Posted on: February 7, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 6:21 pm
The Yankees have a little spending money to add a position player or two, and at least at the moment seem to be focused on Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez.
Chavez is a terrific choice. He performed well when healthy his first year in the Bronx, fit perfectly into the clubhouse and plays third base, which is needed now that Alex Rodriguez appears to be moving rapidly into middle age.
But Ibanez? Nothing against Ibanez personally, but he is at best the third best choice on the board to fill the DH spot. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, two more proven New York players, are still available and better options than Ibanez, who had a .289 on-base percentage last year. While Ibanez hit 20 home runs last year, he has the added issue of never having been a regular DH. Which is what they need.
A bunch of nice stories have been written on Ibanez, all pointing out what a nice fellow he is, and that is true. But Damon and Matsui already played for the Yankees, and both of those players thrived in New York, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Damon is a leader who was willing to do the tough interviews when many hide, and Matsui was beloved by everyone.
Even if it is stipulated that Ibanez is a sweetheart (and by all accounts he is), more to the point, Damon put together a much better year than Ibanez in 2011. Damon posted a .743 OPS, better than Ibanez''s .707 or Matsui's .696 (Matsui has the excuse of playing in Oakland last year but Ibanez was in hitter friendly Citizens Bank Park). Ibanez bring a bit more power (he had 20 home runs to Damon's 16), but Damon also has the added dimension of speed (19 steals last year), and at 38 he's a year younger than Ibanez, who'll turn 40 this summer.
The Yankees did a salary dance two years ago with Damon, who wound up going to the Tigers that year before moving to the Rays last year. And it's also very probable he has better other options than Ibanez and more leverage, as he's been connected to the Mariners, A's and Orioless, so he may cost a few dollars more. Ibanez has only been connected to the Tigers, who have no need for him since signing Prince Fielder, plus the Mets, who are trying to start a fire with their two nickels.
Regardless, with all the players having an interest in coming to New York to play for a contender, the Yankees are in excellent position here to get who they want at a reasonable price. They could get Damon on a good deal. No reason for baseball's richest team to try to save a few pennies and sign the sweet fellow who made outs at an alarming rate last year.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: February 1, 2012 12:34 am
It's less than three weeks until spring camps open, and an unusual number of very viable -- and in some cases, even accomplished -- players remain free agents. Here are 20 still available on the market who could still help someone:
1. Roy Oswalt, SP. His apparent geographic requirements have dragged this to the edge of February. Looks like it's down to the Cardinals and Rangers after he rejected the Tigers and so far resisted the Red Sox. Terrific career, but hinted at retirement during a season in which he had career high 1.34 WHIP.
2. Edwin Jackson, SP. He reportedly has two three-year offers, and the Red Sox, who are in on many players, are there with a bid, as well. Has remarkable record of durability for a young (still only 28) pitcher, but one bad early year in Tampa skews his career stats. A clubhouse plus who always answers the bell, but hurt himself with an uneven postseason. One of three active pitchers 28 or younger with less than a 4.50 ERA, at least 199 innings and more than 140 strikeouts in each of the last three seasons. The other three are Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez.
3. Johnny Damon, DH-OF. Didn't appear to be slowing down last year when he hit 16 home runs and stole 19 bases, but perhaps he's caught in a difficult DH market. Yankees, Tigers, Orioles and Mariners make sense, but the A's would be the most interesting spot after his negative Moneyball mention.
4. Casey Kotchman, 1B. Hit .306 last year after a vision correction. Indians and Orioles have been mentioned.
5. Mike Gonzalez, RP. Strikeout artist has 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings over career and 1.24 career WHIP. Lefty could help several teams, including Rangers and Yankees.
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6. Todd Coffey, RP. Durable reliever, and he isn't just the guy with the funny sprint from the pen. A rare reliever who pitched in more than 200 innings over the last three years (with a respectable WHIP of 1.26). A's and Cubs among those with interest.
7. Hideki Matsui, DH-OF. His .252 batting average from a year ago hurts him, but Oakland is a death trap for hitters. Wouldn't bet against this guy.
8. Eric Chavez, INF. Former star had his most at-bats since 2007. Still only 34, and is a terrific guy. Yankees, Nats, Padres and Rays have shown interest.
9. Juan Cruz, RP. Dependable seventh-inning man. Has more than a strikeout an inning over his career.
10. Rick Ankiel, OF. Added something to his repertoire with 10 stolen bases last year. Fascinating career. Also, the best outfield arm in baseball.
11. Micah Owings, SP-RP. Another guy with two-way talent, and some teams have wondered about utilizing him as more than a pitcher. Has .507 career slugging percentage. Also, made nice comeback to go 8-0 for Arizona in 2011.
12. Mark Teahen, INF-OF. Versatile player underperformed last year but is a .264 career hitter.
13. Chad Durbin, RP. Yet another durable, useful reliever still out there.
14. Aaron Miles, INF. He's a .281 career hitter who's outperformed expectations everywhere except with the Cubs.
15. Kosuke Fukudome, OF. Speaking of being a disappointing Cub, Fukudome wasn't looked upon kindly as an overpaid North Sider. But as an outfield extra who plays defense and gets on base (.361 career OBP), he'd be a solid pickup.
16. Magglio Ordonez, OF-DH. Sure, he's had ankle problems the past couple years. But the man can still hit. Batted .294 after the break last year.
17. Edgar Renteria, INF. Twice a World Series hero, he's obviously hoping to outlast longtime nemesis Orlando Cabrera. Giants, Red Sox and Rays are among teams that have shown interest.
18. Raul Ibanez, OF_DH. He hit 20 home runs in a down year. That .289 on-base percentage may be scaring a few teams. Yankees and Mets both would fit. Good guy in the clubhouse.
19, Jason Isringhausen, RP. Should have something left after his surprise comeback season in which he allowed only 36 hits in 46 2/3 innings.
20. Livan Hernandez, SP. Yes, I know, he throws slow. And it's possible he isn't exactly 36 (as listed). But he's won at least eight games 16 straight years, and did have 16 quality starts last year.
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