New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi is apparently asking the team to sign a bat, and preferably a left handed one at that. he has mentioned Raul Ibanez by name, but many free agents are still looking for work with less than a few weeks before players begin reporting for Spring Training.
If New York does in fact go out and sign another hitter, they would most likely be a part time designated hitter or platoon outfielder with either Brett Gardner or Nick Swisher. The team also plans on using the designated hitter spot for aging veterans including Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter, and they also re-signed Andruw Jones to take up some at-bats at the position.
While Ibanez was the only player who Girardi mentioned by name, two former Yankees fan favorites have also surfaced as possible fits.
Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who both came up huge in the 2009 MLB World Series as the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, are still looking for a new home as the 2012 MLB season draws closer. Damon spent last season with the Tampa Bay rays, while Matsui was with the Oakland Athletics. Matsui would be the perfect fit as a left handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, as Damon may be looking for a team where he would be guaranteed more at-bats as he continues his chase for 3,000 hits. Damon’s best bet may be to return to the Rays.
Other names still available looking for at least part time work include Derrek Lee, who could also spell Teixeira in the field at first base on days where he assumes the designated hitter role, as well as Russell Branyan, who has hit some monstrous shots in Yankee Stadium, Jay Gibbons and Rick Ankiel.
New York could also consider a former Yankees outfielder who didn’t have much of a chance to shine with them, while he was often injured in Xavier Nady, or they could bring in either one of a pair of former Yankees killers in Vladimir Guerrero or the suspended Manny Ramirez, although both remain highly unlikely. Especially Ramirez, who just wouldn’t really fit in the New York clubhouse.
Either way, the Yankees may opt to wait and see how the season begins. They certainly have the pieces in place to make another deep run into the playoffs, but if anyone on the current roster does not perform up to standards, expect New York to encourage Brian Cashman to make a few well placed phone calls.
Pitchers and catchers report in just over two weeks!