Mailbag: C.J. Wilson, Reegie, Martin & Montero

The overweight, out of shape, but now underweight, Phil Hughes
Silva set to throw batting practice

We’ve got just three questions in this week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag, but they all bring something different to the table. Make sure you use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Sean asks: What do you think the chances are of the Yankees pursuing, and signing, CJ Wilson this offseason? He has a shady performance history up until last year, but he did have a good year last year and is off to another good start this year. Three main things make me think he’d be a good fit for the Yankees: 1) obviously, their rotation needs some help; 2) he’s a lefty; 3) this year’s FA SP class will be pretty weak. Thoughts?

After CC Sabathia, Wilson will be the second best starting pitcher on the free agent mark after the season. It’s basically him and Edwin Jackson, which gives you an idea of how crappy the free agent pitching class is. I think those three things you listed are more incidental than proof that he’s a good fit, if you understand what I’m saying. The key fits the hole but it doesn’t unlock the door, you catch my drift? After all, don’t number one and three apply to Jackson as well? Anyway, although Wilson will be the top non-CC hurler on the market, there are a number of reasons I’m very skeptical of signing him. Let’s list ‘em…

  1. He’s always walked a ton of guys, 4.10 per nine last year and 4.03 career. Yes, it’s down this season (2.73 BB/9), but it’s too early for that to mean anything.
  2. His swing-and-miss rate is decidedly below average, just 6.7% last year (6.8% this year).
  3. Velocity is nothing special, right around 90 mph as a starter.
  4. Very limited track record as a starter and a history of arm (specifically elbow) trouble.
  5. Will turn 31 during the offseason, so you’re definitely buying decline years and items two and three figure to get worse, not better.
  6. He’s in line for a contract on par with A.J. Burnett‘s and John Lackey’s, five years and $80M or so. That’s a lot of scratch.

I would absolutely love to rent Wilson for half-a-season, but I don’t think a) the Rangers will be falling out of the race anytime soon, or b) would be willing to help the Yankees. He’s a fine pitcher, no doubt about it, but I want no part of paying that guy eight figures a year just because he’s the best of a bad lot. I actually prefer Jackson since he’s younger (by three years), has been crazy durable (180+ IP in the last three years), and is trending upward in the missing bats department (swing-and-miss rate from 2008-2011: 7.6%, 9.8%, 10.4%, 10.8%). But again, imperfect solution, a product of the market more than anything.

Howie asks: Reegie Corona is on the 60 day DL. I think the last I heard was he might be healthy by midseason. So first off, is that still the case? Secondly, he’s not a major leaguer, so if he returns to minor league action, does he still need to be activated from the 60 day DL? Might that be the time he is DFA’d?

As far as I know, yeah, Corona’s still on track to come back from his broken arm around midseason. I assume the team will send him on a minor league rehab assignment before activating him from the disabled list, but ultimately he has to be activated before he can be officially sent to the minors. The Yankees’ 40-man roster currently has 44 players on it, four of whom are on the 60-day DL, so someone has to go whenever Corona is activated. Even before the logjam, he was always on the short list of DFA candidates.

With Frankie Cervelli beginning his rehab last night, it stands to reason that Gus Molina will be the first 40-man roster casualty. Jose Ortegano and Kevin Russo are on the bubble as well, but at least those two have redeeming qualities (Ortegano’s left-handedness, Russo’s versatility). Corona is basically a carbon copy of Ramiro Pena; a no-hit, defense-first middle infielder. I’m not sure why he was added to the 40-man roster in the first place, he was an extreme long shot to stick on a big league 25-man roster at the time. So yes, I would expect Corona to get canned not long after being activated. He’s the definition of a spare part.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Mark asks: Alright, help me out here…..we’ve read all about the defensive shortcomings of Jesus Montero. We know he can hit, we also know he isn’t that good behind the plate. Although we are only 16 games into the season, it sure looks to me like we have a stud behind the plate right now in Russell Martin. Tell me what he hasn’t done right – .292 batting average, .950 OPS, 2 SB, calling good games, blocking balls behind the plate and showing a pretty good arm in throwing runners out. And he’s only 28. Is it ridiculous to ask why Martin cannot be our catcher of the future and that Montero (assuming he isn’t traded away) is our future DH and back-up catcher next year?

Is it ridiculous? No, not at all, but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here. Frankie Cervelli hit .400/.481/.487 in his first 16 games last season and people were asking if his performance made Montero expendable. That sounds silly in hindsight, but trust me, it happened.

Montero really should be in the big leagues right now, he’s absolutely ready and is simply too good for the Triple-A level, but the Yankees don’t have an obvious spot for him. I guess in a perfect world, the plan would involve trading Cervelli as part of a package for a starting pitcher come June or July and calling Montero up to serve as the backup and occasional DH, an apprenticeship under Martin that would continue in 2012. Then once Martin hits free agency as a 30-year-old after the 2012 season, Montero is inserted as the starting backstop. That’s a perfect case scenario though.

Part of me thinks the Yankees should at least try Montero in the outfield at some point, just to see if he could fake a corner outfield spot while he’s young and work him into the lineup that way. Brett Gardner‘s not exactly lighting the world on fire in left right now, plus he really isn’t much of an obstacle for a guy with Montero’s offensive prowess anyway. That’s just me thinking about loud though, I’d hate to waste to see Montero waste some of those hits in Triple-A when he could be helping the big league team.

email
The overweight, out of shape, but now underweight, Phil Hughes
Silva set to throw batting practice
  • Sabermetrically Challenged

    Hopefully CJ is available becaus of the Rangers’ “amazing” rotation

  • zs190

    Reading about CJ Wilson makes me think of Joba again. Wilson was a reliever for several years and was a lefty with really good stuff throwing in the mid 90’s. Now he’s a starter with “diminished” stuff and he’s throwing around 90-91 and he’s doing perfectly fine, but we can’t let Joba do it. *sigh*

    Ideally the rotation for next year (depending on if we trade for someone that can be controlled for next year) will be

    CC
    AJ
    Hughes
    ManBan
    Brack/Noesi/Warren/Nova or a veteran starter in the mold of Garcia/Colon.

    I would rather not spend a ton of money on Wilson even though he is quite good.

    • Sabermetrically Challenged

      depending on how AJ perform this year and how Hughes comes back might determine whether we have to bid for Yu Darvish

      • zs190

        AJ has 30+ million left in his contract after this year, we are not going to dump that so he has to be in the rotation. I’m worried about Hughes but he’s only 24-25, so I hope he hasn’t turned into Javy-dead-arm yet.

        My heart says yes to Darvish but my head says no. I would love to see him succeed but I think posting a huge sum for him would be a mistake.

        • Gonzo

          I guess a plus with Yu that other teams wouldn’t have is that the posting fee isn’t subject to luxury tax.

        • BavarianYankee

          my heart says also yes to Darvish and my head says: “The Yankees (Steinbrenners) have the money, go ahead, spend it!!!”. The money you spend for a posting fee doesn’t count for your payroll, right? The Yankees easily can afford whatever will be the posting fee and I think they won’t have any problems to get some (I even think a lot) of that money back due to japanese ads.

          I think Patrick Newman wrote a few weeks ago that Darvish’s worst case would be a #3 type starter. In our situation and with his upside I take that every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

          My dream rotation for 2012 year would be this:

          CC
          Darvish
          AJ
          2010 1st half Hughes (otherwise trade Hughes, Nova + X for a starter)
          Manny

          It’s just a dream rotation, we likely get 40% of that and that’ll be CC and AJ. I doubt that Hughes is a sub 4 ERA pitcher and Manny will be in AAA when 2012 starts. My prediction for Darvish: he’ll join the Phillies and the rotation of doom :D (I keeeeed)

        • Ted Nelson

          As long as AJ isn’t horrible he’ll be in the rotation. There is definitely an Oliver Perez point at which the Yankees just eat that money, though, or at least send him extended ST to rehab or the bullpen or something. I really, really hope he has a good season and we get nowhere near that point, but it does exist.

          I don’t know nearly enough about Durvish to have an opinion, and I certainly am not going to knock the guy simply for his nationality.

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

    I want nothing to do with Wilson based on what he’ll get in the market. Really hope the Yankees get strong seasons out of some of their guys in the minors so that they don’t need to overpay a Wilson or a Jackson in the offseason. Even if some of the minor leaguers won’t be ready for 2012, I don’t want to see Wilson locked up thru 2016 at $16 million/year and block one of the prospects. I’d rather roll the dice in 2012 with the Colon/Garcia retread route or go with Noesi or put Nova back in the rotation (oops, he hasn’t been put in the pen yet?) and have some of the other guys ready going forward.

  • Kosmo

    Martin seems like he might be back to his all-star ways after battling injury.Yanks still need to find out if he is durable enough to catch 130 games.
    The only way Montero makes it to NY is if Posada bombs as a DH or an injury to Martin.
    Yanks have the best minor league depth at the catcher position .Romine and J.R.Murphy are both off to good starts and will probably be promoted mid- season.
    I wonder if Cervelli makes it thru the rest of the season in pinstripes?

  • Samuel

    Igawa might be perfect for that park, too.

    My guess is that Igawa gets signed by the Padres for 2012 to throw in spacious Petco Park.

  • Samuel

    Damn, was posting this comment in the DoTF thread but when I hit submit, it got plugged into this thread.

    Weird. Please remove if you can.

  • Mister Delaware

    I’ll dissent and say I’d give Wilson solid money for 4 years assuming he holds up fine through this year. I’d rather bet on Str8 Edge C.J. over Edwin and his weirdly fluctuating GB%. Seems like he would have all the downside of Burnett without the same upside.

    • Sabermetrically Challenged

      Never trust a man who doesn’t drink……unless it’s CJ Wilson

      • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

        Funny, a SS teacher with whom I share an office does not trust you if you don’t drink beer or coffee.

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

          Can you send that SS teacher to Derek Jeter’s house?

          • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

            I see what you did there.

            And it was only kinda clever. #competedammit

        • Sabermetrically Challenged

          Well, that’s too bad, because coffee taste like rotten ballsack

          • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

            Agreed. As long as you drink one of them, though, he’s cool w/you.

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

            I love coffee, thankfully I have no basis to compare it rotten ballsack.

            • Gonzo

              We also would have accepted, “Is fresh ballsack better? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

          • Johnny On The Spot

            When have you tasted rotten ballsack? Hmmm…

            • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

              You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?!

              • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

                Hey who ported the nomaas message board to rab?

  • Guest

    A couple of things:

    1. I’m not sure you can really “hide” someone in LF at Yankee Stadium. We tried that with a poor kneed Hideki and the results were…not good.

    399 to Left Center is freaking huge. A lot of space for a good outfielder to turn doubles into outs and, conversely, for a bad one to turn outs into doubles. Plus, given how good Garnder is out there, we’d likely see a pretty big outfield defense drop-off if we exchanged Gardner with the “runs poorly for a catcher” Montero.
    Now, the defensive drop-off might be worth it if Garnder continues to be a zero at the plate–making the offensive up-grade larger than the defensive down-grade. But I’m not ready to give up on Gardner’s bat just yet.

    2. An underrated element of Martin’s defensive performance thus far (though I think you’ve mentioned it before, Mike)–the dude really knows how to frame a pitch. Everytime he catches the ball, he does while subtly bringing it back into the strike zone. After years of seeing Jorge’s “stab and grab” approach push pitches out of the zone, it’s very refreshing.

    I wonder if this has a quantifiable benefit. I mean, lets he gets us 6 more strikes a night with how he frames a pitch than strikes we lost due to Jorge’s “anti-framing” (less than 5% of roughly 140 pitches), that’s got to make a difference, no?

    PS Love Jorge. Hope he puts up some counting stats this year (and next?) to help his very borderline Hall chances. But, um, yeah. I’m just saying he had some defensive short-comings.

    • Mister Delaware

      I can’t agree more on #2. Its so much less stressful to watch Martin actually keep his wrists still versus Jorge punching at every pitch on the black.

      (And yes, I love Posada, I’d probably argue for him in the HoF. But we were atleast a year late pushing him to DH.)

    • mac1

      My guess is Swisher would go to left and Montero would play RF on those days you try to get Montero some reps.

      • crawdaddy

        The thought of Montero in the outfield is scary as I would think any type of line drive not hit exactly to him would drop in as a hit.

        • mac1

          Not disagreeing – we really don’t know what he could do as an Ofer.

          My gut is the Yanks trade him for a front line starter – they need one and there are enough questions about his ability to catch – I think they’ll want to trade him as a starting catcher and they’ll land a sub 30 year old front line starter with a few years to go on his contract.

          If Martin breaks down in the next few months, all bets are off, I don’t think he will though – he won’t be hitting .300 but he’ll be above average at the position – JMHO.

          Give the FO a ton of credit on Martin, Jones, Chavez, Colon and Garcia (and stockpiling Silva\Millwood – not that I expect anything from them).

          • Ted Nelson

            I just don’t see many front-line starters who might become available worth trading Montero for. Most guys who will be easily available the Yankees could put together a package for without including Montero. Montero is a really good prospect… his upside and probability are both as high as anyone in the minors. If they want to take a run at Felix or Josh Johnson… ok, but there just aren’t that many guys worth trading Jesus for and who knows how many of those will be traded this season?

        • Ted Nelson

          He’s slow, not a statue. The idea would be to see if he’s at least passable and if his bat can make up for the defense. You could also selectively give him spot starts in LF in Fenway, RF in YS, etc. where he has less ground to cover.

    • Ted Nelson

      Perhaps a little bit, but I like to think that MLB umpires are good enough that framing a pitch is pretty irrelevant. A really marginal thing. In HS, sure. I’m usually pretty impressed with the umpires compares to the K-zone, though. They’re looking for where the ball crosses the plate, not where it ends up. It’s not like an umpire can’t see the C move the glove after he makes a catch… I often think that’s more likely to result in a ball call than a strike call, because if the C has to move his mit that probably means he thought it was a ball.

      So, in terms of C defense at the MLB level framing pitches is the last thing I care about.

      And to even discuss it you’d have to quantify if there is any advantage. Pretty difficult to do, but I wouldn’t just assume it’s even a positive unless you have some proof.

      Tend to agree about Gardner, but I keep thinking he’ll turn it around and he keeps going 0-fer… so I’m getting skeptical. You’d probably hide Swisher and Jones in LF, though, and put Jesus in RF… And the Yankees do not play all their games at home anyway. LF in Fenway could turn out to be a great place for Jesus to pick up 5 PAs.

      • Guest

        I see your point about having him play LF in road ballparks that are smaller (though, playing the monster is an acquired skill, not one I’d want someone playing in the outfield for the first time in their career trying to do).

        It couldn’t hurt for him to become more versatile. And if he hits like we hope he will hit, he would pretty much have to be the worst LF ever to not be more valuable than Gardner eventually. Just not sure that he could hit at that level this year/next year. For a lot of great young hitters, it takes time (See Gordon, Alex; Weiters, Matt).

        • Ted Nelson

          The point of getting him some MiLB experience in the OF would be so that once he got to the bigs he could play there and it wouldn’t be the first time in his life. But if the Sox could win the WS with Manny Ramirez in LF, I wouldn’t be too worried about Jesus if he’s not totally terrible out there.

          “And if he hits like we hope he will hit, he would pretty much have to be the worst LF ever to not be more valuable than Gardner eventually.”

          This just isn’t true. Gardner was not only a 5.4 WAR player in 2010, he was also on a 4.2 WAR pace in 2009 (had he gotten the same PAs in 2009 as 2010). The “what have you done for me lately?” crowd likes to bash him, but let’s not ignore reality.

          “Just not sure that he could hit at that level this year/next year. For a lot of great young hitters, it takes time (See Gordon, Alex; Weiters, Matt).”

          A couple of examples of guys who couldn’t hit doesn’t prove a rule. I could also throw out two guys who came up red hot, and that doesn’t mean Jesus will come up red hot either.

  • tony p sabatino

    i believe the yankees need to be patient as cashman deals for martin,garcia,chavez and colon to this point have been great additions
    hold on to minor leaguers as this was how the yankees developed into
    greatness. if they want to deal my recommendation would be cervelli.

    • mac1

      Alot of FA starting pitching and a few really good trades had alot to do with the Yanks greatness as well.

      As for trading Cervelli, fine, he unfortunately isn’t worth much.

    • Johnny On The Spot

      B-b-but we need to win the World Series every year!

      • mac1

        We really need to win in twice a year – to prove the first win wasn’t a fluke…

        • mac1

          win “it”, not in…

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

          Well done.

  • Greg

    Is it crazy to think Russel Martin could play LF?

    Whats better, a fairly athletic Martin in LF with a defensively challenged Montero behind the plate, or an Adam Dunn type in LF with Martin’s above average d behind the plate?

    • jon

      id rather adam dunn type in the outfield than jesus type behind the plate

      • Mister Delaware

        I would not.

  • Sabermetrically Challenged

    does anybody think that signing Livan Hernandez might be a cheap option for next season?

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

      Sure, he’d be a cheap option but it’s not one the Yankees should take.

    • BavarianYankee

      best joke I’ve heard in a looooong time :D

      • Sabermetrically Challenged

        never been injured in his life, high GB %, low walk rate, postseason success, what seems to be a joke about him?

        • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

          Low velocity, high contact rates, low strikeout rates. And, his GB% has been dropping every year for the last four years (incl. this year’s small sample). None of those things bode well for the American League.

          • Sabermetrically Challenged

            his walk rate is down almost a full batter, his BABIP is down 30%(!!!!!!!) , and his GB% is only down 2%

            • BavarianYankee

              so 4 starts in 2011 are more meaningful than 16 years of his major league career? Then we should trade for Tomlin, Murton, Correia and a few other immediately, cause some of those guys look like legit Cy-Young candidates!!!

              • Sabermetrically Challenged

                I’m not talking about his ERA, that will change, but the peripherals of a sinkerballer are usually consistent

                • BavarianYankee

                  you could say the same thing about Sergio Mitre.

        • BavarianYankee

          high GB%? his highest GB% during the past 5 years was 44% in 08, last year he had just 39%! And his walk rate really isn’t low. Plus he only had a WHIP below 1.5 once in his past 5 years!

          he’s like a bazillion years old, doesn’t strike anyone out and he certainly didn’t learn new tricks during the past year!? His present performance will come down to earth sooner than later. If we need a guy like Livan why not keep Colon, Garcia, Millwood or Silva or anybody on the FA market? Come on, we have better in house options than Hernandez.

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

      Livan’s production could be approximated by anyone in the Triple-A rotation now, the only difference is that Livan brings veteran presents.

      • jjyank

        Can I have some of his veteran presents?

        Kidding aside, no on Livan please. I’d rather give the kids a shot.

    • Ted Nelson

      Maybe even a trade option for this season… If the Yankees are looking more for a solid back-end guy than a front-end guy for whatever reason(s) (don’t need front-end, none available, already traded for one and still need help…) Livan could be nice and cheap.

      “He doesn’t throw hard and no one who doesn’t throw 95 can be good…” Hate that crap. His FIP was under 4 last season and is there so far this season too. Anyone in AAA cannot do that. Hell, most of the Yankees rotation cannot do that. He’s not worth a ton, but he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

      • Ted Nelson

        “He doesn’t throw hard and no one who doesn’t throw 95 can be good…”

        *Can’t be good… Hate that people misconstrue what is really only a proxy, velocity, as having more value than it does.

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

    It seems like we’re getting ahead of ourselves. In the OF within the next two years for Jesus seems like a bad idea to me, because I don’t think his offense will far outpace the runs he loses out there. Conversely, at C, I think he produces enough to be valuable.

    I am a believer.

  • JD

    Mike, I have trouble with the following:

    Montero really should be in the big leagues right now, he’s absolutely ready and is simply too good for the Triple-A level, but the Yankees don’t have an obvious spot for him.

    He is hitting well and did well last year but I still need to see the power come back.

    • BavarianYankee

      the power is still there, it’s just a matter of time when it’ll turn into homeruns.

      btw: the Royals have a similar problem with Hosmer, he hits like everything but the Royals don’t call him up (yet). Those are nice problems to have :)

      • Ted Nelson

        Hosmer’s only played 65 games above A-ball, though, so it’s not like the Royals are taking it slowly with him.

        • BavarianYankee

          true, but the way his slash line looks in AAA right now he can’t do any more to reach the show. He seems to be Billy Butler 2.0 XD

  • Monteroisdinero

    Happy that Martin is doing well. The best scenario was as stated with Montero coming on to replace Jorge and then Martin. His catching has improved and will, at 21, improve further. Yogi was not known as a good defender in the beginning and Jorge certainly wasn’t at 20/21. I am going to the game at SWB tonight and will try to talk to Wynegar about Jesus’s catching. Butch was very high on Montero’s catching last year. The power (1 HR) so far will be there I’m sure. JoVa has been getting all the good pitches to hit so far. Hard to predict that Tex would have so many HR’s in April too. Maybe Jesus just prefers the warmer weather for his mammoth HR’s.

  • JPB

    I realize there are guys who just can’t field a position. The classic one from my youth was Greg Luzinski. But as far as I’m concerned, the idea that we can’t try Montero in the OF is absurd. He’s an athlete and can hit, so he has coordination and strength. If he is athletic enough to be able to manage the catching position even marginally well in AA and AAA, you can’t tell me he couldn’t function as an OF at least on a part time basis. Yeah, maybe he’d be bad. But it would save his legs, add some versatility, etc. He’s 21 years old. If he really wanted to be an outfielder, and worked on it as hard as he’s probably worked on his hitting, I’m sure he could manage it.

  • Alfredo

    i read a little bit into Yu Darvish and i would like the yankees to take this risk. he seems to be better then any other Japanees imported pitcher that has pitched in the majors. just imagine

    CC
    Darvish
    Burnett
    Hughes
    Banuelos

    that rotation would be the best in the American league. and just maybe the yankees go out and get felix.