Around the Horn: A-Rod to the DL, Nova recalled…

There have been some interesting stories developing around the Yankee Universe lately, here’s a quick breakdown.

  • A-Rod has become the most recent Yankee to hit the DL as he was placed on the 15-Day DL this afternoon according to Chad Jennings. A-Rod has been dealing with a calf injury, and after a few days of rest, the Yankees medical team decided he was ready to play yesterday. A-Rod did get the start at DH yesterday, but he had to leave the game early. The Yankees are claiming that A-Rod’s calf is in no worse shape than it was a few days ago, but it’s hard to believe that playing yesterday did not further aggravate it.
  • Also coming from Jennings, Ivan Nova is being recalled and will get the start for the Yankees on Monday pushing the other starters back a day. Joel Sherman actually broke this news this morning, but now it’s official. I love the idea to plug Nova into the rotation because the extra rest for the rest of the rotation will be well welcomed. It shouldn’t hurt to get the struggling Javier Vazquez some extra rest time, and extra rest for Hughes means he may be able to pitch longer into the season before he hits his innings limit. Although Marc Carig has quoted Brian Cashman as saying that Hughes’ innings limit won’t play a factor in the playoffs and that it will be “all hands on deck”, for what it’s worth.
  • Josh Norris has confirmed the rumors that Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances have been promoted to AA Trenton. Banuelos and Betances will join a rotation featuring Andrew Brackman, Adam Warren, and Hector Noesi. That’s a pretty fine rotation that Trenton has there.
  • Via NPB Tracker on Twitter, we learn that the Yankees have sent Damon Oppenheimer and Billy Eppler to Japan to watch pitching sensation Yu Darvish. Darvish is only 24 years old, but he has really made a name for himself in Japan, and arguably in the U.S. as well. Darvish is not eligible to become an international free agent until after 2014, but his team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, have the opportunity to post him in which MLB teams would have the right to bid for the opportunity to negotiate a contract with Darvish. There seems to be no question of whether this will happen, it’s just a matter of when. And rest assured, once he is available, the Yankees will be in the Darvish sweepstakes.
  • You may have heard the news already, but the Yankees announced yesterday that the Cleveland Indians have selected AAA starter Zach McAllister as the player to be named later in the deal for Austin Kearns. McAllister may seem like a lot to give up for Kearns, but McAllister has really struggled in AAA this season and may no longer have fit in with the Yankees future plans.
  • 2010 HOPE Week ended yesterday with the Yankees helping out two sisters, Melida and Johanna Arias. I really enjoyed HOPE Week this year, along with last year, and I hope it has inspired others to help out the community.

2010 Trade Deadline Analysis

With the 2010 Trading Deadline in the rearview mirror, we can finally stop listening to the latest rumors and actually think about the trades which were made. This year, many teams seemed to be very active in the trade market, including the Yankees. We all know that GM Brian Cashman tried very hard to acquire Cliff Lee and later Dan Haren. But when those two trades didn’t work out, I for one didn’t expect the Yankees to make any more moves until after the Trading Deadline. However, Cashman had other ideas. The Yankees would acquire Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns, and finally, Kerry Wood while not giving up too much. In total, the Yankees gave up Mark Melancon, Jimmy Paredes, a player to be named later, $4.8M, and another $0.5M or 2 organizational (it’s the Indians’ choice). Let’s take a deeper look at the players that the Yankees acquired and see how each individual improves the team.

Lance Berkman

"The Big Puma is happy to be with the Yankees." Photo Credit: Reuters Pictures via Daylife

Ever since Nick Johnson hit the DL, the Yankees have not really had a regular DH. Lance Berkman now helps fill that hole. Lance Berkman can fill in a first base occasionally if needed, but expect him to be the regular DH when the Yankees are facing right-handed pitchers. When the Yankees face lefties there is a good chance Berkman takes the bench and Marcus Thames gets the start as the DH (even though Berkman is a switch hitter, he isn’t that great against lefties). This DH platoon would be pretty impressive. Let’s take a look at each players’ splits.

In his career against righties, Berkman has a .304 AVG, a .425 OBP, a .584 SLG, and a .425 wOBA. Pretty impressive, huh? This year, his numbers are down a bit across the board, but they are still good. Against righties this year Berkman has a .256 AVG, a .390 OBP, a .471 SLG, and a .377 wOBA. If he could put up those numbers with the Yankees, they would be more than happy. So, we’d have to expect that Berkman will be the regular DH versus right-handed pitchers.

When the Yankees face left-handed pitchers, Marcus Thames will probably be the DH. In his career he has a .261 AVG, a .335 OBP, a .509 SLG, and a .361 wOBA.  This season Thames has only had 54 ABs against lefties so it’s hard to judge him based on that but he has put up a .315 AVG, a .406 OBP, a .426 SLG, and a .373 wOBA.

So acquiring Lance Berkman allows the Yankees to utilize Marcus Thames’ strength better and play him only against lefties which in turn allows the Yankees to utilize Berkman’s strength and only play him against righties. This way the Yankees now have a very good DH made of two players.

Kerry Wood

"Most people look good in Yankee pinstripes, but Kerry needs to shave that thing." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

We all know the Yankees bullpen hasn’t been too stellar this year. Outside of Mariano Rivera, pretty much everyone has been inconsistent. David Robertson has been very good lately, and I fully expect Joba Chamberlain to start putting up good numbers again. Still, another bullpen piece couldn’t hurt. Enter Kerry Wood. You may remember Wood since his phenom starter days with the Cubs, unfortunately he was never able to live up to the expectations due to injuries. The Cubs eventually moved Wood to the bullpen where he put up very good numbers. The Indians acquired Wood in 2009 and he put up okay numbers. This year Wood has not been that good and he is coming off an injury. So Wood is kind of gamble, but the Yankees basically gave up nothing to get him and he could pay great dividends. Imagine a Yankee bullpen where Wood becomes a reliable eight inning guy, Joba figures his stuff out and has the 7th inning covered up, and David Robertson continues his success. I’m not saying that will all happen, but it could. I love the move to bring in Kerry Wood.

Austin Kearns

"Kearns should fit in nicely with the Yanks." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Daylife

The Yankees acquired Austin Kearns because they had a lefty heavy outfield and were afraid to put Marcus Thames in the outfield. In Kearns they get someone who is a very good defender (8.5 career UZR/150 in the OF) and is not a bad hitter. Kearns has a .272 AVG this year with a .354 OBP and a .343 wOBA. If he can maintain that he will prove to be a great pickup. I would expect to see Kearns play against lefties occasionally probably getting starts in left field with Gardner moving to center field and Granderson moving to the bench. Hopefully a few days off against lefties here and there doesn’t hurt Granderson’s production. Still, I like the move to acquire Kearns.

Overall Grade: A-

I give Brian Cashman and the Yankees a A- for their efforts prior to the Trading Deadline. They improved the team while giving very little in return, what’s there not to like? How would you grade the Yankees pickups?

Check this out if you don’t already know about wOBA and want to learn more.

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.