By Ernie Palladino
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It’s no secret that Brian Cashman tried his darndest to pry Felix Hernandez away from Seattle.
In fact, the only reason Michael Pineda is here, and out for the season after labrum surgery, is because Cashman couldn’t get the Mariners to trade the man the Mariners and just about everybody else on the planet calls King Felix.
Several attempts, several juicy offers were rejected, and rightfully so. At one point, the Yanks would have cleared out their farm system for him, maybe half their lineup, too, and paid far more than the promising bat they sent over in Jesus Montero for Pineda. But the Mariners weren’t buying.
And it’s likely they won’t for years to come because Hernandez is just too good to let go at any price.
So why bring his name up, especially at this juncture where the Yankees’ existing rotation has just shut down the Rangers three straight, the latest a 3-2 victory Wednesday night?
Because of what Hernandez did Wednesday afternoon. The righty went perfect over Tampa Bay, 1-0 at Safeco Field.
With nary a pinstriped fiber in sight, King Felix’ perfecto, the 23rd in history and the third this season, helped keep the Yanks’ AL East lead at six games over Baltimore and push the third-place Rays seven back.
You add what Hernandez did to the Yanks Aug. 4 in a complete-game, two-hitter that smarter people than this typist said was one of the most dominant 1-0 games they’d ever seen, and one can understandably engage in a short flight of whimsy.
How would Hernandez look in the interlocking NY right about now?
A heck of a lot better than Derek Lowe, that’s for sure, even though the 39-year-old righty rewarded the Yanks for his new employment with four shutout innings of relief on Monday night. If nothing else, Hernandez is a young stud getting studlier by the minute (just ask the Rays). Despite the resurgence of Wednesday winner Fredy Garcia and their ascent from their post-All-Star break valley, they could use another arm.
Think about it. CC Sabathia is on the DL. The Yanks are anxiously awaiting Andy Pettitte’s return from a broken ankle, but another setback like the swelling that sidelined him for 10 days last month will surely end his season.
Phil Hughes has reverted to 2011 form his last two starts, which means he’s been a disaster. Eleven earned runs in 8 1/3 innings.
Hiroki Kuroda did a fine job throwing a complete-game victory that included six innings of no-hit ball Tuesday night, and David Phelps threw a nice five innings Monday. But the Yanks need more, and they need healthier bodies if they expect to turn a sure-fire spot in the postseason into a legitimate World Series threat.
Until Sabathia gets back, presumably healthy, Kuroda is the only bonafide postseason pitcher in the rotation right now.
And so, the fantasy fit for the franchise that usually has everything.
This year, the 26-year-old Felix is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, around. He’s 11-5 with a 2.60 ERA. Over his last 10 starts, he’s shut out the Red Sox on five hits, the Rangers on three, the Yankees’ on two, and the Rays with zero. Notice a trend there?
How would he look in pinstripes?
And how would you look holding that winning the Powerball ticket?
Yeah, that’s right. That’s not happening, either.
Neither will Hernandez. Not this year, at least. And probably not in the next few years to come as Hal Steinbrenner attempts to pare his payroll to under $189 million by 2014.
But Yankee fans can dream, can’t they? How better to take a late-summer’s snooze than with a king.
King Felix. In pinstripes.
What should have Brian Cashman given up to get Felix Hernandez into a pinstripes? Let us know your trade proposals below.