I swear, sometimes following the Yankees is like reading a mystery novel. You find yourself piecing together shreds of evidence and jumping to conclusions on who the real killer is, or in this case who the next Yankee is. We all know Brian Cashman operates like a ninja, and for good reason. He can’t let details of free agent and trade targets leak, lest other teams (read the The Boston Red Sox) jump into the mix and jack up the price. But they will feed their media beast with tiny bits of info to fill up the tabloids and blogs and keep fans talking about the team. On Thursday, we had one of those shreds on what should be the final major move of the Yankee off season, namely who will fill the everyday DH role.
Well well well. “Deal”? So lets eliminate all the Free Agents right off the bat, so to speak. This makes sense, as I detailed in my Jorge Vazquez piece on Thursday there really aren’t any mutual great fits out there on the free agent market. So that leaves us with trade targets.
First, lets try to ascertain who the Yanks will be looking to deal. There have been some rumors about Phil Hughes being available, but I have to think he’s not their first option. As bad as he was last year, he’s showed himself in 2009 to be stellar working out of the bullpen. With Mariano on the last year of his contract and contemplating retirement, Hughes will be on the short list of candidates to replace Mo, along with Joba and D-Rob. Joba’s coming back from TJ, so he’s a complete wild card for the next year or two. Dave Robertson is terrific, but has a habit of making a mess at times that needs to be cleaned up. Hughes would be a very good fit for 2013 Closer. I wouldn’t be in any rush to deal him.
That leaves us with you know who. The Yanks have already made it known they’d like to deal him, and are willing to eat some of that dead weight contract in order to make it happen. To state something like that publicly makes it very hard to go back on that and play kiss and make up in Spring Training. Everyone knows the Yanks are tired of his act, and would prefer he wasn’t here. That’s a tough situation for anyone to deal with, especially someone as volatile as AJ. This offseason we saw Derek Lowe and Carlos Zambrano get traded. Lowe was worthless last year and Zambrano is crazy. I have to think if you can deal those guys, you can trade AJ.
Whoever the Yankees look for, it most likely won’t be a DH-only type player. As Buster Olney explained the other day teams are transitioning away from those players in favor of those who give you some positional flexibility. In the current baseball world of 12 man bullpens and a receding run environment, this makes a lot of sense. The Yanks plan on using a rotating DH this year, with A-Rod spending up to 40 games there. At age 37, Alex figures to be transitioning into the full time DH role over the next few years. That’s one of the reasons why the Yanks were willing to deal Jesus Montero, who many doubted would stick at Catcher. With that in mind, whoever they deal for would have to give them some positional flexibility. No DH-only types. So forget Adam Dunn, Billy Butler, Russell Branyan.
At the WFAN Breakfast last year, I quoted Brian Cashman saying this:
“Everything I say (publicly) has meaning. They’re like bread crumbs leading you in the direction of where I stand on a player.”
Where are these bread crumbs leading? Personally, I have no idea.