Joel Sherman has a good piece up today, looking at Hideki for this season and beyond. He wrote this:
General manager Brian Cashman said: “I need Matsui’s knees to be fine and Posada to be able to catch to affect the length of the lineup.” Translation: The 2009 Yanks cannot have them sharing the DH role. That would mean Posada is not over his shoulder surgery, and Jose Molina or Kevin Cash is a daily drag in the lineup at catcher.
It also would mean Matsui is definitely finished as a Yankee because Posada is signed through 2011 and would have to be the full-time DH. Matsui could be a goner anyway, because the Yanks desperately want to get younger and more flexible on the roster, and might want to keep the DH slot open – even under the best circumstances – for Posada, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and their other aging entities.
That’s an eye opener on Posada, although another explanation may be they simply want to go slowly with him. I’m not so sure Posada will be a full time DH by 2010 (or who would replace him) but it is reasonable to expect him to start less and DH more over the final 2 years of his contract.
Other than that, I agree with his take. Cashman has always made it clear that he believes one of the things that has separated the Yanks from other teams in Baseball is the production they get from the Catcher position. Girardi likes keeping the DH spot open to rest his regulars. Matsui’s just not a fit for the Yankees at this point of his career. To me he represents one of the (better) vestiges of the Torre regime, the all hit-no field players who Girardi and Cashman are trying to get away from in favor of more flexible, athletic, all around Baseball players.
One thing about Matsui that’s worth noting is his right knee held up well last year and after having the same surgery that his left knee had this off season. If that’s any guide, its reasonable to expect both knees to hold up well this year. If they don’t, they will have some serious lineup issues until Alex returns. A bottom of the lineup featuring Ransom, Molina and Gardner is a great time to grab a Heineken.
Sherman digs up this juicy lil nugget in his follow-up blog piece from today.
One of Matsui’s strongest assets in building value is his run production. You know as a fan how it drives you crazy when a hitter cannot drive in a runner from third with less than two outs. Well, Matsui has succeeded at that 137 out of 189 times in his career. That is 72.5 percent. Among active players who have been in that situation at least 100 times in his career, Matsui is second in the majors to Cleveland’s Victor Martinez (74 percent)
Nice find by Joel.
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