The plot thickens for Yankee DH

I swear, sometimes following the Yankees is like reading a mystery novel. You find yourself piecing together shreds of evidence and jumping to conclusions on who the real killer is, or in this case who the next Yankee is. We all know Brian Cashman operates like a ninja, and for good reason. He can’t let details of free agent and trade targets leak, lest other teams (read the The Boston Red Sox) jump into the mix and jack up the price. But they will feed their media beast with tiny bits of info to fill up the tabloids and blogs and keep fans talking about the team. On Thursday, we had one of those shreds on what should be the final major move of the Yankee off season, namely who will fill the everyday DH role.

Jack Curry

@JackCurryYES Jack Curry
Yanks aren’t doing anything about DH now. Reasons? No $. Montero/Pineda deal not official. When deal & Kuroda official, could deal 4 hitter

Well well well. “Deal”? So lets eliminate all the Free Agents right off the bat, so to speak. This makes sense, as I detailed in my Jorge Vazquez piece on Thursday there really aren’t any mutual great fits out there on the free agent market. So that leaves us with trade targets.

First, lets try to ascertain who the Yanks will be looking to deal. There have been some rumors about Phil Hughes being available, but I have to think he’s not their first option. As bad as he was last year, he’s showed himself in 2009 to be stellar working out of the bullpen. With Mariano on the last year of his contract and contemplating retirement, Hughes will be on the short list of candidates to replace Mo, along with Joba and D-Rob. Joba’s coming back from TJ, so he’s a complete wild card for the next year or two. Dave Robertson is terrific, but has a habit of making a mess at times that needs to be cleaned up. Hughes would be a very good fit for 2013 Closer. I wouldn’t be in any rush to deal him.

That leaves us with you know who. The Yanks have already made it known they’d like to deal him, and are willing to eat some of that dead weight contract in order to make it happen. To state something like that publicly makes it very hard to go back on that and play kiss and make up in Spring Training. Everyone knows the Yanks are tired of his act, and would prefer he wasn’t here. That’s a tough situation for anyone to deal with, especially someone as volatile as AJ. This offseason we saw Derek Lowe and Carlos Zambrano get traded. Lowe was worthless last year and Zambrano is crazy. I have to think if you can deal those guys, you can trade AJ.

Whoever the Yankees look for, it most likely won’t be a DH-only type player. As Buster Olney explained the other day teams are transitioning away from those players in favor of those who give you some positional flexibility. In the current baseball world of 12 man bullpens and a receding run environment, this makes a lot of sense. The Yanks plan on using a rotating DH this year, with A-Rod spending up to 40 games there. At age 37, Alex figures to be transitioning into the full time DH role over the next few years. That’s one of the reasons why the Yanks were willing to deal Jesus Montero, who many doubted would stick at Catcher. With that in mind, whoever they deal for would have to give them some positional flexibility. No DH-only types. So forget Adam Dunn, Billy Butler, Russell Branyan.

At the WFAN Breakfast last year, I quoted Brian Cashman saying this:

 “Everything I say (publicly) has meaning. They’re like bread crumbs leading you in the direction of where I stand on a player.”

Where are these bread crumbs leading? Personally, I have no idea.

40 thoughts on “The plot thickens for Yankee DH

  1. I have a feeling AJ is gonna block Hughes from the 5th spot. The best rotation the yankees can put out there now and in the future is CC,Pineda,Kuroda(replaced by manny in ’13),Nova and Hughes. it just makes too much sense, who cares what AJ is gettin paid it’s about the best team now and moving forward.

  2. I like AJ BURNOUT to the Cubs for Alphonso Soriano..The contracts are very similar,both teams want rid of these players and the change might be good for the players as well. Burnett MIGHT just be able to pitch well in the lower pressure NL and Sorriano is a Yankee vet who can take the pressure and can still HIT! A win/win for both teams if Theo and Cashman can make it happen.

  3. Dealing Montero was all about NOT having to pay Hamels or Cain next offseason. It had nothing to do with making sure declining players got plenty of PA’s. This 2014 CBA codicil screwed things up a bit for the Yanks.

  4. One of the points in this Lohud post – http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2012/01/19/pinch-hitting-delia-enriquez/ – is worth considering, which is that AJ’s 2011 stats are warped by one horrific August stretch:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=burnea.01&year=2011&t=p#month::none

    Much different in this respect than 2010, when he was more consistently horrible.

    That, plus the way he was able to bounce back and pitch decently after August is why I am not on the “Dump AJ” bandwagon. If they can get something decent – the 2011 equivalent of the Irabu for Lilly/Westbrook trade – then it’s one thing. Otherwise, AJ’s potentially useful as a starter and should not just be exchanged for chum just because he can be maddening.

  5. The Yankees’s offense is entering a bit of a danger zone even though it might not appear so on the surface. I think third base is a position that the Yanks need to address soon…like this offseason if possible.

    Alex Rodriguez needs to be moved to DH ASAP. He can be as excited as he wants about playing 3B, but the Yanks are paying him too much money for him not to offer any offensive production. He’ll encounter less wear and tear and be at lower risk of getting hurt if he hangs up the glove. Better health could allow him to be available for 600+ PA for the first time since 2007.

  6. Bay, Wells, Soriano, all RHB when we already have Jones. That doesn’t seem likely to me. Giambi would be nice, but Cash probably has a target or two that will shock us again!

  7. Burnett does not have “nasty stuff.” He has a very good curveball and a below average fastball because he can’t locate it.

  8. What was the return on Zambrano and Derek Lowe? Everyone seems to think Burnett has to be traded for a similar bad contract. If the Yankees can eat a large portion of the contract (they wouldn’t pay all of it obviously) and get a minor leaguer with upside I would take that over a bad contract for bad contract deal.

  9. AJ in problem swap deal doesn’t make sense. We want a sure thing at the plate, not a crap shoot. At the least AJ would have value out of the bullpen.

    A Soriano deal could work if someone wants a closer. Wouldn’t have to eat much salary to put him in line with market value.

    Hughes makes no sense. Value is at an all time low. If we must move him, I’d rather let him show he can still start. Keep him unless some GM is willing to overpay.

    Nova is the anti-Hughes. We’d be selling high and could possibly land a quality bat. Would piss off fans though, and undo much of what Cash did on Friday the 13th.

    Warren/Phelps/Mitchell won’t get us much. Banuelos and Betances may net us something, but even so I think the lackof MLB experience would limit the potential return.

    Would Cash be willing to flip Brett Gardner for a LF with a good stick? My favorite Yankee but he’s got a ton of value if you believe WAR accurately weighs defense.

  10. Yankees should just eat 23 mill of the 33 left on his deal. I am sure there’s a team out there that would take AJ for 2 yrs 10 mill. That 10 mill would cover the Kuroda deal. Move Freddy into the long man spot, he can throw junk for 3 innings at a time when needed. Give hughes the 5th spot, he pitched to a 3.98 ERA over his final 10 starts and his stuff was better too. If Hughes blows his LAST CHANCE then insert Freddy as the 5th starter. Hughes did win 18 games in ’10 and has the highest upside.

  11. That’s a very simply way to look at the argument. The main point is that you can pitch differently with a big lead than you can with a tie ball game. When you have a 3 or 4 run before you even step onto the field in the first inning, or have a 6 run lead by 2nd or 3rd you can simply pound the strike zone with fastballs and not worry about mixing in offspeed pitches as often. Whether you want to admit it or not constantly playing with a big lead is way different than constantly pitching with a 1-2 run lead, 1-2 run deficit, or a tie game. There is no denying his win total was inflated by the fact that he had more run support than any pitcher in baseball, it made it much easier to be a 2 pitch pitcher.

    Win total is also a very silly way to argue whether a pitcher is good or not. It’s like the people who try to claim Michael Pineda wasn’t very good last year because he only won 9 games. Pineda winning 9 games doesn’t make him bad, just as Hughes winning 18 doesn’t make him this future ace, nor does it mean he came close to a 1-2 pitcher season.

    Also none of that can dispute the fact that outside of the first 57 innings of the season, he wasn’t much better than average.

  12. “Im not calling him a future ace but I have more faith in him rebounding than AJ. My whole arguement is for the 5th spot in the rotation not the 1st or 2nd. He’s a mid rotatoin guy and that’s better than burnett can be at this point.”

    You’ll find no argument on this from me. He’s much younger than AJ, he hasn’t yet reach his athletic prime. But I still think many fans want to pretend he’s better than he is. He’s had one successful year as a starter, in which the majority of the year was closer to average than not.

    I think his upside is that if a number 3 starter, but up to this point in his career he has been much closer to a 4-5 most of the time.

  13. The Yankees should have never gotten rid of matsui- last year as a dh he knocked in 79 rbi’s They could have signed him for 1 year deal for 2012

    He wins 2009 world series MVP- If George S was still alive he would have never let him go.