Tuesday, December 23, 2008

3rd Night of Hanukkah or Christmas Comes Early

It doesn't matter how you slice it. Whatever holiday you celebrate, you've gotten this season's big ticket items. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and now you can add your very own Mark Teixeira. Big Tex is coming to town on the wings of an 8 year, $180 million contract. Sticker shock? Nah. Small peanuts for a big cash(ew) team.

The Washington Times had reported earlier today that there was to be a decision today on Teixeira's future. Most thought the Red Sox would be inking him to a new deal despite owner John Henry's claim that the Sox were back away. Teixeira's current team, the Angels, decided a new deal was too rich for their blood and had pulled out of the running. Fringe teams like the Nationals and Orioles were thought to have offered, or were preparing to offer, a mega-deal.

But when it came right down to it, the Yankees played it slowly and wisely (as it turns out). They figured out who the real competition for Teixeira's services were, and how much money would be involved. Then they waited for some of the players to drop out and dropped some more millions on the pile.

The Yankees now have an incredible lineup, one even stronger than the nine they wrote in every day in 2007 when they scored runs (until the playoffs) like there was no tomorrow. Buster Olney was on with ESPN radio's Max Kellerman and the two speculated that Teixeira would bat in front of Alex Rodriguez with Hideki Matsui likely to be in the 5-spot.

Why? Tex should clearly bat cleanup to serve as protection for A-Rod not the other way around. A-Rod needs someone to take the pressure off of him and Matsui, nor anyone else in the lineup, will do that.

What about the outfield and DH? The Yankees now have Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Hideki Matsui, and Nick Swisher for 3 spots in the outfield and 1 spot in the lineup as DH.

The time has come to trade Hideki Matsui. We love Godzilla, and he's been an effective run producer, but his body and defense have deteriorated as has his power. If you are going to have Swisher, you might as well use him. He's not a good defender, so you can give him the bulk of at-bats at DH, throwing some time to the aging legs of Johnny Damon. We could see the Yankees waiting to deal Matsui until closer to the season opener to be sure that Jorge Posada is healthy and ready to be in the lineup every/almost every day.

Swisher can occasionally player either of three outfield positions to spot players some rest. The season could open with a Gardner/Cabrera platoon in center field. You don't need a mega-watt star at every position. Mike Cameron is definitely NOT needed or necessary. Gardner/Cabrera could battle for time in the 9-hole in the lineup. If both continued to suck, you can look elsewhere, perhaps a veteran who would come cheap via a trade.

The lineup we would put out there:


Happy Holidays!

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