October 29, 2006
The Yankees have a glut of first basemen, with Jason Giambi, Craig Wilson, and Andy Phillips sharing duties at that position. Giambi, the falling star who, while suffering lingering illnesses, ailments, and injuries, has lately been specializing in getting hit by pitches and drawing walks. Sure, he'll hit an occasional, dramatic home run which keeps opposing pitchers intimidated. Yet, it's galling to see him continue to pull the ball and hit into the defensive over shift which nearly every team employs against him. And if he does, he either flies out or grounds out. If Jason would hit the ball to the opposite field, he'd probably lift his batting average another thirty points, and thus, help the team. But, he stubbornly refuses to adapt. The Yankees are stuck with him, and would like to use him as the full time DH. But who would play first base full time?
Certainly not Craig Wilson, who batted .212 in forty games as a Yankee. He may be a defensive upgrade over Giambi, but if the Yankees are to replace Giambi, they need someone who can duplicate his past productivity as well. Wilson filed for free agency on Saturday, and the Yankees should thank him for his services and not re-sign him.
That leaves Andy Phillips, who has had trouble swinging the bat this 2006 season, hitting just .240 in 246 at-bats. At twenty nine years old, he's not exactly a kid anymore and any argument for keeping him because he's young is slipping away fast. The Yankees should trade him in return for anybody who can pitch. Phillips deserves a chance to be a full time position player on a team where he can find his swing and develop a career.
One intriguing possibility to replace Giambi at first base is Nomar Garciaparra who filed for free agency on Saturday also, assuming the Dodgers don't re-sign him. Garciaparra batted an impressive .303 in 2006, with 20 home runs and 93 RBIs. With Garciaparra in pinstipes, the Yankees would be able to use Giambi as their full time DH, and put Nomar at first. As a fan, I'd love to see the former beloved Red Sox shortstop playing in a Yankee uniform along with Johnny Damon, one of the "idiots" who led the Red Sox to their first World Series Championship since 1918.
Imagine an infield consisting of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Nomar Garciaparra? What would such a move cost, except money which the Yankees have mountains of? No one has, to the best of my knowledge suggested such a move for the Yankees. However, if they did sign him, he'd bring talented defense, a good team attitude, a big bat, and it would be a snub to the Red Sox and their fans. Also, I'd never miss a game.