Inbox: Will chemistry remain intact?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers Yanks fans' questions
One of the things that made the '09 Yanks winners was the chemistry these guys had. What do you think will happen to the mojo? Don't you think Robinson Cano will be affected without Melky Cabrera?
-- John T., Moreno Valley, Calif.
Well, more than chemistry, the Yankees won because of the fact that they were a really, really talented team. I wouldn't worry about "mojo." The Yankees have a good mix still in place, with the "old guard" players as well as newcomers who really helped refresh the atmosphere in '09, like CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher.
What manager Joe Girardi worked so hard to do was create a welcoming atmosphere for additions -- remember the day they skipped practice in Spring Training for a team billiards tournament? -- and the benefits were reaped in-season by having a clubhouse that not only played well on the field, but meshed and clicked off of it.
We saw veterans like Jerry Hairston Jr. and Chad Gaudin come on board and immediately fit in, even though they weren't around to shoot 8-ball with Mariano Rivera or go to Orlando Magic games with Sabathia. For that reason, I'd expect that there is no reason guys like Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson wouldn't fall into place nicely.
As for Cano, obviously he won't be turning handstands that his best friend will be wearing a Braves uniform, but Cano has a good support staff around him and I don't expect to see him suffer at all. If he does, that'd be a problem. Professional athletes have to be good at blocking out distractions and the trade of a buddy should be just one more of those. I will miss watching Cano and Melky jump into their high-five celebrations after games, though.
Why wouldn't the Yankees look at Xavier Nady for left field? They would get a right-handed bat with good power who can handle New York. Is his injury still a factor or is he looking for more than the Yankees want to pay?
-- Pete N., Syracuse N.Y.
Right now, it appears the hold-up would be more financial than physical. General manager Brian Cashman said on Monday that Nady's price is above the Yankees' current budget, which explains why they have not been seriously linked to him while some other clubs have.
Will the Yankees make a play at Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?
-- E.J. N., Newark, Del.
Not if you believe the statements made before the holidays, when Cashman described the state of the Yankees' offseason. We can debate if Brett Gardner or Jamie Hoffmann will really be in left field on Opening Day (I tend to think it's a lot like after the '05 season, when they insisted that Bubba Crosby would be the Opening Day center fielder until he wasn't and Johnny Damon was), but the GM is doing his best to throw ice water on any fantasies of another big-ticket addition this winter.
"I will continue to look at any remaining piece, but it won't be a big piece," Cashman said Dec. 22. "Any speculation about some high-end player who has big ability and dollars attached on a large scale would be inappropriate."
I would've loved to see Roy Halladay in pinstripes. Did the Yankees made a real offer to the Blue Jays for him?
-- Pieck M., Mexico City
Not seriously. The price was too prohibitive given what the Blue Jays were looking for -- a package that would have included either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes, plus Jesus Montero and more. Cashman said the Yankees had conversations on both Halladay with Toronto and Cliff Lee with the Phillies, "but we were far from matching up."
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Will Yankees ever trade Alex Rodriguez, because this would be an excellent time?
-- Troy V., Bronx, N.Y.
I'm not sure why you think this would be an excellent time, but regardless, I don't see it. When the Yankees and Rodriguez got back together after the 2007 season, that really seemed like it was "for better or for worse, 'til death do us part." A-Rod has a full no-trade clause and with the size of that contract, where else would he go? That was a question after the opt-out, and it remains one now.
Javier Vazquez couldn't handle New York the first time around, why do the Yankees think he'll succeed in the second go around?
-- Bruce W., Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
I can't blame anyone who watched Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series for holding on to that memory of Vazquez's first tour in pinstripes. The end of the year didn't go the way Vazquez wanted, but what he didn't tell many about was a shoulder issue that he waited too long to treat in the second half, which could have contributed greatly to his struggles.
If you're ranking No. 4 starters, Vazquez should be one of the best in the Majors. There's no doubt that when you talk to scouts around the game and have them describe Vazquez's stuff, he's an attractive pick, and it's not like the Yankees are asking him to win a ton of games and lead the staff. (That's Sabathia's job.) If Vazquez can be as durable in New York as he has been elsewhere, the Yankees will be fine.
Do you think Johnson will spell Teixeira at first base?
-- Mike S. Ecru, Miss.
Yes, in fact, the plan is that Johnson will now be Teixeira's primary backup there on those days when Teixeira gets a day off or serves as the designated hitter. Swisher can put away his first baseman's glove for the time being.
Will there ever be another Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada or Rivera? A player that plays their whole career with the Yankees, or will Cashman trade them away before they have a chance to mature? Will any of the '09 players be on the '19 team?
-- Mark S., Latham, N.Y.
Let's attack the second point first, because this must be a reaction to the Vazquez trade (we got plenty of angry ones this week). Did we really think that Cabrera was a lifetime Yankee, a franchise player? He was popular and productive, I get that, but it's not like anyone thought he was the second coming of Mickey Mantle.
As for the '19 roster, that's near impossible to say, but fascinating to think about. Perhaps Chamberlain or Hughes could spend their entire careers in pinstripes -- we know there's a commitment there, but who's to say free agency won't eventually get in the way? I wonder where a 36-year-old Cano would be in 2019; maybe he's the guy.
If the Yankees do manage to re-sign Damon, this presents a problem with the batting lineup. Who bats leadoff, Curtis Granderson or Jeter? Will Damon still bat second? What will the entire lineup look like with Johnson now on the team?
-- Toby R., Tamaqua, Pa.
Not that Girardi is spending his days writing out lineups that are subject to change by spring, but right now I'd guess Jeter will stick in the leadoff spot and Johnson would hit second. Before the Johnson deal, Granderson was going to hit second against righties and lower in the order against lefties.
Should there be another move, like a Damon return, I'd think the appeal would be to keep that one-two punch intact and then move Johnson down lower. But Damon's recent comments make it sound a lot like he's not expecting to be coming back.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.