Friday, July 27, 2012

Yankees Trade Needs, Wants, and Realities

It’s been a while, and we’ve discussed the trade market in general, and a few specific trade possibilities, but I’mma go ahead and look at the Yankees needs and wants. I have to stress my bias here, if these are less than perfectly logical trades, so be it, I have my allegiances, and I’m being upfront about them. It’s pretty common amongst Yankees fans to overvalue our farm system, so I’ll try to stray away from that, and it’s been said repeatedly that we as a fanbase feel entitled to winning, entitled to having the best of everything, no matter the cost.

I’m going to assume that what Brian Cashman says means more than placating the media, and that he doesn’t want to A) cripple the farm system or B) put the team in a position to be over the luxury tax threshold in 2014. So, knowing all that there are a few areas of “need” which is a term I’m forced to use loosely given that the team is in first place and owns the best record in baseball. In the short term, the yanks need a third baseman. No matter how much I like Eric Chavez, he’s a great backup, solid defense, productive bat, some power, but with all that comes the fragility that kept him from being a superstar. Behind him there’s Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, and Ramiro Pena within the organization, all offering something but not the ability to lessen the blow of a month+ without Alex Rodriguez. There’s room to upgrade at catcher as well, I like Russell Martin and I want him to start performing like he’s able to, but right now he’s calling a good game, but he’s essentially a guaranteed out against righties.There’s also room to upgrade the bullpen in light of Mariano Rivera’s injury and the general (Insert handedness) One Out GuY nature of the bulk of the ‘pen. 4 days ago I would have likely argued that adding an outfielder would have been beneficial as well, but after trading D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar for Ichiro Suzuki I think that’s reasonably well covered, though his bat may not be what it once was, he still has speed, and plays great defense, he’s more or less Brett Gardner with a modified howitzer for an arm (A Futurama reference, in a sports blog, does anyone else appreciate this?) at this point in his career.

the third base market is fairly thin, my knee jerk reaction was to say Ty Wigginton, he’s versatile, right handed, and has some power, but the Phillies have already shot that one down. Hanley Ramirez would have also been an option, but another prima donna in New York might be a bit much. Chase Headley is an option, in that he’s both good, and available, as well Aramis Ramirez is a possible fit. The yanks don’t need a long term third baseman, they are, for better or worse, A-rod is under contract for several more years, and making him a full time DH and part time fielder just doesn’t seem likely at the moment. so anyone like Headley or Ramirez would likely be acquired with trading them after the season in mind. Strategically, Headley could be a great fit, he’s young, affordable, has shown moderate power in the spacious Petco park, and plays solid defense. The biggest draw to getting, then flipping Headley would be the ability to potentially acquire a cost controllable pitcher for the 28 year old. Prying Headley away from the Padres would be a tricky proposition given the state of the Yankees farm system. Likely they would have to give up a number of prospects of some value, and at least one of the “can’t miss” prospects like Mason Williams, Manny Banuelos, or Dellin Betances would be part of that package.

As for catchers, the goal wouldn’t be to replace Martin, but to provide him a better platoon partner than Chris Stewart, though Francisco Cervelli can do that just fine. Catchers are tricky to trade mid-season, they have to build a rapport with the pitchers they work with, need to know not only what they like to throw, but how they’re comfortable operating. It’s a tall order to join a team in the midst of a pennant race, remain productive at the plate, and learn to effectively handle no less than 11 different pitchers. There are certainly good catchers on bad teams, though they all come with some caveats. while Joe Mauer would be a great catcher to acquire, he’s solid behind the plate, and he’s got a great bat for a catcher he did miss ½ of last year with an injury, and he is on a long term contract, so if his oversized (for a catcher) frame starts to break down, the yanks would be saddled with that. Knowing all of these things, there’s also no particular indication that Mauer is on the trading block, though the yanks could potentially deal some of their minor league pitching talent to entice the Twins who’ve got slightly less than no pitching at the major league level. Kansas City could potentially be enticed into giving up Salvador Perez, though overpaying for an unproven talent would be a near certainty, if the trade panned out, Perez would be a solid cost controlled addition. There is however no indication that he’s available, nor that at 6’3” he’ll be able to stay at catcher for his whole career. The Brew crew has two fairly productive, controllable catchers in Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonaldo, and could potentially be talked into letting one of them leave. John Jaso could also be available at the right price given that he’s expendable with both Miguel Olivo and Jesus Montero in the fray, though the Mariners may prefer to keep Jaso with an eye to Montero’s future as a catcher being questioned. It has been mentioned that Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies would be a good fit, and given that they’re selling off pieces and Ruiz has an expiring contract I tend to agree, though for less than 1 year of Ruiz who has been tearing the cover off the ball this year the yanks would likely pay a king’s ransom. There just might not really be room to upgrade at catcher aside from letting Cervelli get his hacks in rather than stewart. He’s not exactly going to dominate pitching in the major leagues, but he calls a good game, he can hit a little, and having him spell Martin for 2 out of every 5 might just help Martin get his head on straight and start producing at the plate.

The market for relief pitching is pretty grim, most of the teams that are out of contention have either very young bullpens or very bad bullpens, in the former case the team trying to get a reliever is likely to have to give up a minor leaguer with some serious potential, and in the latter case, why bother? With that said, I tend to like pitchers leaving Colorado, if you can pitch effectively there, you can pitch effectively anywhere. You’re pitching in one of the most offensively friendly stadiums in the sport, and many breaking pitches don’t break as well there as they do closer to sea level. I’d be interested in Matt Belisle or Josh Roenicke if either is available, and failing that Shawn Camp is a relatively appealing option in his own right. The question is now, what are they worth? Roenicke is probably the toughest to acquire, though the Rox also say they’re not interested in moving Belisle either. I’d suspect that to get anyone really worth having, the yankees would have to give up something valuable from the farm, I’d be somewhat inclined to wait this one out, I think that Joba Chamberlain’s eventual return, and the prospect of Mariano Rivera being ready to pitch again before the postseason (nevermind) will be enough of a shot in the arm for the ‘pen, especially if David Phelps can keep producing like he has been.

Overall, I think that while a third baseman might be a viable trade option, I don’t know that if I were in Brian Cashman’s shoes I’d be too thrilled with what’s available. The Catching market is not friendly, everyone that’s an upgrade over Martin/Stewart is going to be cost prohibitive. I only really see Shawn Camp as an option as far as relief pitchers go unless someone begins shopping their closer at a discount price ASAP. I don’t personally believe that Cashman is interested in overpaying for anything short of greatness, and while the Montero for Michael Pineda deal hasn’t panned out so far, I seriously doubt that Cashman is in the habit of trading big value for very little return, and with that in mind I don’t really see any big moves for the Yankees between now and the deadline.


  1. So, knowing all that there are a few areas of “need” which is a term I’m forced to use loosely given that the team is in first place and owns the best record in baseball.

  2. Marry, I don't know exactly what you're drilling at here. They aren't now, nor were they then in a position of great "need" but in terms of what they should have/could have done at the end of July to help make the team a stronger postseason presence. There were certainly things that fans considered a need.

    I fully understand that the Yankees have continually been dominant enough to argue that they don't truly "need" anything. However, in the sense that their goal, the only indicator of a successful season in Yankeeland, is a World Series victory; there were needs. None of them were truly met at the trade deadline aside from adding Ichiro, but that's some of the fun from a fan's perspective, it's all conjecture, matching teams up with potential trade partners and all of the hypothetical deals that are rumored.