Around the Horn: Girardi, Sabathia, Warning track…

It hasn’t been long since the Yankees’ season ended, but the team is already in offseason mode. Here are some recent stories:

  • Mark Feinsand reports that the Yankees and Joe Girardi have agreed to a three-year contract worth $9 million which would put the incumbent Yankee skipper back at the helm. I know a lot of people claim to dislike Girardi, but is there really anyone else you’d rather be the Yankees’ manager? I’m very happy that Joe will be back.
  • Along the topic of coaches, Dave Eiland has been let go. His contract was up anyway, so you can get away without calling this a firing, but it sure seems like one.  Brian Cashman said the “letting go” of Eiland was all the GM’s decision and it was “private”. It will be interesting to see who the new pitching coach will be. If the Yankees don’t stay internal I could see Curt Young or Rick Kranitz taking over the position.
  • Yankee fans received some surprising news yesterday when they heard that CC Sabathia would undergo surgery on his right knee. The recovery period is expected to be anywhere from three to six weeks and the Yankees’ ace should be entirely ready for spring training. While this surgery may not be a big deal, it is interesting to wonder if this is the reason CC did not pitch up to expectations during the playoffs.
  • You may very well remember Lance Berkman’s recent slip on the warning track of Yankee stadium. Well it turns out that this was not a freak accident, and in fact the warning track at Yankee Stadium is overly dangerous. Mike Axisa of RAB covered the issue last week.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Yankees turned down the options to retain Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, and Nick Johnson. I would still expect them to make an attempt to sign Kerry Wood who was excellent in his brief stint with the Yankees.

In case you are wondering, which I am pretty sure you are not, I’m supporting the San Francisco Giants in this year’s World Series, mostly because I love Matt Cain. Plus they had Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard perform at a game recently, which is pretty awesome.

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.