Do the Yankees Bring Back Damon, Matsui, and Pettitte for 2010?

November 12, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

With free agency looming next week, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has a few important decisions to make.

Free agency for all of baseball will not officially start until Friday, Nov. 20, but the Yankees can negotiate exclusively with the players on the roster whose contracts are up.

Specifically, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Andy Pettitte.

These decisions won’t be easy for Cashman, because all three of these players contributed en route to the Yankees winning the 2009 World Series last Wednesday.

Here’s the big question: do Damon, Matsui, and Pettitte come back in pinstripes for 2010? Lets analyze each player’s situation.


Johnny Damon: .282, 24 home runs, 82 RBI in 2009

Damon left the Red Sox and signed a four year, $52 million dollar deal right around Christmas of 2005 with the Yankees. His press conference was a huge deal because Damon shaved off his beard and cut his hair right before he was introduced to the New York media.

From his first game in New York, Damon became an instant fan favorite because of his out-going personality, his hustle, and his clutch bat. He got older and eventually had to move to left from center field, but at the plate, is still one of the most feared hitters in the game.

In the 2009 World Series, Damon went on a tear, hitting .364 and his at-bat in Game Four against Brad Lidge was monumental. His two steals in the same inning were even bigger as that helped the Yankees win the game 7-4.

Damon has said he wants to return to the Yankees and the Yankees usually treat their veteran players with courtesy.

Damon turned 36 the day after the World Series, but if he can still contribute with the bat, he’ll be asked back, especially since the other left fielders available in Matt Holliday and Jason Bay are going to cost a lot more.

Damon does have Scott Boras as an agent, but Damon already has said he wants this deal to get done quickly to return to the Yankees again.

Damon’s chances of returning to the Yankees: 90 percent


Hideki Matsui: .274, 28 home runs, 90 RBI in 2009

Most probably felt this was going to be the easiest decision considering Matsui is 35 and can no longer play the outfield every day like he used to when he was first signed in 2003 to a three year, $21 million dollar contract, then re-signed in 2005 for four years and $52 million.

Matsui also missed significant time in 2006 and 2008 with a wrist injury and a knee injury that has continued to bother Matsui today.

However, nobody expected Matsui to hit .615 in the World Series, hit three home runs and eight RBI, including a 3-for-4 and six RBI performance in Game Six that not only helped the Yankees win the World Series, but got Matsui the 2009 World Series MVP award.

All of a sudden, this decision isn’t as easy, because when the games count, Matsui stepped up his game.

In fact, Matsui has been one of the most consistent Yankees who is a professional hitter and treats the game very seriously and has never been a problem to the organization.

Also, if the Yankees were to offer him a contract, Matsui has said he would love to return to the Yankees. This one is Cashman’s toughest decision to make of the current players.

There have also been some rumors that Matsui could return to Japan, but there are quite a few teams with some money to unload that could prevent that from happening.

Matsui’s chances of returning to Yankees in 2010: 50 percent


Andy Pettitte: 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 194.2 innings, 148 strikeouts in 2009

In the winter of 2008, some weren’t sure if the Yankees were going to bring back Pettitte after he struggled with arm soreness down the stretch to get to 14-14.

They have signed CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett before Christmas and Pettitte was still on the market. After Derek Lowe signed with the Braves and Ben Sheets had to have surgery, Brian Cashman needed Pettitte back, and offered him a one year, $5.5 million dollar deal with incentives to make it worth more.

Pettitte was second on the staff with the 14 wins and pitched the Yankees to the American League East division with his win over the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 21.

Pettitte made even more history when he went 4-0 in the 2009 postseason; he won the clinching game against the Twins in the ALDS, won the clinching game against the Angels in the ALCS, and won the clinching game against the Phillies in the World Series.

Some could have made a case that Pettitte could have been the World Series MVP with the 2-0 record.

Before the 2009 playoffs, Pettitte was tied with John Smoltz for the most wins in postseason history by a pitcher with 14. After his four in 2009, Pettitte stands alone as the all-time leader with 18.

In this winter, Cashman won’t be as hesitant to bring Pettitte back. As long as he doesn’t retire and wants to come back, Pettitte should return to the Yankees for 2010, where he will turn 38 in June.

Most know Pettitte has put off retirement for at least two years, but Cashman knows the Yankees don’t win the World Series without the lefty, so a nice pay raise will probably get the job done.

Pettitte’s chances of returning to the Yankees in 2010: 95 percent

Free agency will be coming soon and may other stories with possible players to come to New York will be following, but Cashman has at least three important decisions to make before bringing anyone else to the team.

Most feel two of the three players should be easy decisions, but there’s a chance all three of these players could be back in 2010.

Over the next eight days, it is something for Cashman to think about and hopefully, gets done quickly.

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