What would help this team at trading deadline?
Baseball officials often say they like to break the season down into one- thirds. The first third is to evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses. The middle third is to look for solutions to your problems and to make changes – and the final third is to make a push with the new/improved team you’ve assembled. The Yankees are in that middle phase now and have gone through a lot in the season so far. They struggled for the first 42 games and had a .500 record on May 21st. They then went on an amazing 20-4 run that just ended with back to back losses to Atlanta. Now that we’ve seen their worst and their best baseball, I think it’s a good time to evaluate what this team needs to make a push for their 28th Championship.
The pen has been their strong point all season. Even after surviving the loss of 2 All-Stars in Mariano Rivera and David Robertson they still have kept it together. They are 3rd in MLB in bullpen ERA with a 2.73 mark and have blown a league-low 4 saves in 24 opportunities. With Rafael Soriano looking comfortable in the Closer’s role and Robertson returning healthy, the Yankee bullpen is set. Boone Logan & Clay Rapada have been absolutely excellent vs LH hitters and Cody Eppley and Cory Wade are serviceable in their roles. There may even be a chance that Joba and/or David Aardsma come back at some point this year so there is no need for them to look outside of the organization for relief help.
The starters have been pitching tremendously in June and on the season they are 5th in the A.L. with a 4.14 ERA. The one disturbing trend is that they lead all of baseball in HRs allowed with 65 and are 27th overall in opposing hitters OPS at .780. However, all the starters are pitching better as of late and right now the top 3 of C.C., Andy Pettitte & Ivan Nova look pretty strong. Kuroda is solid as a #4 and Hughes is OK as the #5 man. So the question is, can anyone out there help them?
The names we here that are available are Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Wandy Rodriguez. In my opinion, none of these guys are enough of an upgrade on any of our top 3 or 4 starters so it’s not worth giving up good young players to acquire them. If Philadelphia decides to become a seller and makes Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee available, the Yanks would have to think long and hard. For years, we’ve been searching for a viable #2 starter and right now, Pettitte is the de facto #2. However, I still think Cashman would have to jump at the chance if a true #2 became available knowing how valuable those starters are in the post-season.
This is the one area where I think the Yanks could be looking to upgrade. The Yankees have been 1st or 2nd in Runs scored in MLB every one of the last 8 years except for 2008 when they were 10th and didn’t make the playoffs – the only time since 1993. The team has always had a great offense but this year they are 6th in MLB in Runs scored and have shown that they have a lot of trouble scoring without the HR. Thankfully they still lead MLB with 105 HRs but their season-long struggles hitting with Runners in Scoring position has not gotten any better. They are still 28th in MLB hitting an anemic .218 with RISP.
So where can this lineup improve? Well, the obvious positions are LF, DH & C. Russell Martin is valued for his defense and there doesn’t seem to be a significant upgrade available anywhere that it would be worth replacing him. But LF & DH are big areas of concern right now. After his solid April, Raul Ibanez has been in a slump lately. In his last 22 games, he’s hitting just .178/.218/.288. He’s always been a streaky hitter in his career but it appears he may be getting a bit worn down having to play LF so much at the age of 40.
Andruw Jones has been downright horrid this year. Overall he’s hitting .206/.310/.412/.722 . He’s on the team to mash LHP and this year he’s hit .185/.250/.338/.588 off them. Brett Gardner is supposed to be making yet another attempt at a comeback in the coming weeks around the All-Star Break but at this point I’m skeptical. It appears the Yanks will wait til they know what they have in Gardner before they make a move and right now that appears to be the correct move. I wouldn’t mind seeing them give AAA OF/3B Ronnie Mustelier a look in LF. Between AA & AAA, he’s hitting .330/.382/.529/.911 with 11 HRs, 45 RBI and 8 SBs. They need to know if they have an answer internally with Gardner or Mustelier before the trade deadline.
Right now there aren’t a lot of teams out of contention but some of the names that may be available are Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Lee, Carlos Quentin, etc. Guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Chase Headley may become available and if they do, they should definitely be of interest to the Yanks. Not only would they be huge help this year, they could allow the Yanks to let Swisher walk at the end of the year rather than have to give him an expensive 3-4 year deal. CarGo is the sexy name as he’s a young star OF signed to a reasonable long-term deal. He’s also crushing the ball with RISP with a .364 BA and 1.235 OPS. For all of those reasons, he would require a king’s ransom and likely cost major pieces from the current team so he’s a massive longshot. Someone like Headley would be more reasonable. He seems like a young veteran in the Paul O’Neill/Tino/Brosius mold that would improve changing teams. For his career he’s struggled in PetCo park with a .666 OPS but it’s .810 on the road. This year his OPS is .856 away from batter’s Hell Petco Park. Not only would Headley’s numbers see a bump in YS, he’s also a switch-hitting 3B and LF that couldbe an answer at 3B or OF next year and beyond.
So what do YOU think the Yanks need – pitching, hitting, or should they stand pat?
Posted on June 21, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged Alfonso Soriano, Andy Pettitte, Brett Gardner, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley, Cliff Lee, Cody Eppley, Cole Hamels, Cory Wade, David Aardsma, David DeJesus, David Robertson, Denard Span, Ivan Nova, Josh Willingham, Mariano Rivera, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Raul Ibanez, Russell Martin, Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez. Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.