The famous July 31 trade deadline is looming. I’ve come to the conclusion that the Yankees should not jump the gun this season. Brian Cashman has done an extraordinary job of adding tiny pieces at the deadline the past two years, and that’s exactly what I expect him to do this year, as well.
My two concerns approaching the end of July are an extra bat off the bench and bullpen help. It seems as if the Yankees may have in-house answers for both of those.
Today, Eric Chavez will be activated from the disabled list and will put on the pinstripes for the first time since May 5. This is essentially as good as trading for a solid option off the bench. He likely will split time with Eduardo Nunez at third base until Alex Rodriguez is fully healthy, which should be toward the end of August.
In 17 games with the Yankees, Chavez has gone 10 for 33 (.303) with a .410 on-base percentage. Yes, I fully understand this is a small sample size. However, if the Yankees can get production relatively close to this in the next month, that would be a tremendous help. Not to take away from Nunez, he’s been everything the Yankees could hope for, but he’s a shortstop. Playing full time at third base isn’t an ideal situation, so Chavez should lighten the load.
Rafael Soriano tossed a perfect inning last night for Scranton Wilkes-Barre, needing only 11 pitches. The former Tampa Bay closer should be back in New York in the next day or two and will need to, at least in my opinion, earn back his role as the eighth-inning man. In spring training, the Yankees had hoped Soriano would be the ideal set-up man for Mariano Rivera to form one of the greatest eighth/ninth inning combinations in the history of baseball. As we all know too well, it hasn’t panned out that way and the ludicrous contract tendered to Soriano is looking worse and worse as the days go by.
In all fairness, Andruw Jones has been hitting the ball better since seeing Jo-Jo Reyes again in Toronto last week. But he’s really got no business lounging on the Yankee bench still. If I were Cashman, I would kick the tires on Reed Johnson of the Chicago Cubs. Despite relatively few at-bats, Johnson has been hitting the ball with authority this year and will get his fair share of walks as well. He’s punishing lefties (21 for 59, eight doubles and one home run) and he’s a defensive upgrade over Jones. Career against lefties, his triple slash is .314/.373/.468. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and the Cubs are going nowhere in the National League Central, so they might as well try to get something for him. Johnson is a perfect fit for a fourth outfielder and could very well be a Kerry Wood-type of steal.
Oh, I’ve got a few more quips real quickly.
Russell Martin’s statistics since April 25 — 41 for 210 (.195), 303 on-base percentage, .281 slugging percentage.
Jorge Posada’s statistics since July 1 — 7 for 47 (.149), .212 on-base percentage, .170 slugging percentage.
Good thing these guys are two of the nine batters for New York on a relatively frequent basis. With A-Rod out for another month, these guys are hurting the team way too much to still be in the lineup. Bring up Jesus Montero.