As teams wait for the trade deadline to approach, Brian Cashman hasn’t wasted anytime making 2 moves that drastically improved the Yankees for the stretch run.
First, Cashman managed to get the Arizona Diamondbacks to acquire Vidal Nuno, the same Vidal Nuno who has some of the most under-whelming stuff of any pitcher in baseball, who couldn’t pitch his way out of a paper bag with the Yankees in exchange for a competent Major League starter in Brandon McCarthy.
While he was 3-10 with an ERA over 5 in Arizona, McCarthy has near top of the rotation stuff. His fastball reaches speeds of 95 MPH, and he has a cutter and a sinker that keeps hitters guessing at the plate. A big plus with McCarthy is that he’s a ground ball pitcher, something that plays very well in Yankee Stadium.
In his 3 starts thus far, the Yankees couldn’t have asked for much more from McCarthy. He’s gone 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA and has pitched at least 6 innings in each start.
On the contrary, Nuno pitched at least 6 innings in just 5 of his 14 starts and was 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA. McCarthy has already equaled Nuno’s Yankees win total, and has solidified himself a spot in the starting rotation. Nuno has yet to record a win for the Diamdonbacks despite pitching 7 shut-out innings in his first start with the team.
It’s fair to say Brian Cashman got away with highway robbery when he traded for McCarthy.
As big a problem as the starting rotation was for the Yankees, the 3rd base situation wasn’t much better. Following a hot spring, Yangervis Solarte became the starting 3rd baseman. For the first 2 months of the season, he was great. Then, Solarte forgot how to play baseball. He hit .164 in June, and .117 in July.
But before Solarte emerged, Cashman brought Kelly Johnson in to play 3rd base everyday. Cashman thought Johnson would benefit from the short porch in right. He was wrong. So far this season, Johnson is hitting .219 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs. He just landed on the 15-day DL with a groin strain.
Knowing something had to be done, Cashman traded Solarte, along with prospect Rafael De Paula who hasn’t pitched past A-ball in his career, for Chase Headley.
Headley is a gold-glove caliber 3rd baseman who when healthy, is a highly productive offensive player. In 2012, Headley hit 31 home runs and drove in 115 runs. He’s been battling injuries for the last season and a half, and prior to being traded appeared to be turning a corner by hitting over .300 in July.
So far with the Yankees, Headley has been everything the team could have hoped for. He had the game-winning hit in his first game, and is hitting .300 (3/10) with 2 RBIs in 3 games.
Amazingly, Brian Cashman was able to acquire a legitimate starting 3rd baseman and starting pitcher for chunk change. For that, he deserves all the credit in the world.