Sunday, August 22, 2010

Real Life Rewind: 2009-2010 Yankees Offseason

The past few editions of Madden have included a feature called "Rewind". This feature is designed for anyone who has uttered the phrase "the computer cheated". I admit that I have had my suspicions about the computer before and may yet again, but I am opposed to the feature's existence. If you are a man you play with no rewinds, if you're my little brother or a woman or a combination of the two you play with three.

The idea is pretty simple. If you throw an ugly pick (hello Brett Favre) or fumble the ball (hello Adrian Peterson) or let the opposing running back mosey on down for an 80 yard TD (hello Cleveland) simply press x immediately following the play and all of the players conveniently begin moving backwards until you find yourself back before the snap presumably so you do not make the same mistake again.

Although I loathe the rewind within the bounds of Madden, I love the idea when it is implemented in real life. I leave the Directv remote on the coffee table and the dogs eat it: REWIND. I eat my delicious Barbacoa burrito and foolishly decide to finish my wife's resulting in a devastating puke: REWIND. Ben Roethlisberger decides to go bar hopping in some podunk southern town: REWIND. (Oh, wait, I guess every professional athlete does have a rewind because I don't think anything ever happened to that guy. He's still playing for the Steelers? Smells like a rewind.) Anyway, you get the idea.

For this edition of "Real Life Rewind" I turn to the 2009-2010 New York Yankees offseason. After the Yankees let go of World Series MVP and noted adult video collector Hideki Matsui as well as clutch heartthrob Johnny Damon and acquired Curtis Granderson and reacquired 2004 goat Javier Vazquez, many sports pundits anointed the Yankees offseason as major success, perhaps the best offseason in all the Big Show. Now Yankees fans are frantically pushing their x buttons. So here is the hypothetical Yankees offseason rewind.

1. Let Matsui Walk (Again)

Sad to say, but in this instance Cashman was right. It was time to let Godzilla be free. He was aging faster than that chicken salad that has been in my fridge for weeks. Despite hitting out of his head in the World Series, he was virtually unplayable in the outfield making his only valuable at the DH spot in the lineup. With the wise Grandpa Jeter getting up there in age and A-Rod free from substance and Kate Hudson enhancement, an open DH spot was going to be valuable.

This season vindicated this move. Matsui has not been able to match his Yankee production out west. He is hitting .255 with 16 homers and 63 ribbys. Not bad, not great, just there. At the price he was commanding, it was time to move on. So far this is not a rewind, but wait ...

But instead of Matsui changing coasts and signing with the Angels of Southern California Los Angeles by way of Anaheim, Matsui and his tapes return home to Japan as the conquering hero. As the ultimate act of sweet nostalgia he signs with his beloved Yomiuri Giants (a longtime jersey pursuit). This also stops the reigning World Series MVP from getting a standing ovation in Yankee Stadium wearing different colors.

2. Give Johnny the Money

The arguments that were made against resigning Matsui could also apply to Johnny Damon. Money: check. Age: check. Declining production: check. Yet I still feel like the Yankees should have signed him for the asking price. Here is why:

He is clutch. Whenever he is up to bat in a big moment you know he is going to come through. His steal of 3rd base in Game 4 of the World Series last season was THE most exciting moment of last season's playoffs. Also, despite his significant decline in production with the Tigers this season, it really does seem like Yankee Stadium was designed with his swing in mind. You would have to think with the added games in the Bronx this season his productivity would be much higher.

The biggest reason of all to keep Johnny? The alternatives. The Yankees instead turned to the once and future Yankee Nick Johnson. Like Nick Johnson before him, Nick Johnson promptly did nothing of note and like a DL hungry animal sniffed his way to the leftover pizza boxes of the DL. To replace Johnson, the Yankees threw a bag of circus peanuts to Houston for Lance Berkman. Fat Elvis has since struggled to find any sort of groove and has been routinely booed at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Damon's agent Scott Boras cited money as the main reason that Johnny is no longer in pinstripes, but now the Yankees are on the hook for so much more. The Big Puma and the Big Injury now have added a combined 20.5 million to the Yankees payroll, instead of the 8.5 million that Damon earned from the Tigers. With the help of the trusty Real Life Rewind, Johnny ends up with the Yanks.

3. Keep Austin Jackson

The most lauded Yankees move of the offseason was trading heralded prospect Austin Jackson to the Tigers for Curtis "No-leftys Please" Granderson. The Yankees were convinced that Granderson's productivity would increase with the help of Yankees hitting coaches and playing in hitter friendly Yankees Stadium and seemed unconvinced of Jackson's ability to hit off of major league pitchers.

Instead, after his early success in Fenway, Granderson has been a major disappointment and now Yankees fans are faced with the prospects of watching perhaps AL Rookie of the Year Austin Jackson rack up web gems in Detroit for years to come. Jackson has also been a productive hitter in Comerica Park, hitting .307 with a .357 OBP scoring 72 runs.

After the our rewind, the Yankees leave Granderson in Detroit and keep Jackson. The Yankees then move Jeter one step down in the lineup and the Yankees lineup looks something like this (AL pitchers beware):
1. Jackson
2. Jeter
3. Teixeira
4. A-Rod
5. Cano
6. Posada
7. Damon
8. Swisher
9. Gardner

4. Go Get Cliff Lee

The Yankees big pitching acquisition was Yankee fan whipping boy Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves for Melky Cabrera. The Phillies around this time shockingly traded Yankee-killer Cliff Lee to the Mariners. I take the role of Brian Cashman. Lets hit the rewind:

The Yankees still trade the Melkman to Atlanta, but instead of holding onto Javy (who is built to pitch in the NL) they swing him along with prized catching prospect Jesus Montero to the Phillies for Cliff Lee. The Phillies get a proven NL pitcher to pitch alongside the Doc as well as top-tier prospect. They don't turn that down right?

Meanwhile the Yankees rotation looks like this: Lee, Sabathia, Pettite, Hughes, Burnett. Holy COW! With the help of the trusty rewind feature the Yankees easily surpass 100 wins and attain #28.