Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Baltimore Orioles slung another beating to Vidal Nuno on Saturday, knocking in five runs (four earned) on three homeruns against Nuno to beat the Yankees 6-1. After the game, manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the game that Nuno's next start, against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, will not be skipped, and even though he didn't say it, it's probably not because Girardi believes that Nuno actually the best man for the job -- the Yankees flat out don't really anybody to replace him.

CC Sabathia isn't coming back until August, likely. He threw a 38-pitch bullpen before the game and is heading down to Tampa this week. Girardi also announced afterwards that there is still a trace of inflammation in Michael Pineda's shoulder muscles, meaning he'll be shutout for another week. I don't think we'll be seeing him against until at least either.

Down on the farm, Manny Banuelos is still throwing three innings a start down in Double-A Trenton. If he comes to the big leagues at all this season -- which seemed like a possibility during spring training -- it would likely be as a reliever during September call-ups. Shane Green isn't ready, I don't think, and the closest thing to a ready starter at Triple-A is a guy hardly anybody would risk giving a chance to -- Alfredo Aceves.

A lot of people have been bringing it up lately that the Yankees could always move Adam Warren to the rotation. I think that would be a very silly mistake on Girardi's part. Warren is in the bullpen because he wasn't one of the team's best starters, but he was still good enough to help the team. He's helping in the bullpen, with 2.04 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 39.2 innings this season. Not to mention, he hasn't started since spring training, so you'd have to stretch him out first.

So it's pretty evident that the Yankees need to deal for another starting pitcher before the trading deadline is they want to stay in this playoff race -- and the way things look, which ever teams makes the biggest move at the deadline could very well win the AL East.

General Manager Brian Cashman said earlier in the week that the Yankees are looking to make a couple of moves before the July 31 trade deadline, and ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote this week that the Yankees have been asking teams about almost only pitchers in their preliminary trade talks.

At this point in the season, it's tough to tell which teams might actually be willing to deal one of their best starters thanks to the second wild card spot keeping more teams in the playoff race far past July 31, meaning more teams are now waiting to see if they're actually a contender or a pretender.

There are a few notable pitchers on the trade market that the Yankees could look into, and a few more that will figure to be on the market depending on where their team is in the standings that the Yankees have been linked to, too.

Let's get the obvious names out of the way: the Yankees, for some reason, were one of the many teams to have a scout at David Price's start against the Houston Astros on Friday night. The Yankees don't have enough in their farm system to piece together a respectable offer for the Rays, and even if they did, it would be hard to see Tampa dealing Price within their own division.

Jeff Samardzija is a more realistic possibility for the Yankees, but even then, I still think his price tag will be too high for them to match. If you're looking for a reasonable name to watch, it would be Samardzija's teammate with the Cubs, right-hander Jason Hammel, who would be a very quality middle of the rotation start for the Yankees, slotting in behind Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.

Hammel is currently 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 14 starts for Chicago this season, with 85 strikeouts, 19 walks, and a 1.019 WHIP in 89.1 innings. I think of all the pitchers on the market, Hammel might be the best fit and most safe pick, in terms of them not having to give up a ton, compared to the king's ransom they're throw at teams for Price or Samardzija.

One last name getting a lot of thought -- from me, at least -- would be the Phillies' Cliff Lee, who has been on the DL for the past month but hopes to return before the All-Star break. The Yankees have had an eye on Lee for quite some time, and given then opportunity to get him, Cashman might not pass up on it.

Right now, the Yankees' rotation is being carried by the leading AL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate Masahiro Tanaka, who has been everything and more then the Yankees hoped, and Chase Whitley, who is 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in seven starts -- but we really don't know how long he can keep it up -- so until the Yankees get their reinforcements in Sabathia and Pineda -- again, don't know when or even what you'll get from them -- they have to make moves to avoid sitting through more troubling starts from Vidal Nuno.

Like I said, the AL East can easily be won by the team that makes the best mid-season move to improve their club. It's time for the Yankees to make that move.


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