The Yankees don’t look too good right now. Last night’s win snapped a four-game losing streak, they dropped nine of 12 before that, but thanks to the moves Brian Cashman made at the trade deadline fans should expect that to turn around soon.
First of all, fans need to realize that this was a damn good team before any moves Cashman made. Despite their seemingly non-stop losing over the last two weeks, the Yankees still have the best record in the American League to go along with the best run differential as well. There really weren’t a whole lot of weaknesses to begin with.
The Yankees wOBA of .344 this year is the best in the AL this season ahead of Texas in second place and way ahead of the Angels in third. The rotation’s ERA of 4.00 is the 4th best in the AL so far this year and would be much higher if not for a terribly inconsistent April. The bullpen’s ERA of 3.25 is currently 7th in the AL despite losing Mariano Rivera for most of the year and not having Joba Chamberlain until August.
So there wasn’t a whole lot that Cashman needed to fix.
The biggest problem lately has been the injuries though and Cashman couldn’t have done a better job filling those holes than he did.
Alex Rodriguez went down a couple of weeks ago and while he wasn’t the player he used to be, he was still the 3rd best third baseman in all of baseball this year. The Yankees shouldn’t miss a beat though with the acquisition of Casey McGehee.
Between McGehee’s .250/.358/.463 line against lefties and Eric Chavez‘s .284/.353/.510 line against righties, the Yankees basically have an All-Star caliber platoon at third base.
Then there is Brett Gardner who has been out for most of the season, but until just recently the Yankees were expecting him back. With the trade for Ichiro Suzuki, the Yankees not only got a bigger potential bat than Dewayne Wise, but they replaced Gardner’s speed and defense in left field.
The Yankees will now platoon Ichiro and Jayson Nix in left field. A powerful combination considering that Ichiro does well against righties (.318/.348/.470 vs RHP away from the spacious Safeco Field in Seattle this year), but Nix hits lefties very well too (.298/.333/.526).
More importantly, the acquisition of Ichiro allowed the Yankees to move Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez out of left field and back to the DH roles they were signed for. So while defense has been somewhat of a problem for the Yankees this year, this move has greatly improved upon that.
Some fans were upset that the Yankees didn’t add Ryan Dempster, but I will remind you of the fact that with a 4.00 ERA their rotation didn’t need a big fix. There is the fact that Andy Pettitte is currently gone which hurts, but Freddy Garcia has done decently in his absence. In six games, five starts, since Pettitte broke his ankle, Garcia has a 4.00 ERA. Nothing flashy, but he has given them a chance to win most starts.
If Garcia suddenly breaks down then the Yankees do have David Phelps ready to move to the bullpen if needed. Since being recalled from the minors at the end of June, Phelps has been outstanding. In seven games he has a 1.62 ERA, a 14.0 K/9 and a 2.7 BB/9. His name might not be as familiar as Dempster’s, but it seems to me that he is the perfect short term solution without giving up anything.
And that’s what this all comes down to – the Yankees made a couple of minor upgrades that will pay big dividends and cost practically nothing.
Why give up good prospects for Dempster if he isn’t needed? Why go after the big names on the market like Justin Upton if McGehee, who is certainly no All-Star, can help so much in such a small role? The Yankees didn’t need to waste any prospects and Cashman didn’t. A weaker GM might have made a big deal just for big deal’s sake, but he’s smarter than that.
The Yankees were a very good team headed into the trade deadline and they are an even better one now without sacrificing anything long term. They didn’t land Upton or Chase Headley, but they are certainly trade deadline winners.