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Posts Tagged ‘Joba Chamberlain’

As I’m writing this, the Yankees are in first place, 2 ½ games ahead of the hated Red Sox.

Stop to think about that for a second. Despite all of the injuries and preseason prognostications calling Boston the greatest team since the ’27 Yanks, It’s the Yankees who have the best record in the league. So much for predicting baseball, eh?

So how did we get here? And what about the next 84 games – can they keep it up?

CC and the 7 Dwarves

The starting rotation, if unspectacular, has been steady. That CC Sabathia  (10-4, 3.25 ERA) would turn in a typical ace-like season was not in much doubt. But when Phil Hughes broke camp without a fastball or command, an already shaky rotation seemed destined for trouble. Instead, AJ Burnett (8-6, 4.05) has seemingly put last season’s demons on hold, Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.28) keeps junkballing his way to wins, Ivan Nova (7-4,4.26) has gotten progressively better as the season has moved into the summer and Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.10) found the fountain of youth. Even journeyman Brian Gordon has turned in a couple of credible starts. With Hughes and Colon due back from the disabled list within the next week, the Yanks still may not have a “name” #2 guy, but the team won’t suffer from a lack of credible rotation options in the second half.

Mo and the other 7 Dwarves

At the beginning of the year, the bullpen was supposed to be the best in baseball. And it started out that way. But Pedro Feliciano was injured before camp even opened. Then Rafael Soriano (1-1, 5.40) followed up an erratic first month by hurting his elbow. Joba Chamberlain (2-0, 2.83) needed Tommy John surgery. Suddenly, a lock-down bullpen had holes everywhere except closer, where the ageless Mariano Rivera (1-1, 1.72, 21 SV) remains incomparable. Stepping into the breach has been Houdini’s reincarnation, David Robertson (1-0, 1.11) and a bunch of guys that barely earned a mention in the media guide: Hector Noesi, Luis Ayala, Buddy Carlysle, Lance Pendleton, Cory Wade, Jeff Marquez, Kevin Whelan, Amauri Sanit. Even the much-maligned Boone Logan has managed to become effective lately. Here, too, reinforcements are on the way, as Soriano looks to be ready by mid-July. And just to add to the laugh factor, yesterday the Yankees re-acquired Sergio Mitre.

The EVIL Home Run

Call it a sign of baseball experts not being as expert as they thought. A common refrain is that the Yankees hit too many home runs. Maybe I’m thin-skinned, but I take it to mean that the Yankees “cheat” because they do what they do best: hit home runs. They lead the majors in homers (115), runs scored (416) and OPS (.793). If the rest of baseball is jealous simply because the Yankees sport an offense that means they’re never out of a game, let them eat (AJ) pie. Oh, and for all of those NL “small ball” types: the Yanks are third in steals, with 71.

What probably scares the bejeezus out of the rest of baseball is that as good as the offense has been, it hasn’t really clicked on all cylinders yet – even though it’s beginning to heat up. While Curtis Granderson (.276, 21, 56, along with a ML leading 70 runs) is having an MVP type year and Mark Teixeira leads the majors with 24 homers, Nick Swisher (.250, 10, 43) and Jorge Posada (.240, 9, 27) have just started to hit over the past couple of weeks. Derek Jeter (.260, 2, 20) was playing old before his injury and Alex Rodriguez (.299, 13, 51) still hasn’t recovered his power stroke. Robbie Cano (.289, 14, 49) is hitting 30 points under last season.

The Manager

I’ve never been a fan of Joe Girardi. I probably never will be. But I have to give credit where it’s due and this season, Girardi deserves mention for Manager of the Year. He has stumbled a couple of times, but for the most part he has managed to string together enough oddball pieces to keep this team playing better than the sum of its parts.

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From CBS New York:

NEW YORK (WFAN) – So much has already been said about the Yankees this off-season. Apparently, not enough. Enter Hank Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner gave his two cents to the New York Post about what the Bombers need to do in 2011.

“We will do what we have to do to win … We have the highest payroll and the reason is we are committed to our fans to win,” Steinbrenner told the Post. “We just have to —ing win.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made waves on Tuesday morning during his “Breakfast with a Champion” appearance with Mike Francesa. According to Cashman, Joba Chamberlain will not return to the starting rotation, instead the fiery reliever will remain in the bullpen.

“I’m really happy with our bullpen,” Steinbrenner said. “I think Chamberlain is going to come back and have a big year.”

There’s the Steinbrenner voice we all know and love. Hank is Back!

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Earlier today, Brian Cashman attended WFAN’s “Breakfast With a Champion.” By all accounts, he must have ingested some truth serum along with his waffles, because his answers were unusually frank. While most of the baseball world is buzzing with the news that he doesn’t think Derek Jeter will finish his current contract at short, to me the biggest news that came out of the event is this: Cashman doesn’t think Joba Chamberlain will ever be healthy enough to return to the starting rotation. ESPN’s Amanda Rykoff relayed this quote via Twitter:

“Francesa: Any chance of Joba in the rotation? Cashman: No. He hasn’t been same since injury in TX.”

Folks, the idea that Jeter won’t be playing shortstop when he’s 40 shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the idea that a GM who openly admits his pitching staff needs one more quality starter also admitting a prized prospect is too injured to start – wow.

Consider the implications. In one sentence, Cashman condemned the 25 year old to a career as a middle-reliever – and an injured one, at that. Any chance the Yankees had of trading Chamberlain for even a back-of-the-rotation innings eater are right out the window. If Joe Girardi even entertained the idea of giving Joba another shot at the #5 spot in the rotation, he’s just been undercut by his GM. Just for good measure, it also confirms the idea that Cashman & Co., by screwing around with the way they’ve handled the one-time phenom, destroyed a promising career.

I’m hard-pressed to find another instance of a general manager undercutting his own team this way.

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With the recent acquisition of Rafael Soriano, the seemingly ageless question of whether Joba Chamberlain should be moved back into the starting rotation has resurfaced. It’s a question that has plagued the Yankees ever since Joba exploded on the scene as Mariano’s set-up man in the second half of the 2007 season.

Really, nobody thought the question would be a topic of discussion heading into this season. Joba was given a shot at the #5 spot last spring and lost to Phil Hughes. Going into this offseason, he seemed destined to be given a legitimate chance at earning the 8th inning role, despite his erratic pitching in 2010. After all, the Yankees were the consensus pick to land Cliff LeeAndy Pettitte wasn’t supposed to semi-retire. There wasn’t any room for Joba in the rotation and 8th inning duties looked to be a battle between him and David Robertson.

My, what a difference a few months and one type A free agent signing can bring. Now the 8th inning role is filled and the 7th inning features Joba, Robertson, Boone Logan and Pedro Feliciano, while the rotation features world-beaters Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Given the way the pitching staff has suddenly been reshuffled, it’s no wonder the question of Joba’s proper role has resurfaced.

There are plenty of statistical reasons for making Joba a starter again. Mike Axisa of RAB has the usual arguments listed here. There’s also another reason moving Joba to the rotation makes sense: as currently constucted, the ‘pen doesn’t have a long man – the guy you bring in when the starter blows up in the 3rd or 4th inning. Last year, that role was filled by Mitre and Chad Gaudin. The rotation as currently set, with three guys who have a history of falling apart early in starts (not only Nova and Mitre, but the volatile and erratic AJ Burnett), that role looks to be more important than ever this year. After all, the back end of the pen is solid. The middle looks solid – but all six of the guys the team is counting on will wilt in the second half if they’re logging 1/2 of the teams innings.

The argument against Joba starting boils down to two problems: first, how healthy is his shoulder? Second, will he ever display the consistency to be effective over 7+ innings every five days – or is he more of an AJ-lite?

As to the question of health, we’ll never know unless Joba is returned to the rotation, it seems. Last year, his average fastball clocked in around 94-95mph, ending a three year decline in velocity. But, Joba also threw fewer pitches than in any full-season – 30% fewer. Was the increased velocity the result of a lighter workload not taxing that injured shoulder? If returned to the rotation, how will tripling his pitch count affect his velocity and control? (Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs)

The maturity question is another one that’s hard to gauge at this point. If it’s true that being bounced around from one role to another makes a pitcher great, then Joba should be ready to become the next Bob Gibson. But all the evidence thus far points to pitcher who has difficulty controlling his emotions, which is the principle reason he was relegated to the pen in the first place.

Of course, the Yankees could sign a back-of-the-rotation type over the next 4 weeks (Justin Duchsherer, perhaps?), relegating Mitre back to the pen or Nova back to the minors and rendering the whole question moot.

For now.

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Bryan Hoch reports that the Yankees have signed Larry Rothschild as their new pitching coach, replacing the summarily dumped Dave Eiland. ESPN’s Wallace Matthews reports Rothschild has a three year deal, worth $2 million.

I’m  not certain this represents a significant upgrade. The move admittedly has me scratching my head, especially in light of some better options (like Scott Aldred and Leo Mazzone) still available.

Quick recap of Rothschild’s career: he pitched a very ugly 7 games over parts of two season with the Tigers in the early 1908’s (career WHIP: 1.9; career K/9: 1.1), after being a rule 5 draft pick . He surfaced in 1990 as the Red’s bullpen coach, being promoted to pitching coach for Cincinnati for 1992 and 93. He then worked as a minor league instructor for the Braves before resurfacing as the Marlins pitching coach from 1995 -97. He served from 1998 – 2001 as the first manager in Tampa Bay’s history and has been the Cubs pitching coach since 2002.

My concern is that the Yankees signed a guy with a big name in baseball circles, but not necessarily one that fits the Yankee pitching staff well. Rothschild is known for stressing strikeouts from his pitchers – not necessarily a great idea when your staff has AJ Burnett, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and David Robertson, all pitchers known for getting in trouble while nibbling for K’s when a ground ball would do just fine. And despite all of those strikeouts his teams have captured over the years, they really haven’t shone when the pressure was on or been great at keeping runners off base. Consider the 2003 Cubs: despite setting a NL record with over 1400 strikeouts, the staff WHIP was 1.3; relatively pedestrian. The Cubs had a staff ERA of 5.71 during that postseason. Let’s also not forget that Rothschild is a pitching coach noted for blowing out pitchers arms: Jose Rijo, Rob DibbleMark Prior and Kerry Wood all suffered career-altering arm troubles on Rothschild’s watch.

For now, I’ll withhold final judgement until I see how this pans out. If he can get AJ and Joba straightened out without ruining the rest of the staff, then Rothschild was the right hire. But right now I think this move is dicey.

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Tonight, the Yankees start the second leg of the Chase for 28 in Arlington, Texas. The game is on TBS and coverage begins at 8pm ET.

The Yankees got to this point by disposing of the Twins in 3 straight, while the Rangers are coming off a much more grueling 5 game victory over the Rays. The teams split their regular season series at 4 wins apiece – but this is the postseason, where the Yankees have historically owned the Rangers. But these aren’t your father’s Rangers. Those teams tried to club you into submission; this one features some pitching and speed in addition to the power.

During the regular season, the Rangers cruised to the AL West crown, finishing 9 games ahead of Oakland. Still, they would have finished third in the AL East, only one game ahead of Boston – and Boston was never really in the race after the All-Star break.

Let’s break it down.

Rotations:

Each team is planning on going with a four man rotation, although if either is down 3-0 the smart money is the game four starter will change.

Game 1: CC Sabathia vs. CJ Wilson

In the battle of Starters With Initials For Names, Sabathia is the Yankee ace and won 21 games this year. Wilson is the Rangers version of Phil Hughes, emerging from the bullpen to realize his potential this season. In their respective starts in the ALDS, Sabathia worked through 6 innings, demonstrating why he’s an ace: even without great command or life on his pitches, he kept the Yankees in the game until the team solved Francisco Liriano. The guy just finds a way to win, especially in prime-time. Wilson dominated the Rays in Game 2 of that series.

Game 2: Phil Hughes vs. Colby Lewis

Hughes gets the ball in Arlington, where he’s pitched well in the past. Lewis is a reclamation project, being rescued from Japan. Hughes went 18-8 while Lewis parked a 12-13 record. Each pitcher is relatively inexperienced in the postseason and will be making their second start, although Hughes also pitched out of the pen in last year’s postseason run to #27. In their previous starts, Hughes dominated the Twins in winning the clincher. Lewis was nearly as effective in game 3 against the Rays.

Game 3: Andy Pettite vs. Cliff Lee

The marquee matchup of this series pits Pettite, the all-time leader in starts and wins in the postseason against the Rangers ace – who has been dominant the past two years in October. Prepare for one of those classic 1-0 type games.

Game 4: AJ Burnett vs. Tommy Hunter

Burnett is basically like the lost lamb trying to find his way back, after a season in which he posted career highs in hit batters and ERA while posting a career worst WHIP. It was an ugly year for AJ and is pretty much getting the start only because the Yanks don’t want to burn out CC before the World Series. However, the Rangers may be the perfect team for AJ to get his groove back – the only teams he was statistically better against in 2010 were the Royals and Indians. Hunter posted career highs in wins, starts and innings pitched, but he’s very much a pitcher who relies on guile and command. Yankee Stadium in October isn’t exactly conducive to easing rattled nerves for opposing players (just ask the Angels from last year).

Because the Rangers had to go the distance with Tampa Bay, the Yankees catch a huge break: Rangers ace and Yankee-killer Cliff Lee will, at best, get 2 starts (games 3 & 7). But the odds are this series won’t go the full 7 games. Edge: Yankees

Bullpens:

The Yankees have the ultimate post season weapon in closer Mariano Rivera, and set him up rather nicely with Kerry Wood, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and lefty Boone Logan. Despite the Rangers being primarily right-handed offensively, Logan still figures to be an important weapon out of the pen against Josh Hamilton.

The Rangers feature first-year closer Neftali Feliz and veteran lefty swing-man Darren Oliver. After that, it’s a hope, a prayer and somebody getting thrown to the wolves. The primary set-up man this year is Darren O’Day, but expect lefties Michael Kirkman and Derrek Holland to see plenty of action, as well. The Rangers also added another lefthander, Clay Rapada, to the roster for this series. Edge: Yankees

Offenses:

The Yankees led the league in scoring and the lineup is so deep that veteran All-Star Lance Berkman hits 8th. MVP candidate Robinson Cano is joined by perennial All-Stars Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in the 100RBI club, and 5 Yankees went deep 25 or more times in 2010. When future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter is the weakest link in your lineup, you’re pretty set offensively. The Yankees also have speed in Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner (3rd in steals). Marcus Thames adds a proven power bat off the bench. The key to holding the Yankees down is hoping that Joe Girardi goes insane and starts IF Ramiro Pena and OF Greg Golson.

The Rangers boast some serious offense with the likes of CF/LF Josh Hamilton (also an MVP candidate), RF Nelson Cruz, DH Vladimir Guerrero, 3B Michael Young and 2B Ian Kinsler. SS Elvis Andrus and CF Julio Borbon add speed, but not much pop and not much in the way of getting on base. OF Jeff Francouer was brought over from the Mets to add a RH bat off the bench and pair with lefty OF David Murphy. The Rangers are offensively challenged at C and 1B, although C Bengie Molina can turn on a mistake. Still, the Rangers are only a real force offensively in positions 2-6. Edge: Yankees

Defenses:

The Rangers are a solid team defensively, particularly in the outfield, where the speed of Hamilton, Cruz and Borbon lets them get to a lot of balls and both Hamilton and Cruz feature excellent throwing arms. On the infield, Kinsler and Young don’t make many mistakes, but both have been compared to statues in the past. Catcher Molina is a weapon against opponents running games, but more importantly works well with the pitching staff. Reserve C Matt Treanor also figures to get at least one start. SS Andrus has terrific range and a good arm, but can be erratic at times. Manager Ron Washington has done a terrific job in shoring up what was once one of the worst defenses in baseball, but the Rangers aren’t on par with 1976 Reds yet.

The Yankees feature Gold Glove defense at 1B, 2B and LF. The greatest weakness is behind the plate, where C Jorge Posada had a sub-par year both throwing and blocking balls. Reserve C Francisco Cervelli seems destined to get the game 4 start, but has only been marginally better. Edge: Yankees

On the whole, the Yankees are clearly the better team. Watch out if the Yankees win the first two in Texas – this series could be over before Cliff Lee even takes the hill in game 3. Pick: I was originally going to say Yankees in 5, but I talked myself into it…

Yankees in a sweep.

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I realize there’s still a lot of work to do before we wrap 2010, but it’s never too early to think about next year. After all, the Yankees as a team are about one thing, and one thing only: winning World Championships. That means this year, next year and all the years after.

Without a doubt, one of the big questions going into next season will be the starting rotation. What began this year as a pillar of strength has eroded, as injuries to Andy Pettite and sub-par performances from AJ Burnett and Javier Vazquez have left gaping holes in the rotation. Let’s face it, there have been times in the second half where it seems the starters were playing CC Sabathia and the Seven Dwarfs. Taking a look into the crystal ball, here’s what I see for next year’s starting five:

  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Phil Hughes
  3. Cliff Lee
  4. Andy Pettite
  5. AJ Burnett

Let’s break them down.

CC Sabathia: CC has been the quintessential ace for the Yankees this year. Forget the numbers; what he’s provided the Yankee braintrust (and us fans, too) is stability. In a season when every game begins with everyone wondering of the starting pitcher will survive the 5th inning, CC has gone out there every 5 days and given the team 7 or more quality innings. He has been worth every penny of his contract. Yes, CC will be a year older and you have to wonder when all the innings over the past five seasons will begin to take a toll on his very broad shoulders, but for now CC is the undisputed Bronx Ace.

Phil Hughes: Phil-thy has blossomed into the top of the rotation stud the Yankees envisioned when they picked him in the first round in 2004. Although he’s struggled some in the second half, he’s also pitching more often than at any time in his career. With his effort this season, he’s earned the right to be considered the #2 started for 2011.

Cliff Lee: I know he’s not a Yankee. Yet. But there can be little doubt that Lee will be the #1 target of the team this off-season. While the Rangers will certainly make a serious push for Lee, I can’t see anyone seriously trying to outbid the Yankees. (I smell something along the lines of a 5 year, $130M contract, with a couple of mutual options thrown in). Lee would be considered the ace on most teams; it says something about this team’s depth that he would start the year as the #3 guy.

Andy Pettite: Andy remains a question mark. Will he want to come back next year? If he does, the Yankees will slot him into the 4 spot. He certainly deserves to come back. The injury that’s kept him sidelined for most of the second half is the kind that happens to older pitchers, but no doubt he’s been extremely effective when on the mound. If not, then the 4 spot goes to…

AJ Burnett: The Yankees answer to the enigma wrapped inside a riddle. He possesses ace stuff, but has yet to demonstrate that he can reliably command any of his pitches . A career .500 pitcher is ok in the 5 spot, though – although the Yankees certainly expect more from their huge investment than a number 5 starter.

There are questions, of course. What if Lee signs elsewhere? What if Pettite doesn’t come back? I think the Yankees can withstand one of those two possibilities, since there are plenty of other options for a fifth starter type. Certainly, the Yankees would consider internal options (Joba Chamberlain) and external (Ted Lilly). But this is my best guess as to how things work out for 2011. As for Vazquez, i fully expect him to be kicked to the curb faster than you can say “85 mph fastball.”

We’ll see if I’m right in March. In the meantime, what does the rest of the Universe think?

Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

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On August 3rd, the New York Yankees posed for their annual team photo. One thing was missing though. It was Alex Rodriguez. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo. The Yankees director of publications, Alfred Santasiere III, stepped in for Alex at the last-minute and the photo was taken. If you look at the photo below, you will see a man in a suit standing next to Joba Chamberlain (that’s Al Santasiere). When the photo is released to the public, that will be Alex Rodriguez.

Well, all of the players except for Alex Rodriguez — who I had to step in for at the last minute (as you see in the photo below). I’m standing next to Joba Chamberlain, who yelled out, “Al is filling in for Al. Everything is going to be alright!”
 
Anyway, I will let you in on the worst kept secret in team photo history. When you see the photo in one of the next issues of Yankees Magazine (either September or October) — you’ll see A-Rod in the shot, and it will look like he was really there. 
 
The men and women of Grandstand Design — the New Jersey firm that designs Yankees Magazine — are very talented. If you don’t believe me, check out A-Rod in the 2010 team photo. 
You guys should really check out Al’s blog (Homestand Blog by Yankees Magazine), which gives you a preview of what will be included in future Yankees publications. He does a great job.
 
2010 New York Yankees

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The movie Match Point uses a quote from Lefty Gomez: “I’d rather be lucky than good”:

Seriously…who gets hit in the face and turns a double play?

Yankees vs Red Sox

Joe Buck becomes a distraction. A-Rod gets drilled

(more…)

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The trade deadline has come and gone and Brian Cashman was certainly busy over the final 48 hours, landing three new players. With Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood now wearing Pinstripes, let’s look back at what were generally considered the Yankees biggest needs heading into this year’s trade season and see how well Cashman did in addressing them.

  1. Bullpen: The struggles of Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park this year, along with injuries to Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Damaso Marte turned what looked like a major strength at the beginning of the season into a major question mark. Cashman picked up Wood hours after the Indians activated him from the DL. And that’s been Kerry Wood’s big problem throughout his career – the guy just can’t stay healthy. At one time, he was supposed to be the Next Big Thing; now, his career has devolved into that of middle innings guy. Still, Wood has a plus fastball and curve and hitters don’t like to face him. Additionally, acquiring him gave the Yankees the perfect excuse to send Park and his thrill-a-minute pitching style packing, so that’s a plus right there. Also, Cashman gave up virtually nothing to get him, other than money and a future low-grade prospect, so there isn’t much risk involved here. Of course, this doesn’t really address the eighth inning role, but adding a power arm is never a bad idea. Grade: B-
  2. Outfield bench: Replacing Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames didn’t exactly pan out. Thames has demonstrated that his all-hit, no-glove reputation is well deserved and Winn played so well he was asked to run away from Yankee Stadium. Enter Austin Kearns. Kearns represents a serious upgrade to this unit. Unlike Thames, he is a better than league-average defender at both corner spots and league-average in center, if needed. He has better than average speed, although it’s never translated to stolen bases. He has decent power from the right side, although not enough to ever be considered a power hitter. In other words, he is the epitome of a fourth outfielder even though his past teams were so awful he found himself thrust into starting roles. Once again, Cashman brought a solid player in from Cleveland for cash or the infamous PTBNL (btw, I want to meet that guy one day – he gets traded A LOT), so there isn’t much risk involved, either. The only thing keeping this from being an “A” is that Kearns doesn’t project as a guy you want starting 3-4 weeks in a row, should a serious injury occur. Grade: B+
  3. Infield Bench: This is the one area that still needs some work. Neither Ramiro Pena nor Kevin Russo are guys you really want to see with a bat in their hands, but the Yankees were unable to find any help. A waiver trade is always a possibility, but Tampa, Boston and Texas will know what the Yankees are up to and probably try to block any such move. Grade: F
  4. Designated Hitter: A full-time DH wasn’t a serious need, even if Nick Johnson is likely done. Using the DH role to rotate some of the Yankee vets would have been fine, if a strong utility guy could be found. None were, so Cashman did the next best thing: bring in some big-time thunder for the DH role. Although undeniably on the downside of very good career, Lance Berkman’s arrival means the Yankee line-up gets lengthened, with legitimate power threats from 2-8. The undeniable shocker of the trade deadline. Grade: A

Overall, I give Cashman a B- for this year’s deadline dealing, although that stands to improve if the Yanks can swing a deal for utility infielder.

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OK, Yankees Fans: we are now in the home stretch of the 2010 trade season and so far the Bronx Bombers have… well, they’ve bombed on getting any fresh blood, much less an impact type of player. That being said, neither have the Red Sox or the Rays so the status quo in the AL East remains. It seems rather hard to believe that July 31 will come and go without one of the premier teams in the East doing something to try to separate themselves from the others. So here’s a quick link dump on what’s being whispered about by various sources:

*Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees tried to pry away Joakim Soria by offering Jesus Montero. That seems to confirm a report from John Heyman, but I remain doubtful. As much as I’d love to see Soria wearing Pinstripes, that simply is a trade that doesn’t match up well. KC’s farm system is well stocked at catcher and first base, so as big a bat as Montero looks to be; he would have nowhere to play in KC (unless the Royals could move Jose Guillen to another team and slide Billy Butler to the primary DH role, or jettison Jason Kendall).

*Heyman also mentions in the same report that the Yankees seem more intent on picking up bench help, mentioning Ty Wiggington, Cody Ross and Jhonny Peralta by name. Personally, I wouldn’t Peralta anywhere near this team, even as a bench player. His defense is suspect at both short and third; and his bat is now slider-speed, at best. I still like Ross as a fourth outfielder. Wiggington would be interesting; he has a reputation as good clubhouse guy and immediately seems to go on a tear whenever he joins a new team. But I doubt the Orioles will trade him within the division.

*There are numerous reports, including from Heyman, Stark and Bob Klapisch, about Adam Dunn, and they all say basically the same thing: the Nationals asking price is beyond exorbitant.

*One final note from Heyman: he tweeted earlier today that he thought the Yankees have interest in Ted Lilly, but not Roy Oswalt. For our sakes, I hope he’s wrong and the Yanks don’t even bother asking about Lilly. And from everything we’ve heard, the Astros price for Oswalt is typical Drayton McClane; which is to say it’s a lot like those old “Crazy Eddie” commercials – INSANE!!!

*Klapisch also wonders what it will take to fix Joba Chamberlain. I think most Yankee fans are wondering what it will take to convince Brian Cashman to trade Joba Chamberlain, especially after he nearly blew an 8-run lead yesterday. Even Joe Girardi sounded exasperated after Joba’s latest meltdown. (You got me. It’s not really a trade rumor. But even long-time Joba supporters like me are starting to think it might be time for him to go.)

*Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi suggested that the Yanks and Red Sox are bidding against each other in pursuit of Scott Downs. I wonder if Toronto is trying to inflate Downs’ price, though. Although, Downs would be a significant upgrade over Chan Ho Park.

That’s all that seems to be percolating in the Bronx today. I suppose we can only hope that the reports about the Rays interest in Chad Qualls is more than speculation. J

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According to a posting on MLB Trade Rumors, Dan Haren was just acquired by the Angels in exchange for Joe Saunders, 2 Minor League pitchers and the infamous Player-to-be-Named-later. This comes on the heels of a weekend of trade rumors surrounding the Yankees attempts at landing the former Arizona Diamondabacks right-hander.

This was an obvious salary dump by the Diamondbacks, who will realize approximately $20 million in savings over the next two seasons. While Saunders is a serviceable major league starter, Dan Haren is a proven top-of-the-rotation type starter. This may also be the Angels way of stocking up for next year. Haren is a nice addition, but if the Halos are going to make a run at Texas, they need a power bat (or two).

As for the Yankees, I’m not certain if Brian Cashman was simply trying to up the ante for other team in the Haren Sweepstakes or if he really felt that the rumored package Arizona wanted (headlined by Joba Chamberlain) was too steep a price. Either way, it looks like Cashman lost on this one. If the former, he didn’t drive the price nearly high enough, since the prospects the Angels sent to Arizona are not exactly world beaters. If the latter, he failed to trade a struggling reliever for a proven ace. Look, I like Joba’s potential as much as anyone – but this would be the third time Cashman has failed to land an ace because he wouldn’t trade Joba. First it was Johan Santana. Then it was Roy Halladay. And now Haren. At this rate, Joba better turn into the second coming of Walter Johnson or else Cashman is going to end up with a whole carton of eggs on his face.

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