Friday, August 1, 2014

Trading Deadline Alters Landscape As Yanks Head to Boston Showdown

Let me get the most recent Yankee game, from Wednesday night, out of the way. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win, but didn't (7-7). Against Colby Lewis (7-8), Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz (3rd save), the Yankees just didn't hit enough. Brett Gardner led off the game with another home run (his 14th homer of the season), but, after that, we only got 1 run on 3 hits, including a homer by Jacoby Ellsbury (his 9th).

Rangers 3, Yankees 2. We lose 2 out of 3 in Texas.

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Yesterday was the trading deadline. The Yankees actually made a trade with the Red Sox, something they hadn't done since 1997, due to the bad blood between the 2 old rivals. We sent them Kevin Johnson, they sent us Stephen Drew. In other words, it was a classic "my crap for your crap" trade.

The Yankees also got Venezuelan infielder Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks, in exchange for minor-leaguer Pete O'Brien and either cash considerations or a player to be named later. Prado will mainly be played in right field the rest of the way, as Ichiro Suzuki is clearly nearing the end of the line. But Prado is also infield insurance.

The Yankees also designated Brian Roberts for assignment. He was supposed to replace Robinson Cano, and failed.

So now, the Yankees' starting 2nd baseman will be... Drew? Prado? Chase Headley? Brendan Ryan? (Please, no, on that last one.)

This would be my lineup, assuming everybody is healthy:

LF Gardner
CF Ellsbury
DH Beltran
1B Teixeira
C McCann
SS Jeter
3B Headley
RF Ichiro
2B Drew

Ah, but I'm not the manager. Joe Girardi will probably have something more like this:

LF Gardner
SS Jeter
CF Ellsbury
1B Teixeira
DH Beltran
C McCann
RF Ichiro
3B Headley
2B Drew

Derek Jeter may still wear Number 2, but he is not a Number 2 hitter anymore.

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Now, we go to Boston to play the Red Sox. The Scum essentially surrendered, trading away 2 starting pitchers. They won't miss John Lackey, who they sent to the St. Louis Cardinals. In return, they got outfielder-1st baseman Allen Craig and starting pitcher Joe Kelly.

They will, however, miss Jon Lester, their best starter. They sent him, and Jonny Gomes, to the Oakland Athletics -- false genius Billy Beane is really going for that elusive 1st Pennant under his "leadership" -- for slugging Cuban left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. A powerful righthanded hitter, to take shots at the Green Monster? That's the kind of acquisition the Red Sox always made under the long (1933-2002) of the Yawkeys and their Trust: Never mind pitching, speed & defense, the way the Cardinals, A's (even in their Philadelphia days) and Detroit Tigers have always done it, let's do it the way the Yankees do it, with big boomers hitting home runs to the closest fence! (This, of course, ignored the fact that the Yankees also did it with pitching & defense... not so much speed, but then, in their 1921-1964 Dynasty, the Yankees didn't need speed.)

So the 2013 World Championship * is the anamoly, as the 2014 Red Sox are about as bad as the 2012 version. I guess, ever since 2004 (with a brief blip in October 2008), the steroids don't work in even-numbered years.

Nevertheless, assuming he's not injured, I guarantee that Cespedes will hit at least 1 home run in this series against the Yankees, maybe more than 1. Because that's the way the Yankees' luck has gone since that awful day, a little over 2 years ago, when Mariano Rivera got hurt, a night which seems more and more like a turning point in Yankee history.

Here are the projected starting pitchers for this weekend's Yanks-Sox series at the little green pinball machine in Kenmore Square:

* Tonight, 7:05 PM: Chris Capuano vs. Anthony Ranaudo. That matchup? In that ballpark? This could be one of those Yanks-Sox slugfests that would have threatened the old American League curfew that said that no inning could start after 1:00 AM.
* Tomorrow, 4:05 PM: Shane Greene vs. Allen Webster.
* Sunday, 8:00 PM: David Phelps vs. Clay Buchholz. Phelps, Buchholz, and an ESPN broadcast? I find it unlikely that the Yankees will win this one.

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MLB.com's post-deadline headline was, "Whirlwind day of dealing alters landscape." The biggest deal, bigger than any of these, was a 3-way deal that saw the Detroit Tigers get Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price. The Tigers sent centerfielder (and former Yankee prospect) Austin Jackson to the Seattle Mariners. The Tigers sent pitcher Drew Smyly and minor-league outfielder Willy Adames, and the Mariners sent infielder Nick Franklin, to the Rays.

As MLB.com put it, By trading for Price, the Tigers now have the past 3 AL Cy Young winners: Max Scherzer, Price and Justin Verlander; and the last 3 AL Most Valuable Players: Miguel Cabrera has won the last 2, and before that Verlander.

The Tigers have reached the last 3 postseasons, and won the Pennant in 2012, but have won a grand total of 1 World Series game since their last title in 1984 -- 30 years ago. They are going all in this time. And it may have to be this time, as Scherzer becomes a free agent after this season. (And don't think Yankee GM Brian Cashman isn't very, very aware of that fact!)

The trade will probably be a wash for the Mariners, who have to be distressed that the A's, though they had to give up Cespedes, got Lester.

But the Rays gave up their last good starting pitcher, and are now left with Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and 23 guys named Logan Forsythe. They are 2 games under .500 (despite a nice hot streak that recently ended), and are averaging 17,389 fans per game -- and that's with Price. Without him... ?

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2018 Montreal Expos.

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The Cardinals also got Justin Masterson, who will probably help their rotation more than Lackey does, from the Cleveland Indians, for a minor-league outfielder named James Ramsey.

The Indians also dumped shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, to the Washington Nationals, for reserve infielder Zach Walters. Obviously, the Tribe have read both the standings and the attendance figures, and are convinced (correctly, I would agree) that the season is lost, and are building for the future.

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