26 Jul 2007
The news that Jason Giambi is close to returning has been met by groans from Yankees’ fans who don’t want to see Melky get sent to the bench. That is very understandable, Melky has been fun to watch and since a terrible April, has been hitting bullets.
But, Giambi is a clearly better offensive player and he hit .322/.404/.517 in April before he injured his foot in the first place. He can’t run, he can’t field, but the guy is built to be a DH in the American League and the lineup will be more explosive with him.
However, the Yankees could get creative when Giambi gets back and that would be the best scenario. Instead of putting Damon right back into center, how about trying him again at first? Yes, Andy Phillips deserves to keep playing, but Phillips is not going to put up numbers like Giambi. I would guess that his current line of .305/.350/.427 is about as good as he is going to be, and that is why I would like to see the Yankees keep Melky in center.
We just don’t know enough about Melky right now. In 792 AB’s in the bigs he has hit .278/.348/.381, but he has shown much better numbers since April hittting .304/.365/.442 which is almost in line with the average AL right fielder who is hitting .283/.356/.453. Why do I say RF instead of CF? Because that is where the Yankees have a big choice to make.
When the season ends the Yankees can choose to bring back Bobby Abreu for $16 million in 2008 by exercising his option. Or they could exercise it and trade him like they did with Sheffield, or they could let him go. If Mekly Cabrera has proved to Cashman and the other talent evaluators that he is ready to play full time, the choice is simple, exercise it and trade Abreu for prospects. Damon looks like he is going to be ok and Matsui is entrenched in left for the next couple of years. By trying Damon at first now, the Yankees could solve both problems becuase Melky’s bat is much better in center (average AL CF is .275/.344/.423) and they could keep Abreu one more year and then start the great purge in 2009 when Abreu and Giambi become FA’s.
Giambi’s return will make a deep lineup only deeper, the question is how will they blend everything together? Stay tuned.