Yanks adding firepower with Berkman, Kearns

Fangraphs weighs in:

Berkman is in the middle of a down year right now, mostly due to a career low .279 BABIP. His power is down as well, as his .191 ISO is his first ISO below .200 since his first season in the big leagues, 1999. As such, 2010 has been Berkman’s worst full major league season. Still, he’s been productive. His wRC+ of 123 is solid, even at first base, as evidenced by his 1.9 WAR in 385 PAs. The plate discipline is as good as ever, as Berkman is walking a remarkable 16.8% of the time – 195% of the league average.

It’s not likely that Berkman will ever repeat his 162 wRC+ seasons of 2008 and 2006, given that this is Berkman’s age 34 season. However, there is reason to believe that he will improve. Power numbers can fluctuate wildly over the course of even half a season. ZiPS projects that Berkman will put up a line of .268/.386/.486 for the rest of the season – a roughly 140 wRC+. That’s a major improvement over the below average hitters that the Yankees are currently running out as DHes in Juan Miranda and Marcus Thames, and it also beats the projection for Jorge Posada, who has actually seen the most PAs at DH of the entire Yankees squad.

And RAB discusses some concerns, too:

Another encouraging factor lies in his splits. Even with his poor performance early in the season he has crushed righties this season, to the tune of a .382 wOBA. Presumably this has gotten better lately, too. He’s spraying the ball to all fields as a lefty, hitting 56 to left field, 55 to center, and 65 to right. His opposite field power has not faded, as he has a .482 ISO when hitting the ball the other way. He does seem to have some trouble pulling the ball, as he has a 67.7 ground ball rate when going to right field, with only 13.8 percent fly balls (and 22.2 percent of those are infield flies, though another 22.2 percent left the park). I’m not sure if this is something he’s also improving on, but if it is he’d be the complete package in New York: a lefty who can spray the ball the other way but still take it over the short porch.

What are the Yanks giving up in Melancon, besides the guy that was once included in the “who’s going to eventually take over for Mo Rivera, if the cyborg ever retired?” discussion?  We all know he has very good strikeout-ability but his control has been suspect at best.  Says HBT/NBC:

Melancon, 25, is 6-1 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.67 WHIP in 40 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 15 prospect coming into the season by Baseball America, but has struggled with his control, walking five batters per nine innings. The former ninth-round pick in 2006 has a 4.87 ERA in 15 major league appearances, all in relief.

Paredes, 21, has a .280/.313/.393 batting line over four seasons in the minors. He plays all around the infield and has stolen 36 bases in 99 games with Single-A Charleston this season. He didn’t rank inside Baseball America’s top 30 for the organization coming into the season.

In other words, the Astros are getting two guys who likely won’t play a major role in the future of their club for $4 million, plus the loss of Lance Berkman. This deal is an absolutely steal for the Yanks. Sure, the haters will naturally say that they are “buying” their way to another title, but really, the cost is a mere $3 million this year.

And for fun, a list of Yankees who wore #17:

  • Vic Raschi
  • Oscar Gamble
  • Mickey Rivers
  • Ricky Ledee
  • Mike Easler
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Rafael Santana
  • Gene “Stick” Michael

And to top off Friday’s trade-a-palooza, they also added veteran Austin Kearns for basically nothing. Again, I’m surprised other contenders who were looking to add OF and bench depth wouldn’t jump at a cheap producer like Kearns. Says MLBTR:

The Yankees acquired Austin Kearns from Cleveland for a player to be named later or cash, the Indians announced. This acquisition won’t make the headlines the Yankees’ other trade will, but the Yanks like Kearns for his right-handed bat, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Kearns, 30, is hitting .268/.351/.413 this season and has a .799 OPS against lefties in his career. He’ll earn $270K between now and the end of the season and hit free agency afterwards.

Between Berkman and Kearns, this probably means demotions to guys like Curtis and Miranda.

Cashman had a very good Friday. Only wish the Yanks could have won that game last night to top it off!

About @Jason_IIATMS

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3 thoughts on “Yanks adding firepower with Berkman, Kearns

  1. I’m not sure about the Berkman deal. It struck me as one conjured up by the ghost of Steinbrenner past. Berkman addresses none of the team’s major needs and his low BA from one side of the plate makes him an older and slower Granderson (the other deal that still sticks in my craw). I love that we didn’t overpay for him but the logjam at DH continues to get MORE crowded-er. Melancon may not have been a top 5 guy but he had more of a shot to help NY win in 2011 than Berkman will.
    Letting Matsui go continues to be the biggest blunder of the off-season (or is that “upgrading” from Damon to Curtis and letting go of the FKA “5-Tool” Austin Jackson? Color me nervous again.

  2. While I’m not overwhelmed by Berkman at age 34, we didn’t give anything up, except a roster space.  Melancon had his chances – as I recall he was scarier than CHP on a bad day, the times he went to the mound in pinstripes.
    Agreed – we have an entire roster of DHs – but whaddya gonna do? With the team’s average age approaching 40 or 50, what choice do you have – DH or DL?

  3. Did Lance look as lost at first base to you on Sunday as he did me?  Shades of Jason G.  Only without the smile and ‘stache.