Matsui And Damon Shine In The 2009 World Series, But Who Will Stay?
Johnny Damon stole the show in game 4 of the World Series. Damon pulled an encore performance of his role in the 2004 ALCS, back when he was playing against the Yankees and not for them, by coming through in spectacular fashion after periods of being a non-factor. Damon started off the World Series with just one hit and no runs or RBIs in the first two games. In games 3 and 4 Damon has combined for 4 hits, 3 runs and 3 RBI including a never before seen in the World Series double steal on one pitch.
Damon, who is in the last year of his contract with the Yankees, turns 36 next season. A quiet debate has been waged over whither it would be worth the Yankees while to sign him to a new short term deal next year. Granted, Damon isn't as fleet of foot as he was say 5 years ago, but his batting numbers tell the story of a 35 year old guy hitting like hes 27. Damon had a fantastic year with a .282 BA, 107 runs and a career high tying 24 home-runs. A lot of the debate about signing Damon has concerned another Yankee whose had a monster year, Hideki Matsui. The conventional wisdom is that Damon is getting on up in years as is Matsui and that both are becoming increasing liabilities in the outfield, while maintaining considerable pop in their bats. With Jorge Posada having multiple years left on his contract, and no years left as a decent catcher, that would leave the Yankees with a bottle neck at DH.
Matsui had a career defining year in 2009 with a .272 BA, 28 HRs and 90 RBI with Posada following him with .285 BA, 22 HRs and 81 RBI. Posada's contract settles where he'll be playing next year, just not what position. So that leaves Damon and Matsui as the two big bats without a place in the field. Matsui has been equally impressive in this World Series with game changing homeruns in games 2 and 3 while batting .500 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. It'll be just as hard to settle whose gets the contract based on this post season's performance as it would be their respective regulars season stats.
For many the ideal situation would be to rotate the three stars throughout the year with Posada and Damon still able to put some tine in on the defense. For Matsui, defense at this point with his surgically repaired knees is not an option. That situation poses another problem for the Yankees who are in need of freeing up roster space in order groom their next group of players for the coming years. Both Matsui and Damon at most have only 1 or 2 years of baseball left in them regardless. I personally think if Matsui wants to continue playing that the Yankees should sign him and Damon to 1 year deals and have them split time with Posada at DH.
My gut feeling on this, however, says that if the Yankees win it all, as they seem very likely to do, then Matsui will solve the Yankees dilemma himself by retiring and riding off into the the sunset with a World Series ring.
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