Yankees Say Goodbye – and Hello – to Old Faces

Curtis Granderson

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The New York Yankees may be coming off their 27th World Championship, but Brian Cashman didn’t spend much time this offseason basking in the afterglow of the title. Instead, he made significant changes to reshape the team. But not everybody in Yankeeland is happy with those changes.

Most fans figured that either World Series MVP Hideki Matsui or double-steal hero Johnny Damon would be gone from the team, given that the team needed to get younger and more athletic. But it was still surprising to see both players gone. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were able to sign Matsui for just a one-year, $6 million deal. The Bombers ended up paying former Yankee Nick Johnson – an inferior hitter – nearly that much to replace Matsui at DH.

And Damon, the left fielder whose swing seemed perfect for the new Yankee Stadium, is now a Detroit Tiger after trying – and failing – to get the Yankees to re-sign him. True, agent Scott Boras overreached in suggesting that Damon still deserved to make $13 million a year. And
Cashman insulted Damon by suggesting at one point he was worth only $2 million. But there should have been a way for the Yankees to keep Damon on the team. Randy Winn, the outfielder Cashman ended up paying that $2 million to, is hardly anything for fans to get excited over. Neither is Brett Gardner, who will share playing time with Winn.

Many Yankee fans groaned when it was announced that the Yankees traded cult hero Melky Cabrera for former Yankee pitcher Javier Vazquez. Home Run Javy, as some Yankee fans derisively called him, is best (or is that worst?) remembered as a Bomber for giving up the decisive grand slam to then-Red Sox Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Even
though Vazquez is not expected to be the ace he was supposed to be when first becoming a Yankee, some fans are not exactly thrilled to see him in pinstripes again.

On the other hand, the Bombers’ deal for center fielder Curtis Granderson was widely applauded in Yankeeland. The most the Yankees could hope for out of Austin Jackson, the prospect they traded him for, is that he could become Granderson one day. Although Granderson only hit .183 against lefties last year, his overall track record shows that he is still a strong hitter, fielder, and all around good guy.

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