By Jon Lane
Nick Swisher is not in tonight’s starting lineup. Jerry Hairston Jr. is starting in right field. Joe Girardi cited Hairston’s .370 lifetime average against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez. It also hurt Swisher that he’s batting .114 in the postseason.
“It was something that I kicked around in my head, and I talked to my staff when we got here, and we talked about it. We made the decision to go with Jerry,” Girardi said. “Swish is a team guy. He understands, and I told him be ready because you never know when we might need you, and he said OK.”
The last time Hairston faced Martinez was July 26, 2004 when his Orioles played Pedro’s Red Sox. Hairston went 2-for-3 in that game, but despite his overall good numbers, he had just four hits in 19 at-bats in 2002 and ’03. It makes you wonder if Girardi would have gone this route if Swisher weren’t batting .114. Then again, we’ve seen during this postseason that he’s not afraid to open the binder and go the unconventional route.
“I can’t tell you because we’re in position where he is struggling, but Jerry has real good numbers off Pedro,” Girardi said. “We also like the way they kind of match up against each other, and that kind of shows up in the numbers, so we thought we’d give Jerry [the start] tonight.”
Johnny Damon lockers next to Swisher (we hope to get a comment from Swisher before or after batting practice). Damon senses that Swisher will find himself involved in the game at some point. Despite his poor performance, you can look at Swisher as a power threat from both sides of the plate now sitting in reserve.
“Obviously Nick wants to be the guy who helps carry us to a World Championship,” Damon said. “At this time of year it’s about team. Hairston has had some success off of Pedro before, and hopefully he has it tonight. Right now we’re just trying to win as a team, and hopefully what we’re doing tonight will work out for us.”
Here are the lineups. Back with more later.
5:11 p.m. Panic in the Bronx? If you’re a big chunk of the Yankees’ fan base, maybe, depending on your point of view (there were those on watch after the Yankees lost Games 3 and 5 of the ALCS). Damon said during his press briefing that the mood in the clubhouse is “good” and it’s business as usual.
“Every game in the postseason is a must-win,” Damon said, “and we feel like we must win this one.”
Girardi remembers the 1998 ALCS against the Indians, when the Tribe to a 2-1 lead over a Yankees team that won 114 games and when George Steinbrenner was still in full force. The Yankees won the next three — two in Cleveland — to win their 35th pennant.
“I remember butterflies in my stomach,” Girardi said, “but besides that, I don’t remember a lot. I remember having a good feeling about that club because we had won so many games and we knew the challenge ahead of us in Cleveland. Maybe I could draw from that experience and say, you know what, I felt good then. I feel good now.
“I can’t necessarily think for my players and know what’s going on in their gut, but as I’ve said all along, I believe this club is very resilient and has a confidence about them.”
History is against the Yankees. Game 1 winners have won the World Series 64 of 104 times, including six straight and 11 of the last 12. In 2002, the Angels dropped Game 1 to the Giants before rallying to win in seven. YES’ Yankees analyst Ken Singleton was on another one of those exceptions. In 1983, his Orioles lost Game 1 to the Phillies, but rebounded to win the next four and the championship.
6:57 p.m. Swisher’s reaction to the benching. As expected, he handled it well:
“Jerry’s got great numbers off him. Hey, let him go out there and do his thing,” Swisher said. “Obviously it’s frustrating and I’m upset, but it’s a team game. It’s about playing everybody we have.
“It’s Skip’s thing and I’m behind him, just like I’m behind everyone on this team.”
Struggling right-hander Phil Hughes, unavailable after walking the first and only two batters he faced in Game 1, regretted baking at plate umpire Gerry Davis over balls and strikes, citing the emotion of the moment.
“I went back and looked at the pitches, and they weren’t as close as I thought they were, so it falls on me,” Hughes said.
“I didn’t execute my pitches. Walks are killers. We can’t afford to have those, especially when we’re trying to keep the game 2-0 like it was. To let those four runs come across really hurt us. I feel like the weak link right now is our bullpen.”
The pen, flammable the early portion of the season, became a major strength after Hughes took over the role as Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man, posting a 1.40 ERA in 44 appearances. In the playoffs, however, his ERA is 9.64 through 4 2/3 innings pitched in seven appearances. Girardi said he would continue to go to Hughes in the eighth, but don’t be surprised to see Joba Chamberlain in that role if it’s a tight game.
Rather than being being aggressive and attacking the zone like he’s done all year, Hughes admitted he’s relying too much on scouting reports.
“That’s something I need to get back to,” Hughes said.
Chris Shearn interviewed Hughes exclusively. Watch it here.
By Jon Lane
Blame A.J. Burnett for a horrendous start and a miserable finish, if you want.
Blame Joe Girardi for allowing Burnett to start the seventh inning – three days after you killed him for his bullpen obsession, if that’s your poison.
Blame Nick Swisher, the one who made two outs in the Yankees’ six-run sixth inning, the one hitless in five Game 5 at-bats including the one when he popped up a bases-loaded, two-out, 3-2 pitch to shortstop to conclude a gut-ripping affair, the one with three hits in 29 postseason at-bats, until the roosters cluck and the cows retire.
Rant and rave at your choosing, it’s your right, but also heed Morris Buttermaker’s famous words, the ones in response to Tanner Boyle’s outburst over Timmy Lupus’ inability to throw the ball back to the infield, costing the Bad News Bears their first win: “When we win, it’s a team win. When we lose, it’s a team loss.”
Plenty of individuals were guilty, but the Yankees lost Game 5 as a team. I’ll isolate my personal turning point in a bit, but it was one of those games where you’re simply obligated to give a tremendous amount of credit to the opponent, to admire and respect how the Angels, neck-and-neck with the Yankees as baseball’s most resilient team, did not fold and found a way to force a Game 6. A lesser team would have decided it wasn’t meant to be and began dreaming about a winter’s vacation.
Not these Angels, who since the tragic and senseless death of Nick Adenhart have endured an emotionally-challenging season beyond anyone’s comprehension.
“When they got the six runs, I was out there deflated and [ticked] off,” said Torii Hunter. “I came in the dugout and threw my glove, but after all of that, I settled down. We all settled down and we saw we still had some innings left.”
The game, from my point of view, turned on one pitch: Phil Hughes’ fastball to Vladimir Guerrero in the fateful seventh. After walking Hunter, Hughes used a sharp curveball to move ahead 1-2. These days, breaking pitches make Guerrero look more like Pedro Cerrano than Vlad Guerrero. Ahead in the count, you can afford to waste a pitch, and even if it’s do-or-die, it’s kill or be killed with your best pitch.
Inexplicably, Hughes, shaking off Jorge Posada multiple times, threw a fastball. Guerrero, who even with his best days behind him eats fastballs for breakfast, smoked a belt-high pitch up the middle to tie the game. Kendry Morales’ RBI single followed and the Angels were ahead for good.
“Trying to be a little too fine to Hunter,” Hughes said. “Then got ahead of Guerrero and tried to come up and in on him and left the ball pretty much in the middle. He didn’t get it good, but he got it just enough and in the right spot.”
Hughes, who is going to be a great starting pitcher, received an education. As fans and journalists, we saw that not every baseball diaper dandy (© Dick Vitale) is Mariano Rivera or Francisco Rodriguez. Because Hughes has a different learning curve, and because Swisher is completely lost at the plate, the 20 cases of champagne outside the Yankees’ clubhouse remained sealed and were packed for the flight to New York. Of course, there are those out there who are panicking, fretting about 2004, quaking because now the Angels have the momentum and nothing to lose.
Allow me to remind you (again) that momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. All you had to do, writes Mark Feinsand, was “watch Game 5 to change your mind.”
Thus, it’s back to the Bronx Saturday night for Game 6. Of course, the forecast projects the heavens opening, but we’ve heard that before too. Those ’04 echoes are louder, but the games are played for a reason.
Now playing on Sirius 71: Bernie Williams’ “Go for It.” Appropriate.
By Jon Lane
BREAKING NEWS: Jorge Posada told reporters today that Jose Molina will catch A.J. Burnett in the ALDS. Whether Posada or Hideki Matsui will DH remains to be seen.
“I just hope we win that game, that’s all,” Posada said. “That’s all I have to say. Matsui’s our DH, so we’ll see. Joe talked to me on Sunday. It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. It’s the manager’s decision”
I guess it’ll depend on which Tigers or Twins starter faces Burnett. If it’s Game 2, it’ll be Justin Verlander or Carl Pavano (yes, him). In Game 3 I project Rick Porcello or Scott Baker, the two squaring off against one another later in Minneapolis.
For what it’s worth, here’s how each match up:
Matsui vs. Pavano: 1-for-5, 1 K
Matsui vs. Verlander: 4-for-12, 2 RBIs, 1 K
Posada vs. Pavano: 0-for-2, 1 K
Posada vs. Verlander: 1-for-10, 1 2B, 3 RBIs, 2 K
Matsui vs. Porcello: 2 BB
Matsui vs. Baker: 1-for-5, 1 RBI
Posada vs. Porcello: 1-for-1, 1 BB
Posada vs. Baker: 1-for-2
Some interesting nuggets from the Yankees and the Elias Sports Bureau:
? Joe Girardi is the fifth Yankees manager (Joe McCarthy, Ralph Houk, Billy Martin, Dick Howser) to win 100 games within their first two full seasons with the team. Girardi also joined Lou Piniella to have played for and managed teams that won at least 100 games. He’s done enough to be named AL Manager of the Year, writes Steven Goldman.
“Winning helps,” Posada said. “Coming here not knowing what to expect, as a player it’s different than as a manager, as a bench coach. The second time around is a little different. He did a lot of things to keep this team united. The first year I think he was tougher more on himself.”
? The Yankees’ 15 walk-off wins led the Major Leagues and were second-best in franchise history behind 17 set in 1943. Their 51 come-from-behind wins and 28 in their final at-bat were also best in the game.
? Think the Yankees enjoyed their new digs? After the All-Star break they won 31 of their final 39 regular season games at Yankee Stadium and compiled baseball’s best home record (57-24).
? Think Alex Rodriguez melts in the clutch? According to Elias, 15 of A-Rod’s 30 home runs either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead, and seven came in the seventh inning or later and either tied the game or gave the Yankees the lead. Out of his 100 RBIs, 50 tied the game or were go-ahead, and 33 came in the seventh inning or beyond.
? Nobody will consider Phil Hughes for MVP, but consider this: The Yankees went 58-26 after Hughes was named Mariano Rivera’s primary setup man, and 31-5 in games in which Hughes appeared. In 54 games before Hughes, Yankees relievers were 13-10 with a 4.88 ERA and 14 saves). After Hughes, the ‘pen went 27-7 with a 3.37 ERA and 37 saves in 105 games.
By Jon Lane
Mariano Rivera sealed the Yankees series-clinching win over the Angels, one that put a bug in the Halos’ heads – finally, not the other way around – if the teams are to meet again next month. Victory was attained when Ian Kennedy gutted out the eighth inning, his first Major League inning since last August when he was tattooed on the same field. Yes, he walked two batters and hit another, and his first out was a line drive right to Ramiro Pena at third base, but Joe Girardi looked him in the eye and told him it’s your day, your time, now get the job done. And he did.
Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney were unavailable – would you trust Bruney in that spot anyway? – so Girardi summoned Kennedy based on some strong Minor League rehab appearances and Dave Eiland’s vote of confidence. You can feel the consternation – John Sterling endlessly second-guessed the move while calling the game on the Yankees’ radio network – and negativity wondering if Girardi had gone mad at the most inopportune time. He had decided to rest a handful of starters, the AL East and home field advantage not yet secured, against their annual tormentors since 2002. Then he put the game in the right hand of one who underwent May surgery for an aneurysm and a year earlier was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).
It’s easy to complain, even when a team is 40 games (now 41) games over .500 and older players are banged up with a cross-country flight awaiting them. When Erick Aybar flied out to left to end the eighth with the bases loaded, you exhaled with satisfaction. Rivera would close and the Yankees would have one of their best wins in a season filled with many.
With guts comes glory, and win or lose, respect. Kennedy is back from a serious health issue a lot sooner than anyone expected. Whether he sneaks onto the postseason roster or not (probably not), he’ll pitch in the Arizona Fall League and receive a golden opportunity to start for the Yankees in 2010.
“Just to be pitching is an accomplishment,” Kennedy said. “And then to be pitching here, and in a big situation, there are no words to describe it. It got a little crazy, but I was glad it worked out barely. These are big, important wins for us.”
The magic number is five. The Red Sox are in town this weekend. The indeterminable Joba Chamberlain starts against Jon Lester tomorrow night. You want to see the Yankees enter the postseason healthy and winning, so the games remain important. For one day, Kennedy played his part while emerging victorious from not only a game, but the biggest battle of his young life.
Two things to keep an eye on today: David Robertson will throw a bullpen session and Jerry Hairston Jr. will undergo a second MRI on his left wrist. The Yankees need Robertson to be their seventh/late-inning fireballer and Hairston to fill multiple roles off the bench. If he’s forced to miss at least the ALDS, Pena can fill the void to a point. He’s yet to play in the outfield, which would make Eric Hinske’s presence more important.
By Jon Lane
This via the AP:
Tigers left-hander Jarrod Washburn will miss his next start because of a sore left knee.
Washburn was scheduled to start Saturday in Tampa Bay. He said on Thursday that he will be replaced by Armando Galarraga. Washburn missed a start in May with Seattle for the same reason.
Washburn has an ERA 6.81 while winning one of six starts since joining the Tigers at the trading deadline. He is expected to make his next start on Sept. 10 against Kansas City.
Like last season, Washburn was a hot name on the Yankees’ radar before July 31 and many Yankees fans screamed over how they were beaten out by the Tigers and that fact that Brian Cashman’s only acquisition was Jerry Hairston Jr. Last I looked, Hairston has been a useful bench player batting .273 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 26 games. And that other ‘non-sexy’ name, Eric Hinske, has seven homers and 12 RBIs in 23 games. Cashman acquired him and $400,000 for two Minor Leaguers.
Jonah Keri today offered insight on what’s happened to Washburn since he became a Detroit Tiger.
Moral of the story: Remember Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small in 2005. The right role players blended with superstars make for the best recipe, yet a lot of these guys slip through the cracks.
One of the other Yankee no-names, Chad Gaudin, starts tonight in Toronto (YES HD, 7 p.m.). At this point, either Gaudin or Sergio Mitre will make the postseason roster as a long man.
Phil Hughes as temporary Yankees closer will be interesting to watch, for the Yankees can afford the luxury of being extra careful with Mariano Rivera (groin stiffness). No further explanations about Hughes’ breakthrough season are necessary. But, and I quote Kimberly Jones, will there be Hughes Rules next season?
By Jon Lane
Well, it was a thought.
On Friday I floated the idea of the Yankees making a move for Billy Wagner and how he’d be an asset down the stretch. Alas, minutes later Wagner was claimed on waivers and that night it was revealed the claimant was the Red Sox.
After days of will-he-or-won’t-he posturing, after the assumption Wagner would not waive his no-trade clause due to Boston’s refusal to meet a few conditions, this deal is done. Wagner is headed to the Red Sox for two players to be named later.
I asked last week for you not to go So Taguchi on me and review the benefits of Wagner in pinstripes. He would have rode shotgun to Mariano Rivera and possibly serve as a situational left-hander who’d share the load with Phil Coke and Damaso Marte. In Boston he’ll spell Hideki Okajima, Terry Francona’s lone lefty reliever, and his team-leading 56 appearances, and take a passenger seat to Jonathan Papelbon.
Wagner will help the BoSox and their recently overworked bullpen, counting on the return of Tim Wakefield and eventually Daisuke Matsuzaka to eat innings rather than spit them out. But as a public service to my readers, many loyal followers of the New York Yankees, here’s why the Red Sox are also taking a chance adding Wagner to the mix.
In the interest of fairness, I would have done the same had Wagner officially become a Yankee, but I read your minds. The first time Wagner takes the mound wearing red, white and green, you’ll be having Taguchi flashbacks. You’ll see visions of Ramiro Pena or Jerry Hairston Jr. taking Wagner deep late September at Yankee Stadium, the Indians’ Luis Valbuena crushing Boston’s playoff hopes Sunday, October 4, at Fenway Park, or perhaps the Angels’ Maicer Izturis going yard in Game 5 of the ALDS in Anaheim.
Besides an inspiring comeback from Tommy John surgery, hitting the upper 90s on the gun and his bravery in big spots, here’s what the Red Sox may have to endure the next month or maybe two:
? Wagner was awful in his last postseason appearance of 2006 and not just because of Taguchi. His ERA was 10.38 and in 11 career playoff games, he’s 1-1 with an 8.71 ERA.
? The Red Sox’s front office was cheering when it beat out the Yankees on Trade Deadline day of 2007 when the team acquired Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers. Gagne, who four years earlier saved 55 games, was supposed to form a lockdown duo with Papelbon. In his first 15 appearances, Gagne allowed 14 earned runs in 14 innings (a 9.00 ERA) with three blown saves and an opponents batting average of more than .350. Okay, the Red Sox won a World Series despite Gagne, but a few of their core players are a bit older this time around.
? Papelbon, the king of restraint who once had the gall to suggest that he and not Mariano Rivera close the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, will have to welcome Wagner days after saying his services weren’t needed.
“I don’t have anything to say about somebody like that,” Wagner said in response. “When he walks in my shoes, then I’ll say something. Let him be 38 and have Tommy John surgery and come back.”
Contrary to popular belief, the Red Sox aren’t dead yet. They remain the favorites to capture the AL Wild Card in my book. Yet this team has endured enough between injuries and David Ortiz. Two outspoken egos won’t help the clubhouse culture.
Johan Santana is out for the season with bone chips in his left elbow. He’ll have arthroscopic surgery and expects to be ready for Spring Training. If you’re the Mets, no regrets trading for him. If you’re the Yankees, you’re taking a tremendous sigh of relief that you did not accept the Twins’ proposal of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and two mid-level prospects.
The Yankees would have made the playoffs last season with Santana, who in turn would have won at least 20 games and possibly his third Cy Young Award. However, the goal here – at least under Brian Cashman’s watch – is rebuilding and maintaining a program. Since 2002 the organization reverted back to overspending for a quick fix, a philosophy that led to a steady decline in the late 1980s and 67-95 record in 1990. One look at what Cabrera and Hughes have done – and optimism over how Hughes still can be – and you realize such a price was too steep.
By Jon Lane
In case you haven’t heard – how was life on Jupiter? – it’s Yankees vs. Red Sox this weekend. Stay with YESNetwork.com all weekend for the latest from Fenway Park.
Many believe a three-game sweep would be a knockout punch to the Red Sox and their division title homes. A 9 ½-game deficit would be virtually insurmountable. It’s never over until … you know … but I truly think the Yankees are too talented and disciplined to pull a 2006 Mets, 1995 Angels or 1964 Phillies and blow this thing.
Speaking of the Mets – I’ll leave the folks from Flushing to deal with the latest Gary Sheffield mess – Billy Wagner made his return to the Majors Thursday night. He looked great, perfect in fact, hitting 96 MPH on the gun and whiffing two in the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Braves. Not too shabby in his first big-league appearance coming off Tommy John surgery.
How much longer Wagner will remain a Met is the next question. Wagner today was claimed on waivers, reports SI.com’s Jon Heyman, which leaves the Mets three days to work out a deal with the claiming team. Francisco Rodriguez is the closer and the Mets have no intention on picking up Wagner’s $10 million club option for next year.
Prior to Heyman’s story I had a thought: Yankeeland.
Right now the Yankees have one left-hander in their bullpen, Phil Coke, and there will be two if Damaso Marte is actually activated. But does anyone actually trust Marte in a big spot? In any spot? And as well as Coke has pitched this year, how much pressure do you think his young shoulders will handle facing David Ortiz or Jacoby Ellsbury in the ALCS? Or for that matter, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton or Bobby Abreu in October pressure situations?
Enter Wagner, and before you start going So Taguchi on me, remember that the only Sandman in the Bronx is Mariano Rivera. That means the final fate of the game won’t be on Wagner’s repaired left shoulder. He’ll give Coke and Phil Hughes a blow. He’ll face one or two hitters in big spots, and he’ll work against lefties or righties (Wagner has held right-handed hitters to a .186 lifetime average).
Moreover, you get a fresh arm, albeit one you handle with care, but one with loaded bullets.
Brian Cashman has more than a week to evaluate. There’s little to complain about the Yankees these days (though to some complaining is the spice of life). But Wagner, despite the 10.38 ERA he compiled in the 2006 postseason, is your standard low-risk, high-reward investment. The Mets won’t ask for the world in prospects, only some help in Steinbrenner dollars. That’s a good deal.
There’s more than one big series this weekend. The Rangers, trailing the Red Sox by a game in the Wild Card race, are in St. Petersburg for a critical three-game set with the Rays. If the Yankees and Rangers are able to take their respective series, it’s a tremendous boost to the men in pinstripes. The Rays’ postseason hopes would take a dive straight towards South Beach while the Red Sox would be buried in the division race and out of the playoff picture, but not out cold. Beginning with the Rays and continuing next week in the Bronx, the Rangers will play 15 of his next 19 games on the road.
By Jon Lane
It’s been an eventful week on YESNetwork.com. I worked yesterday’s 6-4 Yankees win that showed me that while the Yankees are contenders, they need to prove they can beat A-list opponents before being considered an elite team. Still, an old credo from 1996 has helped them maintain focus, which a couple of players said will be the difference when they meet the Rays next week and the Red Sox next month.
Jerome Preisler worked the game with me and this morning eloquently broke down Nick Swisher’s day of redemption.
After the game I spoke exclusively with Phil Hughes. Showing the maturity to accept the hand he’s dealt, Hughes has thrived as Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man.
The Off the Wall podcast with Chris Shearn debuted last night. The host of BPTV talks Erin Andrews, Roy Halladay and calls out the mecurial nature of the New York sports fan.
HOPE Week has been a huge success and there’s still more to come. I was there to tell the heartbreaking and powerful story of George Murray, a former Army paratrooper suffering from ALS. I came away having experienced first hand the quality of courage. Jerome, Joe Auriemma and Christa Robinson will be on hand for tonight’s special installment. And be sure to watch Yankees Pre Game at 6:30 for a special feature about Helping Others Persevere & Excel.
By Jon Lane
Anthony Rieber, Newsday‘s fine and entertaining sports reporter, opines that the Yankees need to bring Roy Halladay to the Bronx. But rather than sell the farm, Rieber suggests the Yankees do the Blue Jays a favor and offer them financial relief by agreeing to take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract.
Wells, 30, is due nearly $110 million through 2014. That’s insane. But here’s the alternative to dealing Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero: The Yankees offer Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, a couple of lower-level pitching prospects and nothing more, writes Rieber while reminding what little the Mets surrendered to pry Johan Santana from the Twins – without taking on a huge contract. And it’s not like Wells is exactly washed up. He may no longer be an All-Star, but the excitement of a championship chase in New York may energize him.
Either one team will go all-in, or the winner (if any by July 31) of the Halladay sweepstakes will be the one that held out the longest to force Toronto to take what it can get. Rieber’s strategy presents a suitable alternative to those opposed to selling the farm.
By Jon Lane
Roy Halladay is open to the idea of playing for the Yankees, telling the media yesterday his “priority would be winning” and not a hefty contract extension. Halladay not only has a full no-trade clause, he added he’d be fine with pitching in the homer haven that’s become the new Yankee Stadium and the added pressure of playing in New York.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of media people that wouldn’t love me,” Halladay said during a press conference that announced him as tonight’s starter for the AL All-Star team. “But I think, for me, I’ve always been able to separate field from off-field. I’ve realized that I can’t make everybody happy all of the time. Sometimes, that includes media … We’ll try and do the best I can, but that’s always the way I’m going to be.”
The roadblocks are economics – Halladay makes $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next year before being eligible for free agency in November 2010 – and the thought of the Blue Jays trading their best pitcher to a division rival.
The Yankees are not optimistic that they’ll land the 32-year-old right-hander, writes Ken Davidoff, who adds the Phillies are generally regarded as the favorites. But what they have to offer (along with the Phillies) is a chance to win a World Series and the ability to blow J.P. Riccardi away with a strong package out of their farm system. The Yankees aren’t getting Halladay for Ian Kennedy and Andrew Brackman. Figure on the Jays asking for Phil Hughes (and that’s for starters), but I have a proposal that just might work.
Joba Chamberlain, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero. (I may even throw in Kennedy if a suitor isn’t scared off by an aneurysm that will keep him out until next year.)
Anytime you surrender top prospects it’s a major risk that at least one becomes a superstar. But in this case, give me production over potential any day. Halladay remains in the prime of his career, and unlike Johan Santana there isn’t a risk that health will betray him in a middle of a long-term contract. Hughes’ lights-out performance in the bullpen looks like it’ll launch him into a long career as a front-line starter. Chamberlain’s struggles have his stock dropping a bit, but not to where teams will be turned off completely. The Blue Jays can still develop him as a starter, away from New York’s bright lights and endorsement temptations, or say forget that, let’s make him our closer.
Jackson is being hyped as a franchise center fielder, but as my colleague Glenn Giangrande wrote last week, Lastings Milledge was once a can’t-miss outfield prospect, and right now the Yankees are receiving surprising contributions from both Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera. Montero has grand potential written all over him too, but there’s no guarantee he’ll remain a catcher. Even if he does, wouldn’t you take your chances on Francisco Cervelli or Austin Romine once (or if) Jorge Posada retires at the end of his contract in 2011 if it meant getting Halladay?
Kevin Kernan made his pro-Halladay case today too, going as far to remind everyone that the Red Sox once traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. That won them a World Series in 2007 and it took guts. The Yankees may have to learn from history.