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August 1, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Hey, so I guess I won't be leaving for NC until tomorrow now. Car problems. :-/

But it does give me an opportunity to complain about the awful, awful trade.

I don't have a problem with the Yankees adding Aaron Boone. He's not a bad player, but he's not a great player, certainly not what you think of when you say "All-Star". His OPS this season is .808, but is padded by his former home, an excellent hitter's park. His road OPS is .719 this season, was .743 last year, and .705 in 2001. His career Home/Road split is .812/.757. This isn't to say that Aaron Boone is a .757 hitter, there are many reasons for a hitter to perform poorly on the road, but it does indicate that Boone is nothing particularly special, and perhaps most importantly, not a signifcant upgrade over Robin Ventura.

The good side of having Boone is that he is not likely to fall off a cliff, and should they resign him, fills what was likely to be a major hole at third base next season. But there are better options out there in the future, and I would hope that they don't lock Boone up too long and handcuff themselves. My suggestion would be to offer him arbitration, take the compensation if he signs elsewhere (which makes up for losing Claussen), sign Kaz Matsui to play short and move Jeter to third, and if he accepts arbitration, keep him for one year, then make a run at Chavez in the 2004-05 offseason.

And Gabe White is a good relief pitcher who can dominate lefties while getting righties out, too--he's better than Hammond, and definitely a good pickup. In fact, the accquisitions of White and Benitez give the Yankees a very good bullpen again. But White's also out with a groin injury, and who knows when he'll be back? Right now, this trade did very little to improve the Yankees' chances of winning the division, pennant, or World Series.

For this they gave up Brandon Claussen, the last good prospect in the high minors for the Yankees, a player expected to be in the rotation next year, and the only minor leaguer they had who could be used as trade bait. While they've (potentially) filled a hole at third base next season, and improved their bullpen, it's opened up a hole in the rotation for next season, and makes it highly unlikely that they will be able to trade for anyone particularly good the rest of the season or in the offseason. Would they get Giles or Vlad for Claussen? Probably not, but packaged with Soriano he might have, and I would have made that trade in a heartbeat.

The key is that they didn't not need to make this trade. It changes almost nothing for the Yankees, it is not likely to make any difference this season. The Yankees made the trade because Boston made good moves in the past two weeks, rebuilding their bullpen and improving their rotation. But the trades Boston made don't swing the balance of power in the division, and the Yankees didn't NEED to do anything. Instead, they made a trade that doesn't help, except now they don't have Brandon Claussen.

My rage is not as great as it was yesterday, but I'm still not happy with this trade. If Brandon Claussen is a bust, I will still not be happy with this trade, but if Aaron Boone plays very well, then maybe it's worth it. For that reason, I'll be starting another tracker on the sidebar, for Aaron Boone. I can't think of a name for it though. Suggestions?