New York Yankees: 5 Reasons They Should Use Caution When Signing a Veteran DH
As March rapidly approaches, the New York Yankees are almost finished completing their 2012 squad. While the probable A.J. Burnett trade looms over the club, they are steadfast in dotting every “i” and crossing every “t." In fact, the only realistic acquisition questions revolve around the DH spot.
Yes, that illustrious advantage that the American League has over the senior circuit, in which the game is severely unbalanced, but that’s a discussion for another time.
Regardless of any designated debate, the Yankees need to plug the stationary hole in an effort to make this team a winner. Former Yankees Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon have been mentioned as possible candidates, along with 39-year-old outfielder Raul Ibanez.
However, in selecting the best choice, Brian Cashman needs to approach the options with caution. Even though the final piece of the Yankee puzzle might not be the most high profile, prudence and vigilance must still be applied.
What a Drag It Is Getting Old
"We’re not getting any younger." —Donald Fagan
While that quote is directed at every human being, it especially applies to the New York Yankees in their pursuit of another bat. With a marquee left side of the field approaching 40, an added veteran bat could form a logjam of sorts.
All of a sudden, the pine is filled with old legs that either can’t play the field or need a day off. The DH spot needs to be a weigh station of sorts for guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on lazy summer half-days.
If bodies can’t be replaced to play the field, then we end up with (no disrespect) Ramiro Pena for 75 games. There aren’t many "spring chickens" left on the free-agent big board, so the team should approach the remaining lot with caution.
Don't Rock the Boat
When a team possesses a good core of guys, most of the time, it can overcome self-indulgent bellowing from any lone clown for the overall sake of the team. Unfortunately, in 2004, that wasn’t exactly the case.
Collapsing in grandiose fashion to the Red Sox wasn’t necessarily his fault, but Kenny Lofton’s presence on that doomed team did nothing to help clubhouse camaraderie. From claims of Joe Torre racism and bellyaching about playing time, Lofton did his best Woody Woodpecker impersonation in "making trouble" in his brief stint in New York.
Through recent experience, it appears the Yankees know what they have in Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon in terms of clubhouse mentality. Members of the 2009 World Series championship team, both played key roles on and off the field and could possibly ease into the present squad.
Even though the dwindling free-agent list doesn’t appear to have any "bad guys," the Yankees need to do their homework on the makeup of any future signing. No one wants go through another unpleasant and flammable fiasco.
Can You Make It There?
Asking if a guy can "make it in New Yawk" is as cliché as the accompanying accent. But, it’s a completely fair question.
It's an easier transition for some, while others struggle to adapt. The Big Apple experience is different from any other.
In reality, there is no way to properly measure a free agent’s level of performance anxiety through email, conference call or across a long boardroom mahogany desk. Outside of judging past performance (which does not guarantee similar results), there is no real way to determine if a player is Gotham tested and ready.
Failure here can be excruciating and painful,so lets hope the Yankee can avoid that in their pursuit for another bat off the bench.
Money, It's a Crime
Even though most reports don’t have the Yankees breaking the bank for a DH, the team must be persistent in its original effort to trim the fat off the bloated payroll by 2014.
Yes, even the Yankees have some limits when it comes to money.
In 2014, the new collective bargaining agreement raises the stakes for luxury tax payers. For repeat offenders like the Yankees, the new terms could prove more than costly. If they can keep their team payroll at or under $189 million from 2014 to 2016, they would not have to pay a dime in luxury tax.
Unfortunately, the alternative isn’t as rosy.
If the Yankees were to surpass that $189 million plateau, their personal luxury tax would rise from a previous 40 percent to 50 percent. But, if the club can manage to be "frugal" and keep it under that same limit in 2014 alone, the luxury percentage plummets to 17.5 percent.
Again, it might not play a factor in signing a remaining free agent, but the Yankees are well aware of their fiscal future.
Hurt so Good?
Players in the twilight of their careers bring old bodies with old, brittle bones, which means injuries are more likely to occur. Nicks and bruises that were played through before are suddenly debilitating and become lengthy DL stints for some aging players.
Ultimately, situational hitting did in the 2011 Yankees in the postseason. With the men left in scoring position during the 2011 ALDS, the Yankees could have assembled an army equivalent to the size of the Holy Roman Empire.
If an oft-injured DH is sitting there injured, he will do nothing to help this year’s club when a key at-bat is needed. Injuries are part of the game and cant be predicted, but scouting a "problem child" beforehand could possibly prevent any dead weight from sitting idly on the bench.