Five players that could help the Yanks (with no commitment for ’08)

As the calendar turns to June, the Yanks are close to being dead in the water.

In April, they went 9-14, scoring 131 runs while allowing their opponents 125. Poor starting pitching performances spearheaded the loss column, though a potent offense mitigated some of the damage — which says a lot, considering the results.

In May, they went 13-15, scoring 137 runs while allowing their opponents 143. This was due to hitters not hitting for games at a time. However, the team line of .276/.351/.431 is comparable with the team April batting line of .268/.347/.421.

The pain of this season is simple: the highs are too high and the lows are too low. And, in the end, the stats balance themselves out. However, because their standing is based on the results of games, rather than an amalgamation of the entire season, they’re sitting in last place in the AL East. Only Kansas City, Texas, and Cincinnati have won fewer games than the Yanks (they share a win total with Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, and Houston).

Now Jason Giambi is out, leaving a hole at DH. There are a number of things the Yankees can do to fill that gap. The most likely is to rotate it among Matsui, Abreu, and Damon, leaving Melky in the outfield full time. Another is to add Josh Phelps to that rotation.

But the Yanks have other glaring problems that need to be addressed. Brian Cashman needs to work the phones to see if he can salvage this season with a few replacements. Because we could get them for less value than, say, Mark Teixeira, here are a list of five players I wouldn’t mind seeing Cashman trade for. Suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments or hit me with an e-mai: rabjosephp at gmail dot com.

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Is Cashman the problem or the solution?

In his most recent piece this afternoon, Peter Abraham dispelled what he feels are some myths about the Yankees’ current situation. Abraham feels like firing Cashman is a bad idea.

“The Yankees don’t have a lot of roster flexibility and Cashman has improved that to some degree. Firing him now could drop this team into a 10-year slump,” he wrote. Well, I disagree. In fact, I think many of the moves Cashman has made since supposedly taking full control of this team have led to this disastrous first two months.

Most notable from the last few months were the trades of Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson. The Yankees received few usable parts in return for these two players. Right now, Sheffield’s 10 home runs would put him second on the Yanks, and his .832 OPS is over .200 points higher than Abreu’s .613 OPS. The Yankees were a better team with Gary Sheffield and don’t have much to show for sending Detroit one of their missing pieces. I don’t miss Randy Johnson, but Luis Vizcaino, the only Major Leaguer in that deal, has been downright horrible.

Then, Cashman went out and threw $50 million at Kei Igawa when even his own scouts were telling him that Igawa would be, at best, a fifth starter in the Majors. Considering the Minor League pitchers in the Yankees’ system, this money could have been better spent just about anywhere else. The Yanks could have replaced Igawa with someone making just $380,000 this year. And that someone would probably have put up better numbers than Igawa.

He also re-upped with Mike Mussina for two years. The jury is out on that deal, but the early returns aren’t too promising.

Then, Cashman figured he could solve the first base hole by shoving Doug Mientkiewicz into it. Dougie’s .295 OBP is killing the team, and his defense just doesn’t make up for the number of outs – 98 in 133 plate appearances – he’s making at bat.

Finally, the Yankees’ bench is terribly weak. If Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez were to go down, Miguel Cairo would be the replacement. Wil Nieves, before this weekend, had been an unqualified disaster, and Melky Cabrera probably should have been traded last winter when his stock was at an all-time high. This is the weakest Yankee bench in years.

So I blame Cashman. While the team has been saddled with contracts that dole out millions of dollars to over-the-hill players (Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon), Cashman’s answer to this problem was to throw a pro-rated $28 million at Roger Clemens, an unnecessary piece considering the Yankees’ other problems right now.

I doubt the Yanks will fire Cashman. There are no real viable internal candidates right now, and the Yankee braintrust wouldn’t want to look outside for a mid-season replacement. So Cashman, the originator of this problem, will have to be the one to find a solution too. I can tell you this: Todd Helton ain’t the answer. Let’s see where he goes from there.