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2009 Trade Deadline Preview: New York Yankees

Buyers or sellers?

I'm not sure the term "sellers" even exists in the Yankee vocabulary. The Yankees have won eight of nine since returning from the All-Star break, and have taken a 1 ½ lead over the Red Sox in the AL East. They've already been active in the trade market having acquired Eric Hinske from the Pirates. They'll definitely be buyers.

Short-term need

The Yankees most glaring short-term need has to be starting pitching. The top half of their rotation is set in stone with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, but after that it gets a little dicey. Next in line would be Joba Chamberlain, but it's still unclear if he's on a pitch count for the season, and if that is the case he would most likely be summoned to the bullpen down the stretch. Next you have veteran Andy Pettitte who is no stranger to pitching in big games, but something tells me the Yankees aren't overly excited about Pettitte pitching a season changing game at the ripe age of 37. More and more reports indicate that Chien-Wing Wang is going to be out for the season, so for purpose of this discussion we're not even going to factor him in the picture. Rounding out their rotation is journeyman Sergio Mitre, who has pitched well in the minors this year, and even had a solid 5 2/3, three earned run performance in his first start, but don't kid yourself Mitre is nothing more than a stop gap for the moment. As you can see after Burnett and Sabathia nobody knocks your socks off, which still leads me to believe the Yankees are going to possibly add another starter. They've been rumored to be in the mix for Halladay, but recent reports suggest a deal would have to include Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson and Jesus Montero, and there's no way the Yankees are making that deal. Ultimately they might look at some second tier starter's such as, Jarrod Washburn, Doug Davis or even possibly Erik Bedard. Among the three I think Washburn would be the best fit for the Yankees.

Furthermore, the Yankees only other short-term need might be adding another reliever. However, with the emergence of Phil Hughes it's looking more and more like the Yankees bullpen is locked in. If Chamberlain makes the move to the bullpen in either August or September the Yankees bullpen should be as formidable as any in the league. If the Yankees make a move for a reliever it probably will more than anything be a guy they hope can eat innings in the late summer months to help preserve Mariano Rivera and Phil Hughes. One name that's been floating around as of late has been Blue Jays reliever Scott Downs, who would be a nice pick up for the Yankees. The 33-year-old Downs has pitched well for the Jays this year, and has even recorded nine saves, which means he probably could help spell Rivera a few times down the stretch. Also Downs would give the Yankees another lefty to go along with Phil Coke.  Just a side note here, the Yankees are also awaiting the return of left-hander Damaso Marte from his rehab stint in Triple-A, but until he shows any level of consistency I don't think he will hold up the Yankees from getting a player like Downs.

Long-term need

Tough to pinpoint long-term needs with the Yankees because of their inordinate ability to make immediate changes to their roster via free agency or trades. However, with that said the Yankees certainly do have an aging roster that they must began to compensate for. They have aging superstars in Derek Jeter (35), Alex Rodriguez (33), Johnny Damon (35), Jorge Posada (37) and Mariano Rivera (39) who aren't getting any younger, and more importantly aren't getting any better. The old Yankee core of Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte may be close to coming to an end in the near future here, but with a near limitless payroll I don't suspect they'll have much of a problem finding replacements. They've already begun the process of creating a new identity with the offseason additions of Mark Teixeira, Sabathia and Burnett, and with a collection of young players waiting in the wings the Yankees should be a contending team for a long time. Under GM Brian Cashman the Yankees have put much more emphasis on developing a quality farm system, and have even been more reluctant to deal top prospects, and because of that the Yankees may soon be able to start redeveloping the core of their team from within their own walls. Losing has no longer become an option under the Steinbrenner regime, and I suspect that will remain the case even with General George on the sideline. Overall, we're going to say the Yankees don't have much of a long-term need, rather every year they'll just have a new short-term need.

Big leaguers on the market?

I would say the Yankees have four potential people on their current big league roster that could move. And my intuition is that if any of them were to move it would have to be in a deal for Roy Halladay. The four players are Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera. Hughes and Chamberlain are obvious choices, as any deal for Halladay would have to start with at least one of them. I throw Gardner and Cabrera in the mix just in case the Yankees didn't want to include Austin Jackson in a deal, maybe somehow they would supplement Jackson for either Gardner or Cabrera, but it's very unlikely the Jays would do that. Other than that the Yankee roster is pretty set in stone, and I wouldn't suspect any other players going anywhere.

Minor league strength

As we've said under Cashman the Yankees have done a much better job at developing a quality minor league system. In years past the Yankees farm system was nothing more than a grow em' and throw em' system, which the Yankees would develop prospects only to trade them away for aging stars. However, now they value their younger players much more as evidence by the development of Hughes, Chamberlain, Robinson Cano, Cabrera and Gardner.

In terms of assessing their prospects it all starts with catching prospect Jesus Montero, who many people believe has superstar potential. Montero bat is definitely big-time, which was enough to earn him the honors of being Baseball America's third best overall prospect. This year Montero has spit time at both Single-A and Double-A and combined he's hitting .335 with 16 homers and 64 RBI's. The biggest question surrounding Montero is his glove. As of today he's a catcher, but many scouts project him as a likely candidate to play first base. Interesting to see how that plays out with Mark Teixeira the Yankees likely first baseman for the next decade.  Following Montero the Yankees next best prospect is center fielder Austin Jackson. He was the Yankees eight round selection in 2005, and has since come along very nicely in the organization. Ultimately, Jackson may not have superstar potential, but he does have the tools to be a very nice centerfielder. He kind of has that Jacoby Elsbury feel, but with not quite as much speed. At Triple-A this year Jackson is hitting .311 with four homers and 38 RBI's, to go along with 17 steals in 19 attempts.

The rest of the Yankees system generally speaking is ok, they've got a few pitchers who have very high ceilings, but as of right now have been somewhat inconsistent. The most notable among that group is six-foot-ten right-hander Andrew Brackman, who was the Yankees first round selection in 2007. Scouts say Brackman has a huge ceiling, but it just hasn't showed so far. In Single-A this year Brackman is 1-11(not a typo) with an ERA over six. Another kid to keep an eye on is Dellin Betances who John Sickels of Minor League Ball ranks as the Yankees third best prospect. He's another huge kid standing 6'8' and weighing in at about 245lbs. He's also struggled a bit this year at Single-A he's 2-5 with a 5.48 ERA.

Overall, the Yankee system is solid. They've got a few players who could turn out to be great, but generally speaking the system is built around solid players like Gardner and Cabrera. While we've said the Yankees have put a much greater emphasis on developing young talent, don't kid yourself in all likely hood the next generation of Yankees will probably for the most part be coming from somewhere else, but they might pick up a few from in house.

Take on short-term money to win?

Can the Yankees take on short-term money, of course, but do they want to take on short-term money? Probably not.

For more coverage of the Yankees, check out PinStripe Alley