Note to AL: Don't let Yanks get Henson Back
by Ross Friedman
I'm going to suggest a very unorthodox strategy for
any of the 13 American League teams. Trade for a
player who will never play for you. Yes, trade 2
marginal prospects for absolutely nothing in return,
The Yankees traded stud power-prospect Drew Henson in
their deadline deal for Denny Neagle. The reason they
included the third baseman in the deal was they
weren't sure if he would play baseball. Henson's not
only one of, if not the best power prospect in
baseball, but also one of, if not the best quarterback
prospect in football as he currently is Michigan's
This puts Henson in position of power as few prospects
ever have. He has been strongly hinting that the only
way he'll play baseball over football, is if he's
playing next to Derek Jeter for the New York Yankees.
This means the Reds can either trade him back to the
Yankees, most likely for two marginal prospects, or
get nothing from him as he goes and plays football.
It seems that before we hit spring training, the man
who set the national record for high school home runs,
may be back with the Yankee organization. The rest of
the American League cannot let this happen.
The Yankees are on an amazing run right now. One that
they are going to try to sustain for years to come,
and with the way their organization is run, and the
amount of money they have to spend, it is seeming more
and more possible. But we all know the Yankees
biggest vulnerability, and I'm not talking about
facing left-handed pitching. The Yankees are an old
team. Age is the most likely factor that could end
their run and end it quickly.
This is the reason a team should pull off the trade to
make sure the Yankees don't get Henson back. One
Major League scout said that the three best high
school players he ever saw were Ken Griffey Jr., Derek
Jeter, and Drew Henson. Many think it sounds
ridiculous to concentrate that much on what another
team is doing instead of doing what is best for your
I don't think that's so weird. Last off-season the
Indians gave a 37-year old lefthander a 3-year
contract, at $9 million per season, because he had a
history of beating the Yankees. Over baseball history
plenty of teams have signed left-handed pitchers in an
attempt to beat the Yankees. Maybe two AL teams can
get together to pull off a three-way trade, where they
both give up one marginal prospect to send Henson to
One of the Yankees big weakness is the age and
deterioration of Tino Martinez, Chuck Knoblauch, and
Scott Brosius. Well, by the end of the 2002 season,
the Yankee infield may have Derek Jeter as it's oldest
player, by four years! Don't be surprised if the
infield by then looks like Henson at third, Jeter at
short, with stud prospects D'Angelo Jimenez at second
and Nick Johnson at first.
All of a sudden the Yankees would have an extremely
young infield that most likely would be hitting better
than the current one. Now there is more than a
distinct possibility that they don't all work out.
Heck, Henson himself may not work out. But should the
rest of the AL take that chance?
Henson may become a 45-home run guy. All of a sudden
the Yankees would have a young, more productive, AND
inexpensive infield. The money they would save with
having three kids there would be over $16 million.
Add O'Neill's salary and they would have $22 million
to replace O'Neill in the outfield. Just about enough
to sign, say, Vladimir Guerrero.
Basically, letting the Yankees get Henson allows for a
better possibility that the Yankees could set a system
that would allow them to win at the rate of the old
great Yankee teams. At the same time these three
infielders would be hitting free agency and demanding
big dollars, would be the same time that Bernie
Williams and Mike Mussina would be retiring. A nice
fit for those salary slots. Then the Yankees would
most likely replace Williams and Mussina with the next
crop of young talent, as they do the most scouting and
international scouting in all of baseball, thus
continuously funneling talent to the Major League
It's like the Yankee system of old. Bye-bye Bill
Dickey. Hello, Yogi Berra. Joe DiMaggio retires.
Here comes Mickey Mantle. The American League teams
don't want to let that happen, and the best way to
assure that is to cut the Yankees off at the knees.
Don't let them get Drew Henson to begin with.
It's normally considered a bad strategy to do
something to stop another team instead of doing
something to help yourself. But a team would be
giving up just marginal prospects to stop the Yankees
from having a potential All-Star player.
The Yankees are getting old and they know it. That's
the best chance the other AL teams have right now.
But since the Yankees do know it, it's also going to
be their focus to fix. The other AL teams can make it
much harder on the Yankees if they stop them from
getting Drew Henson back. Try to beat the Yankees
off the field, since no team has done a good job
recently of beating them on it.