Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Looking Ahead

Trying to make sense of Matt Holliday's home/road splits yesterday got me thinking about next offseason already. After this year, the Yankees are going to be in the market for some outfielders. The contracts for Xavier Nady, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui will all be expiring, leaving Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and possibly Austin Jackson if he makes some serious strides through the minors.

Those remaining all represent some pretty serious question marks. As a Yankee fan, I'd like to think that Swisher is due for a bounce back since his stats took a serious dip last year in what is ostensibly his prime (age 27) and had a BABIP of .249. Brett Gardner may be off to a nice start this Spring, but let's not forget that in 127 Major League AB's last year he had a line of .228/.283/.299, good for a 53 OPS+. In a year when Melky was supposed to step forward, he fell back significantly. Austin Jackson is still only a prospect, so planning around him being MLB-ready to start the 2010 season is quite foolhardy.

Back in December, Tim at MLBTR compiled a list of the free agents to be in 2010. I whittled it down to the most intriguing options, in my opinion. (The Scarlet B represents a Boras client)

Centerfield Options
Rick Ankiel (30) - B
Coco Crisp (30) - $8MM club option with a $500K buyout

Unless the market turns around Crisp won't have his option picked up the the Royals, but I'd rather have Count Chocula or Tony the Tiger playing CF. Ankiel represents the Boras Dilemma. If he has a great year, his price tag will be astronomical, if he has an average one, you aren't going to be too excited about getting him anyway.

I think we have to hope that either Jackson or Gardner pan out for that spot. They are both solid defensively, which is tremendously important, but they will have to prove that they can hit Major League pitching before I get excited about either of them manning center field.

Now, the Corner Outfield Options.
  • Carl Crawford (28) - $10MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout
  • Jason Bay (31)
I really, really, really like Carl Crawford, aside from his production (or lack thereof due to a torn tendon in his hand) last year. Each year from 2004-07 he had 11 or more HRs, from 46-59 stolen bases, and averaged almost 15 triples (!) per year. The Rays have a pretty well-stocked farm system and it wouldn't be all that shocking if they didn't spring for his $10M option. More on that here (from before Fack Youk's pre-Black & White borrowed picture policy).

I get the feeling the Red Sox will sign Jason Bay before the season is over, but if they don't, I hope the Yankees take serious interest. He gets slept on because he spent most of his career with the Pirates, but look at his numbers. He had a down year in '07, but the guy can hit.

More Boras Dilemmas:
  1. Matt Holliday (30) B
  2. Xavier Nady (31) B
  3. Johnny Damon (36) B
Pass. Pass. Pass.

The Old, the Expensive and the Defensively Incompetent:
  1. Bobby Abreu (36)
  2. Jermaine Dye (36) - $12MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
  3. Vladimir Guerrero (34)
  4. Manny Ramirez (38) - $20MM player option B
  5. Magglio Ordonez (36) - $15MM club/vesting option with a $3MM buyout
Part of me would love to see one of these guys DH'ing, but the other knows that with the Yanks aging rapidly, there will be guys who need a break from playing the field from time to time. Is it worth overpaying for a top of the line hitter when their presence is going to take Jorge out of his rhythm when he has to ride the pine when he's not manning the dish? Maybe not.


  1. "Austin Jackson is still only a prospect, so planning around him being MLB-ready to start the 2010 season is quite fool hearty."

    Its foolhardy.

  2. That's what I thought... f'ing Blogger spell check.

  3. Bay will be 32 next year. No thanks.

  4. Not even for a 3 year deal?

    He's not that high profile of a guy and I don't think teams are going to be fighting over him (all speculation).

  5. Obviously my first choice would be Crawford--though as an H-Town native I think he ends up in Houston.

    I guess I could go 3 years/$30MM tops for Bay.

  6. Bay will be 32 next year. No thanks.

    You're right. No one over 32 has ever been good at baseball ever.

  7. 32 is past a player's prime. If I had the option, I would much rather have a player at his prime or entering it, especially when the aging player will be pretty expensive.

  8. See the following stats from Tristan Cockcroft for (and who I used to write with for now-ESPN's Matthew Berry's before his head got huge).

    This is also during the height of the steroid era. The typical decline past 32 is not worth what Bay will want.