Last night provided the perfect storm for the more paranoid portions of the fanbase, particularly those who are quick to criticize Brian Cashman. As the non-waiver trade deadline passed at four o'clock, the Yankees had not added another starter or bullpen arm while our friends in Bahstahn added Victor Martinez, and inexplicably, Casey Kotchman.
Shortly after eight o'clock, Sergio Mitre - the man who would be replaced by a new starter - took to the bump for his third start as a Yankee. He had already been given a 3-0 lead, but it wouldn't be enough. Mitre's third start was worse than his second, which was worse than his first, which wasn't all that good to begin with.
Compounding matters, the Yankees played a sloppy game around him, resembling the Bad News Bears in the bottom of the seventh, and the bullpen wasn't all that great either. Of chief concern was Alfredo Aceves, who in his first appearance since missing five games with a sore shoulder, did not look good at all - allowing five baserunners and four runs in an inning and two thirds. What's more, the ChiSox were tatooing the ball. Without consulting pitch fx, Alf didn't appear to have much bite on his pitches, and of the five outs he recorded, four were on deep flyballs to the warning track, including Johnny Damon's circus catch.
It's just a couple bad outings, but I'm concerned about Alf. His last two outings, bookending his sore shoulder down time, have covered two innings to the tune of 6 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, and 0 K. That's raised his ERA by a full run. His ERA has increased by a run and a half since spot start just before the All-Star break. Maybe it's just the law of averages catching up with him. Maybe it's just a bad stretch. Maybe it is an injury. Maybe it's from his near Proctorization at the hands of Girardi earlier this season. Regardless, an ineffective Alf is a big problem for the Yanks as he's both a very reliable bullpen arm as well as a potential rotation option.
Jay already linked to some of the tabloid stories this morning and I can only imagine the gnashing of teeth going on in the comments section at LoHud. I slept in on this wonderful Saturday, so Mike at RAB has already beaten me to the punch on this, but the moral of the story is let's just calm down for a second here.
Yes, the Yankees could use another pitcher. Sergio Mitre, dubious to begin with, is looking more and more like he's not going to cut it. But consider the alternatives. Would you have surrendered Austin Jackson to bring flyball machine Jarrod Washburn to the bandbox in the Bronx for two months? Would you have surrendered Joba or Hughes and a boatload more to bring in Roy Halladay? Would you have mortgaged the farm for Cliff Lee? Could you have managed not to pull your hair out if the rumored Bronson Arroyo deal went down Monday? How much would you have been willing to surrender for Brian Bannister?
But just because the July 31st deadline has passed doesn't mean that all is lost. We're talking about a back end starter here. Cashman still has another month to add an arm (or two), and I'd be willing to be that he will. The economic climate has changed the landscape for Major League Baseball as well, and Cashman has indicated that he thinks there will be more waiver movement than usual this year. Cash is a pretty smart guy, and that's about as close he'll ever get to tipping his hand. In Cash speak, I'd take those comments as a near guarantee that there's a move coming before August 31st. If not, maybe Zach McAllister or Ivan Nova gets a shot.
In the meantime, yesterday wasn't a total wash for the Yanks. In the morning, we identified what we thought were the three needs the Yanks had going into the deadline. While the biggest one remains unfulfilled for the moment, with one minor and painless move, Cash took care of the other two. Jerry Hairston Jr. is a supersub. He's not going to light the world on fire with his bat, but he can capably six positions. He'll serve as the back-up CFer until Brett Gardner returns and then will likely replace Cody Ransom. That should satisfy those that obsess over the weakness at the utlity infielder position. All Hairston cost was Chase Weems, a catcher at low-A Charleston who was no better than fifth on the organizational depth chart. Not a bad deal.
In short, don't call for Cashman's head until September 1st rolls around. Back shortly with the preview.