Now that the trade deadline dust has settled, we can see how the Yankees used their financial might to their advantage this weekend. By taking on the contracts of Austin Kearns, Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood, the Yanks upped their payroll by approximately $4.8 million, and they gave up only a pair of minor leaguers they won’t miss. For a club in the Yanks’ position, the ability to take on money is a key advantage at the deadline. By agreeing to pick up some of these contracts, the Yanks improved their depth without sacrificing any of their promising prospects. That’s how teams like the Yankees should approach the deadline when sellers are asking too much for their talent.
Heading into the series with the Rays the Yanks had played in just 16 one-run games, easily the fewest in the majors. Then they rolled into St. Pete and played two one-run games in two days. With CC Sabathia and James Shields on the mound we could have another low-scoring, close game this afternoon.
Sabathia and Shields faced off in the game following the All-Star break, which the Yanks won in walk-off style. Shields lasted just six and gave up three runs, while Sabathia lasted seven and gave up four runs, three earned. Shields has since pitched 13 innings against the Orioles and Tigers, allowing six runs on 17 hits. Sabathia has allowed eight runs, five earned, in 131 innings against the Royals and Indians, allowing 20 hits and walking seven. It’s going to be a big start for both.
Remember last night when A-rod said that “it’s probably going to take a while” for him to hit No. 600? It’ll be at least one more day, as he’s out of the lineup. That’s not a terrible idea against a righty with a nasty changeup.
And on the mound, number fifty-two, CC Sabathia.
Despite already having the best record in baseball and a budget (albeit flexible) at its limit, the Yankees owned the trade deadline in a way that would make George Steinbrenner proud. They got big names in Lance Berkman and Kerry Wood because they were willing to take on salary and not let money get in the way of improving the team. They also did this without sacrificing any major pieces for their future. There was no trading Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps, just signing the checks that other franchises were unwilling to write.
In fact, the Red Sox were in on Wood as well, but wouldn’t take on as much salary. The Sox wouldn’t take on the $1.5 million the Yankees were willing to pay to get Wood (Beware, that link is for John Tomase who’s not the most credible of writers). So the Red Sox, who by inquiring on Wood think they are still in the race (and they are) let a few hundred thousand dollars get in the way of obtaining him. Much like the Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira pursuits, the Red Sox had their chance and came up short when it came time to open the wallet (I guess they should have sold a few more memberships to Red Sox Nation). Can you imagine how thrilled George would be to know this?
While the Astros did pick up a significant portion of Berkman’s salary, the Yankees still needed to commit to paying Berkman, having a down year, $3.1 million for 2 months of regular season work plus hopefully the playoffs. Considering they have already committed $5.5 million to the DH position in Nick Johnson and we’re in a recession, this was not a tiny pill to swallow. While upgrading the DH position in a big way was more of a want than a need, they saw an opportunity to strike with the biggest cost being money. Again they went for it, and again, the Boss would be proud.
There were concerns after Steinbrenner’s passing that Hal would run the team more as a business and less as a fan leading the Yankees to cut back on spending going forward. So far so good however, as the decision makers decided the increased payroll was worth the increased chances of winning it all. Did the Yankees, as constructed on July 29th, have a chance to win the World Series? Of course they did. Do the Yankees, on August 1st have a better chance of winning the World Series? Of course they do. Not only did the Yankees step up to the plate and take their shot, but for the most part their main competitors didn’t as the Red Sox and Rays didn’t wow anyone with their deadline moves. Give credit to the guys signing the checks this year and know that what they pulled off the past few days would make the old man proud.
After a long day of trade rumors and wondering what exciting news the next Twitter refresh would bring us, the Yankees and Rays played a rather important game on Saturday night. If Tampa won, not only would they have clinched the series win, but they also would have pulled into a tie for the AL East lead. The Yankees made sure that didn’t happen.
Down two in the 6th, Mark Teixeira unloaded on a Matt Garza fastball, completely unloaded on it, sending the ball into orbit to tie the game at three. An inning later, with the Yanks down one, Nick Swisher connected on the hangiest of hanging curveballs, parking it a few rows back in rightfield to again tie the game. The score remained that way until the 9th inning, when the Yankees’ MVP did what he’s been doing all season long. Robbie Cano, already 2-for-3 on the day with a pair of booming doubles, took a Rafael Soriano fastball down and in and deposited it where the sun don’t shine. Well, the sun doesn’t shine anywhere in that place because of the dome, but you get the point. Cano’s monster shot gave the Yanks their first lead of the game, and ultimately helped reclaim their two game lead in the division.
I’m going to recap this game bullet point style because it’s been a long day, but here’s the WPA Graph and box score. Cano’s homer checked in at .371 WPA, not as high as you’d think. I don’t need no stinkin’ math to tell me it was one of the Yanks’ biggests hits of the season, if the not thee biggest. Anyway, on to the notes…
- Javy Vazquez wasn’t great, but he was good enough to win. The gopher ball to Matt Joyce was probably his biggest mistake of the game.
- Speaking of Joyce, I suspect he has now earned the “Yankee Killer” tag. He and what, a couple hundred others?
- The Yanks had six total hits in this game, and zero singles. Cano doubled twice and homered, Tex homered, Swish homered, and Derek Jeter doubled. I guess if you’re only going to average two hits for every three innings, they might as well go for extra bases.
- Big ups to Boone Logan for throwing three pitches and getting two outs against two dangerous hitters in John Jaso and Carl Crawford to end the 7th.
- Even bigger ups to David Robertson for throwing a perfect 8th innings with two strikeouts against Tampa’s 3-4-5 hitters on just a dozen pitches. Dude’s straight money right now.
- Not a great debut for Lance Berkman – 0-for-4 with a strikeout – but who cares, he’ll be fine. It was nice having a little extra length in the lineup, no? Made a noticeable difference towards the bottom of the order.
- One of these days Alex Rodriguez will get his 600th homer, I swears it. The Yanks will be back in the Bronx to face the Blue Jays and Red Sox tomorrow, so hopefully he gets it then.
The rubber game is tomorrow afternoon at 1:40pm ET. Regardless of what happens, the Yanks will return home Monday in first place. Each team is throwing their Opening Day starter, with CC Sabathia taking on Jamie Shields.
Chad Tracy has apparently exercised his opt out clause and is no longer with Triple-A Scranton. Robby Hammock has rejoined the team following his rehab stint in the GCL, and his versatility will help ease the loss of Tracy. They still need to replace Mark Melancon; I’d like to see Ryan Pope get promoted. He’s been fantastic since moving to the bullpen and the Yanks need to see what he’s capable of before deciding whether or not to protect him from the 40-man roster after the season.
- Triple-A Scranton won. Jesus Montero went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Tim Redding dominated yet again with 8.1 innings of one run ball. Jon Albaladejo recorded the last two outs with ease.
- Double-A Trenton lost. Not much happened offensive with Romine resting; Dan Brewer singled. Andrew Brackman didn’t allow a baserunner until the 4th inning, but still managed to allow six runs in 5.1 IP.
- High-A Tampa won. Bradley Suttle and Corban Joseph both had multiple hits, but the night belonged to Melky Mesa, who had three hits includes a double and a homer. He’s now nine for his last 14 with three homers. Nothing exciting on the mound, just a scoreless inning from Pat Venditte.
- Low-A Charleston won. Slade Heathcott went hitless in three at-bats, but he did draw two walks. J.R. Murphy is certifiably en fuego with another two hits with Rob Lyerly and Luke Murton picked up three apiece. Brett Marshall gave up three runs in four innings.
- Short Season Staten Island lost. Eduardo Sosa and Kelvin DeLeon each picked up a single. Boring game on the mound.
- Rookie GCL Yanks lost. Cito Culver went 3-for-4 while Evan DeLuca struck out seven in four innings of work. That’s pretty much it, nothing too exciting.
It sure was a busy trade deadline for the Yankees, with the biggest pick up being the man you see above. Lance Berkman steps right in as the Yanks’ new designated hitter, and his impact is immediately noticeable. He’s batting second in tonight’s lineup, pushing both Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher down towards the bottom third of the order. On days Jorge Posada catches, you’re looking at a lineup that could hurt you one through nine with zero breaks for opposing pitchers. Heck, Derek Jeter is the team’s worst offensive regular right now.
In other news, the Yanks are playing a pretty big game tonight. They dropped the opener last night on one bad Phil Hughes pitch, but lost among the bad pitch and the trade deadline was that the Yankees had just one hit after the 1st inning. That simply can not happen again, and I’m sure Fat Elvis will do a long way towards making sure it doesn’t. A win restores the Yanks’ two game lead in the division, a loss puts them in a tie with Tampa.
Here’s tonight’s starting nine…
And on the mound, it’s Javy “score me some damn runs” Vazquez.
First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET, and can be seen locally on YES and nationally on MLB Network. Enjoy the game, folks.