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The Yankee Rumor Mill
2007-07-28 08:12
by Bruce Markusen
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

In less than 100 hours now, we’ll know whether the Yankees have made any substantial moves to beat the trading deadline. As well as the Bombers have played since the All-Star break, general manager Brian Cashman cannot afford to stand pat. The acquisition of backup catcher Jose Molina is a small step in the right direction, if only because it forced the incompetent Wil Nieves off the roster. Still, the bench and bullpen remain primary areas of concern, as does the back end of the starting rotation. At the same time, Cashman shouldn’t trade his two prized pitching prospects, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, not unless the Cardinals are suddenly offering Albert Pujols. (After all, he wasn’t good enough to play unless the All-Star Game went extra innings.) With all of that in mind, let’s consider some of the many rumored possibilities…

There’s been a lot of talk this week about a Mark Teixeira deal, but I don’t see him coming to the Yankees when all is said and done. I’d bet on the Braves instead, followed by the Orioles as a longshot. Embattled Rangers GM Jon Daniels needs a big return for Teixeira, especially considering how many of his recent deals have flatlined for Texas. Daniels will almost certainly insist on either Chamberlain or Hughes, both of whom are close to untouchable in Cashman’s mind. (Furthermore, both figure in the Yankees’ immediate future, Hughes as the No. 4 starter and Chamberlain as a possible set-up man for Mariano Rivera.) If Daniels is willing to consider a lesser package featuring Melky Cabrera, Tyler Clippard, and/or Ian Kennedy, the Yankees might bite. But then again, can the Yankees really afford to trade Cabrera given Johnny Damon’s fragile body and diminishing outfield range? And will Teixeira, who has only 13 home runs this season, ever show the kind of power that he showed in 2005, when he peaked with 43 home runs? Given these questions and obstacles, I just don’t see the Rangers and Yankees getting together on a major deal involving Big Tex…

The Yankees would be smarter to pursue a deal with the Devil Rays, who have two useful players that interest the Yankees. For the price it would cost to acquire Teixeira, the Yankees could probably land both Carlos Pena and Ty Wigginton. How about a package of Clippard, Scott Proctor, Ross Ohlendorf, and Chris Britton (currently on the minor league DL) for the pair of 29-year-old power hitters? The lefty-swinging Pena could then platoon with Andy Phillips at first base (and isn’t that a lot more appealing than waiting for Doug Mientkiewicz to return in September?), while Wigginton could serve as a platoon partner for Robinson Cano at second base and as a valuable bat off the bench. Wigginton’s ability to play second, first, third and the outfield make him especially attractive—and might be enough to bump Miguel Cairo from the 25-man roster…

Speaking of second baseman, the Yankees are once again showing interest in Houston’s Mark Loretta, just as they did during the off-season when he was a free agent. Like Wigginton, Loretta could platoon with Cano and could provide another option at first base. Unfortunately, Astros GM Tim Purpura is notoriously conservative and needs a federal proclamation to make any trades of substance…

What about the bullpen? Scott Linebrink has already been traded, leaving the Rangers’ Eric Gagne and the Royals’ Octavio Dotel as the biggest names available in a thin market of relief pitching. The Yankees have some interest in both pitchers, (more in Gagne than in Dotel, whom the Yankees already had in 2006), but probably not enough to outbid teams like the Indians, Tigers, Dodgers, and Mets. As for lesser names, David Weathers and Salomon Torres are both available, but neither seems like an ideal guy for the eighth inning. Rather than a trade, the Yankees are far more likely to pursue solutions from within their system, such as Joba Chamberlain or Chris Britton… Then there’s always the theory of addition by subtraction, which explains the rumors that have the enigmatic Kyle Farnsworth headed back to the Tigers for a C-level prospect…

The Yankees and White Sox have engaged in recent discussions, enough to merit the White Sox sending scouts to follow the New Yorkers on their current road trip. While Jose Contreras and Javier Vazquez are both available, the Yankees have little interest in re-visiting either of those options. Vazquez’ mechanics are too problematic and Contreras has lost too much off his fastball, so forget about either of those right-handers. Jon Garland, however, is another story. The Yankees so covet the 27-year-old ground ball specialist as a mid-season replacement for long-in-the-tooth Mike Mussina that they are considering the surrender of some of Cashman’s stockpile of pitching prospects. The White Sox would also have interest in center field prospect Brett Gardner, given the disaster area that position has been for Chicago since the departure of Aaron Rowand. With the potential additions of both Garland and Hughes, the Yankees could then jettison both Mussina and Igawa to the bullpen, where they would presumably replace some combination of Proctor, Farnsworth, Mike Myers, and/or Ron Villone…

One final note: some recent trade talk has centered on Johnny Damon, who is apparently being shopped around both leagues. I’m sure that the Yankees would love to trade Damon, but his contract is so prohibitive that it makes the chances of a fair exchange nearly impossible. If the Yankees are smart, they’ll work with Damon on a new conditioning program, switch him to left field fulltime in 2008, and hope that he can regain some of the power he showed in 2006.

Comments
2007-07-28 08:37:32
1.   seattleyank
Since we're talking rumors ...

I just read on SI.com that the Mariners inquired about the availability of Pettitte. While I know he's not going anywhere, I wonder if we could send them Moose instead, maybe plus a B-prospect or two to get Adam Jones.

2007-07-28 08:56:50
2.   Zack
Also read that the Mariners were talking about Igawa. Yes please!

However, as for the Pena and Wigginton proposed deal: no thanks. Clippard I am fine giving up, but Proctor, Ohlendorf, AND Britton? Too much for two bench guys. Especially since we HAD Pena last year. I just don't see either of those guys exactly putting the Yanks over the top this season, so why shell out Britton especially, who can really help the team, AND Proctor...

Same goes for Gagne, who I wouldn't mind having, but, as the rumors have it, for Kennedy? Nah. Hes expensive and injury prone and I don't see why Edwar + Britton can't be suitable.

All in all, I am loathe to see the Yanks make all of these trades, as all of them seem to me to be addressing a desire to push for the wild card rather than really address the team's longterm needs/promote from within. I'm sorry, but Gagne, Wiggington and Pena aren't going to make the Yanks that much better...

And on another note, SI has the Braves all set to trade Andrews, Salty AND another power prospect for Tex. Insane...

2007-07-28 09:00:55
3.   vockins
I'm sure Moose would be thrilled about pitching out of the bullpen.
2007-07-28 09:01:36
4.   Cliff Corcoran
Weighing on on these subects:

Melky is the Yankees starting CF for the forseable future. He should not be traded, nor should the team expend resources to bring in another CF. He does make Gardner available, however.

Hughes will be in the rotation in a week or so and Chamberlain will be in the rotation in 2008. The Yankees do not need to trade for a starting pitcher. Mussina is a sufficient fifth starter provided Torre's willing to keep him out of the rotation should the team make the postseason.

That said, trading Mussina could work. Ditto Damon.

I'd sooner see the Yankees trade Farnsworth or Proctor and fill in with available minor leaguers or rotation rejects than see them trade for another headache such as Torres. If the other relievers mentioned came cheap, I wouldn't complain, though I think the team can do fine with the available talent in the minors.

As for position player acquisitions. After expecting they'd trade for Teixeira, I now agree that it's very unlikely to happen. That said, neither Phillips nor Cano needs a platoon partner. Phillips is doing most of his damage against right-handed pitching (as he did last year), and Cano's platoon split is very tiny.

Acquiring a utility upgrade on Cairo (Wigginton or Loretta) is intriguing, but only if it can be done on the cheap (or for an unwanted player such as Farnsworth). It's also important to remember that Wigginton can't play SS, so that move would make Rodriguez the backup SS, or would give Torre reason to keep Cairo or Chris Basak on the roster.

2007-07-28 09:04:00
5.   Cliff Corcoran
2 Trading Igawa (a.k.a. Jose Contreras II) would work too.
2007-07-28 09:11:24
6.   ny2ca2dc
I agree a big splashy deal is probably not going to happen, but I'd be surprised if all these spare parts lying around - procter, farns, and the rest of the fungible bullpen guys, plus all the 5th/6th starters kicking around (iggy, moose, karstens, raz), plus the so-so prospects (gardner, etc), ought to be able to net some upgrades on the margins. Of course, as we all know, the problem is the elephans - damon, moose, giambi to some extent, etc...

Just kind of an odd place to be.

2007-07-28 10:17:55
7.   SF Yanks
3 Yeah, seriously. I'm sure he can't wait to pitch in relief of say Karstens, or whoever the 5th is. If he goes to the pen, maybe he'll demand a trade which works out even better.
2007-07-28 10:33:03
8.   Rich
You lost me at "waiting for Doug Mientkiewicz."

Phillips is better. Eye Chart should be DFA'd.

2007-07-28 10:36:18
9.   Rich
Also, trading for Garland would be insane.

Joba would be a better replacment for Moose right now.

I wouldn't consider platooning Cano.

2007-07-28 11:29:35
10.   monkeypants
8 I'm not worried about the return of Mientkiewicz. He was moved to the 60 day DL, to make room on the 40 man roster. Phillips has flashed some decent leathr at first and has few timely hits, meaning that he has earned points in two categories all important to Torre, but usually ignored by baseball minds: defensive firstbasman category and veteran grittiness categoy. We hear now and again about Minky's rehab, but by and large there has been silence on his progress. The stage is being set for him to quietly never come back.
2007-07-28 11:36:23
11.   monkeypants
4 Cliff, as much as I love the Andy Phillips story and posted repeatedly that he should start (well, over Minky and Miggy anyway), they could seriously upgrade at 1B. That would push Phillips to the bench (not a bad bench player), and hopefully further marginalize Cairo to BU SS and PR.

However, if they plan to stick with Andy, you are correct that they probably don't need a platoon partner for him. So, that means there is really only one place in the lineup that can realistically be improved: DH (they're not probably not going to bench Abreu, and Matsui is heating up; Damon is more vulnerable, however).

But that all depends on the supposed return of Giambi, who is going to be rushed into a few rehab games in Tampa so they can try to evaluate his readiness before the deadline. If he looks good, then Giambi solves the DH problem. If that's the case, there really is no room for a trade--unless the team is willing to bench a player like Matsui if a stud became available, AND if Torre would actually play the new stud over the loyal veteran.

2007-07-28 11:47:55
12.   bartap74
I think Goldman and NoMaas have the right idea = trade for Miguel Cabrera if at all possible.
2007-07-28 12:11:02
13.   JL25and3
12 I haven't read their posts yet, but of course that would be possible. Perhaps you wouldn't have to give up both Hughes and Chamberlain if you threw in Wang or Cano.
2007-07-28 12:16:39
14.   JL25and3
2 I agree, The reason to trade competent middle relievers is that they've been seriously overvalued in recent years. Somehow that deal doesn't scream "value" to me. Especially since Carlos Pena will never look this good again.

Meanwhile, though, there is good news for the Yankees on the trade front - Iguchi going to the NL just before the Yankees get to Chicago. He's been killing them this year.

2007-07-28 12:21:02
15.   RZG
Don't value Wigginton's OF experience too much - he's had less than 100 innings out there during his career, even Cairo's been out there more.

I don't mind acquiring Wigginton though.

2007-07-28 18:21:09
16.   Rich
I wouldn't trade Hughes or Joba for Cabrera.

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