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

Dec 15, 2009, 12:25 PM EST

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. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:39 PM

    Wasn’t a bad day at all. It wasn’t fun to see Matsui leave as he was a true gentleman during his time in NY.
    We obviously weren’t getting Halladay and the trade-off of Halladay for Lackey is a W for the Yanks. Much rather face Lackey (5-7 record vs NYY) than Halladay (18-6; .750 WP% vs NYY in career).
    The Sox are better, no question. And if they can pry Adrian Gonzalez from SD (Buchholz, Kelly, Ellsbury?)…wow.
    But NYY didn’t have a “bad day”

  2. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:45 PM

    The Sox are better, no question. And if they can pry Adrian Gonzalez from SD (Buchholz, Kelly, Ellsbury?)…wow.
    But NYY didn’t have a “bad day”

    Totally agree on the Yanks not having a bad day. However, the only chance the Sox get Gonzalez is giving up a lot of prospects + the laptop klepto. Remember that the new GM of the PAdres headed up the Sox scouting dept, so he knows everything you’d want to know and we won’t have a second coming of the Sox steal of Schilling a few years ago.
    RE: Damon/Matsui, I’d like to see the yanks talk to Delgado. He’s a servicable 1B if needed, and he’s a better hitting than both Damon and Matsui. Offer $20/2 and if he takes it, Granderson/Delgado/Melky is both an offensive and defensive upgrade over Damon/Matsui/Melky.

  3. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    Definitely wasn’t a bad day for NY. The Red Sox got better, yes. But if anyone thought that they weren’t going to try to improve this offseason, they were deluding themselves.
    Quite a few of us Yankee fans would like to hold on to Joba, Hughes, AND Montero. We see Joba/Hughes as part of this current run, but part of the next run as well (with hopefully Montero joining them). So not giving them up for an aging Halladay would be a victory (just adding him to the rotation would not GUARANTEE a World Series next year).
    Losing Matsui is disappointing, but those knees are really beat. When the bat goes, he’s useless. At the price he left for, I assume the Yankees don’t feel confident that he would hold up all year as their DH (and I hope they aren’t still stuck on the rotating DH garbage).

  4. Eric Solomon - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    There are more shoes to drop – it’s only December. Sox are now primed to get Adrian Gonzales from their buddy Jed Hoyer (for Bucholz and Ellsbury, e.g.) and the Yanks will surely acquire a real left fielder (Bay or Damon, or maybe another stealth trade) before the spring.

  5. HOWARD - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:49 PM

    TUESDAY WAS NOT ABAD DAY FOR THE YANKEES….. THE RED SOX MAY HAVE SIGNED A PITCHER TO A 5 YR DEAL LAST 2 SEASONS LACKEY HAS BEEN INJURED AND HE DID NOT WIN THE BIG GAME LAST YEAR AGAINST THE YANKEES IN THE ALCS……….. MIKE CAMERON IS A GOOD DEFENSIVE PLAYER WHOSE BATTING SKILLS HAVE SOMEWHAT DIMINISHED. THE YANKEES ARE STILL THE TEAM TO BEAT IN THE AL EAST. THYE WILL PROBABLY RE-SIGNED DMAMON TO A 2 YR DEAL….. STILL HAVE A GREAT LINEUP AND MAY SURPRISE SOME OF THE SO CALLED EXPERTS AND JUMP IN ON THE BAY OR HOLLIDAY SIGNINGS AND GRAB ONE AND ADD TO THEIR LETHAL LINEUP…
    YANKEES WIN IS THE MOTTO TO LIVE BY NOT YANKEES LOSE

  6. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    You do know that typing in all caps is the equivalent of yelling, right?
    If so, why are you yelling? If anything it makes your points so much less compelling.

  7. malcolm - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    It’s possible that the Yankees are still the team to beat, considering they have a formidable offense, a definite #1 in Sabathia, and an unpredictable if solid #2/3 in Pettitte & Burnett.
    However, let’s not forget that they had everything go right for them last year with regards to a lack of injuries and career-years from their aging core in order for them to win 103 games and the World Series.
    It’s also entirely possible that players like Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Damon (if they re-sign him) & Mo regress a bit from their fantastic performances last year. Granted, they have added Granderson, and Hughes & Joba should pitch with more well-defined roles, but it’s not like the team is a lock to repeat last year’s performances. They actually had a relatively thin bench last year, but were lucky enough to not have to use it too much.
    I’m not saying the Sox are the team to beat, but let’s see how they round out their rotation and let’s see how their team performs before anointing them the team to beat. Let’s also see how Tampa rebounds.

  8. John_Michael - Dec 15, 2009 at 12:57 PM

    While the Yankees did get relief from Halladay in their division, the Blue Jays aren’t really a concern. The downside to the Halladay/Lee et al swap is now Yankees might/will have to face Cliff Lee against the M’s in the post season. I’d rather go against Halladay on a random Tuesday in June than Lee in September.

  9. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:01 PM

    However, let’s not forget that they had everything go right for them last year with regards to a lack of injuries

    Except the injuries to Posada, Molina (having to play Cervelli and Cash), Arod, Marte, and losing almost the entire year of CMW, yeah they weren’t injured at all.
    Your point about getting big numbers from their older players is noted though.

  10. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:03 PM

    As usual Will Leitch is hopped up on something. The Yankees failed to make a legitimate run at either pitcher and for what reason they didn’t is a complete mystery. Brian Cashman even admitted that the starting rotation was an area that required shoring up and instead they trade away our prospects and our chances of landing Halladay, for what a moderate center fielder who has been declining since 2007. This is not to mention the 2 bullpen guys we traded away, effectively for nothing. So lets review so far, the rotation was said to be an area of concern and we have weakened our pitching, with the exception of signing Andy and have gotten a center fielder we did not need.
    It appears now that the Yankees are interested in a pitcher that was completely out of baseball last year and apparently is in no hurry to sign now. Matt Holliday appears to be staying in St.Louis and Scott Boras is on something as well if he thinks the Yankees are going to sign an aging Damon to some blockbuster deal. I was hoping that Cash was going to take the defense of the World Series Title seriously but I am having major reservations.
    We need pitching and it needs to be good pitching and that market is getting thin, the Red Sox and Phillies and even the Mariners seem to be taking their pitching needs seriously why are the Champs not taking their needs the same way?
    In regards, to Johnny Damon and Jason Bay the Yankees are not in a position of strength with either player, I don’t know where the hell that observation came from. We need to make a decision to finish off the outfield if Brett Gardner is not going to be an option, if he is an option then forget Damon and try talking to Holliday before he signs with the Cardinals.
    I agree, I don’t think the power in the division has shifted with what the Sox have done, but they are stockpiling pitching and a large trade is definetly a possibility. The need for a second tier starter or two is a very REAL need and the pool is emptying rapidly. If I were Brian Cashman I would be talking to Derek Lowe, and the Tigers about Jarod Washburn and anyone else who might have pitching to offer. But lets be serious this offseason has been a little rough so far and the Yankees have spent rather heavily for commodities that are to be honest not likely to pay off!

  11. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    If I were Brian Cashman I would be talking to Derek Lowe, and the Tigers about Jarod Washburn and anyone else who might have pitching to offer. But lets be serious this offseason has been a little rough so far and the Yankees have spent rather heavily for commodities that are to be honest not likely to pay off!
    Lowe is under contract with the Braves. And though they’d like to deal him, he’s definitely a BIG risk to suck.
    Washburn is a free agent. Nobody wants to talk to him because he was TERRIBLE once he left Safeco. Him and his agent play off the knee injury thing, but according to scouts, his stuff wasn’t diminished. He just sucks.
    What exactly did the Yankees spend heavily for? They got Granderson for a player whose ceiling is Granderson. They just don’t have to wait for the development. It’s not like IPK or Coke were irreplaceable either.

  12. lar @ wezen-ball - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    I imagine the souring of everybody on Lackey has to 100% with the near $17 million/year for five years deal that he signed. He may be an ace on most staffs, but $17mil is an awful lot to pay him.
    But maybe that’s just me…

  13. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:11 PM

    I agree, I don’t think the power in the division has shifted with what the Sox have done, but they are stockpiling pitching and a large trade is definetly a possibility. The need for a second tier starter or two is a very REAL need and the pool is emptying rapidly. If I were Brian Cashman I would be talking to Derek Lowe, and the Tigers about Jarod Washburn and anyone else who might have pitching to offer. But lets be serious this offseason has been a little rough so far and the Yankees have spent rather heavily for commodities that are to be honest not likely to pay off!

    Umm no, 1000x no. The yanks are trying to cut payroll this year, what good would it do, other than make CC happy, to trade for Lowe and his bloated contract? And washburn? did you see what happened when he got away from spacious Safeco Field and that amazing defense?
    As for the starting pitching, a rotation of CC/AJ/Andy/Joba/Hughes should be better than last years. As a yanks fan you should remember all the starts they threw away to CMW/Mitre/Gaudin which means the rotation is upgraded from last years. The bullpen lost Bruney and Coke. Coke is replaced by Marte who’s a far better pitcher, and Bruney didn’t do much except lie about injuries and walk every other batter.
    Sign Thome or Delgado to DH, slide Melky to LF, and the defense AND offense gets upgraded compared to last year.
    For the tl;dr crowd, back away from the ledge, it’ll be ok.

  14. Lawrence From Plattekill - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    We probably won’t know how most of these moves (and non-moves) really add up until we find out how all these kids do. CC, how about a regular feature looking back at the blockbuster trades of 5 years ago that involved big-time prospects? It would make for good hot stove talk, and maybe help put some of the current deals in perspective.

  15. Pimpin Pete - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    The worst thing to happen to the Yankees yesterday was A-Rod DFA’ing Kate Hudson

  16. SDTom - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    I don’t think anyone will be crying about the Yankees when they sign Matt Holliday.

  17. SDTom - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    If (or when) that happens, would that give the Yankees the greatest lineup in history provided their older players keep doing whatever they are doing to avoid age declines?
    Posada/Teixeira/Cano/Jeter/ARod/Holliday/Granderson/Swisher/?
    They’d have a hole at DH and possibly RF but otherwise they’d have a top 2 or 3 player at every other position. And playing in that stadium?

  18. BruceCousin - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    The Yankees are in great shape, and in a way, Halliday to Philly was good for them. He didn’t go to Boston, AND Philly traded away Lee. If Philly had kept them both, then it could be harder if both reach the series next year. Lee was great for Philly this year, so replacing him with Halliday in a 7 game series is nearly a wash.
    Matsui’s loss will be felt. He hit for power, and while we may have worried that he wouldn’t be able to run out his homers, replacing his power in a DH along with a decent on base percentage is never easy. I don’t see anyone on the bench who can fill this role in the next year (some good hitters are position players), so the Yanks will miss him.
    After 7 good years with the Yanks, he’ll be missed by lots of appreciative fans, too.

  19. BruceCousin - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:43 PM

    The Yankees are in great shape, and in a way, Halliday to Philly was good for them. He didn’t go to Boston, AND Philly traded away Lee. If Philly had kept them both, then it could be harder if both reach the series next year. Lee was great for Philly this year, so replacing him with Halliday in a 7 game series is nearly a wash.
    Matsui’s loss will be felt. He hit for power, and while we may have worried that he wouldn’t be able to run out his homers, replacing his power in a DH along with a decent on base percentage is never easy. I don’t see anyone on the bench who can fill this role in the next year (some good hitters are position players), so the Yanks will miss him.
    After 7 good years with the Yanks, he’ll be missed by lots of appreciative fans, too.

  20. Beanster - Dec 15, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    For years the Yanks have “won” the offseason with such great signings/trades as Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and (gulp!) Carl Pavano. This was far from a terrible outcome.

  21. jonny5 - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:01 PM

    The only losers so far this post season are the Angels.

  22. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:07 PM

    Jeff, you need to go back and take a look at Derek Lowe he really has not sucked anywhere he has been. He pitched well for the Sox, he pitched well for the Dodgers and he pitched well for the Braves. I would sooner take a chance on Lowe than on Ben Sheets. Your point about Washburn, o.k., but like I said the pool is getting thin!
    I hate to tell you this but you are wrong about A-Jax and Granderson. A-Jax is going to be a much better player than Granderson is or ever will be. I saw him play in the minors and the kid has it all and he is Granderson right now when it comes to skills and hitting. His upside is so far above Granderson that it isn’t funny. To be perfectly honest we did not needs Granderson to begin with, if we gave Brett Gardner a shot in center we certainly should have given A-Jax one.
    When it comes to the bullpen it would have taken little to nothing to keep the bullpen intact, again I say to you tell me what we got for the two that we lost, that’s right the answer is nothing! In baseball there is one thing you should never carelessly get rid of and that is pitching, the bullpen was lights out in the post season.

  23. STOPHATINGsoxsux - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    craig go back to your other job!!!YOU are the biggest yanky hater alive in true new york fashion go f#@k yourself CRAIG!! RED SOX STILL SUCK
    BABBA BOOEY BABBA BOOEY

  24. Jeff - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:32 PM

    I hate to tell you this but you are wrong about A-Jax and Granderson. A-Jax is going to be a much better player than Granderson is or ever will be. I saw him play in the minors and the kid has it all and he is Granderson right now when it comes to skills and hitting.
    Are you a trained major league scout? Because if you are, then I’ll shut the heck up. But if not, maybe you should leave the scouting to the guys who do it for a living. Any of them would tell you that Jackson’s ceiling is Granderson. THat isn’t a bad ceiling, not at all, but to have the guy that the prospect is being compared to, to me is a great trade.
    Also, if you want to compare their minor league numbers, go to baseball-reference.com and you can compare their minor league numbers. Similar, but Granderson comes out ahead.
    As for Derek Lowe, his era, walk rates, and hit rates were all worse than they’d been in years, with his strikeout rate plummeting as well. His groundball rate (he is a groundball pitcher) was also significantly worse. His flyball and line drive rates were up (those generally mean hits and homeruns). Those are generally REALLY bad signs for a 36 year old pitcher making $15M per year. I think I’d take a pass…..
    But if you want to talk Sheets, now there’s somebody worth taking a chance on (depending on $$).

  25. YANKEES1996 - Dec 15, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    O.k., I hear you and Jeff about Washburn. Once again I am only saying that I would talk to clubs about pitchers that may be available because the crop is getting thin.
    Why is it o.k. to cut payroll going into the year of our World Series Title defense? If we were going to concede the East then I say o.k.. Brian Cashman made his objectives for the team clear after the organizational meetings and he said that pitching was an area of concern. Based on the results from last year I don’t think you can count on Hughes or Joba full time yet. The Yanks need to get rid of the Joba Rules and let the kid pitch and see how he matures, but those guys do not relieve the need for at least one starting pitcher. The Yanks could still look at Pineiro from the Cards or try to strike a deal with Wang on and incentive based contract.
    Lastly, this is not a good time to sign Delgado or Thome as both are old and pretty much done. Even if we don’t sign Damon which I think we will (hopefully) we have players to rotate through the DH spot, we don’t need to sign has-beens.
    Beanster – The offseason signings you referenced were bad no doubt about it, but this off season we just have not gotten much in return for what he have lost!

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