(Time to make a move, guy. Courtesy of Ron Antonell/NY Daily News)
The Yankees don't step on the field again for a game until Friday. With the bulk of this week being spent on ASG activities and the trade deadline just a few weeks away, it seems like the perfect opportunity to devote some real time to the Yankees' position leading up to the deadline and what moves they should/shouldn't make. The way things have gone this season, the Yanks could very well be out of playoff contention come the end of the month, so for once they'll head into the deadline with more on their minds than just adding a player or 2 for a postseason push. The immediate and distant future of the team can be affected at this trade deadline so let's give it the attention it deserves with a full week of pre-deadline analysis. Today we'll start with the team as presently constructed and its biggest needs.
1) Righty Power Bat
Preferably for the outfield but acceptable almost anywhere. The Yankees are painfully weak hitting from the right side of the plate. They've only hit 24 right-handed homers on the season, 10 of them by Vernon Wells and 9 by guys who aren't even on the active roster right now. Wells hasn't hit a HR since May 15th and there's nobody else around on the active roster who even qualifies as a remote righty power threat. Someone to get regular corner OF ABs against lefties, a righty first base option to platoon with Lyle Overbay, or someone who can play on the left side of the infield. Any of those options would be great and pushing for more than 1 would be even better.
2) Competent 2-Way Left Side Infielder
It's been a problem area since the start of the season with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on the shelf and it's only gotten worse since Youkilis went down. Somehow, even the injury to Jayson Nix left the Yankees worse off on the left side where they're currently working with a trio of Nunez-Cruz-Gonzalez that's so uninspiring it's sad. Neither Cruz nor Gonzalez hit much despite being good with their gloves, and if yesterday's throw was any indication, Nunez looks to still be that rare breed of "no hit/no field" player. Jeter could be headed back to the DL this week and A-Rod could be agreeing to some kind of plea deal suspension with MLB. Their help might never be coming so looking for a real upgrade at short or third might not be a bad idea.
3) Backup Catcher
For the life of me I can't figure out how and why the Yankees have done nothing to upgrade their catching situation. Chris Stewart is exactly who we thought he was with the bat, and hasn't been anything special with the glove this season. Austin Romine is so far off the face of the Earth right now that I don't think any existing space telescope could even find him. If they can find a willing partner with a catcher even slightly better than either of those 2, they should be all over it. Then, if and when Cervelli comes back, they can DFA Stewart and be better at both spots like they should have been trying to do all along.
4) Lefty Bench Bat
Still a problem are after Travis Ishikawa lasted all of 2 plate appearances before getting the DFA notice himself. With Jeter out, the Yankees could have an open roster spot and they could really use something of left-handed value on the bench. And not just for late-game pinch hitting duties either. Travis Hafner looks absolutely terrible at the plate and has become more of a hindrance in the middle of the batting order than a weapon. Maybe some regular days off would do him some good to get his body and swing right. That just can't happen as long as the only other DH option is Wells.
5) Relief Help?
Via my bullpen assessment post from last week, this isn't necessarily a major need for the Yankees. Considering their track record in turning up helpful bullpen deals at the deadline, however, it might be a luxury worth pursuing. Bare minimum, the Yanks should inquire about available arms if they're talking to any teams about Hughes and Joba. I'd rather have that than Michael Pineda rotting away out there pitching every 3rd or 4th day. And of course, if there's nothing to their liking they can always upgrade from within with somebody like David Phelps or a demoted Hughes.
Those are the biggest areas of need, with the top 3 decidedly much more important than the last 2. After the offseason they had, it would be wildly frustrating to see the Yankees remain inactive at this deadline, either as buyers or sellers. If they decide to honor Hal's commitment to building the team and add pieces, these are the areas they need to address.
** Coming up tomorrow- The Targets. **