April 15, 2011
New York Yankees: Brian Cashman Ready to Trade Jesus Montero?
New York Yankees: Is Brian Cashman Ready to Flip Jesus Montero for a Starting Pitcher?
It’s no secret to anybody that the Yankees have their share of pitching problems.
The failure to sign Cliff Lee was probably, by itself, Brian Cashman’s biggest failure as Yankees’ GM—and its effects have extended to shake the entire organization.
(Not to mention that the ignominy has seeped into pop culture, as evidenced here in a hilarious New Era ad featuring NBC Sitcom stars Alec Baldwin and John Krasinski.)
After Cliff Lee decided to return to Philly, the Yankees endured a front-office squabble over the signing of Rafael Soriano, the retirement of Andy Pettitte, a well-publicized search for end-of-the-rotation starters, and increasing anxiety that C.C. Sabathia will opt out of his contract after the 2011 season.
And that was just before Opening Day. In the two weeks since, unexpected bullpen shakiness and concern over Phil Hughes’ diminished velocity have been added the Bombers’ litany of pitching woes.
John Harper of the New York Daily News believes that an early window of opportunity to trade for a quality arm has presented itself in the hot Triple-A start of stud prospect Jesus Montero:
Baseball people who know Cashman well say he is already watching carefully to see which teams get off to bad starts, and whether that will lead to making a desirable pitcher available.
“I’m sure Cash has a list of guys and teams he’ll be tracking,” a rival GM said Tuesday. “At this time of year there are very few of those type conversations (between GMs) because it’s so early, but it’s never too early to see possibilities developing.”
Harper goes on to list Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, the Angels’ Jered Weaver, the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and Brett Myers of the Astros as “possibilities” the Yankees’ GM may be tracking.
Sure it’s early, and all speculation must be taken with a grain of salt, but for the sake of argument: Could Cashman actually lure one of these pitchers to New York with a Montero-centered package?
Brett Myers on the surface seems like the most plausible option simply because he’s the most marginal—and therefore most affordable—of these ostensible aces. But an up-and-coming catcher for the Houston Astros named Jason Castro might have a few choice words for his organization were they to trade for Montero.
I find it a stretch to even name guys like Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez in a piece like this. I get it: a prerequisite for being a Yankees’ fan is having the presumption to believe that no player, no matter how valuable he is to his current team, is out of reach. But Weaver, fresh off a 15-strikeout performance, and Hernandez, fresh off a Cy Young-winning season, are bona fide studs around whom the Angels and Mariners respectively are trying to build. Even if they were to sell, I doubt Cashman would be willing to meet the inevitably steep asking price.
Chris Carpenter is the most compelling option of the bunch. Despite having perennial all-star Yadier Molina behind the dish, St. Louis may find it difficult to ignore the rare offensive premium at the catcher position Jesus Montero seems to promise.
And given the uncertainty surrounding the impending free agency of Albert Pujols, the Red Birds may be willing to deal an aging and injury-prone Carpenter for some star power insurance to compensate for the potential loss. Of course, their willingness to sell will likely depend on their standing in the NL Central—and I’m not convinced they won’t be right in the thick of things when trade time rolls around.
Look, I’m not saying it’s a hopeless proposition. If the stars align perfectly, Brian Cashman may just get his man.
But perhaps the Cliff Lee failure was Cashman’s first sign that the very celestial bodies that used to form such auspicious patterns in the Yankee sky have finally fallen out of joint.
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