Bedard

First it was Rich Harden, now it is Erik Bedard. Assuming he doesn’t fail his medical.

Bedard, he of the complete disdain for post-game, pre-game and any-time interview, has been a good major leaguer in his career. Unfortunately (sales/servivce people shouldn’t use the word “unfortunately” so you know I’m not trying to sell you anything here), Bedard is injury prone. He became a full time starter in 2004 and is 55-48 in his career with a 3.69 ERA.

Good, but certainly not great. He spent parts of 5 seasons in the AL East which is a good thing as he won’t, or shouldn’t, be startled by the playing at Fenway or Yankee Stadium. Or, um, maybe he will be startled.

Bedard at:

Fenway: 2-3, 6.99 ERA, 28.1 IP, 30 H, 22 BB (Good God!), 26 K.
Yankees Stadium (Old, dusted one): 1-3, 4.64 ERA, 42.2 IP, 42 H, 12 BB, 38 K.

Well, his strikeout’s are always high and despite limited to circumstantial success at either Fenway or Yankee Stadium, he will help the Red Sox as a 4-5 starter.

My worries with Bedard are A.) he will get hurt and B.) he really plays baseball because he can, not because he likes to.

Over the years, I have read many articles, posts and opinions that Bedard is a grumpy jerk in front of the microphone and, like John Lackey, always has a hint of disdain in his voice. I don’t like that. I don’t want people like that on the team I root for. In fact, I want you to answer the questions you are asked, as long as they are about baseball. If you are too good for the media’s baseball related questions, then you are, in essence, too good for your (or your team’s) fans.

So Erik Berard, here is my challenge, pitch well, answers baseball questions and give me, us, the feeling that you like baseball and we/I have no problem. Of course, if you pitch well and are a disaster with the interview, well I guess I’m ok with that too, but I have a feeling, in your case, performance and persona go hand in hand. Prove me wrong, won’t you?

Deadline Blog

2:30- 90 minutes until the trade deadline and here is my favorite stat of the day. Only four teams have not pulled off a trade this month- Rays, Twins, Angels and Yankees. Pretty amazing isn’t it? And consider this, the Pirates are buyers. Will the Yankees stay quiet or will the “silent assassin” strike again?

2:45Ken Rosenthal reporting lots of interest in Wandy Rodriguez. Meanwhile, it’s 4-1 Yankees and Francisco Cervelli is playing second because Jeter is hurt after getting hit on the hand. Yankees will have a problem if Jeter broke a bone because Pena is hurt and they don’t have anyone besides Nunez who can play short on the 40-man.

2:48 Richard Justice reporting Wandy Rodriguez is headed to Cleveland! Wow, they are really going for it this year.

2:54 Joel Sherman reporting the Yankees are “not close to anything”

3:00Jon Morosi reporting Blue Jays are after Wandy Rodriguez while Jack Curry says he would need to “fall into their laps” adding that the Astros would have to pick up part of his contract and take back “little”. Jon Heyman adds that the Yankees asked Houston to pay 1/2 of the remaining $39-million he is owed and the Astros said no. Meanwhile, Hector Noesi is warming up which is a pretty strong indicator that he is not going to be traded.

3:07 X-rays negative on Jeter. He is “day-to-day” which means he will play tomorrow.

3:13 Ken Rosenthal points out that Wandy Rodriguez will easily pass through waivers, so no pressure to do the deal by 4pm today.

3:18 Erick Aybar just broke up Verlander’s bid for a no-no with a bunt in the 8th inning! Wow. Meanwhile Jon Heyman reports the Yankees are not in on Heath Bell. I can’t really justify the Yankees adding to the bullpen unless it is a move that doesn’t cost them a prospect.

3:24 4-2 Yankees in the 7th. Noesi is pitching, so scratch him off the possible trade list. Cano has moved from DH to second, meaning the Yankees have lost the DH, but they have 7 spots to get through before the pitcher would come up to hit. As for the deadline, Jon Morosi reports the Pirates are on the verge of getting Ryan Ludwick.

3:28 Hmmmm….Hector Noesi just got pulled with a 1-0 count, 2 outs and a runner on first. Could Noesi be headed somewhere?

3:43Very, very quiet right now. Nothing much seems to be going on and only 17 minutes to go.

3:48 Ken Rosenthal reporting that Wandy Rodriguez is staying in Houston for now. Joel Sherman says the are “portraying” that nothing is going on

3:58 Buster Olney is already declaring the winners of the deadline. Makes you think that nothing much more will happen, but we shall see. Meanwhile, the Yankees lineup has the pitcher’s spot up next. They are going to use Andruw Jones, but why not just send Robertson up to swing? Using Jones leaves only Posada on the bench and he is also the backup catcher now with Cervelli out. Ahhh, the joys of carrying 13 pitchers.

4:01Joel Sherman looking to confirm from another source, but he is reporting the Yankees didn’t make a deal. Meanwhile, Jon Heyman says Erik Bedard has been traded.

4:04 Jack Curry and Bob Klapisch reporting the Yankees didn’t make a deal as well.

4:10 Bedard is headed to Boston according to Heyman.

4:30 Sounds like that is it for the deadline. Red Sox ended up getting Bedard and Josh Fields for two AA players, Federowicz and Chih Hisen Chiang. Yankees did nothing, but they are promoting Banuelos to AAA which should put him in line to help the big club later this year if the transition goes well. Now I wonder if they will do something with Montero other than leaving him in the minors?

No Hiroki

Buster Olney and Jon Heyman are reporting that Hiroki Kuroda has told the Dodgers he will not waive his no-trade clause. So, scratch him off of your starter shopping lists.

Let’s see, Fister has been traded. Bedard didn’t make it out of the second inning last night. Felix is a no-go. Kuroda is staying in LA. The market for starters is getting smaller and smaller.

As I noted on the post below (see the Update) keep an eye on the San Diego-Colorado game tonight. Ubaldo is pitching and it will be obvious that he has been traded if he gets pulled early.

21 hours to go….

UPDATE 7:45pm Not exactly a vote of confidence from the Yankees, but Joel Sherman is reporting they offered Colorado “Hughes plus” in exchange for Ubaldo. That “plus” did not include Montero, Banuelos or Betances. Apparently the Rockies have gotten into serious talks with Cleveland and have scratched Jimenez from his start tonight. I can’t say I am upset if Ubaldo heads to Cleveland, but this report shows you how far Hughes has fallen in the Yankees’ eyes.

Meanwhile, it’s 5-0 Yankees in the first.

Ubaldo

The big name on the starter market right now is Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies are at least interested in trading him and the Yankees are at least interested in acquiring him. I am reminded of the old adage, “let the buyer beware”.

My first problem with a potential Ubaldo trade is why are the Rockies even thinking about trading him? The Rockies control him thru 2014 for a grand total of $18 million. That’s $500,000 less than the Mariners will pay Felix Hernandez next year alone. This isn’t a salary dump and while the Rockies aren’t very good, why are they willing to give up a young pitcher at an affordable contract they could build around?

Ubaldo is not having anywhere close to the year he had last year, but that is probably more about bad luck than anything. Last year when he compiled a 2.88 ERA he walked 3.7 batters per 9 and struck out 8.7 while allowing a home runs at a rate of 0.4. This year those numbers are 3.5/8.6/0.7. So slightly lower walk and K numbers and a slight uptick in homers. But his ERA is 4.20. This can probably be attributed to an uptick in BABIP from .274 to .311 and a slight increase in flyballs and liners- 0.88 GB/FB ratio versus 0.95 and 22% vs. 21%. But, we are really splitting hairs here, nothing really jumps out as a problem.

But, looking at his pitch data a decline in his fastball jumps out at you. Last season Ubaldo averaged, yup averaged, 96.1mph on his fastball. This season that is down to 93.4. His slider has also decreased from 86.6 to 83.4, his curve from 78.6 to 76.6 and his change from 87.7 to 86.4. Why the decline in velocity? Perhaps it is a sign or arm trouble to come?

Tom Verducci suggests that in this piece. Jimenez is on pace to become the first pitcher to ever throw 200 innings for the Rockies in three-straight years. Furthermore, of the nine other pitchers who have thrown 500 innings or more for the Rockies, only one ever threw 200 innings again in his career! (John Thomson) Click on the link to his article and scroll down to the table of Rockies pitchers, it is a sobering sight.

Throw in the fact that he showed up to camp out of shape and the whole “New York factor” and I don’t want to see this guy putting on pinstripes anytime soon unless the Yankees get him for a song. If the Rockies want to trade him for lesser prospects than Montero, Banuelos and Betances, I am all ears, but I don’t see that happening and therefore, I hope the Yankees sit tight.

UPDATE- Ubaldo is starting tonight against San Diego. Should be interesting to see if he makes the start or gets pulled early. Here is a link to that game

And considering Ivan Nova is rumored to be a piece of any potential Ubaldo trade, we can see what the Yankees do with him tonight. I have to say, I found it strange that they went to Wade for three innings and Logan for one this afternoon with Noesi sitting in the pen. (It was a career high for Wade and why use your only lefty in the first half of a DH with a huge lead?) It’s a pure guess, but could they have done that just in case they need to pull Nova tonight and use Noesi for length?? Hmmmm….

Put Your GM Hat On

Ok, let’s say you are Brian Cashman, what move(s) do you make at this trade deadline? Here’s my answer.

1- I try and find a primo starter available. One last call to the Mariners just to make sure Felix isn’t going anywhere. A call to Oakland to check on Gio Gonzalez. Assuming the answer is no, I then look for the second tier pitchers. Ubaldo Jimenez scares me for a number of reasons, so I probably stay away. Matt Garza would be an interesting pickup since he has pitched well in the AL. And finally, would the Dodgers be interested in moving Kuroda? (Or better, Billingsley?) Assuming the discussions are not fruitful or the prices are too high, I sit still. Ivan Nova is sitting in AAA with Phelps and Warren, why not give one of them a shot if you need rotation help?

2- I stay away from bullpen help. Robertson and Rivera are doing fine and Soriano will be back shortly. Trading for a second lefty doesn’t make a lot of sense to me when Banuelos could probably fill that role and profit from the experience in the majors. All the arms I mentioned before could also help in the pen.

3- Now getting another bat would be a very good idea. Unlike previous seasons, the Yankees have a pretty solid bench. Andruw Jones is hitting lefties and Chavez can cover righties. Nunez is a good pinchrunner and can cover the infield. The thing the Yankees are lacking should be the easiest spot to fill- DH. Jorge Posada had a great June, but he cooled off again in July (.468OPS in the last 28 days) and his overall season has been a disaster. At the very least, he should be benched against LHP (6-for-51 no HR’s) but his numbers against righties The Yankees could move Jones to DH when they face a lefty, but another bat wouldn’t hurt and a guy who could play a couple of positions like Ty Wiggington (.318/.423/.519 vs LHP, played 1B/3B/OF and 2B in past two years) would be a great addition.

4- Turn some pitching prospects into positional prospects. The Phillies are apparently trying to find a 3rd team to give them some pitching prospects to land Hunter Pence. No matter what happens in the next few years, the Yankees won’t have room for all their potential pitching prospects. Giving some of them to Philly or another team in return for position prospects makes a lot of sense.

So, what would you do? You have just about 50 hours to decide. (And please check back Sunday as I will be live blogging the deadline from 2:30 onward.)

To Boo Or Not To Boo?

That’s my question. You see, I just heard that Hideki Irabu has been found dead and police suspect he committed suicide. And I am wondering, are all of us who booed him in someways responsible?

I booed Irabu. I usually don’t boo Yankee players, but Irabu got under my skin. It wasn’t the lousy pitching, though that didn’t help, it was that he just gave the impression of not caring. (Sidenote- I always find it funny how guys like Michael Kay become indignant when Mariano Rivera gets booed for blowing games, but guys like Whitson and Irabu are left to fend for themselves. Granted, there is a huge difference, but if your stance is you shoudn’t boo Yankees, every Yankee should get that protection.) But here’s the thing, how on Earth did I know if Irabu cared or not? I never talked to the guy, yet I made that judgment from the “cheap seats” and let him have it. That’s not something I am proud of today.

For me Irabu’s story is a sharp reminder that underneath it all these guys are just humans. Sure, they can do things with a baseball that I can only dream of but they also have feelings. It has to bother them when the home crowd is booing. I hope I remember that the next time I go to open my big mouth.

RIP Hideki.

The Time Has Come

In the next 100 hours, the Yankees need to decide the future of Jesus Montero. They have three choices they can select.

1- Trade him out of the organization. If the Yankees have the chance to acquire an impact arm for the rotation, I would include Montero in that trade package. When your two of your top three starters are Garcia and Colon, you can’t feel great about your starting rotation. Yes, trading Montero would hurt, but if the Yankees could get use him in a package to get a good young pitcher (Gio Gonzalez?) then they have to pull the trigger.

2- Promote him to the majors. We keep hearing that Montero may or may not be defensively adequate to catch in the majors. These questions will hang over him until he actually heads to the bigs and demonstrates what he can do. The Yankees current backup, Cervelli, has been awful defensively (9% caught stealing and 5 errors in 210 innings) while “contributing” a line of .228/.295/.291 with the bat. The Yankees have no reason to accept that from Cervelli when Montero could do better. It is worth noting, Montero’s bat is hot right now (.315/.390/.615 in July) And, Russell Martin has completely stopped hitting (.963 OPS in April, .680 in May, .515 in June and .551 in July). The Yankees can offer him arbitration in 2012, but will they really want to? Not if Montero can prove capable in the bigs at catcher.

3- Change his position. Now that Montero’s bat is showing once again that it is ready for the bigs, the Yankees should figure out a way to use it. If they don’t think he can stick at catcher and they won’t promote him to the majors, they should find a new position for him where he could help them down the road. He could play that position in the minors for the remainder of 2011 and perhaps start there in 2012 as well with a midseason promotion to the bigs. (Remember, he is still only 21). Rightfield makes the most sense organizationally as the Yankees have an option on Nick Swisher for 2012 and then he becomes a free agent. Swisher turned around his season and has been very good overall as a Yankee, but he will be 32 when he becomes a free agent and I would bet he will try to get something like the deal Jayson Werth just signed. The Yankees could easily walk away from Swisher after 2012 and take their draft picks if Montero proves to be a capable rightfielder.

Whatever the Yankees do over the next 100 hours, I hope they don’t keep the status quo. If a trade doesn’t make sense, promote Montero or change his position. Keeping him in the minors for the rest of 2011 makes little sense for the future.

J.D. to Bench, J.R. to R.F.

Well, it finally happened, J.D. Drew has been relegated to bench duty while Josh Reddick has been named the starting RF. ‘Bout time.

I have nothing against J.D. Drew as a person. He seems humble, likable and a good teammate, but he isn’t producing and Terry Francona finally made the change. Reddick isn’t a sure thing, but he is tearing the cover off the ball and has been producing at a much better clip than has Drew. Much better.

Here’s Francona on the matter: “I don’t know where it’s going to go. Nobody does but as much as we want to win games, I think at the moment, he (Reddick) gives us a better chance. So that’s what we’re doing.”

He says Reddick gives the Red Sox a better chance to win and I agree. Given that JD might very well retire at the end of the season, I am happy the Red Sox are moving on with the future. Reddick and Ryan Kalish will probably compete for the starting job next year if Kalish can get back on the field this year. If he can’t, we might as well hand the job to Reddick.

A quick comparison:

Drew: .219/.317/.305, 271 PA, 23 R, 4 HR, 21 RB
Reddick: .378/432/.671, 95 PA, 20 R, 4 HR, 18 RBI

Reddick has the same production as Drew in 1/3 the PAs.

I’ve always maintained that Drew would have been a Hall of Famer had he had a love, a passion for the game of baseball. Sweet swing, excellent fielder, could have had it all, but the desire wasn’t there (I’m referring to Drew in the past-tense already). If he retires next year at 36, as he suggested he might, that just proves my point, Drew never really wanted it. For all of us who played baseball in youth leagues, high school and perhaps beyond and really loved baseball, what a waste. Put the the head of Marty Barrett, Brian Daubach or Dustin Pedroia on Drew and bam, there you’d have one of the best ever to play the game (no Ted Williams jokes now).

Watch Out Andruw!

Andruw Jones is clearly on notice. The Yankees could have easily promoted Chris Dickerson back to the majors today after placing A-Rod on the DL, but instead they chose Greg Golson. Dickerson is a lefty bat while Golson is a righty bat, so Jones now has some competition.

It’s not a bad idea. Jones certainly hasn’t done much with the bat and his defense isn’t what it once was. Golson has rediscovered his bat this year, hitting .295/.350/.432 this year and he plays excellent defense. If Jones doesn’t turn it around soon, the Yankees can easily eat the remaining million or so left on his deal.

Big start for Bartolo tonight, it would be very reassuring to see him get off to a good start.

At The Break

All things considered, I think the Yankees and their fans have to be pretty happy with the first half of the season. The starting pitching has been better than expected, they have survived several key injuries (more on that in a bit) and they are on pace to win 98 games.

They are going to have to survive another injury with A-Rod opting for surgery. It’s the right thing to do, but his bat will certainly be missed in the lineup for the next 4-6 weeks. It’s too bad Eric Chavez is still hurt, but Eduardo Nunez filled in capably for Jeter and will hopefully do so again. I would also like to see the Yankees bring Dickerson back and not promote Brandon Laird at this point, he still has some learning to do in the minors.

If I am Brian Cashman, I would still try and acquire a starter. At some point I think Garcia and Colon turn into pumpkins. They have combined for 13 wins and pitched to a 3.16 ERA. I just don’t think that can last, but I hope I am wrong. Assuming that acquiring a starter proves impossible, which it probably will be, I would turn my focus to adding a bat. Jorge Posada had a brief renaissance, but he is hitting .226/.286/.355 over the last 14 days and his overall numbers .233/.322/.404 are not pretty. I wonder what the Mets want for Carlos Beltran?

Another lefty for the bullpen would be nice, but I don’t think a trade is needed for that. I would like to see Manny Banuelos get a chance later in the year as he approaches his innings limit to help the big club from the bullpen., provided everyone understands that no matter what he is a starter next year. I would also bring Kevin Whelan back and see what he can contribute to the pen.

We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks, but for now enjoy the All-Star Break!