Mailbag: Red Sox, 2015, Dunn, Deadline, Hal


Remember to send your questions in via email or the Submit A Tip box, the more the merrier. Today’s topics: the third place Red Sox, the 2015 rotation, Adam Dunn, biggest needs at the trade deadline, another look at the post-George Steinbrenner Yankees, and better pitching statistics. Let’s get too it…

The Red Sox seem to be fading fast. Sure they’ll start getting some guys back from injury, but will it be too late? Should we start just assuming that the Yanks and Rays will make it out of the AL East? – Anonymous

This question was sent Sunday night, after the Mariners beat the Red Sox for the second straight day. Boston has since gone on to beat the wimpy Angels the last two nights, so their fade has slowed down. Either way, no, we can’t assume they’re out of it yet.

Winning the division is nice, but the first thing the Yanks have to secure is a playoff spot, and they’ll do that by clinching a better record than either the Red Sox or the Rays. Boston has started to get their key guys back from injury – Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz – like you said, and are just waiting on Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia now. I’m sure Theo Epstein will do something to fix that bullpen, making them even more dangerous.

They’re seven games out in the division right now, which is a big deficit but not enough to count out a team of that caliber. Not when they still have 16 combined games left against the teams in front of them (ten against the Yanks). The Rays are definitely the Yankees’ biggest threat right now, but anyone who thinks the Red Sox are done in July is kidding themselves.

If you had to pick one guy pitching for the Yankees in minors right now who will be a key starter for the team in 2015, who? – Moshe

It’s too bad the Yanks didn’t sign Gerrit Cole back in 2008, because that would have made this a much easier question to answer. I’m going to go with Andrew Brackman simply because he’s the closest to the majors among the team’s high upside pitching prospects. The Yanks don’t seem to have much patience for young starting pitchers that project to become back-end starters, which puts guys like Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, David Phelps, and Adam Warren at an instant disadvantage. I’m willing to bet three of those four are traded by Opening Day 2012.

Brackman’s main competition for me was Jose Ramirez, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances, but those guys are still quite a ways off. Ramirez is still in Low-A, and a level-a-year climb doesn’t get him to the big leagues until the second half of 2013 at the earliest. Betances still has to stay healthy for a full season just for development’s sake. The more time he misses, the less likely it is that he’ll reach his potential. Nine great starts this year doesn’t change that. Banuelos is still in still in A-ball and his size (listed at 5-foot-10, 155 lbs.) is going to work against him whether you accept it or not.

My dark horse candidate is Hector Noesi, who like Brackman is in Double-A, but unlike Brackman doesn’t have blow-you-away stuff. He’s got good stuff, sure, but his best trait is his command and willingness to attack the strike zone. He’s the kind of pitcher that could come up right away and succeed because he’s willing to challenge batters, strike zone jitters shouldn’t (but always could) be an issue.

Remember, being a key starter in 2015 means a guy has to take his lumps at the big league level in 2012 and 2013 and possibly even 2014. Look at Phil Hughes, he came up in 2007 but didn’t turn into a key starter until 2010, and he’s better than anyone I mentioned above. Brackman could potentially be in the majors by the second half of next season, but even if it takes him a little longer he still has a considerable head start and more talent over the other guys.

Do you think Adam Dunn to Yankees would be good addition? – David Robertson’s biggest fan

Hell and yes. I’ve even written about this exact topic already. The Nationals are going nowhere quick and haven’t even offered the guy a contract extension, so it would be pretty foolish of them to keep him around and take the draft picks after the season (or hope to re-sign him). Prospects now are worth a whole lot more than draft picks later.

There’s no reason that Dunn would be a bad pickup for the Yanks, unless they plan on playing him in centerfield. Imagine that guy in the New Stadium.

Biggest need at the trade deadline: 5th starter, reliever, or bench help? I say 5th starter. – Will

I’m leaning towards the bullpen. Andy Pettitte will be back soon enough and that’ll take care of the whole fifth starter thing. They certainly have plenty of in-house options to run through in the interim. If he wasn’t on his way back, then yeah, I think another starter would be the priority.

The relief corps needs a lot of help though. Joba Chamberlain can’t be counted on for anything right now, and you can’t expect Al Aceves to come back and a) be effective, or b) stay healthy. Anything out of him is gravy. Jon Albaladejo could help in the 6th and 7th innings, but right now Robertson is the team’s only reliable righthanded reliever (NMD). That just won’t cut it.

The bench stinks, but you can survive with a bad bench when you have the kinds of regulars the Yankees do. Bad middle relief is the kiss of death, though.

You answered a question about the short-term impact of the passing of The Boss, but I have a nagging concern about the long-term. It seemed that when Hal and Hank began getting involved in the family business that they were reluctant, and I suspected they might have been doing it to please their father. Now that he’s gone, is there a concern that the Steinbrenner family could sell the team? Or have Hal and Hank embraced the pinstripes the way George did? I still remember your 2010 April Fool’s Day joke, and I don’t want that nightmare to become reality. – Howie

Ben is our resident Business of Baseball guy, so I handed this question off to him. Here’s his response:

Beyond a few comments by Randy Levine indicating that the Steinbrenner family has no intention of selling the Yankees, the owners themselves have been awfully quiet about their intentions since George’s passing. That said, the feeling around baseball is that Hal Steinbrenner and his brother and sisters will continue to hold onto the club for the foreseeable future. Despite his initial reluctance to do so, Hal has taken a liking to running the Front Office, and he appears to command respect among his peers. He has George’s drive to win but a cooler head on his shoulder, and Hank has clearly taken a backseat to Hal. For the Yankees, that could only lead to good results on the field.

With that in mind, the Steinbrenners will look to expand their empire as much as they can. They seem more focused on the bottom line than the Yanks have been in previous years, and even with a payroll in excess of $200 million, there is a limit to the Yanks’ spending. So perhaps the team will look at investing in the English Premiere League as had been rumored. Perhaps the Yanks will continue their push into Asian markets. Perhaps the club will continue to monetize the YES Network and all that comes of it. Whatever the future holds, it ought to be a lucrative one.

To see how the Steinbrenners are going to manage the club, I would look to the upcoming CBA negotiations as well. The Yankees and their spending will again be targeted, and I’d expect Hal to push back and hard. If he does, you know the family has truly embraced the pinstripes. Plus, no matter what happens, there is no love lost between the Steinbrenners and the Dolans. So that nightmare — our April Fools joke — will not come to pass.

I had a question regarding pitching stats. namely innings pitched. I think we know that not all innings pitched are created equally. You could get through an inning with as few as one pitch (come in with men on and induce a triple play) or a Joba-esque 35-40 pitches to get 2 outs. Is there any push to move or develop stats based on number of pitches thrown instead of innings pitched? – Anonymous

Innings aren’t all created equal as you, so yes, it would be better to use a more stable denominator. Batters faced would be a great start, so strikeouts per 27 batters, or walks per 27 batters, stuff like that would be better than the usual K/9 and BB/9. Rich Lederer introduced the concept of K/100 many moons ago, which is strikeouts per 100 pitches. Striking a batter out on three pitches is better than striking someone out on five pitches, and that difference is expressed in K/100. It measures dominance and efficiency.

It hasn’t caught on yet, obviously, but it’s easy to understand why it makes sense. One day we’ll start seeing some more extensive per pitch data, and it will be glorious.

Categories : Mailbag
  • Jose the Satirist

    “So that nightmare — our April Fools joke — will not come to pass.”

    Remember when you guys had a April Fools joke about Clemens coming back? Then he actually did come back? I’m now scared of your April Fools jokes.

  • DSFC

    On the pitching question…..no mention of Stoneburner?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nah, I think of him more as a reliever. A very good one, but he needs to beef up that changeup.

  • Tom Zig

    I’m trying to picture Adam Dunn in CF. Oh the horror.

    • Jose the Satirist

      I still haven’t erased the scars of Gary Sheffield playing 3B that one time for the Yankees. I can’t even begin to imagine Dunn in CF.

      • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

        Sheff had a very strong throw to 1st!

        Unfortunately, it landed in the stands.

      • Tom Zig

        it happened twice. That’s scary!

      • nsalem

        How about Sheffield at first base in the 2006 playoffs that was fairly ugly and failed experiment.

        • Thomas

          “It looked easy for him,” Mattingly said. “He can do it. There’s no question he can do it.”

        • vin

          Murderer’s Row and Cano! :(

    • Thomas

      I want to see an OF of Dunn, Hawpe,and Abreu.

      • CountZero

        This, like the name of certain Lovecraftian horrors, should never be said aloud lest it result in the end of the world.

        Perhaps you could use Thames as a LIDR?

        • Thomas

          I could really see the Yankees going for that OF alignment, since they don’t care about defense as shown by their acquisition of high strikeout pitchers.


        • Not Tank the Frank

          The Outfield of Dunn, Hawpe and Abreu And Other Tales of the Macabre. – By HP Lovecraft

  • Reggie C.

    I hope Billy Beane’s soccer obsession doesnt sink in and wholly grab Hal’s attention. Could Hal be budgeting the Yankees payroll to free up cash for a serious majority purchase of Tottenham or Arsenal?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Hank’s the one with a soccer obsession. Don’t worry about Hal. He seems quite devoted to the Yanks.

    • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

      Honestly, a premiere league team is probably a good investment. Let Hank oversee it and live overseas for a few years.

    • Jose the Satirist

      I doubt they buy Arsenal, but they were connected to their rivals(Tottenham). I hope they don’t overpay too much though. Supposedly a bid of $690 million was suggested. That seems pretty high considering last year they were only valued at $372 million. I don’t want them to be financially distracted away from the Yankees.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Also seems pretty high considering Tottenham has been relegated this season and sold off most of its big stars.

        • Across the pond


          Tottenham didn’t get relegated, they are one the top 4/5 clubs in the league.

          That being said I don’t see how a premier league club can be a worthwhile investment. Tottenham are also looking to build a new stadium so there would be a lot of spending required and there would be no splilling of costs with the city like they do in America.

          After seeing the amount of clubs fall by the wayside in the premier league due to money problems I’d rather the Yanks kept their cash where it is.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking,.

      • Nate

        It would be nice if they bought Everton. Money’s the only thing that club’s missing.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I want them to buy a Premier League team and rename that team “The Yankees”.


          • Not Tank the Frank

            Sweet revenge for sticking a Snuke up Hilary Clinton’s Snizz.


          • Jose the Satirist

            Just move the team up north a little bit. Boom. Introducing the York Yankees.

            • Andy In Sunny Daytona

              Call them Ye Olde York Yankees

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                I want the kits to be jam-packed with more red white and blue stars and stripes than you can shake a stick at.

                Designed by Larry the Cable Guy.

                • Mister Delaware

                  A vocal Democrat. Even knowing plenty blue-collar union Dems, that blew my mind when I found out.

  • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

    Consider me on record: Warren will be the most productive MLB starter of all of them. Love that kid.

    • Reggie C.

      He’s turned into a pretty good prospect. A solid B prospect imo, if i may use a Sickels grade. I’m not exactly sure what makes Warren a better SP prospect over a Noesi or Nova. K/9 rate?

      • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

        Without looking it up, I would guess Noesi’s walk rate and K/9 are better. I just saw Warren pitch for UNC a few times and was always impressed by his makeup. The jump in velocity since being drafted only makes me more excited. I really like Noesi and think Nova should be the #5 starter NOW, I just have a personal affinity for Warren.

        • Not Tank the Frank

          Yeah Noesi’s K/BB ratio has been excellent across the board in the minors. Very impressive actually. It just seems the scouting reports don’t match up with the numbers. The word I hear a lot of is “underwhelming.”

      • Not Tank the Frank

        “Polish.” Exceptional groundball rates, low BB/9 and he’s given up three home runs in his pro career. Three. Not much projection but I agree with T-Dubs in that he’ll at least be better than Noesi and Nova. I’m not ballsy enough to declare that he’ll be more productive than Brackmonster or Betances.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Warren is Polish?

          Huh. I never knew. I assumed he was a WASP.

  • http://theyanhkeeu.com Moshe Mandel

    I would just like to state for the record that my question was sent using Twitter, where grammar is sacrificed at the altar of 140 characters.

    • Tom Zig

      I didn’t even notice, really.

  • Sexy Man Inc.

    who are the yankees getting? If you had to bet your life on it?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Amar’e Stoudamire.

      • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

        I chuckled.

  • Rose

    Biggest need at the trade deadline: 5th starter, reliever, or bench help? I say 5th starter. – Will

    You stated bullpen help is the most important…but as we’ve seen in the past couple of years…as well as it is common sense – bullpen help is the most unreliable entity in baseball. There is no way to tell if somebody is going to come in and be dominant, mediocre, or another Chan Ho Park (who was previously good elsewhere but can’t do anything for New York). That’s not saying you shouldn’t GET bullpen help…but making it your #1 priority leads to a Soria/Nunez for Jesus Montero offer that isn’t very smart. You could get a middle of the road reliever on the cheap and hope for the best…while giving a little more to a DH that has a much better chance to succeed for the team than a unreliable reliever…or giving up a young great hitter for an 8th inning set up guy. IMO anyway.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      That’s why, IMO, any discussion of acquiring bullpen help has to include an analysis of that player’s eventual Elias Ranking and draft pick compensation.

      Relievers are by their nature so consistently inconsistent that surrendering prospects for them is essentially a bad idea by default, so if you can get a reliever who you can expect will end up a Type A or Type B who will deliver you a replacement prospect on the back end of his deal, it mitigates or eliminates the risk altogether.

      That’s why both the Yankees and Sox have been all over Scott Downs like white on rice. He’s a Type A. If you can get him from the Jays without surrendering a good prospect, he can net you two good prospects in return, practically eliminating your risk (although there is a slight chance that he goes unsigned in the winter if teams are reluctant to part with a pick for him, but that chance is still low, IMO.)

      • ZZ

        People, including Anthopoulos, are getting really ahead of themselves expecting Scott Downs to turn down arbitration.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          He’s a lefty reliever. Those are always in demand. He’ll make more on the open market than he would reupping for a year in arbitration.

          • ZZ

            I think that is very questionable and definitely something I would have concerns about betting on.

            Relievers with closer stuff are having difficult time getting paid with Type A attached to them.

            Look at Rafael Soriano last year. He is much better and 4 years younger than Downs, but he accepted arbitration.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Soriano was also making 6.1M going into that potential arb hearing and had 30 saves in the two years prior, putting him in line for an 8M payout.

              Downs is only making 4M and has only 9 saves over the past two years, with none of them in 2010. He’s not going to command remotely the potential one-year payout that Soriano was looking at, so he has less incentive to bypass the market.

              He’s also older than Soriano, and thus more inclined to take the last multi-year deal he possibly can.

          • ZZ

            You also have to factor in if Downs will a team’s only Type A free agent signing.

            You could easily end up getting lower draft picks, because a player with a higher ranking signs with the same team.

            The getting 2 top draft picks for Downs is much more complicated than the face value of it.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              But, again, even if we’re only getting a sandwich pick and a second rounder, that’s still probably worth more than a single B prospect. I’m not trading for Scott Downs if they’re asking for Joba Chamberlain or Gary Sanchez, but if I can get him for one (or even two) of Nova/McAllister/Phelps/Noesi/etc., it’s probably worth it.

              • ZZ

                I strongly disagree with those draft picks having close to the same value of Nova…

                But that goes back to my point below that I believe draft picks have become very much overvalued over the past few years.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  To the Yankees, the chance to trade Nova (a fringy prospect) for two draft picks that have the potential to become great prospects (by buying overslot elite talent) is worth it.

      • Rose


        Which is why I can’t believe the Red Sox literally had no competition in the acquisition of Billy Wagner that time. They made out HUGE in that deal altogether.

        • Ed

          Well, Wagner had TJ surgery less than a year prior, had a huge contract, and a no trade clause. He was also insistent that he wouldn’t go anywhere that he wouldn’t be the closer. He only changed his mind on that about an hour before the deadline.

          Personally, I don’t think he was very appealing at all at the time. The Red Sox just happened to really need help and be able to afford to take a decent sized gamble.

      • ZZ

        In addition, I think you are vastly overestimating the chance of drafting 2 good prospects.

        Also, you are not taking into account whatsoever the “cost” of how long it will take to get these prospects you drafted to the level of the prospects you gave up.

        There is still significant risk involved, because real prospects in your minor league system right now, especially those that have made it to the higher levels or are close to MLB ready are far more valuable than draft picks.

        The over-valuation of draft picks in recent years is one of the main reasons Anthopoulos is asking for the moon and has not gotten a deal done yet.

      • Ed

        I think type B relievers are ideal. There’s been a lot of hesitance the past few years to sign type A relievers, and as a result, they’ve been more likely to accept arbitration than other types of players. I don’t think you can look at a type A reliever and expect draft picks unless he’s a stud closer.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Perhaps the Yanks will continue their push into Asian markets.


    • Carlosologist

      I feel that by the time Darvish gets here his arm will fall off or something.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        But he’s now throwing a gyro-cutter or something like that.

  • Tampa Yankee

    Well if the Yanks want bullpen help it probably won’t be Scott Downs (from MLBTR):

    Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has the best reliever available in Scott Downs, and he knows it. Check out these asking prices for two months of Downs’ services, courtesy of George A. King III of the New York Post: Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero from the Yankees, Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox.


    • Not Tank the Frank

      Is that guy on crack?

      • http://www.nomaas.org K.B.D.

        There’s no way he expects Cashman or Theo to actually accept, but why not ask? You can always go down from there. He’s doing the right thing by asking for a top prospect from a guy who could conceivably turn into 2 top 40 picks. Will he get one? No. But he might as well try.

        • Ed

          Well, when you make your demands too absurd, you risk Cashman or Theo just hanging up and ignoring you. There’s not a lot of time left before the deadline, and usually GMs are busy full time from now until the deadline. Cashman and Theo would make better use of their time by talking with GMs with more reasonable demands.

          • http://www.nomaas.org K.B.D.

            It’s a starting point. I’m operating under the premise that once it’s clear the top prospects aren’t happening, you get into players who might actually comprise the deal. If the Blue Jays are asking Montero and unwilling to negotiate, then I agree, stop wasting your time, hang up and move on.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Please keep posts on topic. This isn’t a general trade rumors post. If you have a tip, email it to us. You’ve been here long enough to know our posting guidelines.

      • Tampa Yankee

        My bad

  • http://janeheller.mlblogs.com/yank_c.jpg T-Dubs

    What is everyone’s Absolute Highest offer for Dunn?

    Mine: Noesi, Z-Mac, Murphy

    • Reggie C.

      For a half season of Dunn & 2 draft picks later? I think Cashman wouldnt go beyond a Zmac, Noesi, D. Adams package. montero might see a ton of DH time next 2nd half as he breaks into the majors.

      If the goal was to extend Dunn 3 yrs, i can see Cash add another quality sP prospect to the package. Not sure if he’d add Joba though.

      • mikebk

        cant see dunn taking arb when he is coming off what 12 mil this year. if he does 13 mil for him is a steal.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I don’t think Reggie was saying that Dunn would accept arb. It’s a foregone conclusion that he’s going to sign a long-term contract, either via extension (with whatever team he’s playing for at the moment) or by declining arb and going to the market.

          • mikebk

            i know. i wasnt saying he was, just that either we want to sign him long term and we win or we get the 2 picks and we win.

  • nsalem

    Of course you can’t count the Sox out (especially before we see how they are constituted on July 31), but even with them getting all their stars back they have a long way to go. The Rays just seem to consistently win in magical ways like they did last night (Longoria is incredible). The Red Sox (as always) become a very average team when they are away from Fenway while the Rays are 33-18 on the road. Boston will have to do some serious ass kicking in head to head with the Yanks and Rays to get back in this race.

    • YankeesJunkie

      Via cool standings the Red Sox are only around 20% of making the playoffs. They will have to play some really good ball if they ever plan to catch up either to the Rays or the Yankees.

  • Frank the Yank

    What are the chances of the Yanks getting Soria?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Slim to none.

      Which is a good thing.

  • nsalem

    Sounds right. Wouldn’t be shocked to see the win totals this year
    mirror the 1993 West Race
    Atlanta 104
    SF 103
    That was the last full year of the wild card and I think there was
    still a balanced schedule (all teams played each other the same amount
    of time (regardless of division). Philadelphia won the East with 97 wins or so and then proceded to beat the Braves in the NLCS.
    Baseball is often unfair.

    • nsalem

      did not hit the reply for YankeesJunkie sorry

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Baseball is often unfair.

      Repeated for emphasis.

  • nsalem

    I would call it skinny to slim (10 to 20 percent), because I think
    Brian perceives Soria as a need as opposed to Haren and Lee (who he probably regarded as luxuries).
    “i am nsalem’s esl teacher and i approved this post”

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    We’ll get a good idea of whether the Red Sox are gonna be in it or not after that 4 game set at the Stadium next weekend.

  • Pete

    I like that /100 idea a lot. I think I would go with O/100 (outs per 100 pitches), K/100, BB/100, H/100. It’d be a pretty terrific way of measuring starter peripherals. For relievers, though, I’d go with /B (per batter) versions of the same stats. Pitch efficiency is a lot less important for relievers.