Rotoworld passes along some misfortunate news for the pin-stripers today (Jorge Posada may be in for season-ending surgery), while MLBTR notes their interest in our very own AJ Burnett, who locked it down against them in his final start of the first half the weekend before last. The Posada news should create some interest for Gregg Zaun seeing as how Brian Cashman tried to sign him as a backup catcher/part time first baseman back in the 2006 offseason. All of these swirling tidbits of information lead us to wonder if JP isn't being set up for a panty raid of the Yankees farm system for the ages at some point over the next ten days.
As much as they dislike looking up in the standings, the Yankees shouldn't really be in full panic mode. They're only 3 back in the Wild Card as of this writing, but the Posada news is a major blow and this is, as we've been reminded 50 jillion times, the final season for Yankee Stadium so blah blah blah...
With Posada mostly limited to firstbasemaning and DH-ing, Yankees catchers have put up a rather limp .243/.308/.352/.655 line so far this year that gets even less pretty when you look up Jose Molina (48 OPS+) and Chad Moeller (88 OPS+ in limited ABs, 66 OPS+ for his career) individually. A steady vet like Zaun--who's pretty reliable for a 100-ish OPS+, hits both ways, gets on base and has fewer defensive shortcomings than many like to admit--could help save the Yankees from hitting the stretch with a black hole in their lineup. For a team accustomed to post-season action every year, that means something.
The logic of bringing AJ Burnett on board is self-evident during a season when you've auditioned judge-punching Sidney Ponson, colossally overpriced AAA roster filler like Kei Igawa, and a Josh Towers clone in Darrell Rasner. I need not say more. No, I refuse to say more!
So what's a reasonable return should JP be willing to package Zaun and Burnett to the hated Yanquis?
At first thought I'd suggest Phil Hughes, so recently part of the much hyped "Generation Trey" (hrm, seems like only Joba Chamberlain panned out according to plan...) but who started the year poorly and is now unlikely to pitch before September. He's on the 60-day DL, but it's not for anything arm-related (a stress fracture in his rib cage) that would raise serious red flags. Hughes is still only 22 and probably ML-ready for 2009, providing us with a replacement for the departed AJ.
Would Cashman pull the trigger on a deal of this nature? Probably not of his own accord, but when an insane reprobate like Hank Steinbrenner has his boot to your throat it might be impossible to resist a "win now" approach.
Baseball America says the Yankees don't have a shortstop amongst their top 10 prospects--John Sickels can't even find one in their top 20 even, so I guess Jeter is just going to play forever--which is a shame because that's ideally one component we'd like to bring back in any prospective trade.
The rest of the BA list (aside from the obviously unattainable Joba Chamberlain and Hughes, who I've indentified as the most desirable prospect from our our perspective) features a few familiar names that have failed to impress at the big league level (Ian Kennedy, RHSP; Ross Ohlendorf, RHRP; Brett Gardner, OF) a few young OFs who've yet to master AA (Austin Jackson, Jose Tabata), a bunch of unimpressive righty starters (Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Andrew Brackman) and C Jesus Montero, who's a long way off. None of these guys pull my hair back, Hughes kind of maybe does.
The Drunks propose sending Burnett, J-Mac and Uncle Matt (Stairs) to the Dodgers "for a shitload of prospects", which isn't a bad idea either because a shitload is a whole lot of young players and some of them would probably be good. Unless someone braver than I wants to probe JP on this during the call-in on Wednesday we'll just have to wait in suspense for another week and a half (at which point nothing will happen and there'll be nothing to talk about Jays-wise until September call-ups get announced).
Elsewhere, MLBTR reports that Japanese SS Tomo Nioka will indeed be a free agent this offseason. He's a guy, we need a guy. In a world of unpleasant options, injecting a little bit of bushido into the lineup might not be the worst one.
Mattius: it's the second inning and I haven't seen you in the stands yet, didn't bring a sign? Stay safe in B-More, chief.
-- Johnny Was