by Larry Mahnken
--posted at 1:19 AM by Larry Mahnken / |
The Yankees made a good move yesterday by suckering the Diamondbacks into giving them some reasonably useful players for Raul Mondesi. Joe Garagiola, Jr. has made some good moves in his tenure as D'backs GM, but has made many foolish ones, and this is another one of them.
But this isn't about the Diamondbacks, it's about the Yankees. There are still a few hours left until the trade deadline, and still a month before the postseason rosters are set. Considering that some of the trades made this season have been little more than salary dumps, some quality players are likely to go through waivers after today. Another interesting twist is that, should the Red Sox jump ahead of the Yankees in the standings, the Yankees would have waiver priority over the Red Sox, and would be able to block their claims, while the Red Sox could not block those of the Yankees.
Making a trade before 4pm is not vital for the Yankees' chances at a title. They are good enough to win the World Series right now, but it's not a sure thing, and they might not even be the favorites (my pick is the Giants right now). George wants the sure thing, and more than that, he wants to beat the Red Sox. Seeing the Red Sox make some excellent trades may be inspiring Steinbrenner to push for something foolish.
Make no mistake, the Red Sox have made some very good trades in the past days. They accquired Scott Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson, two excellent relief pitchers, for peanuts. They are moves that address Boston's greatest weakness and improve their team signifcantly. But they are just relief pitchers, and their accquistion will not change the fortunes of the team dramtically. If they were going to collapse before these trades, they likely still would, and if they catch and pull away from the Yankees, it will not be because of those two. They were very good trades by Epstein, but it's nothing for the Yankees to panic over.
But it seems that they Yankees might panic. There are rumors tonight of a trade that would send Brandon Claussen and $3 million to the Reds for third baseman Aaron Boone and lefty reliever Gabe White. Gabe White is a pretty good relief pitcher--he was rated by Michael Wolverton's ratings as the top reliever in MLB in 2000--but he's a relief pitcher. The trades Epstein made were particularly good because he gave up nothing signifcant to accquire relief help, understanding that the difference between a good relief outing and an awful one is so small that it's not worth giving up a good prospect for anything less than a consistently dominant reliever. The proposed trade should really be looked at as Claussen for Boone. That would truly be an awful trade for the Yankees. They would be giving up their last good prospect, a pitcher with the potential to be a very good starter in the near future, though not likely an ace, for a 30 year old third baseman who is not as good as Robin Ventura was last year, and shows no prospect of ever getting better. Accquiring Boone would close a hole in the Yankees' lineup, as well as giving them a reasonable bat to fill in at second and shortstop when needed, but he is not worth Claussen.
Who would be worth Claussen? Well, obviously Vlad and Giles would be, but Claussen would not be nearly enough to land either of those two. If the Yankees could get Guerrero to ink a long-term deal, I might be willing to part with Claussen and, *GULP*, Nick Johnson. Yeah, I adore Johnson, but it will be much easier to find a good hitting DH than a good hitting outfielder.
Maybe I'd part with Claussen for Adam Dunn, even though he seems to be turning into the new Dave Kingman. Well, that's not fair, he get on a lot more than Kong did, and being only 23, he's likely to fix his flaws. But then, the Reds have called Dunn untouchable, along with Austin Kearns (which is smart). Perhaps Soriano and Claussen, and $3 million for Dunn and Boone? Of course, that's just a pipe dream, the Yankees would never bring up Soriano's name to start a trade discussion, and the Reds would never start a trade discussion for Dunn with less than that on the table. So, it's best just to move on.
No, the Yankees being the Yankees, they are likely to make the deal as is, giving up too much for a player who is, when all is said and done, still worth having. I guess, in the end, it's not all that bad a trade if they do make it, because it improves them now, and you can worry about tomorrow when it comes. But it would be nice if, every now and then, they could pull off their own Scott Williamson trade, getting a valuable player for almost nothing. When's the last time that happened with the Yankees? Cone?