Now that it appears that Nomar Garciaparra will not be the “other bat” that the Yankees will need, in my opinion, for 2006, Cashman & Company need to look for another solution. I think that I have one for them.
This is a left-handed batter who will be 33-years-old next season. While he’s been primarily a LF in his career, he’s also spent time in RF and CF – as well as a handful of games at 1B. He’s not a Gold Glover in the field – but, he’s no Matt Lawton either. He’s not going to kill you if you need to play him in the field once and a while.
More so, I’m looking at this player as a D.H. for the Yankees next season – with the option of him being someone who can give Matsui or Sheffield a day off here and there (as well as play some CF or 1B in a pinch). Here’s the catch – as a DH, he’ll have to platoon with Andy Phillips. Why? Look at his splits the last few seasons:
vs. RHP – .237/.289/.366 in 262 AB
vs. LHP – .293/.356/.415 in 41 AB
vs. RHP – .313/.396/.550 in 131 AB
vs. LHP – .353/.353/.529 in 17 AB
2003 – which was played in a pitcher’s park:
vs. RHP – .255/.321/.429 in 196 AB
vs. LHP – .250/.294/.375 in 32 AB
2002 – which was played in a hitter’s park:
vs. RHP – .292/.350/.485 in 373 AB
vs. LHP – .228/.302/.316 in 57 AB
As you can see, this player has hit RH pitching fair enough (all things considered – like park factors) in the past – with the exception of last year. Still, when you drill down his 2005 numbers, maybe there’s a reason for what happened.
In the first half of last year, he went .269/.316/.423, overall, against all pitching, in 208 ABs. These numbers are pretty close to his career norm.
Then, from July 7th through July 25th, he went into a slump (over 13 games played for him) where he went 5 for 40 – a batting average of .125 over a span of roughly three weeks. While slumps happen to the best of hitters, this one killed his chances in 2005 – because after that time he was only allowed to get more than 2 ABs in a game eight times over the remaining 60-something games that his team played. Further, in 29 of the games that he played after July 25th, he was only allowed to get one AB in the game played.
It’s very hard to get your stroke/timing back when you get about one AB per game. Therefore, I’m willing to consider that his 2005 numbers against RHP are not a sign that he lost it. And, given his performance against RHP from 2002 through 2004, there’s enough to suggest that this player is someone who could be an effective half of a D.H. platoon for the Yankees in 2006 – from the left side.
Plus, he’s a free agent this winter who was not offered salary arbitration by his team. Therefore, to acquire him, all it would cost the Yankees is money. And, it would not be a ton of money – because the last three years, his salary has been around a million dollars for the season (on average).
The player is Todd Hollandsworth.
Yes, I know that he’s been injury-prone in the past. But, perhaps, as a D.H. that plays three-quarters of the time with the Yankees, batting in the lower third of the line-up, he would be less of an injury risk due to the limited exposure.
At the very least, given there is not a huge demand for his services at the moment, it would be wise for the Yankees to invite him to Spring Training on a “look-see” basis. There’s little down-side with that idea – and there’s achance that he could be someone who could chip in 15 HR and 65 RBI over the course of the season (in part-time duty).