Apologies for the profound tardiness this morning. Just a few quick items:
1. I think Johnny Damon would be the best all-around fit for the Yankees' DH opening, factoring in Damon's recent performance and his familiarity with New York, but I wonder whether Damon - who is honest about his desire to reach 3,000 career hits - will try to find a place where he'll get more plate appearances. Baltimore and Detroit, newly without Victor Martinez, come to mind as potential landing spots for Damon, who has 2,723 career hits.
Of all the realistic, non-Damon choices out there, if the Yankees really want to spend only $2 million or so, I think Raul Ibanez might present the best option.
Why? Because he's left-handed, whereas most of the other Yankees' likely DH options (Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones) hit righty. Yes, Jesus Montero hits righty, too, but the Yankees envisioned him as the sort of offensive monster who would mash from both sides of the plate. Remember, the person the Yankees are actually looking to replace, switch-hitter Jorge Posada, wound up as essentially a lefty hitter last year when he struggled greatly from the right side.
Because his on-the-surface horrendous 2011 may not have been as horrendous as advertised. His isolated power - ISO, as FanGraphs calls it - was still better than average at .174, and his line-drive percentage (18.7 percent) matched against his batting average on balls in play (.268) indicates that he might have been victimized by bad luck.
Yes, he turns 40 in June, but he's a well-known fitness fanatic who already has a relationship with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. Which segues over to another point: He's a clubhouse plus, a hard worker who takes both the game and clubhouse relationships seriously. He knows A-Rod, as a matter of fact - A-Rod introduced him to Long - from their days way back with Seattle.
2. Yu Darvish's contract with Texas, for six years and a guaranteed $56 million, barely surpassed the six years and $52 million that Boston paid Daisuke Matsuzaka five years ago. Darvish's people talked a big game behind the scenes, but ultimately, his leverage was limited. He couldn't realistically return to Japan.
There's much griping and grousing in baseball circles about the posting system, but unless the Japan leagues agree to let their players become free agents sooner - and why would they do that? - I'm not sure it's going to change any time soon.
3. The World Baseball Coaches' Convention starts today and runs through Saturday at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. It's good stuff for coaches, or just for those interested in learning more about the game.
4. Happy birthday to Jeff Juden, Eric Mangini and Newsday's own Mike Rose.
5. Contest coming up a little later today.