Monday, July 29, 2019

As the trade deadline approaches, maybe it's time to ponder the unponderable

Last night, during the successful National Emergency Juju Intervention - with Rizzutonic particles crackling across my TV porthole, and my nervous system attuned to the vast Yankee incondibulum - the Matrix glitched, and I encountered an entirely new experience: 

As Aaron Judge stepped to the plate, I noticed an involuntary, knee-buckling cringe.

I reported this to authorities. Why deny it? It happened. As a research scientist, not prone toward the whims of dogma, I must report all strange phenomenon, regardless of personal views. In a brief span, before purging myself with another Fleet Enema - my fourth - I felt my stomach fill with doorknobs and needed to sit. It was an unmistakable, Jose Canseco-esque cringe. It happened.

This malaise is not unprecedented. It happens whenever a Yankee regular tumbles into a nightmare slump, consistently bringing disappointment. True to his deathly trench, Judge fanned by lunging for a 3-2 pitch far off the plate, and marching back to his still-warmed dugout perch. Over his last seven games, Judge has batted .219, fanning 10 times in 32 at-bats, grounding into three DPs, and drawing not one walk. Not one. In Fenway, he has been a bust, and the ESPN team was not shy about saying as much.

Listen: Judge remains the Yankees best player, and we cannot imagine a fully operational Death Star without him. But it's time to talk blaspheme: The big guy needs a rest, almost as much as Mike Tauchman - our best hitter over the last month - did not need one last night. I'm reminded of Judge's breakout season, two years ago, when his game collapsed after the Home Run Derby, and fans were screaming for Aaron Boone to sit him for a couple games. 

The Yankees now face a Wednesday trade deadline with their rotation in ruins. Yesterday, they learned the price tag for Marcus Stroman - two top 10 Mets pitching prospects - was too high. (And the Jays surely enjoyed sticking it to us, dealing Stoman to his favored destination, leaving us on the stoop.) So, in the spirit of a parlor game, let's think some crazy shit -out-of-the-box moves the Yankees could make, rather than the traditional route of dealing a pile of prospects. I'm not advocating trading anyone for the sake of a trade. But in any deal, the devil is in the details. 

What if they traded Judge - a superstar approaching his prime, but whose disturbing frequency of injuries suggests a younger version of Giancarlo Stanton? Well, aside from the fact that the fan base would revolt, and the Yankees marketing program revolves around the guy, there is hardly a starting pitcher out there who could balance such a trade. So, trading Judge is out. He will be a Yankee, if not for the rest of his life, for the rest of mine.

What about Gary Sanchez? Hmm. That's another matter. For weeks before his recent tweak, I'd cringed at Gary's sight, especially with runners on base. In his 9 games following the All-Star break, he was hitting .103, and his slump began in June. What if the Yankees - in a 2019 do-or-die run - pedaled Sanchez, a 26-year old all-star catcher and slugger? They could hand the position to Austin Romine, who is hitting.409 over the last seven games.

Would Sanchez bring a stud pitcher? (Keep in mind, the Yankees have several top catching prospects low in the system.) This would elevate Romine, who in the past has wilted under the daily grind, and make Kyle Higashioka the back-up. Also, I'm starting to fear Sanchez might need to play 1B, where he could be a complete liability. Could they make such a deal? Dunno. But maybe the Yankees need to limit Gary's innings far more than in the past. And maybe when he's not catching, Gary shouldn't be the DH, either. Is he really a major plank in the Yankee future? Dunno. Just asking. 

What about dealing Stanton? Don't we wish? Unfortunately, he's got a no-trade clause and a contract from Hell. He's ours for life. No. He'll be here forever, long after the icecaps melted and civilization breaks into tribal warfare. He'll be ours. 

How about Aaron Hicks, hero of the historic Battle of Minnesota? Could we turn CF over to a Tauchman/Maybin platoon, and deal the contract-controlled Hicks, maybe with a few bucks sweetening the pot? Hicks' career is pocked with injuries, which bring slumps. This begs another question: Are Tauchman and Maybin for real? Could they play CF until Estevan Florial arrives? (If he can ever stop striking out?)

What about trading Luke Voit? DJ LeMahiue can play 1B. But would Luke bring a top pitcher? And he seem a valuable clubhouse lug nut, somebody no team wants to face in a brawl. Or Gio Urshela? He could disappear next spring, when Miguel Andujar returns. 

Or, wait a minute: How about this: Could we bundle the injured Andujar with the injured Greg Bird and the injured Luis Severino - a perfect storm of rehabs - for a pitcher? Could a forward-thinking GM shore up three positions next spring by dealing a pitcher now? 

Must we surrender our best prospects? 

Obviously, I dunno. The sad part here is that most teams, when dealing pitchers, want pitching in return, and the Yankees have none to give. They could deal James Paxton and/or JA Happ - as they did Sonny Gray - but what's the point? They'd be trading players at their lowest value, a losing strategy. Nope, they're stuck with the pair. 

What's amazing - and terrifying, if you think about it - is that the Yankees recently have seemed to toy with the notion of trading Domingo German, to free some pitcher. Hopefully, last night dispelled that notion. But over the next 72 hours, anything can happen... except one outcome cannot change: The Yankees will be in first place in the AL East by a relatively comfortable margin. How badly do we need a face-lift? 


Rufus T. Firefly said...

Welcome to "Fear" week.

JM said...

Trying to figure out what's going on in Cashman's cranium is an impossible task, and one nobody should try if they value their sanity. There was a time it might have been done, before Lasik turned him into a hollow-eyed marsupial lookalike, but those days are gone.

Nobody in the American League is going to trade anyone of value to the Yankees. Certainly nobody in the East. "They" say the Mets would never trade Thor or Wheeler to us, which makes me think they actually might. But the Mets are not out of it, either. On the other hand, Noah (how long can you tread water?) is not pitching to his abilities and may need a change, to a legitimate contender. The price would not be cheap.

No other possibility is quite as exciting, so I expect the worst, either in what we give up or who we actually get. The stat staff has no doubt come up with a list that includes no one we would be likely to identify as a trade target. Watch for a multi-team deal that sets your hair on fire.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

"... the worst, either in what we give up or who we actually get"

I just took my BP meds. Now is the time to think it could actually be both of those scenarios.

JM said...

The reason the Dodgers rack up great win totals and then fail in the postseason is pretty simple. They play a huge number of games against their lousy division, so as good as they are, they always look better. The postseason is the reality check.

Off topic, just saying.

JM said...

Chilling thought, Rufus. But good point.

HoraceClarke66 said...

You beat me to it, as usual, Duque.

I've been saying this for two years now. We need to at least consider trading him.

I love Aaron Judge with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns. He is my—and many people's, I suspect—dream ballplayer.

But the hard, nasty fact is that he cannot stay on the field. Even when he is playing, I suspect he is playing hurt—as he probably is now.

And even when he is playing, he cannot carry a team the way that even Giancarlo "The Invisible Man" Stanton did for about a month last year. The big clutch hits he has had in games are few and far between.

His Fenway series was particularly disastrous. He looked absolutely lost at the plate and dropped—DROPPED!—a ball in right at a key moment. The evidence is that his problems at the plate are beginning to affect the rest of his game.

I think the Yankees have done much of this to him, by teaching him to take too many pitches, refusing to protest adequately when they are wrongly called for strikes, making him into a No. 2 hitter when he should be a No. 3 or No. 4 basher, etc.

But there it is—and combined with the now chronic injuries, I don't see much of a future.

His peak trade value is NOW (or rather, last year, but it's still close). And as much as it hurts me to say it, I would rather he put in the inevitable, next 10 seasons of extended EL visits, underperformance, and general confusion far away, in Seattle or San Diego, say, than on my television set.

Of course, the conundrum is always the same with potential big deals like this: can we trust Cashman to get full value?

No, we cannot.

So I suspect we are stuck with The Judge, and hey, what a guy! But it won't be pretty.

HoraceClarke66 said...

As for Sanchez, he is a guy who should have gone last off-season, when they reportedly had the chance to trade him even up for Realmuto.

Now they're stuck with him. And who knows for how long?

Don't count too much on those big catching prospects they drafted last year. One of them, Breaux, the college guy, looks all right so far. He is hitting .295 with an .823 OPS in low-A Charleston this season, so the jury's out.

The other—the one-man band, switch-hitting, can-play-several-positions guy Coops made the No. 1 pick, Anthony Seigler—is hitting .175, also in Charleston, so far this year.

So, yet another No. 1 bust for the Coopster. Doesn't HAL EVER get tired of the sheer incompetence?

But point is, there is no catching help in sight. It really is amazing that, Sancho goes down, and we're back to Romine and Benny.

Hey, both bust their butts, and they were two of the very few bright spots up in Boston. But is there a contract somewhere saying they have to be the alternatives is Sanchez is hurt? How can it possibly be that The Great Man has not tried to upgrade reserves at this position, even if he is foolishly stick with Sancho?

(I know, I know: "How can it possibly be that the incompetent lickspittle I'm always calling an incompetent lickspittle is incompetent? Hmm, could it be that he is incompetent, but compensates by being a lickspittle?...")

HoraceClarke66 said...

Oh, and trading Andujar? Yeah, it really disturbs me that this is even being contemplated. I HOPE nobody is willing to take the risk. He should be in left field next year, especially if we deal Clint.

TheWinWarblist said...

Okay. That was a dreadful terrified stream on consciousness, Rufus T. I'm not sure what you're getting at; I spent the Boston series in a drug induced haze passing a kidney stone. How did it go? Did we take three of four? Split? I saw a couple of early innings last night. Dolce & Gabbana looked good. Those poor hapless Ketchup Socks were flailing at the breaking ball. What a bunch of maroons!

Fuck you deeply Hal.

el duque said...

With regard to those catching prospects, we should note that Breaux, who's hitting well, has a problem throwing the ball back to the pitcher. It's not mental, but something's wrong, and he cannot throw. And Seigler is out for the rest of the season with an injury. That's not so bad - they can make it up by playing winter ball - but just saying.

Supposedly, they have another hot catching prospect way down there, from the Latino signings of last July. But they're all a long way from Trenton.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

Let me help you put a trade together. (This is an incomplete list. I invite the rest of IIHIIF to help me fill it out.)

Yankees we would prefer not be Yankees:

El Chapo

Yankees we could live without:


Yankees who if we had to trade it would hurt, but still have to be considered...


Yankees I don't know about trading and am inclined to keep


Yankees we should not trade...


Doug K.

Urban Farmer formerly known as DutchFan said...

And what category would Didi be in? I would think "has to be considered" because of looming free agency

JM said...

I don't think anyone is going anywhere. Clint, maybe.

Alphonso said...

Didi is Dutch. We never trade Dutch players. They are like the Noor diamond...rare and special. No fucking way, Ids.

Those Dutch women would never speak to us again. Much less wave their flags in support.

Urban Farmer formerly known as DutchFan said...

Robert Eenhoorn, the last one to play at short before Derek Jeter's debut, turns in his grave.
Luckily he ain't dead. Au contraire, he is on the verge of becoming General Manager at Feyenoord soccer club.

Anonymous said...


Actually Didi is interesting to me.

Obviously we can't trade him but like you I once postulated (when he was still hurt) that since he's a free agent next year a "Trade and sign" would be an interesting thing to do.

But he's too integral. He should have been on the "Yankees we should not trade" list. At least in my opinion. That said...

Doug K.

Carl J. Weitz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carl J. Weitz said...

Duque...I think you mean Antonio Gomez. Good tools all around. He was playing in the GCL but he must be hurt as I only see one game played there. He went 3 -5

Anthony Seigler is not a bust. He has been bothered by a bad quad and has not played in many games. He is still rated highly by scouts with a great throwing arm. Actually, I should say throwing arms as he is ambidextrous. He is a very good contact hitter who walks a lot more than he strikes out. He just hasn't yet developed power. He also runs very well. Currently, he is at A Charleston and is about 1.5 years younger than the avg A player. Will he become a decent MLB catcher? Who knows, but he is far from done.

Carl J. Weitz said...

And Josh Breaux is a very good power hitter; however he strikes out way too often. But my guess is that he is moved to first or DH as he is a terrible defensive catcher.

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