Monday, August 2, 2010

But Do They Make Us Better?

Recently, the Yankees traded for three new players, none of which were a starting pitcher, and many have been wondering whether these moves make our team better. To answer this question, we will have to look at the players individually to see what they bring. We'll begin with Austin Kearns:

Austin Kearns

Kearns started out with the Cincinnati Reds and showed a lot of promise over there before being traded to the Washington Nationals along with Felipe Lopez. It was in Washington that he was involved in a freak outfield collision with first baseman and current DL case Nick Johnson, which broke Nick's femur. The start of many DL stints for the man. Anyways, Kearns brings us a solid right handed bat, which the Yankees envision using against left handed pitchers. He's also a 4th outfielder, who can give the regulars a day off every now and again. He's not a power hitter, but will give good at bats and some occasional pop. Is he an upgrade over Marcus Thames? I'm not so convinced that Kearns is a better bat, but he should serve as a defensive upgrade over Thames. At the price we got him (a player to be named later if I'm not mistaken), I suppose it serves to give us depth.

Lance Berkman

This was an interesting pick up because as a 10+ year veteran, Berkman has never played for any team but the Houston Astro's. This is the first time he will be DHing, and I think he may have a rough time. Not all players take to DHing regularly well, and Berkman has to not only do that, but do so while adjusting to a different league. As a veteran, I think he'll be able to do it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it took him some time to hit his stride. This is a player who walks a lot, and hits for power, so he's the perfect DH. Seeing as Nick Johnson is on the DL, and will likely not be back, I think Berkman was a solid pick up. A switch hitter who could occasionally play the field and stay healthy is a much preferred upgrade to Johnson.

Kerry Wood

I was happy that we got to see him pitch last night, as I was unsure of what to expect. He had some life on his fastball, and he struck out 3 batters in his inning worth of work. He also loaded the bases in that time and got bailed out by Chad Gaudin. Regardless, we've needed bullpen help and that 8th inning setup role has not been solidified. I think if all Wood accomplishes is getting Chan Ho Park designated, then he's done enough, but Wood should be able to do considerably more. If only to add a new arm to a stagnant bullpen mix, I think Wood is an improvement.

So do these moves make us better? I suppose they don't hurt us, but I don't think they give us much of an edge either. Berkman gives us a DH, but we've been without a DH for months now and it hasn't seemed to effect us. Kearns gives us a 4th outfielder type to bat against lefties, but we already had one of those. Wood adds an arm to a bullpen which has been considerably awful, and so should be helpful in that regard. What do you all think?


Rich Mahogany said...

These are "why not" moves that the Yankees can make thanks to their gargantuan payroll. I doubt any of these players will be real difference-makers, which is why the Yankees gave up so little for them.

Kearns provides bench depth and can use his glove to catch batted baseballs, which makes him a major defensive upgrade over Thames.

Wood is a gamble, but he is replacing Park, who we all know was terrible. If Wood can't pitch either, we just substituted one garbage time guy for another. No big deal.

Berkman involves the most risk as we gave up Melancon for him. It wasn't so long ago when Melancon was such a good relief prospect that people actually cared to pronounce his name correctly. He was even a recipient of the dreaded "heir to Mo" title for a time. All the Berkman trade rumors said that the Yankees would not give up any real prospects in the trade, so I was surprised when we sent Melancon away.

If Melancon never amounts to more than a decent setup guy, then I have no problem with trading him. I do have concerns about Berkman. Kay's attempt to explain why Berkman is called Fat Elvis, without saying that Berkman looks like a fat slob, said it all. He does not look like the kind of player who will suddenly improve on his numbers so far this season.

Fernando Alejandro said...

I think that is a very accurate assesment. Especially your take on Kearns' supernatural ability to catch batted baseballs hit in his general direction. Melancon seemed to fall out of the good graces of the Yankees. Even with all the bullpen troubles we had this season we never saw him accept for two games back in May.

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