Coming off a series loss to the Nationals, many Yankee fans are eager to see some changes. Let’s get a shake-up! That’ll teach those professional baseball players never to lose again.
In reality, though, the Yankees and the rest of baseball are six long weeks away from the trade deadline. While the market is starting to develop, it is a thin one. The best bats out there probably belong to Adam Dunn for a steep price and Nick Johnson for too much more than he is really worth. The other pieces available for teams are relief pitchers.
For the Yankees, it’s the latter that will attract attention. Outside of some questionable characters manning center field, the Yankees’ 2009 lineup is as set as any team’s. They have top performers at most positions and the potential for a very potent offense. Meanwhile, they spent a lot of money to upgrade the rotation this year and have a few good young arms in reserve.
The bullpen, though, has been a concern. While the Yanks’ relief corps has seemingly solidified in June with Al Aceves, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and Brian Bruney serving as the Bridge to Mariano, the Yankees aren’t quite satisfied with that mix. Hughes is a starting pitcher long-term and will be back in the rotation to spell either Joba, Chien-Ming Wang or perhaps even Andy Pettitte before too many months elapse. Bruney is a health risk, and the other two can’t do it by themselves.
To that end, the Yankees have already been linked to Huston Street and Jose Valverde as well as Chad Qualls, Russ Springer and even Heath Bell. Jon Heyman yesterday reported on Twitter that the Yanks prefer Street and then Valverde. However, neither the Rockies nor the Astros are ready to start selling.
There is, though, another piece to this Trade Deadline. The economy, not too robust these days, may place a limit on the Yanks’ spending. The team tried to hold payroll steady this year and succeeded. Now, news comes down from Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman that the team is not looking to make a July splash.
Speaking with the Spanish language media on Wednesday, Cashman said that he is hoping the team’s internal pieces will be enough to fill the holes. One day, Damaso Marte may return, and if Wang rounds into form, the Yanks could keep Hughes in the pen for longer than they perhaps expected to. “If we get everyone healthy and performing the way they are capable of here, there will be very little to do. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try,” Cashman said.
That’s a very vague statement from Cashman. He’ll kick the tires, as he should, on those players available closer to the deadline; he may not be able to add much in the way of payroll; and he is optimistic that the injured players can come back and contribute. While I would like to see the Yanks firm up the back end of that bullpen, Cashman’s assessment sounds about right to me.