Musings on the Nady/Marte trade

Yesterday was an inauspicious anniversary for Xavier Nady. As the X Man announced that he would need a second Tommy John surgery and would be out for the season, he and the Yanks celebrated the 11-month anniversary of the trade that brought him and Damaso Marte from the Pirates to the Yankees. It was a bittersweet celebration indeed.

Last year, as the Yankees tried to mount a run on the Red Sox and Rays, they found themselves just a few games out of a playoff spot at the end of July. They need to fill a few holes. The bullpen needed a lefty power pitcher, and with Melky Cabrera mired in a season-long slump, the team needed an outfielder. Unwilling to pay or just not interested in the very steep price for Jason Bay, Brian Cashman killed two birds with one stone as he sent Jose Tabata, Dan McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens to Pittsburgh for Marte and Nady.

With Nady on the shelf now until he hits free agency and Marte MIA with an ambiguous shoulder injury, the word “bust” has floated around the Yankees. Was this trade — four young guys for two now-injured players — a bust? It’s easy to say yes, but I’m not so sure.

First, we have to consider how the two players the Yankees landed did at the time. That’s really what assessing this trade is about. If they performed to expectations, if they did the job, and if the Yankees didn’t give up all that much at the time, it isn’t a bust. Anything after that would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

Last year, Nady came over and impressed. A late September swoon left his triple slash line at .268/.320/.474, but as the team tride to amount an August attack, Nady hit .308/.351/.523 with 19 RBI. Marte had an ugly 5.40 ERA, inflated due to a 1.1-inning, five-earned run appearance in Texas. Without that appearance, he was a reliable reliever for the Yanks down the stretch.

This year, of course, the story has been anything but that success. Nady hurt himself early on, and Marte has a 15.00 ERA to go with a shoulder problem. While their 2008 numbers were good, the 2009 totals haven’t earned either much praise.

On the other side of the deal were the four players the Yanks gave up. Karstens and Ohlendorf have stuck around in Pittsburgh this year. That’s more a testament to the Pirates’ place at the bottom of the NL than anything else. Karstens is 3-4 with a 4.80 ERA. He has just 26 strike outs in 65.2 innings, a 1:1 K:BB ratio and a 1.45 WHIP. Ohlendorf is 6-6 with a 4.75 ERA. His K/9 IP is hovering around 4.5. These numbers look halfway decent on the Pirates, but in the AL they would amount to nothing.

While Ohlendorf and Karstens are what they are, the deal rests with the two players not in the Majors. Dan McCutchen is 26 at AAA with mediocre numbers (5-5, 4.34 ERA, 60 K in 74.2 IP). At best, he’ll be a swing man who makes a few spot starts for the Pirates. And then there is Tabata. After missing much of the season with an injury, Tabata has come on strong of late. He’s hitting .270/.354/.330 on the season. He is 11 for his last 34 but with no extra-base hits over that time.

To judge a deal, we have to look at it when it was made, and at that point, the deal was not a bust. It was nearly a steal. If Tabata develops the power and ability to be what people think he can be, the deal probably ends up being a wash. Yet, success has eluded Tabata, and his development has seemingly stalled out. It is disappointing to see Marte and Nady on the shelf, but that doesn’t make the deal a bust. If I were to go back in time and were to be unaware of what the future holds for Nady and Marte, I’d do it again. Would you?

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Quick Hits: Nady, A-Rod, Jeter, Andy Phillips

A few quick notes a few hours before the Yanks and Mets square off in an overhyped Subway Series. It’s the last weekend of Interleague play.

  • Joe Girardi appeared on the FAN this afternoon to chat about the state of the Yankees. While he didn’t come out and flat-out state that Xavier Nady will not be returning this year, the Yankees are not counting on any further contributions from the X Man. Nady is off to see Dr. Lewis Yocum in California, and an announcement concerning surgery will come soon after that. Nady should be ready for Spring Training, no matter where the free agent-to-be lands this winter. Jose Tabata, by the way, is hitting .258/.333/.320 at AA. Still young for his level, Tabata has stalled out a bit in his development.
  • Also on the FAN, Girardi said that the team will not carry three catchers when Jose Molina is ready to return. Molina’s return isn’t yet on the horizon; he is still building up strength in his legs. When he gets back, Francisco Cervelli will return to AAA for regular playing time.
  • Just one week after the Yanks benched A-Rod due to fatigue in his surgically-repaired hip and promised to give him regular rest, the team appears to be backing away from that plan. A-Rod has started four straight games, and the Yankees won’t rest him against the Mets. “It’s our home city, and I think our guys enjoy the Subway Series,” Girardi said yesterday. “Alex feels good, feels like he’s got a lot of energy in his legs. He feels good, so we’ll let him keep going.” Fack Youk takes the team to task for straying from the plan less than a week into it, and without knowing more details about this decision, I’m inclined to agree with the critique.
  • Derek can now run for President. Today is Cap’n Jeter’s 35th birthday. It seems as though he made his Major League debut just yesterday when in fact it was fourteen years ago on May 29, 1995. The Yankees were in Seattle, and Jeter went 0 for 5 that day. Scott Bankhead drew the loss after allowing a lead-off home run to Rich Amaral in the bottom of the 12th inning.
  • Finally, news on an old friend: Former Yankee farmhand Andy Phillips has signed to play in Japan. Phillips, who has bounced around the league since leaving the Bronx, will earn $400,000 to play for the Hiroshima Carp.

Cashman: Possible worst-case scenario for Nady

In Mike’s DotF tonight, he noted that Xavier Nady played just five innings at AAA. According to Brian Cashman, that wasn’t a planned short stint. The Yanks’ GM has said that Nady felt something in his right elbow following his second throw of the night and removed himself from the game. This may be a worst-case scenario for Nady. If this was not a precautionary move by Nady, it could mean the season-ending surgery Nady had hoped to avoid. We’ll follow up with this as soon as we know more.

Nady set for Scranton rehab

The Twitters are all abuzz with word of a Xavier Nady sighting. Per the Yankees PR Twitter account, Nady will begin a rehab assignment this Wednesday in Scranton. There is no indication yet as to how long Nady will be in Scranton. The rehab clock runs for 30 days, but I would expect him back in the Bronx by the first week of July. If he’s going out on rehab, the Yankees feel he can play the outfield. His return would bring some solid depth to the Yankees’ bench.

Update by Mike (5:40pm): Since we’re on the subject on rehab assignments, I just wanted to mention that Cody Ransom’s rehab and DL assignment both end this coming Wednesday. So unless Ransom manages to reinjure himself within the next two days, he’ll be replacing Angel Berroa on the roster later this week.

Revving the mill: Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher

As July approaches, the pace of rumors about potential trades will increase. A lot of what we hear and read is simply noise, and as we have in the past, we’re not going to reproduce every single rumor involving the Yanks. What we will do is highlight the ones from reliable sources that carry some newsworthiness. Sometimes, we’ll highlight rumors of what the Yanks don’t plan to do as well.

Today, we have one of the latter stories, this one from Buster Olney. In his Saturday blog post, Olney dropped in a “heard this” note about the Yanks’ July plans:

The Yankees are unlikely to trade Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady after Nady returns — probably in the first week of July — because of the other needs of their club, and because it’s unlikely they would get anything close to full value for Nady if they put him on the market, in light of his elbow injury. The Yankees had discussions with other teams about Nady during the offseason, after signing Mark Teixeira.

This is an interesting item because, honestly, it doesn’t make too much sense. Getting Xavier Nady will do wonders for the Yanks’ depth, but is he really that integral a piece that they need to hold onto him? I don’t think so.

When Nady returns in a week or two, the Yankees will have a very deep team. They can jettison Angel Berroa or option Ramiro Peña back to the minors. Either way, depending upon the lineup, they’ll have a decent backup catcher, Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, Berroa or Peña or Cody Ransom and Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher. Most teams would kill for that depth.

One of the benefits though of depth is recognizing when to use it to fill in parts. The Yankees may not, as Olney reports, be able to get “full value” for Nady, but that’s a rather amorphous concept right now. Nady is set to be a free agent at the end of the season, and if the Yankees don’t trade him now, they won’t get anything from him. They aren’t likely to offer him arbitration. In a weak economy, corner outfielders tend to suffer, and Nady would likely accept arbitration. Meanwhile, the Yankees aren’t keen on signing 31-year-old outfielders to multi-year contracts right now.

Trading Nady this July, if he comes back and proves himself healthy, makes good sense. If they can get a piece they need — a reliever, perhaps, to solidify the bullpen — I wouldn’t be opposed to moving Nady. Right now, in fact, that might very well be where his value lies.

Quick Hits: Teixeira, Nady, Mel Hall

Updated 1:54 p.m. with Mel Hall news: We’ve got a few short items for a mid-morning wrap-up. Let’s jump in.

Youkilis jumps out to slim All Star Game lead over Teixeira
Starting with bad news, we find out that Kevin Youkilis holds a 1,314-vote lead over Mark Teixeira for the All Star Game. While Youkilis is definitely worthy of the start — perhaps more so than Teixeira by a slim margin — the Yankee fan in me doesn’t want to see some Red Sox player starting for the AL at first base. So Yankee fans, let’s get on that. Vote here for Teixeira. Vote early. Vote often. This injustice will not stand.

Nady making rehab progress
From exhibition games to injuries, we turn our attention to the rehabbing Yankee outfielder Xavier Nady. According to NJ.com’s Colin Stephenson, Nady has ramped up his throwing program. He threw from around 100 feet prior to last night’s game and will do so again today. After this afternoon’s session, the Yankees will determine whether Nady will stick with the team or return to Tampa to finish his rehab. There is still no timetable for his return.

In a way, Nady presents an interesting case for the Yankees. The team is committed to bringing him back only when he can be a viable on-field contributor. With Hideki Matsui limited to DH duties, the team doesn’t need another no-field player impacting their roster flexibility.

The only question about Nady’s return concerns the roster move. Who goes down when Nady comes up? Most likely, Angel Berroa will be the odd man out. He has amassed a whopping five plate appearances over the team’s last 31 games and doesn’t do much in the field. He’s pure dead weight and should have been jettisoned a while ago. That leaves the Yankees a little outfield-heavy on the bench, but I’m OK with that.

Mel Hall convicted on charges of sex abuse
In March 1989, Dave Winfield went down with a back injury, and the Yankees had an outfield void to fill. They attempted to do so by acquiring an overrated Mel Hall. While the team attempted to spin the move as a positive, Hall was an underwhelming contributor who managed to stick around for four years. He hit .273/.303/.437 for the Yanks from 1989-1992 and was out of the Big Leagues and in Japan until attempting an American comeback with the Giants in 1996.

Two years ago, he was arrested on allegations of sexual abuse, and his trial took off this week when his accuser took the stand. The Associated Press has the details, and they are disturbing. If convicted, Hall could face a life in jail.

Update: It seems that Hall was found guilty as well. The jury took 90 minutes to convict him, and sentencing will continue today and tomorrow.

Injury Update: Bruney, Nady

As June marches on, two injured Yankees are nearing their respective returns to the active roster. Ernie Palladino has updates on Xavier Nady and Brian Bruney. The Yanks’ right-handed set-up man plans to throw a bullpen session on Thursday in Boston. It will be his first try at tossing some breaking pitches since his return to the DL. If all goes well, he could be back in a week to ten days. Bruney’s return will spell the end of either David Robertson‘s, Phil Hughes‘ or Jose Veras’ time in the Bronx.

Nady, meanwhile, went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk during an extended spring training game. He continued to throw, this time from 75 feet, and Joe Girardi said that Nady won’t return to the outfield until he can double that distance. It will be interesting to see how the Yanks handle Nady’s return. A few weeks ago, we looked forward to his replacing Swisher, but Nick has hit .419/.537/.839 over his last 42 plate appearances. Hideki Matsui is 0 for 18. Still, Nady’s return is probably two weeks away, and talk of lineup changes is premature.