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Time to make a move (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday May 30, 2007 6:10PM; Updated: Wednesday May 30, 2007 6:10PM
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Tom Verducci will answer select questions from SI.com users in his Baseball Mailbag.
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If you're expanding your list of quality manager/GM tandems, what about Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen? Four straight winning seasons and one title should gain some praise, especially when working for a known tightwad owner.
-- Mike, Chicago

I would definitely consider them on the track toward the elite tandems. I think more time is needed, and this season is a good test of what they do in something of a transitional year for the Sox. What I like about both of them is that they're not afraid to take chances, and they don't run from responsibility if things go astray.

You gave Johnny Damon a free pass for signing a fat contract and then coming to camp fat and out of shape.
-- Jorge, San Antonio

I didn't think he was fat. Actually, I thought he didn't look as muscular. I don't think he hit the workout program as hard as past years. Remember when he left the team in spring training for "personal reasons?" There's probably a lot more to his story than just coasting on the contract. I don't think he's that kind of player.

This is the best thing to happen to the Yankees. They needed to start rebuilding sooner. This team should be given credit for what it has done and be allowed to rebuild. Their is no crime in getting old. It happens to every team.
-- Vincent Panico, New York

I agree with you. It happens. The White Sox may be getting a taste of that, too. But in this case the Yankees don't have young position players coming to replace these aging ones (who still have years left on their contracts, by the way). I wrote before the season started that the Yankees wouldn't win the World Series because they had too much age on them, but I never thought it would show to this extent. Think GM Brian Cashman would like a mulligan on turning down Carlos Beltran because of luxury tax implications?

Would you say the baseball community is now coming to grips with the fact that the Yankees' biggest problem is not starting pitching? In reality starting pitching is probably only their third-biggest problem behind relief pitching and hitting. Andy Pettitte has an ERA of 2.51 but is only 3-4? Only two regulars are hitting .300 and only two more are within sniffing distance of .300.
-- Robert Ferguson, Stanfield, Ore.

Yes, agreed. Starting pitching was a big problem in April because the injuries forced them to use 10 starters in 30 games and wear out the bullpen. I go back to the Schilling Factor I wrote about in the SI preview issue: He said the team that gets the most starts from its regular five-man rotation will win the division. It was true last year and it's true this year. As for New York now, the Yankees cannot generate energy on offense because of worn down players, a pitiful bench and almost no "high energy," hustling type dudes who can generate offense without home runs (i.e., Ryan Freel, Eric Byrnes, Ryan Theriot, Aaron Hill, B.J. Upton, etc.). That's a product of roster construction and age. I don't see it getting dramatically better for them.

What is the word around the league on Bobby Abreu? It seems as if he just doesn't care to play the game anymore. Does he have any trade value at this point?
-- Bill Tracy, West Harrison, N.Y.

Abreu does care. He's actually a good worker. I wouldn't confuse his body language with a lack of caring. The problem is that his power has been deteriorating, a big problem if you're playing corner outfield in the American League. Besides that, he's another one of these "low energy" guys I referred to before -- even when he's going well. He doesn't make those around him better, doesn't contribute to a team's swagger. (There's a reason the Phillies were doing cartwheels last season to be rid of him.) Is he going to make the diving catch? The dash home from first? The hustle double in the gap? The key home run? Not likely. There's not much about his game right now that he does well above average, including his throwing on defense, which has deteriorated. So he's still a useful player, but he's even more a complementary piece than he's ever been rather than a middle-of-the-order rock. As for trade value, it's minimal. He's only worth something to a team looking to dump its own high-paid slumping star in his walk year.

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