Game 103: The Return of Joba

(REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi)

The Yankees swung just one trade before this afternoon’s deadline, but they ultimately upgraded two roster spots. Casey McGehee will replace Ramiro Pena when he joins the team tomorrow, and Joba Chamberlain officially returns from the DL to replace the departed Chad Qualls tonight. It’s been 208 regular season games and 421 days since Joba last pitched in a big league game, and his return tonight isn’t just a feel-good story. The Yankees need another non-matchup late-inning arm and since they didn’t acquire anyone like that the deadline, Joba’s the guy. Here’s the starting nine…

DH Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
1B Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
RF Ichiro Suzuki
Russell Martin
SS Ramiro Pena

RHP Ivan Nova

Tonight’s game is schedule to start at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Yankees will activate Joba in time for tonight’s game

In the wake of the Chad Qualls-Casey McGehee trade, the Yankees will activate Joba Chamberlain off the DL in time for tonight’s game. He was scheduled to make what was likely his final minor league rehab appearance with Double-A tonight. The Yankees need another non-matchup reliever in the worst way, and Joba certainly fits the bill. Welcome back, big guy.

Yankees acquire Casey McGehee

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Yankees needed to add some infield depth following Alex Rodriguez‘s hand injury, and they did so by acquiring Casey McGehee from the Pirates in exchange for Chad Qualls before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Joel Sherman broke the news and reports that New York will receive $250k in the deal as well. McGehee will almost certainly take Ramiro Pena‘s roster spot.

A 29-year-old right-handed hitter, McGehee owns a career 100 wRC+ against left-handers (95 vs. RHP). The split is much more pronounced this year (119 vs. 67 wRC+), however. He has some power (career .159 ISO) and is basically league average in the strikeout (17.2%) and walk (7.7%) departments. The various defensive metrics says he’s about average at the hot corner and you can forget about speed on the bases. Not happening.

McGehee’s an upgrade over Pena and he gives the Yankees another right-handed bat. They could use him at third, Jayson Nix in left field, and Andruw Jones at DH against southpaws with Ichiro Suzuki glued to the bench. He’ll also provide some depth in the short-term as Mark Teixeira deals with his wrist issue. McGehee started to get exposed when the Brewers and Pirates tried playing him everyday, but he’s a useful role player and won’t see that much playing time with the Yankees. As an added bonus, he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2014.

Qualls, 33, pitched to a 6.14 ERA (3.76 FIP) during his brief time in pinstripes. The Yankees acquired him from the Phillies earlier this month, but he was clearly going to be the odd man out once Joba Chamberlain was ready to come off the DL. The fact that Brian Cashman was able to turn him into a useful piece is a minor miracle, frankly. McGehee is not expected to join the team in time for tonight’s game.

Tuesday Trade Deadline Open Thread

(Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The trade deadline is 4pm ET today, and the Yankees will definitely be in the market for a fill-in third baseman with Alex Rodriguez on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. Mark Teixeira‘s wrist problem could spring them into further action as well, and pitching help — both rotation and bullpen — is always on the agenda. The Bombers are almost certainly done with the outfield market following the Ichiro Suzuki pickup, however. We’re going to keep track of any Yankees-related trade deadline rumors right here throughout the day, so check back often for updates. The latest will be on the bottom. Here are Sunday’s and Monday’s rumors if you missed them…

  • 10:00am: Teixeira’s injury should have no impact the team’s deadline plans, and the Yankees are still trying to acquire a defense-first type player for third base. Things are pretty quiet right now. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • The Yankees are focused on acquiring 40-man roster depth pieces, guys they can stash in Triple-A to cover for any injuries that pop-up down the stretch. [Joel Sherman]
  • Reports indicate that the Yankees have stepped up their pursuit of Ryan Dempster in the last 48 hours — lines up with when we learned about Andy Pettitte‘s setback, no? — but that has since been shot down. Dempster has 10-and-5 no-trade protection and seems hellbent on joining the Dodgers. [David Kaplan, Jon Heyman & Jayson Stark]
  • 12:34pm: There is still a “distinct possibility” the Yankees will acquire Ty Wigginton before the deadline. The Phillies are selling off all their movable pieces, with Shane Victorino headed to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence headed to the Giants. [Matt Gelb]
  • 12:56pm: The Yankees don’t believe Wigginton can handle third and are valuing defense at the position. A deal is said to be “highly unlikely.” Guys like him will get through waivers in August. [Sherman]
  • 2:03pm: The Yankees are “engaged in heavy discussions” with the Cubs about Dempster. I think this might be a case of the Cubbies trying to drive up the price for the Dodgers, but who knows. It’s worth mentioning that pitching coach Larry Rothschild knows the right-hander from his time in Chicago. [Bob Nightengale, Sherman & Rosenthal]
  • 2:14pm: The Dempster stuff is basically due diligence, the Yankees did their homework and expressed some level of interest yesterday. [Marc Carig]
  • 2:25pm: Dempster has told the Cubs that he will waive his 10-and-5 rights to join the Yankees because of his relationship with Rothschild and special advisor/former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Chicago would have to kick in some money to facilitate a deal. [Heyman, Sherman & Sherman]
  • 2:29pm: The Cubs are said to like Angelo Gumbs and Dante Bichette Jr., but the Yankees are unlikely to part with them for a fifth starter upgrade. [Sherman & Sherman]
  • 3:12pm: Ownership has not been presented with any kind of financial information for a potential Dempster deal yet, so it doesn’t sound like anything is close as of right now. The commissioner’s office has to approve any trade involving more than $1M exchanging hands. [Sherman & Sherman]
  • 3:31pm: With less than a half-hour to go, the Dempster talks are still “nothing serious.” Either they’re going to scramble to beat the clock or the deal isn’t happening. [Carig]
  • 3:53pm: The Yankees “may” have acquired Dempster. No confirmation yet, however. [Jim Bowden]
  • 3:58pm: Scratch that, Dempster has been traded to the Rangers. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

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)


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 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

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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.