Yankees GM Brian Cashman should consider trading for Phillies’ Marlon Byrd, not Cliff Lee
Outfielder who spent last season with the Mets could help Bombers horrid offense and give team the life they need to get to postseason.
Somehow the Yankees have won six of seven games out of the All-Star break, even though it feels as if it takes the passage of some special baseball legislation for them to score more than a couple of runs a game.
For that matter, winning three of four from the dead-team-walking Rangers was nothing short of an epic struggle, as they scored 2.5 runs per game against the pitching staff with the worst ERA in the American League.
In other words, the Yankees continue to be largely underwhelming, at least with the bats. Yet there’s no denying they are very much in the hunt for October, in the lead for the second wild-card spot after their 4-2 victory on Thursday.
In fact, this could be a key weekend, as the Blue Jays come to town, themselves in a virtual tie with the Yankees, while the O’s-Mariners series offers an opportunity to gain ground in either the wild-card or division race.
The pitching is giving the Yankees a chance, as the reinvention of Brandon McCarthy continues to make his acquisition — for Vidal Nuno — a leading candidate for baseball’s midseason trade of the year.
Chase Headley also has already played a major role in two wins since arriving on Tuesday, meaning that GM Brian Cashman is having a very good couple of weeks as a deal-maker.
He was at it again on Thursday, making a cash deal with the Rockies for lefthander Chris Capuano, and it remains to be seen if this one has a similar impact.
Yet the onus remains on Cashman because it’s hard to see how these Yankees can make it to October with an offense that, as of Thursday, ranked 14th in the AL in runs scored.
In other words, never mind Cliff Lee; Marlon Byrd never looked so good.
I mean, how long can the Yankees survive playing Ichiro Suzuki in right field most every day?
The other night they were so desperate for more pop in their outfield that they played Kelly Johnson there for the first time all season, and now he’s on the disabled list with a groin injury.
With 19 home runs for the Phillies, the sure-to-be-traded Byrd has more blasts than Thursday’s entire starting outfield of Ichiro, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.
And that’s with Gardner, having already hit a career-high 10 home runs, looking like the Yankees’ most dangerous hitter these days.
Obviously Gardner and Ellsbury aren’t the problem. Ellsbury has been miscast most of the season, out of necessity, as a No. 3 hitter, but Thursday’s lineup offered a reminder of how it was supposed to look, if Carlos Beltran was having the type of season the Yankees had expected.
He’s the No. 3 hitter this lineup is missing, and he was in that spot on Thursday, but only because Joe Girardi gave Derek Jeter a day of rest. Girardi was rather cryptic about his reasoning for rearranging it, perhaps hoping Beltran would be inspired by hitting third.
As it turned out, Beltran did single to center in the eighth inning and scored on a booming double to left-center by Brian McCann, exactly the way the Yankees had envisioned it when they were throwing all that big money around in the offseason.
Yet Beltran remains compromised by his elbow injury that limits him to DHing and seems to have affected him at the plate, if only mentally, and even with the RBI double, McCann shows little indication of busting out of his season-long struggle at the plate.
That and Mark Teixeira’s lat strain make the need for offensive help rather urgent.
On the other hand, the Yankees deserve credit for toughing out some close games, as four of their six wins in this stretch have been one-run affairs, and Thursday’s win looked like another until they added an eighth-inning run.
Furthermore, on Tuesday night, when they had to be utterly frustrated after being held scoreless for 12 innings, they dug deep to tie the game in the 13th and won it in the 14th when a second straight loss to the Rangers might have left some scars.
Grit aside, however, surely Cashman can see the Reds and now the Rangers have had a lot to do with this Yankees’ surge.
Byrd can help, and while several teams reportedly have expressed interest, there has been no indication the Yankees are one of them.
However, one team executive who knows Cashman well said on Thursday that no one should make much of that.
“He’s gotten very good at working quietly on things like that,” the exec said.
Cashman is already having a heck of a July, getting McCarthy, Headley and now Capuano while giving little in return. But does he have an even bigger deal up his sleeve somewhere?
For the Yankees’ sake, he’d better.