|In the midst of the injuries to Sheffield, Matsui, and benchman Bubba Crosby, the focus has been on the Yankees outfield for much of the season.
There’s no denying that the outfield could use some stability (sorry, Terrence Long just aint cuttin’ it), but the Yankees Chick is getting fed up with the daily barrage of Soriano/Abreu/Stewart rumors when it should be clear to any fan with 2 eyes (even 1, really) that the Yankees have bigger fish to fry in the pitching sector.
Let’s take a gander at the Yankees’ starting pitchers:
- Mike Mussina – 8-2, 2.76 ERA
- Randy Johnson – 7-5, 5.63 ERA
- Shawn Chacon – 4-1, 5.23
- Chien-Ming Wang – 6-2, 4.52
- Aaron Small – 0-3, 8.20
- Jaret Wright – 3-4, 4.44
With the exception of Moose, whose performance has far exceeded any expectations the Yankees Chick has held for him since his first day in pinstripes, each Yankee pitcher that has started a game is giving up at least 1 earned run per 2 innings of pitching. Those 6 starters have combined to give up 180 earned runs thus far, and 3 of them (Unit, Small, and Chacon) don’t even rank in the top 115 starting pitchers in the league. Such a performance would perhaps be tolerable from a 5th starter, but when 5 of the Yankees’ 6 available starting pitchers fall into that category there is simply no ignoring that the rotation is falling short.
Why, then, does the spotlight remain on the outfield? The Yankees’ current outfielders include:
- Johnny Damon - .293 BA, .366 OBP, 30 RBI
- Melky Cabrera - .272 BA, .375 OBP, 12 RBI
- Bernie Williams - .260 BA, .303 OBP, 28 RBI
- Kevin Thompson - .383 BA, .420 OBP, 9 RBI
The addition of Soriano or Abreu would certainly be a huge boon to the outfield and the lineup, but would the extra run per game or one fewer error per month give the Yankees the push they need to maintain a hold on the AL Eastern Division? Probably not. On the other hand, what impact would the addition of a quality starting pitcher have on the Yankees’ record? If the Yankees were to snap up Zito or Willis, it is conceivable the extra 8-10 wins they would contribute could put the Yankees back on top.
If Cashman decides to deal for an outfielder, the Yankees’ offensive dominance will increase. However, with the starting pitching giving up runs the way they have been, the Yankees will still have to score an average of 5 runs per game to win, a goal that is sure to wear out even the best offense. An arm like Zito’s, though, would take some of the pressure off the offense and allow the Yankees the chance to take the division out of the reach of the Red Sox or the Blue Jays without pressuring the offense to hit 15 homers a week.
There’s still a good 7 weeks before the July 31st trade deadline, so there is still hope that Cashman can convince Steinbrenner to pick up an arm instead of a bat. The only problem, then, will be figuring out who the Yankees can deal…