Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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John Danks

As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox have had discussions regarding left handed starting pitcher, John Danks. The Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman has made it known that the team is looking anywhere and everywhere for upgrades to the starting rotation. That mission has led them to the longtime White Sox lefty. The Yankees struck a deal earlier this afternoon when they acquired third baseman, Chase Headley. Now, a trade to improve the much more needy starting rotation could be on the horizon.

Danks was at one point one of the better left handed starting pitchers around. From 2008-2011, Danks pitched to a very serviceable 3.77 ERA and was averaging 194.2 innings pitched as well. Danks won 48 games for the Sox in that 4 year span. Unfortunately, 2012 was the beginning of his downfall as a torn shoulder capsule sidelined him after just 9 starts that season. Ever since that injury, Dank has been nowhere near the same pitcher. That same torn shoulder capsule injury has either ruined, diminished or virtually ended the careers of many once elite starters. Names such as Johan Santana, Chien-Ming Wang, Rich Harden and most notably, Mark Prior. None of those pitchers regained their previous All-Star form and Danks could be another casualty.

Since the injury, Danks has pitched to an unsightly 4.56 ERA since the injury and subsequent surgery and recovery. In 2014, Danks has pitched to a 4.35 ERA in 124 innings. Not the above league average numbers he was once known for, but quite frankly, it is still an upgrade over about 3/5 of the New York Yankees rotation. Danks figures to come pretty cheap due to the health concerns and his eroding skills. Talks are only in the preliminary stage according to Heyman, but a package of a few decent minor leaguers or the Yankees eating a healthy portion of his remaining $36 million dollar salary should be enough to facilitate a trade




The New York Yankees have acquired San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley and $1 million in exchange for infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor league pitcher Rafael De Paula. The deal was first reported to being close by Jack Curry of YES Network and was confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

The Yankees will be getting Headley as a short-term rental, as he is supposed to be a free-agent at the end of this season. The deal was made by New York to get some more power out of their hot corner position. This is big news for the Yankees, who are currently sitting four games back of the division-leading Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. As I said before, this is extremely important to the offense that was in despeate need of help. They rank thirteenth in the American League with only 391 runs scored on the season, which is only ahead of the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros.

So far this season, it has been very rough for Chase Headley. He is just hitting .229/.296/.355 with seven home runs and 32 runs batted in. He has played incredible defense so far, as he has a UZR/150 of +19.7 and Defensive Runs Saved of +7. Headley is earning $10.535 million this season, where he is still due to be paid $3.97 million. Yankees third basemen are only hitting .245/.323/.391 with 14 home runs, but much was due to the hot streak for Solarte early on this season.

Yangervis Solarte, 27, started off the season hot, as I had just mentioned. In 75 games this season, he has hit .254/.337/.381 with six home runs, while driving in 31 runs.

The other piece to the deal, Rafael De Paula, has pitched the entire 2014 season with the Yankees Advance-A squad in Tampa. In Tampa, De Paula posted a 6-5 record with a 4.15 ERA in 17 starts.

After signing big names like Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Masahiro Tanaka before the season started, the Yankees were poised for a return to the postseason. But, in the first half of the season the Bronx Bombers were barely at .500 with a 47-47 record going into the break. The Bombers had fallen into third place behind Baltimore and Toronto after losing four of their five starting pitchers to injuries.

The mid-summer classic provided some much needed rest for most of the Yankees roster as they came out of the All-Star break to sweep the Cincinnati Reds. A red-hot Cincinnati team came into New York after the All-Star break having won 7 of their last 10 games.

After quality starts from David Phelps, newly acquired Brandon McCarthy, and Hiroki Kuroda, the story really revolved around the Yankees strong offense. Definitely earning their “Bronx Bombers” title, the Yankees scored 14 runs over the three game series, including a 7 to 1 victory on Saturday. But, could this be an early sign to see pinstripes in the playoffs?

That depends on the critical upcoming series for the Yanks; the first one being against the Rangers. During the four game series, the Texas Rangers will be fighting to stay alive in the AL West after two losses to Toronto set them 22 games back in their division. The Yankees might be able to gain ground heading towards first place while facing the Rangers, minus Prince Fielder. The challenge will come in the third game of the series when the Yankees will have to face Yu Darvish without their own Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka.

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, the Orioles move on to face the momentum gaining Angels. Coming in behind the team with the best record in baseball, the Angels could help their East-coast rivals by winning the series against the O’s. But, the turnaround series will be when the Yankees face the Orioles to conclude the New York home stand.

Hiroki Kuroda is the last standing pitcher from the Yankees starting five; they’ve been surviving by bringing up minor league players to fill in some pretty big shoes. Chase Whitley had a promising career in Scranton, but his ERA has more than doubled to 5.10 for the season, where Shane Greene has successfully started two games for the Yankees and has the lowest ERA among the starting rotation. The biggest hole is going to sit in Tanaka’s spot in the rotation while he tries to avoid Tommy John by rehabbing his right elbow. Masahiro’s 12 wins will be a void in the Yankees rotation. However, acquiring Brandon McCarthy could offset the loss of Tanaka if the rest of his starts are as good as his first in pinstripes.

On the other side of the ball, the Yankees offense had been relatively quiet going into the break. Since returning, the offense had seven batters hit above .300 against the Reds. At the top of that list is Jacoby Ellsbury with 6 hits, 3 RBIs, and 3 stolen bases. After an impressive performance in the All Star Game, the Captain has had 4 hits, 2 RBIs, and 2 runs scored. The Orioles haven’t had the same luck at the plate as they dropped 2 of the last 3 games to the Athletics, including a 10 to 2 loss in the series finale. The inter-division matchup could determine the second half of the season for the Yankees; will they carry Derek Jeter into a final playoff appearance, or will they disappoint and end his career in regular season play?

neal huntington

The answer to my question is yes. The Pirates aren’t all in as far as mortgaging the farm for David Price but they are all in when it comes to the trade market and finding other options at lower, more reasonable costs. The Pirates have been linked to many different impact players lately and need both starting pitching and relief help. It was reported that the Pirates, as well as the Royals, had scouts at Ian Kennedy‘s start on Friday for the Padres. The Pirates could solve problems by acquiring Kennedy but they’ve also been actively involved in scouting other talent.

One name that has been mentioned besides guys like Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy is A.J. Burnett. Burnett spent two years with the Pirates and was their ace. A lot of the Pirates success came not just on the field but also off of it when Burnett was in Pittsburgh. Along with Russell Martin, Burnett was one of those veterans that you could tell played a huge leadership role in Pittsburgh and held the clubhouse together in hard times. Burnett has been more of an average pitcher this year as he has posted a 6-9 record and owns a 4.08 ERA. But trading for him doesn’t make much sense in my opinion. There’s a few reasons to that theory. One is because Burnett’s contract is huge seeing that the Phillies gave him $16 million this year and he has a mutual/player option worth $15 million next year so the Phillies would probably have to eat some of that in order for the Pirates to acquire Burnett.

Another name that has been thrown around is interesting because he is also a Phillie. I’m talking about Cliff Lee who the Pirates scouted Monday during his start at home against San Francisco. Lee makes plenty of sense for the Pirates and is the more legitimate Phillies pitcher for the Pirates to acquire. The asking price may be elevated because Lee has been a proven ace in past years and helped the Phillies achieve a lot of their success in past years. Lee currently holds a record of 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA but keep in mind this is being written during Lee’s start Monday night. Lee makes sense because he is under control for another three years after the 2014 campaign.

The final starting pitching candidate is an interesting one and one that caught me off guard. According to Colin Dunlap, who hosts a show on sports radio 93.7 the Fan in Pittsburgh, he talked to guys from other teams and both made statements about the Pirates and the trade deadline:

Acquiring Jon Lester would be huge for the Pirates and probably come at a steep price. Lester is 10-7 with a 2.50 ERA this season with the Red Sox. However, Lester is the least likely of the three pitchers mentioned because he would just be a rental player with his contract ending after this season.

Neil Huntington, Pirates GM, has said that he’s confident in the current Pirates roster. However, the Pirates shouldn’t stand pat and I don’t think they will either. They need a little bit more on their roster because the current team is not going to be able to grind out enough wins to take the NL Central and I’m not too sure they could grab a wild card spot. However, trading for Lee or Burnett helps the Pirates next season at least. With Lee, it would help them for years to come but Burnett is only under control one more year. The Pirates are probably going to lose Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez after this season so acquiring a starting pitcher that’s under control in 2015 and/or beyond then makes sense to help the club win this year and in the future.

The Kansas City Royals are interested in Texas Rangers right fielder Alex Rios as a possible acquisition to their corner outfield, to hopefully fix the issues there, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Even though Alex Gordon has been a reliable hitter and fielder over in left field this season, the opposite side of the field, left field, has not been as successful as him. Nori Aoki, their Opening Day left fielder, has failed to produce the numbers he had for the Milwaukee Brewers this season, as he has hit .150/.292/.200 since coming off the disabled list on June 11th.

Heyman notes that the Royals have struggled offensively in general, and that Rios has a bat that might prove to be a quick-starter for a Kansas City lineup that ranks near the bottom in their league in many of the key offensive categories. Although Rios would be a great add, he is not the only corner outfield bat that may be available.

Heyman writes:

Beyond Rios, other corner outfield bats that are available include Marlon ByrdDomonic BrownJosh WillinghamCarlos QuentinNate Schierholtz and perhaps Martin Prado.

This season, Rios is hitting .302/.330/.435 with an OPS+ of 110. His bat is obviously an upgrade over the rest of the Royals’ options right now at the corner outfield sports, but the price for him might be too much. He makes $12 million and has a $13.5 million option with a $1 million buyouy. Rios also has a limited no-trade list of six teams to which he can block trades to.

Many teams are looking to add this southpaw at the deadline

The Boston Red Sox have been receiving lots of calls regarding left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, according to Peter Gammons. He reports that he is the most wanted trade candidate from the Red Sox because of the large amount of teams that need a left-handed relief pitcher.

One team that is likely to make a run at Miller is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are in desperate need of a southpaw out of the bullpen, which has been made their number one priority with Luis Avilan‘s recent struggles, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. In addition to Miller, the team is also looking at Chicago Cubs relievers Wesley Wright and James Russell.

Any team would be able to afford Miller, who comes very cheap as he just has $800K remaining on his deal. He will also be eligible for free agency at the end of this season, which puts him under the category of a rental.

Andrew Miller, 29, has pitched very well for the Red Sox this season after many years of struggles, despite being viewed as one of the top prospects in baseball. In 38 innings this year, he has a 2.13 ERA, a 14.4 K/9, a 2.8 BB/9 and a 1.46 FIP. His strikeout rate is the third best in all of the majors among pitchers qualified (had to of had at least thirty innings pitched this season).