In a piece for the New York Times, Jonah Keri makes a rather interesting and detailed case for the Yankees to get younger next season.
While the dangers of complacency are numerous, he highlights the 2002
Anaheim Angels as the classic cautionary tale for what Yankees general
manager Brian Cashman faces in the coming months.
After winning the World Series in
2002, the Angels replaced just two players during the offseason, a
roster that was largely built on a house of cards due to small sample
sizes from the likes of Scott Spiezio, Adam Kennedy, Ben Weber, Russ
Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn. In 2003, the Angels lost 22 more games,
finishing below .500 and in third place in the American League West.
Obviously the Yankees are a much
different case, with an ability to absorb a few bad contracts, but Keri
sees danger in the Yankees standing pat going into 2010. He writes that
few players are more likely to see a regression than those in their
late-30s following a bounce-back season. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon
and Andy Pettitte all played key roles in New York’s championship run
in 2009, however they are all 35 or older, with regression to the mean
far more likely than repeating their previous success.
Though he doesn’t offer alternatives to the players mentioned above, Keri argues that the Yankees should
try to add younger players to avoid such regression. As of now, it looks like the Bombers won’t heed his warning, as they hope to retain Damon while Pettitte is also expected to return. To Cashman’s credit, Matsui, the biggest injury risk due to his surgically-repaired knees, is on the back burner.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.