What to do with Matsui and Damon? And Giambi for that matter?

With Damon and Matsui competing for a starting position in left field, both veterans have already proven themselves as effective players. Both players are coming off slow starts or injuries during the 2007 season. Girardi has already vowed to have Damon start as the leadoff, and wants to get him “600 plate appearances and stay healthy.” If that’s the case, it appears Damon would be starting in LF, or in the DH role. Whither Giambi?

Giambi reported to camp in shape, and actually appeared to have lost weight. He was asked to come to camp with the mentality that he will be starting 1B. Can he be trusted to burden the defensive load there? Only time will tell. The Yankees have other players they can rely on if Giambi falters (Duncan, Ensberg, Betemit).

Back to Matsui — he had the trust of Torre. Now things are different. Trade rumors are swirling around Matsui’s hat. Last winter’s rumors about a possible trade with the San Francisco Giants are gone — for now.  But, honestly, who can resist the fact that Matsui has given the Yankees 100+ RBIs in four of his five seasons (the non-100 RBI season was 2006 where he broke his foot early in the year), and has averaged a double digit figure in home runs since. Matsui is offensively capable.

But, so is Damon. When healthy and in top form, Damon is a OBP threat and a strong threat to get to home once brought home by those batting after him. With this offensive juggernaut, he’s more likely to get runs on the scoreboard.

The Yankees haven’t had this many veterans competing among younger stars (i.e. Melky Cabrera), and stars waiting in the wings (i.e. Austin Jackson).

As much as I hate to say this… if Matsui proves to have a slow start or isn’t contributing offensively (and defensively), the Yankees should consider trading him. My wife would kill me when she sees this as he is her favorite player, but we need a leadoff hitter more than we need a number 5 or 6 hitter.

Here’s what I think Girardi will do: He will keep all the veterans, and send the rookies or minor league invites to Triple A and call them up as soon as he can. I’ve seen how hungry players like Shelley Duncan are — heck — who comes to Tampa a month early?