Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yankees - Trade Deadline Losers?

There are a few hours left to the trade deadline and a lot of big trades have already been made. The big prizes like Ubaldo Jimenez have gone other places. Contenders like the Giants, Phillies, Indians, Cardinals, Pirates, Rangers and Diamondbacks all made moves. Even the Red Sox got an infielder. But so far, it's been quiet on the Yankee front. In a baseball world where everyone expects the Yankees to make a major splash, there is hardly a ripple in the pool. An analyst on The MLB Network said flat out yesterday that the Yankees won't go far in the playoffs with their current pitching staff. Was he right? Does that make the Yankees the biggest losers in this trade deadline?

The answer to that question goes just beyond this year. A team like the Indians emptied themselves of four prospects (perhaps including their number one pick of 2010) to get a proven pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez. The Yankees probably could have gotten Jimenez if they were willing to part with Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. But that's a pretty steep cost in prospects for a pitcher, even if it is a stud pitcher. Part of the equation is that the Yankees currently have an older rotation with the likes of A.J. Burnett (34), Freddie Garcia (34) and Bartolo Colon (38). Trade away your future and what's going to happen when those guys are gone?

And what about that analyst's claim that the Yankees won't get far in the playoffs without deeper pitching? The current Yankee pitchers are seventh in the majors in fewest runs allowed out of thirty teams. The only teams ahead of them are the Phillies, Giants, Braves, Padres, Pirates and Mariners. None of those teams with the exception of the Phillies, has an offense to match the Yankees. Only the Red Sox rival the Yankees in run differential. Let's face it, the playoffs are a crap shoot. A lot depends on who gets hot and when. If C.C. Sabathia wins the first game of a five game playoff, only two other starters have to come up big. So the goal of trades is to get to the post season and then anything can happen.

It's pretty safe to say at this point that the Yankees are going to make it to the post season. They probably won't catch the Red Sox, but they won't need to. They are way ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card race and the Bay Rays simply don't have the horses this year to keep up. So should the Yankees have traded away their best prospects for someone who won't have much impact on getting the Yankees to the post season? You could make the argument that Jimenez would have given the Yankees a better chance in the playoffs. But what if you give away the farm and still lose the playoffs with that big stud pitcher?

Frankly, despite the article posted here yesterday concerning Ubaldo Jimenez, that pitcher is currently too much of a risk. Getting him out of the thin air of Colorado will help, but there is still that loss of velocity. Now a guy like Roy Halladay, that's a no risk acquisition. And you have to give the Phillies credit for building their team via those trades. But even they didn't get to the World Series last year, right? Again, the playoffs are a crap shoot. The goal of any trade is to get a team there.

Many will point to the Giants last year to prove you need hot and strong pitching to win a World Series. But the Yankees won the series in 2009 with much the same cast as they have now. They didn't have great pitching in 2009. They just won.

Personally, the Yankees appear to be in good shape. The bullpen has been terrific and now has Soriano back. The offense isn't perfect, but whose is? And they just got Chavez back, which is a huge help and A-Rod will be back in a week or two. Ivan Nova is having a fine season. The garbage heap pick ups of Garcia and Colon have combined for 17 wins. The only real question mark is Burnett, especially if Nova gets Hughes' starts (which he should). And for all the snarking that Burnett receives (including from this writer), his peripherals really aren't that bad. He gave up four runs in eight innings the other day and everyone was all over him. If the Yankees would have scored in that game, people would have viewed the outing much differently.

The bottom line for this writer is that the Yankees did not sacrifice their young talent for a talent that wouldn't make that much difference in their playoff chances. The Fan doesn't call that losing. That seems more like a win. The Yankees have a pretty solid chance of being in the post season. It's hard to blame them for letting the chips fall where they will once they get there.

1 comment:

Charles Simone said...

Getting caught up on some blog reading after vacation (should be getting caught up at work, but I'll get to that).

I agree that the Yankees shouldn't have made a move. I got temporarily a little excited when I thought they were getting Wandy Rodriguez, but I only would have been happy with that if they didn't give up any of the major prospects.

The bottom line is Ubaldo Jimenez wouldn't have improved their chances of winning the World Series by that much. They probably won't win it this year with or without him, but I like the idea of considering any success this year as gravy. Who would have thought this rotation would turn out as good as it has?

I'm willing to go into the postseason taking a crap shoot on a rotation of Sabathia and the best three of the remaining 5 guys (to me, that would be Colon, Garcia and Nova right now).