I know I'm a little late to the party on this stuff, but I was on vacation for a week and a half or so, and never got a chance to comment on all of this. Frankly, with the splendor of Yellowstone Park and the Grand Tetons in front of me, somehow the importance of the 2008 Yankees' postseason hopes seemed a bit small in comparison. Of course, now I'm back home, and my priorities have been set straight.
So now I'm back and I don't recognize half of the faces of the players on my favorite team. Well, I recognize some of them - I mean, who's been paying any attention at all to baseball for the last 15 years and doesn't know Ivan Rodriguez by sight? - they just don't look right in Yankee uniforms is all.
Fortunately, in the case of Pudge, all we gave up was Kyle Farnsworth, who, while having a decent year to date (for once) was bound to fall off the table at some point. To wit, he gave up two homers to the Rays a couple of nights ago and blew a save. Brian Cashman was selling high with Farnsworth, who had a 4.44 ERA as a Yankee entering 2008, but managed to put up a 3.65 this year.
I-Rod, on the other hand, is on the tail end of his Hall-of-Fame career, and despite the way Brian Cashman has talked him up in the wake of this deal,
“In theory I think we upgraded offensively. Pudge is obviously still having a
tremendous year, one of the top catchers in the game today."
I beg to differ. Pudge is hitting close to .300, but with no walks and no power. He's on a pace for about 50 Runs and 50 RBIs. After Brian McCann, Joe Mauer, Russell Martin, Geovany Soto, Dioner Navarro, Ryan Doumit, and (before they got hurt) Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez, you could say that Pudge was "one of the top" catchers. That's roughly the top third or so of major league catchers, and maybe his defense pushes him into the top 25% or so, but that's a pretty generous definition of "one of the top" and that's about all I'm willing to concede.
Still, the main idea here was that Pudge would be an imporvement on Jose Molina, not Jorge Posada or Brian McCann, and that he is. According to Baseball Prospectus, Pudge had been worth about 3.4 Wins above replacement to date, while Molina was at about 2.3, most of that via his defense. Pudge brings comparable defense along with a bat that, if nothing else, at least is not a total zero. He should be worth something like one to two wins over Molina from here on out, but no more than that.
The Yankees gave up Jose Tabata, who was tabbed the Yankees' "Centerfielder of the Future", but since that future wasn't likely going to happen before 2010 or 2011, and since he was hitting .248 in the Eastern League, Cashman decided to take his chances with guys who can play now.
Marte is a lefty who strikes batters out, and has posted solid ERAs in every year since 2002. And he's no LOOGy, being nearly as effective against righties (.716 opponent OPS) as he is against southpaws (.581). His acquisition allowed the Yankees to get rid of LaTroy Hawkins, who was inexplicably wanted by the Houston Astros, or at least their GM, Ed Wade. The Yanks gave up some cash and got a minor league 2B named Matt Cusick, who's got patience but not a whole lot else in his repetoire.