Yanks Fill Right Field Spot With Mondesi

Hoping to fill the right field position that has had minimal production all year, the New York Yankees acquired right fielder Raul Mondesi from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for 26 year old pitching prospect Scott Wiggins. This year, Mondesi has 15 home runs and 45 RBIs, compared to the paltry 6 home runs and 23 RBIs produced by the Yankee right fielders. Mondesi also has a strong arm in the outfield, and is a threat on the base paths, with 25 stolen bases four times in the past 7 years.

The Yanks had previously been in the running for Florida Marlins outfielder Cliff Floyd, a more talented player than Mondesi. But Florida's asking price was more than the Yanks were willing to give, requesting players such as Nick Johnson and Ted Lilly.

While the trade for Mondesi might look like the Yankees got something for almost nothing, in fact, the Yanks gave up a large sum of money. In return for Mondesi, the Yanks gave up Wiggins and have agreed to pay the remaining $5.5 million left on Mondesi's contract this year, and $7 million of the $13 million he will earn next season. All in all, the Blue Jays save $12.5 million, and are clearly saving the money to build for the future. The Yanks are one of the few teams that could have taken over $12 million off of the Blue Jays hands.

The current platoon of John Vander Wal and Shane Spencer has not performed up to expectations, as the Yankee right fielders have combined for only 6 home runs and 23 RBIs this season. Spencer has been hampered by injuries, as Vander Wal hasn't been the same player he once was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since the retirement of Paul O'Neill, the Yanks have not had a consistent performer to claim the job in right. Spencer once looked like the ideal candidate to do so with a breakout postseason in 1998, but did not perform consistently the next season to take over the job.

With Mondesi, the Yanks acquire a player who has all around power, speed, and a terrific outfield arm. Although he has been struggling this year with a .226 batting average, Mondesi has the potential to be a 30 home run – 30 stolen bases threat. His best year came in 1999, where he belted 33 home runs, drove in 99 RBIs, and stole 36 bases. Mondesi came close to the 30-30 mark last year, but struggled the second half of the season. His cannon arm should also intimidate the opposition, as his 19 outfield assists led the major leagues last year.

Even with his .226 batting average, the Yankees are confident that with a better supporting cast on the Yanks, Mondesi should have ample opportunities to deliver. In his debut last night, Mondesi had a successful night, as he went 1-2 with an RBI single in the fifth spot in the order and scored two of the Yankees 10 runs in their victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Because the Yanks did not give up their best pitching prospect in Wiggins, they will have more options as the trading deadline approaches. Wiggins, a seventh round draft pick that played Double A ball this year, should be able to help the Blue Jays in certain pitching situations, as lefties have batted only .143 against him.

While Mondesi created a stir in Toronto last week while criticizing Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca for benching him, manager Joe Torre made sure that Mondesi knew that the Yankees did not hold his past against him, as he would start out his new role with a fresh start. With a much better supporting cast around him and a new winning attitude, Mondesi shouldbe able to adjust rather quickly.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories