Yankees land Berkman, Kearns, & Wood

Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Yesterday, Brian Cashman pulled off two trades. First we heard that the Yankees had acquired DH/1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros in exchange for Mark Melancon and low-A second basemen Jimmy Paredes. Then we got news that the Yankees had acquired OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for a player to be named later. Then, on the day of the Trading Deadline the Yankees acquired Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash.

Lance Berkman is owed 5 million dollars for the remainder of the season and then he has a $15M option for 2011 but part of the trade agreement is that the option cannot be picked up so the Yankees will have to buyout Berkman’s option for $2M. So in total Berkman is guaranteed $7M, but the Astros have agreed to pay about $4M of the $7M leaving the Yankees with only $3M to pay. The Yankees aren’t giving up too much to acquire Berkman, Paredes is years away from ever becoming a valuable major leaguer, if he ever does become one. However, it is tough to give up Mark Melancon. Melancon has the potential to be a top-flight reliever but has struggled in the opportunities he has gotten in the majors. In addition, Melancon has struggled the entire 2010 season in AAA. His top quality used to be his great strike throwing ability, but this year he has not shown that. Maybe the Yankees think his struggles are permanent, or more likely the Yankees just had to give up quality to get quality in Berkman. Berkman should settle into the DH role when the Yankees are facing right handers and he could bat second in the order if Girardi feels that is where he is best suited.

Austin Kearns is a nice backup outfielder and should fit in nicely with the Yankees. His arrival probably means Colin Curtis will be sent back to AAA though. Still, Kearns is an upgrade over Curtis. Kearns is a very good rightfielder (11.0 career UZR/150 in RF). In limited appearances in left field and center field he hasn’t been as good, but that’s tough to qualify because of the small sample size. Kearns wOBA this season is sitting at .342 with is almost exactly in line with his career wOBA average of .343 so the Yankees should expect consistently decent hitting out of Kearns.

Kerry Wood is just coming off the DL, but could be a huge part of the Yankees bullpen.

2010 Trading Deadline

4 pm Eastern Time tomorrow marks the MLB trading deadline. However, while the name “Trading Deadline” implies that trades cannot be made after the deadline, that is not the case. After the deadline players just have to be put on waivers in order to be traded. Still, while trading is possible after July 31st, many teams have and will continue to rush to make trades before the deadline. I will do a recap of completed trades and I’ll take a quick look at possible trades. I plan to update this post whenever something worth noting happens. Please you this post to comment on on all things related to the Trading Deadline.

Completed Trades

July 9th: Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe were traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Texas Rangers for Justin Smoak and three others.

July 25th: Dan Haren was traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Los Angeles Angels for Joe Saunders and three others.

July 28th: Jhonny Peralta was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Detroit Tigers for Giovanni Soto (no, not that Geovany Soto)

July 28th: Scott Posednik was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor league pitchers.

July 29th: Miguel Tejada was traded by the Baltimore Orioles to the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Wynn Pelzer.

July 29th: Jorge Cantu was traded by the Florida Marlins to the Texas Rangers for two pitching prospects.

July 29th: Matt Capps was traded by the Washington Nationals to the Minnesota Twins for Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa.

July 29th: Roy Oswalt was traded by the Houston Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies for J.A. Happ and two minor league position players.

July 30th: Edwin Jackson was traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Chicago White Sox for two pitchers. There were rumors earlier that the White Sox might try to flip Jackson to the Nationals for Adam Dunn, so stay tuned.

July 30th: For the second time in his career, Mike Jacobs has been traded by the Mets. This time he is headed to Toronto.

July 30th: The bankrupt Rangers strike again as they acquire Christian Guzman from the Nationals for prospects.

Possible Trades

  • The Yankees are reportedly on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman.
  • Rediscovering Joba

    This season, we all know the Yankee bullpen has not been that great. Yankee relievers have been very inconsistent and unreliable this year (aside from Mariano Rivera), but they’ve been covered up by outstanding starting pitching. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the Yankee bullpen has been 24-year-old Joba Chamberlain. At quick glance, Joba Chamberlain has been awful this season. We as fans watch his outings which end in bad results and then look at his ERA which has now risen to 5.95 and we conclude that he has been awful this year. While that may very well be the case, let’s analyze Joba a bit more. Before I say anything let’s take a look at some statistics and compare Joba’s seasons.

    Taken from Fangraphs (Click to see larger)

    As you can see, Joba’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) has generally been similar to his ERA throughout his career, except for 2010 when his ERA has been 5.95 but his FIP has been 3.01. This could be indicative of bad luck, but let’s not assume that yet. When we look at Joba’s BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in play) we see that it has generally been about .320-.330 throughout his career, but this season it has jumped to .399. This could indicate that Joba is getting unlucky breaks in the form of bloop singles, seeing-eye grounders, etc… However, it could also mean that batters are just making much better contact against Joba this year. I’d say it’s a bit of both. Joba’s GB%, LD%, and FB% are pretty much in line with his career averages, so I don’t think that is a concern. Let’s take a look at pitch types.

    Taken from Fangraphs (click to see larger)

    The first thing that jumps out at me here is how worthless Joba’s fastball has been this season and last season. In 2007, the year Chamberlain stole Yankee fans’ hearts, his fastball was worth 3.2 runs above average. Then in 2008, it jumped to being worth 8.2 runs above average. In 2009, however, Joba’s fastball’s value fell of a cliff. Joba’s fastball in 2009 was worth -20.2 runs above average (or you could say 20.2 runs below average). That is awful. In 2010, Joba has regained some value on his fastball, but it still below average at -2.4. For someone who has averaged a velocity of 94.4 mph on his fastball this year, -2.4 runs above average is not very good at all. I would imagine that the reason behinds Joba’s sub-par fastball is that he isn’t necessarily throwing it for balls, but he is missing within the strike zone. The drop in runs above average in Joba’s slider this year is also noteworthy.

    So what should the Yankees do with Joba?

    The Yankees could leave Joba in the role his is in now and hope some luck goes his way the rest of the year, they could demote him within the bullpen, or they could send him to AAA. I vote for sending Joba to AAA where he can straighten himself out in a no pressure zone and regain his confidence by blowing away measly AAA hitters. However, if the Yankees want to send Joba to AAA, they will have to act fast. Joba made his major league debut 3 years ago on August 7th, and if the Yankees don’t send him down before August 7th this year, he would have to pass through waivers in order to be sent down. Despite Joba’s struggles this year the first team which would get a shot to claim Joba would do so in a heartbeat. So if Joba is going to be sent down, it will happen soon. What do you think the Yankees should do with Joba?

    Yankees lose out on Haren

    "Dan Haren will not be wearing pinstripes anytime soon." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    Update 7/25/10

    The Angels have just acquired Dan Haren in exchange for Joe Saunders and other prospects. I know nothing about the prospects so I can’t say for sure but it sounds like the D’backs were the losers in this trade.

    Just two weeks ago the Yankees were in heavy talks with the Mariners regarding Cliff Lee. In fact, it seemed that the Yankees were just about ready to fit Lee into a Yankee uniform, however, it never came to be. The Mariners pulled out at the last-minute and traded Cliff Lee to the Texas Rangers. Now, with the Cliff Lee non-trade in the rearview mirror, the Yankees appear to be in serious discussions with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dan Haren. Last night the news broke that the Yankees were rumored to be the front-runners in the Haren sweepstakes, and while things have quieted down, there is a good chance that the Yankees still are in the lead for Haren.

    In return for Haren, the Diamondbacks are rumored to want pitching, pitching, and more pitching. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus Montero will not be a part of any possible trade for Haren, but last night we did get an idea of who the Yankees might send to Arizona. Last night, Frankie Piliere reported that Ivan Nova could very well be the centerpiece of the trade and that Joba Chamberlain could also be in the deal. However, this morning Bob Klapisch tweeted that the Yankees are not willing to include Joba in a potential trade for Haren and Jon Heyman said the same and added that the Yankees are willing to include Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, and two other prospects. Heyman also said that the Yankees are willing to take on all of Haren’s contract but they have no interest in taking on anyone else from Arizona. Stay tuned for more updates.

    If the Yankees can acquire Dan Haren for Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, and two lesser prospects I would surely be in approval of the trade, but if the Diamondbacks demand that Joba be included in the trade, that’s when I get a bit uneasy. If the Yankees trade Joba they would be selling very low on him, which is usually not a good idea. Joba has run into a lot of back luck this season (I have a post planned about this and it should be up in the upcoming days) and is bound to see his numbers improve next season if not this season. However, Dan Haren has also experienced bad luck this season and the Diamondbacks would be selling low on him too. Still, Dan Haren doesn’t project to be a big part of the Diamondbacks’ future while Joba could very well play a key role in the Yankees future if they make him a starter. I really don’t know where I would stand on a trade for Haren which includes Joba.

    Phil Hughes’ Struggles

    "Hughes has been struggling as of late." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    When Phil Hughes was named the Yankees fifth starter coming out of Spring Training, none of us really knew what to expect. There were some who had unrealistically high expectations for the young pitcher, and others who expected him to struggle and would be more than happy with a decent season. Well, through the begginning of the 2010 season Hughes dominated the majors. Through his first 13 games Hughes put up a 3.17 ERA and averaged close to strikeout per inning, which undoubtedly is the reason he was named an All Star. However, through starts numbers 14 through 17 Hughes has regressed. Since June 29th when he made his 14th start Hughes has put up a 6.85 ERA. Still, I don’t want to make it sound like Hughes’ struggles came out of nowhere. Throughout the season it was clear that hitters were adjusting to him and while he was still putting up good numbers he wasn’t matching his early season production. But, why has Hughes regressed?

    Pitch selection? Maybe.

    Coming out of Spring Training Hughes received much praise for developing a major league changeup. However, throughout this season we have rarely seen him throw the pitch, in fact out of all his pitches he only has thrown his changeup 1.3% of the time. And the reason for that is simple, he did not need the pitch for the most of the season while he was dominating hitters with his fastball and cutter. However, now that hasn’t quite been getting away with just fastballs he’ll have to mix in more changeups and more curveballs (which he has only thrown 14% of the time this season). Without a doubt the Yankees and Phil Hughes know this. And while Hughes’ outing last night was dreadful he did throw 12 changeups . To contrast that to the rest of his season, as I mentioned above Hughes has thrown his changeup just 1.3% of the time this season, so by throwing 12 changeups last night he threw it about 12% percent of the time in last night start (based on 98 pitches). He also threw 15 curveballs last night. Still, it would be nice to see him throw even more curveballs and changeups. However, Hughes won’t find success right away from throwing off-speed pitches. It will be a while before he develops a feel for them, and that was evident last night because even though he threw 12 changeups he didn’t really have control over them throwing only 4 of them for strikes. Still, Hughes will have to keep throwing curveballs and changeups to get a feel for them.

    Hughes rules? Maybe.

    As we know, Phil Hughes has an innings limit for this season. To manage this limit the Yankees have and will continue to find him extra rest here and there. However, Hughes may be adversely affected by the extra rest. The two times this season he has pitched on extended rest he has struggled. The first time was on June 29th when he pitched for the first time in 10 days. On that day Hughes allowed 6 earned runs in 5.2 innings to the Seattle Mariners. The second time Hughes pitched on extended rest was last night and he allowed 6 runs in 5.0 innings. Still, while extra rest may be causing Hughes to struggle, there is nothing that can be done except maybe finding a different workout routine between starts. Hughes needs the extra rest every once in a while as his future is much more important than just one year. The Yankees will look to find Hughes more extended rest through August and September but they might have trouble finding it with very few off days. It will be interesting to see how they handle Hughes.

    Fatigue? Maybe.

    At this point in the season Phil Hughes has thrown 106 innings. He has already surpassed his season highs from 2009 (105.1 innings pitched) and 2008 (69.2 innings pitched) and is about to pass his season high from 2007 (110.1 innings). In 2006, Hughes’ first professional season, he threw 146 innings and is bound to pass that mark eventually this season barring injury. So fatigue could certainly be plaguing Hughes. He is at the point where his body has been used to stopping but this time he will have to go a lot further, and while the way the Yankees are managing him might prevent injury it won’t prevent fatigue.

    Conclusion…

    In my opinion, I wouldn’t worry about Hughes, the issue is out of our hands and if you told me at the beginning of the season he would put up a 3.99 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, and a K/9 of 7.9 through the month of July, I would be ecstatic. Young pitchers struggle, and Hughes is no different. While it is possible that his struggles continue, it is just as possible he reverts to early season form.

    All statistics used can be found on Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball.

    Albaladejo to join Yankee bullpen

    Jack Curry reports that right handed reliever Jonathan Albaladejo will be called up today when Andy Pettitte is placed on the D.L. I’ve been waiting for this move for a long time as it just seemed inevitable. In fact, I was starting to get annoyed that the Yankees had not called him up earlier. However, all is well now. Hopefully he can stick around this time around in the majors, he has to better than Chan Ho Park, Chad Gaudin, or Dustin Moseley. You may remember Albaladejo from his previous stints in the majors, but he is a different pitcher now. Mike Axisa did a nice write-up about the “new” Albaladejo about a month ago, but it still is helpful if you want to know why Albie is a new and better pitcher. I highly recommend checking it out.

    Photo Credit: The Scranton Times-Tribune

    Off Day Musings (7/19/10)

    State of the Yankees

    • Through their first 91 games the Yankees are 58-33, which is the best record in baseball, and it puts them on pace for about 103 wins.
    • The Yankees are atop the AL East with a 3 game lead on the Tampa Rays after taking 2 out of 3 games from the Rays this past series.

    Andy Pettitte’s injury

    "Pettitte leans over in pain." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    Andy Pettitte had to leave his start prematurely yesterday with what has now been diagnosed as a Grade I left groin strain. Via Erik Boland, GM Brian Cashman expects Pettitte to be out four to five weeks. I’m hoping Brian Cashman is just being conservative considering Pettitte is 38 years old, however, if he is out four to five weeks (in addition to rehab time), the Yankees will have a good number of starts to fill. Cashman told Boland that Sergio Mitre will take Pettitte’s next start on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look at further options for following starts. My suggestion would be to give Ivan Nova a shot and if he doesn’t work out, I believe Mitre is a solid option. There is no sense in making a trade unless the Yankees could get someone, without giving up any top prospects, who represents a true upgrade over Mitre . And that probably won’t happen so in my opinion the Yankees should stay internal in replacing Pettitte. Pettitte’s injury is obviously debilitating to the Yankees, but on the bright side his elbow will be kept fresh during the time off and that may prove beneficial come October. In the end, I see no reason to panic. Pettitte will be missed, but Mitre, Nova, or another internal option could be quite valuable. Remember, the 2009 Yankees won the World Series last year and Sergio Mitre made nine starts for that team. Every team, even the best teams, have to deal with injuries to the starting rotation.

    Upcoming Angels series

    Tuesday

    RHP Phil Hughes vs. TBA

    • Scott Kazmir was scratched from the start with shoulder fatigue.
    • Phil Hughes has not pitched since July 9th not counting the All Star Game.
    • The game will be on My9 with a 7:05 p.m. start time. I will be at the game and I’m excited to see Hughes pitch!

    Wednesday

    RHP Javier Vazquez vs. RHP Joel Pineiro

    • In his two starts against the Yankees this year, Pineiro has had mixed results. On April 14th he dominated the Yankees allowing only one run in seven innings. However, on April 24 he allowed six runs in six innings to the Yankees.
    • Javier Vazquez’s last start came on July 10th when he carried a no-hitter into the sixth against the Mariners. He would go on to throw seven shutout innings while only allowing three hits, but Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees could not get Javy the win.
    • The game will be on YES with a 1:05 p.m. start time.

    "Hopefully Hughes mixes in some more changeups and curveballs in his start tomorrow." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    What to make of the Yanks loss to the Rays?

    "Former Yankees honor the Boss." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    Yesterday was an odd day for the Yankees. It started out well with Old Timers’ Day, however, there was a bit of a somber feeling to the whole event with the recent passing of Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner. Plus, Yogi Berra was not in attendance because he had fallen in his home. Thankfully, it sounds like Yogi is going to be okay and I wish him a speedy recovering. In the end though, the Old Timers’ Day celebrations were fun and entertaining. It wasn’t until the real Yankee game that the embarrassment started.

    A.J. Burnett took the start for the Yankees and coming off two good starts things were looking good for Burnett. Unfortunately, Burnett allowed 3 runs in the first two innings and in frustration he “slammed his hands against a set of double doors, cutting his palms on the plexi glass that holds the lineup card,” according to the Lohud Yankees Blog. At first Burnett told Yankees trainer, Steve Donohue, that he fallen going up the stairs that lead to the dugout and cut his hands bracing his fall. Burnett claims that he made up this story because he was embarrassed and did not want to be taken out of the game because of what he really did. Burnett was left in the start the 3rd inning, but Joe Girardi would go on to take Burnett out before he even recorded an out. Burnett eventually told Girardi, Donohue, and Brian Cashman how he really cut his hands. It seems like the Yankees have the situation handled and that Burnett understands he is needed by his team. Burnett also said he will speak to his teammates today. In my opinion, it is upsetting and frustrating to hear that a player would do what Burnett did. Let’s not forget about Kevin Brown. Still, I know that it is hard to control your emotions when you are letting your team down and 50,000 fans are booing you. So, I’d like to forgive Burnett and move on and hopefully the Yankees have made sure Burnett has learned his lesson.

    On a side note, how much worse can Tim McCarver get at broadcasting baseball? Yesterday’s game was on FOX and McCarver was one of the two broadcasters and if any of you were able to listen to the entire game on FOX, I admire you bravery. Every time I watch a game with McCarver I always find myself muting my television, and yesterday was no different. I don’t have the time to mention all the dumb things McCarver said yesterday, but trust me there were a lot. For instance, when Burnett left the game and his injury had not yet been announced, McCarver decided that Burnett most have hurt himself pieing Nick Swisher the day before. If you want to lose some brain cells check out McCarver ranting about Joe Torre,  NYY Stadium Insider has the video. I’m sorry, I guess I’m ranting now too, but I just can’t stand Tim McCarver (or Joe Morgan for that matter).

    Yanks win it for the Boss

    Last night the Yankees played for first time since the passing of George Steinbrenner. It was an emotional night filled with touching tributes, but as we know, the greatest tribute to the Boss would have been to win. And the Yankees did just that, and in dramatic fashion might I add. The entire night the Yankees battled behind CC Sabathia, who only allowed 3 earned runs despite not being on top of his game. Going into the bottom of the ninth inning the score was tied at four and Yankees were looking to finish off the Rays. Curtis Granderson led off the inning with a single and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ramiro Pena. Following a walk by Brett Gardner and a strikeout of Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher came up to the plate. On the fourth pitch of Swisher’s at bat he lined a single to right field and Curtis Granderson came home to score the winning run. Start spreading the news, it’s time for pie. Nick Swisher sent the loyal Yankee fans home happy on an emotional evening, and somewhere up in heaven George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard were smiling.

    "Nick Swisher wins one for the Boss" Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

    Steinbrenner & Sheppard pass away

    Photo Credit: 2006 AP File

    Just two days ago legendary Yankee public address announcer, Bob Sheppard, passed away at age 99, legendary Yankee owner, George M. Steinbrenner passed away at age 80 after suffering a heart attack.

    Bob Sheppard served as the Yankees public address announcer from 1951 until 2007 when he made his last trip to Yankee Stadium. Throughout his storied career Sheppard has introduced the likes of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra to Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter. Bob Sheppard will forever be remembered as the irreplaceable Voice of the Yankees. He will continue to be heard off a pre-recorded tape at Yankee Stadium every time Derek Jeter comes to bat, and his unforgettable voice will always be in our heads along with his great legacy.

    Photo Credit: Howard Schatz of SI

    Just two days after Sheppard’s passing the most influential man in the history of sports has passed away this morning. George Steinbrenner had been in declining health the past few years and this morning he died in a Florida hospital after suffering a heart attack. Without Steinbrenner the Yankees would most certainly not be where they are today at the top of the sports world. When Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973 they were a struggling team, who in all honesty, were not very likable. Steinbrenner expanded the Yankees into a world icon and won seven championships along the way. Steinbrenner was famous for his tirades and emotional outbursts but he was also a loyal, kind, and generous man. In his early days he may have appeared to have been a scary man on the outside,but his players respected him and many loved him.

    Today is an incredibly sad day in the Yankee Universe, but at least George went out on top winning a championship last year. We all know George only cared about winning and breathing. George Steinbrenner will always be remembered as the greatest and most influential figure in the history of sports.

    Rest in peace, George and Bob.