At 65-37, The New York Yankees have a better than 90 percent chance of making the playoffs according to Cool Standings. With no gaping holes and a potential blockbuster for a starting pitcher no longer on the table, the Bombers have bolstered the DH spot with Lance Berkman and upgraded with bench with Austin Kearns. Now, the Yankees have added Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians in an attempt to strengthen the bridge to Mariano Rivera. The Indians will send cash (approximately $1.5 million of Wood’s remaining $3.6 million salary) as part of the deal, while picking up a player to be named later from the Yankees.
Wood, 33, inked a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Tribe prior to the 2009 season. Suffice it to say, Cleveland’s return on investment has been poor — Wood compiled just 0.2 WAR in 75 innings with the Indians. His xFIP was 4.11 in 55 frames last season, as he missed lots of bats (10.31 K/9) but walked 4.58 batters per nine. In between DL stints for a strained Latissimus muscle in his back and a blister on his right index finger in 2010, Wood has 8.1 K/9, 4.95 BB/9 and a 5.04 xFIP in 20 IP. The Texan has an $11 million club option for the 2011 season that would have been guaranteed if he finished 55 games this season, but that ship has obviously sailed. And, that option won’t be exercised. The Yankees might, as Rob Neyer said, “have more loose money than a Saudi prince,” but there’s no chance of them retaining Wood at that price.
As a unit, Yankees’ bullpen ranks fourth in the American League in xFIP and seventh in Win Probability Added. Mo remains marvelous, and both Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson have pitched much better than their ERAs would indicate. The extra relief arm won’t hurt, though. Given Wood’s injury problems and bouts of wildness, he shouldn’t be expected to dominate — ZiPS projects him for a 4.05 rest-of-season FIP, with a strikeout per inning and nearly four walks per nine frames. But, considering the apparently minimal price tag to pick up Wood and the lack of depth in the Bombers’ ‘pen, he’s a worthwhile addition.
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