Joel Sherman writes today that the Yanks have inquired about the possibility of acquiring Mike Cameron from the Brew Crew. The Brewers just picked up Cameron’s option at $10M, but consider themselves too right-handed and would be open to a deal, preferably for pitching, due to the probable losses of C. C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets. The replacement for Cameron could be Melky Cabrera.
Sherman says that the Yanks have also talked to various clubs about Wilson Betemit. To me, dealing two players with poor plate patience is ok by me. I’ll get to Cameron later. I’ve discussed him before. As for others, like Cano and Jose Molina….get some plate patience. It killed the Yanks in 2008.
Sherman states that Melky, Betemit and a pitcher (and I am assuming a lower grade pitcher—NOT Hughes or Kennedy) is probably a package Milwaukee could accept. They shed some salary and get two switch-hitters and pitching help. The Yanks have long wanted Cameron, and although Cameron would be an upgrade, I have my reservations.
First is the age. He will turn 36 the same day that the big G turns 38 this coming January. Remember what I wrote about the # of SS and CF 34 and over on WS winning teams. Would I be comfortable going into 2009 with a 36 year old CF and a SS who turns 35 in June of 2009? No. And God forbid they pursue Manny (37 in May) after that or bring back a 38 year old Giambi at 1B because of not getting a Teixeira, Dunn, etc. Should Matsui be traded (and I’ll get to that), the Yanks could bring the Big G back to DH at age 38, but remember that DHing and the Big G don’t necessarily mix.
Cameron is an above average player with good speed, good power. Career OPS+ 106. An improvment over Melky? Yes. Melky has a career 84 OPS+ and is only 24, but you wonder if he has peaked already. His OPS+ has gone from 95 in 2006 to 89 to 68. He doesn’t run that much (9 SB). The walks went from 56 to 43 to 29. .280 to .273 to .249. He is young enough to rebound, but an OPS+ of 106 would probably be a career year for the Melkman. Cameron missed about a month due to a suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy (not steroid-related) but still had 21 HR and 17 SB this year. The average (.243) and strikeouts (142) are worrisome. Three times he has whiffed 150 or more times in a season. His 162 game average is .250-23-83-28. 72 walks and 158 Ks. Should the Yanks get him, I’d expect .242-18-75-16 (taking into account the age), with 70 walks but around 160 strikeouts. He should hit at the bottom of the lineup. Some may say 7th or 8th, but I might be more inclined to bat him 9th. That way his speed is there in front of Damon and Jeter once the lineup turns around. The biggest worry I have (besides the average and whiffs) is….how many steps has he lost in range?
A deal for Cameron means Gardner is relegated to a backup OF role. I would hope he would be kept for defensive reasons/pinchrunning. As for Austin Jackson, this would be a sign that the job is his if he progresses. At 36, Cameron would clearly be a stop-gap measure for a year or two until A-Jax is ready. Jackson is struggling a bit in the Arizona Fall League, but I wonder if it is just fatigue. Unlike others, Jackson didn’t go there to get at bats or innings (Miranda had 99 games at SWB, Hughes missed most of 2008 with injury, Sanchez came back off TJ surgery). He had a full year.
As for Matsui, an article sent to me by reader Jeff states that one source mentioned a potential three-way deal that would send outfielder Hideki Matsui from the New York Yankees to the Seattle Mariners for a pitching prospect, perhaps Ryan Rowland-Smith. The Yankees would package the prospect with second baseman Robinson Cano and another young player to the Rockies for Holliday. I’m wondering if Phil Hughes would be involved in either deal. The Rockies and Brewers would want pitching. I hope not. Don’t give up on him yet. What the Yanks could give to the Rockies (losing Brian Fuentes) is bullpen help (which would be Rowland-Smith) and maybe another bullpen pitcher to make up for the loss of Fuentes. They have Melancon, Veras, Edwar, Robertson, J. B. Cox, Whelan, Claggett, Coke. Obviously I have listed some that I would not want to deal. But there is a pitching surplus as far as the bullpen goes. Of course if you trade “Great” Britton, someone in Colorado may think he’s a mountain and try to ski him. I just wonder about the “another young player.” Position or Pitcher? Ian Kennedy?
Now say they get Holliday and do the Cameron move. Now they go after Orlando Hudson to replace Cano and make an all-out assault on Teixeira for 1B. Damon slides to DH. Hmm….an infield of Teix (S), Hudson (S), Jeter (R) and Alex (R). Solid on the right side defensively (some Gold Gloves), less so with Alex and Jeter on the left (34 and 35 before 2009 ends). OF of Holliday (R)-Cameron (R)-Nady (R). DH Damon (L). C Posada (S). Hmm. Looks good. Maybe a little too “righty” though. A lefty bat to platoon with Nady would then be nice. Cheap all around OF. Nothing fancy, just have some good pop. Preferably can play all three OF positions. You still have Ransom and Molina as backup infielder and backup C. Age up the middle (Posada, Jeter, Cameron) still a huge concern. Of course two pitchers (CC/Lowe?) still must be had.
The article also mentions that the Yankees also are expected to at least check in on Willy Taveras. I can’t believe that. (It most likely would be if no Cameron). Taveras (27 this Christmas Day) went .251-1-26-68 (OPS+ 56) with the Rockies last year. Hmmm…..in his 20’s, no power, great speed. Does that remind you of anyone currently on the Yanks (Initials B.G.)???
So. Let’s say all this transpires. The Yanks go whole hog. Make deals and like the Royal Mounties, get their men. 2008 numbers.
Damon .303-17-71-29 121
Jeter .300-11-69-11 105
Teixiera (combined) .308-33-121-151
Posada .268-3-22 106 (injured. expect .268-17-70? Of course the concern is more on the defense and throwing than the bat; note, given the age, comeback from surgery, I’ll say his stats are similar to what he did in 1998. Games, ABs, performance, etc. So OPS+ 115. Fair?)
Nady (combined) .305-25-97 128
Hudson .305-8-41-108 (missed 1/3 of year, injured). Expect? .282-12-65? 100?
Cameron. .242-18-75-16 100 or thereabouts.
CC 17-10, 2.70 162
Lowe 14-11, 3.24 131 or AJ 18-10, 4.07 105
Wang 8-2, 4.07 109….injured. Expect? 16-9, 3.85 115?
Joba 4-3, 2.60 166 Who knows as full time starter?
Pettitte 14-14, 4.54 95
Not bad. Age up the middle and from Lowe/Pettitte worrisome. Otherwise ok. A bit too righty in the lineup maybe.
Not all those moves will happen. It’s interesting to see the direction of moves that may be being discussed, though. That lineup above is better defensively. A bit younger, without Abreu, Giambi, Matsui. Where you do sacrifice some age (CF, 2B) are still upgraded defensively. No matter what happens, this will be an interesting offseason. Like I stated, I’m not all sold on Cameron, but…
More news from Sherman. Apparently new 1B coach Kelleher has a strong relationship with A-Rod and Robbie Cano. Of course if that rumor about Cano to the Rockies goes through, it doesn’t matter. But in the greater likelihood that it doesn’t…hopefully Kelleher gets Robbie back on track.
Nothing from Moose. His agent states that he wants to make up his mind sooner rather than later but hasn’t made up his mind yet on the life decision. It reminds me of something David Cone once said—that an athlete dies two deaths.
AL Gold Gloves today. I don’t expect any Yanks to be named (unless Mussina gets one). Do you?