The word over the past couple of days was that Jason Giambi was going to get a shot of cortisone in his ailing heel on Thursday, the Yanks off day before taking on the Sox in Boston.
Well, it turns out cortisone won’t do the trick. The Yanks announced today that Giambi will miss at least 3 weeks with a serious injury to his heel. Giambi tore tissue in his left foot rounding the bases on a home run in Toronto. Brian Cashman wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Giambi missing the rest of the season with the injury.
This is a big blow, and I feel bad for Giambi. Yes, he made some really, really stupid comments recently (and some monumental mistakes in the past), but he didn’t do it out of anything but misguided guilt with a dash of stupidity. He was trying to take responsibility for his actions, he just went about it the wrong way.
For the Yankees, this could spell disaster on a couple of different levels. On the field, the Yankees have no pop. Posada may hit you 20 bombs, Matsui if he’s lucky, and maybe Damon. None of those guys is going to hit you 25, and none of them will provide ample protection for A-Rod in the lineup. As I said in an earlier post, the lack of power and overall lack of speed and/or lack of willingness to run makes the Yankees too reliant on stringing together hits to score runs. Losing Giambi exacerbates the situation. Joe is going to have to be willing to hit-and-run, bunt and steal to manufacture runs. I’m not sure that he is.
The lineup is now going to have Abreu (.228/.313/.289!!), and two of the following three guys in it, every day: Melky (.224/.284/.306), Doug (.217/.286./.375) and Josh Phelps (.250/.250/.500). Once a week, the lineup is going to have the guys mentioned above, and Wil Nieves (.103/.133/.103). This is not a tenable situation.
The second problem is going to be the ripple effect. If Abreu and company don’t get hot soon, (by soon, I mean this weekend against the Red Sox) George is going to force Cashman to make a trade. Or fire him, and get someone else to make a trade for him. Here are some names we’re bound to hear:
- Jermaine Dye (Free agent after this season, ChiSox are looking up at the Tigers and Indians)
- Todd Helton
- Mark Teixeira
- Scott Rolen
- Aaron Rowand
- Possibly Carl Crawford
I’d like to say that you can cross some of these names off the list right away, but I’m not sure how desperate George is. I’d like to say that Phil Hughes is untouchable, no matter what. I hope that’s the case, but you never know. Some of these guys don’t even fill the need, a big bat.
Let’s start with the attainable and the dream. Rowand, I could live with. Mainly because the Yanks may be able to get a deal done with Philly sending Farnsworth for Rowand. He’s an obvious upgrade in outfield defense, Damon could spend the rest of the season at DH and rest his calves. Offensively, he’s an upgrade over Phelps in the lineup, but doesn’t provide much pop. The more I think about it, the more I like a deal for Rowand. He’s a blue-collar guy who would come in here with reasonable expectations, which seems to be the key to Yankee acquisitions.
Crawford is the real deal, and I’d do just about any deal that didn’t involve the name Wang or the name Hughes to get him. Unfortunately, the D-Rays don’t make deals unless they can absolutely rape the other team. (See Scott Kazmir for the lesser Zambrano for proof). Again, Crawford wouldn’t give them the pop in the lineup, but he would allow them to play small ball and run with much greater efficiency than they do now. Getting Crawford would force the Yanks to move in a different direction on offense, and that would be a good thing. It won’t happen, but I’d be happy with a deal for Crawford, provided he signed an extension and it wasn’t a rental. He’s young, he’s fast, and he can hit. Whether he could handle the pressure in the Bronx is another matter, however.
Dye, Rolen and Helton all fall under the “absolutely not, not for any price, no way, no day” heading. They’re all old, they’ll all cost too much (either in prospects or in dollars) and none of them will come in and do the job. Please cross them off your list, George.
That leaves Teixeira. At first, I blanched at the idea of trading for the switch-hitting first baseman. Mainly, I was worried about what the Yanks would have to give up. If we can put that aside for a second, and focus on him as a player, he’s a fit.
He’s only 27, he hits for power from both sides of the plate (.283/.372/.548 vs. righties, .302/.377/.553 vs. lefties over the past three seasons), and he plays a mean first base. He plays in a hitter’s park, but his home/away splits over the past three years aren’t that drastic. Home: .299/.380/.573; Away: .278/.367/.526. Let’s compare those splits to Helton’s over the same time period. Home: .353/.469/.613; Away: .293/.409/.473.
The main problem with Teixeira is the price tag. MLB Trade Rumors speculates it might take Wang to get him. That’s too steep in my opinion. If you could get it done for Clippard, DeSalvo, Rasner or Karstens, and maybe Melky I would do it. Of course, the odds of that happening are basically nil. Hughes has to be untouchable, so I just don’t see how this deal would get done. Texas isn’t just going to give him away, and if he really is available, someone out there is going to be able to put together a better package than the Yanks (Maybe the Yanks could agree to take on the portion of A-Rod’s salary that Texas is still paying as part of the deal. That would be a nice sweetener for the Rangers, $12M more to spend on Teixeira’s replacement in free agency).
To tell the truth, beyond the Rowand deal, I don’t think the Yanks should do anything. The last thing this franchise needs is to trade young for old again, we’ve been down that road way too many times in the past. Cashman has restocked the pitching in the minors with shrewd deals, the next step is to restock the bats. If the Yanks deplete the ranks down on the farm again, the cycle is going to repeat itself. While it would be great to see Crawford or Teixeira in a Yankee uniform, and no matter how good of a fit either of them would be, it’s just not worth it unless the Yanks can get it done without giving up a piece of their future to make it happen.
You dance with who you came with. This is our 2007 Yankee team, win or lose. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet if you want to reverse a trend. And let’s not forget, it’s only June 1st. There’s still plenty of ball to be played, and if Abreu can find his stroke and move into the three hole with a .400 OBP this lineup will suddenly look a lot better.
UPDATE: Buster Olney wrote in his blog today:
The Yankees have little to no interest in trading for Teixeira, by the way, because they know Texas will want a substantial package in return and they have no interest in paying for him twice.
After reading this, Vegas oddsmakers announced the Yankees are the overwhelming favorite to trade for Teixeira and sign him to a long-term extension.
Olney also said losing Giambi won't hurt the Yankees, basically because the aging outfielders can rotate through the DH spot, and Melky can play everyday in a different outfield position. On this level, Giambi's absence won't be a tragedy. When you look at the lineup as a whole, it will. The Yanks have no legit power threat outside of A-Rod. That's a problem.