The Wonders of the Trade Deadline: Yankees Acquire Berkman, Kearns, and Wood
Waiting by the phone, the anxiety is killer. Your heart isn't sure of your destination and your mind can't wrap itself around the task at hand. Other men will decide your fate, and ultimately deem you a winner or loser based on their own activity. No, we're not talking about prom dates, we are talking about baseball's trade deadline. Often times, this stressful period reminds me of high school, as rumors become more prevalant than 4 letter words out of Mel Gibson's mouth and there are always surprises you never would have thought possible. Case and point, the Yankees have added three pieces to the proverbial puzzle, none of which were players predicted to land in pinstripes. Will these players produce like Cecil Fielder, or will they go the way of Jeff Weaver and be despised and forgotten. At the very least, each of them brings and interesting story and personality.
The first of the Yankee acqusitions came about a day before the deadline and it was a big one. Literally. The Yankees acquired the hefty Lance Berkman from the Astros in exchange for Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes, a move that signifies to me and the 3 other Wildcats who double as Yankee fans that Brian Cashman simply does not like the University of Arizona. While Melancon has been lackluster in his limited appearances at the big league level, he and I shared a sociology class, so I have to feel personally cheated over no longer having a fellow Wildcat in pinstripes. As for Berkman, the news of his acquisition was met with great approval, especially from C.C. Sabathia, who now has some real competition at the buffet. "Fat Elvis" brings realism to the term "meat of the order" for the first time in the Bronx since the days of Ruth. No one is confusing Berkman for Ruth of course, but the well fed 1B/OF/DH is expected to bring a patient eye and run producing power to the Yankee lineup. If only he were that patient between meals............
Staying as busy as Paris Hilton on a Friday night, the Yankees pulled off another move just hours after word came out of the first one. This time, the Yankees emerged with Austin Kearns, trading away the ever valuable "player to be named later" for his services. Kearns is an interesting addition, given the last winning team he saw was when he watched Rookie of the Year, which featured the utterly unrealistic scenario of the Cubs winning the World Series. What's even more unrealistic is Kearns actually playing for a winner. In his 8 year career, he has never come close to playing for one, donning the colors of the Reds, Nationals and Indians in their times of cellar dwelling. Perhaps their poor play can explain the fact that Kearns has played just 2 full seasons since his 2002 debut. Heck, I'd probably take 2 months off for a stomach ache when my team is 30 games out of the playoffs too. Now Kearns will have to not play simply because other players are better than him, so it should be interesting to see if this change of scenery lights a fire under his butt or reminds him of the good old days of playing X-Box while rehabbing "nagging" injuries. The Yankees are hoping it's the former, while Kearns is just hoping to be able to call his parents and tell him that he's finally on a decent team for once.
The last move the Yankees made came just before the trade deadline yesterday. Another "player to be named later" or cash was moved, this time to obtain Kerry Wood, also from the Indians. This would have been a great move in 1998, but in 2010 it falls way under the radar. Wood was just coming back from an injury, his 647th of his career I believe, but much like Kearns, was stuck on a team going nowhere fast. This move was two-fold, as the acquisition of Wood allowed the team to release the impressively disappointing Chan Ho Park. Park can now deal with his bouts of diarrhea without having the inconvenience of having to pitch for the best team in baseball, a welcome relief I'm sure. As for Wood he must adjust to pitching in the Bronx and pitching without a goatee. Well, that and he must actually pitch to justify the trade. If he can do that remotely well, he'll be an upgrade over Park, and might just push Joba Chamberlain to pitch to an ERA lower than his weight. If that happens, there might just be a bridge to Mariano Rivera.
It's pretty clear that the Yankees brass have obtained a sweet 2002 fantasy baseball lineup with their new additions. What remains to be seen is whether the 2010 versions of these players will be pieces that help the Yankees return to and win the World Series. Time will tell, but for now we can just hope and pray that John Sterling uses the call "fat Elvis has left the building!" for Lance Berkman's home runs. Oh right, the improvements.........yea, it's the Yankees and they were already the best team in baseball. Thus, any slip and the newbies get blamed. Good luck Fat Elvis and his Disabled List Two!