Here is the outlook for the coming season: I will of course be on top of everything the Yankees do, and will probably post/bitch/gloat at least once a week, depending on the course of the season. Also, more importantly, every post title from here on out will be dinosaur related. Think I can come up with upwards of fifty dinosaur jokes? WE SHALL SEE.
Now, onto real baseball related musings. Even after the expected departure of Bobby Abreu (to the Angels) last week, the Yankees have quite a bit of depth in the corner outfield positions. Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon are still around, and each is still more than capable of putting up better than league average numbers in left field. If he doesn’t end up in center field, Brett Gardner also provides a great glove and incredible speed, a similar skill set to Jacoby Ellsbury. Last year’s mid-season pickup Xavier Nady is a starting caliber player, and newly acquired Nick Swisher has a career OPS+ of 112. The Nady trade was at best questionable last season, and after picking up Swisher only seems all the more unnecessary. Damaso Marte, also picked up in the Nady trade, could have at least fetched a pair of first round picks (should the Yankees have offered him arbitration and he turned it down), but I will save complaints about that debacle for another evening. Instead, while Nady and Marte are serviceable players, they cost the Yankees a promising and (very) young player in Jose Tabata, who after recovering from a hand/wrist injury finally started putting together a solid string of games in Pittsburgh’s minor league system. The presence of Swisher and the dearth of bullpen arms in the Yankees high minor leagues only further cement the notion that the trade with Pittsburgh was unnecessary. Considering Marte and Nady each got new contracts and raises, and you really wonder what Cash was thinking last Summer, other than that it was time to panic.
Of course, all of that leads to the Yankees current situation, which in all honesty is a good one. Depth is a plus, especially with several players past their prime in the outfield. However, the best course of action at this juncture would be to make a trade to essentially “undo” last season’s version. Sending Nady to a team like Atlanta, Cincinatti or even the Mets (any of whom would likely require eating much of the raise Nady got this season) for a prospect or two would go a long way in repairing the Yankees minor leagues, which suffered in the last year due to a poor draft. Adding an offensive prospect via trade, followed by a strong June draft (the Yankees still retain a first round pick, even after their spending spree on Type A free agents, because they failed to sign last year’s number 1 pick Gerrit Cole) would do a world of good for a system scarce in hitting after Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero.
The Yankees are certainly not in any offensive trouble this season, but Jeter, Posada Damon and Matsui are all going to be gone or displaced to new positions in the next several years, and the way the team handles the minor leagues in the next season and a half is going to be a huge determiner in how the A.L. East standings look for the next decade.