Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 Spring Training Roster Battles: 4th Outfielder

(Failboat... Courtesy of Getty Images)

The departure of Nick Swisher and the re-upping with Ichiro Suzuki has left the Yankees with an all-lefty starting outfield for 2013.  That's not the worst thing in the world considering the benefits of having 81 games at home for those guys to swing for the short porch in right field (well, maybe not for Gardner) and the fact that most pitchers are still right-handed.  But it does create a greater need for a useful, right-handed 4th outfielder on the bench.  Andruw Jones filled that role for the previous two seasons, with varying levels of success, and as part of the early payroll crunching plans the Yankees decided to stay cheap and low-risk in their search for his replacement rather than trading away prospects for someone like Michael Morse.  The added internal MiL candidates for the job makes depth a non-issue, but how do all of these guys shake out in the competition hierarchy now that we know who has opt-out clauses?

David Price Is An Idiot

The light at the end of the $189 million tunnel for us Yankee fans is the prospect of the Yankees getting back to their spending ways once they dip under the luxury tax threshold and reset the penalties.  One of their big targets in the years to come is going to be David Price, the Rays' 27-year-old Cy Young winner. Price is still years away from free agency, but could be at risk of following James Shields out the door in a cost-controlling trade before he becomes too rich for Tampa's blood.  Price talked to Jon Morosi  about that possibility yesterday, and mentioned the Yankees as a team he wouldn't want to sign a long-term deal with because of their facial hair policy.

Dave, Dave, Dave.  You fool.  I have a beard too, a better one than yours if I'm being honest, and I would cringe at the thought of having to rid myself of it just to play for the Yankees.  But what you don't realize is that by making that statement you've shown your hand.  The correct answer to Morosi's reference to the Yankee beard policy would have been, "I'm not even worried about that right now.  I love being a Tampa Bay Ray and I'm focused on this season and my teammates and us doing what we have to do to get back to the postseason.  I can't think about what may or may not happen years down the line, I just have to keep doing my job."  Instead you took the bait and talked about why you wouldn't want to re-sign there like it was already a foregone conclusion that you were going to be traded to the Yankees.

Just admit it, bro.  You've got Yankees on the brain.  You sweat the Yankees.  You can't get them out of your head.  Even if you aren't traded, you've got three more years before you become a free agent and your beard even becomes an issue.  Three years is a long time into the future, my dude, and you're already fixated on whether or not you're going to have to shave your beard for the Yankees.  You're like the girl in high school who's already dreaming about her crush asking her to the prom in October.  You might as well schedule a sitdown with the Steinbrenners and work out a new contract right now.

Bearded man to bearded man, I can appreciate your love for your facial hair.  But you're only lying to yourself if you honestly believe you are going to turn down an offer from the Yankees for that reason, and the way you responded to Morosi bringing it up is proof.  At the end of the day, money talks and facial hair walks.

Hal Ditching The $189 Million Budget? Believe It When You See It

(Budget cutbacks in the style department too, huh?  Courtesy of Getty Images)

After a dark, dismal offseason, there may be some rays of spending sunshine peeking through the clouds.  At least that's the implication in Wally Matthews' latest post from yesterday afternoon.  In it, Matthews suggests that Hal Steinbrenner's sudden willingness to engage in contract extension talks with Robinson Cano could signal a shift in Hal's philosophy on spending and the eventual end of the $189 million payroll budget for next season.  Matthews cites "sources" in the story, unnamed ones of course, and the whole concept of the story seems like a big conclusion to jump to based on a few reports of the two sides talking.  It's great in theory, but being willing to negotiate a new deal with Cano before his current one is up doesn't exactly trump every other offseason decision the Yankees made.