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October 12, 2006

Move Damon To 1B?

Peter Abraham suggested this four days ago and I have not been able to get it out of my mind since that time:

* Play Melky in center. He deserves a shot.

* DH Giambi full time. He can't stay healthy when he plays the field.

* Teach Damon how to play first in spring training. Why not? He'd be willing.

Because of the fact that he throws left-handed and has no arm, Damon should play first base. Yes, he has speed (and some might think that's wasted at first) - but, by playing 1B, he will keep his legs fresher (for offense) over the long season. Also, by playing first, this will prevent Damon from killing himself on outfield walls. Lastly, Johnny loves to talk - and playing first will allow him to chat away with base runners (and maybe distract some in the process).

Melky Cabrera has the range to play a decent centerfield. And, his arm will stop guys from going first to third on singles up the middle.

At worst, if he's not great in center, Melky could be the one year answer there - and then move him to RF in 2008 (when Abreu is gone and Brett Gardner is ready to take over in CF).

Spring Training should be more than enough time to get Damon used to playing first. And, as a bonus, Damon could still help as a back-up outfielder, if needed, and then Giambi could play first that day.

This makes a ton of sense - that's why it will probably never happen.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 12, 2006 08:44 PM

Comments

Wouldn't putting Hideki Matsui - the inferior outfielder - at 1st base make more sense?

Damon is our only outfielder who statistically contributed positively on defense. He is a good defense centerfielder.

Matsui is our worst outfielder. Melky is a clearly better LF.

Posted by: DownFromNJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 09:30 PM

We have been talking about this idea in my yahoo group since Peter suggested it. It is pure genius. As far as moving Matsui to first, I doubt he has the desire that Johnny has to do something like that. He is very proud and just moving him to LF was a challenge. Pluse, he can still bang into walls. Johnny is faster, needs to be fresher, and I think this would be a great idea. If Melky, who I really really like, improves half as much over this winter as did last year this move is almost a must! It gets us younger and more athletic, something I've been preaching for several years now. The biggest mistake Joe Torre made was benching Melky Cabrera for the playoffs. Just my opion.

Posted by: Scott Coulter [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 09:46 PM

But you are assuming that Melky would play a good centerfield. Melky has average range at best in a big left field to go along with an excellent arm. Not only is the arm less useful in centerfield, but his lack of range could trouble him even more.

The Fielding Bible did not at all like Hideki Matsui's defense in LF in any respect. Matsui has already stated that he would move to 1b.

Posted by: DownFromNJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 09:58 PM

It's is an interesting possibility, I think they really should at least give it a shot to try Matsui and or Damon at 1B next year. to give us some flexibility.

Matsui was a 3B in highschool, so 1B might be possible for him.

Posted by: Yu Hsing Chen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:03 PM

Perhaps in his 3rd or 4th year of his contract, but he is still playing an above average centerfield.

Matsui should be the one to buy a first base glove.

Melky should remain in left (however, I am not opposed to him getting time at all the outfield positions).

Posted by: Jeteupthemiddle [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:11 PM

I'd rather Matsui @ 1B than Damon. He has experience playing 3b, and if he has stated that he's willing to play 1b, why not?

Last year, I thought we'd see more of Posada @ 1b. So much for that, eh?

Melky goes back to LF, Damon stays in CF, everyone wins!

Hypothetically speaking, if Damon were to move to 1b, I see no reason he shouldn't start working on it before spring training.

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:22 PM

I'm all for thinking outside the box but isn't this sort of stuff what gets the Yanks in trouble? What's wrong with simply trying to find a guy that actually plays the position? We've tried Guiel, Giambi, and Sheffield there and only one of those three is a "regular" first baseman. Sometimes sticking with the tried-and-true stuff seems to work and overthinking things like making outfielders into infielders just to "save their legs" or "because they don't throw well" ends up biting us in the ass.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:30 PM

it should also be mentioned, that at this point in time, melky has a below average bat for a corner outfielder. a move to center would allow the yankees to give him siginificant playing time without his bat costing the team wins.

Posted by: adam [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:34 PM

If you put the same 9 guys on the field it really doesn't matter if Melky is batting from CF or LF Adam. and that is pretty much what we are talkin about here anyway.

Posted by: Yu Hsing Chen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 10:53 PM

~~~Matsui has already stated that he would move to 1b.~~~

When did he ever say that? How did I miss it?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:33 PM

I thought it was asinine when I read it on Abraham's blog and I still do today. There's no reason to put Damon at first. Right now he's a good centerfielder. We have a guy with no range, instincts or arm in left field with Matsui, so why would you take a guy that has speed and gets to most balls in Damon and stick him at first? Melky is probably one of the best leftfielders in the game. He should stay there.

If Matsui actually moved to first, it would solve the Yankees' problems and they wouldn't have to take on extra money. Matsui plays first, Melky plays left, and Damon center.

Brett Gardner was mentioned here. I love Brett as a player. He has a ton of speed and he plays his heart out. It remains to be seen if he will make it up to the bigs as an everyday player. But he should definitely be up here next year. (Assuming Melky isn't the fourth outfielder.) He's fast as hell and he would make a great extra outfielder/pinch runner. I watched him in Trenton run like wild (even stealing on pitchouts).

The outfielder of the future (in right and MAYBE center) is Jose Tabata. We'll have to wait to see what Colin Curtis and Austin Jackson do, though I have high hopes for Jackson.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 12, 2006 11:38 PM

It would take Melky time to adjust to CF (maybe half a season), just like it took him to adjust to LF. Damon makes most of the plays in CF anyway, and is a better CF at this point than Melky. Melky's cannon would be under-utilized in CF also. I dont have any problem with him giving Damon days off in CF though. Then maybe by 2008, he'd be ready for fulltime CF.

And if anyone should move to 1b, it should be Matsui, who's the worst OF of the bunch.

But I still prefer the idea of Matsui DHing, while Giambi plays 1b. Giambi's not great, but at least he knows the position unlike Matsui and Damon.

And we dont know if Brett Gardner will make it to the bigs. He did well in AA, but he has NO power. Miguel Cairo has more pop. He's superfast though, and would make a perfect #9 hitter/pinch-runner/CF replacement.

In 2008, the Yanks OF could very well be: LF Damon, CF Gardner, RF Melky. With Matsui the DH/1b/4th OF.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:32 AM

wow, the AzFL really IS a hitter's league. The Javelinas beat the Saguaros, 17-15. Gardner led off for the Saguaros and went 3-4 (no xbh), 2 r, rbi, bb (.500 in 3 gms). Eric Duncan went 0-6 (.091).

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 12:38 AM

I'm with MJ here. Just to assume that some guys are interchangable on defense is pretty short sighted. Moving Damon to first is idiotic, as centerfielders of his caliber are extremely rare (and who's to say he wouldn't tank at first?) If anyone moves, it should be Matsui - in a trade for a starting pitcher.

Posted by: brockdc [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 01:23 PM

How about moving Melky to 1st base. He is a young athlete and the same size as "23". He has all winter and spring to learn, plus he can throw to second base. Of course, I still miss Nick.

Posted by: hornblower [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 13, 2006 08:40 PM