What moves will Brian Cashman make before then? What areas of the team are most in need of improvement? Which prospects are considered 'touchable'?
To start, I think we can all agree the offense is fine. The Yankees lead the league in runs scored (5.51/game) and OPS+ (116). Every single position is producing at an above average rate, save for centerfield (where production is only slightly below average at 97 OPS+). The bench is pretty solid overall - Hinske and Molina are decent backups, but Ransom is just... ugh.
Anyway, it seems that pitching is the biggest need. I say 'need', but 'want' may be more apt. The pitching staff has an ERA+ a hair below average, but y'all must remember that a not insignificant effect on that was the atrocious April from Chien Ming-Wang. The team ERA stands at 4.41. If you remove Wang's first three starts, the team ERA drops to 4.19, good for fifth in the AL.
With Wang's recent setback (who knows if he'll come back this year), Sergio Mitre has become the fifth starter. If the Yanks want to keep Hughes and Aceves in the pen, they could use a better #5, but who's available?
The cream of the crop:
Roy Halladay of course, but he looks like less of an option every day: 32 years old, 132 ip, 2.75 FIP ERA, 113 K, 1.07 WHIP, signed through 2010.
Cliff Lee has been great for Cleveland, and is younger than Halladay: 30 years old, 145 ip, 3.26 FIP, 103 K, 1.32 WHIP, signed through 2010.
The problem is that these guys would require a lot in terms of prospects. We're talking about 1-2 of Hughes, Joba, Jesus and Jackson (plus other 'fringier' prospects).
Just below the upper tier is Jarrod Washburn: 34 years old, 119 ip, 3.77 FIP, 75 K, 1.09 WHIP, FA after the year. He would require considerably less because he's just not as good a pitcher, is older, and will hit the FA market after the season.
But I'm more of the mind of acquiring a good reliever, which would cost a lot less and allow Hughes to move back to the rotation (where his career will be). Hughes should be at least as good as Mitre and would get valuable experience.
One reliever who's name I've heard is the White Sox' Matt Thornton: 32 years old, 38.2 ip, 2.73 FIP, 45 K, 1.16 WHIP, signed through 2011. Chicago needs a centerfielder: would you give up one of Gardner/Melky to get Thornton, a hard-throwing lefty (97 MPH avg. FB)? Or would he be redundant with the not-far-off return of Damaso Marte?
Then of course there's Colorado's Huston Street: 25 years old, 40.1 ip, 3.17 FIP, 45 K, .97 WHIP, arbitration eligible. Street would require considerably more than Thornton, merely for the fact that he's seven years younger. Would you give up something like Zach McAllister and one of Cervelli/Pena and Melky/Garnder for Street?
- A little info on our most interest prospects:
Jesus Montero was rated the third best prospect in baseball just a couple weeks ago by Baseball America - one of only 13 ML prospects considered 'untouchable' by BA. After going 3-5 with a double last night, the teenage catcher is at .305/.373/.516 in Double-A. BTB's Trade Calculator says Montero, by himself, is worth more than Roy Halladay.
Austin Jackson, 22, is an intriguing centerfield prospect having a solid year in Triple-A: .318/.384/.442 with 17 steals and just one CS. However, he has an alarming number of strikeouts (83) against only four homers.
Zach McAllister, 21, is currently the best pitcher in the system: 92 ip, 2.25 ERA, 75 K, 1.14 WHIP for AA Trenton.
So who do you want most? Let us know in the poll; and when voting, please take into account the cost required to get each player.
(Contract info from Cot's; stats from MiLB, BRef and FanGraphs)