-Now that Jerry Hairston is apparently off the market, the Yankees need to consider other utility infield options. Granted, it's a sign that this team is very, very strong when utility infielder is their most glaring need. I do dread the thought of a Miguel Cairo reunion in the Bronx, so I think penciling in Ramiro Pena for this role makes the most sense. He is miscast as the shortstop of the future, or the anything of the future for that matter, but with some reps in spring training you'd think he'd be able to field at least five positions (2b, 3b, SS, LF, RF) reasonably well, which is all you're really looking for from a utility infielder. He won't hit much (.635 OPS in 1,500 minor league at-bats), but he's young enough that he might improve a little bit.
-The biggest story in baseball right now is probably the arbitration process, which began just a few a days ago. And look for more cries that the system is broken, as Felix Hernandez should easily get somewhere around $10 million as a fifth year player and, depending on who you want to believe, Tim Lincecum may look for double that figure as a fourth year player. Elite players will earn the largest paychecks, and will often be worth it, whether it's through arbitration or free agency. But the non-elite players are the ones being impacted by the current emphasis GMs are placing on young players, and as this arbitration process plays out amidst the second consecutive long winter for veteran free agents, I wonder when we'll reach the tipping point.
It's one thing when teams are giving marginal veterans 4 year, $30 million contracts. But when a player like Melky Cabrera signs ahead of arbitration for $3.1 million, while vets like Nick Johnson or Bobby Abreu have signed one-year deals for $5 million, with Johnny Damon likely having to either settle for that number or not play in 2010, both the value and the flexibility that had traditionally come with young players don't seem to matter that much, compared to the certainty and productivity that the second-tier players can offer at those prices. I know it's early, but another offseason like this could really start to tip the scales in the other direction.
-Speaking of Mr. Damon, Rob Neyer posted a good blog about where he might play in 2010 - and couldn't really come up with anything.
-Chalk this up to pure fantasy, but understanding that the 2010 Yankees will have a third baseman who's 35, a shortstop who's 36, and a primary DH who's played 171 games over the past three seasons, how awesome would it be for Brian Cashman to get REALLY creative and try to lure somebody like Orlando Hudson by offering him the other half of the LF platoon and one or two starts per week to spell Jeter or A-Rod? Hudson made about $3 million last year, while putting up a performance that was worth over 5 wins, and still doesn't have any serious suitors for a job this year. It's a huge stretch, but to fun to think about.