Mailbag’s back, and we’re not going to make a whole day out of it either. Just a few questions with some rapid fire answers. If you want to send in some questions in the future, just use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar. I’m thinking every Friday morning is a fine time for the mailbag, no? Anyway, on to the questions …
Den asks: Just a thought. Is it a good idea to get Mo back as a pitching coach instead of a player? I thought that would be a good compromise without losing a ‘face’ of the Yankees. Would that even be possible?
No, give me Mariano Rivera as a pitcher every day of the week, he’ll way more valuable to the Yankees that way. Mo’s a great pitcher, one of the greatest that will ever play, but we have no idea about his ability to coach. If they did that, it would be a move based on sentimentality and not evidence of his ability to run a pitching staff.
If you’re talking about after he retires … still no. I suspect he’s the kind of the guy that you won’t see around the ballpark often once he hands ’em up, just during Spring Training and stuff. But that’s just me.
Sean asks: How well does Montero call games? Are there any reports (scouting or otherwise) on this? If his defense (throwing runners out, blocking balls, etc.) is even at the same level of Posada or Cervelli, how can he not be with the club out of spring training (assuming his bat shows up)?
You don’t hear much about how well (or how poorly) minor league catchers call games because not many do it. A lot of times they’re told to focus on the physical aspects of the game as well as their training, and let the coaches call pitches from the bench. Also, a lot of times the pitcher will be working on something, say a changeup, and he’ll be mandated by the organization to throw X number of those pitches per start. There’s no game calling skill or strategy to that, it’s just a pitch for development’s sake. Outcome is meaningless. Long story short, I know nothing about his skills as a game caller.
Montero could probably break camp with the big league team next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they sent him back to Triple-A for a month or two just to keep his service time down. The Yankees have plenty of money, but there are legitimate baseball reasons for Montero to go back down, namely his defense. The service time thing is an added benefit.
Anonymous asks: Who would you take, Wil Myers or Jesus Montero?
Montero, but Myers is awesome. The Royals’ prospect hit .315/.429/.506 with 37 doubles and 14 homers split between High-A and Double-A this year, his age-19 season. He’s just as likely to move out from behind the plate as Montero, probably to the outfield. Montero has more power and is a better pure hitter, but Myers has more plate discipline. They’re both awesome, but I’ll take Hey-Zeus.
AD asks: Any chance that having Lee on the team will help out A.J.? Burnett had his best year in Toronto observing and emulating Halladay’s work habits. A.J. likes Lee…same hometown..and A.J. was inspired to pitch a great critical game 2 in 2009 WS after watching Lee’s shutdown performance against the Yanks in gm 1. Whaddya think?
Eh. It’s all up to Burnett, not the people around him. I mean, yeah, the support system counts, but there’s only so much they can do. He and Lee share an agent and (essentially) a hometown, so maybe it would help more than we realize, but I’m not going to hold my breath. A.J. is what he is at this point of his career.
Anonymous asks: Checkout the numbers: 535 AB, 112 R, 137 H, 40 2B, 1 3B, 29 HR, 104 RBI, .256 AVG. That’s Alex facing a lefty over the last 4 years. I would have thought it would be a lot higher. Any clue why this is?
Yeah, I wish I knew. Here are his wOBA’s vs. LHP since joining the Yankees, starting with 2004 and ending with 2010: .446, .412, .421, .402, .378, .402, .323. His performance really started to suffer in 2008, so perhaps the hip is to blame. Maybe he’s having a tougher time getting to stuff on the outer half, and instead of driving those pitches with authority, he’s tapping them on the ground or popping them up to the outfield. Maybe he’s just getting old, can’t ignore that possibility.
Based on the last few years, even with the bad hip, 2010 looks like a massive outlier, so I’d expect some sort of rebound against southpaws next year. A-Rod’s just too talented to all of a sudden stop hitting a demographic he’s typically annihilated.
Anonymous asks: Who would be a better DH option for next year, between V-Mart, Dunn, and Berkman? Granted that Dunn “doesn’t want” to be a DH, but he will try to be and the Yanks were interested in him during the trade deadline. V-Mart could give Posada a break at catching, and Tex a break at 1B once a week. Despite V-Mart stinks at catching, Cervelli won’t have to catch 100 games like this season. Simply resigning Berkman, and hope that 2010 season is just bad luck.
Of those three, give me Adam Dunn. He could legitimately hit 50 homers in Yankee Stadium and is always an on-base threat. Victor Martinez might be more useful since he could spot start behind the plate and at first, but he’s pretty awful defensively, not much better than Jorge Posada at all. We know all about Berkman, would be nice if he started hitting lefties though.
I don’t think the Yanks will sign a designated hitter this winter, at least not a big money one like those guys. At some point Montero is going to work his way into the lineup, and they’re going to need that DH spot so he and Posada can rotate. Unless someone like Berkman falls into their laps dirt cheap in February, I think you’ll see Posada, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Marcus Thames (assuming he re-signs) rotate at DH until Montero forces their hand. If he doesn’t, they’ll probably look for someone at the trade deadline. These kinds of guys are easy to find in July.