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Potential Solution for Centerfield

by Tom Phillips

With a fairly busy off-season the Yankees have made upgrades in several spots in their line-up. Should several players rebound from off years in 2008, the team should return to the top of the standings in the AL East.

Yet one last defensive issue remains with the Yankees. What to do about center field?

As it stands, the yanks are looking at any combniation of Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrerra, and Brett Gardner to patrol the outfield. Most line-up combinations are set to feature either Swisher or Damon as the roster currently stands. Let's face it, the team got by for nearly a decade with Bernie Williams' arm in center field, having Damon's arm out there for 80-90 games will not be that damaging to the Yanks chancees, and likewise having Nick Swisher's range in center for 70-80 games shouldn't hurt either. It will be up to Joe Girardi to figure out the best parks and match-ups to play each one during the year.

Do we forsee the Yanks going out and trading for a centerfielder prior to the start of the season? Highly unlikely in the present climate, as the Yanks have several fallback options in the minor league system: Melky Cabrerra, Brett Gardner, and Austin Jackson. Any one of these players would be a defensive upgrade in center, however all come with a significant downside in offensive production. Granted, if the Yanks offense rebounds in 08, there will be little need for extra pop in center.

One intriguing option that has just now become avaialble is a former multiple Gold Glove winner, 50 HR power hitting centerfiled option that used to be the bane of the NL East. Yes, we're talking about the player formerly known as Andruw Jones, now ANDRUW JONES due to his massive conditioning issues. He was released by the Dodgers after sitting out most of last season with an abominable .159 batting average and only 3 HR's in almost 200 plate appearances.

Jones is a far cry from the player he once was, yet a large number of scouts point out the main cause of his decline are his conditioning and work ethic. Can those problems be solved? Doubtful, as it's a personal motivation issue and Jones has showed apathy to his physical well-being in the past. Yet with no team willing to offer Jones a Major League contract, he now has become a Mega-Millions lottery ticket in a sense. The Yanks have the financial wherewithal to offer Jones a large minor league contract and bring him into camp. If he can get motivated enough to get back into shape and return to some semblance of his All-Star form in centerfield, the Yanks will have in a way won the lottery. If he doesn't, they can simply cut him from the roster prior to the season.

It's a no-lose deal, with potential upside if Jones happens to pan out. Don't be surprised to see Mr. Cashman pay a visit to Jones and his agent and produce an incentive heavy minor-league deal.

1 comment:

  1. what are you smoking? jones is finished the steroids have taken a toll on his body,that why he keep breaking down, not going to happen, maybe if he took off another year to get healthy like sosa, the yankees and cashman have done every thing right this off season,same thing with pettitte, thank you but no thanks, give hughes or coke a chance.