Memo to Brian Cashman: It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

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Memo to Brian Cashman: It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching, but I expect the New York Yankees to stand pat.

The Yankees are not without their flaws, of course. However, the Aug. 31 waiver deadline is the one to watch in regards to the New York Yankees.

My belief is that the Yankees do not need to make any trades right now. They should wait and see if the team remains relatively healthy from now until the end of August. Then, if needs arise, fill them if it makes sense to.

Right now, the Yankees are playing their best baseball of the season. They sit 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2007, and are now 44-22 since Alex Rodriguez was activated from the disabled list.

Their great play has come largely in part because of the lineup, the defense, and the bullpen. While the starting rotation has been strong of late, it has been marred by inconsistency, especially from Joba Chamberlain.

When their starting pitching is going well, the Yankees look unbeatable, and that’s certainly been the case since the All-Star break. There is no question the Yankees have a talented rotation. The problem is whether or not the four men who anchor it (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain) can continue to keep the Yankees in games the rest of the season and avoid injury.

While the notion to make a strong push for Toronto’s Roy Halladay is a tantalizing one, the Yankees and their fans need to be realistic about their chances to make that deal happen.

Adding Halladay almost certainly comes with a high financial cost; he has a no-trade clause and would likely waive it only if it meant his new team would extend his current contract beyond the 2010 season at an exorbitant rate ($20 million or more per year).

Second, dealing for Halladay would mean subtracting either Joba Chamberlain from the rotation, or Phil Hughes from the bullpen. Neither option sounds appealing to me.

Lastly, the Yankees are not desperate for the services of Halladay. Provided that their current main starting pitchers stay healthy for the duration of the 2009 season, the Yankees have capable-enough pitching to carry them deep into the postseason. It’s not a question of talent, it’s a question of confidence.

It is also a question of health, unfortunately. With Chien-Ming Wang already shelved for an indefinite amount of time, the Yankees lost a valuable starting pitcher. If another pitcher were to wind up injured between now and August 31, the Yankees would have to make a trade.

And let’s face it, the injury histories of their current starters is not encouraging.

A.J. Burnett has never had back-to-back seasons with 200 or more innings.

Andy Pettitte finished last season with a series of ailments that contributed to his late-season struggles. What if one or more of those problems resurfaces?

Joba Chamberlain has dealt with a few injuries since his arrival in New York, and his much-speculated fluctuating velocity should be a cause for concern if it crops up again.

Then there’s C.C. Sabathia, who’s never had any significant injury history, but is coming off consecutive seasons of throwing well over 250 innings. If he were to break down, would anyone be surprised?

Still, one can’t assume health woes if they’ve yet to surface for Sabathia, Burnett, Chamberlain, and Pettitte this year. The prudent thing to do for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline would be to stand pat.

Let the other teams make bad trades they’ll regret. The Yankees are good enough, as currently constituted, to withstand the competition in the American League and emerge as a playoff team in 2009.

 

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