Yankees ace Andy Pettitte left today’s game in the third inning with a Grade One left groin strain, and it has already been announced that he is expected to miss four or five weeks. Coupled with A.J. Burnett’s recent two-handed assault on a locker room door that left Burnett bloodied and his ego bruised, the Yankees will likely conclude they have to find another starter to make up for their recent failure to land top-prize Cliff Lee.
Will the Yankees decide that Roy Oswalt is their man? I have heard very few rumors indicating the Yankees are interested in Oswalt, but there are certainly reasons to think he might be a good fit for the Bombers.
First, despite a crummy 6-11 record, Oswalt can still pitch. His present 3.12 ERA is his lowest since 2006 and his rate of 8.5 Ks per nine innings is his highest since his rookie season of 2001.
Oswalt left today’s game after four innings with an ankle contusion after being struck by a sharply hit grounder off the bat of the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez, but Oswalt isn’t expected to miss his next start.
Everyone has long been aware that the Astros have Oswalt on the auction block. The big sticking point is that Oswalt still has approximately $25 million in future salary coming to him through the 2011, since Oswalt has a no-trade clause and the expectation is that Oswalt will require his $16 million 2011 option by picked up in exchange for waiving the no-trade clause.
That’s a lot of money, but, of course, the Yankees have more money than anyone for just these types of situations. The Yankees also have loads of prospects to trade, and probably won’t have to give up the best of them if they taken on a relatively higher percentage of Oswalt’s remaining contract obligations.
The Yankees may be concerned how Oswalt would make the transition to the American League, as Javier Vasquez has underwhelmed in his second stint with the Yankees after a fine 2009 campaign in Atlanta. However, I think Oswalt’s lack of experience in the AL is actually an advantage.
Unlike, Vasquez, who pitched four of the last six seasons in the AL before this one, Oswalt has never pitched for anyone but the Astros. In other words, American League hitters have seen precious little of Oswalt. A lack of familiarity usually favors the pitcher.
Here’s mlbtraderumors.com’s list of starting pitchers in play as the trade deadline approaches. Dan Haren is probably the only pitcher on the list who ranks with Oswalt as far as the second half of this season is concerned.
The Yankees have several in-house options in a trio of 23-year-old minor leaguers, all of whom look pretty good. They are Ivan Novoa, David Phelps, and Hector Noesi.
Novoa is 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he looked pretty good in a two-game cup of coffee he received with the Yankees in mid-May.
David Phelps has a 7-1 record with a 2.04 ERA after 14 starts at AA Trenton and three starts at AAA SWB. Phelps’s ratios are terrific.
Noesi has a fantastic 1.74 ERA after ten starts at Trenton since being promoted from A+ Tampa, where he started the 2010 season.
However, it’s hard to see the Yankees throwing a completely untested rookie into a starting slot in the middle of a pennant race.
The Yankees will almost certainly trade for somebody now that they know they’ll be without Pettitte for at least a month. The question is who the lucky pitcher will be.