Yanks Get Proven "Ace" in Trade For Weav

Looking to bolster a rotation that already has five proven starters, the New York Yankees acquired 25 year old right handed pitcher Jeff Weaver from the Detroit Tigers. In return, the Yanks shopped 26 year old Ted Lilly and a pair of prospects to the Oakland Athletics in part of a three team deal.

The Yankees, who have one of the oldest pitching staffs in the majors with Roger Clemens (turning 40 in a month), David Wells (39), and Orlando Hernandez (36), acquired Weaver in a move clearly for the future, especially with the current five man rotation having no openings.

In the three team deal, the Yankees get Weaver, the Tigers acquire Carlos Pena from the Oakland Athletics, and the A's get Ted Lilly, and John-Ford Griffin and Jason Arnold, two highly touted Yankee prospects. With the addition of Lilly, the Athletics now boast one of the most impressive pitching staffs in the majors, in Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, and Lilly.

In Lilly, the Yanks gave up one of their best pitchers so far this season, posting a 3.40 ERA despite his 3-6 record. Many of those losses could be credited to the poor offensive production by the Yanks in the games that Lilly pitched. His finest game of the season was his complete game one hitter versus the Seattle Mariners. Against San Diego, Lilly earned his first complete game shutout. His professional attitude was an extra bonus, as Lilly's willingness to play when needed gave Joe Torre extra options with the over-bulked pitching staff. With the Athletics, Lilly should have every opportunity to blossom, as he will be utilized often in the Athletics five man rotation.

While the Yanks gave up a pitcher who started to show his full potential this season, they acquire a proven player in Weaver. Like Lilly, Weaver's record does not show his full potential. Despite his 6-8 record with the Tigers, Weaver has a 3.18 ERA which would place him second on the Yankee's staff. In addition, he is a durable starter that should be able to give the Yankee bullpen extra relief. Weaver, who has been healthy his entire career, has already pitched three complete game shutouts for the bullpen depleted Tigers, and has 10 complete games in his career. In addition, Weaver is signed for the next four years, clearly marking him as the future of the staff.

But how exactly will Weaver fit in the overcrowded staff? The Yanks have five established starters in Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Orlando Hernandez, and Andy Pettite. Not to mention the $12 million acquisition in Sterling Hitchcock, who was delegated to the bullpen. With six starters, Weaver will be hard pressed for starts. Although with Clemens, Wells, and El Duque all over 35 and injury prone, Weaver could have several spot starts this year.

Could the Yanks have another trade up their sleeve, with an overstocked rotation? Could El Duque be on the trading table? In the Yanks 6-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Expo's representative Jim Beattie was at the game, which Hernandez started. The Expos, who have already acquired ace Bartolo Colon from the Cleveland Indians and are in the playoff hunt, are trying to bolster their rotation for a shot at the postseason. With his playoff experience and success, El Duque could be on his way to Montreal.

Or could the Yanks be hiding something from the rest of the league about an injury to one of their pitchers? Could one of Clemens' mysterious injuries be more serious than expected? Is Pettite's elbow really back to normal, especially after his recent disastrous outing versus the Toronto Blue Jays? Will Wells' back hold up for the entire season? Is El Duque really much older than he has let on? With so many questions to their staff, the Yanks went out and grabbed one of the best young pitchers in the league, securing their future and position as the team to beat in the American League.



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