Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Game 64: I Don't Need No Doctor

When the Yankees and Phillies opened last year's World Series at Yankee Stadium, the pitching match up featured both clubs' aces, as CC Sabathia faced Cliff Lee. If you were to believe the rumors leading up to last year's trade deadline however, there was a good chance that Doc Halladay would have been the Game One pitcher for one of those two teams.

On July 7th last year, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal floated a weather balloon about the Blue Jays shopping Roy Halladay, and the rumor mill instantaneously kicked into overdrive. Almost immediately the defending champion Phillies were pegged as the most likely landing spot, with the Yankees considered another strong match. As the July 31st deadline approached the Phillies continually balked at Toronto's asking price and instead moved to Plan B, scoring Cliff Lee from the Indians for a lesser package. Meanwhile, neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox blinked in a divisional game of chicken, and Halladay woke up on August 1st as Toronto property.

Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi probably overplayed his hand in hanging onto Halladay. When he was dismissed following the season, Alex Anthopoulos took over and he immediately began shopping the Blue Jays' most valuable asset. On December 16th, Anthopoulos unloaded Doc, sending him to Philadelphia in a complex and confusing four team trade that netted Toronto virtually the same package Philadelphia had refused to move five months earlier. As part of the deal, Philly shipped Lee to Seattle.

So while Doc Halladay will take Lee's place in opposing Sabathia in tonight's interleague series opener, Lee once again finds himself sitting atop the auction block. He's been outstanding after spending the first month of the season on the DL, and with Seattle sporting the Majors' third worst record and Lee being a free agent at season's end, he's assured to be traded for the third time in a year by the time the July 31st deadline rolls around.

Predictably, the Yankees are once rumored as a prime landing spot for the prize of the trade market. And it just doesn't add up to me. Last year, there was a demonstrable need for a pitcher like Roy Halladay. Joba Chamberlain was struggling and facing an innings cap. Chien-Ming Wang was ineffective and out for the season following shoulder surgery. Sergio Mitre was plain ineffective. And even at that, the Yankees found the price for a year and two months of Roy Halladay to be too steep.

The Yankees are facing no such issues right now. Their starting rotation is arguably the best in baseball. Yes Javier Vazquez struggled early on, and yes Phil Hughes will face some innings restrictions later this year (albeit less restrictive than Chamberlain's last year), but one through five I'll take my chances with the current rotation. So why would the Yankees surrender a similar package now when the need is much less and when the target in question is under contract for only three months more?

Cliff Lee is amongst the game's best pitchers and he'll make a fine prize for someone by the end of July. While numerous Yankee fans have been salivating over his impending free agency since before this season even began, there just isn't the need for him now nor the justification for paying the likely asking price. The Yankees decided they didn't need Doc at last year's deadline, and they passed on him again when he was up for bid in the off-season. I'm hopeful they'll repeat that decision when it comes to Cliff Lee at this year's deadline. The Yankees know what's ailing them, and at present, it's not starting pitching.

I don't need no doctor
'Cause I know what's ailing me
I don't need no doctor, no, no
'Cause I know what's ailing me
[Song Notes: Originally recorded by Ray Charles, performances of this song by Charles are hard to come by, as we found when I tried to use it in a post about David Robertson last year. The version here comes from Humble Pie, the band with which Peter Frampton first rose to prominence. This performance comes from 1971, shortly after Frampton left the band. It's been covered by several other artists through the years, including blog favorite Gov't Mule, who began using it as a coda to another Humble Pie tune, "30 Days in the Hole".

It was also recorded by John Scofield on That's What I Say, his 2005 tribute album to Charles. I would have used a Scofield version here, which is very true to the original, except the Sco version prominently features John Mayer and I just couldn't bring myself to embed that here].


Alex Rodriguez is once again out of the lineup, but is available to pinch hit and figures to return tomorrow. Jorge Posada returns to DHing after catching Sunday. Sergio Mitre has been placed on the DL with an oblique injury; Boone Logan has been recalled.
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Brett Gardner LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena 3B

LHP CC Sabathia

Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Placido Polanco 3B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jayson Werth RF
Raul Ibanez LF
Ben Francisco DH
Juan Castro DH
Carlos Ruiz C

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