A-Rod OK after leaving game with hand injury

Update (7:30 p.m.) In the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded, Blake Wood hit Alex Rodriguez on the left forearm with a pitch, and the Yankees’ third baseman and cleanup hitter went down in pain. While A-Rod walked gingerly down to first base, the Yankees had to remove him from the game for a pinch runner. After the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi downplayed the injury. The skipper said he could have left A-Rod in to run but had planned to take him out anyway. “He’s fine,” Girardi said. “He could squeeze fine…It kind of grazed his hand. We got lucky.”

As A-Rod could squeeze with no problems, the Yankees have no plans to send A-Rod for X-rays. A-Rod said he has a slight purple bruise in the padding of his hand but is otherwise doing just fine. “I have pretty much full strength so I should be ok,” he said. The slugger said he would be able to play tomorrow in Cleveland, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit out a game or two early this week. The Yanks dodged a bullet this evening, and the quest for 600 will continue soon enough.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Open Thread: Busy afternoon

"Wait ... for Joe Saunders?!?" (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

There’s been some breaking news within the last hour or so, so let’s round it up here:

So there you go. Talk about that stuff, or whatever else you want in this open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game features the Cardinals and Cubs (Carpenter vs. Dempster), about the 13th consecutive week the 45-53 Cubs have appeared in the Sunday night game (or is it just me?). Have fun.

Angels acquire Dan Haren

Well, so much for that idea. The Angels have acquired Dan Haren from Arizona for Joe Saunders, prospects Patrick Corbin (ranked 12th in the Halos’ system by Baseball America), Rafael Rodriguez (22nd), and a player to be named later. The PTBNL is not Mike Trout, arguably the best prospect in the game, but instead a list of players the D-Backs can choose from. I have to say, I find it very hard to believe that Joe freakin’ Saunders headlined a package for Haren, but so be it.

GM Brian Cashman can now focus on his stated goals of improving the bullpen and bench, though another starting pitcher never hurts.

Heyman: Yanks made ‘big proposal’ on Soria

In a piece that incorrectly labels the July trade market as one for the buyers, Jon Heyman leads with some Yankee dirt. He says the team is looking to be in on some big names this week and writes that the team has made “a big proposal” to the Royals for Joakim Soria. The Yanks want to upgrade their bullpen this week, but Soria won’t come cheap. He’s emerged as one of the game’s best relievers, non-Mariano division, and is under contract through 2011 with three club options with innings pitched escalators that total $22.75 million. Heyman also notes that the Bombers “have been in touch” with Washington over Adam Dunn but have so far found the price to be “prohibitive.”

Aceves to join team on upcoming road trip

According to Joe Girardi‘s pregame press conference, the sorely missed Al Aceves will join the Yankees on their upcoming seven game road trip. His back is getting better, and he’s expected to throw several bullpen sessions during the trip. This doesn’t mean Aceves is close to returning, however. He’d still need to throw full mound sessions with no pain before going on a minor league rehab assignment, so Ace is still several weeks away from rejoining the team. Still, this is better news than what we’ve been getting.

Game 97: Is today the day?

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Yankees head out on the road for the seven game road trip after today’s game, so if Alex Rodriguez wants to hit his 600th career homer in front of some friendly fans, he better get it today. Personally, I’d just like to see him get a curtain call and cheered and a video montage and all that jazz when he hits it, so I’m pulling for him to hit it today. I don’t want to see A-Rod get this milestone homer in front of 16,000 people in Cleveland, half of whom have no idea what just happened.

Today’s pitching matchup is a rematch of Tuesday’s, before Sean O’Sullivan was traded from the Angels to the Royals. According to Kim Jones on the pregame, he’s the first pitcher to ever start against the Yankees twice on the same homestand for two different teams. Remember guys, he’s probably throwing a changeup. Here’s the lineup…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, DH
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Granderson, CF
Gardner, LF
Pena, 3B

And on the bump, it’s Phil Hughes, who could really use a dominating start.

First pitch is set for 1:05pm ET, and YES will carry it. Apparently there might be a rain shower in the mid-afternoon. Enjoy the game.

Dan Haren and the three bears

Dan Haren. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By now you’ve been inundated with rumor after rumor and discussion after discussion on how much value the Yankees would give up to receive D-Backs pitcher Dan Haren. The Yankees have said that they’re not willing to give up Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova, Z-Mac, Banuelos and eating salary. No, I have no new news to report. With other teams balking and Arizona hemorrhaging cash, it makes sense for the Yankees to wait it out and see the asking price drop. So what would you give up to get Haren? Remember, we’re talking the most you’d put toward the center of the table.

There are very good reasons to pursue Haren –he’s a borderline ace/great #2 with a very attractive below-market contract, which would give the team a great second starter, keep Hughes’ inning limit in check, and really hedge their other rotation concerns. No need to rush Andy, and it also limits some lingering concerns about AJ Burnett.

On the other side, Haren really isn’t a need, that’s still around $30 million they’d be adding to payroll, at present it would be a heavy prospect loss, and the addition may adversely impact the pursuit of Cliff Lee.

Before I get to my own personal high offer, let’s first knock down a few points.

Selling Low?

People continue to say the Yankees would be “selling low” on Joba to trade him off when he’s pitching so poorly. Yet, I don’t see it that way. Clearly, his value is high for the Diamondbacks. Their bullpen is remarkably inept. Maybe they overvalue the impact of closers. Whatever the case, if his value now is high enough to be the main piece that gets a top 20 pitcher in baseball (while giving up what appear to be 2 back-end rotation guys, a promising mature lefty in Banuelos), isn’t that enough for Yankee fans? What could Joba get you if you ‘sold high’ on him? He’s going to hit arbitration soon, and for this team he’s been a very mixed bag. Dan Haren is probably the ceiling on what Joba could get you if his value is much higher. And Dan Haren on a team-friendly deal is not a bad thing at all.

Beyond that, as Artisteve at TYU points out, it doesn’t appear the Yankees have much faith in Joba as a starter going forward. From their perspective that’s not unreasonable (though I think they’ve botched the handling along the way, though Joba certainly should be as responsible for his performances; hard to gauge). If you think Dan Haren would be overall more valuable for the team over the next three years than Nova, Joba, Z-Mac, and Banuelos would be, you certainly pull the trigger.

However, there is more to that. I saw a great comment yesterday, one that Moshe Mandel of TYU pointed out. steve (different one) notes that contrary to the belief of some, it’s not that one player holds up the deal, but rather, adding that one additional piece that tips the scales in the wrong direction. Maybe losing Joba isn’t a big deal. Maybe even adding the salary of Haren and giving up Nova is something they’d be willing to do. But an additional piece, an asset they clearly value, like Banuelos or Z-Mac is just too much for them. That asset would be there to offset some kind of other loss, and thus, would be too steep a price for what the team may consider just a luxury. At the same token, you can’t just offer up Nova, Z-Mac and Ramiro Pena and expect them to jump. That porridge is too cold.

The Dollar, Dollar Bills, Y’all

On the financial side, it preliminarily looks like it could work. Financially, the team should have close to $80 million coming off payroll next year. Of course, with Jeter and Mariano, you’re probably looking at $30 million next season in contracts. So we’re down to $50. And even with Haren, you’d still be looking at another pitcher at over $11 million, so we’re down to $24-25 million. (Drop even further if that pitcher next year is Cliff Lee.)

Heard this: It could be Andy's last year. Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

With the bullpen needing some improvement and the DH situation looking cloudy, in addition to arbitration to Hughes, salary jumps to Teix, Granderson, and Swisher, we’re probably down to around $18 million. Of course, this is all highly dependent on a myriad of factors, but let’s be clear — there is a very good chance that Haren and Lee for around $32 million is a realistic possibility next year. It’s basically Andy, Javy and Kei Igawa being replaced by those two.

But I want it now!

On a personal level, I’d be a bit disappointed if the Yankees didn’t get Haren, even if it’s Joba, Nova, Z-Mac and (gulp) Banuelos. That’s right, push comes to shove, it’s five minutes before the trade deadline, I include Banuelos, Nova, Z-Mac and Joba, while taking on Chris Snyder (I’ll explain in a bit) and the salary of Haren (which is a completely reasonable salary considering his performance). Of course, there’s no reason to bet against oneself, so I suspect the price tag will drop, but I could live with that offer.

Banuelos, to me, is the hardest part of that. While there’s certainly value in back-end starters like Nova and Z-Mac, I don’t have a terrible amount of faith in them, and they have far more value as trade pieces to the Yankees than they do as actual players. Joba, if not given the opportunity and right amount of leash to be a top-flight starter, holds below-average value to the Yankees. I like Joba as a talent, but he may not suit the needs and philosophy of the organization, at least not this year, probably not next year either. Banuelos is a tantilizing talent. A lefty with great poise and very good stuff, he could be a star some day. But he might not be. He’s under 20-years-old and in A-ball. It would be a damn shame to lose him, but there are still a few levels for him to jump and he’s still a “prospect”. Tough to swallow, but if that’s what helps get an established #1.5 starter, I’m willing.

Chris Snyder is an overpaid pseudo-backup catcher, but a fairly good player. He has 15 HR pop, good on-base skills, and is defensively a pretty good catcher. The team could legitimately pair him with Jorge Posada for the rest of the season, who’s missed quite a bit of time to a host of nagging injuries over the past few years. Boom, there’s your DH, even if Jorge does whine about it. If nothing else, limiting the playing time of Francisco Cervelli is a big benefit to the lineup. (Sorry, Blue Eyes.)

D-backs catcher Chris Snyder. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

With Snyder being under contract only through 2011 (albeit with a moderate-sized buyout in 2012), Montero could work as a rotating DH with Jorge. Montero, under this scenario, would be splitting time at catcher with Snyder. Snyder’s gone in 2012, where it seems a good bet Romine would be ready, at least in some capacity. Either way, Snyder (for $5.5 million) may be a little expensive, but a short contract that fills a need and allows a good deal of lineup versatility. Considering the other catchers are either some-glove, no-bat or all-bat, no-glove, I think that’s reasonable, though if they could pay half of that cost, it would be gravy. Hell, trade them Cervelli if they eat some of Snyder’s salary.

Dan Haren would of course slot behind CC and Hughes would return to the bullpen for the remainder of the season. I’ve been extremely pleased with Phil’s performance on a whole this year, but he’s near his innings limit and has had some trouble finishing off batters over the course of the season. With Joba gone, the latter part of the bullpen would appear in much better shape.

Moving to next year, it’s not unreasonable to think a 1-5 of CC, Lee, Haren, Hughes, AJ is possible. Haren may or may not knock Lee’s price down this off-season, and if nothing else, provides some sort of contingency plan if CC decides to opt-out and takes the Yankees on an expensive joyride. Don’t underestimate the closing of the Yankees’ window. Jeter, Mariano, Posada, A-Rod may not have many more very good seasons left. Adding two of the top pitchers for the next few years could do a tremendous amount to strike while they still can.

So having rambled for 1200 words, I ask what, if anything, your max offer for Dan Haren would be? Remember, it needs to be a bit painful. (Unless it’s Betemit and Jeff Marquez for Swisher, of course.)

For more of my incessant chatter, check out Mystique and Aura (though I’ve been busy at work lately and you won’t find much current information to check out. But whatevs, if you’re there, look at Steve’s stuff. He’s a less-neglectful parent).