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April 15, 2006

Damon Pitches For Hunter?

I saw a link to this story over at BaseballThinkFactory.org -

Just because the New York Yankees signed Johnny Damon to play center field doesn't mean there isn't room for Torii Hunter.

Damon told the Pioneer Press he would be willing to move to right field if the Yankees were to acquire Hunter. Hunter has talked openly about playing for the Yankees if the Twins do not show a commitment to winning beyond this season.

"I know how good Torii Hunter is, and he would be a good fit," Damon said before Friday night's game at the Metrodome. "We still have Gary Sheffield (in right field), which Gary may end up moving to the DH spot. I'm sure there's a lot that we can do. Whatever makes the team better."

"I had to do it for Carlos Beltran to make his job easier in the big leagues, and he seemed to do pretty good," Damon said. "Yeah, it doesn't matter to me. Whatever needs to be done. It's all about going out there and trying to win. (Hunter is) definitely one of the game's best players, but I'll leave that up to (Yankees general manager) Brian Cashman. I can't be running my mouth."

Johnny, dude, you don't have to answer every question they ask you.

Besides, Hunter's had one good year in his career - and that was 2002. Sure, he's great with the glove. But, otherwise, he's an average stick at best.

I'd rather leave you (Damon) in CF until Brett Gardner is ready.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at April 15, 2006 12:19 PM


Dear Johnny,

If we're going to pursue expensive free agent outfielders, I'd MUCH prefer Andruw Jones.

How for along is Gardner?

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 01:37 PM

Damon's a madman. But anyway...

Gardner is fourth on the centerfield/minor-league depth chart. It goes:

Austin Jackson (my pick to be the guy).
Jose Tabata (an exciting young player who will probably end up in right field -- one hopes, anyway).
Tim Battle (a speedster who strikes out A LOT).

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 01:46 PM

Jones ain't exactly consistent with the bat, but he's probably better in a bad year than Hunter in a good year. Everybody only seems to remember the good years and they remember them better than what they actually were, so his price tag is nowhere in line with his production. I'd rather wait out the minor leaguers.

Posted by: hopbitters [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 02:03 PM

Gardner is ahead of Jackson, Tabata and Battle on the depth chart - behind in talent, yes, but much further ahead in development.

Gardner could be snagging balls in the Bronx mid-2007. He's in High-A Tampa with a .375-.444-.438-.882 line with 2 steals in 8 games. He'll be with the pathetic Double-A Trenton team in 2 months or so if he keeps it up.

Posted by: Mike A. [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 03:50 PM

I realize how ill-advised Melky's debut was last season, but how long do you keep the guy in AAA if he's tearing things up there?

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 04:22 PM

Brock, he's in High-A, which is a looooong way from AAA.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 04:42 PM

Well, Gardner has the edge because he was a college player, and I suppose he's more developed than the others, but if he gets brought up in '07, it'll be to take Bubba Crosby's role. He'll be the fourth outfielder/pinch-runner. With Jackson and Tabata, the upside is a starting job. If anyone wants to feel old, Gardner is the oldest of the bunch at 23. Battle is 21. Jackson is 19. And Tabata is 18!

For anyone who's interested, here's what these guys have done so far this year in the minors (sample size is quite small; I think the best line goes to my boy Jackson -- he's in the league below Gardner, but he's only 19 years old and was a basketball player until last year):

Brett Gardner: 32 AB, 12 hits, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SB, 1 CS, .444 OBP, .438 SLG, .375 BA.

Austin Jackson: 29 AB, 9 hits, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 4 SB, 1 CS, .417 OBP, .448 SLG, .310 BA.

Jose Tabata: 31 AB, 10 hits, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SB, 0 CS, .333 OBP, .387 SLG, .323 BA.

Tim Battle: 28 AB, 3 hits, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 1 CS, .167 OBP, .179 SLG, .107 BA.

Tim Battle is obviously off to a horrid start.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 15, 2006 05:11 PM