The Yankees, Red Sox , and Rays have nearly come to a stand still in the fight for the AL East crown, and likely the best record in baseball.
So who is going to come out ahead?
Well, it is likely that the team that makes the best acquisitions is going to end up on top, making the month of July, more specifically the July 31st trade deadline, the deciding factor in this year’s race in the East.
The Yankees currently sit in first, up by a half a game over the Red Sox and two games over the Rays, but have seen their bullpen struggle mightily and have an extremely young bench, with three rookies presently keeping it warm.
If the Yankees really wanted to put themselves over the top of the other teams in the AL East, then they would go out and acquire a front line stater like Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt , both of whom are both available and are Cy Young capable pitchers, which the Yankees know all too well with Lee.
But it is probably more likely that the Yankees will look to add a veteran bat to the bench and some much needed help in the bullpen, which blew another game Friday against the Blue Jays.
Regardless of who they go after, the Yankees are capable of going out in the trade market and acquiring almost any player they want, with both the talent in the minors and of course, the financial means to afford any contract they might have to pick up.
Some of the players that will draw interest from Brian Cashman this month will be:
Bench/DH: Ty Wigginton, Kelly Johnson, David DeJesus , Josh Willingham , Cristian Guzman, Corey Hart, Cody Ross, and Adam Dunn.
Bullpen: Joakim Soria (wishful thinking), Octavio Dotel , Scott Downs, Shawn Camp, Will Ohman , Alfredo Simon, Rafael Perez, Matt Lindstrom , and Brandon Lyon.
I think Ty Wigginton makes the most sense for the Yankees; he’s certainly available, and at a relatively low price. He’s a very versatile player, who can also supply a lot of power, which the Yankee’ bench desperately needs.
I would love to see Adam Dunn in pinstripes as the DH, he would do a lot of damage with the short porch in right, but he would require more prospects and more money than probably any other player on that list, and I don’t think Cashman will go down that route.
In the bullpen, I think Brandon Lyon would be a great fit.
He has proven that he can perform well in the AL, with a 2.86 ERA with the Tigers last year, and he has continued to pitch well this year for the Astros (currently with a 3.00 ERA and 15 holds).
He also makes sense for Houston to move, he’s due $4.25 million this year, and he’s 30 years old, so he’s not a young prospect.
Two of the key players that might be on the move for the Yankees are Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird
Nunez is a shortstop at AAA Scranton who is hitting .312, with 17 stolen bases and 39 runs driven in, but has trouble fielding the ball with nine errors this year. He seems to have the bat that’s ready for the majors, but unfortunately he is behind Derek Jeter , so he could be out of options with the Yankees unless he switches positions.
Laird is a slugging third baseman at AA Trenton who is hitting .291, with an impressive 19 home runs, and 80 RBI. But like Nunez, Laird will soon be out of options for a future in the big leagues with the Yankees as Alex Rodriguez is under contract to man the hot corner until 2017.
I seriously doubt that Cashman deals either of the top two catchers in the minors, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine , unless he goes after Cliff Lee or Roy Oswalt .
If they do go after a starter, I would expect them to go after Fausto Carmona, who is 7-6 with a 3.86 ERA and is available along with teammate Jake Westbrook.
CC Sabathia will certainly put in a good word for his former teammates Carmona and Westbrook, but I think the Yankees are happy with the starting five they have now.
The bullpen has been atrocious and needs help now, and the bench could use a veteran presence, so look for the Yankees to be out there seeking to improve those two areas, and hopefully that will be enough for them to capture their second strait AL East crown and eventually repeat as World Series champions.