Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Observations From Cooperstown--To Trade Or Not To Trade
2008-06-27 06:50
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Should the Yankees continue to take "Melk" with their outfield cup of coffee? That was the question posed earlier this week in an interesting New York Sun article by the Yes Network’s Steven Goldman. An able and long time chronicler of the Yankees, Goldman feels the Yankees should shop Melky Cabrera, making him a key piece of a package for a pitcher that could cushion the blow caused by Chien-Ming Wang’s foot injury. I’m inclined to agree with Goldman, though I do think the Yankees should wait a few weeks until the timing is just right to move their starting center fielder.

At one time I was a major supporter of Cabrera, fully believing that he would become the next Roy White, but with a much stronger arm that would allow him to play center field on an everyday basis. I saw Cabrera as a player who could hit .280 with lots of walks, hit 15 home runs a year, steal 20 to 25 bases, and give the Yankees above-average defense in center field. I have my doubts now. Though still only 24, Cabrera just isn’t improving. He could still hit 15 long balls a year, but I’m starting to think he might be a .260 hitter who doesn’t draw as many walks (his bases on balls rates are going down, not up), and a defender who repeatedly takes bad breaks on balls hit over his head. I’m thinking more Roberto Kelly now than I am Roy White. That doesn’t make Cabrera a bad player; he just appears that much closer to average, making it imperative that the Yankees surround him with star players in left and/or right field. And given the age of Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, who knows what the Yankees will be throwing out in left and right field as we move closer to 2010.

Inevitably, the question becomes: who replaces Cabrera? As Goldman points out, the Yankees have a solid candidate in Triple-A center fielder Brett Gardner, who has always been capable of getting on base, but has added more power and better defense to his minor league resume this summer. Some of the Sabermetric naysayers downplay Gardner, projecting him as no more than a No. 4 outfielder because of his lack of power. I’ve read at least one analyst predict that he’ll amount to nothing more than Jason Tyner. But Gardner’s numbers indicate to me that he could just as easily become another Brett—Brett Butler—who was one of the most underrated outfielders of the late 1980s and nineties. Butler never hit more than nine home runs in a single season, but he somehow managed to achieve a nearly .380 lifetime on-base percentage while playing capably in center field. Yes, I’ll take anything close to that from Gardner, who at last look was sporting a .414 on-base percentage with 30 stolen bases and three home runs for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

According to all of the scouting reports I’ve seen, Gardner has far more speed and slightly more range than Cabrera, which should make up for the difference in arm strength. The fact that Gardner bats left-handed shouldn’t be a deterrent either. Although Cabrera is a switch-hitter, he has never hit particularly well from the right side, so he does nothing for the Yankees’ problems against left-handed pitching. Another part of Cabrera’s problem is his streakiness. When he’s hot, as he was earlier this season, he looks like a player on the verge of a breakthrough. But that is invariably followed by a long cold snap, which makes him a drain on the back end of the Yankee lineup. Cabrera finds himself in such a slump right now, which is why the Yankees should wait before pulling the trigger on a deal. A .254 hitter with middling power won’t draw much on the trade market, but a .280 hitter with that same level of power and a dose of speed might. If the Yankees are smart, they’ll wait for the next Cabrera hot streak, which might be timed to happen just before the July 31st trading deadline.

That brings us to our next problem, which is general manager Brian Cashman. Frankly, I’ve lost all confidence in Cashman’s ability to do anything but wait for the next pitching prospect to get hot at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Cashman really doesn’t make trades any more, now does he? Quick now, name the last trade of substance that Cashman has made. It took me awhile to remember that it was the Scott Proctor-for-Wilson Betemit exchange, a smart transaction by Cashman but one that has had little impact on the Yankees given Betemit’s frequent injuries and backup status. So quick now, what was the last major trade that Cashman made, one that did have an impact? If we don’t count the Gary Sheffield deal, which thus far has had no positive impact on the major league roster, then the answer would be the Bobby Abreu trade, which dates all the way back to July of 2006. Let’s face it, Cashman isn’t exactly Charlie Finley, Whitey Herzog, or Trader Lane when it comes to making swaps.

So what has happened with Cashman? I get the feeling that, much like former general managers Terry Ryan and Bill Stoneman, he just doesn’t like to make trades. Or perhaps he’s been burned by so many of his trades involving pitchers that he’s become gun-shy. Whatever the reason, he’d prefer to hold onto all of his prospects, especially his pitching prospects, which he hordes as if he were stocking up on canned goods during War of the Worlds. Heck, he won’t even trade pitching prospects for prospects who play other positions—like catcher and shortstop, where the Yankees could use future help—which explains why over 60 per cent of the Yankees’ 40-man roster consists of pitchers. Since trading Cabrera alone is not going to bring back a frontline pitcher, the inclusion of prospects will become a necessity to any trade.

Packaging Cabrera with one or two pitching prospects (guys not named Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy) might bring the Yankees the kind of frontline starter they will likely need to catch the Rays and maybe even the Red Sox in the American League East. Without such an addition (someone like C.C. Sabathia, Erik Bedard, or Joe Blanton), the Yankees might have to settle for third place. And third gets you nothing in baseball these days—except a cliched cry of "Wait ‘Til Next Year."

Bruce Markusen writes "Cooperstown Confidential" for

Comments (60)
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2008-06-27 07:12:12
1.   horace-clarke-era
Bruce, with a ton of respect, I think I disagree about Cashman. I think his rationale is different than something like 'fear of trigger' ... my sense is he's eyeballing contracts expiring (his own and others) and free agency issues AND stocking the farm AND trying to get away from bloated salary issues which have long been the Yankee trademark. Indeed, it is the we got lotsa money aspect of things that (for me) lead to so many people, writers, Banterers, saying 'throw some cash at someone' when we get a problem (such as Wang).

Just as you argue wait for Melky to get hot first, doesn't it also make sense to not deal when the whole league knows you are (or might be) desperate? Also, honestly, doesn't it suggest idiocy among the other GMs (might be valid in some cases) that merely waiting for a hot two weeks might cause them to smack their foreheads and cry 'Melky's godlike!' and deal for him? Can't they 'see' streakiness and levels too?

As for Melky, I stick with my 'let's be a tad more patient' mantra before writing him off as mediocre. One isue with kids who arrive really young is they are 'old news' really young and we forget how many players NEED to be 25-26 before they mature as big-leaguers. I am not locked into the Melky camp, and haven't seen nearly enough of Gardner (actually haven't SEEN him really at all) to make a call on BG's likely excellence or otherwise. My only point is that Cabrera IS still young. Improvement doesn't come week over week. This is a hard game to play. Should we decide Cano's done now, or vest all in a 2 year 'track record' of second half resurgence?

2008-06-27 07:44:09
2.   mehmattski
1 Agreed. Despite the bad hitting, the evidence is that Cabrera's defense is strong enough to make him slightly below a break-even player (compared to average):

Could Brett Gardner be expected to contribute major-league average right away? I don't think so. I don't think we should be overhyped about a half-season at AAA from a 25 year old any more so than underwhelmed by the first half of 2008 from a 23 year old in the majors.

At age 23, Brett Gardner was hitting .281/.369/.378 in AA/AAA. Melky Cabrera, meanwhile, hit .385/.430/.566 in the International League at the age of 21. That's a big difference. I've posted Gardner's MLE's before, and the short version is that Gardner is not ready to contribute on the major league level as a regular.

As for a trade, talking personnel is one thing, but look at the reality of the situations. What do the Indians have a lot of: young starting pitching (Lee, Laffey, Carmona, Sowers) and the best offensive centerfielder in the game (Sizemore). Why would they want to trade for Alan Horne and Melky Cabrera.

Next, look at Seattle. These are the players the Mariners gave up for Bedard: George Sherrill, Adam Jones, Tony Butler, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio. Let's assume that the Mariners are looking to get at least the same kind of value in return. Adam Jones is a way better prospect than Melky. I suppose the Yankees have a number of relievers who can replace Sherrill. Tillman and Butler were two of the Mariners' top five pitching prospects; maybe Horne and Betances would suffice.

So: Edwar Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Alan Horne, Dellin Betances, and Chase Wright for Erik Bedard. Does anyone make that deal?

And don't even get me started on what it would take to pry a can of soda from Billy Beane, much less Joe Blanton....

2008-06-27 07:58:33
3.   Vandelay Industries
What about the proposition that as the number of competitive teams increases, so does the price of trades for frontline guys? Could Cashman be very willing to make a trade, yet unwilling to give up what it will take to get it done given other GM's desire to win right now?
2008-06-27 08:05:36
4.   Vandelay Industries
2 "And don't even get me started on what it would take to pry a can of soda from Billy Beane, much less Joe Blanton...."

You mean the GM that Cashman seems to be emulating to the letter?

2008-06-27 08:07:57
5.   Shaun P
The Yanks haven't finished in 3rd place in what, 16 years? 1992 was the last year they were not in 1st or 2nd place when the season ended. (In fact, to be very technical, the last time the Yanks finished in exactly 3rd place was 1984.)

I would rather the Yanks miss the playoffs this year, and be in better position to make them the next 10. If that means Cashman holds on to all the pitching prospects - and let's be honest, almost all of them remain prospects, as opposed to MLB-caliber pitchers - so be it. The Yanks are, at this rate, going to need half of a new offense by 2010. Might as well having pitching depth to deal from when that time comes.

3 IIRC, Joe Sheehan the other pointed out that 21 of the 30 teams were within 9 games of each other. The parity is ridiculous. Everyone is holding on to their kids, except in rare instances (see Mets and Santana) - because you can win with kids, and kids are cheap, and now everyone knows this. The number of clueless GMs right now who could be fleeced via trade might actually be zero, for the first time in, well, ever. Ed Wade and his fetish for middle relievers might be the only easy mark. But the Astros have nothing of value they'll give up! (I don't believe Oswalt is good idea for a rental.)

2008-06-27 08:10:37
6.   mehmattski
4 If Cashman were emulating Beane, I would be ecstatic. However, the knee-jerk signing of Kei Igawa is all the evidence I need to refute that statement.

And if your statements are supposed to suggest that the correct course of action is to trade away youngsters for the hot trade commodity of the moment, may I direct your attention to:

Jeff Weaver
Kevin Brown
Randy Johnson
Javier Vazquez

How'd those trades work out?

2008-06-27 08:13:53
7.   Vandelay Industries
Isn't Oswalt under contract for a couple years?
2008-06-27 08:15:53
8.   monkeypants
1 2 I tend to agree, though I must admit to having a bit of a fixation on Brett Gardner.

One thing that has to be considered, and only the Yankees know the answer to this: what is the long-term plan for CF?

If they really believe that Melky can develop into a solid (or better) player in CF for the next 4 or 5 or 6 years, then they should be more patient with him. Frankly, there is a very, very good chance that Gardner will never have as much upside, despite my blind optimism.

However, if the team only sees Melky as a short-term solution, 2 or 3 years before they develop some other player or sign a looming free agent (or whatever the plan is), then they might as well trade him if they get a fair offer.

This is because (I believe) Garner will give no worse production than the current version of Melky; and in fact, it would hard not to replace his production, so even if Gardner ends up stinkin' it up, they can look for another option in the off-season.

Anyway, we shall see. I thought Damon was cooked, but he turned it on this year. Many were (are) ready to bury Jeter, but he looks to be heating up a little. And so on.

2008-06-27 08:16:19
9.   Vandelay Industries
6 I'm not advocating anything, just making an argument that the price if very high right now for frontline guys, as 5 points out, as high as the price has been in a long long time.

Have any of the guys we traded away for the players you named amounted to anything?

2008-06-27 08:19:28
10.   Raf
Can we count the Abreu/Lidle trade? That was a salary dump on the Phillies part.

1 Money's a resource, just like anything else. May as well use it. The bloated salary issues stem from the Yanks retaining their players, as well as taking on contracts dumped on them from other teams; Kevin Brown, Raul Mondesi among others, were salary dump trades.

2008-06-27 08:19:44
11.   Mattpat11
If Cashman has become gun shy because of his many failed moves, it may be for the best. Anything that prevents that man from having to evaluate pitching is a plus.
2008-06-27 08:23:55
12.   Mattpat11
And on a related note, I really don't want Joe Blanton.
2008-06-27 08:25:36
13.   monkeypants
6 I agree with the overall premise, but let's not hold the Vasquez and Johnson trades against him too much:

Vasquez = Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera, Randy Choate.

Randy Johnson = Vasquez, Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro.

In all of this, the Yankees only gave up two prospects. Nick the Stick was traded for Vasquez, and then proceeded to be hurt all the time. Then Vasquez was flipped for Johnson; the only real cost was Navarro.

Navaro seems to be developing into the very catcher that his prospect status portended, and boy could the Yankees use a young C in the system. But then again, let's wait to see how he pans out. So in the end, all of these players basically turned out to be a wash.

Ironically, the one they could use the most right now is Javier Vasquez (ERA+ 127 in 2007, 101 in 2008 looks pretty good as we wait for Sir Sidney to take the mound).

2008-06-27 08:25:59
14.   mehmattski
9 The Yankees sure could have used Ted Lilly's ERA+ of 122 last year. Or Nick Johnson's OPS+ of 149. Or Juan Rivera's OPS+ of 126 in 2005. And Dioneer Navarro as the heir apparent to Jorge Posada...
2008-06-27 08:26:01
15.   Vandelay Industries
As a side side note, I really don't want Erik Bedard.
2008-06-27 08:33:31
16.   David
It's true that the trade for Betamit hasn't done much for the Yanks, but as I recall, it was done at a time when it looked like ARod might not return. Had ARod walked, Betamit would have had real value.
2008-06-27 08:34:14
17.   Mattpat11
13 I don't blame the Yankees for dumping Vazquez, even in hindsight. After being a key player in blowing the ALCS, he would have been eaten alive in the Bronx the next year.

Also, 2007 seems to be the outlier in what has been a totally mediocre (and expensive) last five years.

2008-06-27 08:34:16
18.   monkeypants
14 Lily was the one that got away.

But those othr guys? That's a bit of cherry picking, no? Having Rivera 2006 (in part time action) also means having him for 2004 an 2005 (though he was a pretty good part-time player in those years). Nick Johnson was very good when not hurt the last two years, hurt and not good the year before, hurt this year. Overall, there is not much difference on that record to Giambi.

The jury is still out on Navarro, but he is only 24 and he is playing very well with TB this year.

2008-06-27 08:34:33
19.   mehmattski
To connect 5 and 10 remember that Ed Wade was the GM of the Phillies who gave us Abreu and Lidle for a handful of guys who now work construction jobs.

Still, the Astros have nothing.

15 Do you prefer Sabathia? Would you be willing to give up both Hughes and Kennedy? Because given the Indians' current personnel, I think that may be necessary. Why would the Indians want Melky Cabrera?

2008-06-27 08:36:29
20.   Mattpat11
16 I really don't like watching that man play baseball coming off the bench. I can just imagine how much I would hate watching him play third 130 games a year.
2008-06-27 08:37:09
21.   Adam B
2 Melky's time in AAA at age 21 was a total of 120 ABs. Lot's of variance in a sample that size. If you add in his age 20 time at AAA you get a line of .322/.375/.475. And that still is a sample that's small (223 ABs, 245 PAs). Marcel's projection for Melky for this year was a .759 OPS and that was the second highest. His major league numbers hold much more weight due to the size and more recent occurrence of them. Simply put, Melky's true talent level is not that impressive offensively.
2008-06-27 08:39:46
22.   Mattpat11
19 They don't have to make a move. I'd rather they don't. I have next to zero trust in Yankee management when it comes to pitching to begin with, and I'd really rather they not trade for a giant question mark for the sake of making a trade.
2008-06-27 08:41:05
23.   Vandelay Industries
19 Absolutely. Hughes and Kenedy for sure, but I think they will want more given that both have them stunk it up. This is why I believe nothing will get done.
2008-06-27 08:41:49
24.   monkeypants
17 I don't blame them either, and 2007 was surely an outlier. You misunderstand my post. My points were:

1] That none of the players involved in the Vasquez and RJ trades have really amounted to much. Despite trading away prospects for failed vets, the prospects in those trades did not really pan out (at least yet).

2] I was making a commentary on the sad state of the current staff. Still, Home Run Javy's ERA+ since leaving the Yankees:

2005: 100 (215 INN)
2006: 98 (202 INN)
2007: 127 (216 INN)
2008: 101 (102 INN so far)

Frankly, the Yankees would have killed to have a 200+ INN/year, league average starter in any of those seasons.

Indeed, if pushed, I might even conclude that he has been the most valuable player of everyone involved in those two trades.

2008-06-27 08:42:44
25.   Raf
14 Remember why Lily was traded? Yanks lost patience with him. Weaver was highly regarded at the time, coming off a couple of 200IP seasons. Who's to say that Lilly develops the way he did? Especially when you take into consideration that Weaver was a bit younger with more success @ the ML level.

Johnson was tough to give up, but for an arm like Vaz at the time, sure; don't think anyone saw Giambi going down like he did in 2004.

And even then, the problem for the Yanks hasn't been the offense, it has been pitching.

2008-06-27 08:43:07
26.   a O
Spot on! Give Gardner a shot. You won't give up much over Leche and there's got to be another impact arm this year, whether it's in the rotation or the bullpen. Maybe it's Hughes or Kennedy, but I wouldn't count on it.
2008-06-27 08:45:05
27.   Mattpat11
26 That's my other pet peeve. Trading something, anything of value, for a bullpen arm.

Right handed relievers do, actually in fact grow on trees. Its been documented.

2008-06-27 08:45:23
28.   mehmattski
18 Rivera may be a part-time player, but he still would have been better than what the Yankees had for fourth outfielders the last few years.... Miguel Cairo? Kevin Thompson? Ghost of Bernie?

But I strongly disagree on Nick Johnson. With Johnson and Giambi in the lineup the last three years, the offense is much better. Maybe Cashman could have found a way to trade Johnny Damon.

Well, whatever. Everything about the state of the Yankees can be traced back two key decisions:

1) December 19, 2003: Yankees sign Gary Sheffield
January 14, 2003: Angels sign Vladamir Guererro

2) January 11, 2005: Yankees trade for Randy Johnson
January 15, 2005: Mets sign Carlos Beltran

2008-06-27 08:46:47
29.   Raf
19 remember that Ed Wade was the GM of the Phillies who gave us Abreu and Lidle for a handful of guys who now work construction jobs.

Only because the Yanks took on salary. If the Phils had to eat part of those contracts, the Yanks would've had to given up better prospects.

24 It would've been nice to still have Javy, but if it were a choice between Javy & RJ, I'd still make that trade.

2008-06-27 08:47:38
30.   OldYanksFan
1 Must be our ages, but you took the words out of my mouth, but expressed them more eloquently. I would add:

Cashman's moves: Abreu, Shef, RJ, Betemin and Molina have been very specific to his plan and our teams specific needs. He is NOT doing 'let's shake things up' kind of trades. A Bird in the Hand is not always a bad philosophy.

The Melky/Brett situation is one of 'the grass is always greener' and 'let's try something for Gods sake'. As many have pointed out, there is no evidence that Gardner has more upside then Melky. Right now, Melky is underperforming and is NOT playing a thinking mans game. At the same time, Brett may be overperforming.

Furthermore, it's not like Melky would be the lynchpin in any important trade. He is cheap, young and has potential, but I don't think he's turning any GM heads. And if a GM is interested in Melky, they might be interest in Brett also.

Cashman is not dumb. Like with JD, he is laying in wait. He will pounce when something of impact is available.

Also, I don't think the Iggy deal was bad. Bad result, yes, but not bad analysis. Because of the luxury tax, Iggy's real cost is comparable to getting a MLBer for $7.6m/yr. For a LHP as a #5, that's not bad.
Remember the RCNB. Okijima was on nobody's radar. The Sox got him basically so Dice-K had someone to talk to. He turned out to be a excellent pickup. Iggy turned into garbage. Who knew?

2008-06-27 08:52:14
31.   monkeypants
25 The only warning sign with Weaver was his workload: consecutive 200+ INN at age 23 and 24. I agree with you, at the time it seemed like a good move. And there too, what else was given up? More Yankees "prospects" that never panned out:

Boy Genius Billy Beane got John-Ford Griffin, Jason Arnold and Ted Lilly. And they gave up on Lilly within a year, and traded him for MLB mediocrity Kielty. Meanwhile, Oakland gave up Carlos Pena and Jeremy Bonderman!

2008-06-27 08:54:04
32.   monkeypants
28 "Rivera may be a part-time player, but he still would have been better than what the Yankees had for fourth outfielders the last few years...."

Assuming Torre would have used him over GOB, for example, who would still have been on the team.

2008-06-27 08:54:58
33.   Raf
28 I have no issue with the Sheffield & RJ moves. I do have issue with the Wright & Pavano contracts.

And to a lesser degree, I don't like the way Lofton was handled when he was here. He definately would've come in handy in 2005.

2008-06-27 08:56:23
34.   mehmattski
21 So, to make things comparable, here's Brett Gardner's total AAA numbers, at age 23 and 24:

453 AB, .280/.390/.400

That's better than Melky's line (while two years younger) how?

My argument isn't that Melky will ever be a Carlos Beltran or a Grady Sizemore; but he will get better and is still four years away from typical peak. My argument is that Brett Gardner will be worse overall for the Yankees than Melky, whose full potential has not yet been reached.

I think some fans have the Back-Up-QB syndrome. Just because someone is new doesn't mean he's going to be better.

2008-06-27 08:58:45
35.   Start Spreading the News
28 Come on. Did anyone seriously think that signing Randy Johnson was a bad idea????

I mean seriously. Please look at his numbers before he got here:

You can't blame Cashman for that trade.

2008-06-27 08:59:37
36.   monkeypants
34 Good points, but no one has addressed what I point out above 8 . What their peaks are in four years may not matter if the organization does not view either as a long-term solution in CF.

If we are talking short-term, what will be the difference in their production/impact this season and next?

2008-06-27 09:00:55
37.   cult of basebaal
lineup is in:

Cabrera CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Betemit 1B
Christian LF

cabrera's at .254
cano's rising at .241

my prediction is their batting averages would cross on June 29th, certainly still a possibility, though robbie might force this issue even sooner (especially with 2 games today)

2008-06-27 09:02:11
38.   Raf
On a completely unrelated note, I may see the SWB Yanks @ Pilot Field (home of the Bisons) tomorrow.

Looks like Igawa may be pitching...

2008-06-27 09:03:02
39.   Mattpat11
30 I still have no reason to believe that Brian Cashman has this alleged "plan" that he's sticking to.

I think he's a guy that always wants to outsmart everyone, and quite frankly, he's not very good at it. He almost completely disregards peoples' careers when making moves, in favor of "look what happened last year." When he has made a bad move, he stubbornly holds onto that person until the end of time rather than admit he made a mistake. If he even considers getting rid of them, it has to be for "equal value" which is carny for "I need to fleece them" Which, of course, he never does.

He's a huge fan of reclamation projects, which is why Sidney Ponson seems to keep coming back. The Yankees have become a halfway house in recent years, and these moves never ever seem to work and always outstay their welcome. But one day they will work out, and goshdarnit, won't Cashman look smart.

He can say in one breath that he wants to bring down the Yankees spending, but then break the bank on a long reliever.

Brian Cashman, much like Joe Girardi, just does stuff. No rhyme or reason to any of it.

And wasn't Hideki Matsui begging them to sign Okajima?

2008-06-27 09:06:02
40.   mehmattski
36 I have been talking about their impacts for this season/next. I think Melky is better overall for the next season or so than Brett Gardner. Austin Jackson is the eventual Melky replacement.

So if they're willing to jump ship on Melky in the form of a trade (because he's not a long term solution) then there are two questions: trade to whom, and for whom. From the RLYW chart I linked in 2 the only teams in the AL with CFs less productive than Melky are the Jays, Red Sox, White Sox, and Royals. Unless the Royals are willing to give up Greinke, I don't see much of a trade based on a team needing Melky.

No, if the Yankees are going to get an impact front-line starting pitcher, they need to give up Kennedy and Hughes. And I think that's a mistake- not because of what I feel about their future value (I think Hughes can still be a #1/#2 starter), but because I think that as trade chips they would be more wisely spent getting a young bat .

2008-06-27 09:09:15
41.   Adam B
34 I'm not by any means arguing that Gardner is going to be better. Just arguing that the Melky numbers from 2 years ago at AAA don't hold much weight.
2008-06-27 09:10:01
42.   mehmattski
35 The thing that bothered me the most about the trade was not the players we gave up but the fact that the Yankees were then forced to sign a 41 year old pitcher to a four year contract! Yes, his stats in Arizona were impressive, but he was bound to have a correction because: 1) The National League is weak and 2) He's 41 years old! And the Yankees signed him to a four year deal. That was the insanity to me. That money would have been much better spent on Carlos Beltran.
2008-06-27 09:11:06
43.   Shaun P
18 While Lilly did get away, the Yanks could have signed him as a free agent a couple of years ago. And, at the time, it wasn't a bad move. It just ended up becoming one.

39 Outside of Farnsworth, who has he broken the bank to sign? Hawkins' $3.75M is not going to break the Yanks' bank. And let's be honest - going into 2005, the Yanks did not have anything like the arms they now have in the minors. As crazy as this sounds, I bet they could have done a lot worse than Farnsworth.

The only veteran mediocrities in the pen right now are Hawkins and Farnsworth, and at least one will be gone by August, and next year there will be none. Unless you count Bruney as a veteran mediocrity, which I would not.

I understand your frustrations - which mainly come from the Yanks not moving, Igawa, Farnsworth, or Pavano at the first opportunity - but I think that its foolish to say that Cashman (or Girardi) just does stuff with no rhyme or reason to it.

2008-06-27 09:11:18
44.   monkeypants
37 That line-up is a bit brutal.

I would have put Posada at DH in game 1 and C in game 2, and (ideally) Giambi at 1B in both games. But even if he only plays 1B in game 1, I would rather not have Betemit-Melky-Pitcher than the Molina-Pitcher one-two punch at the bottom of the line-up.

2008-06-27 09:11:37
45.   Raf
39 The Yankees have become a halfway house in recent years

Recent? Strawberry? Gooden? Howe? Whitehurst? Ojeda?

If he holds on to his mistakes, how do you explain the Vazquez, Johnson, Contreras, Weaver & Wright trades?

2008-06-27 09:16:05
46.   Shaun P
42 Beltran is really the one who got away.

I remain convinced that acquiring Randy Johnson was a George move, through and through. He'd only been wanting to get Johnson since what, 1998?

And, BTW, the Yanks signed Johnson to a 2-year extension when they traded for him. So, he was going to be under their control for 3 years. Is 3 years really that much better than 4? No, but if we assume George was going to get him, he already had a on his current deal, and an extension was what it took . . .

2008-06-27 09:16:50
47.   Raf
42 They then proceeded to get one good year, one bad year (400+ innings), then flipped him for a decent package, moving him before his back REALLY started acting up.
2008-06-27 09:19:07
48.   monkeypants
40 Yes, but you will note that I said if the trade was a good value. In other words, Melky should not be untouchable, especially since there IS a replacement player at AAA.

As to who would be better over the next 1.5 seasons--you may be right that Melky will be better than Gardner. But by how much?

Melky's OPS+ the last three years including the current season: 95, 89, 85. Can Gardner come in, a year older than Melky, closer to his athletic peak, and put up offensive numbers in the 85 OPS+ range for 1.5 seasons.

If the answer is Yes, and if there is a reasonable trade on the table that involves Melky, and if Jackson is the future, then I say make the move.

If any of those three conditions are not met, especially the second, then of course don't make a move for the sake of it.

2008-06-27 09:24:22
49.   mehmattski
47 In my alternate history Yankees, the Yankees would have spent the same money on Guerrero, Beltran and keeping Andy Pettitte that they ended up spending on Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, and Johnny Damon.
2008-06-27 09:27:34
50.   monkeypants
46 Beltran may have been the one that got away, but I think that we have to put the team's hesitance to sign him (if in fact they could have--we always assume the Yanks can just sign whomever they want) in context:

Would it have been wise to take on a seven year contract for a 27 y.o. CF coming off his nest season? This had GOB II written all over it.

And since signing with the Mets, Beltran had a louse year, a HOF year, and a very good year. He's having another very good year. Let's see what he's doing by the end of the season, and by the end of his contract.

In hindsight not pursuing Beltran more aggressively looks like a mistake, but I don't that that it was a as clear-cut a decision then. just occurs to me, if they signed Beltran, do they extend A-Rod's contract? Or resign Posada for four years?

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-06-27 09:27:56
51.   mehmattski
48 I do think we are in agreement about Melky's value... you didn't mention defense, and I don't think Gardner's speed makes up for Melky's range and arm- Melky gets real good jumps while reports say that Gardner does not. It's Melky's defense that makes him, on the whole, an average MLB CFer. If Gardner has below average D and below average O, his value is considerably worse.

I guess we differ on what a reasonable move is. I don't think that any GM in baseball considers Melky Cabrera to be the deal-breaking guy they're looking for. They might accept him as a side-piece, but the other GMs are still going to be looking for Hughes and Kennedy. I just think that the talk about "whether" to trade Melky is less an issue than "whether" Cashman swindling another GM into taking him...

2008-06-27 09:28:26
52.   monkeypants
49 I like your history. Let's go there this season!
2008-06-27 09:31:55
53.   monkeypants
51 Fair enough. I don't know about Gardner's D, so I'll take your word for it.

Let's forget Melky as part of some big cheese deal involving Hughes, etc. What would you say to an offer of a Javy Vasquez type pitcher (veteran, league average, lots of innings)? Or a second tier young C? Or a mediocre RH bat?

I'm not saying I would...I'm just musing.

2008-06-27 09:36:57
54.   monkeypants
In other news, Hideki I-should-have-gone-on-the-DL-two-weeks-ago Matsui may be headed to the DL, finally. But at least the team is carrying three catchers.
2008-06-27 09:39:00
55.   Start Spreading the News
30 Seriously, you want the GM to be lobbied by players to sign former teammates???

Clearly, your dislike for Cashman and Girardi is summed up here:
"Brian Cashman, much like Joe Girardi, just does stuff. No rhyme or reason to any of it."

When you are convinced that they are such irrational beings, then there isn't really any changing your mind, is there?

Now I wonder is it that they are such irrational beings, or your memory is a bit faulty? Maybe you have a bit of recall bias where your convictions flavor what facts you recollect? You claim that the reclamation projects have turned the Yanks into a halfway house and the moves never work and outstay their welcome. So you have forgotten reclamation projects such as Corey Lidle, Shawn Chacon, Jon Leiber, Tony Clark (16 HRs as a bench player).

There is no GM that employs only one rule and policy. People change their philosophy in different conditions. Look at the all-hallowed Billy Beane. He let many players go before or when they hit free agency, such as Miguel Tejada. But then he "breaks the bank" for Eric Chavez. How has that move worked out for him?

GMs have to do player assessment. Sometimes they are right, sometimes wrong. Teams like Oakland have to make more conservatives moves because they have less money. The Yanks can take chances with fringe players because they care less about the money. So what if the Yanks sign Ponson, if he struggles in his tuneups in the minors, he won't get called up here. If he pitches well, then he is given a shot. It's just money to the Yanks.

The Yanks can afford reclamation projects. It is a smart use of money.

2008-06-27 09:42:27
56.   monkeypants
55 I assume you meant 39 ?
2008-06-27 09:51:59
57.   Shaun P
50 Yeah, I don't know. I think the Yanks definitely extended A-Rod - he's just too good, and too big a draw for the new yard - and probably Posada too, though part of that might have depended on how Navarro developed.

Beltran is a very speedy player, and those guys tend to age better. Beltran is (and was) also a better defender than Bernie (at least I think so; my memories of GOB may be clouding my judgment). Finally, GOB didn't fall off the table as a hitter until he turned 34, so I expect Beltran could have lasted as long. The problem was that Torre kept playing him out there when both his bat and his glove were gone, because he was Bernie Williams.

You're right though, the context matters, and the problem was that the Yanks' rotation in tatters and hence why they ended up with Johnson, Pavano, and Wright.

49 52 The only problem with your alternate history (maybe) is that Pettitte's loss to the Astros turned into the 21st pick in the 1st round of the '04 draft, which became Phil Hughes. Given that, I remain glad that Pettitte left.

2008-06-27 09:56:32
58.   Start Spreading the News
42 1. Come on, let's assume a correction from NL to AL. Let's raise his ERA by 33% (surely too much of a correction), even then his ERA would be less than 4. Surely you would take that?

2. So what he is 41? Even assuming a decline for four years, a decline from RJ's lofty heights would still be a good pitcher! At the age of 40 coming off an injury, he pitched 245 innings and struck out 290 guys. Sure, it is a decline from the days when he struck out 372 guys. But extrapolate that curve, you would still find a guy worth a ton of money four years later.

There was nothing in data to suggest that RJ was injury prone. SInce 1989, he pitched less than 200 innings only 4 times! Plus with superstars like him, there are NO comparables. Nolan Ryan? He still had a fastball and struck out guys as he got old. Plus look at RJ's career, his best years were really his later years (even adjusting for the league).

3. Yanks didn't get Beltran because Cashman signed RJ. Yanks didn't get Beltran because George overruled Cashman. George changed the playing field for Cashman by suddenly saying that there was a salary limit. That Steinbrenner being Steinbrenner. Like when he getting Sheffield when Guerrero was available.

2008-06-27 09:59:24
59.   JL25and3
This is the third straight year I've been hearing about Melky's upside, his promise, his room for development, the player he might become. The problem is, in all that time, he hasn't shown a lick of progress, not in any part of his game. He's exactly the same player he was when he came up, except his walk rates are down.

What reason is there to believe that he's going to get substantially better? The mere fact of being young isn't enough - shouldn't he have to show something to justify having faith in him?

The comparison with Cano isn't a valid one at all. With Melky, it's not a case of people seeing a slump and panicking; it's seeing the same player three years in a row, and reaching the conclusion that maybe that's the ballplayer he is.

As far as the slump he's in, since 4/24 he's batting .235/.294/.316. I don't know if Gardner will be any better, but it's unlikely that he'll be any worse. It's time to give him a look, at least.

I also think it's a mistake to be too rigid about trading prospects. Prospects are a commodity like any other, and their value isn't necessarily maximized by keeping a surplus. The trick is to make good trades, not to make no trades at all.

2008-06-27 10:32:33
60.   OldYanksFan
Ted Lilly ERA+: 2005(80), 2006(106), 2007(122), 2008(94)... Career(102). He's OK, but just quoting the 122 is a little misleading.

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