The trade deadline is on Sunday, and as we keep inching closer, I keep thinking of three names: Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood and Austin Kearns.
Were we hearing about those three at this time last year?
Truth is, the Yankees are usually pretty good at playing things close to the vest. Talking to a team source last week, I asked how often the Yankees are connected to a player who they’re not remotely going after, and he laughed at me. Happens all the time, he said, but the Yankees can’t deny every false report because then every “no comment” would be the same as a confirmation.
So here we sit, days from the deadline, knowing a lot while also knowing absolutely nothing. Where the Yankees might improve seems as valid a place to start as anything.
Never would have said this in spring training, but the Yankees rotation depth is actually pretty good right now. What’s uncertain is whether they have a go-to No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, and whether they trust their veterans to hold up for another two-plus months. Good depth in late-July could certianly turn into a shortage by mid-September, and having a bunch of No. 3 starters doesn’t mean much when it’s Game 2 of the ALCS and the Yankees need a win. The Yankees don’t have to acquire a starter, but it’s never a bad idea. It wasn’t so long ago that Brian Gordon was in the rotation.
Some reports indicate that the Yankees are actually more focused on relievers than starters, but that might very well depend on who you talk to at any given moment. It might also be because an impact reliever is easier to add than an impact starter. Rafael Soriano’s return certainly eases the need here — and Luis Ayala, Cory Wade and Hector Noesi have emerged as legitimate middle-inning options — but the Yankees remarkable spring training bullpen has been picked apart by injuries. One thing to remember: Wood wasn’t exactly a high-profile addition last season, and he became a huge boost down the stretch.
Russell Martin is making a case for the Gold Glove, all three Yankees outfielders have become productive hitters, Alex Rodriguez is expected back next month, and Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter aren’t going anywhere. If the Yankees are going to upgrade their everyday lineup, the most obvious spot is designated hitter, which obviously leaves the field wide open. Any legitimate bat on the market could help, which unfortunately means no rumor is too outlandish.
The bench is always fair game depending on the price and the player. How much is it worth to upgrade the fourth outfielder when none of the Yankees starters really need a platoon partner? Is an infield upgrade worthwhile now that Eric Chavez is back and Eduardo Nunez is about to become a true utility man? Francisco Cervelli doesn’t hit much, but he and Sabathia seem to be on the same page. Is that roster spot worth changing? The answers will vary from person to person, and inevitably depend on the price and the player.
Associated Press photos