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Early Returns



By Paul Catalano ~ April 29th, 2010. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

Sure, it’s not even a month into the season and it’s far too early to judge any off-season moves. But why not do it anyway? Let’s take a look at how the Yankees off-season moves have panned out so far.

Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke

Austin Jackson, the chip the Tigers wanted in the Curtis Granderson trade is batting .322 with a home run, 10 walks and 3 stolen bases He is handling the lead-off spot very well so far. And he is playing an excellent centerfield, ranking 3rd in the AL in Fangraphs UZR.

Ian Kennedy has a 0-1 record with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He has 21 Ks.

Phil Coke has a 1.38 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. He has 11 Ks in 13 IP

Curtis Granderson, after a good start, has cooled off and is batting .243. He has 2 HR and 4 SB. He is batting .208 vs. lefties.

Verdict:

As of this moment, the Yankees got the worse end of this deal. Jackson has taken to the lead-off spot excellently and should be a fixture in CF for a long time. Coke has done well as the lefty out of the Tigers pen. And Kennedy, despite the mediocre ERA, has actually pitched well. His WHIP is good and batters are only batting .214 off of him. He can turn into a fine 3-4 starter. Granderson has reverted to his form of the past 2 years: a low BA, some power and absolutely clueless against lefties. Hopefully his power will help alleviate the pain he brings against lefties. Loser: Yankees.

Javier Vazquez and RP Boone Logan for P Arodys Vizcaino, LF Melky Cabrera, and P Michael Dunn

Javier Vazquez has made no one forget his first time around with the Yankees. His pitches look flat and he looks scared on the mound. He has a 9.00 ERA and a 1.8 WHIP. He has given up 5 HRs in 20 IP.

Boone Logan has done fairly well in his few appearances. He has only pitched 2.1 innings in the majors and has a 3.86 ERA. In the minors this season, he had a 1.35 ERA in 6.2 IP.

Arodys Vizcaino has been hit around a little bit in A-ball this season. He has a 4.95 ERA and 19Ks in 20 IP. He is still only 19.

Michael Dunn, in AA, has been lights out so far. He has a 0.95 ERA in 9.1 IP. He has struck out 12.

Melky Cabrera, away from his buddy Robinson Cano, has been pretty awful. In 71 AB, Cabrera is batting .197—70 points below his lifetime average—with 11 Ks. His OPS+ is a very sad 37.

Verdict:

Pretty much a wash as both teams major league players are awful. Melky Cabera wasn’t supposed to be a 10-year lock in left field, just a temporary left fielder and 4th outfielder. Vasquez was supposed to anchor the Yankees rotation and provide quality innings. Advantage Braves. Also, slight edge goes to the Braves though as Vizcaino was a coveted young talent and has time to grow.

Nick Johnson for Hideki Matsui

If OBP is all Cashman wanted than Johnson is fine. Even batting well below his weight at .143, Johnson’s 20 walks give him a .385 OBP. But still, Johnson still only has 8 hits in 78 AB, which is just plain terrible. He has 13 total bases.

Matsui, so far, has been his usual self. Batting .274 with 4 HRs, he has a 126+ OPS. However, the one stat where Johnson has the lead is in Cashman’s coveted OBP where he trails Johnson with a .354 OBP.

Verdict:

Matsui. I know Cashman covets the OBP. But dude, the guy is batting .143. Sure, he’ll probably pick it up, in which case, the verdict might eventually go to Johnson—he did bat .291 with a .426 OBP last year. But right now, he couldn’t hit the floor if he fell down.

Brett Gardner for Johnny Damon

Damon has gotten off to a hot start, batting .321 with no home runs and 1 SB. He’s slugging .423 with 9 RBIs.

Gardner, with 20 fewer ABs, is batting .310, 0 HRs, with 9 stolen bases (tied for lead league). Gardner is slugging .362 with 6 RBIs.

Verdict:

Ultimately it’s a wash. Damon has more power, Gardner more speed. It’s a pick your poison; and the Yankees felt they needed speed and defense and a base running pest, more than another HR threat. The Tigers needed power and leadership. In the end, a tie.

Hughes for Chamberlain

Probably the easiest one in the bunch. Hughes has been excellent so far, seemingly learning from his time at Rivera’s shoulder in the bullpen last year how to attack hitters. He has a 2.00 ERA and is holding batters to a .103 BA. He has 18 Ks in 18 IP.

Chamberlain—whom everyone is figuring out is a reliever at heart—hasn’t been bad either. He has a 3.72, mainly inflated by one bad pitch to Kendry Morales. His fastball and slider have increased in velocity and his K/IP is way up. He seems a little more comfortable on the mound to rear back and let it go.

Verdict:

A win/win for the Yankees. Hughes seems settled in as a starter and is responding, and Chamberlain is slowly gaining back the confidence lost in the failed “Starter Experiment.”

Overall, the Yankees moves haven’t quite panned out as they would have liked. If not for Phil Hughes splendid start, the back pages this offseason might be more filled with Cashman’s moves to get Granderson and Vasquez, and Matsui, Damon and Austin Jackson’s good starts to the season. It’s a long season though, and it will be interesting to keep an eye on these off-season moves as the season progresses.

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Paul Catalano is an aspiring sportswriter who’s day job is as Production Manager for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life & Shot Business magazines. He has written often for his own blog at And a Player to be Named Later since 2007. His articles have been picked up by Dugout Central, Foxsports.com, Lindys.com among others. Before that, Paul got married to the lovely Elizabeth Ryan, got his Master’s in Writing from Emerson College, attended his first Yankee game at 9 years old, got his first base hit at 5 years old and was born.

2 Responses to Early Returns

  1. Noel

    What’s not mentioned is that Jackson admitted that after the trade, he dedicated himself to getting better and became more focused in his offseason prep. If he had that attitude while he was with the Yankees he never would have been traded and could be starting in CF in the Bronx right now.

  2. Stu Baron

    Not necessarily, Noel – the Yankees have a long history of trading young players, who establish themselves in the majors with their new teams, for veterans – Doug Drabek for Rick Reuschel, Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps, Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver, Willie McGee for Bob Sykes, Fred McGriff for Dale Murray, to name a few…really, it’s OK to admit that the Yankees made a mistake in trading Jackson, although time will tell if they did or not…

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