Inbox: Will Yankees re-sign Damon?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers fans' questions
What are the chances that the Yankees re-sign Johnny Damon next year? Would a one- or two-year deal be enough to get Damon to come back?
-- Neil G., Yonkers, N.Y.
It might be. Damon has been pretty up front about his desire to keep playing for the Yankees past 2009, and he has said that he can't imagine wearing a different uniform, which isn't exactly a page right out of the Scott Boras playbook as it relates to an upcoming free agency.
But Damon seems legitimate and unapologetic about what he wants, and why not? He has absolutely loved hitting in new Yankee Stadium, owning the kind of swing that seems tailor-made for the place -- shades of how Bobby Murcer enjoyed so much success at the old building a few decades ago.
Damon might not be the same productive player if he had to log 81 games worth of at-bats in a different stadium, but in the Bronx, he still seems to be a good fit. There was a thought earlier in the year that the Yankees would be primed to let Damon walk as a free agent, but now it appears the winds have shifted and they are more amenable to the idea of keeping him.
A-Rod is not having an MVP year statistically, however he is having a great team year of bringing in runs in key team situations. Agree?
-- Lynn W., Durham, N.C.
Sure. Alex Rodriguez has done a nice job this year of fitting in to the Yankees' lineup and just being "one of the guys," which as we all know is something that hasn't been especially easy for him in New York.
Rodriguez has said that some of the pressure has been lifted by knowing that he wouldn't have to produce the glossy MVP-type numbers in 2009, a ready-made excuse provided by the fact that he didn't play his first game until May 8 because of right hip surgery.
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He has been noticeably limited at times, and recently estimated the odds at 80 percent that he'll need another trip under the knife after the season. But the fact that we can sit in September and see 25 homers and 84 RBIs -- hitting .396 this month -- coming off a very serious procedure tells you a lot.
What is the thinking regarding Sergio Mitre? The Yankees can't afford being swept by either the Red Sox or the Angels. A mere playoff berth isn't good enough. They need to secure home-field advantage to have a realistic chance in the playoffs, and they're not going to get anywhere with a four-man rotation.
-- James M., United Kingdom
All indications are that the Yankees will keep giving the ball to Mitre every turn around the rotation. We all know that Joe Girardi had good things to say about Mitre from their time together with the Marlins, even though thus far the results have been very mixed.
Mitre is a sinkerball pitcher who is going to give up a good amount of hits, but when that sinker isn't working, those balls are going to travel a long way. We've seen some of that, and the growing pains are to be expected as he comes back from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery.
It hasn't been all bad, especially the Aug. 29 start in which he held the White Sox to one hit over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Regardless, a player in Mitre's situation helps get the team to the finish line and largely becomes less of a factor in October. It would be more appropriate to show concern with A.J. Burnett.
I may have missed news about Chien-Ming Wang. When will he be back on the mound?
-- Jade J., Philippines
Wang had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder capsule on July 29, and the estimates given by the Yankees are that he will be back to pitching on a Major League mound in approximately 12 months time from that date.
Whether that is with the Yankees, of course, remains to be seen. Wang is arbitration-eligible and was making $5 million this season, so it is unclear what the future holds for him. The Yankees could always decline to offer Wang arbitration and try to sign him as a free agent.
In the meantime, Wang has kept his locker at Yankee Stadium and has continued using the facilities to work out as he progresses with his rehab.
Any chance we will see Pat Venditte called up soon? I just checked his stats in the Minors and he has dominated at every level and would give the Yankees a quality arm in the 'pen who can throw righty and lefty.
-- Mike C., Vernon, Conn.
Not in 2009, but it will be interesting to see how Venditte progresses at the upper levels. He's forced people to stand up and take notice of his talents as a prospect, not just as a curiosity or because of the hilarious clip that prompted a rule change when he was pitching for Staten Island.
Venditte finished this year with a 1.87 ERA in 49 combined appearances, striking out 87 and walking 11 in 67 1/3 innings. It's a leap to say he's big league-ready after facing Class A hitters, but regardless of which hand he throws with, those are numbers that demand a closer look.
I really like the way Francisco Cervelli filled in earlier this year while Jose Molina was hurt. Any chance of Cervelli being the backup catcher next year in place of Molina? What about Jesus Montero?
-- Andy G., Londonderry, N.H.
The Bombers are extremely pleased with the progress they've seen this season from Cervelli, and all that he's accomplished at the big league level will certainly give them reason to consider a scenario like the one you outlined.
The pitchers loved working with him, and not that they didn't click with Molina, as well, but Cervelli may have shown enough that the Yankees could consider allowing Molina to sign elsewhere as a free agent.
As for Montero, he had a strong year before missing the season's last month with a broken right middle finger, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he sees some big league time in 2010.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.