Mailbag: Webb, Rhodes, DH


This week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag features less gibberish than usual and queries about Brandon Webb, Arthur Rhodes, and the designated hitter spot. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to submit your questions at any time. Let’s get to it…

Carl asks: Wouldn’t it make sense for the Yankees to offer Brandon Webb a two year, incentive laden contract sort of how Jon Lieber’s was. That way he can take his time coming back this year, and be 100% next year. In that scenario he becomes insurance in case CC opts out.

The reports on Webb from Instructional League were not good at all, he was in the low-to-mid-80′s and was basically throwing junk. Remember, he’s missed what amounts to two full seasons because of a frayed labrum and a debridement in his shoulder, which is serious stuff. The odds of him turning back into the guy that was arguably the best pitcher in baseball from 2005 through 2009 are extremely small. I’m in favor of signing anyone to a low risk contract (i.e. short term, low base salary with incentives), though I would expect absolutely nothing out of Webb going forward.

Make sure you look at this from his point of view too, what is Webb looking for? He wants an opportunity to show he’s healthy and can be effective. He just spent two seasons on the shelf and is already 31, I doubt he wants to take his time coming back and then have to force his way into a contender’s rotation. I bet he signs a a one-year deal with a team that will put him in the Opening Day rotation no questions asked.

Dan asks: Is Arthur Rhodes a guy the Yankees will/should watch closely this offseason? Lefty Reliever, yeah he’s old but his last 3 seasons have been awesome, his groundball rate is great and he wouldn’t cost a draft pick. Perfect fit for the Yanks?

Nah, he’s on borrowed time right now. His 2010 season was good overall (3.24 FIP, held lefties to a .257 wOBA) but tremendously deceiving. Rhodes got taken deep three times by lefties after the end of June, and overall they hit .273/.298/.591 off him after June 26th. Unsurprisingly, he dealt with a foot injury (plantar fasciitis, which hurts like a bitch and doesn’t go away easily) in the second half. Rhodes is also 41 years old already and his stuff lost its luster as the season progressed, so there are red flags everywhere.

Someone’s absolutely going to overpay for that All Star appearance (probably the Reds), and I would rather it not be the Yankees. I think Keith Law put it best when he said Rhodes is “a bad month away from a forced retirement.” Given all of the lefty relief options on the market, they can afford to avoid to steer clear of this one.

Mark asks: Say Jorge retires or is strictly used as a back-up catcher in 2012. Any possibility that ARod becomes the permanent DH and Jeter moves to 3B? Could this be a scenario that is brought up during this year’s negotiations?

Sure, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. It would be rather foolish to move A-Rod off of third base in the fifth year of a ten-year deal, especially when it’s not absolutely necessary yet. They need to extract as much value of him as possible, which means leaving him in the field until he needs a Rascal Scooter.

I stand by my belief that Derek Jeter will be the shortstop for the Yankees until the end of the time he decides to hang ‘em up, and I suspect he and his agent wants him to be paid as such. The Yankees could discuss a potential position change during this discussions, but I can’t imagine it’ll have any effect. And I also have zero expectation of Jeter going to the team and suggesting a position change until he becomes embarrassingly bad out there, and even then you’re probably pushing your luck.

Categories : Mailbag


  1. Chris says:

    Why do people keep wanting to move Jeter off SS? His defense is not worse than it was 5 or 10 years ago, and his bat would be a huge negative at basically any other position.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      This. The only way he can provide value with his bat assuming his 2010 was a decline and not an outlier is playing catcher or SS. Moving him off SS nearly makes him replacement level.

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      Well he had much better range when he was in his mid-late 20′s, so it is worse than it was 10 years ago. He’s the oldest starting SS in the league, so obviously the position change issue is going to keep coming up. But I agree, until he’s noticeably killing them in the field, they should leave him at SS.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        Actually his range is pretty bad but not as bad as it was like 5 years ago.

        That was historically bad.

        • Clay Bellinger says:

          Yeah, I know – in ’05 and ’07 it was crazy bad.

          • MikeD says:

            He also had another three-year stretch earlier in his career that was pretty bad.

            While I follow defensive statistics, I’m not big believer they can produce specific rankings down to the number that are meaningful. If I see a player consistently ranked toward the bottom by all the schemes over several years, then I figure it’s likely that the player does rank defensively toward the bottom third, but I won’t go so to believe the player is the worst defensive player, even if he shows up at #30.

            Every one of the systems says we should look at three years of data. In Jeter’s case, the last three years would show him as middle of the pack defensively.

    • Why do people keep wanting to move Jeter off SS?

      Because if we can find a way to do it, it would be a dramatic upgrade to our team defense and net production? There’s that.

      • Esteban says:

        Jeter has been so valuable because he plays SS. You move him off short, his value falls.

        • But it’s not about his individual value, it’s about the collective value of the entire team.

          People keep wanting to move Jeter off of SS because, even if his value falls, if he can be moved to a non-SS position where he’s not a big defensive negative AND a replacement SS can be found who can play good defense and swing an adequate bat (and that’s the harder part of the equation), any decrease in Jeter’s individual value may be offset by the increase in overall team defensive value.

          It’s a much more complex issue than simply what Jeter’s WAR would be at SS v. LF or 3B. You have to take into account the other potential configurations at LF or 3B or SS, the opportunity cost of other players we could put at those various spots and how the parts form the whole.

          The problem with most people’s desire to move Jeter off of SS is that their potential replacement SS options either aren’t available or are massive downgrades, but the desire itself (i.e., the theory, not the implementation) makes a ton of sense.

  2. jsbrendog (returns) says:

    i want a rascal scooter. always have.

    • Thomas says:

      Just walk around with a cane for the first few weeks at a new job. Then, start limping with your other leg and your company will give you one. Also, they’ll give you a great private handicap bathroom with a really high toilet seat that will make you feel like a gargoyle perched on a ledge when you sit on it!

  3. Ted H says:

    If the two could be had at same price, pick one right now, Webb or newly non-tendered CMW?

  4. bonestock94 says:

    “to move A-Rod off of third base in the fifth year of a ten-year deal”

    Absolutely horrifying statement. 2012! Woooowwww.

  5. Jonathan says:

    This brings up a decent point that I’ve wondered about. How do you think Jorge will be treated after the 2011 season? He clearly is just a DH now but still a pretty good one. I think he could put up one of his better seasons of late in the DH role this year if the DH role is kinder to his health than catching. Say he catches 40 games and hits .260/.360/.480 with 20+ HRs. Do they offer him a one year deal afterwards for $5-6MM or so or do you think they try and keep that spot open for Montero or the inevitable need of Arod/Jeter needing more time there?

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      I think that’ll depend on quite a few factors. How Jorge hits this year, his health, how Jete and Arod look defensively, how Montero looks at catcher. Maybe he gets the Bernie treatment, maybe he’s brought back to DH again. Not sure if I could see him taking the Varitek role though.

      • OldYanksFan says:

        I think I should add that a DH who is an ‘acceptable’ BUC has a little extra advantage. If Po (in 2012) Catches 30-40 games, his bat would be significantly more productive then Cervelli’s or your typical BUC.

  6. Zack says:

    Didn’t Webb’s agent already start the “Brandon would love to be a Pirate” talk?

    He’s going to the highest bidder, and if he can’t get 3-5m then he’s going to a team that has nothing to lose by giving him 20+ starts. Plus if he wants to rebuild his value, coming to the AL East isn’t the smartest decision.

    • Thomas says:

      Reporter: Would Webb be willing to play in Pittsburgh?
      Agent: Brandon would love to be a well paid professional baseball player, whether that be in Pittsburgh, New York, or in the Venezuelan league. Like the original, and far superior, script of Field of Dreams said “If you pay him, he will come.”

  7. pat says:

    Jeets doesn’t have the arm to play 3B, and Arod doesn’t need to be the full time DH anytime soon.

    • Am I the only Kevin? says:

      Agree about Arod. He may be crazy overpaid (or on his way to becoming crazy overpaid), but his glove isn’t that bad and his total package makes him a well above-average 3B. Thankfully, I think his D will hold up reasonably well for another 3-4 years.

      • OldYanksFan says:

        I’d also add… why would anyone think that Jeter, who has no experience at 3rd, could be near as good defensively as ARod, who has 7 years experience? And since Jeets is a bit older then ARod, and ARod is still in terrific shape, why would Jeter be in the field as ARod DH’es?

        It’s the same thing with a COF spot. Why would anyone think that a 38 yr old Jeter would be more then terrible in the OF… a position he has zero experience with. Is being a MLB OFer really that easy?

        It’s been said before. Jeter’s ONLY value is as a SS. He will be grossly overpaid, so you may as well leave him where he can do the least damage.

        • Ed says:

          I’d also add… why would anyone think that Jeter, who has no experience at 3rd, could be near as good defensively as ARod, who has 7 years experience?

          Well, as we saw the other day, 15 year old Jeter played 3rd…

          More seriously, A-Rod isn’t in terrific shape. He has a bad hip, and needs occasional time off because of it. Since the hip surgery, there are times when he looks fine, and times when it looks like he’s lost range. Jeter may be slightly older than A-Rod, but he has no injury concerns.

          People assume Jeter can play 3B or OF because he’s already playing the 2nd hardest position on the field. Guys who play SS are generally able to play anywhere on the field. Yes, fielding ground balls and fielding flyballs are very different skills, and a lot of people aren’t good at both, but generally Jeter’s been great at stuff in the air.

      • Hughesus Christo says:

        On his way? He made 33 million dollars last year. Number 2 was 24!

  8. Steve H says:

    While I don’t think A-Rod needs to be moved off anytime soon, I think if Jeter is guaranteed to remain at SS, you might need to upgrade your range at 3B just to help out on the left side.

    • Am I the only Kevin? says:

      I doubt you’d be able to get a 3B that would be able to put up the numbers necessary to replace the value we’d lose. (You can get a vet like a Johnson, Berkman, Vlad, etc. at a reasonable salary to man the DH spot, but are scratching to find even a warm body for 3b). In other words 3BArod+randomDH is likely better overall production than DHArod+random3B. Mix in the need to DH others (Jeter, Montero, maybe Posada if he re-ups), and I think the only reasonable solution is to keep Arod at 3B until he becomes Posada-like.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      True… But Jeter and ARod will have the advantage of being able to knock down ground balls with their crutches.

  9. Gonzo says:

    That last question made me shudder about the age of this ballclub.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Average age of Yankee batters last season: 30.4

      Average age of Yankee pitchers last season: 30.2

      • Gonzo says:

        I am not concerned about average age. I am concerned about the age of this ballclub’s best players.

        • vin says:

          By fWAR (top 6 for each):

          Position Players (2010 ages):
          Cano – 27
          Gardner – 26
          Swisher – 29
          Rodriguez – 34
          Granderson – 29
          Tex – 30

          CC – 29
          Hughes – 24
          Pettitte – 38
          Rivera – 40
          Chamberlain – 24
          Burnett – 33

          I can live with that going into next year. Especially considering Rivera has defied time, Pettitte is still effective, and ARod keeps himself in spectacular shape.

          • Gonzo says:

            I guess my concern is A-Rod, Jeter, Mo, and Pettitte (I would be concerned about Burnett, but what’s the point). The older you get the more likely a fall off becomes. My concern is how big that fall off will be for each player and when will it occur.

          • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

            Make that same chart again, except instead of using fWar, use AAV…

        • Steve H says:

          By bWAR the 5 guys who provided at least 4 wins last year and their 2011 ages.

          Cano 28
          CC 30
          Tex 31
          Gardner 26
          Swisher 30

          • Gonzo says:

            Like I said, I am more concerened about A-Rod, Jeter, Mo, and Pettitte. I prefer fWAR. Just curious, why do you prefer bWAR?

            • Steve H says:

              I don’t necessarily prefer the stat bWAR but I think bREF is easier to navigate. In a nutshell, I do prefer bWAR when looking back at stats, but fWAR to predict performance going forward.

              • Gonzo says:

                I’ve always considered fWAR better, but I guess that’s just based on KLaw’s recommendation, and the way bWAR overvalues relievers.

  10. Am I the only one who thinks Jeter could actually be a plus defender in LF?

    For his entire tenure at SS, he’s had bad lateral range on grounders hit to either side, but he’s excelled at overall OOZ range on flyball popups. He’s always reminded me of Robin Yount, an outfielder (with an outfielder’s body) playing shortstop out of position. Like Yount, I bet he’d handle the move to LF with aplomb.

    Sure, his bat may not have the power to mimic normal LF production, but if he can hit, say, .290/.360/.400 and provide +2 UZR LF defense, that’s still a pretty damn good LF option.

    I wouldn’t move him off of SS until a better option presents itself, but if one does, I’m much more interested in putting him in LF than moving him to 3B.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Okay, but the Yankees are pretty well set in the OF for the next few years, and then they’d need a replacement at shortstop, where no obvious one exists.

    • OldYanksFan says:

      You may be right if this move happened years ago, and Jete’s got a few years to adjust… learn good routes… learn to judge balls off the bat. But he ain’t young now, doesn’t run that well anymore, and simply has no experience in the OF.

      Soriano is a pretty athletic guy with very good speed. How did his move to the OF work out?

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      Yeah, I think that corner OF makes sense for Jeter down the line as well. He’s always been good on pop-ups. Do you think RF makes more sense for him though? The left field gap in Yankee Stadium is pretty large and RF is relatively small so it would call for him to cover less ground. It’s just a matter of whether or not his arm can do the job in right.

    • vin says:

      I’m sure he’d be fine as he moves down the defensive-difficulty position ladder.

      Maybe they can sign Mike Bordick to replace Derek at short.

    • Gonzo says:

      I am not sure about the comparison to Yount. Yount was moved from SS at age 29, and his career was basically over at 36. Also, Yount wasn’t a plus defender at all in the field. At least not according to Fangraphs. The data is older however.

    • Am I the only one who thinks Jeter could actually be a plus defender in LF?

      Nope. I’ve been saying for years IF he ever moves off SS that LF would be his one and only option.

  11. Beamish says:

    Given the general consensus that Jeter could probably have been a plus defender in the OF (based on little but impressions since we have no actual fielding data – going back on pop-ups is not a huge sample set for determining outfield skill) I often wonder how differently things would have gone if Jeter had gone to the team in 2005/2006 and pulled a Robin Yount.

    Instead of signing Damon they could have moved Jeter to CF, slid A-Rod back over to SS (he was only 2 years at 3B at that time) and been all in on the Lowell/Becket trade the following year.

    Maybe nothing would have changed, maybe everything. I still look at that as a missed chance for one of the great career moves in baseball.

    • Gonzo says:

      Did the Yankees have the prospects to complete that deal in 2005? Might be a better question for Axisa.

      • whozat says:

        I can’t imagine they did. It took Hanley Ramirez AND assuming Lowell’s contract, and a couple other decent pieces.

        The Yanks had young Hughes and ?????

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Nope, absolutely not. Florida was adamant about getting a shortstop in return, but the Yankees had zero. Hughes had five pro innings to his credit back then, his trade value was small. The farm system was him, Eric Duncan, Dioner Navarro, Cano, and Wang. That’s it.

        • If I had a time machine and could have somehow prevented the Sox trading for Beckett/Lowell and instead redirected Beckett/Lowell here to the Yankees…

          I would absolutely NOT do that.

          Beckett/Lowell to Boston (and not New York) and HanRam to Florida (and not Boston) is a GOOD thing for the Yankees. Sure, it sucks that they won a title with Beckett/Lowell, but they only won one, and we’ve now equaled that and look to be in the far better position going forward.

          • Clay Bellinger says:

            Agreed. Yeah Beckett was huge for them in ’07 and they got a ring out of it, but could you imagine the Sox having HanRam the last few years and into the future? I’m glad that things played out the way they did.

    • Clay Bellinger says:

      Well, much would have changed but I dunno if the results would have been different or better. They still won a WS since the Beckett trade went down. Damon played a key role in that run to the ’09 title. If Arod were the SS we’d be talking about moving him somewhere else now. We’d need a 3rd baseman. Beckett’s contract sucks now and I dunno if the Yanks could’ve even outbid the Sawx at the time anyway. It took Hanley Ramirez to pry Beckett from the Marlins. It would’ve taken Hughes and more to get him. So…all in all I think the Yanks are better off they way they are.

  12. Monteroisdinero says:

    Jeter can’t play any other position as well as any of our other guys who are there now. This would all be so much easier if we would just cut him loose, sign Crawford, DH Swish, backup catch Posada and put the cheap and improving Nunez at SS batting 9th. With Montero as well, the offense is improved, the OF defense is improved. There is risk (not financial) in a hopefully improving 23 year old SS who runs well and has better range-but he bats 9th with 8 other tremendous bats in the lineup and can be pinch hit for late in games if need be (Jorge). Where does Jeets bat next year if he continues his last 3 month performance?

    I don’t man-love Nunez and I hope Jeter rebounds but I watched alot of painful AB’s for the Captain for 3 months. He can’t pull a fastball, was/is not selective at the plate, is a gdp machine and was not injured. Seriously, why are we paying him $19M (soon) ?

  13. MikeD says:

    I don’t think it would be foolish at all to move A-Rod to DH, especially coupled with your other belief (and one with which I agree) that Jeter will remain at SS until he retires, or at least for the life of his next contract.

    If we know up front that we have a declining defensive unit on the left-side of the infield, and the guy at SS isn’t moving, that means the only opportunity for defensive improvement is at third. So, for example, if we were planning for the 2012 season, and Posada has now retired or moved on to another team, and Adrian Beltre was available, it would make great sense to upgrade defense at third by signing Beltre. Plus, putting A-Rod at DH should allow him to play more consistently, which will maximize his hitting.

    I’m not saying there’s a rush to move A-Rod, but since his cost is already built into the Yankee payroll, we should not hesitate to move him to DH if it makes the team better.

    • vin says:

      Like the Jeter situation, it all depends on who the new 3B is. Not sure if Beltre would be a good fit in YS3, with its large LF. Also, he’ll be 32 by the start of the year. Besides, he’s signing a multi-year deal and won’t be available in 2012, except in a trade.

      What’s more valuable in 2012 and beyond:
      1) Alex at 3rd, and a legit DH
      2) A good glove at 3rd and Alex at DH

      In order for option 2 to be more viable, the new 3B has to have a more than capable bat. I don’t honestly think Alex is costing the team all that many runs at 3rd. I’m also not sure how much a new 3B can make up for Jeter’s deficiencies.

      • MikeD says:

        Vin, don’t worry. I’m not advocating replacing A-Rod at third with Nick Punto. I’m suggesting if the opportunity presents itself to make the infield younger, improve the defense, and maximize A-Rod’s playing time, then the Yankees should look at it. A-Rod is eventually heading to the DH slot. I’m not worried about having it happen a couple years earlier if adding the right player makes the team better. Beltre was a player of convenience for the scenario. Although I will add, I don’t think YSIII would be much of an issue for him. He was hurt greatly by Safeco, and his home/road splits throughout his career are pretty extreme. Fenway was the first time he played in a good hitters’ park. I don’t view the new Yankee Stadium as an worse then neutral right now for a right-handed hitter.

  14. Hughesus Christo says:

    I hope the imaginary 3B replacing ARod is better than the imaginary SS we had lined up to replace Jeter. That guy just cost us millions!

  15. king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

    None of these options sound good. None.

    Where do we stand, after Nunez and Pena, for homegrown left side infielders?

  16. Jerome S says:

    I know that anecdotes are the worst measurement but I saw A-Rod make a ton of plays this year that were awesome.

  17. GermanYankee says:

    thanks for answering my question about Rhodes.

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