Monday, January 26, 2004


Boone tore his ACL? This might turn out to be a blessing for the Yanks.

Earlier in the off-season, I was of the opinion that Aaron Boone's real value to the Yanks was that he could play 2B should Cashman/Steinbrenner and Baird agree to the Beltran for Soriano swap. Boone is undoubtedly a better 2B than Soriano (although probably still not as good as Brother Boone) and his .261 GPA wouldn't be so much of a liability up the middle (.247 is average for 2B, and .255 is average for 3B).

With the Lofton signing, however, it's pretty clear that the Yanks aren't in the market for a CF anymore (even a defensively stellar .292 GPA CF), and besides Baird seems to have smartened up considerably.

Anyways, if Aaron really is out for the season, who will play 3B for the Yankees? Let's look at the options:

-the ESPN article mentions both Enrique Wilson and Miguel Cairo as potential stopgaps. Yowza. Firstly, let me say Wilson is simply not an option for a club that will be battling tooth and nail with the Red Sox. Wilson is a horrendous offensive player. Neifi Perez is friggin' Alex Rodriguez in comparison. Wilson has a .189 GPA in 468 AB he's somehow managed to accumulate these past three years. That's not acceptable. Cairo, on the other hand, is moderately more intriguing. Cairo's 601 ABs of .237 GPA is merely horendous--and should he provide decent defense he might be an OK backup for short stretches.

-Drew Henson? .234 GPA. In AAA. That translates into a .216 Major League EqA, folks.

Let's see who else is out there:

-the free agent market for 3B is (unsurprisingly) pretty thin. Tony Batista already signed with the Expos, and for all his brand-name recognition he's really not much of an improvement over Cairo (.236 GPA). Neither is new Met Todd Zeile (.235 GPA last year for the 38 year old).

-non-tenured free agent Russ Branyan would have been an interesting pick-up in a platoon role. Despite his miniscule batting average, last year he hit .255 GPA with the Reds, and the year prior .258 GPA with the Indians and Reds. Sure, he'd probably obliterate the single-season strikeout record given 500 ABs, and he's not the greatest defender (.720 ZR in 72 games with the Indians in '01), but it's all for naught because he's a Brave now anyways.

-I seriously doubt any of the premiere 3B (Chavez, Rolen, Glaus) could be had by the Yankees, since they're all playing for clubs that fancy themselves as contenders in 2004 (and Texas obviously isn't trading Blalock or Teixeira). I guess it's possible the Yanks could make a deal for Koskie or Lowell with the cheapstakes in Minnesota and Florida, but having already traded Johnson I doubt they have the kind of young, cheap, MLB-ready talent either club is looking for.

-David Pinto suggests the Yankees try signing Ivan Rodriguez to play 3B. Rodriguez obviously still has a good bat, and Pinto notes that Gammons and others praised his Biggio-like footwork as a defender. I'm sure Rodriguez wants to finish his career as a catcher, but look at it this way: would you choose $10M to catch for the 49-113 Tigers, or whatever Boras can squeeze out of Steinbrenner (would a desperate Big Stein match the Tigers' offer?) to play 3B for the Yankees?

Face it, Yankeeland. Other than Rodriguez, the outlook is pretty dismal.

So why did I call Boone's injury a blessing? Because if the Yankees are smart enough (ie., if Cashman and Michaels still have any sway), they'll see they the perfect replacement candidate is right under their noses.

And his name is Derek Jeter.

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