With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, there has been little buzz about the Yankees aggressively perusing a trade. Ubaldo Jimenez remains “unlikely” to be traded and the rest of the market looks rather thin. Hiroki Kuroda and a list of lesser pitchers also appear to be available. Certainly, as far as pitching goes there isn’t much to get excited about. On the other side of the ball, Carlos Beltran and BJ Upton are dominating the rumors, linked to teams like the Giants, Braves, Rangers and Phillies. Colby Rasmus may be available as well. As far as the Yankees go, we haven’t heard much.
I think that’s a good thing. Here’s my rambling, most likely incoherent conditions/philosophy/strategy about this specific trade deadline.
1. Offensive upgrades are coming. A lot has been made over the relative malaise of the Yankee offense in July. I think that’s probably fair. Without Alex Rodriguez, especially without him hitting for power, the Yankee lineup is obviously not running at full speed. Teixeira has had a slow month (he’s looked much better of late however) and the deaths of Russell Martin and Jorge Posada have been well noted. Throw in Francisco Cervelli and Eduardo Nunez getting frequent PA’s and it hasn’t always been pretty. That should all change soon. Either today or tomorrow Eric Chavez is likely to be activated which should swiftly cut into the playing time designated for Eduardo Nunez. In as little as three weeks the Yankees should be getting an upgrade that would dwarf all but the most expensive trade options at this juncture- a healthy Alex Rodriguez. If that still isn’t enough and the organization feels it needs even more production (something that seems highly unlikely), a very young, very bored gentleman named Jesus Montero awaits in AAA where he would likely be an upgrade over Jorge Posada at DH or (offensively only) over Martin at catcher. I cannot fathom why the Yankees would need to trade for another big time bat when they have one giant internal option they haven’t tried yet. A rental bat that costs anything substantial I feel would be superfluous.
2. There is no reason to acquire additional 3-5 type starters. The only two guys I’ve heard bandied about that interest me are Ubaldo Jimenez and James Shields. The Rays have told the Yankees they won’t trade him to a divisional rival and then went ahead and yanked him from the market just this week. As I said before, the rumors now have Ubaldo staying put. Hiroki Kuroda is intriguing to me if the price is low. I’m not smart enough to know how he would translate into Yankee stadium and the AL East but I think he’d be solid. However I’m against trading for any sort of 3-5 starting pitcher. The Yankees have a ton of these. I wouldn’t be interested in trading anything remotely good for an option likely to be stuck into the backend of the rotation. If they’re desperate for a backend option, Ivan Nova, Adam Warren and David Phelps remain internal, cheap options. Obviously if Ubaldo or (Spaghetti Monster willing) Felix Hernandez became available, I think the Yankees should jump face first into that. I think Felix is the guy to really give it all away for but Ubaldo is right behind him. I feel strongly the Yankees need another force at the top of the rotation with CC.
3. Don’t overpay for another reliever. This kills me. Keith Law today just wrote about how often those deals backfire in a serious way and I couldn’t agree more. Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano obviously haven’t worked out too well. Heath Bell will probably be available this week. Yes, it would be great to have Heath Bell on the Yankees setting up Mariano Rivera. The cost of acquiring a CLOSER, especially one like Heath Bell is absurdly high, mostly because of THE SAVE. It’s an awful cycle of ridiculousness. Again, the Yankees are going to get a pretty good relief pitcher back today or tomorrow, Rafael Soriano. Coming off the DL, who knows what we can expect. He’s been quite a bit worse than I think anyone imagined when healthy this year. Whether it’s because he’s unhappy over his role or he’s just flat out sucked, I have no idea. I think a safe bet, not a lock but a safe bet, would be for him to improve on what he’s done so far. If the Yankees do acquire another reliever, I hope the deal looks like the Kerry Wood trade last year- mostly a low cost salary dump. The Yankees bullpen as currently constituted has a 3.30 FIP and has been worth 4.5 WAR, second only in baseball to the Braves. With the way David Robertson has been setting up the always fantastic Mariano Rivera, the bullpen doesn’t need a major overhaul. Instead of repaving the entire road, maybe they could just patch up some pot holes. Nothing drastic needs to be done here.
4. Boone Logan is just fine as a LOOGY. I’m actually serious. When used properly, Boone Logan really is good against left handed hitters. This goes against my inner most feelings as a human. On most days, I would not only attend, but pay good money to watch Boone Logan get publically drawn and quartered over second base at the Stadium. I would even tip the executioner and spend wildly at the concessions. I swear though, he can get left handed hitters out. JC Romero awaits in AAA who can mostly do the same thing and I just can’t see a reason to even trade seashells or Confederate notes for another lefty specialist.
This isn’t about prospect hording. Yes, I write about them and love them like so many Beanie Babies. I would hug them and bring them to show and tell and impress all my friends. Would I ruthlessly cast them away for something better, say a vintage Buddy doll, in mint condition? Oh yes, yes I would. To get away from that creepy doll analogy, what I really mean is I would deal just about any package in order to acquire Felix Hernandez. What I’m talking about is not making trades in order to just DO SOMETHING. If a trade makes sense for the team, by all means go ahead and do it.
This isn’t an awful team though than needs major upgrades all over the place. Do I think it’s the best team? Absolutely not. Do I think the Yankees are good enough to make the playoffs as currently constituted? Yes, definitely. Do I think the Yankees might have a hard time advancing with this current rotation in the playoffs? Yes, I think so as well. My preference would be to go out and get a big time number 1-2 starter. They’re just don’t seem to be available though. I don’t think overpaying for a complimentary piece makes sense.
This might come as a giant shock to you, especially those who think the Yankees are ordained by the Gods to have a special place at the altar of October every single season- those who think anything less than a World Series trophy and a champagne soaked locker room is an unmitigated disaster: I would rather the Yankees go home after the first round as losers than trade everything they’ve worked to develop for some set of pieces that do not seriously upgrade the team to the next level. That’s probably controversial. I don’t care. Maybe Felix Hernandez can’t be pried loose before July 31st but what if he’s available this winter? What if another big time starting pitcher becomes available over the winter?
Look, anything can happen in the playoffs. Winning today is always better than winning tomorrow. Leveraging the future for more scratch off lottery tickets though is just not. Another 3-5 starter, another rental DH or another LH reliever may if they’re lucky tip the balance. Stranger things have happened. The Yankees are already likely going to make the playoffs. They’ll be in the dance. If they’re going to use their trade chips, especially the good ones, use them in a way that makes sense for multiple years, not just this one. For me, it’s not about waiting for a perfect chance, it’s just waiting for the right chance.
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