Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Turn on the Bat Signal

Johnny Damon is back, but Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are out, possibly for the rest of the season. The Yankees picked up Richie Sexson, but are still in need of a bat to give some punch to the lineup.

The Yankees could have survived losing one player, but having 2 or more out at a time has hurt the team's run production. Just as with our earlier look at starting pitching, it needs to be determined whether the Yankees go after a big gun, a guy who is a step below the upper tier, or a serviceable player that will come cheaper.

Lets take a look at some of the names that are out there.

The Box Seats

Matt Holliday
The Rockies left fielder is one of the biggest names that started swirling in trade rumors a few weeks back. Holliday is signed through the 2009 season and then would be looking for a huge deal with his current team or by testing the free agent market.

The Rockies, just a season removed from making it to the World Series, have to decide if they have another second half run in them, or if they would be better off dealing Holliday now, just as the Rangers did with Mark Teixeira last season.

Holliday has an explosive at-bat, especially at his home field. But he's not so bad on the road either. His career splits show a .364 home batting average with a 1.091 OPS. On the road the numbers dip to .277/.790, but as you can see Holliday has improved each of the last 5 years.

Going on the road for the Hollidays
2004 .240 .654
2005 .256 .729
2006 .280 .819
2007 .301 .860
2008 .301 .859

Holliday would of course, cost a small fortune in return. Last year's Teixeira deal netted the Rangers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Elvis Andrus, the Braves top 2 prospects, and 3 other minor leaguers. The plus is that Holliday could man left field for the Yankees for a long time to come (possibly right field for a season if Johnny Damon is still a Yankee next year).

Mark Teixeira
Speaking of the Braves 1st baseman, he becomes a free agent after this season and so he could be part of a major deal for the second straight season. Teixeira has been rumored to not want to play for the Yankees, but of course money changes a lot of things. It's not likely that Teixeira would sign a deal prior to the free agent season, but again, he could be bowled over with a big deal.

The Braves may not be able to get as much in return as they had to give up last year, but it will still take a strong package to pry Tex from the Braves. Though they have hung in the playoff race for much of the season, they have to realize that they are not nearly as good as the Mets or Phillies.

Teixeira has plenty of American League experience, though not much playoff pressure experience. He'll be someone's 1st baseman for a long time to come. We think the Yankees are better off signing him in the off-season.

The Loge

Jason Bay/Xavier Nady

The two Pirates outfielders have had their names linked all season as teams look to strengthen their starting lineups and benches.

Bay, older than you think, he'll be 30 in September is put together another solid season. .280-20-56 with a .910 OPS. Bay hits well against lefties and righties. He's due $7.5 million next season, so he's a cheap financial option. Again though, he will not come cheaply.

Nady, who is 2 months younger than Bay, has only played more than 125 games once in his career. His best season came in 2007 when he hit .278-20-72, though he's on a pace to top those numbers this season. Right now he's somewhere between role and break out player. He's arbitration eligible next season and a free agent in 2010.

We would definitely opt for Bay or Nady.

Jose Guillen
The Royals outfielder has worn out his welcome in yet another place. High on talent, low on self discipline, Guillen can mash with the best of them. He'd be a top tier player if not for his attitude.

Guillen's offensive numbers don't lie, he's the real deal. But he has 2-years and $18 million left on his contract. We can see a team using him as a rental for the rest of the season, but do they want a headache for the next two years?

Raul Ibanez
Ibanez is an under appreciated bat that has put together 3 stellar seasons in a row. He's drive in 60 runs this season playing on a very weak club. Ibanez also has the ability to play 1st base and like Hideki Matsui, has the ability to hit left-handed pitching.

The Upper Deck

There are number of players that fit this bill. One of which we think would be a good fit would be Casey Blake. His versatility reminds us of one time fave Jeff Conine. This season Blake is hitting 80 points higher on the road, and has hit 10 of his 11 home runs away from the Jake. Those numbers reflect his career stats as well. Whether is due to pressure at home or a tough hitter's park remains to be seen.

Blake gives you the option to start him at either corner spot in the infield or outfield. He even made an appearance at shortstop this week. Of course, if he came to the Bronx his trademark beard would have to go.

We would rank our preferences as

Matt Holliday
Jason Bay
Casey Blake

So what do you think? Top gun, middle guy, or a nice fit. Answer our poll and let us know!

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