Tagged: Spring Training

A True Blessing

This year’s spring training has been a relatively quiet one for our Yankees. No scandals, no controversy, nothing very Yankee-esque. We’re not used to the lack of drama from the Yankees camp, so we have to find something put all of our energy into.

With our starting lineup set (not much to debate other than whether Cano should bat 5th or 7th), we’ve turned our attention to pitching. The main debates amongst Yankees fans involve four names: Hughes, Aceves, Gaudin and Logan. 
Phil Franchise vs. The Aces
The fifth spot in our rotation is up for grabs. The main candidates are Alfredo Aceves and Phil Hughes. Very few people still think Joba Chamberlain should be a starter, and I’m not one of them. Joba needs to clock that fastball of his in the mid-90s, something he hasn’t been able to do as a starter. I think he’ll be our next closer. 
Between Hughes and Aceves, however, I’m somewhat torn, yet confident about which one will become our fifth starter. Both have shown strength this spring training, and they’ve shown that they deserve to be starters.
Aceves has done wonderfully so far in spring training. In three outings, his record is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA. That is absolutely amazing. He started out as a long-shot, but quickly became the frontrunner for the rotation spot with his great outings. Many have also said that if Aceves earns the spot in the rotation, Hughes and Joba will be in the bullpen, providing one Hell of a bridge to Mariano Rivera.
This is all very true, and I am very impressed with Aceves’ performance in spring training so far. He was also wonderful for us last year. 
In my opinion, however, Hughes edges him out in the race. As you know from my previous blog post, we weren’t able to watch the game against the Astros, so I wasn’t able to see Hughes’ last start. What I’ve read about his start, however, really made me happy. Not only were his numbers great in that outing, but he’s worked on his fourth pitch. He’s now confident in his changeup, adding it to his previous arsenal of curveball, fastball and cutter. He threw it as a first pitch at one point, and as a 2-1 pitch with men on base at another. I like the sound of that.
With his dominant start against the Astros, my vote is currently going to Phil Hughes for the 5th spot in our rotation, with Aceves as a very close second. I’d much rather have Alfredo Aceves in the bullpen.
Sixth Righty vs. Second Lefty
This argument depends on who wins the coveted fifth rotation spot. If Aceves is our fifth starter, and Hughes is in the bullpen, then it would probably be a good idea to add Chad Gaudin to the bullpen, since he can be our long reliever. If Hughes is our fifth starter (which is more likely), then we would already have our long reliever in Alfredo Aceves, and we therefore would have no real need for Gaudin. Who should we add to our bullpen instead? I’m a fan of adding a second left-handed pitcher, so my vote goes to Boone Logan.
Boone Logan is one of those pitchers who are betrayed by their numbers. I’ve said time and time again, numbers and statistics do not come close to telling the whole story. Yes, his numbers thus far in the majors have been less than impressive, but he has good stuff. Logan’s main problem is his command of his pitches. In his years in the major leagues, he’s lacked the control necessary to avoid being lit up in some of his appearances. 
What everyone seems to forget, however, is that Boone is still young. He’s 25 years old, and as a left-handed reliever, it’s normal to have control problems at this age. The big bright spot is that he can pitch, his fastball has been clocked at around 94 MPH, and he also has a good slider, curveball and changeup. Even with his shaky command, Logan has held the lefties he’s faced to a .231 batting average. That isn’t a bad number for a pitcher who’s yet to gain full control of his pitches. Phil Coke’s numbers against LHB weren’t much better, and he was great for us last season. During this year’s spring training, Boone Logan has shown good command of his pitches thus far. He had one rough outing, but since then he’s been great. So there’s a big improvement.
We have Damaso Marte who is definitely going to be in the bullpen, so Boone Logan would be his “backup”. My main concern with Marte is his health. He’s not getting any younger, and he had injury problems last year that kept him out of games for a chunk of the season. Yesterday, he got hit in the back hard with a comeback ball off of a Phillies’ bat. That scared me. He seems to be fine right now, but I’m still concerned.
When Marte is healthy, he is solid. I have very little worries when I see a healthy Marte coming out of the bullpen. To keep him healthy throughout the season, we can’t overwork him like Coke was overworked last year. Look, let’s not kid ourselves here, we all know that Joe Girardi likes to go overboard with mixing and matching pitchers to batters. That is no secret. With Girardi’s style of bullpen management, I fear that Damaso Marte will be overworked, and we’ll lose him for the second half of the season due to injury. 
Some people have said “Well, let’s start out the season with Marte as our only lefty, and if he’s hurt, we can call up Logan, or acquire a new LHP, for the second half”. That’s all fine and dandy, but why not avoid Marte’s injury and have a backup for him right from the start? I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see Marte healthy all season long and have him pitch during the crucial games in August and September. The way to minimize the risk of Marte getting injured is to give him a well-balanced work load right from the start. Joe Girardi will not do this if Marte is the only LHP in the bullpen. He will overwork him, you know he will.
Others (including Joe Girardi) have said “There are right-handed pitchers, like Robertson, who are good against left-handed batters”. That is true, Robertson has been impressive against both righties and lefties; but again I’ll go back to Girardi’s bullpen management. Do we want Robertson to turn into Joe Girardi’s Scott Proctor? If our only backup for a lefty pitcher is one of our best righties, then said righty will become the “go-to guy” in many games. We’ve all seen what that did to Scott Proctor’s arm, do we want to see it again with Robertson? I most certainly do not.
So far, this is how I see our bullpen:
– Mariano Rivera RHP
– Alfredo Aceves RHP
– David Robertson RHP
– Joba Chamberlain RHP
– Damaso Marte LHP
– Chan Ho Park RHP
That leaves one spot left for a reliever. Of course, I’m already calling Phil Hughes our 5th starter. 
With our inning-eating starting rotation, we don’t need two long relievers in the bullpen. Alfredo Aceves is more than enough as a long reliever, especially since we also have Park and Robertson to share the work load when short relief is needed. Chan Ho Park could also be a second long-reliever if necessary. The addition of Chad Gaudin, albeit a fine pitching addition, would be redundant. Gaudin’s main strength is his ability to be a solid long-reliever. In short relief, I’d rather have Robertson and Park on the mound. What we’re missing is a “lefty specialist” behind Marte. I hate the term “lefty specialist” and, if I believed that Girardi doesn’t depend on these specialists, I wouldn’t be bringing it up. Knowing that Girardi loves lefty specialists, however, I
cannot be comfortable with having Damaso Marte as our only option. We need a second lefty.
Unless Cashman acquires another left-handed reliever, we’re stuck with choosing between Boone Logan and Royce Ring. Yeah, I’ll take Logan. Thanks.
I would love to take a risk and give Boone Logan a chance. With the rest of our arms – I like to call them the “12 Arms Of Fury” – adding Boone Logan would be a low-risk/high-reward move. Give him a chance, if he doesn’t pan out, we still have Marte, and with the other right-handed relievers that we have, losing Gaudin wouldn’t be a tragedy.
We are Blessed.
We’re unbelievably blessed that these are the only tough decisions the Yankees face in spring training. We are practically complaining that we have too many solid pitchers. All teams wish that the only problem they face going into the season is the problem of choosing which of the plethora of good pitchers make the roster. No matter who makes the cut, and who doesn’t, we will have 12 solid arms going into the season. We are truly blessed.



You can find Beeeebzy’s blog entries and more at 161st-and-River.com


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Anticlimactic

I don’t know about you, boys and girls, but I’ve been waiting all winter to see our starting lineup play. We’ve read about our players, seen them play in other spring training games, and argued about what the lineup should look like. What we haven’t had, however, is the opportunity to see our entire 2010 starting lineup, from top to bottom. This opportunity presented itself to us last night.

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Yesterday – well, early this morning for me – America caught the first glimpse of the full 2010 Yankees starting lineup. The lineup was as follows:
SS – Derek Jeter
DH – Nick Johnson
1B – Mark Teixeira
3B – Alex Rodriguez
2B – Robinson Cano
C – Jorge Posada
LF – Curtis Granderson
RF – Nick Swisher
CF – Brett Gardner
Also, for the first time this year, the great Mariano Rivera was scheduled to pitch. That in itself is something I’ve been waiting for all winter. Mariano hadn’t pitched in a game since the final out that won the 2009 World Series. We were all excited to see him pitch again. 
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It was a joy to watch them all take to the field for the first time in 2010, right?
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We didn’t get to see them play, because the game wasn’t televised!
Yesterday’s game was nowhere to be found! It wasn’t broadcast on national television in the U.S. and it wasn’t on local television in New York. It wasn’t on MLB.tv locally or internationally, and there wasn’t a radio broadcast of the game. All we had to follow the game were the Tweets of the many Yankees beat-writers on Twitter.
How incredibly anticlimactic.
I cannot understand what would possess anyone to think that this important spring training game shouldn’t be televised. My mind cannot comprehend such a thought. A Yankees spring training game with the full starting lineup playing, and Mariano Rivera pitching, would surely bring in higher ratings than regular season games from the Pirates.
The game not being broadcast really enraged me. I’m so desperate for Yankees Baseball that any opportunity to watch them play excites me. I watched the entire Pirates’ Telethon the other day, just to catch a glimpse of my Yankees out on the field. I did that to see our second-string players, you don’t think I’d be excited about watching our starters?
What were they thinking when they decided not to broadcast this game? I understand that the Yankees lineup is fierce, but our national and international security doesn’t depend on the Yankees lineup remaining hidden from the world. So why weren’t we able to watch?
What was the point of not broadcasting the game? The only thing to come out of this decision was a loss of an opportunity to make money off of advertising during the game, while pissing off an entire fan-base. The Pirates’ Telethon the other day was more worthy of being televised? Has Major League Baseball decided to take coverage away from the “big markets” and give it to the smaller markets? Or have they just been smoking some of Omar Minaya’s “good sh*t”?
I don’t understand what happened. I don’t know who the “genius” behind this decision was, but it was an incredibly stupid decision to make. Broadcasting the Yankees game yesterday would have made a lot of money for a lot of people. 
I’d like to comment on the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Houston Astros, but I can’t really comment on something I didn’t see. All I have is what I read about the game:
  • Mariano Rivera threw 27 pitches in a scoreless inning, and managed to work his way out of trouble. He looked better yesterday than he did in his spring training debut in 2009.
  • AJ Burnett pitched 2.1 innings, in which he gave up 2 hits, 1 run, walked 4 and struck out 2.
  • Mark Teixeira hit the only home run of the game, off of Brian Moehler.
  • Phil Hughes pitched 4 shutout innings, giving up 3 hits, walking 1 and striking out 2.
All of that is fine and dandy, but I don’t like reading about games, I like watching them. I can’t make any sort of original commentary when all I have to work with are numbers. Numbers are important in baseball, but they don’t come close to telling the whole story, especially in spring training. With every game you watch, you gain a deeper understanding of the game, and a deeper feel for the direction in which your team is headed. Depending on statistics and numbers to learn about baseball is how you end up being one of the nerds at Baseball Prospectus, who waste time and energy coming up with stupidity in the form of a PECOTA Depth Chart.
I’m deeply upset about not being able to watch yesterday’s game. It’s as if the Yankees had two off-days in a row. After being starved and deprived of baseball for four long months, I don’t enjoy having baseball taken away from me once it’s begun. There are several circumstances in which I enjoy being teased, but a Yankees game is not one of them.
This better not happen again. If it does, somebody will face my wrath. I don’t know whom to blame for yesterday, but should it happen again, I will find out who’s behind it. Once I do, you will read about it here first.


You can find Beeeebzy’s blog entries and more at 161st-and-River.com

Our Operators Are Standing By

One bad thing about depending on MLB.tv for my Yankees “fix” is that it sometimes forces me to watch feeds of opposing networks. Normally I get the YES feed, but at times (especially logging onto the site internationally) I’m stuck with other networks, whose broadcasters make me miss the ramblings of Michael Kay.
Yesterday’s game was being broadcast on FSN Pittsburgh. 
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It’s a stretch to call what went on yesterday “broadcasting a game”. It was a Pirates’ Telethon. I didn’t think it was possible to advertise season tickets as much as they were advertised throughout the game. I understand that the Pirates are rarely televised nationally, and I appreciate the fact that they’re desperate to sell tickets, but yesterday was over the top. I almost called the ticket hotline from Dubai, to buy season tickets that I won’t use, just so they’d shut up. It was insane.
It wasn’t the typical casual mention of ticket sales once every couple of innings, in between batters. It wasn’t just a few graphics appearing to advertise the tickets. The play-by-play broadcasters were continuously talking about the different ticket plans, taking a break every once in a while to call out a play on the field. It was a telethon. They weren’t broadcasting the game “play-by-play”, they were broadcasting the sales “ticket-by-ticket”. We saw the offices inside PNC Park in Pittsburgh more than we saw the game being played in Florida. I saw more employees waiting for phone calls to sell tickets than I saw players!
By the 4th inning, I was expecting Bono to come out and sing. 
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I suppose it was a good thing that we didn’t see much of the game for 3 hours, because our Yankees kept giving up home run after home run. It was a Pirates’ home run derby in Florida yesterday. I guess that helped them sell a few more season tickets. The Yankees ended up losing 10-5 to the Pirates. I’m almost glad I was watching a Pirates’ Telethon instead of the game.
Normally I watch these spring training games because I’m obsessed with baseball, and because I like to watch our players and learn about their development in the weeks leading up to the season. I saw none of that yesterday. I did, however, learn a few valuable things:
  1. Season ticket plans for the Pittsburgh Pirates are very flexible. If you buy season tickets, and you can’t make it to one of the games throughout the season, you can call in and they will exchange your tickets for tickets to another game. You get a Clemente jersey just for calling, I think.
  2. Season ticket plans start at $399. $399 for all 81 home games. No, I didn’t forget to add a zero at the end of that figure, it really is $399. How crazy is that? If I lived anywhere near Pittsburgh I would buy season tickets for the Pirates’ games, even as a Yankees fan. Why not? PNC Park is a beautiful stadium, and it’s $399! That’s roughly the price of decent seats at Yankee Stadium for one game. At PNC Park, $399 can get you season tickets. My God. $399. I’ve spent more than that on hot dogs and beer at Yankee Stadium. 
  3. FSNP broadcasters thank season ticket holders individually on air. They stretch them out throughout the game. So that’s one season ticket holder per inning. They also seem to work on commission. They get paid for every time they say “season tickets”.

I don’t remember much else from the game. I remember that CC’s command of his pitches looked better and, according to one of the broadcasters, Sabathia’s tailor sucks because those pants he’s wearing are the size of a circus tent. “You can fit three guys in there!” 

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I also remember that Jonathan Albaladejo confirmed his spot in AAA by giving up 87456720 home runs, and that Lastings Milledge doesn’t seem to understand the art of base-running. Other than that, I don’t remember much baseball from yesterday.
I do, however, remember the number to the Pirates’ ticket hotline: 1-800-PLEASE-CALL. Our operators are standing by!


You can find Beeeebzy’s blog entries and more at 161st-and-River.com


A State Of Despair

Like food and sleep deprivation, baseball deprivation is no laughing matter. When you’re as fanatic about baseball as I am, this current drought pushes you to the edge. It’s like wandering the city streets, completely deprived of food, then suddenly looking through a window to find a family sitting down to a feast. The food is right there in front of you, but you can’t reach in and grab it. This leaves you desperate for food, and you would do anything for a bite to eat. Anything.
That’s the state of despair I find myself in during these final days before spring training games commence.

It doesn’t help that very little is happening in the Yankees camp. In 2010, we’re dealing with a Slow News Spring Training. What a huge change from last year’s spring training, or every other spring training in recent memory. There is virtually nothing to report from Tampa. Absolutely nothing.

No Yankees news on TV, online, or on Twitter. It’s sort of eerie. I understand that, sometimes, no news is good news, but this is really starting to scare me. I don’t know what to do with myself, nor do any other Yankees fans.
Some fans are pretending to care about the Winter Olympics, while others are paying attention to American Idol. The Yankees bloggers/beat writers/reporters, on the other hand, are competing over Twitter to see who can provide us with the best candid photos of players.
At first, the pictures of our Yankees were great. We missed seeing them all winter, and it was exciting to see them taking the field again. Lately, they’ve gotten a little ridiculous.
“Here’s CC Sabathia talking on the phone”

“Here’s Derek Jeter scratching his nose”

“Here’s Alex Rodriguez drinking water”

“Here’s Mark Teixeira washing his hands after using the bathroom”
I don’t really blame all these reporters. They traveled all the way to Tampa expecting to see some Yankee Drama. Instead, the most exciting piece of news they’ve had to report was that Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes were warming up in the bullpen side-by-side. 
Personally, I could not care less about what Phil and Joba do from now until the Opening Day roster is set. They could put them in a cage and have them duke it out for all I care. At least then we’d get some exciting news from Florida.

That’s not to say I don’t have my own personal preference. I want Hughes in the rotation, and Joba in the bullpen. Until I see the final roster, however, I don’t care what happens between those two. 
The media is blowing this “competition” between them way out of proportion. We’re all so desperate for some action from the Yankees that reporters are trying to feed our needs by making up stories. They’re portraying the competition over the final SP spot to be a war between Hughes and Chamberlain. There is no truth to that portrayal. Honestly, I doubt they’re even fighting for the 5th spot in our rotation. I think the decisions have been made already. 
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. Once the final roster is set, we’ll discuss it. Until then, put a lid on it.
Bottom line is: we’re deprived. I never thought I’d miss the times when a Steinbrenner would shoot his mouth off and cause controversy. I never thought I’d long for an Alex Rodriguez scandal. I wish Derek Jeter was still single so that we’d at least be able to discuss which girl he’s currently sleeping with. At this point, I’d even settle for a brawl between Burnett and Posada. 
Give me something, Yankees. Give me something.
Since the Damon Drama ended, we’ve had nothing to talk about. No issues to discuss, no arguments to get worked up over. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The first game of spring training will be played on March 3rd. That’s 4 days away! To any normal person, that would seem very near. To Yankee fanatics, however, 4 days without any Yankee action will seem like an eternity.
So, until March 3rd, I suppose we’ll just have to continue pretending to give a damn about Figure Skating and Curling.

Chan Ho in the Park

So the Yankees sign Chan Ho Park. That’s nice.

Where did that come from? I live in Dubai, so baseball news gets to me a little late, but this caught me by surprise. I had no idea the Yankees were even interested in Chan Ho Park. Apparently Chan Ho made the announcement from South Korea that he chose the Yankees over the Cubs. *He’s even farther away than I am!*
Anyway, it seems like a good deal to me: 1 year, $1.2million with another $300,000 in incentives for a decent middle-reliever. 
What does this mean for our 2010 bullpen? It means that the other righties fighting for a spot in our bullpen will be watching the start of the season from AAA. 
The Great Mariano, Joba or Hughes, Robertson, Marte, Aceves and Logan are surely in the bullpen to start off the season. *Other than Boone Logan, who’s our realistic option for a second lefty? Kei Igawa? Oy vey.* This leaves one spot open for a reliever. Before today, it looked like that last spot would be  fought over by Mitre, Gaudin, Edwar and Albaladejo. *Try saying Albaladejo after a few shots of tequila – not pretty.* 
Now, with the signing of Chan Ho Park, those guys can kiss the Yankees bullpen goodbye, at least for the start of the season.
In my opinion, Edwar Ramirez and Jonathan Albaladejo were long shots to start off the season anyway. Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin, on the other hand, were not. It seemed as though one of them was bound to make the roster, which worried me. I’m not exactly a fan of either. 
So, at the end of the day, $1.5million (at most) got us a decent reliever, and gave us the luxury of not depending on Mitre/Gaudin. I’m happy.
Chan Ho Park had a rough time in New York a few years ago when he was with the Mets, pitching just 4 innings (as a starter) before being sent down to the minors. He didn’t pitch in relief, so the transition into the bullpen was bound to get a little messy. He was given the opportunity to work that out in AAA. In 2008 and 2009, however, he became a reliever and returned to good form. 
With our other options in the bullpen, Chan Ho Park is a good fit. He sure as Hell came at a good price. He turned down offers worth more than double what we’re paying for him. This shows that he is an intelligent man, and wants to play for a team that actually has a shot at winning the World Series. *cough* Unlike Damon *cough*

Welcome back to New York, Chan Ho. This time you’re in the right part of town.

Hindsight is 20/20. Foresight is priceless.

I wrote a blog post back in November saying that the Yankees were going into the offseason targeting Damon over Matsui. That has been proven to be true by the winter moves. Now, with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to spring training tomorrow, and with baseball just around the corner, some of you can’t help but wonder “What if”. That is understandable. Hopefully, I can put your minds at ease.
Talking to fellow Yankees fans, and reading several Yankees blogs, many questions are being raised about whether or not letting Matsui go was the right move, especially with Damon’s departure from New York. This is natural, as spring training is not only a time to look toward the upcoming season, but it is also a time to reflect on the winter moves.

The main questions I’ve seen being asked are: What if we knew Johnny Damon would reject our offer? Had we known back then what we know now, would we have let Hideki Matsui walk away so easily?

I’ll be asking quite a few questions in this post, but worry not my fellow fans, I’ll give you my answers to the questions at the end of my post. 
First, before I give my answers, it’s time for a little objectivity. Let me raise the concerns that come to my mind.

It was made clear right from the beginning that the Yankees were working with a fixed budget, and they would not go over it. It’s also obvious that there is no way the Yankees could have known that a player would reject a fair offer. However, a little bit of foresight could have gone a long way. Here’s what we did know back then:
  • Johnny Damon puts money first (as evident from his departure from Boston)
  • Johnny Damon is a Scott Boras client, and Boras clients tend to get greedy
  • Due to the strict budget, it would be a choice between Damon and Matsui
  • Both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui were essential members of our lineup in 2009
A little foresight could have changed things. We could have foreseen the possibility of Johnny Damon rejecting our offer since it was a paycut for him. Having that possibility present in the back of their minds, should the Yankees have left some wiggle-room with Matsui?
I obviously have no inside information on any negotiations, I’m just a fan trying to make sense of the information given to me. I don’t know what went on between the Yankees and Hideki Matsui, but I find it highly unlikely that Cashman didn’t even put a Torre-like offer on the table. I’m not saying that Matsui should have accepted it, he obviously found a better offer with the Angels. What I’m saying is: knowing that there is a possibility that our Plan A (Damon) would fall through, shouldn’t the Yankees have been a little more lenient with the Matsui offer? 
I’m involved in many business negotiations in my career, I know that there are ways to put an offer on the table and make it known that there’s some wiggle room for an agreement to be reached. There are also ways to show that the offer is final and non-negotiable, which is what I believe the Yankees did with Matsui.
Was that the right way to go? I agreed with Cashman when he chose Damon over Matsui, simply because of Matsui’s aging knees. Now that Damon is out of the picture, I can’t help but wonder what it would have looked like if we added the $2 million we paid for Randy Winn, and maybe some of what we paid for the others, to our original offer to Matsui. Surely that offer would have been in the same ballpark as what the Angels paid.
As I said, I don’t know what went on in the negotiations, so I have to show the other side of the coin. The Yankees could have wanted Matsui back (but not over Damon), so that means that they might have left some room for an agreement with Hideki. Could it be that Godzilla no longer wanted to play in New York? I can’t imagine why the World Series MVP would want to leave the team with which he just won the World Series. So that leads me to believe that he wanted to come back.
So, should Matsui have waited before signing with the Angels? He sure seemed to have accepted their offer quickly. In the blink of an eye, Hideki was off to Los Angeles. That seemed a little strange to me. Which is what makes me think that the Yankees rejected Matsui, Matsui did not reject the Yankees.
I’ve asked the questions, now it’s time to give you my own personal answers. Let me remind you that these are my answers, and obviously not answers given by any Yankee official.
Johnny Damon could make up for no Hideki Matsui in our lineup, but Matsui cannot make up for no Damon. The Yankees knew this, Johnny Damon knew this, even Hideki Matsui probably knew this. If we put our emotions aside and thought about it logically, we (as fans) could have known this, too. I knew it, I even blogged it, and I’m not some baseball genius. I’m just capable of putting my feelings aside, ignoring how much I love a player, and looking at things from a “strictly business” point of view. Remember, with Major League Baseball, and all professional sports: it’s nothing personal, dear, it’s strictly business.
As I already mentioned, the Yankees were working with a budget. They would not in any way go over this budget. That was very clear. I am positive that Brian Cashman was aware of the possibility of Johnny Damon rejecting his offer, it would take an absolute idiot to ignore that risk. So, when it comes to the question “Had we known then what we know now, would we have let Matsui walk away?” my answer is yes. The Yankees would have let Hideki Matsui leave regardless of whether or not Johnny Damon would be coming back. Let me explain why.
If Johnny Damon came back, then the reason behind Matsui’s departure would have been pretty obvious: we didn’t want to go over the budget. So that’s the first part of the explanation.
Second part of the explanation is not as simple, but still quite logical. In the beginning of the offseason, this is what was probably going through Brian Cashman’s mind regarding Johnny Damon: If Damon leaves, we’ll need to find a defensive replacement, a replacement in offensive production (hitting), and a replacement for Damon’s OBP. Looking at the Free Agency market at the time, and knowing that the Yankees couldn’t overpay for a big name for budgetary reasons, there was not one player that could have replaced Johnny Damon. No, not even Hideki Matsui. 
While one player couldn’t replace Johnny Damon, 2-3 players could replace him with correct in-game management. In that case (which is what happened) the Yankees needed to keep some cash free to acquire several players in the event that Damon left. They couldn’t tie their money up in a contract with Matsui. It’s not personal, dear, it’s strictly business.
Therefore, going into the offseason, the Yankees knew that, because of the strict budget, Hideki Matsui wasn’t coming back to the Bronx. I pretty much knew it then and hinted at it (in my blog posts, but especially on Twitter), and quite a few of you did, but it was too depressing to say it bluntly. It was known soon after the World Series Championship that our World Series MVP wasn’t coming back. Talk about a downer.
So, in my opinion, the right thing to do (for both the Yankees and for Hideki Matsui) was to basically let Matsui know that he was no longer needed in the Bronx. It wouldn’t have been fair to Godzilla to string him along knowing that we would not bring him back. It would have possibly pushed him to reject other offers. So, by making it clear that he would not be back in pinstripes early on in the offs
eason, we cut the cord. That’s why he quickly accepted the offer from Annaheim.
That is, indeed, what happened. Johnny Damon rejected our offer (and stupidly so, but you already know what I think from reading my post on Damon), and we replaced him with three new players: Granderson (for home runs and defense), Nick Johnson (for OBP) and Randy Winn (for defense). Damon’s base-running can be replaced in-house by Brett Gardner. Is it more complicated to have four players replacing one? Yes it is, but with intelligent management (we’re trusting you, Girardi) it can prove to be successful. By tying up our money in a Matsui contract, however, it wouldn’t have been possible to fully replace the loss of Johnny Damon.
Luckily for us, Brian Cashman had the correct foresight, and made the right moves.
It’s not personal, dear, it’s strictly business.