Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yankees Get Headley - No Additional Joy in Mudville

The Yankees are counting on Chase Headley to strike a pose at the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium.

Had this been the 2012 trade deadline or the offseason heading into 2013, the Yankees acquisition of Chase Headley would have been met with more enthusiasm. But the trade between the Yankees and Padres, announced moments ago, has been met with a ho-hum.

That's because, since his breakout 2012 season, Headley hasn't been impressive at the plate. He led the National League with 115 RBI in 2012, to go along with 31 home runs, 17 steals, and a .286/.376/.498 split. While the Padres are a horrible team, Headley's production should be better than it was, even though he played most of last season with a torn meniscus. He had corrective surgery in the offseason.

Headley was limited to 141 games last year and put up a .257/.347/.400 slash line. He hit 13 HR, drove in 50 runs and struck out 142 times. This season Headley missed some time early with a calf issue and has not hit, particularly at his home field, Petco Park.

.229/.296/.355 is the ugly truth Headley is staring at as he heads to New York. 7 HR, 32 RBI, and 73 K's in 77 games. That doesn't sound much different than one of the players he was dealt for, Yangervis Solarte. The rookie took New York by storm the first two months of the season and has a .254/.337/.381 split with 6 HR and 31 RBI in 75 games. Joining him on the way to San Diego is right-handed pitcher, Rafael De Paula.

The 23-year old was pitching at Advanced-A ball Tampa and had compiled a 6-5 record with a 4.15 ERA. De Paula averaged 10.5 K's and 3.8 BB's per nine innings this season. He's a prospect that could still move up the charts and come back to haunt the Yankees one day. Yes, I am not in favor of dealing pitching prospects.

Headley will become the every day third baseman, with Zelous Wheeler sent back to Scranton. (Wheeler's spot could be taken by another reliever or perhaps outfielder Zoilo Almonte.) The 30-year old Padre will be reportedly be sent with $1MM to alleviate the remainder of the $10.525MM owed him this season. He's eligible to become a free agent next year; that's the biggest positive of the deal  until Headley can prove otherwise.

Headley will also have to choose another number than his current 7 or his old number 16. Now, can this mean the removal of Kelly Johnson? Probably not, but one can wish for it.

UPDATED 2:50 pm - Here's prospect guru John Sickels' assessment of De Paula:
Rafael De Paula, RHP: The Yankees signed De Paula out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He earned a $500,000 bonus but it took some doing: his identity was in question, with De Paula having used various names and birthdays since scouts started showing interest in him. Once his identity was finally settled, he was suspended for a year until eventually signing the Yankees contract.

He finally got to North America in 2013, posting a 2.94 ERA in 13 starts for Low-A Charleston last year, with a 96/23 K/BB in 64 innings. Promoted to High-A Tampa in the second half, he struggled with his command and his secondary pitches, resulting in a 6.06 ERA in 49 innings and a 50/30 K/BB. He's improved in 2014, lowering his ERA to 4.15 for Tampa with a 104/38 K/BB in 88 innings.

Listed at 6-2, 215, De Paula's current birthday is March 24, 1991. He had one of the top fastballs in the Yankees system, consistently in the mid-90s with movement. However, his slider and changeup are very erratic and he loses the touch with his mechanics at times, hampering his control. Many scouts see him as a future reliever due to his inconsistency with his secondary pitches.

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