Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Designated Hitter

Bernie is probably done. As I've stated before, I'm willing to give him until May to "warm up" and prove that he isn't completely spent. That said, it's time to start exploring other options.

I am going to assume for the moment two things: a) The Yankees stay with a 4 man bench following Small and Dotel's return and b) Bernie Williams bows out gracefully, retiring in mid-May.

We have the following options to replace Bernie at DH: a) Promote from within b) Trade for a DH c) Trade for an outfielder and move Sheffield or Matsui to DH.

I'll get to promotion from within in a minute, but let's look at some trade options. I'm going to identify some players who are going to be free agents in the next few years, and therefore are likely targets for trade. Most of the players are also on teams who are unlikely to contend.

Mike Sweeney - Yeah, he's popular in Kansas City, but he can hit and is being wasted on the young club. Not likely to be traded, but wouldn't cost us too much if he were to become available.

Craig Wilson - For some reason, Pittsburgh was in a rush to get rid of Wilson, their second best batter, during Spring Training. Wilson responded by starting the season hitting .391/.413/.927 with 6 home runs. He's an average outfielder who can also play 1b, and a free agent at the end of the year.

Matt Stairs - Stairs is a free agent after this year, and Kansas City is almost certain to contend. Can play a decent OF and 1b. Not an amazing hitter, but better than Bernie.

Aubrey Huff - Not a great OF, but we know he can hit. Would probably come at a huge cost though, coming from Tampa Bay.

Carlos Quentin - It seems like the Diamondbacks never want to call him up. He tore up AAA last year, but was blocked by a loaded Diamondback outfield. He could put up similar numbers to Craig Wilson, and is still young.

Barry Bonds - I can dream right?

Ok, those some of our trading options. However, promotion from our farm system is probably the better option. Melky Cabrera is batting .380/.448/.540 with only one strikeout on the season for AAA Columbus. This after a successful season of winter ball for Melky should signal his readiness for another major league shot. Hopefully he doesn't debut against the Red Sox in a pressure-packed series again.

Melky should be a primary RF, pushing Sheffield (and occassionally, Matsui and Damon) to DH. The Yankees also have Carlos Pena signed to a minor league deal in extended spring training right now. Pena will probably replace Andy Phillips on the roster.

Last year the Yankees promoted Robinson Cano in early May to fill in for a struggling Tony Womack at 2b. Robinson Cano was off to a very hot start (batting .333/.368/.574). This situation is no different, except that Bernie is actually performing worse than Womack was.

Amount remaining on Joe Torre's contract: 12,610,493 dollars