This news from the AP via ESPN. Joe Girardi states that, “The earliest we would need him in the outfield would be interleague, and that’s a ways off,” Girardi said Wednesday. “That’s why we envision him as our everyday DH. We need him. He’s a great RBI guy. He’s very important to our lineup.”
There’s not a lot of flexibility in that lineup if Jorge can’t catch. Cross those fingers that Posada keeps improving at his current pace or there could be a serious logjam at DH.
Steve’s Thoughts: This of course begs the question ‘What happens in June?’ Matsui’s a Left fielder who bat plays nicely there, but his glove does not. As it is, we already have an outfield logjam with Nady, Gardner, Damon, Swisher and to a lesser degree Melky all vying for playing time. Girardi has long made it known he prefers to keep the DH spot open to rest his regulars and still keep their bat in the lineup, and has been quoted recently saying that he thinks Baseball is shifting away from the power game to more of a speed-pitching-fielding direction in the post steroid era.
The easy answer is ‘Someone will get hurt, don’t worry about it’. But this also might signal a willingness to move someone at the trade deadline (or sooner) if everyone’s healthy. Of the 6 outfielders, who might that be?
My guess is Matsui, especially if Nick Swisher gets off to a hot start. As we saw this off season, the Yanks won’t offer arbitration to any of their aging, highly paid players for fear they’ll accept. So free agent compensation isn’t an issue with him. He’s really the square peg on this team, he offers the team a solid though replaceable bat and little flexibility otherwise. On days he plays the OF he’s a downgrade defensively, Damon would still lead off as the DH. Which tells me they might very well be shopping him. It doesn’t make sense to play him in Left, except for the occasional matchup or day off for Damon. You’d leave him at DH unless you were showcasing him. If he gets steady time out there in June, it could mean a trade is brewing.