What a difference winning ways will make. The New York Yankees seemed as if their season was rapidly spiraling downward. They were mired in a five-game losing streak, and the bats were again as cold as ice. Now, after sweeping a four-game series against the Twins and taking two out of three from their division rival Orioles, the Bombers might actually have a pulse.
Those signs of life, coupled with both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez progressing nicely in their respective rehab assignments, mean the New York Yankees won’t be waving the white flag as the trade deadline approaches. It’s not as if they were going to be sellers even if recent events weren’t going smoothly. GM Brian Cashman and the rest of the New York Yankees front office never say die … at least not in public.
So, what are the Yankees’ needs? Offense, offense and more offense. They have been particularly putrid against left-handed pitching. As a team, they are hitting .234. Even if A-Rod and Jeter come back as good as ever, they still need more right-handed options at the plate.
A switch-hitter would also be a welcome addition. Mark Teixeira is out with season-ending wrist surgery, leaving rookie outfielder Zoilo Almonte as the only switch-hitter in the lineup. The Yankees have traditionally had at least two in their offense, and it sure helps with the bullpen chess match in the late innings.
The Yankees could also use a better back-up catcher. Before he broke his hand, Francisco Cervelli was off to a good season both behind and at the plate. With Cervelli on the DL, Chris Stewart has taken over the starting role. While Stewart’s been fine, Austin Romine’s numbers are paltry, even for a back-up (he’s batting just .136 with an OPS of .331 in 31 games).
Who could the New York Yankees use as trade bait? The most obvious chip to dangle is Phil Hughes, who will be a free agent after this year. The righty has been erratic but is still viewed as a solid starter for a contending team. Plus Hughes’ career stats are better outside the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium: 4.77 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .268 BAA vs. 4.04 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .242 BAA. This year, those stats are even more pronounced: 5.86 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, .310 BAA vs. 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .239 BAA. That’s a pretty nice line if you’re the Angels or Giants. The Yankees, of course, will only trade Hughes if they can truly improve the team’s chances for contention; otherwise they’ll let him walk in the offseason in return for a first-round draft pick.
Joba Chamberlain is certainly struggling. However, he does have power arm that could be attractive to a team looking for bullpen options. Additionally, he’s extra enticing to intrepid pitching coaches who will think they can fix what is ailing the righty and turn him back into a starter. The Giants are said to be desperate for bullpen help, although I’m not sure what San Francisco has that might pique the Yankees’ interest at this point. If he doesn’t get traded, Joba could bring the New York Yankees a first-round pick as he too will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Curtis Granderson could also be desirable, even if he is on the mend from a broken pinkie. Hey, the Dodgers took Carl Crawford off the hands of the Red Sox while he was on the DL, right? So, it’s not all that implausible for a team that is looking for long-term lineup help to consider taking the Grandy Man as he has both power and speed.
No matter what happens in Yankeeland over the next few weeks, one thing’s for sure: The Bombers’ brass will be looking to add pieces at the trade deadline, not have a fire sale.