Sunday, January 15, 2012

Damon at DH?

How about a reunion? Well, how about not?

Okay, looking back on it, my idea of trading for McCutchen is not "all that". In fact, it's closer to being in the category of "sucks" than it does being in the category of "good" or even "plausible". I remembered that the Phillies took a group of prospects for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, but I forgot that Abreu was making $28 million after that 2005 season in which he came to New York (not including his club option of $16 million in 2008, which the Yankees picked up). Perhaps I should stay away from trade proposals. Then again, they can be fun to think about, so I'm not making any promises.

But the DH situation still needs to be addressed. And what I'm reading lately has me scratching my head, as many Yankee fans would love to see Johnny Damon return to the Bronx. I don't get it, and I'm hoping Brian Cashman is as smart as I think he is.

Damon hit .261/.326/.418 last season, with 16 HRs and 19 SBs. His OPS+ of 110 suggests that he is an above average hitter, and he did that in the AL East so there's no reason to expect a large drop-off in those numbers. But the fact of the matter is the guy made $5.25 million (that doesn't include incentives, which could have brought his salary to as high as $6 million), and with the Yankees payroll hovering around $212 million after the Kuroda signing, I see no reason to spend like that on Johnny. Not when the offense is already a strength, even as is, and the team already has good to decent alternatives. Oh, and Johnny Damon is nearly worthless in the field. Last season he played in 84 innings at LF, to a UZR/150 of -15.6. The year before Johnny only played 268.1 innings in the OF for Detroit. So at this point he'd really be another Jorge Posada... a DH only. Why would the Yankees want to blow a roster spot on that?

Andruw Jones hit .286/.384/.540 against left-handed pitchers last season, so he's pretty much a no-brainer to DH against lefties. As for what he did against same-sided pitching... yeah, I'd rather not go there. Let's just say he shouldn't bat against righties. Cool?

Jorge Vazquez is somebody else that could see some at bats as the team's DH in 2012. I was hoping to see what his splits looked like last season, particularly against left and right-handed pitchers, but I couldn't find anything after 2010. In that season though he actually showed a reverse split, as his BA, OBP, and SLG were all better against same-sided hurlers (.263/.317/.516). I don't know much about the Minor League Equivalency calculator at ML Splits, but I plugged in Jorge's numbers from last season and it tells me to expect a line of .227/.274/.427... not an encouraging sign. Perhaps if that calculator could give splits as well. *shrugs* But as for defense, he could give Teixeira rests from the field, as Jorge was a decent 1B in the minors.

I'm not big on the idea of bringing back Eric Chavez, as he wasn't anything special last year and his health record is far from stellar. Also, if you look at what he did versus right-handers (assuming Jones does DH against lefties) you'll see a line of .255/.322/.365. Seeing that I'd rather roll with Vazquez against right-handed pitchers. The only true plus to adding Chavez would be to give ARod a rest at 3B, although Nunez did appear in 33 games there in 2011.

Then we've heard about Carlos Pena. Here's a guy whose batting average over the last three years was .216. The only thing nice about Carlos' numbers recently is his HR total. But let's be honest... the Yankees don't need anymore power. Especially if it would cost anywhere near the $10 million it cost Tampa to sign him last year (it wouldn't, but it's not like Pena would sign a deal like Chavez did last season either). I should be fair though, as his career OBP of .352 is nothing to sneeze at. But again.. a hitter with power that gets on base a lot? The Yankee lineup does not need that at all. They could really use a guy with a good batting average, so if they are going to look outside the organization I think they should look away Carlos.

I'd be totally cool with trying guys out on minor league deals, like the Yanks did last year with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Although I wouldn't expect to find a diamond in the rough like they did with Freddy and Bartolo anyway. At this point I think they should try out guys already "in house", and make a move later if necessary.

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