Monday, July 27, 2015

Trade Deadline Confusion

Scott Kazmir is now a member of the Houston Astros, Aramis Ramirez was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and yesterday Johnny Cueto joined the Kansas City Royals. I don't like reacting to what other teams do, but when I see an AL contender like Houston make a big move I can't help but feel like the Yankees can't just stay put.

The problem is I'm really torn on what to do. While the Yankees haven't had a problem scoring runs, they could always score more. The starting rotation has done a pretty good job, but every starter has at least one question surrounding them. The bullpen seems to be the one place we don't have to worry, but imagine building that three-headed monster I talked about before Spring Training?

All is well!

I want to see the Yankees do something to get better, but I need to figure out what that is. Actually, Brian Cashman needs to figure that out, but as a dedicated blogger I need to do my part. Besides, we all know Brian is a regular visitor to The Greedy Pinstripes.

*cough* sorry *cough*

Let's start with the rotation.

Two weeks ago I would have said the Yankees should get a strong starter. Not necessarily an ace like Cueto or Cole Hamels (I've always been afraid of the cost to deal for either of those two), but somebody they could slot into the second or third spot in the postseason rotation. That, or somebody the team could lean on should an injury occur.

What I was thinking is that if the team were to lose Masahiro Tanaka, they could start Michael Pineda in Game 1, then start newly acquired Jeff Samardzija in Game 2, followed by Nathan Eovaldi in Game 3. Or, if nobody is injured, then having Tanaka-Pineda-Samardzija would be incredible. Am I right?

However, while I was originally thinking that Eovaldi would be the odd man out of the rotation, unless a fourth starter was needed, things have certainly changed. In his last seven starts, Nathan is 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA, while opposing hitters have only managed a triple-slash of .245/.295/.265. Now, the problem with trading for a starter is that, unless there's a injury, it's really unnecessary.

So... *throws up his hands*.

Okay, how about a new hitter?

The Yankees are currently ranked 5th in Major League Baseball in team OPS+, and if the season ended today two of the teams in front of them wouldn't even make the postseason (Toronto and Detroit, who are currently ranked first and second in OPS+, respectively). So even with Stephen Drew acting like a black hole, and Didi Gregorius not doing much better, the offense could probably stay put and get the job done from here on out.

There has been a lot of talk about going after Ben Zobrist, and I'm a fan of his. I love players that are not only good hitters, but could play strong defense at a number of positions. It's the same reason why I was big on the Yankees dealing for Martin Prado a year before they actually did just that.

By the way, a number of Yankees fans would like to see a reunion with Prado, and for good reason.

But there's a problem with doing that...

"I'm coming!"

I, and many others, want Rob Refsnyder to be called up for good. It may not be a guarantee, but he wouldn't have to match his AAA batting numbers in order to improve on what Stephen Drew has done. Not only that, but Rob should be the Yankees 2016 Opening Day second baseman. It's not that we see him as the next Robinson Cano, or a perennial All Star, but Ref is somebody that could be a long-term solution at that position. This is why I've been spoken up against Martin Prado, as he has another year on his contract and I don't want to see him block Ref.

And yes... I understand that Refsnyder could still be the Opening Day second baseman next year, while Prado could play right field and the Yankees could release Carlos Beltran. But come on... we all know they aren't going to release Carlos. Besides, since June 1st (108 plate appearances) Beltran has hit .281/.361/.448. I wouldn't mind those numbers sticking around, would you?

So once again...

Alright, let's take another look at building that three-headed monster in the bullpen.

This isn't the first time anybody's mentioned that if a team can't improve their starters, they could always strengthen the bullpen to make up for it. I don't have any stats to prove or disprove that theory, but making your starters only have to go six innings tops, while handing it over to an unstoppable trio of relievers, does sound awfully appealing.

In innings seven through nine, Tanaka's OPS against jumps to .840, Pineda's jumps to .935, and Eovaldi's goes all the way up to .986. Imagine avoiding those three jumps, and handing the ball over to a trio of relievers who could very well not give up a single run. That's pretty awesome, huh?

But there's a problem...

Craig Kimbrel is signed through 2017 for $24 million (his contract has a team option for 2018 for another $13 million, or a $1 million buyout), and that's an awful lot of money to pay a guy to pitch in the 7th inning. I mean, are you really going to move Dellin Betances out of the 8th inning, or Andrew Miller out of the closer spot, with what those two are doing? I sure as heck wouldn't.

Jack Niemuth, on Twitter, brought up a good point about somebody being unhappy going from a great closer to a 7th inning pitcher. Like me, you might initially think "who cares what Kimbrel wants?", and you're right. It's not about any one player, it's about what's best for the Yankees. But if a guy isn't happy with his role, then he might become a detriment to the team.

That's why I'm not sold on the Yankees going after Aroldis Chapman, either. Sure, he wouldn't cost a ton of money next year, due to him being arbitration eligible next season. But how does he react to being the set-up man for the set-up man? And that doesn't factor in what should be a fairly high cost to acquire Chapman.

That's where I'm going to end this... the cost.

In order to land a "big" player by trade, it's likely going to cost quite a bit. You'd likely have to see the Yankees part with top prospects like Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, and Gary Sanchez. The only two prospects that I really don't want to see the team deal away are Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo. Judge, because I see him as that big middle-of-the-order bat the team could build around in the future. Mateo, because although I'm a Didi Gregorius fan, Didi may not be the team's long-term solution at shortstop.

That doesn't mean I'd be okay with losing Severino, Bird, Sanchez, or anybody else. Sure, if the Yankees could trade Refsnyder in a package for another good/young second baseman like Jason Kipnis, that would be great. But the chances of that happening are slim, as I haven't heard one word about Cleveland being willing to part with their young star. Furthermore, Greg Bird could take over for Mark Teixeira in a couple of years. Severino could be a strong starter for the team starting in 2016.

I'm just not convinced that the Yankees need to do anything. And when you factor in the cost to make a trade that might be deemed "huge", then I'd be perfectly fine standing pat. However, the way my thinking has gone lately, I may very well change my mind the moment I hit "publish" for this post. So don't be surprised if I change my tune very soon.

"You flip-flopping SOB!"


  1. I'm the same way Bryan. As a fan, and as a guy who co-owns a blog named THE GREEDY PINSTRIPES, I want the big name but there aren't any obvious answers. A second baseman would be nice but it blocks Refsnyder. Bringing up Refsnyder is nice but if he doesn't have an immediate impact you miss out on Prado, Zobrist, etc.

    The pitching could be upgraded but like you said, CC isn't going anywhere and I would hate to bump Evo out of the rotation right now. The bulpen is stacked but bringing in a third closer is only going to make things more difficult.

    So I'm in the same boat... my hands are thrown up.

  2. If Chapman and Kimbrel can't be acquired, I'd go after Joaquin Benoit. He wouldn't cost much and he'd have no problem setting up

    1. Benoit's WHIP (0.847) and ERA (2.27) are great, but his FIP (4.00) is so much higher. That scares me. Not to mention his 1 HR/9.

    2. 1.0 HR/9 pitching in Yellow Stone Park... that'd be a disaster in New York.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)