Yankees overhaul bullpen

Dave · December 3, 2004 at 6:54 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Slipping under the wire of that other big story today were two trades the Yankees made. One makes a lot of sense. The other, not so much.

Trade A: The Yankees send Kenny Lofton and cash to Philadelphia for Felix Rodriguez.

Despite the fact that Joe Torre refused to use him in the playoffs last year, Lofton was still a fairly useful player, almost exactly league average as a center fielder. His speed is almost gone, but he still gets on base at a decent clip and covers enough ground to not embarrass himself in center field. However, he turns 38 next May and is due $3 million next year, and the Yankees decided they needed bullpen help more than they needed an expensive fourth outfielder. Felix Rodriguez isn’t the dominating setup man he was in 2001, but he’s still pretty darn good, posting good numbers across the board. He’ll become the Yankees third best RHP out of the pen and give them some depth in the middle innings. Total cost to upgrade the pen? About $1 million, plus the bonus of removing a player they didn’t want around.

This trade makes a lot less sense for Philadelphia, unless they spend that $1 million really well. Lofton isn’t the flycatcher the Phillies need in between Burrell and Abreu, and he’s not the leadoff hitter they’ve been looking for. He’s a nice spare part now occupying a position where the Phillies had an opportunity to get significantly better. The opportunity cost of filling the CF gap is the real problem here. The Phillies saved some cash, but they just made it that much harder to improve themselves. Ed Wade continues to spin his heels with a roster that should be much better than it is.

The best news out of this deal, though, is that those infernal Randy Winn for Ryan Howard suggestions can finally die. Hallelujah.

Trade B:

The Yankees sent Felix Heredia to the Mets for Mike Stanton and $1 million in cash.

Heredia was the Yankees version of Shigetoshi Hasegawa. He posted a superficially solid ERA in 2003 and earned a nifty little two year deal for his work. His ratios said the performance wasn’t sustainable, and wham, a 6.28 ERA in 2004 earns him a trip to Queens. Ironically, the Yankees may have made almost the same move they did last year when they gave Heredia that extension. Stanton’s 3.16 ERA for the Mets last year might remind some of his 2001 dominance in the Bronx, but he clearly wasn’t the same pitcher. His ratios have plummeted and his effectiveness against southpaws is almost completely gone (they hit .269/.370/.426 against him last year). Heading into his age 38 season, there’s little chance Stanton will post an ERA below 4.00 again, and he’s a decent bet to end up with an ERA somewhere around Heredia’s.

The money the Mets are sending only covers half the difference in contracts, so the Yankees paid another $1 million for this supposed upgrade. Don’t be surprised when Stanton is filling Heredia’s role as the Lefty-That-Joe-Torre-Is-Too-Afraid-To-Use next October, however.


7 Responses to “Yankees overhaul bullpen”

  1. tvwxman on December 3rd, 2004 7:18 pm

    Almost exactly my thoughts. I like F-Rod, but then again, it’s almost a wash if the Yanks are forced to package Tom Gordon. Stanton is a wash for Heredia, so they don’t have a reliable lefty out of the pen.

    The Yankees won’t win the world series with this starting rotation. That’s the problem they need to fix.

  2. Jim Thomsen on December 3rd, 2004 8:58 pm

    Wasn’t Stanton the guy just two years ago who wasn’t deemed good enough for the Yankees? What exactly made him worthy since?

  3. Bela Txadux on December 3rd, 2004 9:48 pm

    To me, Brian Cashman shines again on this. Consider: he had two guys neither he nor his manager wanted to have perform in a Yankers uniform again, both older and relatively expensive for their best projections, which projections they were in fact unlikely to meet. He moved both of them. In return, he got one pretty darn good reliever, Felix Rod, who could perform in an enlarge role in the great likelihood that Gordon or Quantrill have physical problems. He also got one guy, Stanton, who was great for the Yanks in the past, and is unlikely to be any worse than the guy he replaces. Cashman doesn’t sit still, and virtually everything he does is a net positive.

    Ed Wade . . . I have no idea, none, what this man thinks he is doing running his franchise. He’s not godawful at Bonifay and Baird levels, but unlike Cashman his transactions as a group always seem to come out net negatives, his teams have always seemed unbalanced in talent, and have certainly been chronic underperformers. Kenny Lofton, Version ’05, fits that matrix to the last jot and tittle. The Phillies CF problem is at best ‘stop-gapped,’ it certainly isn’t solved. Wade: In the Water.

  4. Jon Wells on December 3rd, 2004 9:49 pm

    It isn’t really about Stanton, it’s about Heredia being completely useless. I think the Stanton for Heredia deal is a steal for the Yankees, because Heredia was so bad that it’s pretty likely that they were going to have to release him in spring training because he wasn’t gonna make the 25 man roster. For them to get Stanton and get
    the Mets to make up the difference in the salaries is remarkable, kind of similar to when we shook our heads last winter when the M’s traded away Colbrunn, took back Q Mc and paid AZ a bunch of money “to make the deal fair”.

    I think the Yankees did well on the other deal too, as it seemed like they were gonna have a hard time getting anyone to take Lofton. Yes, they paid half of Lofton’s salary, but they got a player of value in the deal, a player they desperately needed. Rodriguez gives them a top-notch setup man and insurance in case Rivera goes down with an injury…

    It’s these kinds of deals that piss me off to be a Mariner fan — Lofton and Heredia are the Yankee equivalents (on some level) of guys like Cirillo and Spiezio. If you’re creative and you have relationships with enough GM’s you can make the guys you don’t want go away — without having to take back useless overpaid pieces (i.e. Kevin Jarvis, Wiki Gonzalez) in the process…

    And imagine how it must feel to be a Met fan right now, knowing that your team is going to pay nearly $3 million for a lefty reliever who had a 6.28 ERA last year – just so you could get rid of another guy making $4 mil, a guy who had a decent year?

  5. stan on December 3rd, 2004 9:50 pm

    I wonder if the Yankees have any more interest in Villone after today. Their bullpen seems a bit too crowded to add another marginal arm to the mix. Also, I don’t see the Mariners being able to trade Winn to Philly after today. In my opinion the Mariners should have traded both Winn and Villone before the trading deadline last year.

  6. Mark on December 4th, 2004 9:53 am

    May I ask what Winn’s relative position vs. league average CF is?

  7. ECAMike on December 4th, 2004 10:01 am

    Hey #4,

    I’m a Mets fan, and I’m behind the Heredia/Stanton deal at least 75%. You have to dig a little deeper into Stanton’s stats to get a handle on the kind of year he had for us — that, or suffer through all his games in an apoplectic state. Be glad you were spared the latter. Here’s but one chart from BP, which shows one of his main problems: ineffectiveness at preventing inherited runners from scoring.

    He may have compiled a fair ERA and halfway decent WHIP, but they’re mostly a mirage as you need to look at prior pitchers’ stats to find Stanton’s deficiencies.

    As to Heredia, well, no one can be excited to have him on their team after the season he had. Minaya has made it clear that his motivation here was saving a cool million. You can also infer from his statement and the fact that he has a brain that he knows Heredia may suck too much to make the bullpen. Another way to look at this deal from Minaya’s perspective is as another step in a long process of getting rid of the ageing veterans so highly prized by the previous Mets administrations.

    Heredia’s younger, better against lefties than righties, and going to Rick Peterson and Shea Stadium. I say he outpitches Stanton next year…if he even makes the team, that is.