10 Reasons the Yankees Struck Out at the MLB Trade Deadline
The trade deadline has come and gone, and the New York Yankees haven't, well, done much. They went out to plug some holes in the team, but those holes are still there for the most part.
Injuries have wrecked the Yankees throughout the season. They've done a good job of covering those losses with an American League-best 60-42 record. All of those injuries, however, might have finally caught up to them, for out of their last 10 games, the Yankees lost seven of them.
While I personally like the Ichiro trade, the Yankees could've done more to bolster their chances at making the World Series. The other playoff-bound teams in the American League have made major moves while the Yankees made minor additions.
The Yankees struck out at the trade deadline this season. They could've done more but instead opted to make minor adjustments. Those adjustments might not be enough to get them to the World Series.
The Yankees have the best record in the American League. They are six-and-a-half games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. That lead may have caused the Yankees to consider laying low at the trade deadline.
We've all seen how fast a lead can disappear. Just look at last September or talk to any Boston Red Sox fan.
Six-and-a-half games in July could easily become three games in August and then behind one in September. The Yankees probably felt that they could afford to wait for their injured players to return with the lead they have.
They could be right. The Yankees could stay in first place until Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte return from the DL. The small moves they made could be the right choice.
They could also be wrong. Asking players who don't have a lot of experience in high-stake situations to come through might backfire. Even worst, there could be more injuries.
Speaking of Injuries
The Yankees have done well in making the most of what they have. Injuries have depleted the roster to reveal how thin the Yankees really are in some parts.
The most recent injury happened to Mark Teixeira, who injured his wrist. Before that there was Alex Rodriguez's broken hand, Andy Pettitte's broken fibula and CC Sabathia's groin strain. Let's not forget the losses of Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner and Mariano Rivera, who aren't coming back this season.
David Robertson also spent some time on the DL, but he's back now. Joba Chamberlain was just activated after missing most of this season and last season.
That's a lot of injuries to deal with, and the Yankees have been able to get by. The Yankees responded to Gardner's and Rodriguez's injury by acquiring Ichiro Suzuki and Casey McGehee.
Not much else was done to strengthen the depth of the team. While it's entirely possible that these players will return and perform like they did before their injuries, it's better to acquire a player who could fill in for the time being and figure out what to do when the injured player returns later.
I'm not saying the Yankees needed to go out there and replace every injured player they have, but they could've improved their depth by adding another piece or two.
The Return of Joba
Joba Chamberlain was just activated from the DL. His return is supposed to help strengthen the bullpen, which is missing Mariano Rivera. The Yankees have managed to do just fine without Rivera by having Rafael Soriano close.
Despite that, the Yankees could use some more depth in the bullpen. It was rumored that they were looking for an available reliever to add to the bullpen, but they chose to go with Chamberlain.
Chamberlain last pitched in the majors June 5, 2011. That's over a year ago. Since then, he's had Tommy John Surgery and dislocated his ankle.
In spring training, Chamberlain was showing flashes of his old dominant self, and he did the same in his rehab appearances in the minors. It remains to be seen if that success can translate to the major league level.
While I hope that Chamberlain will be able to capture the dominance of his 2007 season, I'm not ready to fully believe that he'll be hitting 100 mph regularly or striking people out at the level he once did. He has a lot of injuries to come back from, and I would've preferred that he took his time back and the Yankees acquired a reliable reliever.
Thin Pitching Depth
The back-to-back blows of losing CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte showed how thin the Yankees really were in their starting rotation. Prior to the start of the season, the Yankees boasted a possible six-man rotation, but an injury to Michael Pineda solved Joe Girardi's dilemma of who to leave off the starting rotation.
Then Freddy Garcia pitched himself out of the rotation, and Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova were on the verge of doing the same. Then June came, and the Yankees acquired Andy Pettitte around the time the starters were able to turn things around.
Once again, the Yankees had a deep rotation. Subsequent injuries to Pettitte and Sabathia made that disappear. Sabathia's returned, but the Yankees are still without Pettitte. They're trotting Garcia out there every five days, but you can tell the Yankees wish they had a stronger rotation.
One of the most used sayings in baseball is "you can never have too much pitching," and it's true. The Yankees' pitching prospects aren't ready to make the jump to the major leagues, but after the starting rotation, the Yankees don't have many options to turn to.
The Lack of a No. 2
I've been saying all along that the Yankees don't really have a No. 2 starter in their rotation. Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are the closest the Yankees have to that. Pettitte's injured and a duo of CC Sabathia and Kuroda doesn't exactly match up against Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson.
A No. 2 pitcher doesn't need to be an ace necessarily, but he needs to be a dominant force on the mound. He needs to give his team a strong outing every time he goes out to pitch.
The Yankees have lacked a player of that quality for some time now. They have their ace in Sabathia, but they have several pitchers trying to be No. 2s.
Aside from Kuroda and Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova aren't nearly as consistent enough to have that title. Nova gave up nine runs last night and six runs three starts before that. Then there's Hughes, who is still homer happy.
The Yankees could've gone out and acquired that pitcher to help push them to the World Series. The rotation they have now is solid, but it could be better.
The Age Factor
The average age of the Yankees' active roster is 31.2. Seven players in their everyday lineup are over 30, and four of them are over 35.
I was looking for the Yankees to add some youth at the trade deadline, but they did the opposite.
As much as I like the Ichiro trade, I kind of wish they did it when he was 28 and not 38.
Age has some benefits, mainly experience and wisdom. It has its drawbacks too. Older players are less productive than their younger, more athletic counterparts.
Who would you rather have, 2007 Alex Rodriguez or the 2012 version? Older players are also more injury prone. 2007 also happens to be the last time A-Rod played over 140 games.
Because of the injury risk and fatigue factor, older players require more rest to be at the top of their game than younger players do.
Championship teams are built on a good mix of youth, athleticism, experience and wisdom. The Yankees are heavy in the last two but need more of the first two.
First off, I like this trade. I don't care that Ichiro's not what he used to be or the fact that he's paid a bit too much for what he's producing. Ichiro wanted out of Seattle to join a winning team, and the Seattle Mariners granted that.
It was a classy move by the Mariners, and Ichiro has the chance to turn things around in New York while going after a ring. Having said that, the Yankees could've gotten a better player to replace Brett Gardner.
Ichiro's 38 years old and is batting .259/.286/.407 in seven games with the Yankees so far. With the Mariners, he was batting .261/.288/.353. Not exactly what you want from your team's biggest midseason acquisition.
At least he's still good defensively. He's a lot better in the outfield than Raul Ibanez's 40-year-old frame. Of course, his defense doesn't make up for his poor offensive numbers considering he used to get 200 hits every season.
I would've hated the trade if it weren't Ichiro and it cost the Yankees a lot. That's not the case, however, and it's still a defensible trade. Besides, Ichiro still has plenty of time to turn things around.
Casey McGehee, the Yankees' other midseason acquisition, was once a 23-home run hitter with 104 RBI. Nowadays, he's batting .230/.297/.377 with eight homers and 35 RBI. This is the guy that's supposed to help hold down the fort while Alex Rodriguez is out.
Of course, A-Rod isn't his old 50-homer self, but if the Yankees were going to trade for someone to help Eric Chavez fill in for him, I expected someone better than McGehee. McGehee could perfectly well prove his worth and resemble his 2010 form, but that's not likely to happen.
He strikes out a bit too much to be able to sustain any above-average numbers. He doesn't have eye-popping numbers against lefties, which doesn't help the case for bringing him to the team. McGehee isn't exactly clutch either as he's batting .203/.301/.266 with runners in scoring position.
I was looking for the Yankees to bring a batter in that could get clutch hits. The Yankees needed a right-handed batter to balance out their lineup. They also needed a clutch hitter since the Yankees still have RISP problems.
McGehee gives them a right-handed bat, but not much else. He's not an elite defender, on-base machine or clutch-hitter. I hope he can turn things around with his new team, but right now, he's not bringing much.
Those RISP Nightmares
Everyone knows of the Yankees' RISP troubles. Ever since that losing streak in May, the Yankees have had problems driving runners in, especially when they're in scoring position.
As a team, they've been doing a bit better, but they could still use some improvement. Derek Jeter leads the team with a .280 average with runners in scoring position, only he's the leadoff hitter.
The guys who should have high RISP averages, such as Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira, are batting .228, .218, and .255 respectively. Teixeira managed to boost his numbers, but Cano and A-Rod still need to do work.
But of course, there's A-Rod's injury, which changes the dynamic of the team regardless of the numbers he was putting up. The Yankees' cleanup hitters are a combined 1-for-20 since the start of the series against the Boston Red Sox.
Since the West Coast trip, the Yankees haven't exactly been their dominant selves with their RISP nightmares coming back to haunt them. The Yankees could've used a hitter who could get those clutch hits especially with A-Rod out.
A-Rod might not be the MVP A-Rod of old, but his presence in the lineup still helps the Yankees and the other hitters.
The other division leaders and playoff contenders in the American League made some pretty big moves, especially in the AL West.
Then there's the Chicago White Sox, who traded for Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers, and Francisco Liriano. Of course, we're not even looking at the National League, where the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants made some significant upgrades.
Some of the guys moved in those deals with those teams and others were players I thought the Yankees should look at and acquire if the price was right. Instead, the Yankees traded for Ichiro Suzuki and Casey McGehee with the hope that everyone can come back from the DL completely healthy and ready to make a run for the World Series.
I'm glad that the Yankees didn't part with their best prospects to make some minor fixes, but they could've done some more fixing.
Reed Johnson and Chase Headley could've helped the Yankees out at reasonable prices. Sure, the San Diego Padres were asking a lot for Headley, but some creative maneuvering could've landed him without sacrificing too much.
The Yankees' rotation doesn't stack up as well against the teams in the AL West. Teams with better pitching could exploit the Yankees' RISP troubles.
At the end of the day, the Yankees did what they had to do and what they felt was right. Other teams in the league decided to take the jump and go for it all this year. We'll just have to see who has the trophy at the end.