Exactly a month ago, the Yankees stood pat at the trade deadline while other AL contenders improved their teams. The Tigers added Doug Fister, the Rangers added both Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, the Indians landed Ubaldo Jimenez, and the Red Sox brought in Mike Aviles and Erik Bedard. “I just feel like we’re a lot deeper [compared to the last few years],” said Brian Cashman shortly after the deadline. “I’m willing, by the position I’ve taken in the last three weeks, to rely on that [rather] than go out and pay an enormous price on something that I’m not certain what it’s going to provide.”
The Yankees were just two games back in the division 6.5 up for the wildcard at the time, so there was hardly any desperation. Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon, and Rafael Soriano had all just come off the disabled list, and Alex Rodriguez would be joining them eventually. Even if they did need help (what team doesn’t?), the Yankees would still be able to swing a waiver trade in August. It was a trade deadline in name only really, but tonight is the real deal. As Joe explained last week, a player must be in the organization by 11:59pm ET tonight to be eligible for the postseason roster. That’s a firm deadline, there are no loopholes. If the Yankees want to bring in a player from outside the organization, they have to do it today if they plan on using the guy in the playoffs.
The good news is that the extra month of playing time has helped to further separate the contenders from the pretenders. The Twins and Cardinals can stop kidding themselves about a playoff run, maybe even the Giants too. Other clubs even further from contention are probably looking forward to seeing what some kids can do in September, and might have a spare part to … well, spare. Unfortunately, what the Yankees need just isn’t walking through the door today, and that’s a number two starter.
You can forget about Chris Carpenter, because he was claimed off waivers by multiple teams and pulled back earlier this month. Same deal with both Wandy Rodriguez with Edwin Jackson. Apparently the entire White Sox rotation went through waivers at various points and no deals were reached. They’re trying to fight their way back into the AL Central race anyhow (have won seven of their last ten and are five back now), so I doubt they’d be willing to move a John Danks or Jake Peavy within the next 13 hours or so. I suppose Rich Harden could still be in play, and we do know the Yankees have at least some interest. Still holding out hope for Andy Pettitte? He’d have to sign today to be eligible for the postseason, and that’s not going to happen.
The Yankees made a pair of minor moves this month, adding two sketchy left-handed relievers (Raul Valdes and Aaron Laffey) via waivers. That’s pretty much the best you can do without giving up anything of value, and I think we’re all aware that relievers are highly volatile and not even the best of the best are guaranteed to be effective over a month’s time. They really don’t have any needs beyond a number two starter and another decent lefty reliever, though perhaps they could look to add a bench piece given A-Rod’s problematic thumb. Will that player be better than Eduardo Nunez and Eric Chavez? Doubtful, but the added depth is never a bad thing.
Barring something completely unforeseen today, the Yankees will have made exactly one trade during the 2011 season, and that’s getting Sergio Mitre back from the Brewers for cash. Hardly significant. They’re putting all their eggs in the rotation basket that’s surprised all season long, and it’ll be up to CC Sabathia, Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova, and Bartolo Colon to get the Yankees to where they want to go. Oddly enough, that doesn’t sound all that crazy.