Mailbag: Ohlendorf, Org. Players, Wild Card


This week we’ve got questions about a former Yankee reliever turned starter, plus stuff on organizational players, the 2011 AL Wild Card, and what everyone really wants to know: when do all the aces hit free agency? Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions.

Rock 'n Rohlendorf (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Joe asks: Looking over Ohlendorf’s career numbers and numbers last year, does he pass the Mitre test? (if the Yankees still had him of course)

You know, I was a real big Ross Ohlendorf fan back in the day, when he was throwing that 97 mph two-seamer and sharp slider in relief … though he was never able to miss a bat. That’s held true since the trade. He’s struck out just 5.9 batters per nine innings with the Buccos, and his ground ball rate (38.5%) isn’t nearly good enough to compensate. Ohlendorf also gives up quite a few homers (1.2 HR/9), and left-handers just crush him (.371 wOBA).

Ohlie used that Princeton education to beat the Pirates in arbitration this month, earning himself a $2.025MM salary in 2010. He’s essentially Mitre without all the ground balls and at more than twice the cost, so no, he doesn’t pass the test.

Brad asks: You did a nice article the importance of organization players, but it would be interesting to see if you have any recent examples (e.g, within the last 5 years) of players labeled as organizational players that emerged to be something more in the majors.  Do you have any thoughts?

I don’t know of too many examples, but the best is Ian Kinsler. He spent his freshman season at a JuCo, transferred to Arizona State and hit .230/.246/.262 in 66 plate appearances as a bench player, then transferred to Mizzou for his junior year and hit .335/.416/.536 against weak competition. Baseball America ranked him the 17th best prospect in Missouri for the 2003 Draft, hardly a state known for baseball. The Rangers took him in the 17th round, and it wasn’t until a monster half season in Single-A (.402/.465/.692 in 225 PA) that Kinsler put himself on the map. Considered a defense-first shortstop out of college, the rest is pretty much history.

A bunch of relievers qualify would here, those guys tend to come out of nowhere. Former Yankee Phil Coke and former Yankees farmhand John Axford certainly fit the bill. I know Freddy Sanchez was dangerously close to flaming out at some point before the Red Sox traded him to the Pirates. That’s really all I got, this would be pretty tough to research.

Erik asks: Is there any chance the wild card comes from this division in 2011?  The Sox are obviously stacked, Yanks can hold their own as long as starters can get thru 5-6 innings.  Both Baltimore (check out that lineup) and the Jays have improved a bunch.  You can’t count out TB either, though I think they’re the team that will suffer most this year. All that said, each of these teams play each other 17-20 times.  The beating they could all give to each other will surely hurt the overall standings, when there’s divisions like the West who have much lighter schedules.  I think you’re gonna have to win the East to make the playoffs – do you agree?

Won't have to face this guy anymore. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

I wouldn’t get too worried about the O’s. Yes their lineup is improved, but Mark Reynolds, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Matt Wieters all have on-base percentages at or below .330 over the last three years. That’s nearly half the lineup right there. Vlad Guerrero has one foot in the glue factory, Brian Roberts and Derrek Lee slightly less so. In fact, the only regular in their lineup that is undeniably a better hitter than their Yankee counterpart is Luke Scott in leftfield. Plus Baltimore’s pitching is awful. Nice team, definitely improved, but they’ll flirt with 90 losses unless some of their young arms really step up.

I also don’t think the Jays have improved much. They traded their best starter and second best hitter, and lost their two best relievers and replaced them with a bunch of inferior ones. Going in the right direction, yes, but they’re not there yet. The Rays will certainly be tough, and of course the Red Sox will as well, but look at the other divisions. Oakland is improved but hardly a powerhouse, and the Rangers’ pitching thins out real quick after C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. The Twins lost a bunch of bullpen depth but are still a damn good team. The White Sox are probably the favorite to win the division after adding some offense in Adam Dunn, and the Tigers added offense (Victor Martinez) but their pitching to awfully thin once you get past the front three starters and top two relievers.

Ninety wins would have won the AL Wild Card last year, after 88 in 2009 and 90 in 2008. Let’s say the Yankees split their 72 games against the four other AL East teams and go 36-36 (18 games against each), that means they’d have to play .622 ball during the non-AL East portion of their schedule to get to 92 wins, which should be enough to secure a playoff berth. They played .633 against non-AL East teams last year and .528 within the division, so we’re not expecting miracles.  Will it be tougher to get in the postseason this year because teams in other divisions improved? Sure, but all those clubs are flawed as well. You can argue that the Yankees have the best bullpen and best lineup in the AL, which is more than enough to keep them in the hunt until they get some real starting pitching help. Winning the division is great, but I’m of the “just get in” mentality.

Dave asks: For curiosity’s sake, can you put together a list of when various aces are expected to reach free agency, and their age at that time? It would be interesting to see in one place when Felix, Lincecum, and Johnson will become available. Thanks.

After the jump is a list of the top 20 pitchers in terms of FIP over the last two years, and when they hit free agency…

  1. Tim Lincecum (2.73 FIP): FA after 2013, turns 30 in June 2014
  2. Josh Johnson (2.76): FA after 2013, turns 30 in Jan. 2014
  3. Zack Greinke (2.83): FA after 2012, turns 29 in Oct. 2012
  4. Cliff Lee (2.86): FA after 2015 or 2016 (option), turns 38 in August 2016
  5. Justin Verlander (2.88): FA after 2015, turns 33 in Feb. 2016
  6. Adam Wainwright (2.99): FA after 2011, 2012, or 2013 (options), turns 31 in August 2012
  7. Roy Halladay (3.03): FA after 2013 or 2014 (option), turns 37 in May 2014
  8. Felix Hernandez (3.07): FA after 2014, turns 29 in April 2015
  9. Clayton Kershaw (3.10): FA after 2014, turns 27 in March 2015
  10. Jon Lester (3.14): FA after 2013 or 2014 (option), turns 30 in Jan. 2014
  11. Ubaldo Jimenez (3.23): FA after 2012, 2013, or 2014 (options), turns 29 in Jan. 2013
  12. Chris Carpenter (3.28): FA after 2011 or 2012 (option), turns 37 in April 2012
  13. Tommy Hanson (3.38): FA after 2015, turns 30 in August 2016
  14. Hiroki Kuroda (3.38): FA after 2011, turns 37 in Feb. 2012
  15. Chad Billingsley (3.45): FA after 2012, turns 29 in July 2013
  16. Dan Haren (3.47): FA after 2012 or 2013 (option), turns 32 in Sept. 2012
  17. Yovani Gallardo (3.50): FA after 2014 or 2015 (option), turns 29 in Feb. 2015
  18. Roy Oswalt (3.50): FA after 2011 or 2012 (option), turns 35 in August 2012
  19. Joel Pineiro (3.51): FA after 2011, turns 33 in Sept. 2011
  20. Wandy Rodriguez (3.52): FA after 2013 or 2014 (option), turns 35 in Jan. 2014

I intentionally left CC Sabathia out since he’s currently a Yankee, but his 3.47 FIP is tied with Haren for 16th place. Quick observation: Just five of those guys are on American League teams. Meaningful, or coincidence?

Categories : Mailbag
  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    Wow, that’s disgusting. Three guys on that list who’ve changed teams in the last year, and none for a stellar package. Waiting on Lee was really, really dumb.

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

      Waiting on Lee was really, really dumb.

      Only because they didn’t get him.

      • jsbrendog (returns)

        and the teams that traded these guys wouldn’t have accepted a non stellar package from the yankees, as we have seen

        • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

          Sorry, but Haren and Oswalt were there for the taking. Houston took a less than stellar package for Berkman.

          Halladay would have required Montero + Joba. One would have been gone any ways for a lesser pitcher in Lee. The other is a middling relief arm.

          • It’sATarp

            Agreed. We could have Haren for basically nothing. Oh yea we give up Joba…big deal it’s not like the organization still likes him anyways and his value as a reliever is close to nothing.

            • jsbrendog (returns)

              and you know this how? did you call arizona and know they would trade him to thebyankees for what they traded him to the angels for? it is still the same owner that refused to trade curt schilling to the yankees for anything less than an arm and a leg and then traded him to bosox for nothing.

              • It’sATarp


                Joba, ivan nova and zach mcallister were the names thrown around int he discussion…i mean seriously?

                • Thomas

                  It’s because the Yankees didn’t want to absorb all of Haren’s contract (33M), since it would have reduced their chances of signing Lee.


                  • MannyGee

                    again, planning on or around a guy who said he wanted to test the FA market was stooooopid.

                    and yeah CC/Lee/Haren/Hughes/AJ would have just been HORRIBLE.

                  • The Big City of Dreams

                    Playing devil’s advocate couldn’t the Yankees have moved Haren over the winter to a team in need of pitching if they still had plans on signing Lee?

                    • Thomas

                      Sure but you could run into the problems the Phillies are having with Blanton. You can’t get a ton for him since everyone knows he needs to be moved. Also, Haren could have sucked in NY and the Yankees couldn’t trade him without absorbing a lot of salary.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                      Haren isn’t Blanton. Not. Even. Close.

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  Let’s not forget these links as well:



                  #yankees willing to include nova, mcallister and 2 prospects for dan haren, will not eat $ and give up joba. still talking.


                  #yankees would pay the $33 mil left on haren, but they have balked at taking chad qualls, chris snyder, too.


                  But the Yankees rejected a Diamondbacks proposal that would have sent Joba Chamberlain, highly regarded pitching prospect Ivan Nova and two other prospects to Arizona for Haren.


                  • AndrewYF

                    Wonder what those ‘two others’ are, eh? Too bad we have zero idea. It was probably someone like Banuelos or Betances, and adding Joba onto that AND taking Qualls AND eating all Haren’s salary was a dealbreaker. Hard to argue if that was the case.

                    But, we don’t know what the case really was, so it’s still hard to argue.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                      Those are alot of ANDs and without any evidence. Given what they got for Haren, Joba+Nova would have been good enough to beat any other team.

                    • The Big City of Dreams

                      True who knows what those other pieces are but the reports do indicate they were reluctance to give up Joba who at this point is a mop up guy

                • AndrewYF

                  Those were ‘potential key pieces’, according to a ‘source’. Absolutely nothing more was reported.

                  It’s intellectually dishonest to state that Haren was ‘there for the taking’ when you don’t actually know what he could have been had for. There was never any deal on the table, and he went to the Angels because Arizona liked what the Angels were offering.

                  Trust me, it would have been AMAZING to get Haren. As you see, he’s pretty much locked up for the next three years at a discount rate. He would have solidified the Yankee rotation for years.

                  But you simply cannot say that the Yankees ‘whiffed’ by not getting him, because the only people who know what it would have taken are Brian Cashman and whoever was in the Arizona front office.

                  I think it’s safe to say, however, that Arizona fucked up the trade. It’s not the first time they fucked up a trade, and it’s also not the first time their GM has been fired after completely fucking up a trade. Hard to blame the Yankees for another teams’ incompetence.

                  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                    We know what Arizona eventually got. Joba + Nova is a much better package.

                    • Rick in Boston

                      But not according to the people making the call on the deal. Obviously, they found a package centered on Joe Saunders to be a better offer – you cannot fault the Yankees for that.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                      Sure we can. The Yankees never included Joba.

                    • CMP

                      The Yanks should have been able to beat what the Angels gave up for Haren with ease. Cashman never pushed too hard for the deal because he thought he had Lee in his back pocket. Turns out the Yanks may have won the WS last year if they had gotten Haren and he would be our #2 starter right now for 2011.

          • Thomas

            Oswalt had been declining before the trade. His ERA was 3.54 in 2008, 4.12 in 2009, and 3.42 with the Astros in 2010 compared to his years prior (with an ERA of about three). He started performing really well after the trade (1.74 with the Phillies), which couldn’t really be expected.

            Also, the Astros wanted Brett Wallace (or another first base prospect)and needed Gose (a high quality OF prospect) to get him.

            • MannyGee

              He started performing really well after the trade (1.74 with the Phillies), which couldn’t really be expected.

              yeah, because a change of scenery never helps an athlete’s performance.

              • Thomas

                It has also been known to make players do much worse, especially for players that aren’t desperate to leave.

              • Johnny O

                “because a change of scenery never helps an athlete’s performance.”

                See: Weaver, Jeff and Vazquez, Javier.

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        The other alternatives would have been as good (Haren, Oswalt), if not better (Halladay).

        Your logic is backwards though. It’s exactly because of the uncertainty that you do what you can now. Worst case they would have had a an “extra” top of the rotation pitcher.

      • CMP

        No it was dumb because their plan B was Sergio Mitre.

    • Johnny O

      Waiting on Lee was dumb? So let’s say they traded Montero, lost in the WS to the Giants, then Lee signs with Philly anyway. Or do you mean waiting on him in free agency when he clearly moved at his own pace and forced the Yankees to wait?

      The list shows the importance of developing your own starting pitching because the FA crop gets weaker and weaker. Grienke, Carpenter and Billingsley after 2012. And Liriano too… (go get him Cash)

      • Johnny O

        I would say waiting on Haren was dumber (not that we know what Cashman offered, if anything), because he would’ve been in the non-Montero division of trades.

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        Joba was supposedly the hold up on Halladay…cause they’ve done such a great job developing him.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          I heard Joba was offered but the Jays turned him down. Is there any truth to that?

        • CS Yankee

          No doubt that they wish they could have a redo.

          I thought after 2009, inking Halladay to a 5-6 year deal was bad idea (as everyone thought that is what it would take). After they signed Javy, I figured that if they stay healthy and Grit performs they would win 105 and repeat.

          Roy signs cheap…Javy lost velocity & location…and Grit did real well. The two WS teams were bat weak flukes.

          Go figure.

          • CS Yankee

            err, not signed but traded for.

            The crime is what little Halladay gets compared to Lee.


            • MannyGee


              Not against the Yankees he’s not

              • CS Yankee

                say what?

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

                How quickly we forget, eh? If this isn’t confirmation bias, nothing is.

                • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                  Halladay was always much, much better. Just because you didn’t do the post doesn’t negate that fact.

                  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

                    I’m pretty sure Mike was right there saying that Halladay was much better than Lee.

                    Also, take a nap.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)


      • Big Apple

        great post. if they signed lee in july and then lost him this fall, i would be stomping mad!! with Lee they probably win the series but what a huge price to pay.

        time to just get over Lee…its clear he never wanted to pitch in NY AND the back end of that contract would’ve been a disaster.

        Its time the yanks develop their own players and they are…this farm system is as promising as any in the leauge. If one of the 3 Bs works out that would be two very good starters along with Hughes that has come from the farm. And i’m dying to see what montero can do!

    • http://www.cerealblogger.com Russ has a last name

      Does anyone think passing on Santana and waiting for CC was “really dumb”?

      Putting together a baseball team is all about taking calculated risks. It was never a guarantee the CLee would sign but that doesnt mean it wasnt a smart bet.

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        Except they were all in for Lee with the Montero package (except, you know, Nunexz holding that one up). That makes the difference very real. That had a philosophy until they didn’t.

        If they were all in for Lee, they certainly should have been for Haren, Oswalt, and Halladay.

        • Rick in Boston

          How do we know that Seattle wasn’t stringing the Yankees along all the time? It’s becoming clearer that Seattle valued Smoak more than Montero, and decided that taking a top prospect from a division rival was more valuable.

          • It’sATarp

            doesn’t change the fact the Yankees tried really hard to get another pitcher and that was before Andy went down and Javy started to suck. It was just a plain bad move to not go after Haren or someone once Javy and AJ started to suck and Andy got injured.

            I mean how does it make sense that we offered up our best prospect for Lee when we had a formidable rotation during that time…yet once our rotation started to fall apart and we had a chance to get another top starter for much less (and who is under contract longer..younger and cheaper),the front office decided to balk on it b/c they wanted to keep a guy who is now a middle reliever…

            that just screams that the FO believed that they were going to sign Cliff Lee this off-season…thus forgoing to get another other available starter at the time. That’s just turrible planning…

            • The Big City of Dreams

              I know many will disagree but what you said makes a lot of sense. They offered up Montero on a silver platter for a two month rental when the rotation was performing so well. I remember some Yankees fans and Yankee haters proclaiming the move for Lee was overkill/not fair. But then they turned around and were hesitant to move Joba for Haren. I understand other pieces were involved in both potential deals but they had no problem moving Montero yet they balked at a deal for Chamberlain. It doesn’t make sense because:

              1. Joba was told during ST he’s a reliever for the rest of his career
              2. He wasn’t performing well at the time of the Haren trade talk.

              Why hold onto a kid that you yourself don’t believe in?

  • http://twitter.com/TylerWilkinson T-Dubs

    There are going to be a shitload of very rich 30 year old pitchers in a few years.

  • Esteban

    Who’s the best target of the free-agent to be pitchers?

    • John

      IMO Zack by a mile in terms of the year he becomes FA and his age when he does so.

    • http://twitter.com/TylerWilkinson T-Dubs

      I say Kershaw

    • CS Yankee

      King Felix by a bunch

      In 2015 it could take 30M$ Per to sign the 29 yr old & with that likely to be his last big contract…maybe 7/210M$

      • It’sATarp

        By 2015 we’re going to need a lot more than just Felix. Greinke is the most realistic in terms of age and when he hit FA. by 2015 half the team will be in their mid to late 30′s.

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

          There will be maybe five players on the 2015 team that are on the team right now. Maybe.

          There’s just 11 players left on the roster from the 2008 team, and it’s only been two full seasons since then.

  • It’sATarp

    I think we over value prospects. I’d trade any of our prospects for most of those guys on the list of pitchers. I still think we should have gone hard for Greinke. I don’t think Montero is needed for Greinke since Royals already had a catching prospects in the wings…I’d would have traded any of the Killer B’s for the guy since the chances any of the B’s becoming as good as Greinke is now is very very low. Meh maybe there’s still the hope the Brewers flame out and trade Greinke again like the Mariners with Lee to stock the farm. But even then i would bet the FO would make some stupid excuse not to look into it like “he’s crazy and he can’t handle NY” or something and we get stuck with Sergio fucking Mitre.

    • Ted Nelson

      “I think we over value prospects.”

      That’s a blanket statement if I’ve ever seen one… Who is “we” and what value do “we” put on prospects?

      “I don’t think Montero is needed for Greinke since Royals already had a catching prospects in the wings…”

      They just moved Myers to OF…

      “and we get stuck with Sergio fucking Mitre.”

      I will be very surprised if everyone’s healthy and Mitre enters the season in the rotation. Very surprised.

    • Big Apple

      its no secret what builds a winning team…it comes from the farm first.

      the yanks success since the mid 90s is due to homegrown talent..Jeter, mo, pettite, bernie and posada were the cornerstone and its time to replace them with hughes, montero, cano, etc…

  • Johnny O

    FA class after 2013: Lincecum (30), Josh Johnson (30), Wainwright (31), Haren (32). I’m sure at least two of these guys will sign extensions by then, but imagine if they all hit FA? Of course Manny Banuelos will have won ROY and Cy Young in 2012 so we won’t be too desperate for these guys.

    • MannyGee

      of course Banuelos would be winning that in Minny, while Liriano borrows Marte’s arm sling, but still…

  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    Anyone else think Nova is going to follow the Ohlendorf path? Good velocity, appears to have good stuff, but doesn’t miss bats. Ohlendorf struck out more guys in the minors, walked less, and gave up about the same number of HR’s. Nova may have gotten more grounders (not sure), but that’s a pretty scary proposition if you ask me. Are they similar or am I way off base?

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

      Nope, not off base at all. In Nova’s defense, he has a much better changeup that Ohlie.

      • MannyGee

        My head is STILL SPINNING that both Ross Ohlendorf and Phil Coke will both start games in 2011 while Joba eats sunflower seeds with Marte’s corpse and goes for bullpen beer runs…

        • AndrewYF

          Yes, but Ross will be starting in AAAA, and Coke will suck.

      • CS Yankee

        plus he is 1.6M$ cheaper

  • forensic

    But, yesterday Mitch Williams said the gap from the Red Sox to the 2nd place team will be the biggest among all six divisions and Brian Jordan said the Orioles will finish over .500 and Reynolds, Lee, and Guerrero will hit over 100 homers combined.

    So hard to decide who to listen to…

  • adeelmd

    i love how the yankees are always in trade talks for big name guys, but I hate how depressed and angry fans get over trades that didn’t happen. Even if we had Lee or any of the above pitchers, we would still need our farm system to win the WS…

    There is no magic bullet, ie “lets trade one of the B’s for a WAR 4.0 pitcher”… no, we need the b’s AND the pitcher if we want a title.

    • MannyGee

      just like we needed Joba, Hughes and IPK in the rotation to win a title…

      • Ted Nelson

        Yankees got a solid young starter, a good young reliever, and a trade piece to acquire a good CF out of those three… At the same time as you’re making you own point, you’re also making adeelmd’s point for him/her.

        I don’t think there’s a right answer, as your example demonstrates. Sometimes you trade nothing and come back with Nick Swisher. Sometimes you trade a young stud pitcher and come back with 2010 Javy. Sometimes you give up something and also get something. And is it theoretically better to get a short term boost, or a good long term piece?

        The only certain thing is that having a lot of good prospects is a good thing. The best way to use them is both circumstantial and debatable.

  • Not Tank the Frank

    It’s a shame that the Yankees probably won’t even try to sign Greinke. I also have a nagging suspicion (or hope) that Billingsley will be a Yankee. I feel like everyone on that Dodger team minus Kershaw and maybe Kemp will be up for grabs.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    Thomas says:
    February 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Sure but you could run into the problems the Phillies are having with Blanton. You can’t get a ton for him since everyone knows he needs to be moved. Also, Haren could have sucked in NY and the Yankees couldn’t trade him without absorbing a lot of salary


    Valid point but it still might have been a risk worth taking

    • It’sATarp

      yep…what were giving expected to give up for Haren was pretty down right average. It would have been well worth the risk. Also it’s not like Haren is some average starter..he’s a legit top pitcher and an Ace on most team.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Haren is a very good pitcher. I think ppl are luke warm on him because his 2nd half numbers dip over the past couple of yrs. When the rumors were out there I was against it because I thought they still planned on having Joba start of course now we know they had no interest in doing that. They must really be banking on him turning it around and becoming what he once was.

        • It’sATarp

          if Joba was going to start i would have been more hesitant to trade for haren… but by the time of the deal rumors Joba was already falling out of favor by the Yankees front office, girardi and even the fans. It’s bad enough we won’t let him start…but even more mind boggling why we didn’t use him to get a starter when he already fell out of favor with the heads of the team and they decided to let him rot in the pen.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            Good point

            And he’s still rotting in the pen as a middle reliever lol. Despite what anyone says the Yankees have no repeat no faith in Joba. His role on the team tells everyone how they feel about him.

  • RobC

    Why use FIP to determin aces vs other stats such as k/bb, k/9 and ground ball rate or……..does striking out hitters while walking few and inducing ground balls lead to low FIP?

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    Halladay: Still effective at 37