Sunday, July 27, 2008
Yanks fill needs with Nady, Marte
By Peter Pascarelli
BOSTON -- Rarely does a team venture into the trade market and obtain exactly what it wants.
But such a scenario has happened this weekend for the red-hot New York Yankees, who carry an eight-game winning streak into tonight's ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" game against the Boston Red Sox.
Love them or loathe them, the Yankees achieved a trading daily double by obtaining a much-needed everyday bat (outfielder Xavier Nady) and a proven left-handed reliever (Damaso Marte) in the same trade with Pittsburgh.
Nady almost certainly will be in the lineup tonight against lefty Jon Lester. And should the Yanks have a lead late, you can expect Marte to enter, if only to face one particular batter: David Ortiz. The Yankees have spent millions -- and made many roster moves over the years -- in a largely fruitless effort to find someone to handle Ortiz. Marte at least was successful in his Yankees debut, striking out Ortiz on Saturday.
"We were concerned right up until the deal was eventually finalized that Pittsburgh would end up trying to split Nady and Marte into separate deals," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Getting them both in the same trade is something that, at the beginning, we viewed as probably a little wishful thinking. We ended up paying a pretty steep price in terms of four useful players.
"But the deal makes a lot of sense for us on several levels."
Obviously, what happens in the next few months will determine the ultimate success of the trade from the New York perspective. If both Nady and Marte make contributions and help the Yankees get deep into the playoffs, the deal is an instant winner for the Yankees. If they don't help the Yanks avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, then it will be a failure.
However, the deal also has some immediate ripple effects for the Yankees. For one thing, the move was met with wide appreciation in the New York clubhouse, which is understandably brimming with confidence right now.
"This could end up being one of the best moves we've made in a while," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.
"We really needed a solid bat because of losing both Matsui and Posada, and we couldn't have done much better than getting Nady. He's having a great year. He knows what it takes to play in New York and he loved playing in the city when he was with the Mets. He can't be a free agent until after next season, so we'll have him in '09. And as for Marte, I bet every team in baseball would make room on their staff for him.
"When your organization goes out and tries to make the best possible moves to help you win at this time of year, it really gives all the guys in the clubhouse a real lift. We've all been psyched up ever since first hearing that this deal might happen."
Rodriguez is expected to play tonight despite leaving Saturday's game with a bruised left arm he sustained after being hit by a pitch from Craig Hansen late in the game. It was yet another reminder of the tensions between the two teams. Hansen's drilling of Rodriguez on Saturday was widely viewed as retaliation for Joba Chamberlain's frequent knockdown pitches at Kevin Youkilis, the latest on Friday night.
Nady, of course, is new to all Red Sox-Yankees stuff. But his arrival in left field for the Yankees allows manager Joe Girardi to continue using Johnny Damon largely as a designated hitter, which will help keep him from reinjuring his shoulder, which recently had him on the disabled list. It will also mean that Girardi will likely split first base time between Jason Giambi and Richie Sexson, who likely will be in the lineup tonight against Lester in an effort to maximize matchups.
Finally, the acquisition of Nady now could eventually pay dividends next year for the Yankees beyond what Nady contributes. With Nady on the roster, the Yankees don't need Jorge Posada to continue his long shot effort to come back this year with his painful shoulder injury. It is now likely that, in a matter of days, the Yanks and Posada will decide the catcher will undergo the needed surgery on his shoulder, allowing him the rehabilitation time necessary to be ready for the start of the '09 season.