What the New York Yankees Should Do

Overview

The Yankees are currently 59-34, leading the AL East by 2.5 games. They have either been tied for the lead or held it since June 13, but that doesn’t mean that they lack weaknesses. In the rough and tumble AL East a couple of flaws can set a team a long way back.

Buy or Sell

While the Yankees might be vulnerable in some aspects, they’re pretty solid in terms of regulars. The team ranks second in the league in wOBA, and doesn’t have a position that would require an upgrade. They also have five solid-to-excellent starters and an elite closer. This leaves few areas for improvement.

The one semi-regular spot the Yanks could see fit to augment is center field, where Curtis Granderson has continued to falter against left-handed pitchers, producing a .250 wOBA in 97 PA against them. The Yankees do want to get him straightened out against lefties, but for this year a platoon partner will help further their championship goals. A versatile RHB outfielder like Cody Ross, who can take a corner while Brett Gardner slides into center, might help when facing lefties.

An upgrade at utility infielder could also be on the shopping list, since Ramiro Pena continues to be one of the lightest hitting in the business. He can pick it like anyone, as the Yankees commentators are fond of saying, but he produces almost nothing at the plate. At this time last year the Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston from the Reds, and they could see a similar player at the deadline this year.

In the first half the Yankees’ bullpen represented one of its weakest points. Outside of Mariano Rivera almost every reliever performed below expectations. While the team maintains faith in Joba Chamberlain as the primary setup man, that might need to change. Whether that means moving David Robertson into a more prominent role or bringing in someone from outside the organization, the relief corps figures to see a few changes in the next week and a half. The relief options are slim, of course, and most contenders could use a bullpen upgrade, so we might not see movement on this front. But it won’t be for a lack of trying.

The one other area the Yankees could upgrade is in the starting rotation. The Yanks like what they have for the most part, but they do have a few issues. Andy Pettitte is currently on the DL, and estimates for his return vary depending on whom you ask. Even if he is out for only another three weeks, the Yankees could still use another starter to supplement the rotation. Not only could they find someone better than Sergio Mitre to replace Pettitte, but after Pettitte’s return they could use the extra starter to help ease Phil Hughes‘s workload. The 24-year-old hasn’t pitched more than 111 innings since 2006. He is currently at 106.

On the Farm

The Yanks have already tried to use their best minor league player, Jesus Montero, in a deal for Cliff Lee. That has fallen through, and GM Brian Cashman has said that there are no other options on the trade market that would tempt him to trade his 20-year-old AAA catcher.

After Montero the team’s best prospect is fellow catcher Austin Romine, but since the Yankees think he’s more likely to stick behind the plate they could be reluctant to trade him. They also have a number of arms with decent upsides, but few would bring back a big name in return. That works for the Yankees, since they’re not looking for a major player.

For the most part, the farm will be used to help supplement the bench and the bullpen in August.

Budget

Most observers don’t think that the Yankees have a real budget, even though they worked with the constraints of one this winter. Even last summer they had a chance to add payroll and declined. Cashman had worked out a deal for Mike Cameron, but Hal Steinbrenner nixed it because of the payroll the team would absorb. With a smaller base payroll for the 2010 season perhaps they’d be more open to adding salary. But, again, given the players they seek it shouldn’t be much of an issue.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.


37 Responses to “What the New York Yankees Should Do”

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  1. Francoeur instead of Ross?

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Do you really think the same GM who valued Nick Johnson would acquire Flailcoeur?

      What do you think the price on Jake Westbrook would be, assuming the Yanks didn’t ask Cleveland to kick in any salary?

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      • Steve says:

        Francoeur in a strict platoon role would be an ok fit. He can hit LHP and field his position.

        Francoeur is “Failcoeur” because the Mets pay him $5M and were playing him everyday.

        As a bench guy on a low salary, he’d be fine. Would the Mets kick in some money to trade him? Probably not, since they seem to like him a lot.

        But if he were sitting there in late August as a waiver claim, it could make some sense for the Yankees. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Flailcoeur, not Failcoeur. I was referring to his utter lack of any plate discipline whatsoever – just not a Cashman type of player.

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      • If they are looking for a right-handed bat to face lefties, Francoeur would seemingly be a good option. While he isn’t as complete as Ross, he does hit lefties well to the tune of an .823 OPS. It’s a right-handed version of the Hinske pick up last season. Seems like a good idea considering Granderson’s struggles vs. LHP.

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      • Steve says:

        My bad. Flailcoeur is more clever. Again though, we’re talking the short half of a platoon. Someone to bat 8th on the 2 days/week they see a LHed starter.

        It’s not going to happen, but I don’t think Cashman demands his bench players to be .400 OBP guys. It’s just not realistic to expect that.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Eh, maybe. I’m just biased against Jeff Francoeur, I guess. I’m also not convinced the Mets are running up a white flag anytime soon, so the discussion’s rather moot.

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  2. JRyanSims says:

    I long for lefty-crusher Jayson Werth to DH/platoon with Granderson, but I doubt that’s terribly likely to happen.

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    • Steve says:

      Yes, this would be ideal, but it’s a probably a little far-fetched.

      On a less ambitious note, I’m surprised there haven’t been any rumors about Coco Crisp. He’s not a great hitter, but would fill in just fine as the 4th OFer. At least as well as Cody Ross.

      There just aren’t that many teams ready to throw in the towel yet, so there aren’t too many options out there.

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      • Brian says:

        I know that Oakland is definitely not out of the race yet but regarding Crisp, he probably is not getting his name thrown around partly because

        Sarcasm alert…

        HE IS NOT THE BIG SPLASH. OSWALT AND/OR HAREN have to TRADED in order for the World to remain in order.

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  3. Andrew says:

    For a site that prides itself on the utilization of ‘numbers behind the numbers’, why in the world would someone suggest that Joba Chamberlain should be moved from the set-up role. His FIP,FIPX numbers are really good and his ‘struggles’ have been a result of his BABIP over .400.

    Seems like a casual fan’s advice, rather than a sabremetric stud like you are, Joe.

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    • Joe Pawlikowski says:

      Because no matter what the numbers behind the numbers suggest, he’s getting horrible results. If he continues getting horrible results they’re not going to put him in critical situations.

      It’s also not like BABIP is 100% luck. There’s plenty that can be going on here, including a complete lack of command, that causes hitters to tattoo Joba.

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      • tenfingers says:

        Yes, but hitters aren’t tattoo’ing him. His LD and FB/HR rates are just fine. He has a fine tERA, a fine FIP/XFIP, and fine basic peripherals. What he has is a ridiculously high BABIP and a ridiculously low strand rate, both of which will regress.

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  4. Augustus says:

    To be honest, the player I want most, now that Cliff Lee is gone, is Joakim Soria. From limited experience (the Royals just don’t play much on Sunday Night Baseball–or any national outlet), Soria seems to play it down in non-save situations, but I think this is mostly not something to worry about.

    He’d shore up an atrocious middle relief and certainly get into the competitive market he appears to desire. I imagine Mariano retiring well before his time is up as an effective Major Leaguer, so he’d be the long-term option at closer as well.

    It’s certainly not a likely trade to happen, but it’s still a solution to the Joba-Robertson-Marte-Park mess. It’d be kind of odd to have the closer with perhaps the best pure stuff combined with effectiveness as a set-up man, but such is life in the Bronx.

    For the record, naturally, I’d prefer to have Adam Dunn instead, but I can’t imagine the Nationals, hard-headed as they are, asking for anything less than Jesus Montero, which just isn’t going to happen in a trade for someone the team doesn’t really need and can just sign in a few months anyway, so, somehow, the Soria under team control for a few more seasons is the more accessible target.

    Plus, well, KC’s GM has made his fair share of boneheaded moves.

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    • Steve says:

      Soria would be perfect, but like you said, the Royals aren’t likely to deal him.

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    • Rich Mahogany says:

      Soria is far too good, affordable, and closer-y (meaning that he has the closer rep, which adds millions to a reliever’s market value) to be a realistic acquisition. If Cashman makes a bullpen move it will be for an under-the-radar name that would not require high-level prospects.

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      • Augustus says:

        It really depends on how much longer they think Mo wants to play.

        I had pegged his current deal as a retirement contract when it was first announced, but it seems pretty clear that it’s absolutely not cut and dry at this point. That being said, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if, should the Yankees win the World Series this season, he looks at the rings he no longer can put on one hand without repeating, and decides to hang them up, which is why I’ve been hopeful they would add someone like Soria.

        From KC’s perspective, when your best asset, non-Greinke division, is a reliever, it hurts significantly less to unload than a position player, and is a fairly effective way of replenishing a farm system, going by the Beane method of building talent. I’m sure the Yankees could theoretically pull it off without giving up Montero or Romine, too.

        Nevertheless, I doubt they feel the pressure to acquire a top five or so reliever in baseball at the deadline, no matter how many times Joba loads the bases.

        I hope they pursue Soria, and Dunn, my mancrush, in the offseason, though.

        Not that I even have to say it, but in addition to Cliff Lee, whom Majestic has all but printed up Yankees jerseys for.

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  5. Brian says:

    Hopefully Majestic doesn’t print up jerseys for Strasburg, Heyward, Brennan Boesch, Carlos Santana, or any valuable young player whether he is a superstar or not.

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    • Brian says:

      Edit: I meant Majestic printing up jerseys for the Yanks

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    • Augustus says:

      Every time can afford to keep one or two bona fide superstars. I wouldn’t worry too about these people reaching free agency, except for one case I’ll explain below.

      Frankly, the only true superstars who bounce around come from the Indians organization, since they, for whatever reason, just don’t extend their core when they get the opportunity.

      I mean, outside of Alex Rodriguez, whom the Mariners just would never be able to match the offer of, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Manny Ramirez are the three best free agents of the past ten years, and they’ve all come to free agency through an Indians sell-off or passivity.

      And, out of the innumerable (if you believe the scouting hyperboles) talented catchers in the Yankees farm system, one will probably be ok at the next level, so Carlos Santana can sign with Boston instead.

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      • Brian says:

        I agree. I was just trying to exaggerate based on past big stories like Joe Mauer and even a mention on New York sports radio about Felix Hernandez.

        Imagine, though if Carlos Santana has a year like Mauer in 2009 and he is close to the end of his future-contract with the Indians and the Yankees are in the same situation? It would be pretty interesting and funny at the same time.

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      • Augustus says:

        I just have to believe they work something out to keep him…

        It’s just bothers me that Cleveland has been so resigned over the years to either letting their superstars walk or selling them off for what usually amounts to substandard prospect packages.

        And hey, they got an elite prospect by trading away a roughly middle-of-the-road third basemen, so maybe there’s some merit in those whole only selling what you can afford to lose thing.

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  6. Jared says:

    What should FANTASY OWNERS of the Yankees do? I am the proud owner of Javier Vazquez and Derek Jeter. I’m keen to roll Jeter out every week but can I justify keeping Vazquez at this point in the season when there are other promising FAs floating around?

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Depends on how shallow a league it is. I grabbed Javy at the beginning of May, and he’s been effing money for me.

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      • Jared says:

        You grabbed him at the right time. He was striking out 23.6% of batters in June but in July he’s back to his old tricks again striking out 10 guys in 19 innings pitched and giving up fly balls like crazy.

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    • Augustus says:

      Umm, who’s available in Free Agency?

      Frankly, it sounds like you’ve got back-up hitters, which to me some like a more viable choice for an FA dump than Javier Vazquez.

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  7. dan l says:

    I would like to see the Yankees bring back Kyle Farnsworth and his new cutter and make a small trade for Brendan Donnelly to sure up the 6th inning.

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    • Captain says:

      Kyle is welcome to get a job with the concession company at Yankee Stadium at any time he wants.

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      • Mike R. says:

        Bringing Farnsworth back to the Yankees would be equivalent of the Calgary Flames bringing back Olli Jokinen (Oh wait, they did).

        He had an even better season the year before he went to the Yankees (In terms of FIP), so I believe that ship has sailed.

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  8. Mike R. says:

    If Montero continues to tear up AAA Ball as he has done lately, is there a slight chance that he can get a call up this year? I don’t think he is on the 40 Man roster, but I don’t know the specifics.

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    • spydog says:

      Montero’s line since June 11th: .372/.445/.669 in 121 ABs.

      You gotta believe he’s putting the Yankees brass in an awkward position, especially if he can keep up a .300/.370/.550 line or better in the 3-4 weeks.

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      • Tom B says:

        in the awkward position of trying to find him a position to play in the majors next year? yeah, what a terrible problem to have.

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    • philosofool says:

      Tearing up AAA is great, but I’m not sure that you want to invest your playoff hopes in a guy that’s never seen an MLB pitch. That sort of move is soemthing poor clubs do because they can’t afford a better piece, but if you’re the Yankees, you buy a bat you can count on.

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      • Mike R. says:

        No one said the Yankees were investing their playoff hopes in Montero in a situation in which he’d be called up. However, adding a guy like Montero to the roster can provide a nice boost to the lineup over guys such as Miranda.

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  9. robbiecano says:

    The Yanks could use a DH, too, especially if they aren’t going to call up Montero for the stretch run. A Juan Miranda/Marucs Thames platoon doesn’t inspire much confidence. The dream scenario is Adam Dunn (drool) but I guess the more likely outcome is they leave that spot open to give Posada and A-Rod rest. Ty Wigginton wouldn’t be a bad pickup, since he can play all over and would shore up a very mediocre bench.

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  10. AngMohClay says:

    People should really take a look at Cody Ross’s platoon splits before suggesting bigger names. in 593 career ABs vs. lefties, he sports a .396 wOBA. Not a massive sample size, but large enough not to be easily dismissed.

    He’s a .291/.353/.594 hitter against lefties. That .301 ISO against lefties (and ISO stabilizes faster than many other metrics) suggests he’s pretty much the ideal lefty masher that could come at a reasonable price.

    Fantasywise – if Ross goes to NYY he’s an instant pick up for daily transaction leagues, provided you have a deep enough bench.

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  11. phoenix says:

    i like cody ross to NY, especially with granderson striking out practically from the on deck circle every time he sees a pitchers left arm. i dont think theyll trade for adam dunn, though signing in the offseason is not a stretch.

    i dont think they need a crawford or werth in the OF even though the yankees keep saying how much they like how those guys play. the outfield (assuming granderson heats up eventually) looks fine. with pettitte and javy leaving after this year (i assume), picking up cliff lee or another ace starter would be perfect in the offseason. you could have cc, lee, burnett (puke but tolerable if at #3), hughes and a young fifth starter.

    but back to this season. the bullpen could use a new arm like downs or something and the bench could use ross or wiggington. they can make deals like that without giving up anything theyd regret. but if they dont make any deals (but we know they will) that have any impact on the lineup, i say call up montero late late in the season or when the rosters expand in the postseason and use him at DH or as a third catcher. with posada, you can never have too many catchers… oh and just to rant at burnett a little: he cant be caught by posada or he effs everything up. i nearly died when they played Molina in the world series. thats got to stop…

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