Sunday, July 31, 2011
Updated: August 1, 10:05 AM ET
Yankees stand pat at deadline
By Andrew Marchand
NEW YORK -- With the Yankees failing to make any trades before Sunday's deadline, the team may look to its youth to propel it down the stretch.
On Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did not make a trade, but the team decided to promote top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos from Double-A to Triple-A. He will start on Wednesday for Scranton.
By the end of the season, the 20-year-old Banuelos could be an option as a major league starter or the Yankees could make him a lefty specialist to team with the inconsistent Boone Logan.
"We'll see," Cashman said. "It is time for him to make the next step."
At Double-A Trenton, Banuelos was 4-5 with a 3.59 ERA. In 95 1/3 innings, he struck out 94 and walked 52. During spring training, Mariano Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com that Banuelos is the best pitching prospect he has ever seen, comparing him to former Yankees' No. 1 pick Brien Taylor. Both are left-handers.
Before the deadline, Cashman wanted to acquire a top starter to team with CC Sabathia in the playoffs, but there were few available. The Yankees did not evaluate any of the pitchers on the market as worthy of giving up any of their top prospects -- Banuelos, Ivan Nova, and Dellin Betances, as well as catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. For three weeks, Cashman thought this would be the case.
"I wasn't optimistic," Cashman said. "I've been very public in not being interested in moving a Banuelos, a Montero, a Romine, a Betances, those guys. I had no interest in moving Nova either."
Cashman felt more comfortable with relying on his current starting rotation and adding Rafael Soriano -- who on Saturday pitched for the first time since the middle of May -- as his relief help. On the bench, Eric Chavez just returned from the disabled list.
"We never got close, as far as I was concerned," Cashman said. "We've gone through the (trade) motions for awhile."
The Yankees feel comfortable with their starting pitching depth, as the initial plan for this week is to go with a six-man rotation, allowing Nova and Phil Hughes another turn.
Bartolo Colon is expected to be given an extra day's rest so he will start Friday against the Red Sox. Sabathia and Freddy Garcia will be the Yankees other two starters against Boston next weekend.
On Sunday, there were morning reports of Yankee interest in San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell and Houston Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez. However, a baseball official with knowledge of those talks said the Yankees' interest was "exaggerated" and that nothing was ever close.
Earlier in the week, the Yankees spoke with the Colorado Rockies about Ubaldo Jimenez. The two teams were never close to a deal as the Rockies wanted the Yankees' top prospects, Montero, Banuelos and Betances. The Yankees declined to offer any of them, viewing Jimenez as a No. 2 starter at best, a baseball official said.
The Yankees liked the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, but ultimately there was no deal to be made because Kuroda invoked his no-trade clause. The trade price may have been too high for Kuroda regardless.
The Yankees didn't add a bat, but feel with Alex Rodriguez expected back at some point in August they will have enough hitting. If they need to add more punch, then Montero could become an option. Montero entered Sunday hitting .283 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs in 84 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"I think he has a chance to be a middle-of-the-lineup offensive force in the league for years," Cashman said. "Yes, he was included in the discussion on Cliff Lee last year, but that was Cliff Lee. That was one of those rare, unique situations. Let's put it this way, if Montero was traded this trade deadline, he would have been the best player going of any (prospect.)"
When the Yankees discussed pitching, they kept turning to their internal evaluations and asking if the pitcher they were going to acquire was better than what they already had.
After Sabathia, Colon is 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA. After his win on Sunday, Garcia improved to 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA. A.J. Burnett is 8-9 with a 4.23 ERA, while Nova is 9-4 with a 4.01 ERA. Hughes is in the roation, for now, despite a 1-3 record and an 8.24 ERA.
"You always want to improve on your pitching, but how realistic is it?" Cashman said.
Unless the Yankees acquire a pitcher during the waiver period, this is the unit they would use in the postseason.
The wild card, though, could be Banuelos.
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.