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.  

It Must Be Friday

Remember all the fun we had two weeks ago?  Well, get ready because we may have a repeat.

Bob Klapisch is reporting that the Yankees are the front runner for Dan Haren and it’s up to Cashman to decide if he will pull the trigger.  

Haren pitched on the 21st, so I don’t think there will be the same urgency around this deal as there was around the Lee one.  What I do know is that if they get Haren, he is signed through 2012 with an option for 2013.  I would wager that might spell the end of the Cliff Lee to the Yankees idea.  

We’ll see what develops.

UPDATE 7:50PM- Some other reports from around the interweb.  D’Backs want to make the trade by Monday and Yanks are definitely in front.  According to AOL, Ivan Nova is the key to this deal. 

UPDATE 9:05pm- I have read various rumors that Joba might be part of the package.  Hmmm…..

UPDATE 9:55pm- Chad Gaudin in for relief.  Have to imagine he is pitching for his job right now with Mitre due to be activated tomorrow.

UPDATE 10pm- If the Yankees got Haren, he might solve the DH problem too .364/.375/.527 in 55 AB’s this year (I kid, I kid) 

UPDATE 10:10pm- The package for Haren is reportedly Joba, Nova and McAllister

UPDATE 10:35pm According to Bob Klap, I am totally wrong about Lee and Yankees would pursue him assuming Pettitte retires.  That would mean the rotation in 2011 could be CC, Lee, Haren, AJ and Hughes.  No room for any prospects in that case. 

UPDATE 10:56pm- The CEO of the Diamondbacks just announced that there is no frontrunner for Haren.  The Yankees have made an offer but "other" clubs have made equally substantial offers.  I can’t see the Yankees increasing their offer, but this could also be posturing.  Sounds like we have a ways to go on this one.  

Wants and Needs – Starting Pitching

Part II:

Starting Pitching – No trades needed here, just better performance from the existing crew.  Jon Lester has been great after a rocky start to the season and Clay Buchholz has been what we all hoped he be.  It is up to the highest paid starters in John Lackey and Josh Beckett who have really disappointed.  Lackey can eat up innings, but he is paid to do much more, like be a top 2 starter when in fact he is pitching more like a middle of the rotation guy.  Certainly Lackey’s performance last night is something to build off.

Beckett has had 3 terrible outings which make his numbers look that much worse, but if you post a 7.29 ERA and are hurt and you’re paid a ton, you aren’t helping.  With Beckett now healthy and pitching tonight and Buchholz off the DL and Wakefield headed to the bullpen, this group should get better.

Tomorrow – Outfield

A Lesson For AJ

I hope AJ Burnett was paying close attention yesterday because he could have learned a ton.  CC Sabathia clearly didn’t have it, yet he battled his way through 6-1/3 innings.  He scattered 11 hits, mostly thanks to 9 strikeouts and bailed out his catcher from a terrible game. (more on that in a minute)  If AJ ever learned how to do that, he would be worth the money he earns, but I would never expect that to happen.  AJ should have made the transition from thrower to pitcher years ago, now it seems he never will.

*****

That had to be the worst defensive game Posada has played in a long time.  On the play at the plate he only tagged himself.  He almost airmailed a dropped third strike into right.  But worst of all was the throw to third.  It made no sense, take the out at first!  

Posada has never been very good behind the plate, but he hits well enough to make up for that.  Fans will be tempted to relegate him to permanent DH after a performance like that, but until the Yankees come up with a different answer than Cervelli as backup catcher, they can’t do that.  I just wonder if we will have the same concerns when Montero cracks the big league lineup?

*****

One last observation about the trade market.  Reportedly, Haren and Greinke are available and I would show moderate interest in the first and none in the second.  Haren has pitched well in the AL before and while his numbers in Arizona are down, he is missing bats at a high rate and his ERA can mostly be explained by a .341 BABIP.  He has playoff experience and would be a nice addition to the rotation.  But, the price will probably be way too high.  For instance, I would not trade Montero or Romine for him.

The reason I would stay away from Greinke is that despite his very good numbers, he has never pitched in a pennant race.  Throw in the fact that he had real struggles with social anxiety disorder in the past and I don’t think injecting him into a pennant race in New York is the way to go.  When you consider what he would cost in prospects, it isn’t worth the risk to me.

 

A Win is a Win

A follow-up to my relief corps commentary, Manny Delcarmen was just horrendous last night.  Turning a 6-0 lead into a tie game with the help of Jonathan Papelbon.  Thank goodness Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez kept the Mariners at bay (Anyone?  No?).

Delcarmen’s performance is just further evidence the Red Sox need help bringing the gap between the starters and Bard/Papelbon.

Wants and Needs – Bullpen Help

The Red Sox are slipping.  The injuries are starting to catch up with them.  Duct tape and chewing gum is not enough.  With the non-waiver trade deadline a little more than a week away, here’s what the Red Sox need to do.

Over the next few days, I’ll do some quick and short analysis on areas of need for the Red Sox.  First up:

Relief Pitching – No worries with the 8th and 9th innings what with Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon doing just fine.  It’s the other guys such as Hideki Okajima (5.72 ERA), Ramon Ramirez (4.85 ERA) and Manny Delcarmen (4.29 ERA, 20 walks, 23 K’s in 35 innings) who are causing trouble.  The Red Sox have promoted and put Michael Bowden in the bullpen, but Bowden doesn’t have any relief experience and has proven nothing at the big league level.  A trade is need to bring in a reliable arm.  Think Eric Gagne…wait.

Tomorrow:  Starting Pitching

MLB Has A Problem

We saw an umpire make an unforgivable mistake in Detroit earlier this year.  We heard an umpire make totally unwarranted comments earlier this year.  Today we saw an umpire overreact again.  But last night, we saw conclusive evidence that MLB needs to rethink the way it handles umpires.

If you haven’t read about it, the situation was this.  Joe Torre had been thrown out of the game and Don Mattingly was managing.  In the 9th, he came out to the mound to talk to his pitcher.  He started off the mound and then heard a question from one of his players.  Problem is, he had already stepped off the mound so by stepping on it again he made a second trip to the mound.  The Giants manager came out and said that the second trip to the mound meant the pitcher had to be removed and a new one brought in (with regular warmup as opposed to an injury)  The umpires agreed and the new pitcher promptly surrendered the lead and the game.  There’s just one problem, the umps didn’t know the rules.  The rule states that a pitcher has to be removed after a second visit to the mound- BUT

In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game.

So, Mattingly should have been ejected and the pitcher should have been allowed to finish pitching to the current batter.  That’s the rule.  Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they didn’t protest the game or they would have had a pretty solid case.  

But the bigger problem is how do the umps not know that rule?  The bad calls, the short fuses, those are all mistakes we can relate to as human beings, but if your job is to enforce the rules, you had better know those rules!   I can’t wait to hear MLB try and spin this one, it’s just another example of the need for a major overhaul in umpiring. 

Interesting

The Post today reports the Yankees have asked the Marlins about Cody Ross, but the price is too high. 

It’s interesting that the Yankees would target Ross because he wouldn’t be a rental.  Ross is still in his arbitration years and won’t be a free agent until after the 2011 season.  He is also a righty bat, who kills LHP (.291/.353/.594 against them in his career) and he is primarily a centerfielder, though he can play anywhere. Add in the fact that he makes $4.5 million and you would have to conclude that the Yankees are looking for a platoon partner for Curtis Granderson.  

You can’t blame them, as bad as Granderson has been overall (.694OPS) he is even worse when isolated against LHP (.557OPS)  But if you took his numbers against RHP (.242/.325/.450) and added Ross in to hit against lefties, you would have a pretty great combination. 

The problem is the price is too high right now.  That could change or the Yankees could look elsewhere (Reed Johnson?), but the important thing is that they are looking.  

 

Albe On The Way

Jack Curry is reporting the Yankees will recall Albe from AAA when they DL Pettitte. 

Albe is an interesting pitcher.  Throughout his career he has gotten worse the more pitches he has thrown.  In Scranton he has essentially been a one inning guy and the results have been impressive.  46 innings 61 K’s and an ERA of 0.96

Will it translate to the bigs?  Good question, but I hope the Yankees start trying him for one inning at a shot.  Maybe he can be a factor down the stretch.  

Bummer

Remember Jon Weber and what a great story he was in spring training?  He just got suspended for at least the second time for "a banned substance".  I know the article says it is the third time, but my understanding of the drug policy in place was that a third positive test meant a lifetime ban and he got 100 games.

I don’t know why news like this shocks me anymore, but it does.  Ugh