Returning players give Yanks Deadline infusion

Returning players give Yanks Deadline infusion

Returning players give Yanks Deadline infusion
NEW YORK -- This is normally when Brian Cashman's cell phone becomes anchored to his ear, incessantly buzzing as the Yankees' general manager looks to better his team before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

However, it might be different this time around. Cashman described his level of activity leading into July as hearing "crickets," and the Yankees already feel they've made some significant moves for the second half.

Pretend, for a moment, that the Yankees are acquiring a strikeout-rich innings-eater, an 18-game-winning All-Star from last year and also the reigning AL saves leader to serve as a setup man. Then, you begin to understand Cashman's stance.

"I'd be shocked if I could trade for anything better than what I'm getting off the DL -- both in the rotation in Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes, and out of the bullpen with Rafael Soriano," Cashman said recently.


"Especially with the players I don't want to give up from our system -- I don't see us acquiring anything better than what we're getting back off the DL."

Those players Cashman is talking about, the usual suspects including righty Dellin Betances, lefty Manny Banuelos and catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, are what teams would want in a big trade. And unlike last July, when Cashman nearly landed Cliff Lee from the Mariners, there's no clear big fish out there.

Starting pitching was thought to be the Yankees' concern coming into the season. But since Colon and Freddy Garcia were so good filling in for the injured Hughes, they actually had one pitcher too many.

"Our pitching has done a great job," Cashman said. "Our pitching coaches have done a great job. These guys compete."

When Hughes came back from the disabled list, the Bombers sent promising right-hander Ivan Nova down to Triple-A. And while no one believes that's the last they'll see of Nova, it created a welcome dilemma to have too much serviceable pitching.

That's why the Yankees haven't been connected to some of the more well-known starters out there, including the Astros' Brett Myers, the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, or Edwin Jackson of the White Sox.

"[Our situation is] better than ... those few days when you couldn't get me on the phone because I was too busy looking high and low, left and right, with all our personnel," Cashman said. "Hopefully, we can stay healthy."

Losing Alex Rodriguez for four to six weeks will hurt the Yankees, but they can still score runs. They are comfortable going with Eduardo Nunez in the interim, noting how capably he filled in for Derek Jeter, and young Brandon Laird could get a look, as well.

It's no secret that Cashman was against signing Soriano, who posted 45 saves last year for the Rays. But he also believed that Soriano could help the Yankees -- his beef was with committing three years and $35 million to a setup man.

Soriano hasn't done much as a Yankee to date. He owns a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances, and hasn't pitched since May 31. But the team expects him to return from the disabled list shortly after the All-Star break.

Dave Robertson did a terrific job filling in with Soriano and Joba Chamberlain -- out for the year following Tommy John surgery -- missing in action.

Robertson propelled his opportunity into an All-Star selection, but there will be pressure on Soriano to help a relatively anonymous bullpen crew that includes Luis Ayala, Sergio Mitre, Hector Noesi and Cory Wade.

Should Soriano suffer a setback, or if Mariano Rivera's triceps injury flares up, fill-in relief options like Heath Bell or Mike Adams of the Padres could be appealing, despite what is likely to be a high price.

One other area to watch is the lefty market, which is relatively sparse. Since early in the season, the Yankees have been looking to upgrade over Boone Logan as their only southpaw option -- in fact, on Thursday, they signed J.C. Romero to a Minor League deal, trying to increase their options.

That's likely to remain the case, with Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano both facing long roads of recovery and looking questionable, at best, to throw a Major League pitch in 2011.

"Mind-set-wise, I can't count on them coming back," Cashman said.

For a time, it looked as though Logan's leash was running short, as he actually seemed more effective against righties than lefties. But some mechanical tweaks have taken hold, and Logan improved late in the first half.


The Yankees still have feelers out -- they recently took a look at Nationals lefty Sean Burnett, for one. But Cashman said they could be fine standing pat with Logan as their only lefty. Other options include former Yankee Randy Choate of the Marlins, the A's Brian Fuentes and the Orioles' Mike Gonzalez.

"He's starting to get back on track," Cashman said of Logan. "Stuff-wise, he's certainly capable of doing the job. I don't anticipate any changes going on from the left side."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.