Deadline Pitching Targets: Yankees

The Major League Baseball trading deadline is roughly a month away, and we all know the Yankees would love to add another arm to their rotation for the stretch run. The Yankees currently sit atop the AL East with a record of 46 wins and 31 losses. They are 1.5 games above the second place Red Sox and 3.0 games above the third place Tampa Bay Rays. Surly the Yanks would love to widen their lead over their division rivals.

Here is a list of some pitchers the Yankees may target in order to have them slot behind CC Sabathia in the starting rotation:

Hiroki Kuroda
Pros: Kuroda has had a stellar career since coming over from Japan for the 2008 season, and this year has been no different. Kuroda has a 3.10 ERA in over 100 innings for the struggling Dodgers; moreover, he has only walked 2.17 batters per nine innings. Kuroda would fit perfectly behind Sabathia as the team’s number 2 starter.
Cons: Kuroda has a full no-trade clause, and he seems to be quite comfortable with the Dodgers despite their struggles.

Mark Buehrle
Pros: Buehrle has been a consistent pitcher throughout his career. Buehrle has a 3.87 ERA in roughly 100 innings in 2011, which is a solid line. Like Kuroda, Buerhle does not walk batters. He has walked just 2.09 per nine innings this year.
Cons:  Buerhle has a limited no-trade clause; furthermore, Buerhle’s 2012 option, which is worth 15 million, automatically vests if he is traded. It is also possible that the Yankees may be able to find a cheaper option, who can pitch just as effectivly.

Francisco Liriano
Pros: Liriano has shown ace like stuff throughout his career. For his career, he has struck out 9.10 batters per nine innings. His stuff is just plain filthy.
Cons: Despite throwing a no-hitter earlier this year, Liriano has struggled this year. He has a 4.98 ERA this year 72.1 innings pitched; however, his 4.22 FIP may suggest he has been better than his ERA indicates.

Carlos Zambrano
Pros: Zambrano has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his career. He is a guy who can dominate opposing lineups. So far this year he has a 4.38 ERA and a 3.83 FIP in 111 innings pitched. I believe that a change of scenery could do Zambrano well. I think that if Zambrano is traded to the Yankees, he will react well to being thrown in the midst of a pennant race.
Cons: Zmbrano is a head case. He has the potential to destroy the chemistry in any clubhouse. He has fought with managers and battery mates alike. He is also due 18 million dollars in 2012. Although the Yanks can afford that price tag, it could prove costly if it doesn’t work out for the Big Z in New York.

Wandy Rodriguez
Pros: Rodriguez has been very good the last few seasons. So far this year he has a 3.21 ERA in 84 innings pitched. He could slot nicely in the Yankees rotation. He is also signed through 2013 which gives the Yankees a possible long-term solution in the rotation.
Cons: Rodriguez has been a victim of the long ball this year. He has given up 11 homers in 13 starts. Those numbers would surely increase if he pitched half of his games at Yankee Stadium.

Looking Back at My Steps to Re-tool the Yankees

Original article

Step 1: Re-sign Derek Jeter to a reasonable contract.

Somewhat a success. The deal isn’t horrendous, but Jeter is still being overpaid.

Step 2: Sign Cliff Lee

Failure.

Step 3: Try to convince Andy Pettitte to come back.

That didn’t work.

Step 4: If Pettitte doesn’t come back, look for a low-risk, high-reward type deal for a veteran starter.

Garcia? Colon? C’mon, his isn’t 2005.

Step 5: Rebuild the bullpen with proven quality arms.

Check, but it came at a very high price.

Step 6: Inquire about the availability of Zach Greinke.

Whatever, at least Cashman didn’t give up Montero in any crazy deals.

Step 7: Sign a OF/DH type bat.

Andruw Jones was a pretty good signing.  Nice job here.

Step 8: Re-sign Joe Girardi.

Done, but who cares, managers mean nothing in baseball.

Step 9: Re-sign Mariano Rivera.

They did this, but his deal is ridiculous.

Brian Cashman Was Still Right

I don’t care if he shut down the Yankees.  I don’t care if he shuts down the Yankees again.  I honestly wouldn’t mind if the Rangers win the World Series on his shoulders.  The proposed trade that would have sent Cliff Lee to the Yankees still would have been a terrible trade.  I highlighted my reasonable argument here.

First off, let’s stop living in the darkness.  Look at your calendar.  In about a month, Cliff Lee will be on a podium being introduced while wearing pinstripes.  He will be a Yankee if the Yankees want him.  I think it is pretty safe to say that he is number one on the Yankees’ wish list.  When the Yankees want their man, they get him.  Cliff Lee will be a Yankee, mark my words.

In the proposed trade, the Yankees would have given up top catching prospect Jesus Montero.  For those who haven’t followed him throughout his progression, I assure you that this kid is the real deal.  Montero is a major league ready catcher who has 40 home run potential.  He is a power hitter at a premium position.  Not only can Montero replace Jorge Posada, he definitely can be better offensively and defensively.

Montero’s Career Splits (BA/OBP/SLG)
2007 (Rk): .280/.366/.421
2008 (A): .326/.376/.491
2009 (A+ & AA): .337/.389/.562
2010 (AAA): .289/.353/.517

Let’s also remember that he isn’t even old enough to legally drink yet.

It may take Jesus some time to reach his full potential, but it will be worth it.  When you have Cliff Lee throwing to Montero behind the plate next year, Yankee fans will realize how lucky they are that this trade did not go through.  Until then, we can only hope the Yankees win tonight behind A.J. Burnett and win Games 5 and 6 so they won’t have to face Lee again in this series.

It could cost the team a World Series this year, but fans will be happy to have Montero (and Lee) next year.

New York Nine: The General Managers

9)  Omar Minaya

It’s truly hard to believe that Omar still has a job.  The Beltran and Pedro signings were bad, but the Perez and Castillo signings are some of the worst of all time.  The Jason Bay signing is starting to look bad now too.  Even the Santana trade is looking bad right now because of Johan’s injuries.  Not to mention the mishandling of Willie Randolph in 2008.  An overall failure of a general manager.

8)  Glen Sather

He’s drafted well, but the Redden, Brashear, Boogard, Drury, and Gomez signings were just brutal.

7)  Billy King

You can’t really say anything about King since he is new to the job.  He hasn’t done anything for the Nets so far, but by doing nothing he is automatically better than Sather and Minaya.

6)  Garth Snow

Garth has drafted well, but it’s hard not to do that when you’re bad every year.  The Islanders will eventually be good, but Snow has done nothing to speed along that process.

5)  Donnie Walsh

While Walsh did a lot to get the Knicks under the cap, he didn’t land Lebron James.  Time will tell if Walsh is remembered as a hero or a guy who build the Knicks the wrong way.  He also can’t draft at all.

4)  Mike Tannenbaum

Tannenbaum has built the Jets into a Super Bowl contender.  Time will tell if Mike becomes one of the greatest general managers in New York sports history.

3)  Jerry Reese

Reese has drafted extremely well during his tenure with Big Blue.  He also built a Super Bowl winner in 2007.

2)  Lou Lamoriello

Despite being the general manager of a small market team, Lou lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups.  Without Lamoriello’s guidance, the Devils wouldn’t be the perennial powerhouse they are today.

1)  Brian Cashman

With four World Series wins, Brian Cashman is the best general manager in New York sports today.  Sure, he has a lot of money to work with.  At the same time, so does Omar Minaya.  Cashman has put a contender on the field every year he’s been in office.  He’s given out some bad contracts, but he’s also made some amazing trades to keep the Yankees competitive.

A Look at the Three Acqusitions

At the trading deadline, the Yankees made three key acquisitions to help their pursuit of a 28th World Championship. General Manager Brain Cashman picked up outfielder Austin Kearns, first baseman/designated hitter Lance Berkman, and reliever Kerry Wood. It is time to look at how these three acquisitions are fairing in pinstripes.

Austin Kearns: 6 Games, 4/15, 1 2b, 2 BB, 4 SO

Lance Berkman: 10 Games, 6/34, 3 2b, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO

Kerry Wood: 5 Games, 6.1 IP, 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 9 SO

By far, the best pickup so far has been Kerry Wood. He has been lights out of the Yanks since coming over from Cleveland. If he keeps this up and stays healthy, he could be a key member in the Yankees’ bullpen for the postseason. It’s a small sample size, but it certainly helps you feel good about Wood going forward.

I am confident that Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns will turn it around. Kearns hasn’t been that bad, but the Yanks need to get more out of Berkman. Assuming Nick Johnson is done for the season, Lance will be the DH against RHP in the postseason. Kearns will probably start in left field against lefties from here on out. Brett Gardner will probably take over for Curtis Granderson in center field against LHP and Marcus Thames will be the DH.

Let's knock on wood that Kerry Wood (pictured left) stays healthy.

A Yankees Fan’s Perspective on the Mets

Being a die hard Yankee fan, I am very spoiled when it comes to baseball.  Missing the playoffs in 2008 felt like an earthquake, while most teams would consider that year a very good one.  With no emotional investment on the Mets, I can’t help myself to usually not care about the Mets’ shortcomings.  However, I could not help but to feel for Mets fans after this last week.

At the trade deadline, most fans and analysts predicted the Mets to be in the market for a starting pitcher.  After Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee were dealt, the Mets had very few options.  Still in the race, Omar Minaya was expected to do something to help the Mets’ chances at the playoffs.  As July 31 passed, the Mets made no moves besides dumping Mike Jacobs.  By not making a move, the front office slapped Mets fans in the face and threw in the white towel.

The bottom line is that missing the playoffs for four straight years is not acceptable.  With the National League’s highest payroll, the Mets should be putting a World Series caliber team on the field every year.  Despite this, Omar Minaya continues to make mistake after mistake.   I do respect Omar not jeapordizing the future by making a stupid trade, but the Mets should not be in this position to begin with.

Fixing the Mets is rather simple.  First, you fire Jerry and Omar.  Make Wally Backman or Bob Melvin the manager if you can’t get Bobby Valentine. After that, outright release Perez and Castillo.  Next, sign Cliff Lee to a long term deal or a quality arm like Javier Vazquez or Jorge De La Rosa on a one or two year deal. The goal should be to get one solid starting pitchers in the free agent market. Then, try to sign Orlando Hudson one a one year deal to play second base. If not, Tejada will do. Finally, make a play for Victor Martinez. If you can’t get him, start Thole.   Here is what the Mets would look like next season.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Hudson/Tejada
SS – Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Beltran
RF – Pagan

SP – Santana
SP – Lee/Vazquez/De La Rosa
SP – Pelfrey
SP – Neise
SP – Mejia

That would be a complete team that would put together a quality season. The key is to keep all signings short term so you don’t handicap yourself in the future. That rotation would be one of the best in baseball. Even if you can’t get Lee, you can fill the rotation with quality arms to build on the core of Santana/Pelfrey/Neise.

In 2012, Beltran’s contract would come off the books. If you haven’t released Castillo and Perez by now, they would be coming off the books. At this point, you should make a run for Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. If you can get either one of them, move Ike Davis to right field. Ike spend three-fourths of his college career there. He isn’t that fast, but you can survive with him out there.

By this time, Ruben Tejada or Reese Havens should be ready to start at second base. Kirk Nieuwenhuis could start in center or be your fourth outfielder. It all depends on whether or not Pagan keeps up his steady play. If you can’t get Gonzalez or Fielder, Davis stays at first and Pagan moves to right field.

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Gonzalez/Fielder
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Pagan/Nieuwenhuis
RF – Davis

or

C- Martinez/Thole
1B – Davis
2B – Tejada/Havens
SS- Reyes
3B – Wright
LF – Bay
CF – Nieuwenhuis
RF – Pagan

The key to rebuilding the Mets is to be agressive and smart at the same time. Money isn’t a problem for the Mets, but smart spending could help the Mets reach the next level. Very few teams have the great core that the Mets do right now. It would be a shame to see the careers of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, and Jon Neise slip away without any postseason action.

New York Sports Zone LIVE Tonight at 8:30!

New York Sports Zone LIVE will air tonight at 8:30 PM. Tom and Mike will discuss Darrelle Revis’s hold out, the numerous moves made by the Yankees at the deadline, and the lack of moves made by the Mets. It all starts at 8:30! To tune in click the “listen now” button on the right or click here.