Jul
27

If the Rockies are selling, should the Yankees be buying?

By

The Rockies, owners of one of the league’s deepest rosters, have dropped their last six games to fall to eight back in the NL West and four-and-a-half back of NL Wild Card, and now they’re considering selling before the deadline. Just take a quick glance at their roster, and you’ll see plenty of players that appear to fit what the Yankees need.

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Despite valiant efforts to land Cliff Lee and Dan Haren, the Yanks biggest needs at the trade deadline are help for the bullpen and help for the bench. A full-time designated hitter is another possibility, but I’m curious to see what a Juan Miranda-Marcus Thames platoon could do given regular at-bats. Besides, DH types are abundant during the August waiver trade period, so it’s not a high priority.

Starting on the bench, the Rockies could and probably will shop former Oriole Melvin Mora if they are serious about turning over some of their roster. Mora is owed about $472,000 the rest of the way, and he’ll become a non-compensation free agent after the season. We’re all familiar with Mora from his days with Baltimore, so this part is just review. He’s very versatile, having played first, second, third, and left this season, and his bat is basically league average if not a bit below. His .321 wOBA is actually not a product of Coors Field (.291 wOBA at home, .344 on the road), but his defensive shortcomings have him at perfectly replacement level this year, 0.0 WAR. Is that better than Ramiro Pena (-0.4 WAR)? It sure is.

(AP Photo/Al Behrman)

As for the bullpen, there are plenty of options, but the most attractive is probably Rafael Betancourt. His peripheral stats are off the charts this season (10.75 K/9, 1.25 BB/9), but his ERA sits at 4.50 because of some bad luck on balls in play (.374 BABIP). The big drawback is that Betancourt is an extreme fly ball pitcher (71% of the balls put in play off him during his career have been liners or fly balls), something that might not jive with the New Stadium. The contract situation isn’t great either. Betancourt is owed a touch less than $1.4M for the rest of the season, then is under contract for $3.775M next year. That’s not exactly a bargain basement price for a middle reliever.

The Rockies also have southpaw Joe Beimel to offer, but he’s got unimpressive peripherals (4.50 K/9, 2.25 BB/9 vs. LHB this year) and about $315,000 left on his contract. Plus the Yanks don’t really need another lefty reliever. Manny Corpas has always been a personal fave, and he’s established himself as a ~6.4 K/9, ~2.4 BB/9, ~48% ground ball pitcher over the last several seasons. The Rockies locked him up long-term a few years ago, so he’s owed $1.02M the rest of this year, $3.5M next year, and then there’s a pair of club options for 2012 ($6M or $250,000 buyout) and 2013 ($8M or $500,000 buyout). If Corpas’ 2012 option is declined, he’s still under team control as an arbitration eligible player. They might not want to move him given the cost certainty. Matt Belisle has found a niche in Colorado’s bullpen over the last two years (9.10 K/9, 1.79 BB/9, .3% grounders), but his limited track record of success makes him a risky proposition. He’s owed the same $315,000 as Beimel the rest of the way, and still has another year of arbitration eligibility ahead of him.

Since we’re here, we might as well talk about Brad Hawpe as a DH option, and make no mistake about it, he’s strictly a DH. Over the last three seasons the guy has a -60.4 UZR in the outfield, the worst of any player at any position. The second worst defensive player during that time is Jermaine Dye, who had a -40.5 UZR, so it’s not like it’s close either. Thankfully he can really hit, though he hasn’t produced as expected this year. Coming off four consecutive seasons of at least a .376 wOBA, Hawpe is all the way down to .327 this year, losing close to 50 points off his isolated power. His batted ball profile is basically unchanged, but for whatever reason just 8.1% of his fly balls are leaving the yard (compared to ~17.6% over the last three years). Comparing Hawpe’s spray chart from this year to the past few years, it looks like his isn’t pulling the ball as much as he used to. Maybe his bat has slowed as he entered his 30′s (he turned 31 last month).

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Regardless of what the problem is, someone’s still going to have to pay Hawpe the $2.78M left on his deal this season, plus the $500,000 buyout of his $10M option for 2011. Even though he projects to be a Type-A free agent, an arbitration offer isn’t guaranteed, and despite his offensive production over the last four years, Hawpe is still just a platoon guy. He’s got a .380 wOBA vs. RHP in his career, but just .323 vs. LHP. It’s not Curtis Granderson bad, but bad enough that Thames will still see plenty of at-bats.

I ran Mora, Hawpe, Corpas, and Betancourt through Sky Kalkman’s trade value calculator (here’s the breakdown), and frankly none of them have much value. Using what I think are optimistic (and admittedly, somewhat arbitrary) WAR projections, Mora comes in at $1.3M, Hawpe at -$0.2M (assuming his option is declined and arbitration is not offered), Betancourt at $2.8M, and Corpas at $4.5M (assuming his 2012 option is picked up, but the 2013 option is declined). Hawpe has negative value because his production is down and he’s owed so much money. Based on Victor Wang’s research, none of the four is worth even a Grade-B position player prospect. Mora could fetch an older (23+) Grade-C pitching prospect (Wilkin DeLaRosa?), the two relievers someone like Dan Brewer or Bradley Suttle. If that’s the case, I imagine the Rockies would just keep Corpas and Betancourt.

Whether or not the Rockies decide to go ahead and sell remains to be seen. They do have some players that could help the Yankees down the stretch and shouldn’t cost an arm and leg. Mora is certainly familiar with the AL East, ditto Betancourt and the AL in general. I prefer Corpas to Betancourt, but I’m not the one calling the shots.

Categories : Trade Deadline

92 Comments»

  1. Sexy Man Inc. says:

    Can we get Seth Smith?

  2. Mattchu12 says:

    Always liked Huston Street.

  3. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Jason Giambi, the second coming of the OBP Jesus.

  4. keithr says:

    Ryan Spilborghs would make an ideal 4th OF for the Yankees. Career .283/.371/.474 vs LHP with average defense.

    • Steve H says:

      What’s his splits vs. LHP on the road though? Overall his OPS is 110 points higher at home. That’s always the risk with Coors field guys. I’m not sure how he hits LHP on the road but I’m sure it’s quite a drop from what he does at home.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        In 2010 his home OPS is only 1 point higher than his road OPS.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          Actually that’s misleading. His away OPS is fueled by a high OBP and his home OPS is fueled by a high slugging with a relatively low OBP.

        • Jose the Satirist says:

          He actually has a reverse split this year:

          Home: 109 wRC+
          Away: 118 wRC+

          • Steve H says:

            The larger sample size of his whole career tells a different story though.

            • Jose the Satirist says:

              Agreed. I wouldn’t want anything to do with him. A 94 wRC+ career when playing away scares me.

              • keithr says:

                Well, you first have to take into account that players as a whole generally hit better at home. Since 2000, mlb hitters have put up an OPS of .774 at home and .745 on the road. So you can’t cite a hitter’s road #s as an indication of how they would fair in a neutral park.

                I brought his name up specifically as a RHH 4OF and so looking at his wRC+ as a whole would be disingenuous as the vast majority of his PA would be vs LHP.

                Anyway, I’d take a league average player as a 4th/5th OF anyday, especially one with a specialized skill such as Spilborghs performance vs LHP.

                • Jose the Satirist says:

                  “So you can’t cite a hitter’s road #s as an indication of how they would fair in a neutral park.”

                  wRC+ is park and league adjusted.

                  • keithr says:

                    Yep, I know. That portion was directed toward’s Steve H point about him losing 110 points of OPS. My bad for not breaking up the replies.

                    • Jose the Satirist says:

                      Gotcha. I think Steve was suggesting a 110 point difference is outside the average difference between home and away splits for a player.

                • Steve H says:

                  Since 2000, mlb hitters have put up an OPS of .774 at home and .745 on the road.

                  That’s a 29 point difference. Spilborghs is 110 points difference.

                  Coors isn’t your normal homefield advantage.

                  • keithr says:

                    I understand this. The point I was trying to make is for his career he has 104 wRC+ (101 OPS+) with only 38% of his PA coming as RHBvsLHP. So, I’d wager if used only when he has the platoon advantage, those numbers could be further leveraged. Although, I suppose we could now get into regressing his performance vs LHP due to SSS but let’s forget that!

                    As it is, a league average dude is quite valuable to have on the bench.

                    It doesn’t really matter as I’m sure this is all for naught.

  5. Frank1979 says:

    Mike, I noticed you didn’t mention De La Rosa in your piece… what do you think the Yankees would have to give up in order to land him?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Shouldn’t be much. He was hurt for most of the year (finger injury), and he’s a free agent after the season. He scares me because he walks so many guys, but that strikeout rate … yes please.

      • Frank1979 says:

        Yeah that’s what I figured. His walks are a problem, but as a temporary 5th starter he might be a good buy-low candidate.

        Also, assuming Pettitte comes back healthy, they could put De La Rosa into the bullpen for the playoffs. His splits against lefties last year were pretty damn good if I’m not mistaken.

        • Jose the Satirist says:

          Last year in 43.0 IP against lefties:

          11.93 K/9, 2.51 BB/9, 1.00 WHIP, 1.96 FIP

          Yeah, he was very effective against lefties last year.

  6. Sexy Man Inc. says:

    Giambi is interesting- what are his numbers? Can he still hit?

  7. GermanYankee says:

    Rockies sell? Get Tulo!!!

  8. red5993 says:

    i know i put a lot of mlb 10 the show references but in my franchise i needed a versatile rh infielder with some pop and i traded for mora.

  9. Jon says:

    Betancourt takes about 4 and a half minutes between every pitch. Joe West would not be happy.

  10. viasistina says:

    The plain fact is the Yankees do not need to trade for some washed up DH. They are doing just find using that spot for Thames, Miranda, Posada, and everyone else that just needs half of a day off. They do need a bullpen arm or two.
    Why are we always citing someone who can “also” play first base? We have 3 firstbase guys already on the roster.

    • Jose the Satirist says:

      “Why are we always citing someone who can “also” play first base?”

      Mike mentioned Melvin Mora being able to play 1B to establish that he is a very versatile player.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      A 7th inning guy would be a good start, even better if Aceves can stay healthy and effective. However, the Yankees need to some bench help in someone that can actually play the field decently and have an average bat. Seeing Thames in the OF makes me cringe and Pena’s bat makes him worthless, actually less than worthless unless he is in there as a defensive replacement.

    • bonestock94 says:

      Should facts about players be excluded just because they might be redundant to the Yankees? I agree that bullpen help is a bigger priority, but Miranda isn’t a proven MLB commodity and Posada DHing means we have a black hole in the 9 spot.

      • Dax J. says:

        If the 9 spot is your problem, you have 8 other players that can easily erase your worry about a black hole. Miranda isn’t a proven commodity because he hasn’t been given enough playing time.

    • Poopy Pants says:

      I, too, have noticed many people here being kind of obsessed with the 1B thing above real needs. It’s strange to me.
      I think in this article, the 1B thing was mentioned along with all of his skills as a set and have no problem with it.

  11. Granderslam says:

    Are the Yankees looking for one bench guy or possibly two?

    • Can do! says:

      They have been linked to Ty Wigginton, Melvin Mora, Cody Ross, Adam Dunn, Jayson Werth, David DeJesus, Adam LaRoche and Jhonny Peralta.

      If Dunn wouldn’t cost them Montero, he’d be great. He’s the most under-appreciated 40hr/100rbi guy in baseball history. He’s a slightly better version of Dave Kingman, but with that right field porch—wow!

  12. Can do! says:

    I’d be a big fan of trading for Rocky relievers. Betancourt and Corpas would be huge upgrades. Personally, I don’t want to trade Hughes, Chamberlain or Montero for players that aren’t named Cliff Lee.

    Right now, Joba is terrible, but perhaps the NY Daily News should remember that Cliff Lee was in the minors 3 years ago. It happens. Joba has the stuff. He just needs work. I’m praying that they don’t get tired of the season he’s having and forget that he’s still very young.

    In all fairness to him, Scranton couldn’t hurt him. Send him there for a month and see if he can work it out.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      If he’s sent to Scranton I hope he starts there. Something tells me he won’t. But blowing games there is better than blowing games here.

      • Can do! says:

        The Yankees have messed with him so much, that it’s hard to tell where he really belongs. When he got here, he made it a 7 inning game—and then, Cashman got cute with him.

        • Yeah, he never should’ve been relieving post-2007. He should’ve just started in ’08 right away.

          • JohnnyC says:

            Didn’t have the innings in 2007 to allow for 170+ innings in the rotation in 2008…in fact, it probably led to his getting hurt in Texas. Actually, they shouldn’t have brought him up as a reliever in 2007 and just let him develop normally as a starter.

            • JohnnyC says:

              Thank you Joe Torre.

            • Well, I don’t mind bringing him up in ’07; he was coming up on a limit, tearing AAA to pieces, and the Yankees needed a BP arm. After that, he should’ve been a pure starter. I wouldn’t have been expecting 170+ IP in ’08 and they could’ve done what most other teams do: have him start normally and then just straight shut him down when the time came. This could’ve helped the ’08 team, not to mention one of Phil/IPK, a lot.

    • B-Rando says:

      I love how we theres at least one mini discussion per post on RAB that turns into a joba discussion. Its amazing how passionate we are about Joba as Yankee fans, one way or the other.

  13. bonestock94 says:

    Should the Rockies actually sell though? That sounds insane to me, the NL west landscape can change in a week. The Dodgers are mediocre, the Giants have no bats, the Padres are playing better than they are, and the Dbacks are toast.

    • JohnnyC says:

      Perhaps O’Dowd doesn’t have the preternatural optimism that Omar Minaya always seems to have.

    • bexarama says:

      Agreed. Plus, the Rockies generally go on an insane hot streak in like August/September. Not that what happened in the past guarantees what will happen in the future, but the NL West is so open and none of the teams are all that great.

  14. got a beef says:

    None of those Rockies’ “spare parts” would be helpful to the Yankees at all.

  15. Nick says:

    I think even better would be if the yankees could convince the brewers to trade Trevor Hoffman for a small package of minor leaguers he would be a huge upgrade from joba and if rivera gets hurt he could step right up.

  16. Nick says:

    but he could just be tired of pitching on teams that never make the playoffs he might be rujuvinated by joining a team in the pennant race
    but yeah make him work his way up see how he does after a few minor league outings

    • Steve H says:

      If you’re talking about Hoffman, I don’t think he’s going to find an extra 5 MPH (at least) needed to even have a chance of success in the AL East simply but being rejuvenated.

    • Pete says:

      I feel like Trevor Hoffman would probably just retire if he was asked to go to the minors.

  17. Nick says:

    and i think if the yankees picked up brett myres he could not only help by fillin in for pettite but when he comes back he could take over the eighth inning job he has a great track record as a reliever,starter, and even a closer butt i doubt he would be cheap

  18. Nick says:

    and we have got to do somethin about ramiro pena i love his glove but he cant hit worth nothin this season.

    • Pete says:

      They are doing something about Ramiro Pena. They’re not playing him. When you’ve got the infield the Yankees have got, it really doesn’t matter who your backup is, because he’s going to get so few ABs that he could randomly do well despite being a terrible hitter and he could randomly do terribly despite being a solid hitter. I’d love to upgrade, but it’d be a pretty insignificant one, imo. And whoever we’d get would need to be a good defender, in my opinion.

  19. Pete says:

    I dunno whether he’s available or not, but I’d love it if the Yankees reeled in Giambi. He’s essentially Hawpe only cheaper in terms of prospects.

  20. viasistina says:

    Actually with Nick Johnson we have 4 firstbase men available.

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