The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Damon, Byrnes and the Florida Four

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Jan 15, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

I spent the past few hours at Yankee Stadium with most of the other Yankees beat writers. We were meeting with the Yankees media relations department. Nothing big, just an informal meeting to discuss ways to make one another’s lives easier. It’s honestly a great relationship between the beat writers and Jason Zillo’s staff, and we’re all lucky to have them to work with. We discussed things like the media guide and player access in the postseason. Thrilling stuff for outside observers, I’m sure.

A few things that have popped up in the time I’ve been gone…

Spoke too soon on Johnny Damon
Of course, no sooner did I post something about Atlanta and Detroit as possible Johnny Damon destinations, than both locations were basically knocked off the list. I would apparently “take a miracle” for the Braves to sign Damon, and the Tigers have “not expressed interest.”

My guess remains that some unexpected team is going to swoop in and sign him. Could that team be the Yankees? Sure. I stubbornly think it remains unlikely, but his market does seem remarkably fluid.

Eric Byrnes is on the market
Now that Adam LaRoche is playing first base in Arizona and Connor Jackson has moved back to left field, Eric Byrnes has been designated for assignment. My first Yankees-should-sign-Byrnes email seems to have arrived 14 minutes after Nick Piecoro reported the DFA.

Here’s the problem with Byrnes: Injuries have taken their toll and his numbers the past two years are awful. He had 21 homers and 50 steals in 2007, but in the two years since he’s hit .218/.271/.382 with 15 steals. To go with those 15 steals, he was caught stealing seven times, the same number as in his 50-steal season. As far as baseball personalities go, Byrnes is one of my favorites,* but I’m not sure he’s the same player his reputation suggests.

On a minimum deal as competition for a bench job? Absolutely. I just think there has to be some caution with him. There’s a reason the Diamondbacks are willing to eat the $11 million they owe him this season.

* Byrnes is actually one of my earliest baseball interviews that I remember. I was an intern in Memphis, occasionally covering the Triple-A Redbirds. Byrnes was the starting center fielder for Triple-A Sacramento. On one road trip to Memphis, the Sacramento players arrived, but their gear did not. Their shortstop had to borrow cleats from one of the Redbirds infielders. The entire team wore A’s hats from the Autozone Park team store. I interviewed Byrnes in front of a locker that was completely empty except for wire hangers. He was terrific.

Steinbrenner Field to host the Florida Four
Here’s the bulk of a fresh press release from the Yankees:

For the first time in history, four Florida universities will meet at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to compete in “The Florida Four” on March 2, 2010.

For this inaugural event, the University of South Florida (USF) and University of Miami (UM) will go head-to-head, while the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU) will take on each other.

“We’ve been working with the Yankees for a few years now to bring another premier event to our community,” said Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission Rob Higgins. “We hope it serves as launching pad to Omaha for the four programs. This is a story that will start in March and we hope continues on to June. ”

“On behalf of the World Champion New York Yankees, it is with great pleasure and pride that we welcome The Florida Four Baseball Classic to George M. Steinbrenner Field. As a past collegiate coach, it is George Steinbrenner’s dream to create this event for Tampa,” said Felix Lopez, Senior Vice President, New York Yankees. “We welcome the great schools of Florida to our facility and look forward to continuing this event for years to come”




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