Yankees' Age Weighing Defense Down

Jack DoranContributor IMay 14, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 05:  Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees can't make the catch on a three-run home run by Jason Bay (not pictured) of the Boston Red Sox on May 5, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Thirty-three games in, yet fans looking for change. A fickle crowd, these Yankee fans.  But with $2500 seats, can you blame them?

With a 16-17 record heading into tonight, the Yankees have stumbled for many reasons. One reason often overlooked is their defense. So far, when the team commits one or more error, they are 3-13.

But this does not tell the true story.  What about all the plays not scored as errors?  The passed ball or unblocked plate by Jorge Posada. The double to left out of the reach of Johnny Damon. The single in the hole that, dare I say, Derek Jeter can't reach. 

The extra outs this team permits may doom them.

For two seasons now, we have seen a Tampa Bay Rays team turn doubles into outs with incredible speed in the outfield. Over this same time, many outs turn into doubles in the Yankee outfield. 

Unfortunately, some of the Yankees poorest defenders are also some of their finest hitters.

Damon, coming off A.L. player of the week honors, has been the team's most valuable offensive weapon (Note: It is Damon's contract year; expect high productivity). Hideki Matsui, despite a recent leg injury, has been productive. Posada opened the season with a very hot bat before a leg injury, and Jeter has been consistent at the plate.

So, what do the Yankees do?  Forgo defense, even up the middle defense for the sake of offense?  Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Or maybe, take a shot at someone new. Particularly center field prospect Austin Jackson.  With a .361 average at Scranton Wilkes-Barre and zero errors in center field, Jackson may shore up one major problem.

By moving Melky Cabrera to a corner spot of the outfield, which he undoubtedly deserves right now, the team could then DH Damon. Now, what to do with all the other DHs?

Despite enjoying him as a Yankee, I think the team should try to move Matsui. And while I'm against giving Posada his contract, the team is stuck with him. 

However, if catching prospect Jesus Montero continues to rake in the minors, then some healthy competition never hurt anyone.

And as far as our captain goes? Now that's a sticky situation. But, because he always comes out smelling like roses, I'm sure Derek Jeter will figure out how to best serve the organization.

He always has.