The 2010 non-waiver trade deadline is just six days away now, and the Yankees are sure to make a move or two (or more) before then to shore up the bench and bullpen, among other things. Because of who they are, the Yanks are always connected to the big names before the deadline, as we’ve already seen with Cliff Lee and Dan Haren this year. Their interest in Lee was sincere, but the vibe I got from the Haren situation was that they were willing to take him if he fell into their laps, but they weren’t married to the idea of acquiring him.
The Yanks have made several moves of varying significance at the deadline during the last five years, so let’s look back and see what moves they actually made. This post covers 2005, 2006, and 2007 while 2008 and 2009 will be a long a little later this afternoon.
Eduardo Sierra & Ramon Ramirez for Shawn Chacon
Cash considerations for Joe Thurston
It’s hard to believe how little pitching depth the Yankees had in 2005, especially since they were two-and-a-half games up in the AL East a week before the deadline. Having already acquired Al Leiter (4.53 FIP in 62.1 IP after the trade) from the Marlins for cash considerations plus Darrell May (10.88 FIP in 7 IP) and Tim Redding (11.02 FIP in 1 IP) from the Padres for Paul Quantrill earlier in July, the Yanks grabbed Shawn Chacon from the Rockies for two relief prospects.
“Saturday we have a starter now. It’s as simple as that,” said GM Brian Cashman at the time of the deal, a terrifying reminder of how bad things got in the mid-aughts. Chacon pitched as well as you could have expected after the trade, posting a 4.53 FIP in 79 IP across 12 starts and two relief appearances. He also pitched well in his lone postseason appearance, limiting the Angels to two runs in 6.1 IP in Game Four of the ALDS. The good times ended there though, but we’ll cover that in a bit.
The prospects dealt for Chacon went different ways. Sierra has never appeared in the big leagues, and has posted a 4.84 ERA in 148.2 IP for three teams since the trade. He currently pitches for Reynosa in the Mexican League. Ramirez, on the other hand, contributed a 3.65 FIP in 85 IP to Rockies across the 2006 and 2007 seasons. They then dealt him to the Royals for Jorge DeLaRosa, and a year later Kansas City traded him to the Red Sox for Coco Crisp. Ramirez currently resides in Boston’s bullpen of doom, with a 4.77 FIP in 40.1 IP this season.
The Thurston move was simply a matter of minor league depth and needing a warm body in Triple-A. The utility infielder never played for the Yankees after being acquired from the Dodgers, instead hitting .238/.287/.374 a in 118 plate appearances for Triple-A Columbus. The Yanks also made a waiver trade in late August, grabbing Matt Lawton from the Indians for A-ball pitching prospect Justin Berg. Lawton was terrible in pinstripes (.249 wOBA in 57 plate appearances), and although Berg is nothing special, he gets credit for reaching the majors with the Cubs both this year and last (4.31 career FIP in 32.2 IP).
Hector Made for Sal Fasano
C.J. Henry, Carlos Monasterios, Jesus Sanchez & Matt Smith for Bobby Abreu & Cory Lidle
Shawn Chacon for Craig Wilson
Unlike 2005, the Yankees’ pitching staff was relatively sound in 2006. Not great, but good enough. The lineup was the real weakness, with both Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield missing considerable time because of wrist injuries and Andy Phillips’ .289 wOBA masquerading as an everyday first baseman. Cashman made three moves in the days leading up to the deadline, the first of which brought the world’s greatest mustache to New York.
As likable as Sal Fasano was, he simply wasn’t very good. He put up a .228 wOBA in 57 plate appearances after the trade, which is somehow worse than what Kelly Stinnett (.258 wOBA in 87 PA) did as Jorge Posada’s backup in the first half of the season. Made, the prospect sent to the Phillies for Fasano, was a toolsy middle infielder still in A-ball. He’s been out of baseball since the 2007 season, with just ten plate appearances above A-ball to his credit. That, of course, was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Yanks-Phils trades that year.
With both Matsui and Sheffield out, the Yanks regularly employed a Melky Cabrera-Johnny Damon-Bernie Williams outfield alignment during the summer of 2006. Yes, it was almost as bad as it sounds. After weeks of rumors, Cashman finally went ahead and acquired Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle from Philadelphia once the price dropped sufficiently. The Phillies were also responsible for getting Abreu to waive his no-trade clause, eventually paying him $1.5M to both waive the NTC and agreeing to the condition that his $16M option for 2008 did not have to be picked up.
Slotted right into the three-spot of the lineup upon his arrival, Abreu was pretty damn awesome after the trade. He put up a .405 wOBA in 248 plate appearances after the deal, though his defense was suspect as usual. Lidle solidified the back of the rotation, posting a 6.35 FIP in 45.1 IP, though he had some awful homerun luck (21.6% HR/FB compared to 12.8% career). Neither player did anything noteworthy in the ALDS, just like the rest of the team.
Sadly, Lidle was killed that October when a single-engine aircraft he was piloting crashed into an Upper East Side high-rise. Even though he was a free agent and unlikely to re-sign with the Yanks, the team wore black armbands in his honor during the 2007 season, and his wife Melanie and young son Christopher were invited to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day 2007 (left).
Abreu spent two more years in pinstripes, posting a .364 wOBA during the 2007 and 2008 seasons, though his atrocious defense limited his overall value. The Yanks did end up exercising that 2008 option before letting him walk as a free agent after the season. As expected, the prospects surrendered in the deal have on to achieve different things. The centerpiece, 2005 first rounder C.J. Henry, never got on track in A-ball for Philadelphia before asking for release during the 2007-2008 offseason. He then re-signed with the Yanks, spent another year giving the baseball thing a try before giving the sport up and joining his brother Xavier on the University of Kansas basketball team.
Smith posted a 4.70 FIP in 12.2 IP for Philadelphia, but his career has been derailed by a series of injuries, including Tommy John surgery. The Cubs released him after Spring Training last season, and he’s been out of baseball since. Sanchez, a catcher at the time of the trade, has since converted to pitching and developed into a decent pitching prospect. He’s still in A-ball, though the Phillies added him to the 40-man roster this past offseason to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 Draft, which is what happened with Monasterios. Monasterios is currently with the Dodgers, and has pitched to a 5.41 FIP in 57.1 IP this season.
The last trade the Yanks made at the 2006 deadline involved their 2005 deadline pickup: Shawn Chacon. After a strong second half in 2005, Chacon bombed (6.26 FIP in 63 IP) during the first half of the 2006 season, and was then flipped to the Pirates for Craig Wilson. Wilson wasn’t any good in New York (.264 wOBA in 109 plate appearances), but he was more productive than Phillips at first. Both he and Chacon bounced around after the 2006 season and are now out of baseball.
Jeff Kennard for Jose Molina
Scott Proctor for Wilson Betemit
The Yanks marched into the 2007 deadline seven games back in the division, but instead went with a few tweaks rather than a major upgrade. Molina was acquired from the Angels to replace the completely overmatched Wil Nieves (.187 wOBA in 66 PA), and almost instantly became the best backup catcher of the Jorge Posada era. He posted a .334 wOBA in 71 plate appearances after the trade, then re-signed with the Yanks after the season and spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons as their rock solid, defensive specialist backup backstop. Kennard was in Double-A at the time of the trade and has never pitched in the big leagues, bouncing between affiliated ball and independent leagues over the last season or two.
Cashman’s other deadline move sent the burnt out Proctor to the Dodgers for Betemit, who provided some pop off the bench (.301 wOBA in 92 PA, but a .190 ISO) while playing all over the infield. He returned the next year and posted a .308 wOBA in 198 plate appearances before being dealt in a five player trade that brought Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira to the Yanks. Proctor pitched to a 4.90 FIP with the Dodgers in 70.2 IP during the second half of 2007 and the first half of 2008 before injuries, including Tommy John surgery. He’s bounced around since then, and is currently pitching with the Braves Triple-A affiliate.
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Check back later today for the second half of this review, when we relive the 2008 and 2009 deadlines and offer up some thoughts about what could happen this year.