeet. You never see them around anymore.
2. The extremely lethargic way the winter market is proceeding. At this pace, half the teams in baseball will be unsettled on the eve of spring training.
1. Tie: Mark Teixeira on the Red Sox/It’s always about you, isn’t it?
HOT STOVE SHOW OPEN THREAD
Your thoughts here, because I want to know. Also, I might have trouble thinking for myself. You wouldn’t want me to freeze up on cable, would you? Bob Lorenz might yell at me. Also, any number of ex-girlfriends might be watching, and if I can’t appear handsome and prosperous, with your help I might at least seem intelligent. I’ll be checking in during the middle segment of the show, when they keep me locked in the closet.
There are some changes here at the Pinstriped Bible to talk about. The first thing to be aware of is for the first time in a long time we have a steady URL. None of that active server pages stuff: from now on, www.pinstripedbible.com will always point here.
Here’s the experiment: this Thursday, I’ll be making an appearance on the YES Network Hot Stove show. My role will be a bit like that of Mr. McFeely on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” except with more fat and a less impressive moustache. I’ll be bringing the word from the outside, specifically your word. When you come to the Pinstriped Bible, you will also note that for the first time we have comments enabled right here on the page. These comments will form the basis of an exchange between host Bob Lorenz and myself. “What are your readers thinking about this week’s hot stove action?” Bob might say, and I, shot to appear as if I am in a remote bunker (Bob must be protected), will answer, “Well, Bob, we have 142 comments on C.C. Sabathia signing with the Mets!” At that point, Bob will do a spit take, or maybe I will–we haven’t worked out all the details yet.
Hey, don’t panic. C.C. hasn’t signed with the Mets and isn’t going to; that’s just an example. The point is, C.C. supplies the news, I supply the commentary, and you, the loyal readers, supply the 142 comments. It’s not too different from our practice of many years, except that I will be representing your reactions on the air for discussion by Bob and his guests (I am technically not a guest, but a “bunker-dweller”). As such, I’d like to hear from you on the following : What do you think the biggest story of the Yankees’ offseason has been so far?
A. The pursuit of C.C. Sabathia and other free agent pitchers to the possible exclusion of home-grown prospects such as Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy in next year’s rotation?
B. The team’s apparent lack of interest in Bobby Abreu, to the extent that the team would not even risk a one-year contract through arbitration?
C. The apparent lack of fervor for Mark Teixeira and the corresponding decision to acquire Nick Swisher and anoint him the starting first baseman?
D. The team’s apparent expectation that the offense will be re-inflated by a resurgent Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano?
E. All or None of the Above.
And, of course, you should feel free to explain. I’ll do my best to summarize your responses and present them to Bob this Thursday at 6:30 on YES. If the resultant discussion is fruitful, we’ll do so again in subsequent episodes of Hot Stove–and who knows? They might even let me out of the bunker. Stay tuned.