Yanks: Bring 'em Back Or Hit The Road Jack?
The last time the New York Yankees won a Game Six World Series clincher at Yankee Stadium was 1996. Following that season the series MVP (John Wetteland) and winner of that game (Jimmy Key) were not brought back. Will the same hold true for Hideki Matsui and Andy Pettitte come 2010? And should Johnny Damon be brought back as well?
There are certainly many arguments for getting younger, more versatile and reinvesting that money elsewhere.
Just remember this, it took an awfully long time (in Yankee years) to find clutch, smart hard-nosed winning ball players.
Back in 1997 it worked out fairly well for the Yankees letting those two go, replacing them with Mariano Rivera and David Wells. Yet there was another player who had a monster postseason in 1996 and if not for Wetteland would've been World Series MVP.
Cecil Fielder hit .391 in the 1996 Fall Classic against the Atlanta Braves. There was a lot of debate as to whether the organization would pick up Fielder's option and things turned awfully sour between him and the ball club. Fielder ended up getting hurt, was never quite the same and was out of the game all-together after 1998. The Yankees needed to find some pop so they dealt for Mike Stanley.
In 2002 the Yankees found themselves trying to replace Paul O'Neill, Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice. So they signed Rondell White rather than Damon to replace Knoblauch in left and to lead-off and tried platooning Shane Spencer with John Vander Wal and eventually got desperate enough to deal for Raul Mondesi.
I don't need to remind you what happened the last time they let Pettitte go.
As 2009 showed, depth and competition are important. Remember when there were rumors that virtually any of their outfielders could've been dealt and when there was a perceived worry about how to get ample playing time and at-bats for Nick Swisher, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera? Well a season ending injury to Xavier Nady and early ineffectiveness from Brett Gardner answered those questions.
Granted the team is older but there is precedent for the Yankees winning with a full-time DH. In 1998-1999 Chili Davis was solely a DH for the Yankees. During the 1999 campaign Davis was designated hitter for 141 games. In 2001 David Justice was DH for 85 games and that was with a 38 year-old O'Neill playing 130 games in right field, much like the gritty, durable, banged up Damon.
If it were up to me I'd bring all three back. They're winners, smart ballplayers and clutch. Money is never an issue with the Yankees and it's not like they'd have to commit to 3-5 year deals. Besides the Yankees are already built for October, so it would behoove them to keep three players who can bring them back to the Canyon of Heroes in November.
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