Mailbag: Romine, Bush, Gardner, Posada

What's the excuse now?
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Time for another edition of the RAB Mailbag, and this one is free of Rafael Soriano/Joba Chamberlain vitriol. We’ve got questions about Dave Bush as a rotation candidate, Austin Romine as the catcher of the future, Brett Gardner‘s long-term outlook, and what happens with Jorge Posada after the upcoming season. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Arad asks: What about Dave Bush as a 4th or 5th starter?

Once upon a time, Bush was arguably the most dominant closer in college baseball history. The Blue Jays have done a great job in recent years of turning college relievers into starters (Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil among them), which is what they did with Bush before trading him to the Brewers in the Lyle Overbay deal. But that is neither here nor there.

Bush’s last three seasons have been pretty damn awful. He had a 4.93 FIP in 2008, a 5.07 FIP in 2009, and a 5.13 FIP in 2010, so he’s bad and getting worse as he enters into his 30’s. Although his walk rate is solid (2.64 uIBB/9 in the last three years), his strikeout rate is below average (5.80 K/9) and so is his ground ball rate (38.9%). Oh, and he’s amazingly homer prone. Over the last three seasons he’s surrendered one homerun for fewer than every 6.1 IP. And this is in the NL Central, stick him in the AL East in Yankee Stadium and we could start taking bets on which sections of the bleachers will get souvenirs on the nights he pitches.

As I always say, there’s nothing wrong with a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, but there are enough red flags here to keep me away.

Ashley asks: If the Yankees were to use Jesus Montero as trade bait sometime throughout the season, how much will the drop off be from Jesus to Austin Romine? Is there any benefit to having Romine as the “catcher of the future” or will we trade for a big name catcher (if he exist)? Basically, assess the Yanks catching situation.

Romine was always a much safer bet to remain at catcher long-term, but questions popped up about his catching ability last season. Keith Law didn’t like what he saw out of him blocking balls in the dirt and what not in the Arizona Fall League, though in fairness Romine was probably fatigued after his first full season as an everyday catcher. His bat also dropped off considerably in the second half. Romine is still a quality catching prospect though, a borderline top 100 guy with the tools to catch in the show. He just has to continue developing those tools into baseball skills. It’ll definitely be a big hit though, Montero is going to be a star because of his bat. Romine will just a solid backstop.

The wildcard here is Russell Martin. If he plays well and the Yankees like what they’re getting out of him over the next two years, there’s always a chance they’ll re-sign him when he’s due to become a free agent in two seasons. IF not, and they trade Montero for a starter, I suspect Romine will get the first crack at that vaunted “catcher of the future” job. If he can’t handle it, they’ll either have to go out and get someone or hope Gary Sanchez doesn’t flame out. This isn’t an immediate concern though, we’re at least two seasons away before we have to really worry about who will do the catching long-term.

Anonymous asks: Gardner. Lead off guy? Centerfielder? Big time contributor or eventual fourth outfielder/pinch runner?

That was a pretty awesome catch. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

If he continues to play like he did last year, he’s a legit leadoff hitter that can play center full-time. He’s just masquerading as a leftfielder now because of Curtis Granderson. The wrist injury and subsequent offseason surgery is a bit of a problem and we don’t know if or how it will effect Gardner in the long run, so that’s something we’re just going to have to wait and see about.

Remember, Gardner is already 27, so this is pretty much what he’s going to be going forward. He won’t suddenly develop power, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He absolutely needs to get better at bunting, but the overall skill set is there to be a legit big league leadoff man for a few seasons. I believe in his ability to be at least an average regular a whole lot more now than I did twelve months ago, and at the absolute worst he’s a good reserve outfielder.

Mark asks: How many games will Jorge Posada have to play and what offensive #’s will he have to put up in 2011 to obtain a contract for 2012? Or due to his age and inability to play defense are we simply counting down the time until we say goodbye to yet another of the all-time Yankee greats to wear the pinstripes later this fall?

I’m in the camp that thinks (hopes) Jorge will retire after the season. Even if he doesn’t, any contract he gets for 2012 would absolutely have to be a one-year deal. That’s imperative. But in order for him to get a new deal after the season, Posada would need to a) handle the move to DH with ease, and b) hit at an above average rate for the position. Offense around the league sucked last season, and AL DH’s (not counting NL DH’s in interleague play) hit just .252/.336/.426 in 2010. Posada easily cleared that playing mostly catcher (.248/.357/.454) and over the last three seasons he’s hit .267/.361/.474, so being an above average DH shouldn’t be much of an issue. Moving to the new position can be, since we’ve seen some playing in the past having trouble dealing with all the down time between at-bats. Becoming a full-time DH after playing the field for two decades isn’t as easy as it seems.

To be perfectly honest, I had never even considered the possibility that Posada could be back in 2012. I don’t think that either A-Rod or Jeter will erode so much next summer that they’ll be relegated to full-time DH duties in 2012, so it seems like the opportunity will be there if Jorge wants to come back for another season. But like I said, one-year contract, nothing more. They already gave him his legacy contract.

What's the excuse now?
RAB Live Chat
  • Dick Whitman

    Brett Gardner will have a higher fWAR in 2011 than Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. And that’s not even considering the CF positional adjustment credit Granderson gets and Gardner does not. Book it.

    • Accent Shallow

      I will take that bet.


    • The Real JobaWockeeZ

      I’ll also take that bet.

    • dalelama

      If the Yankees make the post season Brett Gardner will go 5 for 36 with 4 infield singles. Book it.

  • choo choo

    Just wondering how much longer Gardner insists on sliding head first. Even Curley figured out a way to lessen the hurt and pain when Moe kept hitting him in the head with a sledge hammer.

    • Colin

      Hey, if it helps him steal 47 a year, I’m all for headfirst slides. From personal experience, it’s quicker, and fun, too.

  • vin

    I’ve never thought Posada will retire after 2011. Unlike Pettitte, he hasn’t really made any overtures that the thought of retirement is pulling at him. If I had to rank the possibilities:

    Posada returns to the Yanks after 2012
    – average sized gap
    Posada signs on with another team for 2012
    – fairly big gap
    Posada retires

    • derek

      Really? I think its more like this:

      Posada retires
      -average sized gap
      Posada returns to the Yanks after 2012
      -Michael Strahan’s tooth gap
      Posada works at McDonald’s
      -Bigger gap
      Posada signs on with another team for 2012

      • Luis Sojo the Pasta Eating Machine

        Highly doubt Posada would slum it with another team a la Johnny Damon.

        I think the bigger issue will be the money the Yanks will be willing to pay vs. what Jorge will want.

      • MikeD

        I don’t agree. Out of the Core Four, I can see Posada being the most likely to continue his career playing for another team. There’s a lot of fire in Posada, and while I can certainly see him wanting to be a Yankee for life, I can see him even more so wanting to continue to play the game and make a few million more. If he hits well, but the Yankees don’t have a spot for him, the odds of him not playing for another team is very, very low.

        Also, Posada is reguarly referred to as a borderline HOFer. Increasing his career counting stats, such as breaking through 300 career HRs, even if the last few years are as a DH, will greatly increase his chances, and being a HOFer is worth a lot of money.

        Unless he collapses, Posada will be playing somewhere in 2012.

    • Ed

      I don’t think Posada has a desire to retire, but he’s always been very realistic when talking to the press. When he signed his current contract, he seemed well aware that it was possibly his last one (which is why he pushed so hard on years). For a while now he’s been openly saying that his body can’t handle the stress of catching as well as it used to.

      So while he may not want to retire, he seems well aware of the limits of his body, which may force him to retire.

      • vin

        I just think that Posada, the competitor, won’t be ready to hang them up after ’11. And if Cashman doesn’t want to re-sign him, then I think his ego will outweigh his loyalty to the team. Unlike Bernie at the end of his career, Posada may still be a useful player – everyday DH who can catch once a week.

        • Tom Swift

          Being competitive cuts both ways — if he thinks he can’t play at a high level, he may not want to play at all.

          • vin

            Yeah, but it’s hard for a lot of guys to recognize that. For every Trevor Hoffman there’s a handful of Bernie Williams.

            I think more than anything it just comes down to the player. Some guys want to play until they have absoultely nothing left offer, while others want to go out while still being productive. My impression is that Jorge is a “leave everything on the field” kind of guy. I may be wrong – we’ll find out this time next year.

            • MikeD

              True, although in fairness to Bernie, he wasn’t done as a ballplayer. He was done as an everyday ballplayer and as a CFer, but he still had value he could deliver. His triple-slash line against lefties his final season was .323/.387/.549.

              Hmmmm, think about what the Yankees are seeking in 2011. A part-time OFer who can mash lefties. Yup, if Bernie 2006 was available today, the Yankees would very much be looking to bringing him on board. His defense was subpar, but a move to LF would help some, and unlike Thames, Bernie could catch the ball. He just didn’t have the range to be an everyday CFer. Thames couldn’t even catch the ball. Bernie would have at least improved the defensive efficiency portion of the equation, while providing a solid bat against lefties.

              Bernie had inquiries form other teams. He opted not to play because he only wanted to play for the Yankees. As I noted above, I don’t see Posada having that same approach. If the Yankees don’t want him and some other team does, I see Posada playing.

  • The Real JobaWockeeZ

    I hope people aren’t banking on Romine on being COTF. There’s a good bet you’ll be disappointed…

    Not saying he’s a bust but if people are already giving up Jesus for Romine you may be disappointed.

    • Bulldozer

      Basically banking on almost any prospect to be anything of the future is silly. It’s ok to call them that and dream on it, but banking on it is a tough sell.

    • Steve H

      Or even thinking about Gary Sanchez. He has all the talent in the world but can barely buy cigaretts legally (or is he still 17?).

  • the Other Steve S.

    I think Jorge used a phrase like ‘drag me out of here kicking and screaming’ when asked about his retirement prospect a couple years ago. If he has a career average year in 2011, he’ll want to return, no doubt. Heck, why not one more year if he can hit .250 w/20 HRs and be the emergency catcher. If he’d take a pay cut to around 6-8mm, so much the better.

  • Steve H

    Posada will be interesting, because he’ll also have to take a huge pay cut. Ballplayers have huge egos, and many of them would rather take a paycut elsewhere than take a similar paycut to stay in the same place. If productive and there’s a need for him in 2012, does he pass up bigger (or similar) money elsewhere to stay? I’d hope so since (unlike Damon) he has been a Yankee his whole career and probably would want to end that way.

  • Bulldozer

    I think Law disliked Romine’s receiving skills before the AZ Fall League. IIRC, I think he mentioned them in a chate prior to the end of the season.

    • Bulldozer


    • bexarama

      Yeah, I remember he didn’t like them during the minor league playoffs. During the one game I saw he was a mess in that regard, but a. it was very late in the year so he might’ve been worn down; b. he was catching Pettitte for the first time in a non-ST situation so there was probably some unfamiliarity.

  • KyleLitke

    Are you just assuming Montero gets traded though? I mean, this mailbag both claims the Yankees absolutely will not need a catcher before 2013, and says while they want Posada to retire, it’s wide open for him to come back in 2012. What about Montero? Seems to me that unless you’re trading him (and for what?), he’d have to have one of those spots. Offensively, he’s ready NOW, let alone next year. If Martin is good enough to keep or if Montero is that awful defensively, then he should be the DH.

    • Monteroisdinero

      This. It is my exceedingly biased opinion that in 2012 Jorge will not belong in the same batter’s box as Montero. I hope Martin works out as a catcher but, if not, I think Montero will be fine back there. Posada can become a coach/manager somewhere in the organization in 2012. He could also take over for the totally painful Tino in the booth and as a Yankee promo guy etc.

  • Mike HC

    My worst case scenario regarding Jorge would be him signing with the Sox next off season. Assuming Jorge has a solid hitting year and plays a bit behind the plate, or even not, I can envision the Yanks playing hard ball, or not needing him at all, and with the Sox need at catcher, can jump in on him and have him catch at least part of the time, like Victor Martinez. It is really not even that far fetched. The Red Sox might even be the most logical spot for him next off season.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Wouldn’t concern me in the least if he went there. We’ll sign Varitek to be a bullpen catcher.

      • Mike HC

        haha … payback

  • roadrider

    Anonymous asks: Gardner. Lead off guy? Centerfielder? Big time contributor or eventual fourth outfielder/pinch runner?

    Answer: Long Island Duck

  • Colin

    Gardy will hit around .300 if the wrist is okay, steal 50, and finally receive credit for being one of the best defensive outfielders in the game.

    And you read it here first.