What Went Wrong And Right: Trade Deadline

What Went Wrong: Alex Rodriguez
Yanks "likely" picking up Swisher's option

For more than six months Yankees fans looked forward to July. After missing out on Cliff Lee* the plan was clear: make due with the roster until a pitching upgrade materialized at the trade deadline. But July came and went without the Yankees making a single move. Yet that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Circumstances always color this type of evaluation, and the circumstances certainly weren’t favorable in the weeks preceding the deadline.

* I can’t count the number of times I’ve written that exact phrase, and I promise that it’s the last time you’ll ever see it under my byline.

How it went wrong

The Yankees staff put together an unexpectedly solid first half. Both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia realized their best case scenarios, holding down rotation spots for the first three to four months. That bought the Yankees enough time to search for alternatives on the trade market. But when the time came to make those upgrades, they declined to do so. Again, circumstance colored this decision. But that doesn’t completely excuse it.

We saw a similar situation last year. In early July, when the Yankees thought they had a deal worked out for Lee, the Yankees already have five starting pitchers. Phil Hughes, while slumping, still had the luster of his excellent first few months. Javy Vazquez had recovered and was pitching better than any non-CC member of the rotation. Andy Pettitte was Andy Petttite. A.J. Burnett, despite a disastrous June, was not a candidate to leave the rotation. And so it didn’t hurt so badly when the Yankees lost out on Lee.

In the second half everything changed. Vazquez quickly declined. Burnett produced a 5.95 ERA in the second half. Pettitte hurt himself and suffered a costly setback. Hughes continued to decline and produced a 4.90 ERA in the second half. That left the Yankees with precious few pitching options. When the playoffs rolled around they had to rely on a still-injured Pettitte and a shaky Hughes. The lack of pitching absolutely killed them in the ALCS.

This year the Yankees again had five starting pitchers around deadline time, six if you count Ivan Nova, who was in the minors in the weeks prior. In a way that made it easier for them to get through the trade deadline period without making a rash move. But in another way they were setting themselves up for a repeat of 2010. Sure enough: Phil Hughes continued his mediocre pitching, Freddy Garcia got hurt and then lost some of his sharpness, Bartolo Colon’s magic wore off, and Burnett’s production dropped off considerably. For the second straight year the Yankees had few solid options beyond CC Sabathia for their playoff rotation.

How it went right

It’s tough to deal for a quality starting pitcher when there aren’t many available. As July approached it seemed as though few teams would make available a useful starter. Throughout the month the market continued to appear weak. Some teams remained in denial about their chances. Others asked for far too much in exchange for their pitchers. It led to a real dearth of opportunities for the Yankees.

Only a few mid- to high-range pitchers moved in July, and the Yankees had good reason to not pursue any of them.

Ubaldo Jimenez: The Rockies wanted the moon for a pitcher who just didn’t look the same as he did in the first half of 2010. He might have made a nice addition, but at the price Cleveland eventually paid — their two top pitching prospects plus two other prospects — he likely wasn’t worth the effort. Had the price come down he would have made a good deal more sense, but at that point why would Colorado trade him?

Doug Fister: After a decent full-season debut in 2010, Fister was rolling along at a similar pace for the Mariners in 2011. Problem was, he didn’t miss bats, and his home run rate was a bit low — it’s usually a warning sign when a pitcher in a large ballpark has a big FIP-xFIP difference. I’m typically scared of that type of pitcher with the Yanks, since it can lead to a lot of home runs. Even in the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park his home run rate increased. But so did his strikeout rate, which isn’t something you normally see. There’s no “should of” in this for the Yanks, but the Tigers got an absolute steal.

Erik Bedard: After throwing about 80 innings in each of 2008 and 2009, Bedard missed the entire 2010 season. As always, he was the guy with a lot of potential who couldn’t stay on the mound. So it came as no surprise that, after a very good start to the 2011 season, he got hurt at the end of June. He made one poor appearance upon his return, at which point the Mariners immediately traded him. He went to Boston and did pitch well there — until he got hurt in September.

Edwin Jackson: This actually might have been a nice move for the Yanks. Jackson had produced good numbers for the White Sox in the first half, and was clearly on the trading block. The Blue Jays ended up getting him for the minuscule price of Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart. The only catch was that the Jays took on the remainder of Mark Teahen’s contract. Again, with the Yankees’ monetary advantage they could have done that and just released Teahen if they were so inclined. Yet Jackson put his inconsistency back on display with his move to the NL, as his strikeout rate dipped considerably in the second half. At the time we couldn’t have seen that, though, and for the cost Jackson might have been a quality upgrade.

Other pitchers might have been made available, but with the slim market chances are they would have cost too much. For instance, the Astros and Yankees had a brief conversation about Wandy Rodriguez that ended when Houston declined to pick up roughly half of Rodriguez’s salary. The Yankees clearly did not intend to overpay at the deadline, and in many ways that helps them now and in the future. But that’s going to happen when there is only one pitcher on the market who stands to help you for ar easonable price.

It was hard to call the Yankees losers at the deadline given their needs. The position players and bench were well in place, as was the bullpen. The only needs existed in the starting rotation and the market was thin, filled with flawed and overpriced players. At the same time, they did need an upgrade in pitching. It didn’t cost them the division, and it really didn’t even cost them in the ALDS (the offense was to blame there). But in the ALCS it could have hurt a lot. The trade deadline didn’t go wrong, really, but it didn’t go right, either.

What Went Wrong: Alex Rodriguez
Yanks "likely" picking up Swisher's option
  • Jimmy McNulty

    They shoulda got Nelson Cruz!!!!!!!!

    • Monteroisdinero

      We have him-the 10 year younger and cheaper version with more upside.

  • Brian S.

    I’m glad we didn’t trade Montero, Nova, and Betances for Jiminez. And I’m a huge fan of Ubaldo. I wonder what Cleveland’s asking price for him would be?
    /conversation starter

    • BK2ATL

      Adam Warren/David Phelps, Ramiro Pena, Jorge Vasquez, and Melky Mesa get it done???

      • Ted Nelson

        They traded two top pitching prospects for him just a few months ago… Why are they going to trade him for a pile of junk now?

        • Slugger27

          i think its clear he wasnt being serious

          • BK2ATL

            Very clearly. Ramiro Pena in a deal???

            I guess the /sarcasm is always needed around here.

  • UncleArgyle

    Regarding Doug Fister; lets be honest, Jack Zduriencik (Mariners GM)has made it clear that he’d rather chew his own arm off than make a trade with the Yankees, so he was never really an option.

    • BK2ATL

      This appears to be true. And I’m sure that Cashman got rid of the Mariners’ GM’s number after the Lee fiasco.

      • Kevin

        Indeed,a lot of people fail to understand most other team GM’s do NOT want to help the Yankees in any way possible,period.

        • aluis

          Because we got more rings than they will ever have….HaHaHaHa!!!

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Someone once said that the best trades are the ones you never made. At this moment, I am satisfied that the Yankees did not give the farm and the mortgage away for a pitcher.

  • Rey22

    Can you imagine trading the farm for Ubaldo and then having him perform as poorly as he did in Cleveland? Hell would break loose.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Thanks for not giving in Cash.

  • BK2ATL

    Sooooo many people around here were chastising Cashman for not making a move on Ubaldo. Glad it worked out for all parties in the end.

    Re-sign Cashman pronto, and yes, with a anti-Levine-interference clause.

    I liked Soriano prior, but not as a Yankee. That signing make absolutely no sense. We needed lefty Scott Downs, if they were going to sign a Type A reliever.

    • Urban

      Is that true? I think people wanted a trade but only at a certain price. The asking price (Montero and one of the two good B’s and Nova) was way too high considering the questions around him. All it takes is two or three vocal posters to create the impression people wanted Ubaldo, but my impression (perhaps wrong) was that the overwhelming majority here didn’t like the price and were okay with Cash holding his current hand.

      • BK2ATL

        Not sure if you could go back to the blogs from around the trade deadline. People (more than 2 or 3 posters) were going nuts with this, as if Ubaldo was Roy Halladay, (I;m generalizing). And saying all kinds of craziness since Cash didn’t pull the trigger.

        I personally didn’t think Ubaldo was worth the hype, and had questions about his health and his “ace” status that was being discussed. Too many question marks.

        The Yanks leaked the info that they requested an exam prior to the deal, and the Rockies wanted the deal first.

        If I recall correctly, the requested package started with Nova, Montero, Banuelos AND Betances. Not or.

        • Ted Nelson

          Your post is the only craziness I see.

          Cleveland got Ubaldo for two stud prospects, but your impression is that it would have taken the Yankees four? A “starting price” is always going to be high and then get negotiated down.

          In reality there was a diverse range of comments at the time. There were the get Ubaldo at all costs crowd and the Ubaldo isn’t even a good pitcher crowd, but most comments were in the middle. Other people were here too… so incorrectly stating the facts is not wise.

    • Dave

      The idea that Randy Levine is doing all this interfering is just some RAB wacko nonsense. Stupid Yankee fans always have to have a boogeyman since George and the Tampa faction are dead.

  • Urban

    I had no issue with the “no trade” at this year’s deadline. The quality of talent just wasn’t there, or had issues. Questions about Ubaldo’s arm and loss of velocity being the chief one. As for Fister, yeah, well, if anyone knew he was going to pitch like he did down the stretch than an argument can be made, but I want to see

    • Urban

      Twitchy send finger. I never finished the last line, which was “I want to see him pitch at the level for a full season before I change my opinion of him, which is he’s a back-end starter.” The Mariners saw him up close and personal and they didn’t think he had this in him. Any player can get hot for a few months only to find his true talent level again.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Should of traded for Delmon Young. He’s so clutch.

    In reality, the Yankees’ deadline approach was correct.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Absolutely agree. Offense is everything! Who needs a defensive wiz kid in the OF like Gardner!? :-)

      Yup, you’re right. No trade opportunity represented a significant enough upgrade to warrant pulling the trigger.

  • Monteroisdinero

    No trades necessary. Resign CC and have Phil learn how to throw a changeup and we are good to go.

  • BK2ATL

    My offseason wishlist would be to re-sign CC and Andruw Jones. Jones is a versatile 4th OF and good offensive weapon off the bench.

    Sign Yu Darvish. No CJ Wilson. Keep our draft pick for a change. The on-field/off-field potential for Darvish in NYC is off the charts.

    If Feliciano isn’t ready, or if Marte isn’t either, sign Mike Gonzalez. We can’t have Boone Logan as our only LOOGY out there. I know, I know. However, the sound of “coming in for the Yankees….Boone Logan’ doesn’t really make my stomach easy.

    Jesus Montero becomes our new DH/backup 1B/backup catcher. He will spell Martin and Texiera in the field on their off-days, and allow the DH spot to be used by A-Rod on those days as well. Would be an incredible rotation in the lineup.

    Rotation would be CC, Nova, Darvish, Hughes, Burnett.

    Bullpen would be Mo, D-Rob, Soriano, Gonzalez, Logan, Wade. Noesi becomes the long man/spot starter like Aveces and Ramiro Mendoza.

    Lineup of Jeter, Granderson, Cano, A-Rod, Tex, Swisher, Montero, Martin, Gardner.

    Bench would be Jones, Nunez, Dickerson/Maxwell, Eric Hinske maybe???

    What do you think?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Nothing overly controversial here. I’d prefer to add another starting pitcher (Garcia, perhaps) as insurance, although Noesi or one of the others in the minors might serve that purpose just as well. I like the idea of bringing Jones back. I’d prefer to get Chevez back over Hinske, but if he’s the best available LH reserve 3rd baseman, well, you could do worse.

    • LiterallyFigurative

      I’m not a big fan of having more than 1 LOOGY. SoRoMo can get out lefties as good as most lefty pitchers.

      I love Hinske. Clutch AND versatile.

      And you can add Joba into the pen by mid-season (hopefully! I miss him).

      BTW, if Montero is the DH, who’s the backup cacther on days he’s DHing?

      Bench should be Jones, Nunez, Hinske, Cervelli.

      • BK2ATL

        Yeah, Hinske’s great off the bench. Combined with Andruw and Nunez, and we’re talking a great versatile bench.

        Andruw could DH, backup RF/LF and pinch-hit, as could Hinske in a pinch. Nunez is our backup IF (2B/SS/3B). Montero would backup 1B and C.

        Yeah, I hope to add Joba, Banuelos and even Romine and Brackman getting some reps throughout the year.

        Backup catcher should be Montero, even on his DH days, with Romine waiting in AAA. While I like Cervelli’s spunkiness, I’m either way with him. He could be versatile for us, or he could be expendable. I could live with either.

        I can understand you’re reticence with LOOGYs, but when our current only LHR is Boone Logan, and Girardi likes his lefty/righty matchups, I think we need another one.

        I think after re-upping CC and potentially signing Darvish, I don’t think another SP move will be made. Just trying to get AJ right again again again. And Noesi in winter ball. And Nova and Hughes healthy.

    • http://google Jim Legg

      Good calls, but Darvish is an unknown for MLB.

      • BK2ATL

        Very true, but worth taking the chance this year, with nothing other than money being relinquished.

        IF it goes well, he’s a very good pitcher for us and a goldmine for the suits.

        IF it goes okay, he’s better than what we’d have and he’d still be a goldmine in advertising.

        IF it goes bad, which I doubt, he’d still be a goldmine and probably with recoup the transfer fee and much of the salary in marketing revenue.

        It’s certainly a risk, but the reward is much greater, one way or another.

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    Obviously, the reason they lost in the ALDS was because they didn’t get anybody at the deadline.

    /Harold Reynolds’d

  • Kevin

    The thing is, trade wise most teams still don’t want to do anything that would help the Yankees,period.
    We are still the Evil Empire, the team that steals other team’s free agents with the $$$,and who has more championships than most teams can dream of.
    Unless they can gut our system, they have no desire to help us.

  • EvilleHomeofDonnieBaseball

    Unless you’re the white sox. Still one of cash’s best trades to date.

  • Jackson

    I really think Cashman did the right thing when he did nothing at the deadline.I dont think there was anything to get, you can not win it all every year and trading the farm is not a good idea at this point. Banuelos and Betances have a good shot of being aces to come. I wouldnt be surprised to see one of them from the gate being a starter. Neither one is playing winter ball at all. They, Banuelos in paticular was completely shut down when AAA finished. I think Hughes has shoulder problems they are not talking about and he has never shown he has the resilience to be a full season starter. he is going to be in the bullpen. He seems to lack confidence when he starts, and has more when he relieves. The Yanks need to get a reliever who can throw 98MPH. A true flamethrower. Then bring up the kids. Nova Banuelos and Betances look better than Kennedy and Hughes ever have.Nova grew on the mound this year, unlike Joba, who got younger somehow.

  • http://google Jim Legg

    If the Yanks could have traded for Fister, he would have been a big help. But no matter how much pitching you have, if that one big hit doesn’t come when it’s needed most the forget about it!

    • BK2ATL

      No one could have predicted that Fister would’ve rebounded as he did. I think that’s what he’s getting at in the OP. He wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a “comer.”

  • Jackson

    Nobody talks about Nova leaving that game with a grade 1 forearm strain……even if the Yanks won that game and went foward……who would pitch???????? CC cant do it all. They were doomed either way.

  • BK2ATL

    Something to share from ESPN. They are pretty funny in Boston. Castro, then Garza, then trying to pawn off Lackey on the Cubs, then top prospects, then lower-valued prospects….

    “The Red Sox aimed high in asking for compensation for Epstein. A baseball source told ESPNBoston.com that they initially asked for the Cubs young star shortstop Starlin Castro. Whey they were rebuffed, the Red Sox asked for arguably the Cubs best starting pitcher in Matt Garza.

    A major league source told ESPNChicago.com that at one point Boston proposed that the Cubs take pitcher John Lackey’s contract. Lackey has three seasons remaining on a five-year, $82.5 million contract. He was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA in 28 starts for the Red Sox in 2011.

    But the expected agreement will include Cubs minor leaguers, although not top prospects Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt or Matt Szczur, the source said. Cash will not be part of the compensation.”

  • Tom

    The legend of Fister continues to grow…. sure his strikeout rate was higher with the Tigers but take away 2 starts against Cleveland when he had 22K’s and the K rate is remarkably similar to what it was in Seattle. I know you can’t simply dismiss data points but it shows how small his pitching sample is with Detroit (10 starts) and how volatile it is.

    Fister is at best a #3 pitcher and more likely a 4/5. He will regress next year.

  • Tim

    Cashman has given away young pitchers like Arodys Vizcaino and Tyler Clippard for nothing. The Granderson deal could have been made for a lot less than Austin Jackson, Coke and Ian Kennedy (parlayed for Scherzer) considering the Tigers were in major salary dump mode at the time. It may be true other GM’s won’t help the Yankees but Cashman is always better off not doing a deal because when he does he loses or overpays.