Thanks to a plethora of injuries in the starting rotation, the Yankees have turned to David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Chase Whitley to fill the gaps as the team tries to climb the standings. The middle piece of that replacement trio has earned the most (and deserved) criticism, so much so that it could be very soon that the Yankees find an alternative. Brian Cashman is willing to act quickly, too, saying as much to NJ.com's Brendan Kuty:
"I'm looking to make some additions if I can. So I'd like to try to do things before those guys get back if possible. But I've already been trying. There's a reason we haven't done anything. It's not because of a lack of phone calls. But we'll see."
"Those guys" Cashman mentioned were CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda, both of whom are still a ways away from returning to the rotation. Less so Sabathia, who appeared in his first of at least a few rehab games on Saturday night in Tampa. According to Nick Flammia, Sabathia threw 37 pitches, so we're probably not going to see him for a couple of weeks or so. Then, of course, there's Pineda, who just started playing catch yesterday, and we're not going to see him until August at the absolute earliest. Couple that with the fact that Nuno has been awful and that there aren't any other real alternatives in Triple-A, the need to act quickly to find a solution is certainly warranted.
Over the next few weeks, PSA is going to profile several trade candidates (especially on the pitching end), so I'm not going to go too much in-depth as to who the Yankees could target, but I will say that, for obvious reasons, it is far more likely this team will end up with a pitcher from the Jason Hammel/Ian Kennedy/Brandon McCarthy collection than the much more shiny David Price/Jeff Samardzija prize. This has mostly to due with the lack of upper-level, high-ceiling prospects in the Yankees' system, of course.
While Cashman is doing his best to upgrade the rotation, we're still at the point in time where the Yankees may have to pay a little extra to acquire an arm. That may not mean much on the surface, especially if they end up with one of the mid-rotation/back-end types like Hammel/Kennedy/McCarthy, but we heard about Cashman being unwilling to unload Corey Black (whose future may end up in the bullpen) for Alfonso Soriano last summer, which ultimately led to Hal Steinbrenner stepping in and forcing the deal. Despite Nuno's mirage of a start on Friday, the Yankees might just have to go the extra mile to acquire an additional months' worth of an upgrade while they're still in the thick of the AL East race.