As far as 2008 is concerned, the New York Yankees have played their last meaningful baseball game. So, what can the Yankees do for the remaining 20-some odd games other than flail around and wait for the wrecking ball to do to this Yankee Stadium what their pitiful play has already done to the 2008 season?
There are a few things I believe the Yankees should do over the final few weeks of the season. Here is a list of 5.
- Shut down Joba Chamberlain. It would be nice to know for certain that he is healthy, but there is no reason to risk anything with Chamberlain, the guy they still hope to build this staff around going forward. Nothing can be gained by rehabbing him now and running him out to the mound just to try and get some innings in.
- Play Brett Gardner every day. I have no idea if Gardner can hit enough to be a full-time major league center fielder, but the Yankees need to give Gardner an opportunity to show whether or not he has any value — either as a player for 2009 or an off-season trade chip.
- Shut down Hideki Matsui. The veteran Japanese slugger has gamely rehabbed his troublesome knee, but — as with Chamberlain — there is no point in continuing to play him now. Let him go have the knee surgery he needs as soon as possible, so he can be ready for 2009. He is a clutch hitter, and the Yankees need his bat.
- Get Phil Hughes some big-league starts. The Franchise pitched 6.1 solid innings Wednesday at Scranton, the first good start in his last three. It might not be a bad idea for the Yankees to let Hughes start 2009 at AAA since he has pitched so little the past two seasons. Right now, though, getting him big-league starts in place of Sidney Ponson, Darrell Rasner or Carl Pavano should have some long-term value. The same could be said for Chase Wright or Alfredo Aceves, two other young starters who might at least be able to show scouts some trade value if they can get 3-4 September starts.
- Play Johnny Damon at first base. Damon is, obviously, no longer a center fielder. To me, he is barely an adequate big-league outfielder at all. He is, though, still a vital cog in the Yankee offense. Jason Giambi is probably gone next season, and it remains to be seen if Mark Teixiera will be a Yankee. Why not let Damon play first base for a few weeks and see if it is a position where he could help the Yankees next season?
I know all of this makes the Yankees seem like a $200 million version of the Washington Nationals. But, the reality is, that is what they are. Just another team going nowhere in 2008 that needs to spend the next few weeks finding out what they can about how they will be constructed in 2009.