Some thoughts on the morning of the trade deadline

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The non-waiver trade deadline is less than seven hours away, and like everyone else the Yankees have holes to fill. Alex Rodriguez‘s injury created the need at third base, and the need for a solid non-matchup reliever has been obvious for weeks. Russell Martin and Chris Stewart have been one of the least productive catching tandems in baseball this season, so there’s lots of room for improvement behind the plate. Add in Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury, and another bat could become a need in a hurry.

Naturally, Brian Cashman downplayed the team’s needs and potential dealings yesterday. “Tomorrow’s a big day, 4 o’clock deadline … A big day where we’ll do nothing, most likely, but a lot of false hustle goes into this stuff too,” he said. Obviously he won’t reveal too much; the Yankees could be working on a four-team blockbuster and he would say nothing’s up. Here are a few random thoughts in the hours leading up to the deadline…

The Yankees should do something
As I said, the needs are obvious. The Yankees should know more about Teixeira’s wrist relatively soon — they won’t announce anything until after the trade deadline for leverage reasons, I assume — and that figures to change their plans one way or another. If it’s a day-to-day thing, then no big deal. Anything more than that will require some kind of action. I know they have a seven-game lead in the loss column, but the worst thing they could do is rest on their laurels.

… but not anything significant.
The Yankees don’t need a major move. Ichiro Suzuki was their big move and that was a big move in name only — he’s just a complementary player. Adding a reliever, replacing Chris Stewart, and finding a spare infielder to team with Eric Chavez and Jayson Nix aren’t complex moves that will require top prospects or tying up future payroll. A middle reliever, a backup catcher, and a bench player. That’s it. The Yankees swung three trades in 2010 — Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, Austin Kearns –and that was their busiest deadline in a while. They don’t need wholesale changes, just minor upgrades to the fringes of the roster.

Don’t count on health.
The team can sugarcoat it all they want, but Andy Pettitte just suffered a setback. When you have to scale back physical activity because things aren’t healing as expected, it’s a setback. A-Rod‘s hand is a concern because hand injuries can linger, and when you don’t have the strength to hold or the swing the bat properly, you don’t produce. I know the Yankees expect both guys back and that’s swell, but adding some depth for that worst case scenario would be a pretty smart thing to do. Finding a spare starter for Pettitte will be damn near impossible, but David Phelps could fill that role if they replace him with another arm. Adding a bench player to replace Ramiro Pena during A-Rod’s absence seems all to obvious.

Patience, but not too much.
The one thing that Cashman has added to the front office since supposedly getting full control of the baseball operations is patience. They almost never rush into moves — panic moves are a thing of the past — and will wait out the market for the best possible deal. That’s how you get Bobby Abreu for nothing and Hiroki Kuroda on a below-market, one-year contract. Waiver trades can still be made in August, but sometimes the solution pops up sooner than expected (coughYorvitTorrealbacough). No need to wait on that stuff. The potential downside is so low that it might as well be nonexistent.

* * *

I’m a big believer in not sitting tight — a contender thinking they have all the right pieces and do not need to make any moves no matter how small. There is always room for improvement, and that is certainly true for this year’s Yankees. I don’t expect them to do anything more than add a bench player today — they already tried to acquire Brendan Ryan — though we know they have a tendency to pull off surprise moves. The three-game losing streak and ridiculous stretch of one-run losses make their current situation seem way worse than it really is, but the club does need to make a few minor adjustments and add depth as long as Teixeira’s injury is nothing significant. If it is, well there’s little they could do to fill that hole anyway.

Yanks drop another one-run game, fall to O’s

Losing another one-run game — their sixth in the last eight losses — is bad enough, but the Yankees potentially lost Mark Teixeira to a wrist injury on Monday night against the Orioles. Well, not potentially, he definitely won’t play on Tuesday. Given the scheduled day off on Thursday, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him until Friday. They can ill afford another injured bat right now.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Lefty No Out GuYs

Boone Logan and Clay Rapada faced two left-handed hitters each and they combined to record zero outs. Chad Qualls bailed out Rapada in the ninth, but Logan wasn’t so lucky. He opened the seventh inning by retiring Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds, but he walked Omar Quintanilla with two outs — he hit a homer against the Yankees earlier this season, gotta pitch him carefully now — and gave up a booming double to Nick Markakis. David Phelps came in and allowed Markakis to score.

Logan has now surrendered runs in five of his last ten appearances, but the real problem is that the typically reliable bullpen has been giving up big runs of late. On Saturday and Sunday it was Rafael Soriano and David Robertson, and back in Seattle it was a combination of Logan, Qualls, and Rapada. That doesn’t include the two walk-off losses in Oakland. The trade deadline is less than 24 hours away and the Yankees have a clear need for another non-matchup reliever, but they seem content to wait for Joba Chamberlain to return instead.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Three Homers And A Leadoff Double

The Yankees scored their first run on a long Eric Chavez single in the second, taking advantage of the balk that put Raul Ibanez in scoring position with two outs. Their other three runs all came on solo homers, including shots by Ibanez, Chavez, and Ichiro Suzuki. It was his 100th career homer of Ichiro‘s career and his only hit of the game, extending his streak of exactly one hit in every game as a Yankee to seven.

Unfortunately, the Yankees couldn’t even hit the ball out of the infield after Nick Swisher opened the ninth with a leadoff ground-rule double. Ibanez struck out, Chavez walked, Ichiro grounded into a fielder’s choice that would have been a game-ending double play had anyone else been running, and Russell Martin struck out. I get that Jim Johnson has a ridiculous sinker, but you’ve got three chances to get the man in and the ball traveled roughly 120-feet.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Leftovers

Freddy Garcia pitched okay, three runs on nine hits in six innings. Pretty typical fifth starter stuff. He’s allowed more than three runs just once since returning to the rotation a few weeks ago. Outside of Freddy, Qualls was the team’s most effective pitcher on the night, getting two ground balls to escape Rapada’s ninth inning jam. Not a good night when he’s one of the stars of the game.

The Yankees couldn’t do anything against Miguel Gonzalez except when he hung a changeup. The 28-year-old non-prospect rookie struck out eight and walked zero. Sometimes you have to tip your cap and credit the pitcher, but this isn’t one of those times. The offense needs to pick things up, especially with Alex Rodriguez on the shelf.

The top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 3-for-21 with seven strikeouts. Robinson Cano is stuck in an 0-for-13 rut and is back in “swing at all the pitches!” mode, and Curtis Granderson is slumping as well. Teixeira also had his worst game in a while, striking out in all three trips to the plate before leaving with the wrist problem. Outside of the homer, the Yankees had one runner make it as far as second base after the second inning, and that was Swisher in the ninth.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The division lead is still seven games in the loss column over the Orioles and nine games over the last place Red Sox. The Yankees are 3-8 in their last eleven games and at some point soon these one-run losses need to turn into some wins.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

Ivan Nova gets the ball against Chris Tillman in the middle game of this three-game set on Tuesday night. Check out RAB Tickets for the latest deals to get yourself in the door.

Update: Teixeira leaves game with wrist injury, x-rays negative

10:47pm: Via Marc Carig, x-rays came back negative, so that’s good. Still not out of the woods yet.

10:20pm: Teixeira has a left wrist injury and is headed for various tests tomorrow. Apparently he first hurt himself last night and aggravated it further tonight. “It’s a big concern,” said Joe Girardi. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” No good, very bad news.

9:32pm: Mark Teixeira left tonight’s game with an apparent left arm/hand injury. He dove for a ball in the seventh inning and was seen shaking his hand afterward. He remained in the game to complete the inning but was then lifted. Obviously this is not good. Stayed tuned for updates.

Maine throws seven one-hit innings in AAA win

OF Mason Williams is on the 7-day DL. He got banged up diving for a ball in the outfield last week. RHP Caleb Cotham has been placed on the DL, but it’s just to control his innings. He’s approaching the limit and they need to back off a bit. Other than that, no news to pass along. Since I haven’t updated the standings in a while, let’s take care of that today. These do not include the results of today’s games, however.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Pawtucket) they faced a rehabbing Daisuke Matsuzaka … 60-48, 0.5 games back in North Division
RF Chris Dickerson & 1B Brandon Laird: both 1-4, 2 K
2B Corban Joseph: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB
SS Eduardo Nunez: 2-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-3, 1 RBI — first game back after about two weeks on the shelf with a foot problem
DH Kosuke Fukudome: 2-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
C Frankie Cervelli: 0-4, 2 K
3B Kevin Russo: 1-2, 1 2B, 1 BB
CF Darnell McDonald: 0-3, 2 K
RHP John Maine: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 12/6 GB/FB — 62 of 92 pitches were strikes (67%) … holy crap
RHP Cory Wade: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 11 pitches, seven strikes
RHP Ryota Igarashi: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 12 of 17 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Yankees made offer for Brendan Ryan

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees made an offer for shortstop Brendan Ryan, but it was declined by the Mariners. I suppose they were looking at him to replace Ramiro Pena and be part of that third base platoon while Alex Rodriguez is on the shelf. Ryan, 30, can’t hit a lick (61 wRC+ this year, 77 career) but is arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball. He also has experience at second and third.

The Yankees would have been able to keep Ryan next year as a arbitration-eligible player, so I wonder if acquiring him would have made them more comfortable with trading Eduardo Nunez for … Chase Headley? I dunno, speculate at your own risk.

Game 102: Back on Track

(REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

The Yankees have an eight-game lead in the loss column in the AL East, and their closest competitor pretty much all season has been the Orioles. They’ve taken five of eight from Baltimore this year but lost two of three at Yankee Stadium back late-April/early-May. It’s only a matter of time before the O’s completely fade out of the picture, and the Yankees can expedite that process with a solid series this week. We all know they need it after winning just three of their last ten games. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
DH Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
RH Ichiro Suzuki
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Freddy Garcia

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Joba Chamberlain Update: As expected, Joba (elbow, ankle) will make another minor league rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton tomorrow. His 30-day rehab window expires one week from today.