If I Could Only Keep One Of Them….

When I was a senior in high school, two guys asked me out for New Year’s Eve. Neither was an actual boyfriend (I was only in love with Mickey Mantle). One was quiet and dependable. The other was a lot of fun. But I couldn’t go out with both of them, could I? Brian Cashman’s dilemma is similar. He has to choose between Matsui and Damon, now that both are free agents. Does he decide to go with the quiet, dependable one?
Matsui did win the Series MVP and he’s been nothing if not an RBI machine ever since he joined the Yankees. He’s a lefty who hits for power and average, gets along with everybody and is a complete professional. His drawbacks? He’s strictly a DH, can’t run the bases given his bad knees, and he’s 35 – hardly ready for the assisted living facility but not young in baseball years. Still, can the Yankees really afford to part with Godzilla?
Johnny Damon’s slap-happy lefty swing was made for Yankee Stadium. He’s perfect in the #2 slot, makes contact especially with two strikes, can go yard into Damon’s Deck and is a speedy and smart base runner, as we saw from his pivotal steals of second and third in the World Series. His drawbacks? His weak throwing arm is a liability in left field, his legs need to be rested for maximum effectiveness, and he’s 36 – even though it seems like only yesterday that the Yankees signed him.
I loathed him as a Red Sock, but over the four years he’s been in pinstripes I’ve grown to appreciate his all-out effort, as well as his playfulness. Can the Yankees really say goodbye to the great chemistry he has with his teammates?
My solution would be to try to bring them both back. OK, I know that’s wishful thinking. I’m not in high school anymore.
So I’d pick Matsui, because he’s a better pinch-hitter.
No, wait. I’d pick Damon, because he’s a better all-around player.
Or maybe I’d pick Matsui, because he’s Pedro Martinez’s daddy.
Or maybe I’d pick Damon, because he doesn’t need a translator.
Matsui. Damon. Matsui. Damon. I don’t know! I need to talk to Cashman right away. He’s in Chicago at the GM meetings. I have to reach him before he does something crazy, so off I go.
I guess we’ll have to wait to hear about Matsui and Damon. You can’t say I didn’t try.


  1. diane.anziano@gmail.com

    You bring up very good points on both Damon and Matsui – I think there’s probably just as good a chance that Cashman passes on both of them, depending on who’s out there on the free agent market. Posada is certainly showing signs of slowing down considerably and he may be our primary DH in 2010. He could still catch a substantial # of games and bring Cervelli along to take over the majority of the games.

    The movie review night sounds like fun – as long as we have enough notice; it seems like we are all pretty busy people and to find a couple of hours in a night to stop and watch a movie and then share our views. I’m in, though, like all your loyals.

  2. mlbmom

    I say (and hope and pray) Cashman signs both to one year deals. Cash will say baseball signings aren’t based on emotion which proves he is a guy and we are girls.

    93 days til pitchers and catchers report.
    I’m ready.


  3. dschaub@gpo.gov

    Oh, this is sooo tough. My heart wants to keep them both, my head says no way, neither one…and my spirit is haunted by What If they come back to bite us? But we survived losing Abreu, and others too. All I know is I’m glad not to have Cashman’s job. In general, most of my fave pro sports teams have been loyal to their old vets, only to get burned…and you’re right on the $$ with the idea to have Hor-Hay DH more and catch less…also, let’s not forget what Captain Jeet said…it’s the pitching, stupid (oh yeah, and a GREAT new first baseman who redefined our infield, including you, Cap’n). Guess I’d rather focus on getting one more top-notch starter above all. And a speedy young OF can run down those flyballs…still, it will be a sad time if and when we say goodbye…we’ll need the She-Fan’s special touch to get over it (sigh)…BTW, who DID you go out with??

  4. ooaooa

    I really think Damon will be resigned but not Matsui. The idea of Carl Crawford at the top of the lineup is a pleasant one. The Red Sox buffet choices will, I am sure, dictate some of the direction Cashman goes. Lackey is a gamer and would fit in nicely and for less than Haliday. Hurry up spring training I’m missing baseball already.

  5. peggy3

    Hi Jane …

    I haven’t had time to post the past few days…busy celebrating our Yanks !!! I wanted to thank you for posting the pic of my friends at Mickey’s. They are blog stars now… :o).

    As far as Hit-deki or Damonic …I want to keep ALL the guys on the team this year. I loved them ALL and the way they played together both on and off the field. This has been a great team not focusing on individual accomplishments but the one goal of a 27th World Series and because of that …MISSION ACCOMPLISHED !!! The chemistry is so great and anyone who says chemistry is overrated …I say phooey to them !! At least we know that the main characters will all be in place. Hopefully Cash can get the deals done and we can be on our way to Championship #28 in 2010.

    The way time is flying for me …..P’s & C’s will be here in a
    blink of an eye.

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  6. Jane Heller

    You think Cashman will pass on both, Diane? I agree the DH spot will be a slot for Posada, as well as A-Rod when he needs a rest, and Jeter as he gets older. But I’m thinking he might keep Damon. “Might” being the operative word. I agree on movie night. We can’t drop everything to watch on the same night. But we could pick a movie, have everybody try to watch it during a particular week and then choose a date for “reviewing.”

    I think Matsui might take a one-year deal, Wendy, but not Damon. I don’t think Scott Boras would allow it. I also think Damon will get more offers and opportunities than Matsui. And yes, I wish pitchers and catchers were reporting tomorrow!

    So you’re figuring Cash will let both of them go, Dave. You’re right – we did survive losing Abreu. And maybe AJax is ready for prime time out there in CF. But it’s hard to mess with success, even as I understand the realities of baseball. And I agree about pitching, which is why I brought it up in the video. We need another starter. I know there will be yet another debate about Joba and Hughes and whether they should be in the rotation, but it’s a big gamble to put them both in it. Which guy did I go out with? BOTH!

    You’re going with Damon, John? If Cash does pick one, I’m guessing he’d pick Damon too – IF he can avoid a a multi-year deal. Lackey? Yeah, he’s a gamer, but I just don’t want him on the Yankees. UGH. If he’s so wonderful, why aren’t the Angels shelling out the money for him?

    Good point, Paul. Matsui is more likely to agree to one year than Damon. But as Diane said, the Yankees can’t afford to clog up the DH spot as the other players age. And would Matsui be worth signing just to pinch hit? I don’t see him as a bench player.

    So you want to have your cake AND eat it, Peggy. LOL. I know just how you feel. I don’t want anything to change on this great team. But it will. It has to. It always does. I’m with Dave: I’m glad I’m not the GM because I couldn’t make these decisions. Btw, I love that you’re signing off with “Go Yankees 2010.” It makes me feel as if it’s just around the corner.

  7. jstancil@unionky.edu

    Oh my … this is where Cashman is going to have to earn his keep. this is just a tough decision. Do you bring one back? If so, which one? Or do you bring them both back or let them both walk? It’s maddening I tell you!!! Just maddening!!!

  8. Jane Heller

    Yup, jstancil. This is why Cashman gets the big bucks. I couldn’t make these decisions, but then I could never have let Bernie Williams go. That said, nothing would surprise me. He could bring back both players or neither.

  9. yankeeinutah@comcast.net

    Oh Jane, Cashman’s comb-over is awful! I believe that you keep Damon over Matsui. If you make Damon the DH, at least he can play the field if necessary, and his legs are still working well. I can’t picture Matsui stealing bases, or running the outfield, only being the DH. It seems incredible to let the Series MVP go, but those darn knees of his…..I’d love to hear your thoughts about Lackey wearing pinstripes. Of course, he’d have to leave that horrible Rally Monkey in LA!

  10. Jane Heller

    Yankeeinutah, I agree with all the pluses of bringing Damon back. But he’s only going to get older and creakier, so if Cashman can maneuver a one-year deal with a team option for the second year, I’d do it. Otherwise, no dice. And as I said to John above, I am not a Lackey fan. If he’s been such an incredible member of the Angels, why aren’t they bringing him back? (Maybe they will, but they haven’t shown any indication of it yet.) I don’t like the way he shows his displeasure if a teammate behind him makes an error. It bothers me. We don’t need that kind of “chemistry.”

  11. yankeeinutah@comcast.net

    I agree that signing Lackey would be a bad idea. You can’t beg, borrow, steal, or buy the “chemistry” we had this year, why chance rocking that boat? I just can’t picture Lackey turning around on the mound and flashing “the look” at Jeter. I’d rather see Carl F. Pavano make a return appearance. Did I just say that?

  12. Jane Heller

    HAHA, yankeeinutah. Carl Pavano. Yes, you did say that, and it made me laugh! Your image of Lackey turning around to give Jeter a look is exactly what I was talking about. I remember when David Wells did stuff like that. I guess the players weren’t upset because he was just Boomer being Boomer. But I never cared for it.

  13. peggy3

    Ok Jane …if there MUST be a change they can get rid of Mitre. Is that concession enough?? lol

    I think the players on this team have just enough left for one more terrific season …then they can start talking major changes. I also feel that without the “Joba Rules” he will do much better this year and get to 14 wins or better. Unfortunately there will be the “Hughes Rules” but I think he has a better mindset to handle it.

    I’m happy you like the 2010…heck we won in 2009 so it’s time to forge ahead with a bright outlook to a new season and another championship. I feel this team can do it just the way they are ….

    Looking forward to the Hot Stove to pass the time away till I once again hear those magical words …”Play Ball”

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  14. Jane Heller

    Mat Damon! Shelley, that’s hilarious. I wouldn’t mind cloning the best of both Damon and Matsui, but the truth is I waver after reading each comment here. Before I’d read yours, I was thinking it would be good to bring Damon back. But now I’m thinking we should say goodbye to both. Clearly, I can’t make up my mind!

    I really did have those two dates for New Year’s, Melissa. They were both friends more than boyfriends, and I ended up having the quiet, dependable one take me home at midnight and the fun, mischievous one pick me up at 12:05! LOL. I couldn’t make up my mind then either. I’m not a big fan of the DH as a position, and it wouldn’t bother me to go back to the NL way of doing things. But since that won’t happen, I think Matsui has served his role very well. Still, his skills are limited. So are Damon’s, but even if we do get another outfielder (and I hope we do, because I, too, would love to see a runner thrown out at home for a change), Damon has more to offer. You don’t like Crawford? I adore him. He can hit, field, steal – the whole package. I don’t know what to say about Joba and Hughes. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if one of them were traded.

  15. diamonddiva

    Wouldn’t it be great if the Yankees could hire some specialists to extract some genetic material from both Damon and Matsui to “clone” a combination of the two of them? The Yankees would then have the best of both worlds — both of their bats, Damon’s base running ability, Matsui’s quiet professionalism, Damon’s playfulness, Matsui’s fielding ability, and both of their great heads of hair. Combining their names, this super left-fielder could be called Hidonny Matmon…or Johndeki Damsui…I’ve got it…he’d be Mat Damon! 😀 But seriously, it’s a tough call. Damon’s defense and Matsui’s knees make them both liabilities. I wouldn’t be surprised if neither of them were brought back.
    Shelley http://diamonddiva.mlblogs.com/

  16. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    I wrote a long comment before and it disappeared. Could it be the Yankee fans are clogging up the mlb blogs?!???!

    Jane, you were popular during high school! I hope Michael realizes how lucky he is to have you!

    During the playoffs, I was wondering why we even had Matsui. He looked really pained. I kept reminding myself how hot he’d been after the All Star break. Of course, during the World Series, I didn’t have to do any reminding! Though I love his class, style, and bat, I really hate the DH position on general principle and don’t like the idea of having players who aren’t “complete.” (Sorry Matsui, I feel bad saying that!)

    Damon seems to have great chemistry with the team, gets clutch hits, and is a good baserunner. I think he’ll need more days off as time goes by. His little hop he has to make to get the ball to the infield is cute after he’s caught an out – not so cute with a man on third. I wouldn’t be upset if the Yankees offered him a one year deal, though I would love to have an outfielder again who could peg a guy at the plate. It makes the game so exciting!

    Carl Crawford? Hmmmm. I wonder what he’d do to the chemistry. I’ve never liked him, but maybe that’s because he’s done so much damage against the Yankeees.

    I don’t think Lackey would be a good fit. I’m not that crazy about him.

    What about Joba and Hughes? I kept thinking that Mariano will have to retire some day (another 5 years would be great though). Wouldn’t it make sense for Mo to train one of them to be the closer? They both seem to do better in that role. I felt really bad for Hughes in the post game celebration when he said something about not contributing as much as others had. Yeah, he didn’t do well in the post season, but I don’t think we would have gotten there without him.

    Jane, loved Cashman in the video!!! LOL.


  17. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Just read your comment Shelley. Had me laughing out loud! Mat Damon!!!! (If any of you saw “Team America World Police” you know how you have to say that name.)

  18. Jane Heller

    I have no idea why my responses are showing up before some of the comments today, but it’s annoying! Anyhow, I agree, Peggy, that Mitre doesn’t need to be with the team next season, but come on! You have to choose between Damon and Matsui. Play fair! I guess your answer is you’d keep both of them and leave the team exactly the way it is. But I doubt that will happen. A little tweaking is a good thing. And while I know that Joba, as well as some in the organization, continue to believe he should be a starter, I’m not convinced. I think his temperament is better suited to the pen. Hughes? I think he’ll be headed back to the rotation.

  19. Erin Kathleen

    The Yankees will probably end up keeping Matsui, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up re-signing them both. I think they would be better off letting Damon walk and trying to pilfer Jason Bay from the Red Sox. Bay might be more expensive, but he’s younger and a better defender than Damon. He’s got more power, too, not that the Yankees really need it!-Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.blogspot.com

  20. Jane Heller

    I think the Red Sox will hang onto Bay, Erin. Just a hunch, since I don’t know much about their organization. I was surprised they didn’t pick up Gonzalez’s option but maybe they’ll get him at a cheaper price.

  21. Jane Heller

    I’d love to see Andy come back, Babu. He mentioned something about wanting to spend more time at home with his kids, but he goes through that every year. I don’t know if he’s done or not. I have no interest in Holliday, and, as I wrote above, I assume the Red Sox will stick with Bay.

  22. peggy3

    Jane ..

    You are correct ….I want them BOTH …Damon and Matsui. I’m not a big Jason Bay fan and I love Crawford but I don’t think he’s available till 2011 (not sure tho’). We also have Austin Jackson waiting in the wings …with one more year of seasoning he might just be the next Yankee farmhand to make it big.

    As far as Joba ..I’d like to see a year of him as a full-fledged
    starter with no limitations and “rules” weighing on his mind every game he pitched. He has 4 plus pitches which would be a waste in the BP. The BP is for pitchers who only have that one (maybe two) knockout pitches like Mo who couldn’t make it as a starter but excelled in the BP.

    Joba has had games where he showed he has the makings of a true ace. The Joba rules, his age and the fact that he threw a mere 88 innings in the minors as opposed to other pitchers who throw anywhere from 300-500 before even reaching the majors also come into play. If he fails this year he’s always a fantastic BP option down the line but I think he deserves a FAIR chance to see if he can be that ace. The Yankees have options to groom someone when Mo retires…they have strong arms in the minors and on the current team (Robertson for example) but seems like we
    won’t have to worry about that for five more years according to Mo … :o). I for one have no doubt Mo can
    do it too !!!

    Whatever happens with the Yankees on the off-season…I just hope it leads to another exciting season ….

    Go Yankees 2010 !!!

  23. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    You make some good points about Joba, Peggy. I just don’t know if he’s got the temperament to be a starting pitcher. Though I think Dave Eiland (sp?) has done a very good job as pitching coach, I sometimes wonder how Joba would have done with someone like Mel Stottylmyre, who pitched in Yankee Stadium, with all the pressure. Would it help him? Who knows?

    I feel sorry for these young guys who are too often thrust into the lime light before they have a chance to mature as players. Some guys can do it, others need more time in the minors than they are given.

    As for Crawford, I know he has a lot of skill. I’m just not sure I’d want him on the team because of his attitude. But like I said, I may not like him because he beat up on the Yanks. And who am I to judge – I always thought Dave Stewart was a mean person because of the way he glared in at the catcher. Then I saw some interviews with him and realized he was a really nice guy!

  24. southernbelle

    Jane: Cashman has the nerve to tell you he’s never heard of your blog? -Ugh- What’s wrong with him? I want both guys, Jane, I can’t pick. Carl Crawford? Is that like going to happen? I heard Matt Holliday said he wants to be a Yankee. What about him? AAHH!!! And Mitre. What’s going to happen to that sexy thing? Did you see him at the parade….dayum…hehehe I have up a lookalike for Alfredo Aceves. I think it’s pretty good 🙂

  25. Jane Heller

    Peggy, I think AJax does need another year of seasoning and I’m not sure what Crawford’s status is. Maybe you’re right and he’s not eligible for free agency until next year, but I keep hearing rumblings about him. And I take all your points about Joba and the rules, the limited innings, the few promising outings, etc. I’d be willing to give him a full season as a starter, but if he falters we’re going to need backup – a bona fide #4 (assuming Andy comes back) – and he goes to the pen!

    Crawford has a great attitude, Melissa. Don’t forget he was the face of the old Devil Rays for a long time and never quit on them. I think he’s a terrific team guy.

    Do you believe Cashman’s nerve, Virginia? LOL. I’m not excited about the prospect of Holliday. And I have a feeling you’re going to have to say goodbye to Sergio, although you never know. I’ll hop over to take a look at your “Aceves.”

  26. mlbmark

    Great blogging as always, Jane. Hey, I want to ask you and your audience who are members of the MLBlogs community to please leave a comment at http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com with any wish-list items you would like to see in terms of our MLBlogs functionality both in the software and on the blog pages. Reloading the big guns for 2010 blogging and beyond and want to make sure we have all of our existing MLBloggers’ wishes represented, everything considered and could be any platform (currently Movable Type). Nothing would be lost if we make transfers but right now just need to get the wishlist out there…and fast. Have about two-dozen musts already, from video uploading to speed to easier photo usage and so forth. Would need this tonight or first half of day tomorrow. Can you please spread the word and thanks everyone who helped make this the best and biggest baseball blogging community in traffic and volume of blogs. – Mark/MLB

  27. etoubman@yahoo.com

    So many good points and I agree with most of them. So, there’s probably not one right answer here -just let them win #28! For once, I’m glad this is not my decision. We will end up loving the team no matter what! Thanks for all these great comments everyone.

  28. mel.tmottbg@gmail.com

    Okay, Jane, if YOU vouch for Carl Crawford, I say he’s okay! My college friends used to make fun of me because in the madness of the Reggie, Billy, Cliff Johnson, Munson years, my favorite Yankee was Roy White. No, he didn’t have the best skills on the team, but he always carried himself with class and dignity.


  29. bgalaxy@verizon.net

    i say sign neither. they are both aging and it’s time to try someone young who actually has an arm better than a little leaguer. i say, what i say almost every off season, put all your money on pitching. i am not worried about the offense without them but another starter would be so lovely.
    by the way, does anyone else hear bob shepard in their head? i go to the gym and try to get locker number 2 so i can hear him say number 2, derek jeter (jeetah), number 2 in my head. basically i make myself laugh on a daily basis.

  30. Jane Heller

    Just left a comment with my wish list, Mark. Hope it’s useful.

    I’m glad it’s not my decision either, Ellen. The more I thought about the question today, the more confused about the answer I became. So it’s a very good thing I’m not in charge. LOL.

    I vouch for Carl Crawford, Melissa! But it’s probably a mute point because I don’t know if he’s available and I’m sure the Rays would want a ton of players/prospects for him. I loved Roy White too, btw. He was the “quiet Yankee” who did carry himself with grace and dignity. I remember having his baseball card and being very excited about it!

    No question that pitching is always the #1 priority, Barbara. And this postseason certainly proved it. I wonder if Cashman is even thinking about it though; he might be satisfied with Joba and Hughes, which would be a mistake in my humble opinion. I think we need another arm. I do hear Bob Shepard in my head. LOL. Not on a daily basis but often.

  31. rrrt

    Jane, you poor thing! I can just picture your head spinning with the endless debate (shades of The Exorcist) :-). I guess that’s why GM’s get paid the big bucks – decisions, decisions. As for yesterday’s entry, did you know that annoying Six Flags song is an Actual Song? It’s called “We Like To Party!” by a group called The Vengaboys. I have never heard of them before, and I’m not even sure how I found this out, but I stumbled across it on iTunes (didn’t buy it though, I’m not that disturbed!).
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  32. Jane Heller

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I did know about the Venga Boys and their song, Sue. I just always think of it as the Six Flags commercial. Either way, it was so wrong to play it during the ceremony at City Hall, which was an otherwise perfect event. I do feel a little like Linda Blair with my head going around on this Damon-Matsui thing. I guess we’ll know soon enough what will happen, although Cashman said today at the GM meetings that no decision is imminent.

  33. yankeeholics

    I wish we could keep both of them but we will get Bay or Holliday instead of Damon or matsui. Yankee fans are thinking one of Damon or Matsui and one of Bay or Holliday. If i was cashman i would get matsui and holliday.

    PS. Check out my new site


  34. hrcoyankeefan@comcast.net


    First of all, I am going to hope that Cash brings the both back. It is possible. Please keep up the videos. They are the best.

    Secondly, I started reading your book last night and I am getting the biggest kick out of it. I can’t believe you picked up players! If you’d put out a little you could have had a date with Mickey. I know where the Stella Dora is in the Bronx. My college boyfriend lived in Yonkers, right by Yonkers Raceway, and whenever we went into the City, we saw the Stella Dora sign. I haven’t thought of that in years. I read it before bed then had weird Yankee dreams all night. I’m getting ready to read it again.


  35. Jane Heller

    I like your confidence, Vig. But I’m not with you on Holliday. He can hit, but I really want us to have a great glove in the outfield. I’ll be over to check out your site right away!

    So you started the book, Laurie? I love that you remember Stella Dora. I can’t believe I actually went on a date there. Seems like a LONG time ago, but I did want to be Mrs. Yankee. HAHA. And imagine how many Yankee dreams I had when I was on the road researching that book!

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