By Sweeny Murti
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Did Brian Cashman really blow it by not making a trade at the deadline? Well, this answer gets complicated because its not something we will find out come September or October.
The answer to this question comes much further down the road when we see if Ubaldo Jimenez was worth giving up prospects for. And which prospects?
After a small survey of scouts familiar with the prospects Cleveland gave up as well as the prospects in the Yankee organization, it seems as if the deal the Yankees would have needed to make in order to get Jimenez from the Rockies would have looked like one of the following:
*Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and 2 AA-level prospects
*Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, and Jesus Montero
*Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Austin Romine
*Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, and 2 other prospects
It’s the same names in various orders, and the Yankees made a determination that a short-term gain was not worth the long-term risk of such a deal. And there isn’t even a guarantee of a short-term gain. Beyond the red flags reported as some attitude problems with Jimenez in the last year, there is the very real issue of projecting him in a tougher division like the AL East.
As good as Jimenez has been, he is not being traded at the same level that Johan Santana and CC Sabathia were a few years ago. Remember—the Yankees twice traded for Javier Vazquez off the best year of his career, and he didn’t become what they had hoped either time. Jeff Weaver and A.J. Burnett had “nasty” attached to nearly every pitch they threw before they arrived in New York, and now the very idea of either pitcher gets Yankee fans worked into a tizzy.
And let’s not forget how at various points of the 80’s and early 90’s that Yankee fans lamented seeing former farmhands like Doug Drabek and Fred McGriff and Willie McGee winning awards and championships in other uniforms with nothing to show for it on this end.
Maybe these Yankee prospects don’t turn into winners and All-Stars either. But other teams’ unwillingness to come off those names and move to a lesser tier in trade talks seems to indicate that the Yankees aren’t the only ones who keep these guys in high regard.
Manny Banuelos is heading to AAA this week and there are scouts who say there is not a better pitching prospect in the minor leagues right now. While he has struggled to command his fastball and throw strikes this year at AA since dazzling everybody in spring training, it seems the Yankees feel he’s ready to make the next step. AAA this year could mean big league rotation next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the year after that.
Meanwhile, don’t lose sight of two of the best stories surrounding the 2011 Yankees—Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. 18 wins between them with two months to go. We didn’t think the Yankees could get 18 innings out of them this season.
Phil Hughes needs to pitch better, but clearly he is capable and he appears to be healthy. Let’s try to remember that this is still basically April for him. And Ivan Nova isn’t too shabby either—his 9 wins are third on the team and he spent one month in the minor leagues.
The Yankees have options and they have potential. I know everyone wants to start planning the 11-game sweep through October and the parade up the Canyon of Heroes. But sometimes it’s a little more difficult. And sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. Just remember that it’s not for a lack of effort or caring on the part of this organization. It’s a calculated gamble that what they have in-house isn’t worth giving away at this time.
In what is increasingly a now-now-now society, staying pat at the trading deadline took a man willing to take a deep breath, and believe that his team has to be good enough right now because the price of making a deal was too great.
The week leading up to the trade deadline was HOPE week at Yankee Stadium. For the next eight weeks, Brian Cashman will PRAY.