Brian Cashman was not done after agreeing to a trade for Lance Berkman. Hours later, he went out and grabbed Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Austin Kearns for a player to be named later or cash. This trade isn’t as sexy as the one for Berkman, but is it as practical or just a busybody maneuver?
The Yankees have used Marcus Thames as their right-handed hitting backup corner outfielder. The key word there is hitting because while Thames’ defense is undesirable, his offense mostly makes up for it. His wOBA this season is .364 through more than 100 plate appearances. That’s good, but his line is propped up by a .369 BABIP that seems wholly unsustainable given what we know about Thames.
Kearns is the better fielder but the lesser hitter. Even against lefties, Thames has held the advantage recently and for their careers:
2010: Thames .373 (64 PA) | Kearns .315 (112 PA)
2009: Thames .345 (124 PA)| Kearns .287 (66 PA)
2008: Thames .369 (135 PA| Kearns .240 (99 PA)
Career: Thames .361 (755 PA)| Kearns .353 (1,021 PA)
It’s a false dichotomy to say the Yankees must decide between Thames and Kearns. Given their roster’s switch-hitting capabilities, they can afford to send down Juan Miranda and Colln Curtis and keep Kearns and Thames with Berkman arriving too. Maybe they choose against that route and simply like Kearns more than Thames. Whatever the Yankees decide to do shouldn’t change the opinion on this deal too much. They get a potentially useful player off the bench for the stretch run without giving up anything of great value.