Friday, July 31, 2009

Not Quite The Deal We Were Expecting

And Brian Cashaman's big, non-waiver trade deadline move Friday was to acquire ...

Jerry Hairston Jr.

Not quite the move we were looking for, but that doesn't mean it's a bad deal or that the Yankees still can't make a move to upgrade their pitching.

The Yankees acquired Hairston, a super utility man, from the Reds for low Class A catcher Chase Weems. It's a nice move. Hairston is clearly an upgrade over Cody Ransom because he can play every infield position and every outfield position. He's also a better and more professional bat.

Hairston, 33, is hitting .254 with eight homers and 27 RBI this season. Ransom is hitting .200 with 10 RBI and figures to be the guy to be replaced by Hairston.

Weems, 20, was selected in the sixth round of the 2007 draft and is not considered among the best Yankees' catching prospects. It's a position where the Yankees are very deep and Weems likely wouldn't have made it to the majors with the Yankees anyway. He was hitting .260 with one homer and 14 RBI in 55 games for Charleston.

The move isn't a difference maker, but it does improve the roster.

But what the Cashman needed to find was a solid starting pitcher.

Sergio Mitre, tonight's starter, just isn't major league-caliber, and with Joba Chamberlain poised to hit his innings limit of around 150 in late August or September, Cashman needed to build some pitching depth.

He lost one potential acquisition early in the day when the Mariners traded Jarrod Washburn to the Tigers for Luke French and a minor league pitcher. That deal illustrates just how hard it is for teams to make deal.

In return for Washburn, the Mariners wanted a young, major league-ready starter. The only guys the Yankees have who fit that bill are Joba and Phil Hughes, which would have been too steep a price to pay for a two-month rental. No one else in the Yankees' minor league system is major league-ready. Remember, Ian Kennedy is recovering from a shoulder aneurysm.

But Luke, who is a good prospect, just came up to the majors and doesn't have quite the high profile of Joba and Hughes. That made him more expendable and made the Tigers a better fit for this trade with the Mariners.

No other starter of note was traded Friday, which might be an indication that some GMs overestimated what the trade market would be leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline.

Of course that doesn't mean deals still can't get done. It just gets more complicated with players having to pass through waivers and teams being able to block trades.

But Cashman has been steadfast in believing that there will be a lot of waiver deals. If he's right, the price on these guys should come down. Hopefully other GMs will no longer be looking for major league-ready prospects in exchange for the likes of Bronson Arroyo, Jon Garland or Brian Bannister.

So while the Red Sox did make a major move in acquiring Victor Martinez from the Indians without giving up Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden of Daniel Bard (what was Cleveland thinking?), Yankees fans shouldn't be too upset.

The Yankees are in first in the AL East with the league's best record and there still is plenty of time to fortify the pitching staff.

3 comments:

Dave said...

I was holding my breath waiting for a big NYY move. I am pleasantly pleased that nothing happened.

Jonah Falcon said...

The Yanks made a blunder this deadline - and every sports site has them as losers. Is this what the Yanks are choosing?

Is Hughes better than Halladay and Santana? Is he really going to be that good that the Yanks have to cling to him like a priceless family heirloom?

Aviv said...

Johan, right now Hughes has stabilized what had been a disastrous bullpen, making him not only extremely valuable, but indispensible. Trading him for Halladay right now would not have made the Yankees a better team today because it would have destroyed the bullpen, just the the Kyle Farnsworth deal did last season. And that means Halladay would not have guranteed a World Series.

Will hughes be as good or better than Hallday? We'll find out, but we know this, in five years, when Halladay is old, breaking down and maybe a No. 3, we'll be glad we still have Hughes just entering his prime years.

And that's the big lesson learned from the past seven years: landing big pitchers in their primes in exceedingly difficult and teams are better off trying to develop them. Halladay is in the last of what historically is considered prime years (27-32). Do you really think this franchise would have been better off long-term by giving up its top four prospects to get him? My answer is an emphatic NO.

Also remember, the Yankees didn't need to get a No. 1-type pitcher this year, they just needed to solidify the back end because Mitre, as we saw, sucks and Joba won't be available to start in the postseason. That type of move can still happen with a waiver move for the Aug. 31 postseason roster deadline.