Thoughts following Monday’s off-day

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

The Yankees were off yesterday but there was still some rather large news delivered. Brian Cashman confirmed CC Sabathia will miss at least six weeks following the stem cell treatment on his twice surgically repaired right knee, meaning the team has lost its six-time Opening Day starter until at least July. If the stem cell treatment doesn’t work, Sabathia will presumably have surgery and miss even more time. That’s not good. Here are some miscellaneous thoughts.

1. Losing Sabathia for what is essentially two months — when you include the time he has already spent on the disabled list — really sucks. I have been an unabashed optimist about his ability to adjust to reduced velocity as he grew older, perhaps foolishly, but this injury means he will lose a lot of the time necessary to make those adjustments and learn how to pitch with his new arsenal. We’ll probably never truly find out, but I’m very curious to know how long the knee has been bothering him. Maybe the injury has contributed to his struggles these last few weeks — at least the location issues since it his landing knee — and man I really hope that is the case because at least then we’d have an explanation. It would be really great if Sabathia came out on the other end of this injury and pitched effectively, even as like a 4.00 ERA innings eater, but I think the odds of that happening are on the small side. This really bites.

2. So obviously now we’re going to be talking about the Yankees trading for a starter nonstop, with Cliff Lee and Jeff Samardzija the two big names. Lee might not even available, the Phillies are weird like that, but we all Samardzija will be out there. The Cubs are in a perpetual rebuilding process. Do the Yankees have the young pitching — Chicago has a ton of position player prospects and has been targeting arms in trades the last year or two — to swing a deal for him? Not unless the Cubs are open to a bunch of Single-A guys like Luis Severino and Rafael DePaula. Outside of Manny Banuelos and Shane Greene, the Yankees don’t have any upper level prospect arms to offer. If they did, they’d probably be in the big league rotation right now. Jason Hammel would cost considerably less to acquire and might be the more realistic trade target just based on the likely asking price and available trade chips.

3. As for some other possible trade targets, guys like Justin Masterson and Brandon McCarthy jump out because they’re due to become free agents this offseason and their teams are terrible. Masterson has lost nearly three miles an hour off his trademark sinker this year and besides, he’s an extreme ground ball pitcher (61.6% in 2014 and 56.1% from 2011-13). A pitcher who relies on his infield that much is a very bad fit for the Yankees given their current roster. I mean, yeah, you can play Brendan Ryan at short on days he starts, but that would only help so much. McCarthy, on the other hand, is another ground ball heavy guy (54.1% in 2014 and 45.6% from 2011-13), except he has a long history of injury problems. He’s visited the disabled list at least once with a shoulder injury every year from 2009-13. It’s only a matter of time until he gets hurt this year. The Yankees need to add some reliability to the rotation, someone with a track record of durability who can miss bats and won’t live and die by the infield defense. That’s the perfect world scenario. Does that pitcher exist? I don’t know.



4. Anyway, let’s shift gears to another potentially devastating injury, the bone spur in Carlos Beltran‘s elbow. He received a second cortisone injection a few weeks ago and that’s bad news — cortisone shots are supposed to provide instant relief and the need for a second shot indicates the first isn’t working. Beltran is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews today and it seems more and more likely he is destined for surgery, which would keep him out either 6-8 or 8-12 weeks, depending on who you ask. Either way, it’ll be a while. Given the state of the rotation, the Yankees are basically going to have to out-hit their pitching staff this summer to contend, and that will be very difficult without the best all-around hitter on the roster. I know Beltran was in a big slump before he got hurt, but I think it was only a matter of time before he snapped out of it and started to hit like he did earlier this season. Between him potentially missing so much time and the shaky non-Masahiro Tanaka starters, extended winning streaks will be very tough to put together.

5. That said, if Beltran does need surgery and will have to miss so much time, the Yankees have to sign either Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales in my opinion. Joe made the case for signing both and while that would be neat, I don’t think it’ll happen. Both guys have something to offer but squeezing Drew into the lineup to full take advantage of what he has to offer (specifically his defense) will be tough until the Yankees commit to playing Derek Jeter at DH on a near full-time basis. Considering they played him at short and moved Ryan to first base (!!!) on Sunday, I’m guessing there’s close to zero chance of that happening. Morales, meanwhile, would more or less replace Beltran’s switch-hitting bat and he could slot right in as the regular DH. Alfonso Soriano would have to play right field everyday, and while that isn’t ideal defensively, he has said he prefers playing the field than sitting around for innings on end as the DH. The small sample numbers back that up. Signing Morales to replace Beltran would be the bigger upgrade in my opinion and give the Yankees a better chance to out-hit their pitching staff, so to speak.

6. I think Drew is going to sign with the Tigers almost immediately after the draft. Like, literally the day after. I remember reading somewhere that the earliest he and Morales could sign without requiring the signing team to forfeit a draft pick was the day after the first day of the draft, so Friday, June 6th. I think he’ll be a Tiger that day. Detroit’s shortstops have been atrocious (29 wRC+) and they are so very clearly in win now mode. Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez, and Torii Hunter are all free agents after this season and others like Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, and Anibal Sanchez aren’t getting any younger. The window could not possibly get any more open. GM Dave Dombrowski tends to be decisive when addressing the team’s needs and owner Mike Ilitch has certainly not been shy about opening his wallet to improve the team. Many teams we see deals that are so obvious and such great fits not happen for whatever reason. I think this is an exception. Drew to the Tigers feels inevitable.

Categories : Musings
  • TWTR

    Jeter at DH v. RHP is a net negative. If these injuries convince them to rely less on older players in the future it will be a net positive.

  • Lukasz

    Stop trying to make D*** happen. It’s not gonna happen. D*** is overrated anyway, he is a perennial .270AVG/10HR hitter, come on this is not Garciaparra we’re talking about here. Morales would be a better sign than D***

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    1. No it doesn’t. It’s a breath of fresh air because it gives some of these other guys a chance to show what they can do. And I’d be surprised if at least 2 of them can’t pitch better than a 5.3 ERA, which is where CC was pitching. Nuno I don’t think is a starter. When Pineda returns he’ll be gone. Phelps has a sparkling 3.33 ERA, SS is too small on Whitley.

    2. Samardzija would be worth it. With Tanaka and Pineda the Yankees would have an elite 1-2-3 punch for years to come. Pitching wins championships. Look at 09 when the Yanks rode 3 starters to the WS.

    3. Samardzija is the guy to get. They don’t need anymore middling starters since they already have 5 of those. They need elite and youth.

    4. He’s going to need surgery. They are just delaying the inevitable. The injury has led to something good though. It’s allowed Joe to use Gardner leadoff and Ellsbury 3rd. That’s the best lineup we have, even with Beltran.

    5. You can’t have Jeter DH and Ryan at SS. You won’t score any runs. With a red hot JRM they can play him more and DH McCann, they have 5 good OF’s that all deserve AB’s. Kelly can DH as well. I think they need another big LH bat on the bench to PH for Jeter late in ballgame. Bullpens nowadays have a tough RHP that can throw 95+, and like A-Rod in the 2012 playoffs, Jeter just doesn’t have a chance against them.

    6. And that’s just fine. Stephen Drew is not walking through that door, folks. And it’s not like he’s Tulo that will dramatically improve the club. Let it go.

  • cashjr

    Seems to me we’ll know in a few days what Beltran’s story is, and most likely will be signing Morales on June 6th – IF the front office thinks he’s better than Almonte. Yanks should sign him for whatever it takes to get him to take a one-year deal. I think he’ll like playing in Yankee Stadium to showcase himself for ‘a year’ similar to what Cruz is doing for the Orioles. If he has anything left he could be really good as the full time DH.

    • ALZ

      Cruz has started to come back down to his career norms after his great start. He has a few extra hr than usual, but that’s it. Morales would be pretty interesting if they could get the one year deal, and contrary to what some think I don’t think Boras would be that against it. He would be way better off with the one year deal than sitting the rest of the season, and no draft pick attached. Give me Drew though if it’s a multiyear. No way I want multi years of Morales, we have Arod/Beltran next year for DH.

    • Oy

      Except the Yankees already have two players on the roster and one player on the DL who should be full time DHs – Jeter, Soriano and Beltran. Yankees are better off playing Almonte/Ichiro in right or Ryan at short and have Jeter or Soriano at DH, rather than sign another DH.

      • ChrisS

        Correct. Plus they have Teixeira and McCann who (probably more McCann) need an occasional day off. Teixeira should probably just occasionally sit completely to keep the wrist healthy.

        In any event, they don’t need a DH.

  • Matt DiBari

    I feel like we’d almost immediately regret trading for Jason Hammel.

    “I mean, yeah, you can play Brendan Ryan at short on days he starts, but that would only help so much”

    Particularly when he starts his customary muffing of routine groundballs.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Please tell me this is sarcasm, or at least a joke of some kind.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      On the off chance it isn’t, he has a better fielding percentage than Jeter. So even by your “muffing of routine groundballs” metrics, it’s not true. He commits fewer old-fashioned errors than the Captain does.

    • ALZ

      I do think he would be a mistake. He was terrible for the O’s last year, and they passed on him in the offseason. He has some value, but he isn’t a 3.00 era guy, and not even sure he is worth giving up several prospects for over what we already have.

  • Mike HC

    The Yanks better figure out how to keep winning without CC and Beltran, because I wouldn’t exactly count on those two for the rest of their contracts. I do think that both of them are so talented, that even on the downside of their careers, they can contribute and add value. But if we are counting on them, I don’t know.

    • TWTR

      You can easily recover from bone chip surgery. CC’s injury could be more problematic.

      • ChrisS

        bone chip surgery this season, knee surgery next season, back spasms in the third. Beltran is no spring chicken. Getting old sucks.

  • kenthadley

    Agree that Drew will go to Tigers, and let him. Surprised Cashman didn’t move on Jeff Francis or Jair Jurjens. Neither is more than a 4-5 but it costs nothing to try them out, rather than Big Al or Nuno. Getting one of the big name starters will cost much in minor league talent, and we’ve all seen that Yanks aren’t overflowing in minor league talent as it is. One of the guys above, or maybe another available veteran could always Aaron Small it.

    • mitch

      Not that i would have been against taking a flyer on Francis or Jurjens, but they need more than that. They don’t have to empty the farm to get Lee or Samardzija, but at some point I think they’ll have to add a #3 type starter. I don’t think any combination of Kuroda, Pineda, Phelps, Nuno, Whitley, Aceves, etc is good enough to make 80% of the starts get them into the playoffs. Just too many question marks.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        A healthy Tanaka/Pineda/Kuroda is still not the worst top 3.

        • TWTR

          If Tanaka and Pineda can pitch near their ceilings, along with their really strong bullpen, this team can be golden in the playoffs (if they get there), as long as they hit.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Lots of ifs, to be sure.

            At least everyone else in the AL East has plenty of their own to deal with.

            • TWTR

              And hitting in the playoffs is almost always an “if.” That’s why I want Beltran to do what he needs to do in order to be fully healthy in September/October. If they have a hitter who has a good chance to produce in the playoffs, it’s him.

        • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

          Not saying they shouldn’t always be looking for upgrades but I agree with you here. I would be content with that top 3.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Oh sure, I’d love if they could get someone who’s a decent bet to be a real 3/4/5 guy.

        • mitch

          It’s not bad at all. I’d be okay with that heading into a playoff series. I just think with the inconsistency of Kuroda, injury concerns of Pineda, and overall uncertainty of the others they’re going to have a hard time getting enough quality starts to get there.

        • Dalek Jeter

          We still don’t have Pineda for at least another 3 weeks though. And it’s 3 if we’re lucky.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            I know, I was responding to “I don’t think any combination of Kuroda, Pineda, Phelps, Nuno, Whitley, Aceves, etc is good enough to make 80% of the starts get them into the playoffs.”

            If he’s gonna include Pineda, I’ll include him too!

            • Dalek Jeter

              Oh, if/when he gets healthy, and he’s as good as he was early in the season than I will absolutely agree Tanaka/Kuroda/Pineda is actually a great top of the rotation.

          • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

            Pineda will be back in 3-4 weeks. He’s already rehabbing. Unless you’re a loser pessimist negative nelly, no reason to expect any more setbacks.

    • ALZ

      I think they should look into Drew, even if it means Jeter sits/DH’s a bit more. Especially if Beltran looks to be down for awhile. They will need a shortstop after this year, and Lowrie(injuries)/Hanley(poor defense)/Hardy(no bat)/Asdrubal(poor defense) all scare me. You don’t have to go Drew or bust, but now that no draft pick going to boston after the draft I think it’s a mistake to just ignore drew.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I’d love if we signed Jed Lowrie. Fantasy has shown me the nature of his injury risk, but still.

  • Yankenstein

    At least no one is running away in the division. If we can stay close some of the walking wounded will be back and we can make some July deals.

  • ALZ

    I hate the idea of trading for a year and a half of Samardzija. This isn’t a team that has specific win now windows like some other teams. They fully expect to be in it every year over a long period of time. It may make it harder now, but Cubs are going to be asking for the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are asking for Sanchez/Severino/Judge and probably more. If even one of them turns into a solid regular you are way better off. Trading for established players makes sense if you think you can dominate the playoffs with them, but be realistic, it’s looking like the AL is Detroit, Oakland, and a crapshoot.

    • ALZ

      We got Pineda and 5 years of his control for a top prospect, I like trades like that, rather than trading several players each with 6 years of service time for a 1.5 year player.

  • Oy

    If Lee won’t hit the trading block, Shark will be by far the best available starter. Which means that teams with farm systems better than ours – Red Sox, Jays, Dodgers – will be bidding over each other for his services. There is no way Yankees can put together a better package than the Red Sox.

    A realistic Cubs starter who the Yankees might target is Edwin Jackson. He is owed 22 million for 2015 and 2016 and will be an innings eater in the back of the rotation. He can replace Kuroda next year and can probably be had for close to nothing.

  • http://riveravenueblues mississippi doc

    Prospects are prospects until they aren’t. Most Yankee prospects are over hyped and the minor league contributions to the Yankees are usually not the top draft choices or big names (see Cano, Robertson, Phelps, Warren, Solarte, JR Murphy, Gardner). You wouldn’t trade Sanchez and Judge for Samardzdija?

    • TWTR

      No, but i would trade them in a package for Stanton.

      • Dalek Jeter

        faster than a cocaine heartbeat.

  • Frank

    Yanks are screwed. Little to trade for, and very few trade chips teams want. They better hope they hit it big with international FAs or perhaps nab a Cuban player or 2 who turn out to be the second comeings of Puig or Abreau.

  • TOM

    Hey the Yankees should not have played a doubleheader on Sunday vs the Pirates. What should have happened as a result of Friday’s rainout was a game on Saturday, a game on Sunday and a 12 or 1pm start on Monday to make up for Friday’s rainout because both teams were off. Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader was hard to watch because both teams were awful.

  • Dalek Jeter

    My biggest thought following the off day is: I’m pretty sure it’s ‘Naka Night! (at least I’m pretty sure it is, if it isn’t nobody ruin it for me.)

  • ChrisS

    The larger issue with acquiring talent through trades right now is that more teams consider themselves playoff contenders than in years previous. The extra wildcard takes a few more teams off the rebuilding table. There’s no reason to save a few million in payroll if there’s a good shot at getting $5-10m (or more) in playoff money revenue.

    More teams are holding on to their players at the deadline or demanding MLB-ready talent in return. And there’s more competition for available players.

  • Craig

    My twisted mind wants the Yankees to somehow swing a deal for Lee and Papelbon (I feel dirty typing that). They would free up a ton of cash for the Phillies, give a few prospects and strengthen both the starters and BP.

    Yeah…not happening…

    • vicki

      won’t they want to move howard’s contract, if anyone’s, with lee’s?

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    At what point can O’Brien be moved to AAA? Today? Tomorrow?

    • Craig

      I would imagine mid-year if he continues to hit like he has been.

  • ropeadope

    I think Drew is going to sign with the Tigers almost immediately after the draft. Like, literally the day after. I remember reading somewhere that the earliest he and Morales could sign without requiring the signing team to forfeit a draft pick was the day after the first day of the draft, so Friday, June 6th.

    Fitting, as June 6th is D-Day (Drew-Day).

    • Roadgeek Adam

      Fitting, he just re-signed with the Red Sox.

  • vicki

    just spit-ballin’. but if beltran’s out for most of the season, what about ethier? he wouldn’t cost a lot in prospects, maybe some of our non-sanchez catching depth (cervelli) and a reliever. his numbers compare to kendrys’s but he can actually play a position. plus we’ll need an outfielder next year, and there won’t be much on the market. however: he’s guaranteed through 2017. the question is if the front office genuinely believes we’ll have one of our own ready before then.

  • fred robbins

    If history is any indicator of the future, I don’t see how anyone can expect anything good to come of what Cashman may or may not do. He has ruined this team for the present and the immediate future (2-3 yrs).

    This is a team with 3-4 DH’s already and half of them are too old to play or be productive. Although, possibly, if Beltran rests until the playoffs and the Yankees get there and he can get his timing going, he is a known clutch hitter.== That is, if St Louis did not squeeze every last drop out of him.

    Just comparing the players Cash refused to sign to the ones he did sign is enough to tell you what will most likely happen.. for proof, see Thornton. There was no reason to let go of Reynolds as a DH and 3rd baseman/1st baseman–same for Boone Logan–

    But– as far as pitching– Yankees do not have a pitching coach who can help anyone with a pitching slot or arm angle or anything related. They all seem to get fixed with their new teams

  • fred robbins

    any talk of this front office having a clue on how to build and develop a good team is like wishing for good baseball weather in March/April on the east coast