We move from the topic of pitchers on to outfielders, which believe it or not, is still a team need. Mike Cameron, 36, is one of the best available outfielders not named Bay or Holliday.
You might be wondering why the Yanks need another outfielder even though they just got Curtis Granderson. Well, with Granderson, we now have four outfielders; Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Granderson. Many people are anticipating the resigning of Johnny Damon. And with this, many people anticipate the trading of Nick Swisher. Which leaves us with a very good centerfielder, a decent corner outfielder in Cabrera, a fast outfielder who needs to improve his hitting, and an aging corner outfielder with no arm. Our minor league outfielders could be drafted away from us, as Shelley Duncan and John Rodriguez are expected to be drafted in the Rule 5. So we’re left with Colin Curtis, and newly signed Jon Weber and Eladio Moronta as our backups in case of injury/other needs.
Cameron has always hit for a low average and many strikeouts, but he is a perfect middle-bottom of the order hitter because of his power and speed. He hit just .250 last year but hit 25 home runs and 70 RBIs (and his home was Miller Park, typically a pitchers park). Though his speed has been decreasing over the years, he can still cover the outfield and still has a great arm, which would make his transition to a corner spot (most likely left because of said speed, and Melkys cannon for RF) much easier. He has 3 gold gloves under his belt, most recently in 2006.
Cameron would be a great fit in New York for several reasons. We know he can handle the New York media, as he spent 2004-05 with the Mets without any controversy (many remember him for his nasty collision with Carlos Beltran, breaking several bones in his face and causing him to miss the rest of the season). Second, he hits well against AL East teams for the most part in his career; 10 HR 26 RBI vs Boston, 3 HR 23 RBI vs Baltimore, 6 HR 27 RBI vs Toronto, and 5 HR 22 RBI vs Tampa Bay. Remember, his six full seasons in the AL were with Seattle and Chicago, who would face these teams a max of 10 times a year.
Scenarios with Cameron:
– Damon signed, Swisher traded for starter/reliever/minor leaguer. Cameron takes 6 or 7 spot in order and takes over RF/LF
– Damon not signed, Swisher stays- Cameron bats in front of Swisher because of speed and better clutch hitting; Swisher becomes everyday DH with ability to start in the OF when needed.
– Damon signed, Swisher kept- Cameron becomes everyday outfielder, Swisher and Damon must fight for DH job, one of the two rot on the bench, until Swisher/Cabrera traded before deadline
If the Yankees sign him, look for a 2-year, $17 MM deal.
Cameron has said that he wants to play for a team with a chance at the postseason, let’s see if the Yankees make a run at him.
Let the Winter Meetings begin ! And since we’re on the free agent topic of starting pitchers, let’s stick with Jason Marquis.
Marquis was drafted in 1996 by the Atlanta Braves. His debut was in 2000, and he spent the following 3 years in the ATL. These years were rough for Marquis, as he never really showed improvement stats wise, going 14-15 with a 4.45 ERA. He lost his starting job for nearly all of 2003. In 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals took the risk of signing Marquis and naming him a starter. That year, Marquis broke out with a 15-7 record and a 3.71 ERA in 200+ innings. In his 3 seasons in St. Louis, he gave up 26, 29, and 35 home runs, which is a ridiculous amount. Marquis’ worst year in STL was in 2006, in which he went 14-16 with an awful 6.02 ERA, as the Cards went on to win the World Series. He spent the next two seasons in Chicago with positive records, and this past season in Colorado, where he was 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA; people thought he was the mid-season MVP before his ERA shot up.
Now, the question: should the Yanks sign him? While his career record is 94-83, his ERA is 4.48, which is very high for a longtime starter. His home runs allowed have gone down dramatically since his 3 years in STL. Marquis could be a good fit as the Yankees fourth or fifth starter, definitely not third. His inconsistency can be scary, and you know Yankee fans would jump on him if he does poorly as the 3rd starter. He isn’t a strikeout machine, but he does have accuracy. Another concern would be expecting him to jump into the AL, considering his entire career has been in the NL. He’s 31 years old and has good stuff. Look for a 4 year, $41 MM deal (around $10.2 mil/year) if he should get one.
Marquis grew up in Manhasset, NY, on Long Island. He went to the Little League World Series in 1991, where he pitched two no-hitters in the quarterfinals and 3rd Place game. He grew up a huge Yankee fan, and a Don Mattingly fan. This could effect his decision to play in pinstripes if the Yankees pursue…
With Justin Duchscherer being reviewed with his mental problems, we turn to another high-risk, high-reward type pitcher in Erik Bedard. Yes, we all remember him as the guy who was traded from Baltimore to Seattle for soon-to-be All-Star Adam Jones and reliever George Sherrill, but obviously the trade didn’t go so well for the Mariners. Why you ask? Bedard started just 15 games in each of his two seasons in Seattle, going a combined 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA. In 2008, his season ended in June after tearing his labrum, an injury many doctors say a pitcher will never be able to return to true form from. The labrum is the joint that basically connects the arm to the shoulder and allows movement, so you can only imagine the pain. He had surgery in September and returned for Spring Training. In 2009, he left in June again after inflammation in the very same shoulder, and he missed the rest of the year. Note: He has been on the DL 6 times in the last 3 seasons.
photo from Getty Images
So, let us look back to the good old days when he was a strikeout machine. For the Orioles from 2004-2007 (and .2 innings in 2002) he went 40-34 (remember how below average the O’s have been this decade). A 3.94 ERA over that span; 658 innings, 639 strikeouts, including a team record 221 in 2007 (10.93 KPG) and walking just 254 [just over a 2.5-1 K-BB ratio]. He is a career 5-4 vs. Boston, 11-3 vs. Tampa Bay, but only 1-3 at Yankee Stadium as an opponent.
Now, seeing this, do we take the risk and go after the lefty? There’s a chance he could be a stud again, and there’s a chance he could get hurt again. Let’s face it..we need a starter for next year (more like two or three or four). Personally, I would rather go after someone like a Duchscherer, with Bedard next in line. Harden and Sheets (more Harden to me) are too great of risks to take, unless they remain free agents until late in the off-season. But if we want him, we better hurry, his drafter Baltimore is looking to sign him for some good money…
If he has truely gotten himself in a good place mentally he can be a huge FA steal along with Ben Sheets and Rich Harden if they stay healthy. Duchscherer has even more value because of the fact he had three very successful seasons as a reliever and then was a shut down starter in 2008 with the Athletics. In fact Justin Duchscherer may just fit perfectly into the Yankees plans. They could most likely get away with paying him much under his value and he is a slot guy who can pitch in relief or start depending on what happens with Hughes and Chamberlain. Overall I think Duchscherer will come away with about a 6MM contract filled with incentives that could make his deal worth up to about double whatever the contract ends up being for (if 6MM then 12MM). Duchscherer will be 32 at the start of the 2010 season and definitely has the potential to be the Zack Greinke of 2010. After all he has gone through I wish him much luck, unless he signs with Boston of course.