ST PETERSBURG FL (L to R) Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman Johnny Damon #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon and Manny Ramirez #24 of the Tampa Bay Rays pose for a photo during a press conference. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
As of right now, the Yankees are sure asking a lot from Andruw Jones. Who will they sign to help him out?
You might think you've seen this image before. You're probably right. And, yes, I've used it at least twice before. But understand that there might be someone who hasn't seen it yet. You aren't going to be so petty as to deny him or her this piece of found art, are you?
That's from a New York Post article earlier in the offseason. The obvious chuckles were with the Reyes/Jeter gambit, but the whole poll was amusing. Should the Yankees spend $75 million, $100 million, $150 million or $200 million? Don't just stand there, pick one! Pick several!
Then they traded Jesus Montero. The poll didn't seem so funny then. Prince Fielder was still on the market. The poll had a chance to come true, to shame us all. The Yankees were supposed to get under the luxury tax by 2014, but never underestimate the desire of an owner to paint himself purple, put a bed sheet around his neck like a cape, and sneak out into the city to do the Mystery Team's work. The Lord's work, really.
But the Yankees didn't get Fielder. They turned an offseason of inactivity into a mighty fine rotation in a couple of hours, but their DH is still Andruw Jones, who had a fantastic year last year as the designated lefty-masher. But that's the problem -- he's a lefty-masher. Last season, he hit .172/.303/.406 against right-handers, with the Yankees letting him get only 64 at-bats against them. In 2010 he hit .219/.327/.453 against righties; in 2009, he hit .210/.287/.506.
Letting Jones be a full-time DH would be the sign of a team throwing up its hands and hoping for the best. The Yankees generally don't do that. Except for last year with the rotation. Which worked out for the best. Maybe it's not a good example. But just about any team with Andruw Jones in the starting lineup should think about at least getting a left-handed complement for him. With the Yankees not being any team, they'll almost certainly get someone.
And lookie here! Turns out there are a bunch of left-handed options for a team looking for a DH on a one-year deal. Everything's coming up Milhouse. It's about time those Yankees caught a break. A sampling of the remaining options:
Statistically, Damon's best years were with the Yankees. He was on the team that ended that interminable nine-year championship drought. The short right-field porch fits his swing well. There aren't any good reasons why he wouldn't want to go back. Of all the options, he's probably the priciest one, but this is definitely a buyer's market.
As long as we're in the bar car of the nostalgia train, might as well stop and linger around Godzilla for a bit. Matsui had a much worse year than did Damon, but he had a nice second half after a miserable first half.
The problem with Matsui is that he's not a platoon player -- his platoon splits are deceptive every year. I don't even think Matsui knows if he hits lefties or righties better, and with Jones already part of the roster, there's no reason not to go for a more complementary player. Not that the Yankees need to save a spot for Jones, but there are probably better options than a 38-year-old coming off a down year, even if he'd bring his own bobblehead day with him.
It's a tragedy that baseball is losing Ibanez's fielding. I mean, come on.
Poetry. Andruw Jones became a DH when he was 32. Raul Ibanez has played more than 100 games at DH only once in his career, and he continued to be a full-time outfielder until he was 39. Mailing that back to 2005 would cause more chaos than two T-1000s fighting four ED-209s in a crowded church.
But it's probably time for Ibanez to stay the heck away from the field now. He also had a down year, and he's older than both of the previous two candidates, so a renaissance would be less likely.
The youngest of the candidates, but possibly the most broken, Guillen is still just a year removed from a decent-enough season. His ability to switch-hit and play the infield in a pinch would help him have value even if his bat doesn't improve. A .240/.290/.350 Raul Ibanez is going to do all the things that you think a .240/.290/.350 Raul Ibanez can do, which is "make you drink." While Carlos Guillen might do something similarly miserable with the bat, he could also free up a roster spot with his quasi-versatility.
With most of the other guys, you're hoping for pop. Pop and dingers. Maybe they still have something left. Maybe ol' Hideki has some juice left in that ol' bat yet. But with Fukudome, you're hoping for walks and patience. And as a bonus, he can still play the outfield -- he'd be the designated hitter because the outfield is full, not because he fields like he's wearing a falconry hood.
The Yankees will get someone to replace Jesus Montero. It's not going to be a big name. Prince Fielder joke. But it will be a name you know. It will probably be one of those names. And then right when they get one, they'll swing a six-team deal for Joey Votto that somehow ends up with Jeter in center field. It's written in the stars.