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Wood the Yankees Miss These Guys?

Kerry Wood: The Yankees have paid the ransom. (AP)

When New York acquired Kerry Wood on July 31, they assumed $1.5 million of his contract, with the Indians netting an additional $500,000 if Wood could stay healthy. The former phenom flourished in pinstripes, so it’s safe Cleveland has another check headed their way. That’s not all the Tribe is getting, though; the Bombers completed the deal yesterday, sending Matt Cusick and Andrew Shive packing.

Neither are brilliant ballplayers, simply organizational guys who would have been shuffled around at some point. The most intriguing player in the deal is Matt Cusick, who in 2008 was ranked as the Astros’ 29th-best prospect and sent to the Yankees later that year for LaTroy Hawkins. Drafted in 2007 out of USC by the Astros, Cusick looked great in his pro debut at short-season Tri-City, posting a .306/.422/.446 line in 61 games. Unfortunately, his bat can’t seem to replicate his dazzling debut. In 2008, the Californian clocked in at .278/.351/.444 between Houston and New York, and in 2009 he posted a .291/.365/.377 line. The latter looks pretty, but the numbers are skewed because he played the majority of the season in High-A Tampa. Cusick has never hit at the upper levels. His combined rates at Double-A are .237/.317/.312 (87 games) and in 29 Triple-A games, he has a .265/.337/.337 slash.

Yet Cusick’s main tool is his bat. The 24-year-old makes contact, though not consistently enough. It’s clear his bat won’t be enough at the major-league level; his line at Triple-A this season translates to a .252 True Average, while his line at Double-A translates to .246, not nearly enough for a second baseman. The lefty swinger does have a reasonably good eye for the strike zone—his strikeout totals tend to be about the same as his walk rates. His below-average speed does him no favors, nor does his less-than-stellar defense. The second baseman doesn’t field well enough to play another position, though he does have good hands. Cusick will compete for a bench job in Cleveland, but with no speed and not much bat, he’ll flop around in the minors.

The Yankees plucked Shive in the 35th round of the 2008 draft. A 6-foot-6, 260-pound behemoth of a right-handed pitcher, Shive doesn’t have a whole lot of control but can reach back to strike out a batter. He made a nice debut in Staten Island in 2008, but lost the entire 2009 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. On the comeback trail this season, Shive pitched between Staten Island and Charleston, running up the walk totals yet again and not finding a ton of success. With many younger and higher-upside arms littering the lower minors, it has been difficult for him to build innings. Since he’s already 24 and hasn’t even succeeded Tampa, there’s not much to see here.