Yesterday, general manager Brian Cashman went back into the bargain basement store like he did last year and he may have found a nice sale on an ex-Boston Red Sox. According to Cashman, New York has signed former Boston lefty Hideki Okajima to a minor league contract and will be invited into spring training via a non-roster invitation.
This move may not get the pub that the Boston Red Sox will get after trading for Oakland Athletics’ closer Andrew Bailey. But again, we have to bring up the point that the New York Yankees did not need to make a major move because they won 90+ games, American League East champions, and were one clutch hit away from making the American League Championship Series. Cashman didn’t shop at the baseball version of Lord and Taylor’s last year, but he also went to the K’Mart and found some nice deals. I think Okajima can be that guy.
Now, the question is whether the Yankees will get the Okajima from 2007. In that year, he made 66 appearances striking out 63 batters and only walking 17 in 69 innings. With the injuries to Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano over the last few seasons, the Yankees have been in dire need of adding a second lefty for depth in the bullpen. However, the problem with Okajima over the last couple of seasons was the ERA totals have gone up as wall as the number of walks. This led to his demotion to AAA Pawtucket last year after just seven games. The strength he has though is his dominance of lefties, who have only hit .218 against him over the course of his career.
Just like last year when Cashman brought in competition for the starting rotation when he had Garcia, Colon, and Nova compete for rotation spots, Cashman has competition ready for the second lefty spot. They drafted a kid in the Rule 5 draft by the name of Cesar Cabrel from the Kansas City Royals. He is only 23 years old, but the guy has a lightning fast fastball and struck out 70 guys in 55 innings over the Dominican Winter League. The Yankees aren’t done yet with this team, but expect more K’Mart like deals to come in the next few weeks until Spring Training rolls around.