At The Deadline

The Yankees have apparently added Kerry Wood in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.  It’s really a flier on the Yankees part.  If Wood pitches well, they have improved their bullpen.  If he doesn’t, they can eat the $1.5 million they owe him easily.  And don’t forget, Girardi caught Woods when he was at his peak, maybe that will help him pitch well again.

We’ve heard that Curtis and Miranda are being sent down for Kearns and Berkman and it makes a lot of sense. Curtis is a nice player to have on the bench, but with these additions, you can’t really find a spot for him.  Now the Yankees have to figure out how to deploy Berkman and Kearns.  With Berkman’s inability to hit LHP, they will need to make sure to avoid bunching him next to Granderson, but early reports are that he will hit second.  That’s a mistake in my mind, Swisher offers a lot more than Berkman and should get the call in the 2 spot.  Based on that, we will probably see something like this

Against RHP- Jeter, Berkman, Tex, A-Rod, Cano,  Posada, Granderson, Swisher, Gardner

Against LHP Jeter, Swisher, Tex, A-Rod, Cano, Posada, Thames, Kearns, Gardner

That’s a better lineup than yesterday and when you throw in the Wood acquisition, you have to like what the Yankees did.  I would have liked to have seen an upgrade for Pena, but they did very well nonetheless and there will certainly be guys who sneak through waivers in the next month.  

UPDATE 4:35pm- Chan Ho Park has been DFA’ed.  I will never understand what the Yankees thought they saw in those 3-1/3 World Series’ innings he threw that made them believe he would be good, but they have finally done the right thing.  Next on my list, Mitre…. 

UPDATE 5:10pm- The Yankees also moved Aceves to the 60-day DL.  Not sure why they DFA’ed Park today in that case.  Wood was in Toronto at 3:45 today (they showed him on MLB TV) Is he really going to get to Tampa in time for tonight’s game or during it?  If not, the Yankees are going to play a man short tonight.  


Are They Better?

The Yankees have apparently pulled off two trades tonight.  Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns are headed to the Bronx and Mark Melancon and some other guys are headed to Houston and Cleveland. 

Let’s start with Berkman.  In many ways this is a switch-hitting version of Nick Johnson, but his abilities against LHP are a thing of the past.  And while his slugging percentage has diminished from the left side, his line of .245/.372/.436 is certainly adequate in a platoon with Thames.  Throw in his 4.13 pitches per plate appearance and Berkman will do a solid job of mimicking Nick Johnson for the Yankees. 

Is that enough for Mark Melancon?  If you had asked me that at the start of the 2010 season, I would have said no.  At this point, I am not sure.  Melancon has taken a step back this season, but despite the 3.67 ERA his BABIP of .367 at Scranton points to bad luck.  And, he has still stuck out over one batter an inning.  However, he has also walked 31 batters in 56 innings, which is not encouraging.  

Melancon could still turn into something, though his AAA regression this season is discouraging.  If I were in charge of the Yankees, I would have had the Astros pay less of the freight on Berkman and included a lesser prospect, but Berkman is an upgrade over Juan Miranda or Colin Curtis.   I’m not thrilled with the final price, but the bench/DH just got a lot better and that’s the bottom line.

The other trade the Yankees made was for Austin Kearns in exchange for the infamous PTBNL. Kearns is better than Colin Curtis because he is a righty bat.  Other than that, there isn’t a lot to get excited about here.  His results this year may have a lot to do with his .335 BABIP than anything else.  But, if the Yankees deploy his line against LHP (.720OPS) in the lineup over Granderson’s (.538OPS) they have upgraded the lineup. 

What will be interesting to watch is how the Yankees fit these guys onto the roster.  Melancon comes off the 40-man, but someone else will have to as well. (Golson?)  But what about the active roster?  I would assume Miranda is gone with the Berkman addition, but who will bite the dust for Kearns?  I would hope it isn’t Thames, but it certainly could be.  Demoting Curtis would be a mistake as well.  Here’s a thought, with all the pitchers on the roster who can throw multiple innings, how about an 11-man pen? 

A Mulligan?

It’s really hard to figure out Philly.  Six months ago they trade Cliff Lee to Seattle and now they are trading for Roy Oswalt.  Net it all out and they saved about $4 million this year while taking on more salary for next year (and possibly 2012) while sending some prospects out and taking some in.  Considering the fact that Lee is the better pitcher, I think the Philly GM has a lot of explaining to do.

Enough about Philly, how about the Yankees?  Two interesting reports on the net today.  The first is Jorge Posada and the reports about the cyst behind his knee.   It’s old news is some ways, but the fact that it’s bothering him again may limit his availability to catch the rest of the way. Now, add in the reports that the Yankees are after Adam Dunn and I am confused.  

I’m not saying that Dunn isn’t a great hitter.  He is the consummate "three outcomes" guy, but he hits more than enough homers and draws more than enough walks to outweigh his many strikeouts.  But, he is a lefty and he also has not played anywhere besides first this season.  In short, he is in many ways a much more powerful version of Nick Johnson.  That could certainly add value to the Yankees, but if Posada can’t catch, where exactly do the Yankees play Dunn?  And when you consider the prospects the Yankees would have to give up for Dunn, why not go with the obvious internal candidate, Jesus Montero?

A month ago I wrote that it wasn’t the time to consider Montero. I gave a number of reasons, but I suggested that he should have another month of AAA seasoning because he was just starting to hit AAA pitching.  Since I wrote that, Montero has put up a .348/.463/.608 line.  I would still prefer that the Yankees keep him in the minors a bit longer, but if the choices are; starting Cervelli 3-4 times a week, trading for Dunn or promoting Montero, I promote Montero.  Flip-flop Montero and Posada from DH to C as needed and see what happens. 

UPDATE 4:10PM- Joel Sherman reports the Yankees are essentially out of the Dunn market unless the Nats significantly lower their pricetag.  All I can say is good! But, with Posada out of the lineup again, will Montero be summoned soon?

The Torch Has Been Passed?

I put the question mark at the end of the title, but it’s really not a question.  Joe Girardi had Joba Chamberlain available tonight.  Curtis Granderson hit his home run and after that three more Yankee batters came to the plate.  The inning changed and the Yankees chose to stick with Javier Vazquez. 

Obviously, there was more than enough time to warm up any reliever in the pen, but Girardi chose to turn the game over to Robertson when Vazquez got in trouble in the eighth and then to Logan when a lefty came to the plate.  I give Joe credit for that and also have to ask- what took so long?

Joel Sherman speculated today that the Yankees would send Joba to the minors.  Why wouldn’t they?  I’m not sure what there is to be gained by keeping him in the pen in the bigs now and maybe he could learn something in the minors (better put, re-learn something)  Of interest, Jason Stark is reporting the Yankees are trying to trade Chan Ho Park  One can only hope that means they will cut ties with him either way shortly and Albe will be back into the mix as part of the "bridge to Rivera". 

What seems clear is that changes are afoot in the Yankees’ bullpen mix. 

The New M+M Boys

So Mitre is out of the rotation and Moseley is in it because Girardi thinks that Mitre isn’t physically ready to start. Isn’t that something the Yankees should have figured out before they activated him and let him start on Saturday? Can someone explain why a 29-year old pitcher with a career ERA of 5.45 in almost 400 innings of major-league ball is considered valuable? 

The amazing thing to me is that Sergio Mitre is still considered an asset for the Yankees.  He compiled a 6.79 ERA last year in over 50 innings of work.  The last pitcher to have that high an ERA in over 50 innings of work for the Yankees was Kei Igawa in 2007.  He appeared in two more games in 2008 and has not been heard of since, despite the fact the Yankees are paying him $4 million a year to win games for Scranton.  (Hey good news, Igawa’s deal runs out after next season!)  Mitre makes $825,000 this year, the Yankees could swallow that in a heartbeat.  They could have kept him on the DL and started Moseley in the first place on Saturday.  That would have kept Albe in the majors where he could have helped.  I don’t get the Mitre fascination.  Does he have damning evidence of a crime Joe Girardi committed?  

I blame Aaron Small for this.  Remember that 2005 season that came out of nowhere?  I think the fact that Small and Chacon basically came out of nowhere to combine for 17 wins made Brian Cashman into a full blown "dumpster diver".  He looks at the trash discarded by other baseball teams and hopes he can turn it into diamonds.  It worked for that brief moment with Small and Chacon and that made Cashman a believer.

Now we will get Moseley, a pitcher with a 5.38 ERA in almost 200 innings in the majors and a 4.97 ERA in AAA. A hot streak in Scranton has convinced the Yankees he is another diamond in the rough.  Who knows, maybe they will get lucky for a few starts and with Andy Pettitte reportedly healing quickly, that’s all they need.  But, it’s a flawed plan when they have two better arms in Nova and Albe wasting away in AAA. 


Now More Than Ever

With another bullpen meltdown, I don’t think Theo Epstein has an option but to trade for help. If not, this might be just like the post all star swoon we saw a few years ago.

A Saturday At The Ballpark

It has been said that your worst day at the ballpark is better than your best day at work, but yesterday tested that maxim.  It was hot, crazy hot, like standing on the sun hot.  The only good thing is that my seats are under the overhang and therefore in the shade.  To those fans sitting on the thirdbase side in the sun, I salute your endurance and question your sanity.  To those fans sitting on the Malibu Party Deck for most of the game, what were you thinking?  (It’s a new deck on the 400 level that gives you the chance to drink in direct sunlight.  I estimate the temperature there was 400 degrees.  The cop at the entrance said to me as I checked the conditions, "Forget frying an egg, I think the beer will boil".  Wise man that cop)

The day started with disappointment as I learned Albe had been optioned.  Can’t say I am surprised, but a dumb move by the Yankees.  That guy can help them.  Moseley, Mitre, Gaudin and Park are essentially the same thing- righties who are flawed in someway.

Disappointment turned to anger as Mitre did exactly what i thought Mitre would do.  Luck can’t last forever and yesterday Mitre’s ran out.  The Yankees and Mitre can make all the excuses in the world, but the fact remains that this guy just isn’t going to cut it.  His ERA is now up to 3.99 and his BABIP is only .221.  If it gets to the average level of .300, that ERA will be through the roof.  And don’t let Moseley’s work fool you.  He is even luckier than Mitre with an .161 BABIP so far.  Choosing between the two of them is sort of like chosing between a Yugo and a Pinto- either ride is probably going to get you hurt. And if that’s my choice, I reluctantly stick with Mitre because he is the guy who can give you more innings right now.

But there is another option, the same one that has been there all along.  Ivan Nova pitched 6-1/3 tonight at Scranton and allowed only one earned run while striking out six.  His BABIP is .300, which means he is right at the average and his sub-3 ERA at Scranton can be believed.  Furthermore, if the Yankees let Vazquez leave (probable) and Pettitte retires (50-50?) then they will have an opening in the 2011 rotation even if they signed Cliff Lee.  The Yankees can’t slot Nova into the rotation for Thursday, but they certainly could for the next go around in the rotation. With Haren off the market, it’s time to look internally for rotation help, why not try Nova?

BTW- made it through all nine innings and got a nice picture of the World Series Trophy. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to upload it to this site.  Ah well….




Haren Is An Angel

Arizona has sent him back to the AL West, so I think we can all expect the Yankees to officially be out of the starters market.

Interesting trade for Anaheim since they are six back in the division and four in the wild card.  Also interesting that I can’t recall ever hearing the Angels mentioned in connection with Haren.  Just goes to illustrate again that you have to be VERY careful what you believe before the trade deadline. 

Wants and Needs – Run Prevention

Run Prevention – So far the Red Sox have not been a run prevention club.  They are actually pretty bad at it.  For the reasons I mentioned previously, the club has struggled to keep runs off the board, but their offense, until recently, has picked up the slack.  Time to lock down the defense (hear me Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro?), get help in the bullpen and have the starters pitch like they should.  That’s all I ask, I’m a simple man.

Wants and Needs – Outfield

Outfield – Nothing against Daniel Nava, Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall, but these 3 just shouldn’t be starting for the Boston Red Sox.  Hall has proven versitile, but his .735 OPS isn’t cutting it.  Nava is a great story and might just do some things at the Major League level, but the Red Sox can’t afford to let him play with all the other injuries reducing the line-up’s potentcy.  McDonald is a great candidate, next year, for the 4th OF spot.  He can play all 3 positions reasonable well but his bat just isn’t going to cut it in a starting role.  The Red Sox need Jacoby Ellsbury to get health and for Mike Cameron to continue on his hot July (1.020 OPS).  If the Red Sox accounting department plans on writing off Ellsbury this year, a trade is in order to boost the offensive production.