I read Ed's pieces on targeting Hudson Street and potential trade chips, and I felt like I had something to say but could figure it quite out.
Part of it is that we can't trade away the top five right now, even a catcher likely to outgrow catcher. Even if he has no position, he'll be worth more later so long as he stays on track. Better to have a Jim Thome/ Ryan Howard situation than to have traded away the young guy to have the veteran break down completely.
Austin Jackson is hitting .356/.435/.450 in the International League, which is traditionally a pitcher's league because of the big ball parks. Ladies and gentlemen, this young man is off the table.
The Yanks have invested years into Dellin Betances already, banking on his high ceiling- no reason to move him as he learns to command his pitches (more hits than innings for the first time in his career, but still a K/IP against his usual boatload of walks).
Austin Romine is too young to bring back a big league part, and compared to Montero, Romine is more likely to stay at catcher.
And why trade Zack McAllister when he might be putting it all together?
But the other thing that needs to be said is that the bullpen is not that bad. Not that great looking, either, but not bad enough to warrant trading prospects before the 1st of June.
By now, most everyone is familiar with Batting Average on Balls in Play; how well (or poorly) did the defense turn contact into an out. If we see a low BABIP and lousy results, it's probably just bad luck.
WHIP (walks+hits/IP) is basically baserunners per inning. These are the results of BABIP plus poor control.
Our new stat today is tOPS+. Regular OPS+ is Onbase Plus Slugging Percentages. How mighty the hitter is basically. The + indicates that the number has been adjust for park factors and era, and set on a 100 scale, higher means more hitting than average, a low number means less. tOPS+ measures how well hitters are doing in the specific situation vs. their own average; in this case, how well do they hit the Yankee pen vs. the rest of the league.
Look how different those result numbers are! A .2 spike in WHIP is the difference between the careers of Roy Halladay and Oliver Perez.
And when they hit it, it's traveling. Last year, the bullpen stifled hitters, making them look 14% less productive than normal. This year the pen is making them look better than normal.
But that BABIP, that piece which studies show to be more important than nearly any other indicator, the 2009 BABIP is actually down from last year's stellar number. The only 2008 teams to put up a BABIP out of the bullpen better than the Yanks' current mark were the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jay. The former rode their pen to the pennant, the latter couldn't score any runs.
So don't despair for the bullpen just yet; I bet there's a dominant streak just around the corner.