Reading Through The Tea Leaves

If I had to sum everything up on the Haren front, I would say that Arizona is leaking a lot of stuff to the press and that includes the Yankees "offer" of Joba, McAllister and Nova. 

The reason I say that is two of the biggest sources of news from the Yankees side, Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman are very quiet right now.  When the Yankees leak something, it is usually through them.  In addition, Bob Klap has come out this morning and said the Yankees absolutely refused to put Joba in a trade for Haren.  Add it all up and I get the feeling, Arizona leaked it’s preferred package to the press last night and then Arizona’s CEO came out with his press conference to try and up the pressure on the Yankees to accept it.  Remember, Arizona just fired their manager and GM and they are averaging under 25,000 fans per game at home.  They need to make the fanbase believe again and Joba might be a "sexy" name to some.

As for Haren, I still think it is the right move to make, if the Yankees can pull it off without touching the 25-man.  Last season Haren compiled a 14-10 record with a 3.14 ERA.  This season he has a 4.60 ERA despite, almost every other peripheral stat remaining the same.  There is a slight uptick in walks, but also a slight uptick in K’s.  Where he is getting hurt is his BABIP which is .341 vs. .271 last season.  And remember this guy has a career ERA of 3.64 in over 600 innings of pitching in the AL.

Adding Haren also gives you flexibility this season and next offseason.  This season you can slot him in the rotation now and then move Hughes back to the pen when Pettitte returns.  That strengthens the pen and while Hughes’ overall numbers are good, he is not the same pitcher since May.  (I think Hughes will be absolutely fine in the long term, this is just part of his growing process)  And in the offseason, Haren’s presence in the rotation means you don’t have to back the truck up to pay Cliff Lee.  Cliff Lee is a great pitcher, but he will be 32 and probably want a five year deal for $20 million.  How many long term deals do you want to hand out to pitchers?

And there is another thing to consider, this may be the last roundup for a lot of guys on this team.  Jeter, Mariano, Posada, Pettitte, how long can we truly expect these guys to perform at these levels?  I am not saying the Yankees are in danger of falling apart, but consider this.  It’s 2011 and Mariano is finally human while Jeter’s numbers have regressed from this season.  Meanwhile Posada is hurt most of the time and Pettitte is back in Texas with his kids.  Even if the Yankees added Cliff Lee, do you think their chances at a title are better or worse than they are right now in that scenario?  

Don’t mistake this for a surrender flag for the future.  The Yankees have changed the way they do business.  They are now rich and smart and that is going to mean the Yankees will be good for a long time.  But, they are sitting here in 2010 with a four-game lead with 67 games to play.  If you can go for the jugular, you do it.  Lining up a rotation of CC, Haren, Pettitte, AJ and Vazquez with Hughes and Rivera in the pen would do that.

UPDATE 11am Heyman chimed in on Twitter this morning with two updates from the Yankees side.  1- They would include Mcallister and Nova+ 2 "prospects" but will not eat Haren’s deal and include Joba.  2- Arizona appears to have tried to get them to take Chris Snyder or Chad Qualls as well and the Yankees have said no.  Both sides are still talking.

With that I am off to a sweltering Yankee Stadium.