Remembering a bad trade from 1999

So who is David Robertson?
Oh, those pesky headline writers

In obsessively checking this site’s stat numbers conducting my daily look at our search hits for River Ave. Blues, I came across an interesting hit for the site. Someone searched for “Was Ed Yarnall released 2007” and landed here. That got me thinking about Ed Yarnall, a one-time pitching prospect for the Yankees and the Marlins.

On February 1, 1999, Ed Yarnall served as the lynch pin in a deal that sent third base stud Mike Lowell – blocked at the Bigs by Scott Brosius – to the Marlins for Ed Yarnall, Mark J. Johnson and Todd Noel. Yarnall would be the only player in that trade to appear in pinstripes, and his 20 innings in the Bronx were far from memorable. He went 1-0 with a 5.40 while striking out 14 and walking 13 in 20 innings.

In 2000, the Yankees exchanged Yarnall and Drew Henson, among others, with the Reds for Denny Neagle, and Yarnall would never again pitch in the Bigs. He bounced around the Minors and pitched in 2006 for Omaha, the Royals’ AAA affiliate. At the age of 31, Yarnall is now pitching in Mexico for Vaqueros Laguna. The other pieces in the Lowell trade – Noel, a former first round draft pick, and Johnson, who landed with the Tigers for 25 innings in 2000 – amounted to nothing.

So that got me thinking: Is the Mike Lowell trade one of the more disappointing deals of the Brian Cashman Era? With Scotty Bro holding down the Hot Corner, the Yanks had a valuable commodity in Lowell. But the Yanks got nothing in return, and Lowell went on to outperform Brosius from 1999-2001, Robin Ventura in 2002-2003 and Aaron Boone in 2003. It was only that arrival of A-Rod that pulled the Yankees third base spot ahead of Lowell.

Funny how these things work out sometimes.

So who is David Robertson?
Oh, those pesky headline writers
  • mehmattski

    It’s worth noting that Yarnall was actually a fairly hyped pitching prospect for the Mets. He was traded to the Marlins in 1998 in the package that landed the Mets Mike Piazza. At the time of that trade, the 22 year old Yarnall had given up just two earned runs in 46.2 innings in AA, while striking out 52. I’m pretty sure it was that performance that the Yankees were remembering when they traded for Yarnall, and not the subpar showing he had at AAA later in 1998.

    Lowell, meanwhile, was 24 and coming off a season in which he hit .304/.355/.535 at AAA. It probably wasn’t the best idea to trade a young promising third baseman when the light-hitting hot corner man (Brosius) was entering his age 32 season and not getting any younger (or light-hitting). I can see the justification for the trade, since the Yankees thought they would be getting next Andy Pettitte. But in the end it’s a pretty bad deal among minor league prospects, and that kind of thing happens all the time. Prospects bust. It happens.

    In my mind it’s nowhere near the Vazquez/Johnson or Weaver/Brown debacles.

  • Joseph P.

    Really? I don’t see either of those deals as debacles. Crap for crap on both ends.

  • Ben

    In my mind it’s nowhere near the Vazquez/Johnson or Weaver/Brown debacles.

    Javy Vazquez has been a marginally functional Big League pitcher since leaving the Yanks, just like Randy was in New York. Also, there is no way that Javy was coming back to the Bronx after the 2004 ALCS.

    As for the Brown/Weaver “debacle,” that too was a wash. The Yanks traded a pitcher who can’t even keep his job in the Seattle rotation for someone who was a washed-up cry baby. Wow, I don’t miss Kevin Brown at all.

  • TheFeed

    I’ll just second mehmattski’s point that Yarnall was a pretty well regarded prospect and that’s part of the deal you make when you go after pitching prospects. When they made the deal Brosius was coming off a fantastic season and team saw a chance to add depth and promise to the starting rotation, sort of like this year’s trade for Humberto Sanchez and Kevin Whelan. Obviously Sheff’s a lot older than Lowell was but trades for pitching prospects are always fraught with potential for danger.

    Where does giving up Jake Westbrook, a guy who could have kept them from Pavano and Kevin Brown among others, for David Justice rank in your mind? Obviously Justice played a huge role in 2000 but he wasn’t worth much in 2001 and really didn’t do much in the playoffs that year.

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