As he seems to say pretty much every year, general manager Brian Cashman said that he is “very skeptical” about the Yankees making any major moves before the upcoming trade deadline on July 31. In a brief session with the media before Sunday’s 10-8 loss to the Angels, Cashman talked about price tags being too high for what he labeled as “marginal” upgrades. He made it clear that he believes some of the moves that he could potentially make wouldn’t even improve the roster in his eyes.
While there are certainly players out there who may be available that would provide the Yankees with a boost (of course, big names such as Cole Hamels, Justin Upton and Matt Garza are sexy), Cashman does seem to make a valid point about the lack of obvious holes on the roster. The Yankees currently have the best record in baseball, and have been playing extremely well for over a month now. In my mind, the team is well-balanced, and I would hesitate to overpay for a player just for the sake of making a deal. As a short exercise, I’m going to breakdown the four main facets of the team — the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen and the bench — and map out where the Yankees currently stand in each spot. Then, you all can let me know whether or not you want to see any specific trades go down.
The lineup: Despite sub par numbers from Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin, it does not appear that any of those guys are at risk of being replaced. A-Rod and Tex are locked up long-term, leaving Martin as the most likely candidate. But the Yankees have reiterated that they have no plans to do anything with Martin other than continuing to let him play. His batting average is horrendous (.178), but as the No. 9 hitter, they’re not looking for major run production out of him anyway. Plus, it’s not like there are catchers who rake that other GMs are willing to give up at a reasonable price. The lineup has been largely productive as a whole, but one component that it has been missing is a real speed threat — a la Brett Gardner. We talk all the time about the reliance on the home run, but Gardner is a guy you can play small ball with. He had four at-bats in a simulated game yesterday, but is still a long way away and has suffered countless setbacks at this point. He would be a big addition because of the element that he brings to the lineup and his defensive presence, and if he can’t make it back at full strength, his outfield spot could be one the Yankees look to fill. Depending on how his rehab develops in the next two weeks, that may be something the Yankees consider.
The rotation: A few weeks ago, the Yankees took a big hit with injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. At the time, it appeared that they may have to entertain the idea of trying to acquire a pitcher. But the guys who have remained healthy have held down the fort, and Sabathia is set to return to the rotation tomorrow. Hiroki Kuroda has been the Yankees most consistent starter, while Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have certainly pitched well enough to remain in the back of the rotation. With September looking like a reasonable time table for Pettitte’s return, the Yankees essentially need to hold down his spot until then. Freddy Garcia has been better since rejoining the rotation and seems to have the trust of this coaching staff. If he falters, the Yankees have the option of reinserting David Phelps, who has been great in his past few minor league starts and has proven he can get big league hitters out. Other than a guy like Hamels — who would cost a major haul of prospects to attain — there really isn’t a starter out there who would be a significant upgrade. Barring any unexpected setbacks for CC, I’d expect the Yankees to stand pat here.
The bullpen: This has been perhaps the biggest strength of the Yankees’ roster thus far, and it could get even better soon. With Joba Chamberlain likely to rejoin the pen within the next few weeks, there will be a bevy of options that Joe “Mix-and-Match” Girardi will have to play with. Rafael Soriano has been great in the closer role, while David Robertson, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley have all proven to be key pieces. The Yankees recently acquired Chad Qualls for middle relief, and also have the option of using either Garcia or Phelps for long relief. Also, Cory Wade is down in the minors trying to work out the kinks, and there is the possibility that David Aardsma will be ready at some point this season. The Yankees have stacked assets, and have one of the deepest and most successful bullpens in the majors.
The bench: With Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones pretty much sharing the DH role due to Gardner’s injury, both have been relatively productive. Not many teams have two veteran bats like these two that they don’t even have to play everyday. Chavez is a true professional hitter who drives the ball to all fields and has an average close to .300. Jones is more hit-or-miss with a higher strikeout rate, but he has 11 homers in limited playing time and can change the game with one swing of the bat. Jayson Nix has filled in admirably as a replacement for Eduardo Nunez in the utility role, but the truth is the Yankees really don’t need him to play very often expect when they give Derek Jeter a day off. Chris Stewart leaves something to be desired at the plate as a backup catcher, but so does the Yankees’ starter at that position. Again, the one thing that the Yankees really don’t have coming off the bench is a speed threat. Dewayne Wise is the closest thing, and he has definitely had his moments as the backup outfielder, but that could be an area where the Yankees consider a move.
If they can get Gardner back within the next few weeks, I still maintain that there is no glaring weakness on this team. What do you think?
Associated Press photo