It may seem like Yankee fans don’t have much to worry about this off season. They have strengthened their rotation with the re-introduction of Javier Vasquez into pinstripes. The Yankees also strengthened their team with the acquisition of the most talented center fielder in the Bronx since we kicked out Bernie. However, their is one major glaring problem that can be noticed by taking one glance at the Yankees current depth chart. Outfield is looking like it could be a major problem this year- with both corner outfielders batting under .270 last season. Gardner’s was only that high due to his lack of at-bats.
Brian Cashman came out and was quoted as saying the Yankees are looking for; “right-handed hitting outfielder that Joe can look on the bench and say, I’m not going to start one of my left-handers, I’m going to start a right-hander.”, so who is the best player out there that fits their right handed needs, because clearly it looks as though Cash is trying to stay away from Damon-Boras. So, here is a list of the top 5 prospective players who could start next season in pinstripes:
1. Jerry Hairston Jr.: The upside with Hairston is obvious, his versatility will set him apart from the others on this list. He is a cheap piece whom the Yankees could plug in anywhere and spark the club. His numbers last year were not much higher than Gardners, but I feel that Gardner is one more year away, and Hairston could help aleviate some of the pressure Gardner might feel to be an every day player.
2. Rocco Baldelli: Rocco was primarily a CF, however he got plenty of experience in right and even played a couple of games in left. He has the glimpses of power that he displayed so prominently early in his career, and the Yankees do need someone to step up and replace at least some of the 24 long balls last year. The major red flag with Baldelli is the fact that he hasn’t played in more than 92 games in the last five seasons.
3. Xavier Nady: This is the most intriguing name on this list, if not only due to the fact that no one, Nady included, has any idea how he is going to bounce back from his second elbow surgery. Provided that he can still hit like the player the Yankees traded for 2 years ago, he would be a great fit, and certainly a player who has the potential to play well above the contract he is likely to recieve.
4. Reed Johnson: Reed would be one of those great pickups that people talk about in September as being a reason for success. He has experience in all 3 position in the outfield, and he has a phenomenal track record vs. lefties over his career. A bonus fact about Johnson is that he already has experience in the AL East, having spent his first five major league seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.
5. Randy Winn: This is the biggest stretch on this list due to a few factors; his desire to be an every day starter, and the fact that he may be too expensive for the Yankees (I know, Yankee Haters can add their own joke here) However, if they could convince Winn to come to the Yankees in a supporting role he could be the best of the whole bunch. He is a switch hitter that hits both righties and lefties about the same and he is extremely experienced at all 3 OF spots with 400 games of experience at each spot. Another big reason why I would like a push for this guy is the fact that if the Yankees have an injury to an outfielder, he is the best equipped to be an every day starter in a pennant race.
While none of the players have the usual Yankee cache, it is important to realize that a team is 25 guys, which means that you need at least four solid backups to be a complete team, and the Yankees aren’t quite there yet, though I don’t doubt that they will get there eventually.
On a final note, I hope Damon distances himself from Boras and signs a 1 year deal with a team option on the 2nd year and then we don’t have to worry about any of this.