A call to action: make these moves now

A case of the Mondays
Should they stay or should they go?

When someone — a blogger, a mainstream pundit, a random schmuck in a forum — suggests immediate moves for a team following a harsh string of losses, it seems like a knee jerk reaction. This is especially true in New York, where panic sets in at the first sign of trouble. Those among the outraged may embrace these change-driven thoughts. Those who consider themselves “level-headed” and “reasonable” might write off these ideas as unreasonable reactions from emotionally-driven people.

To the latter group, I say: what about this Yankees season has gone well? Very little (I answer my own rhetorical). So what makes you think that just standing still will magically make things better?

Ben touched on these problems earlier. I’m going to expand upon them. With the day off today, I have to think that Cashman is going to do something. Then again, I thought he’d do something weeks ago.

Problem: The outfield

Coming into the year, we thought we had a solid tandem. While not the most powerful outfield in the world, we expected plenty of production from Matsui, Damon, and Abreu. There was little reason, other than their age, not to.

What we’ve ended up with is one of the worst outfields in the league. Abreu’s 5-week slump was a big factor in the team’s May slide. Matsui has been good, but far from consistent. And we all know the story with Damon (at risk of sounding like a broken record: DL HIM NOW). We also thought we had one of, if not the best fourth outfielders in the league, but Melky took over a month to settle in, and still hasn’t been able to nearly match last year.

And people wonder why we want Milton Bradley. Yes, we understand the injury risk. Yes, we understand his attitude. But we also understand that our outfield could use an upgrade in the worst way, and Bradley is a quality bat with good range in the field. No, he’s not going to sock you 30 homers, but he’ll keep his OBP at a reasonable level and his his share of homers and doubles. He’s also low risk: he won’t take much in a trade (this guy got the job done for KC before the trade was nixed), and he’s a free agent after this year. However, we also understand that Billy Beane isn’t an idiot, and probably won’t trade Bradley to the Yanks.

What to do, then? Playing Kevin Thompson more isn’t the answer. I like him and all, but not enough to hand him an everyday job. Brady Clark is a free agent, though his agent claims that he’s looking for a steady role (i.e., starter or platoon). The only problem is that after just two years of above-average baseball (at ages 31 and 32), Clark really fell off at age 33, and stated off terribly at age 34 (which led to his release, though he only managed 58 AB). He’s probably not the answer, but he’s at least worth a look.

Other than that, we’re pretty stuck. Calling up Bronson Sardinha doesn’t seem as attractive as it did during Spring Training (he’s currently hitting .217/.315/.372 at Scranton). However, calling up Shelley Duncan and his .972 OPS is still an option, especially if Damon rightfully hits the DL. If nothing else, that would give them a decent option at DH.

A reasonable proposal: DL Damon, call up Shelley. Nothing else seems like it would work.

Bullpen

We’ve long been saying that the bullpen needs a serious makeover. That notion was quelled a bit during the Yanks run a few weeks ago, but the problem has resurfaced now that they’ve come back to earth. The starters simply aren’t going to give you seven or eight innings every time out, so you have to shore up the bullpen so that you can actually keep leads — or at least minimize additional damage.

The problem right now with jettisoning bullpen parts is once they’re gone, they’re gone for good. By that, I mean that they’ll either be traded or placed on waivers. There isn’t one member of the current bullpen, I believe, that can be demoted to the minors (it looks like Bruney has been optioned thrice, but I remember rumblings that he could have started the season with Scranton, so he might be eligible for demotion to Scranton). Considering how poorly the bullpen has pitched this season, this is precisely why we haven’t seen any major moves. You don’t want to panic and sell early when the replacements are far from guarantees.

Luis Vizcaino used to be No.1 on our shit list, but his June has made us think that he just might a serviceable part. Maybe not the 8th inning guy, but someone who can step in in the 6th or 7th and get a few outs. After starting off the month with a 7.27 ERA (and an atrocious 9.00 ERA in the month of May), he’s brought it down to 5.35 with a 0.82 ERA in June. The only problem, as we see it, is that he’s walked seven to nine strikeouts this month, revealing that he may be getting as lucky in June as he was unlucky in May.

Ron Villone, however, is just plain bad. He has completely lost any ability to strike out hitters (he has three on the year, all coming in one game — 2.2 innings — against the Angels on May 25). He doesn’t throw strikes consistently, and it’s difficult to trust him for even a full inning. He’s not destroying the ‘pen, but that’s merely because he’s so rarely used. He needs to go. Now.

Mike Myers is a strange case. He’s a lefty specialist who has a .793 OPS against vs. lefties and a .547 OPS against vs. righties. This isn’t really new, though: he posted a .730 OPS against vs. lefties last season. His .631 OPS against vs. righties would suggest that he’s getting a bit lucky against them this year. He does a decent job in mop up duty, but if the Yanks are going to do anything this year, they won’t be needing a mop up man. This is a strict recommendation to DFA him now and bring up someone more versatile.

A reasonable proposal: DFA Myers and Villone, immediately. I’d give Farnsworth and Vizcaino a stay of execution, mainly because they’ve been valuable in the past. Of course, I’d start shopping them, but wouldn’t pull the trigger unless I was sure. How would I be sure? By the performance of the replacements for Myers and Villone: Edwar Ramirez and Chris Britton. Yes, that leaves the pen lefty-less, and the likely Yankees solution would be one of the above plus Sean Henn. Either way, they can’t be as bad as the other two. If those guys pitch well, then you pull the trigger on a Farnsworth and/pr Vizcaino deal and give the other Scranton relievers a shot. Jim Brower is among them; he may be 34, but he’s allowed just six runs over 24.1 innings in Scranton, and four of them came in his only lousy appearance for them. Chant it with me, people: Aa-ron Small. Aa-ron Small.
(Update: According to Chad Jennings, beat writer for the SWB Yankees, we might not be seeing Edwar anytime soon.)

First base

We make no secret about it: we hate Miguel Cairo at first. We hate Andy Phillips there, too, but just slightly less than Cairo. Either way, we’re playing with a significant hole in the lineup (both are best suited for reserve roles, if any in the majors). It’s not like Cashman is going to pull a real first baseman out of thin air, and snagging one in a trade doesn’t seem likely until we’re closer to July 31.

I know it’s crazy, but I’m actually missing Mientkiewicz right now. But we’re going to have to wait a few weeks still to even hear rumblings of his return. It’s going to happen, though, which is probably the reason for Cashman’s reluctance to make any real change to the position. Well, that, and the fact that there isn’t much he can really do.

A reasonable proposal: While I’d love to see a cheap-o deal swung for Scott Hatteberg or Russ Branyan, I don’t see the Yanks adding another lefty first baseman when one is due back from the DL in a few weeks. The call-up of Shelley Duncan would make for a more flexible move (he can play the OF, 1B and DH). Right now, that may be the only move.

Think about it

Wouldn’t you like to see the Yankees make just one of these moves today?

Last 7 Days

Alex: .545/.643/.818
Jeter: .348/.423/.609
Posada: .304/.385/.348
Melky: .348/.360/.609
Cairo: .200/.294/.267
Cano: .280/.280/.360
Matsui: .167/.222/.333
Abreu: .125/.160/.208 — Back to killin’ us, though the effect on A-Rod is negligible

email
A case of the Mondays
Should they stay or should they go?
  • http://www.baseballhotcorner.blogspot.com Mark

    The real problem is Brian Cashman. It’s been 1 1/2 years since it was obvious Giambi wasn’t answer at 1b. The long list of replacements is sad. Backup catcher is another quandry. The bench is inept.Do we really want Brian pushing more buttons(ie. Sheffield to Detroit for damaged goods/43 million for Igawa) I believe the right man for the job is Buck Showalter he has the experience in all facets. Unfortunately, he may not be the politically correct name.

  • Jake T

    Though I agree that he is not what we had hoped out of center field, more credit has to go to Melky. He has turned it on in the past month since he got the job.

  • Stuart

    reasonable moves.. Try Duncan at 1B or DH and try ramirez and britton in the pen. get either damon or giambi healthy and add hughes and they area good team………..

    there offense is doing fine and think 1B is a disaster ,rf and 2b are underperforming terribly, and DH has underperformed also.

    they are not that far off.

    if ramirez or britton or anyone could give them consistency leading to Mariano there 1 and 2 run record changes dramatically….

  • Marc

    Joe,
    I mentioned it int he comments a few days back and i’m sticking with what i feel is a major issue with this team: lack of homeruns. Posada is the onyl other regular witha shot at 20 dingers.. Matsui’s homerun rate is dangerously low as is abreu. Without alex this team would be close to the bottom in homerun production. its flat out pathetic.. At the moment we have lsot all of giambis hoemrun production from last year alogn with Damon’s.. These are very scary thoughts. Cano turning it on in the sceond half last year svaed our bacon, this year we must be pretty low in comparison to most other teams in terms of homerun production.. This lack of HR allows you to have 15 hits and 4 runs ina game. very scary.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Honestly, Marc, it doesn’t really concern me. Look at the team that has hit the most home runs in the league: Texas. They suck. The longball ain’t helpin’ them.

    On the other hand, we have 20 more homers than Minnesota and 18 more than the Angels, and they’re both better than us.

    We’re first in the league in OBP and second in SLG.

    Of course, we’re not nearly on the HR pace we were on last year (210, as compared to the 171 pace we’re on this year). But it’s not like we can magically add home run hitters to the lineup.

  • Rick

    Fuck the HRs. Other than A-Rod, this is not a HR hitting team.

    The real problem is that the staff doesn’t strike guys out. I think they are dead last in the AL in strikeouts. You can’t win games as a team when the opposition constantly put balls in play, especially when your defense isn’t that good. They lack the power arms in this rotation. That is a guy like Hughes was a bigger lost than what people think. Other than Wang, nobody on this staff throws the ball over 93MPH.

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  • Marc

    Well more so Joe my point is the lack of slugging when alex doesn’t slug. How do we place without alex and whats our record when alex hits bombs and double as opposed to when he doesn’t? What im asking is does this team need alex to win every game. I think the slugging is swayed because of the eyar alex is having. As a team at this point last year, didn’t alex have about 10-15 and giambi had 15 or 16 and damon had 10 or so. On this team the slugging revolves around alex and its inability to do so when alex doesn’t is a scary notion.

  • Marc

    They’re not as skilled defensively as the angels and their pitching is not as deep either. What has been the difference for the yanks the past few years has been the obscene power numbers from so many guys.. similar to what the tigers bring now.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben

    Wait, Marc. Are you suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the Yanks shouldn’t have traded Gary Sheffield? Because that terrible move just seems to sum up this season. Let’s trade our second most feared hitter to the team that ousted us in the 2006 playoffs.

    Brilliant!

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    “They’re not as skilled defensively as the angels and their pitching is not as deep either.”

    That’s basically my point. They’re not going to get better defensively, and their pitching isn’t going to get much deeper…just like they’re probably not going to hit a ton more home runs.

    They score plenty of runs. Alex is going to go on slow spells. We just have to deal with it.

    Now, talk about the bullpen and bench, then we have something we can talk about improving. But a 30-40 HR guy won’t be added to this team (unless we get a healthy Giambi back by the beginning of August).

  • Marc

    You don’t need a 20-30 homerun guy, you jus need shelley to pull off his best impression of shane spencer for 2 months? and you need to neve rlet farns pitch in any game decided by 8 or less runs. This is a team that sent coney to the pen because he was horrible but they won’t send moose? And Joe, i’m all about taking a flyer on dye if the price is right or why not adam dunn? fills 1st and the homer threat.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    I’m all about Adam Dunn, but I’ve heard plenty of times that the price right now is beyond unreasonable.

    Dye, not so much. After a career year, he’s experiencing a market correction. You know Ken Williams isn’t just going to give him away, and the risk is very high, without the promise of a quality reward.

    I just don’t feel one of those “big moves” this year. Our young talent is too precious, and the returns just don’t make sense, in my opinion.

  • Marc

    Assume Joba and Franchise are untouchables, along with Tabata who i’m not nearly as high on as everyone else. He’s got hype mixed with Ruben Rivera if you ask me. What about dmitri young? How much would the nats ask.. maybe clip and a lower level would get it done.

  • Marc

    or mark teahen from the royals… he could play 3rd if alex opts out also…

  • Marc

    Would you offer a tabata and mid level pitcher for jason bay?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    No trading Tabata. Period. You want to trade an 18-year-old just because another highly touted 18-year-old busted?

    FWIW, Tabata hits for a much better average than Ruben did. The power will come. Like Mike, I’m glad that he’s proving that he can make solid contact.

  • Marc

    See, witht he yankees i completely understand nurturing your own arms. But with the payroll the yankees possess and availabilty of funds, position players are so easy to by if resources are spent correctly. What abotu trading cano? he has value and he’s cheap?

  • Marc

    We all knwo the current useless parts that make up the yankees but those guys are also basically untradeable and useless besides a few guys out of the pen. So how do you improve this team, or do you just not?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Marc, my suggestions have always been to make the small moves. All the big moves are either un-makable or would seriously hurt the team.

  • Marc

    I just.. I don’t know. Last good year of Posada, possibly Mo as well, Jeter turns 33 soon. Those difference makers aren’t replaced by equal value or even almost equal. Your talking two future hall of famers and a close third in Posada ( and i’m nto even mentioning Joe who is more valuable than given credit for the past few years). All i know is, if this is the last year then aside from joba and phil i say fuck it and do what you ened to to take your best shot at it. Basically what we saw from Posada and Mo for a decade we may not see for another decade, in terms of Mo, probably never see again. How many opurtunities does a franchise have to give these guys one last strong shot at it? Especially for Rivera because with him, you’ll never see another.

  • Marc

    If they do nothign and/or nothing changes… then you wasted 200 mill. Theres going to be a time in the not so distant future whent he talent will reflect the woeful play but now is not that time. we can talk all we want about growing our own but how do you hedge your bets on 18 year olds but not on the dollar. would you trade an 18 year old tabata for a ring in 06? were the mets a lastings milledge away last season from being world champs and instead they chose to keep him instead of dealing him because hes young and talented? what means more? i’d take one now and deal with the troubles of youth for half a decade but some of these guys deserve some positive closure.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Problem is, Marc, is that nothing guarantees a championship. Say the Yanks deal Tabata now, but Wang goes down in August with a shoulder injury. Yanks miss the playoffs, and now they’re out Tabata with nothing to show for it.

    What happens after that? Just look to the Yanks of the late 80s and early 90s. I do not want to relive those days.

  • Marc

    Okay but look at the yanks of the mid-nineties. Aside from Pettitte, bernie, jeter, posada and mo they were a bought team. They made trades for knobs, justice, tino and clemens.What i’m sayign si that not all of these kids will grow up to be stars, you hafta hope the yanks talent evaluators can determien the gems from the busts. They dealt westbrook, milton and hitchcock for three keys to their success. You can;t hold on to every bargaining chip assumign it will reach tis full potential but if you can pull off a deal for saltalamacchia for tabata and jeff marquez how can you not? I’m nto asking to trade for a one year rental but if you put together a package for a good good young player with two years or mroe of option time then why not?

  • Tano

    How do these two things fit together?

    1. “We also thought we had one of, if not the best fourth outfielders in the league, but Melky took over a month to settle in, and still hasn’t been able to nearly match last year.”

    2. Last seven days

    Melky: .348/.360/.609

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    Tano, because 7 days does not make a season.

  • flo

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