Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Trade Deadline - Where to start?

Defensively the Yankees are doing a pretty good job this season. They currently rank 4th in the American League with a UZR/150 of 4.5 (the Rays are 1st with an 8.8, the Angels are 2nd with a 6.7, and the Red Sox are 3rd with a 5.2). Although that may be good enough I don't think anybody would be opposed to them getting even better. And in a week or so, that's just what could happen. Brett Gardner should return about then, assuming he doesn't suffer another setback, and will take over in LF for Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones. That will help make the team defense even better.

Neither Ibanez nor Jones could make that type of catch.

If I were to tell you the Yankees made a trade for a catcher that would rank 4th in the American League in batting average, 4th in the AL in on-base percentage, and 5th in the league in slugging percentage, you'd be pleased, right? Well, what if I told you that the team doesn't have to give up a thing to get that man?

Going off of what Russell Martin did last season, and figuring in what he's already done this year, Martin is looking at a triple-slash the rest of the year of .257/.326/.436. Of course, there's no guarantee that Russell could do that, but it's not like .237/.324/.408 is a final line that's unattainable. I've already written way too much about Martin, which includes pointing out his tiny .213 BABIP so far this season, and I think he's due for a correction.

I can't believe I've said this much about Martin without mentioning his model girlfriend.

As for starters, I'm not sure the Yankees will have a need for one of those either. Let's take a look at what the starters have done lately, while ignoring CC Sabathia because... well... he's fine and not going anywhere.

In his last six starts Hiroki Kuroda only has 3 quality starts, which came against the Orioles, Athletics, and Mariners. One of those non-quality starts was a 5.1 inning performance against the Royals, in which Hiro gave up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. It may not have technically been a quality start, but it still should have been good enough for the Yankees to win. The bullpen uncharacteristically gave up 3 runs, while the offense couldn't put a single run on the board. Kuroda's 4.1 innings of 2-earned run ball wasn't of the "quality" variety either, but I still think the team had a good chance of pulling that one out. The bats could only score once, while the bullpen gave up a couple of runs. So really, only one of his starts in the past six was truly bad (7 earned runs in 5 innings against the Blue Jays on May 16th).

Trash-talk Hiroki again and this is what will happen to you.

In his four starts this season, Andy Pettitte hasn't thrown less than 6.1 innings. Even in Andy's start Tuesday night, in which the Angels scored 5 earned runs, Pettitte was able to give the team 7 innings. And the offense had a few opportunities to put some crooked numbers on the scoreboard but failed. Due to a few stats I expect batters to start hitting Andrew Eugene better, including a BABIP of .269, LD% of 14 vs. a career mark of 21, a slightly higher strikeout rate than his career average, and he's walking a few less hitters than he has in the past. But I don't expect Andy to pitch himself out of the postseason rotation either.

Ivan Nova has been a mess. His ERA currently sits at 5.46, with a WHIP of 1.571. Ivan has given up 5 earned runs in 3 of his last 5 starts. Nova's 7 inning start against the Rays on May 8th, in which he gave up only 2 earned runs and struck out 8 vs. walking 2, showed that he's still capable of pitching well. But I really think the Ivan Nova we look back on after the 2012 season is going to be very much different than the one we see now. Ivan's BABIP against is currently .369, which is pretty high. Looking at his ratio pitching stats, Nova is even striking out more batters than he did in his first 2 seasons, and walking less batters. And while batters are hitting him a bit harder, with a line drive percentage of 22% vs. a career percentage of 18%, that's not that big a difference.

After his first five starts of 2012 it looked like Phil Hughes was going to be a reliever again. Hughes had an ERA of 7.48 after starting his 5th game against Baltimore. Another bad indicator was that he was throwing a ton of pitches (a little under 21 pitches/inning). But since that start against the Orioles Phil's ERA has dropped to 5.64, which isn't great but shows improvement. I've already used BABIP against twice, so I may as well point out that hitters have a .319 mark against Phil, so they've been a bit lucky. But like Ivan, Phil is striking out more batters, and walking less. And what's even crazier is that batters have a line-drive percentage against Hughes of 16%, which is 4 points less than his career mark. The only thing really going wrong for Phil is that the hits he is giving up just hurt that much more.

I'm not sure what's going on either, hot chick

Even though it looks to me that the team could get by just fine with the starters it currently has, I can't argue that it wouldn't be nice to have a strong #2 behind Sabathia. The problem with that is it would cost the team quite a bit to acquire that guy in a trade, which would be fine if the player traded for would be around for a few more years. I mean, if the team is going to trade away good young talent, I don't want them to only get a half year out of the deal (one reason I'm okay with the Mariners backing out of the Jesus Montero for Cliff Lee trade). However, what about Michael Pineda? Not that he's a sure-thing to return and be the second part of that 1-2 punch with CC, but he shouldn't be disregarded either. Then the Yanks have Phil possibly getting back to being a good young pitcher, Ivan Nova being a strong middle of the rotation hurler, and then youngsters like Manny Baneulos. David Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and DJ Mitchell.

So it doesn't look like the team needs to make a deadline deal at all. If the right trade comes along, then great. But I'm not about to start dreaming about Brian Cashman making a big splash before August 1st.

"I'm going to spend the entire month of July learning how to bartend" - Brian Cashman

Yankees @ Angels 5/30/12

Yankees Win 6-5

Ivan Nova tries to stop the bleeding, and the mini losing streak, against the Anaheim Angels of Orange County of Disney Land of Anaheim of the greater Los Angeles Area. Ervin Santana will be on the mound for the Angels against Ivan Nova for the Yankees. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 and YES at 10:05 pm ET. 

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez LF
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez DH
Russell Martin C