The fire on the New York Yankees’ hot stove has been officially lit, with the first off-the-wall trade rumor of the off-season officially burning up Internet bandwidth.
The rumor? Under-achieving youngster Ian Kennedy to Colorado for center fielder Willy Taveras. The source? A throw-away line in the Denver Post that has had Yankee bloggers everywhere opining on the topic.
A trade that makes sense in the coming weeks: Rockies center fielder Willy Taveras for Yankees starter Ian Kennedy. It’s not a longshot.
Does it really make sense? Maybe from the Rockies’ perspective it does. They are in the market for pitching, and Kennedy, 23, still has potential despite last season when he went 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 games. He could turn out to be a decent middle-of-the rotation starter, especially in the National League where the lineups aren’t as deep.
From a Yankees’ perspective, though, I don’t see how this makes any sense at all. Taveras, who will be 27 next season, is a speedster who stole 68 bases in 2008. He is a slap-hitter, though, and in four seasons his career high in RBI is 30 (in 529 at-bats). He also rarely walks (a .308 OBP in 2008). This makes his a younger version of Mets second baseman Luis Castillo.
The Yankees already have Brett Gardner, who fits the same mold. Gardner hit just .228, but did manage to drive in 16 runs in just 127 at-bats.
Defensively, both Gardner and Melky Cabrera are better than Taveras, who, despite his speed is not a good outfielder. Last season’s unflattering .908 zone rating (Cabrera’s was .938) was the best Taveras’ career, and that’s awful.
If this is the best the Yankees can do for a new center fielder, I would rather see them stick with what they already have.