After the flurry of moves in baseball yesterday, there were plenty – like, PLENTY – of Yankees fans who were angry. Livid. Apoplectic. They saw Boston making moves, they saw players signing and they saw the Yankees having a relatively quiet December day and it made them seethe. What was Brian Cashman doing? Why was he just sitting back as the Yankees did nothing?
Here’s the thing: I get that. It makes sense. I’m just not so sure all the moves that went down yesterday really hurt the Yankees all that much. Let’s take a look at them, one-by-one, and decide whether they hurt, helped or were a relative push.
• John Lackey signs with the Red Sox. OK, sure. No doubt Lackey is a stud and a solid addition. But the Yankees shelled out bucks for CC Sabathia last winter and, while I’d probably take Lackey over A.J. Burnett at about the same money, it’s at least debatable. Beyond that, let’s compare the rotations as they stand right now:
Top three: CC, AJ, Pettitte vs. Beckett, Lester, Lackey? Give the Sox a slight edge if you’re being fair.
Bottom two: Joba, Hughes vs. Dice-K, Bucholz? Call it even, mostly because, but Dice-K might be less of a certainty than even Joba. It’s also worth noting that the “swing-man” on both teams: Aceves vs. Wakefield might actually favor the Yankees.
Then there’s this: Is the Sox adding Lackey a good move? For sure. But it was a move they almost HAD to make given the state of their rotation and the state of the Yankees. It was their response to what the Yankees did a year ago and in the end, the Yankees were never really going to be players for Lackey anyway.
VERDICT: Call it a HURT for the Yankees, but not as much as it might seem. Given what happened a year ago, this was a virtual certainty.
• Roy Halladay traded to Phillies. This is the second part of what makes the Lackey situation more of a positive than it might first seem for the Yankees. Halladay was the one pitcher the Yankees didn’t want to see end up in Boston. By going to Philly, Halladay is a) no longer a threat to go to the Yankees’ biggest rival; and b) not even in the same league anymore.
Could the Yankees have been in on Halladay? I would have been willing to part with prospects plus money, but the Yankees always felt like the Blue Jays were asking for a premium from AL East teams and Brian Cashman just didn’t want to pay twice. Bottom line, if Halladay wasn’t coming to the Bronx, going to a team that wasn’t Boston and wasn’t in the AL was about as good as the Yankees could have hoped for.
VERDICT: Call it a HELP (and, by the way, look out for the Mariners – they’re making serious moves).
• Hideki Matsui signs with Angels; Mike Cameron signs with Boston. I put these together because they are two parts of similar situations for the Yankees and Red Sox. So far this offseason, the Yankees have lost Matsui (who seems set to go to L.A.) but brought in Curtis Granderson; the Red Sox have (almost surely) lost Jason Bay and brought in Mike Cameron.
Which gain/loss would you rather have?
Now sure, the Yankees technically have lost Johnny Damon, too, but the Matsui deal is now a further incentive for the Yankees to work out an agreement with Damon (which I believe they will do). Matsui, while a fantastic Yankee, just wasn’t a fit as a DH-only in 2010, while Damon – or anyone who could play the field occasionally – offers more flexibility.
Cameron is someone the Yankees did talk about but he wasn’t a great fit either. The Red Sox may well use him in left field – a position he’s hardly ever played and is particularly tough at Fenway – and the Yankees would have likely stuck him in left, too, neutralizing some of his defensive prowess.
So, in summary, we’ve got one hurt, one help and one push. Was it a busy day yesterday? Sure. Would it have been nice for Yankees fans to see some Yankees news? Sure. But don’t forget that a week ago (with Granderson) and a year ago (with CC and AJ), the Yankees were doing plenty. Their holes, such as they are, remain smaller than most teams (hello, Mets) and there is still a ton of time left before spring training.
What kind of day has it been for the Yankees? Maybe not as bad as it first seemed.