The Yankees dealt RF Gary Sheffield to the Detroit Tigers for AAA RHP Humberto Sanchez and A-ball relievers Kevin Whelan and Anthony Claggett.
The surprise in the deal is two-fold. The first is the Yankees dealt Sheffield to another competitive AL team. In fact, the one that eliminated them from the play-offs. And this was done without weakening the Tigers major-league proven pitching staff.
Second, the Yankees acquired a much-hyped pitching prospect for a 38-year-old coming off wrist surgery. This is the kind of property we have been led to believe is better than gold.
Getting two additional arms, albeit A-ball ones, is just as surprising.
To refresh my memory, I checked John Sickel's The Baseball Prospect Book 2006 to see what he thought of Sanchez. He wrote:
And Mr. Sickels graded him a "C", the lowest grade provided for the prospects he grades.
With that unglowing analysis, I had to check the 2006 performance that lead to Sanchez's ascendency to the ranks of elite pitching prospects.
My first step in evaluating a minor league pitcher is to checkout his strikouts to IP. 129 versus 123 is good. Then I check his walks. 47 in those same 123 innings. Not so good.
As this is a fantasy-focused evaluation, I checked his WHIP. 144 runners comes out to a 1.17 WHIP. A sort of Kerry Wood look - strikeouts with high walks and fewer hits than IP.
However, I noticed he cut his HR-allowed dramtically from 10 in 64.2 IP in 2005 to 4 in 123 in 2006.
Overall, I can see how the excitement was generated.
I do see a red flag, and it prevents me from feeling estatic about this deal (as a Yankees fan.) The stats I look at dropped in his 51.1 inning stint in AAA - 43 Ks, 20 BB, 1.36 WHIP. This makes me think he may be headed to the bullpen.
And a middle reliever and two A-ball relievers for Gary Sheffield seems to be too little when reports of Kevin Kouzmanoff and proven major league reliever Scott Linebrink were out there.
Sheffield will have the biggest impact in 2007, and quite possibly, 2008 and 2009.