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So, was it a bad day for the Yankees yesterday or not?

Dec 15, 2009, 12:25 PM EDT

I (and a lot of other people) made cracks about yesterday being a bad day for the Yankees, what with Matsui leaving, the Sox getting Lackey and Halladay heading someplace that wasn’t the Bronx. New York Magazine’s Will Leitch is having none of it, however. His take:

(1) The Yankees never had a real chance to get Halladay, so kudos that he didn’t go to Boston and kudos that he left the division;

(2) The Sox signing Lackey and Cameron means that they won’t sign Bay or Holliday; and

(3) The Yankees are now in a position of strength with respect to Damon and maybe someone like Jason Bay.

Maybe. But if what people are saying this morning is true, the Yankees could have had Halladay if they would have offered up Joba or Hughes.  They ended up being the sticking point, not Montero, who most people assumed was off limits. I like Hughes and Chamberlain long term, but if one of them represented the sticking point it was a surmountable sticking point.

I actually think that Damon gained a bit of strength given Matsui leaving town, but probably not so much that it will get him more than two years, and that’s ultimately the whole game for New York with respect to Damon.

Finally, it strikes me that Lackey has gone from overrated to underrated in the space of about 24 hours.  No, he’s not strong when measured against cream of the crop free agent starters, but the competition did just land a guy who would be an ace on most teams he could have joined. Between Leitch here and Edes earlier, I think he’s being sold pretty short all of a sudden.

Ultimately, however, Leitch is right: none of these moves dramatically shifts the balance of power in the cold war that is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. To abuse the analogy, this is much more like the U.S. overthrowing the government of Chile than it is like, say, the Cuban Missile Crisis or something.

Not all that much has changed here. The Red Sox likely have one major move left in them, and that’s acquiring Adrian Beltre or someone like him. The Yankees could still move on Damon and/or Bay and add a second tier starter.  Even if you assume the best for Boston and the worst for New York coming out of all of that, I think the Yankees are still the team to beat.

  1. ecp - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:40 PM

    Maybe SHE dumped HIM.

  2. Simon DelMonte - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    The team that had a really bad day – a really bad week, in fact – was Tampa Bay. The Yankees make moves. The Sox makes moves. Even the Jays makes moves (though not the sort that will pay dividends in 2010). And Tampa Bay? They haven’t done anything to keep even. They’ll still be a good team and a potential spoiler. But even assuming that the Yanks don’t get Bay, that the Sox don’t get Gonzalez, they look to be on the outside looking in.

  3. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:51 PM

    Just because Scott Boras’s personal bagman, Jon Heyman, isn’t reporting what Cashman is doing doesn’t mean Cashman isn’t actually talking to people. Trust the guy, most of the signings that have failed the last few years weren’t Cashman’s (Brown, RJ, etc).
    You can count on Joba for next year since he made 31 starts and only one was on extended rest (not counting the break from the ASG). He might have some trouble due to the increase in IP (50+ from career high), but he was excellent (sub 4ERA) until he hit his previous IP high (110) last year (check b-ref.com for splits). Hughes ideally (taken from riveraveblues.com poster Tommie Smith John Carlos) could start in the minors for extended spring training for a month when you don’t need a 5th starter, then bring him up ready to go in May and he wouldn’t have an IP limit.
    You don’t think the Yanks are kicking the tires on guys like Sheets/Duchsherer/etc? As above, just b/c we don’t hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
    Jim Thome has a career 146OPS+, had a 123OPS+ last year, and has played 130+ games every year of his career since ’95 save ’05 when the Phillies finally brought up Ryan Howard. As a DH he’s far from done. Delgado has a career 138 OPS+ and last year was the first time he’s had a significant injury. He also plays a pretty good 1b so if you needed the DH spot you could rotate him in with Tex. Both would be far cheaper than Damon requires, and are less likely to have a drop off from last year since ’09 was Damon’s career year.

  4. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    As for the Ajax/Granderson comparison, many scouts are saying that Ajax’s ceiling is Granderson; however, here’s some #s to think about (and remember Ajax’s #s would get worse in a tougher MLB vs AAA):
    K Rate:
    Ajax – 149/162
    Granderson 149/162
    HR
    Ajax – 30HR/2203(!!!)AB’s
    Granderson – 30HR/710AB’s in ’09 alone!
    Ajax’s last year had a declining walk rate, increase K rate, and absurdly high BABIP with almost 0 power. The Granderson trade was a good one.

  5. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:03 PM

    Major League scout, no. But I honestly do not see the upside to Curtis Granderson vs. A-Jax. What your stats fail to tell you is that Granderson has been in decline for 2 years. Do you really believe that with his contract which is manageable even for Detroit they would have let him leave if they thought he was going to rebound? So Granderson is in decline and A-Jax is on the rise I would keep the player who is on the rise. I see the Granderson trade as a waste because even if you take A-Jax out of the equation I just do not see that we needed a center fielder.
    If the Yankees chase Ben Sheets I think it should be and incentive laden contract just like they should offer Wang.

  6. YankeesfanLen - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    Jeez, do we get worked up if anyone else does anything. So it was a disaster with Ian Kennedy and Hughes doing something called starting, but Hughes has improved and I’ll give The Big Toad the benefit of the doubt for a while with Gaudin close by. And Yankees 1996 has a good thought with CMW as a mid season whatever on incentives.
    We’re never very good til the ASB, so don’t have a cow, or wait til New Years when we sign Holliday or something.’11 will bring Mauer and Lee.
    Lstly: Read my lips- the Yankees have NO payroll budget!

  7. basedrum777 - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:15 PM

    AJax had 9 Triples and 4 Hr’s in 500 ab last year.
    2 years ago (not 5 but 2) CG had 20+ Hr’s, 3b’s, and Sb’s.

  8. udayton - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    and you forgot that if the Yankees lose their 1st 3 games they should fire Joe Girardi. Dude, you need to chill.

  9. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    I feel like we’re arguing with mryankee here.

  10. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:46 PM

    Jeff, Not arguing with you, just throwing the ball around a little! Count to ten, let me buy you beer.

  11. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Yankees1996, I have no problem arguing baseball! I wouldn’t be visiting baseball blogs if I had a problem with it! Arguing isn’t necessarily a negative, use the word “debate” if you like.

  12. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    Jeff, o.k. “debate” it is then. I’m not familiar with “mryankee”, thought maybe I was irritating you. I’m glad to know I’m not (I guess), afterall we are all Yankee fans, right? I still don’t care for Granderson though.

  13. YankeesfanLen - Dec 15, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    Awww, the hell with it let’s swoop in and get Greinke. We know some people In KC, don’t we? They might like a story like this.

  14. DavidKnows - Dec 15, 2009 at 4:06 PM

    A bad day? Jason Bay carried the Red Sox through much of last season. He was a terrific clutch hitter. The loss of Bay to them is much more devastating to Boston than the loss of Matsui to the Yankees. The Red Sox problem last year was more in the bullpen than in the rotation and they haven’t done much to change that. Their closer was hittable when it mattered and they lost a lot of games in the 7th and 8th innings. While I’m not crazy about Gus because of his strikeouts, he brings the power that we needed. I also noticed Melky plays better when pressed, as does Cano. But the biggest deal of the day was the fact that Bay is not returning to Boston. Period.

  15. JBP - Dec 15, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    If the Yankees can sign Jason Bay,place him in left field,sign Damon as backup to Bay and Milky could be utilized for center & right field. Or maybe trade Milky for a middle of the lineup pitcher and place Joba as a setup man for Rivera, that would make my day. At the same time watch the Met fans squirm one more time, thhhhhhhaaaaat would realy make my year.
    M y
    E ntire
    T eam
    S tinks

  16. Randy Tysdal - Dec 29, 2009 at 4:00 AM

    Didn’t realize that until I’ve read this post. Very interesting indeed. Can I contact you for more details? ——– You might think I’m crazy but I am bonkers for kids ceiling fans.

  17. INSOLES - Dec 31, 2009 at 5:17 AM

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