Thursday, September 11, 2008

There's Always Next Year Part Two

Now I'll give my remedy for the future Yankee first base situation and the outfield logjam that would happen if Bobby Abreu remains with the Yankees, which I believe he should.

The obvious choice for replacing Giambi at first is signing a free agent...the free agent: Mark Teixeira. At about mid-season, I wanted this to happen, mostly because I felt Abreu should be gone. Now that I've rethought my position on the latter, my idea about the former has changed as well. Tex is a great player, no doubt, and a switch hitting first baseman who can play good defense is a good thing, but it's not worth 10 years, $200 million. There is a much cheaper way to replace the Giambino at first:

The first base problem can, and should, be solved internally. No, I don't mean Shelley Duncan. He is clearly a AAAA player and should've been traded in the offseason when his value was at its absolute peak. What I mean by an internal solution is using an aging player at first base. The options are Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Jorge Posada. I'll start with Posada.

Using Posada seems to make sense because of the destruction of his shoulder. This can happen if Bobby Abreu is let go. But for all intents and purposes, we'll say that Abreu is staying with the team. If that's the case, Posada needs to stay behind the plate. His shoulder will hopefully be back up to normal strength by Spring Training. He must stay behind the plate because Jose Molina's offense is killing the team. Yes, his defense is absolutely wonderful but his bat hurts the team more than his glove helps. While his defense is at 14 Runs Above Average but his offense is at -16 Runs Above Replacement. So using a rough calculation I'll do from now on when I do comparisons between offense and defense, we'll add the runs together. 14 + (-16) = -2. So basically, defense and offense included Molina has cost the Yankees two runs this year.

Using Posada as the catcher allows Molina to slip back into a role into which he's more comfortable: the backup role. Molina is a fantastic backup catcher and that's where he should stay. Posada behind the plate also allows for greater flexibility in the infield and outfield in a Nady/Abreu inclusive lineup.

For the infield, everything would stay the same except for first base. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, with their diminished outfield skill sets, could transition to first base in the off-season and Spring Training. For Damon, this would eliminate his awful arm from concern for the Yankees. For Matsui,it puts him at a position where he wouldn't have to rely on his aching knees too much. The one who doesn't play first can continue to be the designated hitter.

The outfield alignment would look like this: Nady/CF/Abreu. That leaves the question of who will play centerfield, but we'll get to that later. Leaving CF, that leaves the Yankees looking like thisin the field:

C: Posada
1B: Matsui/Damon
2B: Cano
3B: Rodriguez
SS: Jeter (he can move to first after 2009, when Matsui and Damon both have their contracts expire)
LF: Nady
CF: ??
RF: Abreu

This combination on the diamond gives the Yankees a much better presence at the plate, since both Nady and Abreu can be in the lineup. First base's offensive output might not be as powerful as it was, but Matsui and Damon can both still hit pretty competently.

I'll tackle the issue of centerfield in my next post...


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