The New York Yankees did not let the MLB Trade Deadline pass without making a splash. Well, to be fair, it was more of a splish. The team made some moves on July 31st that proved they still saw themselves as buyers and contenders for the AL East crown.
The results thus far have been mixed in the small sample size of games since the deadline passed. They did drop the first game of the series to the last place Boston Red Sox with Chris Capuano, one of the pieces of the puzzle they brought in a few days prior to the actual deadline, taking the loss. So, the question remains, were the Yankees correct in being buyers at the deadline? The Bronx is boiling and I need to blow some steam.
THE YANKEES MISSED THE BOAT
The Yankees came under attack from a large portion of the media and opinion/ editorial bloggers that felt this was a lost season for the Yankees, and they should have been sellers at the deadline. As Yanks Go Yard’s own Matt Mirro pointed out a few days ago, that is just absurd. The only two things the Yankees will ever sell are more tickets and more merchandise. We as fans signed up to be part of a team that doesn’t understand the concept of a “lost season.” We do not rebuild, we go out and make moves that are supposed to push the Yankees forward. And let’s be quite honest for a minute here, folks, we trail the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays. Don’t tell me we are out of the AL East race just yet.
We also as Yankees fans, need to understand that we have already begun to reshape the minors and to overlook that fact is ignorant. Four of the MLB Network’s Top Five prospects in the Yankees’ system haven’t even played two full seasons yet. They unloaded the Yankees check book balance on the International Free Agent market this season and landed a bevy of stars from the Top 30 International Free Agent list. Which brings me to the one glaring point that most of these skeptics overlooked. The current Yankees had very little talent on the major league roster worth selling. Should the Yankees have become sellers, the three biggest trade chips anyone would have given top prospects in return for were Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Brett Gardner.
If the Yankees would have shipped off any of those three it would have defeated the concept of rebuilding. Betances is the Yankees bullpen of the future. Robertson, although I am still skeptical that he is a long term answer at closer, is proving to be worthy of the daunting task of replacing Mariano Rivera. And Gardner is entering his prime and has been the Yankees’ MVP the entire season. To trade him for anything less than Byron Buxton would have set the Yankees backwards.
No, the problem I had with the Yankees trade deadline moves had nothing to do with them being buyers. It had to do with who they bought. It started with Brandon McCarthy and ended with Stephen Drew. The Yankees didn’t make a single play on a star-powered player. I understand that they didn’t want to part with any of their elite minor league talent to get a super star, but there were other moves out there that seemed like it would have taken mid-level, Peter O’Brien type prospects to lure in helpful pieces to the pinstripe run.
Someone needs to explain to me how the Stephen Drew move makes any sense. Take the blinders off — behind the elation of the Red Sox taking the problem Kelly Johnson was to our roster off our hands, this move makes no sense. Drew was brought in to become the Yankees’ second baseman with ZERO major league second base experience.
Throw in on top of it that his offensive numbers are actually WORSE than Brian Roberts and Johnson and this move leaves you scratching your head. And there is NO WAY that Drew is in the Yankees plans as Jeter’s replacement next season. Why didn’t the Yankees make a move on Chase Utley? The Phillies need everything as their team is old, falling apart and hasn’t sniffed contention in a few years. Furthermore, the Yankees brought in Martin Prado who does have second base experience. Why didn’t they pursue a better right field option and use Prado, a one time major league second baseman, at second base? Even players I didn’t think that highly of, like Marlon Byrd and Josh Willingham for example, seemed like a better fit than Drew.
Esmil Rogers, people? This was who they brought in to help the bullpen get some rest? This guy hasn’t been effective in half a decade. There were numerous teams out there looking to dump some decent bullpen arms that would have cost nothing that seem like a better fit than Rogers.
Why didn’t they pursue Joaquin Benoit from the San Diego Padres? Or how about snagging James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio from the Chicago Cubs like the Braves did as both of those players better suited our needs than the moves the Yankees made. While they aren’t stars, the Yankees had some young talent that was still expendable despite trying to build up the youth. Someone like Adam Warren, who I like very much, could have helped a lot of teams out and seems like someone who could have brought in high return. Well, maybe not high return, but definitely higher than Rogers and Drew.
Looking over the Yankees moves in full, I really like the McCarthy, Headley and Prado moves, but really don’t understand the Capuano, Rogers and Drew moves. None of the six moves seem like the moves a team makes that would boost them into the playoffs. These seem like moves that were made to simply keep the team afloat. What do I know? Maybe Brian Cashman explored some bigger names and better options and the cost was too much. Seeing what was traded for some of those bigger names that moved out there, it seems like the Yankees, while not super rich in tradeable talent, had enough in the tank to make a counter.
Is this current Yankees team better? We no longer have to watch Roberts and Johnson, so the answer is 100% yes. Is this team a contender, however? The Yankees will certainly hang around long enough to compete with the Orioles and Blue Jays but WHEN they come out of the AL East, do you honestly believe this team is ready to play ball against the Oakland As or Detroit Tigers? I’ll keep singing that old Journey favorite Don’t Stop Believing, but it seems that Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train may ultimately be a bit more appropriate.