The 2012 New York Yankees are not a team with many weaknesses.
In fact, going into this trade deadline, the Yankees were not even hard-pressed to add another front-line starting pitcher, something that we have seen them at least attempt to do every year in recent memory.
With a rotation of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia, with veteran Andy Pettitte on pace to return from an ankle injury by September, the Yankees have arguably one of the best rotations in baseball.
So, what do the Yankees need this year?
Well, they needed an outfielder to replace the injured Brett Gardner, lost for the year following arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. However, they addressed that need yesterday when they acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for pitching prospects D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.
So, what else do the Yankees need?
Perhaps the Yankees' most glaring weakness this season is at the catching spot. Russell Martin has underperformed to a level almost rivaling Adam Dunn's 2011 season. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but so far Martin has been nothing short of awful in 2012.
Martin is currently batting .180 with 10 home runs and 24 RBI. Yes, the power is decent for a catcher, but when there is almost literally nothing being accomplished in-between those home runs, it's time for a change.
The Yankees essentially are playing NL ball in the AL, with Martin playing the role of the hitting pitcher, rarely doing anything worthwhile when he comes to bat. If the Yankees want to win the World Series, this needs to change.
The ideal player for the Yankees to replace Martin with is Phillies catcher and 2012 All-Star Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz has had a breakout year for Philly in 2012, currently batting .346 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI. Add that kind of production into the Yankee lineup, and it would plug the one hole in one of baseball's most dangerous offenses.
Philadelphia still has a team option for Ruiz that you can bet they are planning on exercising, but the right package of players could land "Chooch" in the Bronx.
In a perfect world, a package of Austin Romine, Adam Warren and Slade Heathcott would be enough to pry him away, but it would likely take a lot more to tempt Ruben Amaro Jr. The asking price for Ruiz might even be as high as Romine, Mason Williams and David Phelps, with Amaro possibly even asking for coveted young catcher Gary Sanchez; and if he does, the Yankees would be wise to pass.
However, if the Yankees could get a deal done for less, they should jump all over Ruiz.
A catcher who can hit and field at an extremely high level is an extremely rare commodity. A Yankees lineup with Ruiz would be relentless, never providing the opposing pitcher with a chance to calm down once he inevitably gets into trouble.
Think about it. Ruiz bats fifth or sixth most nights with Philly, and that's only because Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are back from DL stints. Before that, Chooch could often be seen batting cleanup for the Phils.
Where would he bat in the Yankees lineup? Seventh? Eighth? With Ichiro batting ninth? Now that's an amazing lineup, backing up an amazing rotation.
Adding Ruiz would significantly increase the Yankees' odds of winning the World Series. They would certainly be the favorite to take home the Commissioner's Trophy, that's for sure. Will Brian Cashman pull off such a dream-like blockbuster? It's unlikely, but with the Yankees, you never know.
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