MLB Trade Deadline 2013: The Yankees' terrible timing

Sad faces abound - Harry How

The Yankees picked the worst possible season to be in desperate need of pieces at the trade deadline.

I know our perceptions are most influenced by recollections of events just passed, so I'm going to go out on a possible recency-biased limb and say that was the dullest Major League Baseball trading deadline I have ever witnessed. The fans were getting inundated over and over by tweets like this:

No late breaking excitement, no crazy rushes to get deals in before the deadline. Just a handful of simple deals that occasionally involved players that might be useful to their new teams. There was nary a game-changer among them. Even beyond being boring for a baseball fan in general, this was particularly depressing for a Yankees fan. The Yankees desperately needed to add another impact bat (or two) to the roster to help make up ground on the second Wild Card spot, particularly in the infield. The unofficial checklist read something like this: righty utility man, righty 1B/3B, catcher. Ones that could hit at a league average level, anyways. And as you are well aware, the Yankees got none of those things before the clocks struck four.

But the purpose of this article is not to blame the Yankees' decision-makers (although not re-signing Russell Martin looks worse everyday), but mostly to lament the fact that the Yankees have terrible timing. Thanks to the injuries, age, and a situation involving a group that rhymes with "Cryogenesis", the team was in a worse negotiating position than ever. The general assumption is that your average GM is going to try to take the Yankees to the woodshed in any trade due to their prominence, money, "eccentric" ownership, etc. This trade season was made all the worse because teams knew the Yankees were desperate and were peddling some really awful wares. I mean, the Marlins were holding Placido Polanco over the Yankees' head, and he hasn't been a league average hitter in four years! By the way the courtship of Michael Young was going, you would swear that teams were fighting over Adrian Beltre. The sellers had all the leverage and a sub-par inventory, and the most boring trade deadline ever reflected that.

So I actually have to admire the Yankees for their restraint during the flea market blitz. It sounds disingenuous to thank a front office for not being stupid, but I sincerely mean it. They made a trade for a decent player in Alfonso Soriano and actually paid a reasonable price, which seems like a small miracle after seeing what was on display yesterday. Guys like Michael Morse and yes, even Young could have given this team some of the pop it needed, but the fans likely would have rued the price that needed to be paid. Most years there would have been some impact bats to acquire, but unfortunately the Yankees picked the worst possible time to need hitters. It was the quintessential "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. Get fleeced and make small improvements, or be stuck with what you have. After the dust settles, there is the very real possibility that the team as constructed will just not be good enough to get that final playoff spot, even with Curtis Granderson's return. Perhaps the waiver wire could be a source of improvement for the team, but time was already not on this squad's side.

But hey, it could always be worse. At least they didn't trade Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps.

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