You're Brian Cashman. You have a receding hairline, a disappointed fanbase, and the weight of the world on your shoulders, not to mention, you have two empty rotation spots with one filled by a headcase, A.J. Burnett. What do you do? Well, you have near unlimited money. That always helps, but in the case of Cliff Lee money wasn't the answer. You now may need to make some sacrifices to improve your already star-studded club.
But still, money helps a lot.
If I'm Brian Cashman, I'm on a madman's hunt for pitching, and here's my criteria:
- He needs to keep lefties on the ground. Here are some interesting numbers:
Pitcher/Lefty Batter Fly Ball Rate/Earned Run Average
CC Sabathia in 2010/ 24%/ 3.18
A.J. Burnett career / 31% / 3.99
Javier Vazquez 2010/ 43% / 5.32
For Vazquez: Yikes. Not a fit for Yankee Stadium or competition against the lefty-heavy BoSox
- He needs to strike lefties out. CC Sabathia has been pretty unaffected by Yankee Stadium's hitter-friendly dimension because lefties, who Yankee Stadium favors the most, cannot make contact off him. His K/9 mark for his career is a thrillingly good 9.51 A.J. Burnett was also successful before 2010 for the same reason, striking out 8.98 lefties per 9. Burnett's relatively bad 2010 may lie in his abnormally low 6.53 K/9 vs. lefthanders.
- He needs to be good at baseball playing.
So the most obvious fit here is Andy Pettitte. He can strike lefties out, get em out on the ground, and all with solid command. I'd try and throw 1 year and $13 million in his direction, with an $8 million mutual option which becomes nullified if the player doesn't want it and halved and turned into a $4 million player option if Pettitte wants it and the team doesn't.
To fill the last spot, take flyers on Fausto Carmona. Carmona is a very good option for the Yanks, as he's a great groundball pitcher who has refined his ability to command the baseball. Here's the deal:
It's a pretty mutually good deal. Chamberlain could instantly become an incredible long-term bullpen piece on the Indians, Noesi is a great pitching prospect with incredible command and very good velocity, and Heathcott is both pretty extraneous prospects to the Yankees. They get a deal done without giving up Montero, Sanchez, Betances or Banuelos. Pretty awesome if you ask me.
But what if Pettitte doesn't sign or the Camona deal falls through? Who is there to get? Let me present to you Jason Hammel.
Lefties hit fly balls off of Hammel just 33% of the time on batted balls and he struck them out to an incredible 8.81 K/9 rate. He's freaking good. The Rockies get a good prospect in Brackman and a good complement to Chris Iannetta in Romine.The Yankees already have saturated catching depth between Martin, Posada, Cervelli, Montero, Sanchez and Murphy, and can afford to part with Romine. Hammel has had experience in the AL East, a former product of the Rays. He was in a position similar to what Jeff Niemann currently is for Tampa, and could fill the role of Andy Pettitte for the Yankees, keeping lefties honest. Additionally, pay no attention to his less-than-optimal ERAs, his past two seasons have consisted of groundballs, strikeouts and no walks. He should flourish with the Yankees.
If all else fails:
It's a big risk trading Granderson for Pineiro, as Grandy is one of the better centerfielders in the game. However, it's very much worth it. Pineiro only struck out lefties at a 5.74 K per 9 rate in 2010, but lefties cannot lift the ball against him, with a 28% fly ball rate on batted balls, and a ground ball rate over 50%. Kazmir also presents an interesting option for the Yankees. His inclusion in the deal would be more to give incentive to the Angels to accept for payroll reasons, but he also presents some value to the Yankees. He has good strikeout numbers against lefties for his career, but also eerily good ability to keep them on the ground. At worst, he could be a good lefty specialist and a means of getting a deal done. At best, if he returns to form with acceptable command, he would be a fantastic pitcher with the Yankees, perhaps as good as Phil Hughes. Bourjos is an interesting CF prospect who could be a useful 4th outfielder, and because Gardner is the quientessential CF he can start over him there, while the Yankees weigh their options between the various corner outfielders available. Options include Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero, who regardless of this trade I feel the Yankees should sign and can both also serve as DH should Posada be ineffective and/or Bourjos proves capable of handling an everyday role. This would be the method of replacing Granderson. The need for pitching trumps the need for Granderson specifically, especially with Gardner on the roster.
The rotation would consist of Sabathia, Hughes and Burnett, and two of Pettitte, Carmona, Hammel and Pineiro.
The bullpen would definitely consist of Rivera, Marte, Feliciano and Mitre. Possibilities range from Chamberlain, Brackman, Kazmir, and Ivan Nova. Ideally I would have fought for Bobby Jenks over the Sox, or Kerry Wood over the Cubs. I'd also look into Chad Qualls, Taylor Buchholz, JC Romrea and Brian Fuentes.
The infield remain the same, with Nunez as the backup MI and 3B and Posada, the DH or Martin filling in for Teixeira on his off days. DH Will be either Jones or Guerrero backed by Posada, who is also the third string catcher. The outfield will consist of Gardner, Granderson and Swisher with Guerrero or Jones able to fill in in case someone's out and Greg Golson as the fifth outfielder unless they trade Granderson and have Gardner, Swisher, Guerrero/Jones as well as Bourjos.
Russell Martin will start at catcher backed by Cervelli and Posada.