Mailbag: Hanley, Arodys, Nova, Brackman, Ortiz

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Six questions today, half of which have to do with players not even on the Yankees. Remember to the use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar whenever you want to send in some questions.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user SD Dirk via Creative Commons license)

Keane asks: If Hanley went on the block would you be interested?

Of course, players like Hanley Ramirez are rare. He’s having an absolutely brutal year, coming into today at almost exactly replacement level (0.1 fWAR) thanks to a .280 wOBA and a -3.5 UZR, but that kind of talent at that age (28 after the season) are almost never available in trades. There’s something like three and a half years and $60M left on his contract, so he’s making big boy money and any teams that pursues him would have to really investigate him to figure out why he’s fallen off so much. He’s hitting a lot more ground balls than he used to, which explains the power drop off, and he’s swinging at more pitches out of the zone as well.

Buster Olney talked to various executives about Ramirez and posted the results yesterday (Insider req’d), and it wasn’t pretty. MLBTR has a nice little recap, but the general idea is that Hanley needs an attitude adjustment and has to take his conditioning more seriously. It’s pretty generic and stereotypical stuff, the kind of stuff you don’t hear when a white player struggles. It’s just the way it is. Is anyone questioning Jason Bay’s attitude and work ethic? Adam Dunn? Dan Uggla? Nope, nope, and nope. Anyway, I would certainly be interested in Hanley even though I’m not 100% sure where he’d play (he’s never been much of a shortstop), but talent and production like that is hard to pass up. Obviously he requires a thorough evaluation first just to see if he’s fixable.

Ryan asks: The Vazquez/Logan for Vizcaino/Dunn trade we know is terrible (although defensible at the time), but I am curious how Vizcaino is doing? Where would he rank in the system had he not been traded. (Would be nice to have Dunn instead of Logan right now)

Arodys Vizcaino is having a very nice year in the Atlanta’s system, and in fact he was just named to the World Team for the Futures Game. He’s struck out 64 and walked just 18 in 66 innings mostly with their High-A affiliate, but he was recently promoted to Double-A. Vizcaino also missed some time in April with back trouble, which is not the first time he had that (back issues limited him to just ten starts for Short Season Staten Island in 2009). If he was still Yankees’ property and had progressed the same way, I probably would have had him third on my pre-draft top 30 prospects list.

Tommy asks: What ever happened with Juan Paniagua? News reports stated that the Yankees signed him to a $1.1 MM contract in the beginning of March, but I haven’t heard anything since.

He and Rafael DePaula are waiting on visas, that’s all. Both guys had been investigated and suspended for age and identify fraud reasons, and the people at immigration don’t appreciate that. It’s entirely possible they never actually get visas.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Marianee O'Leary via Creative Commons license)

Ryan asks: Seems like every time Nova’s rotation spot is in jeopardy, he runs off a few good starts in a row. I know a big problem coming into the year was turning a lineup over 2 and 3 times. He seems to be going deeper and deeper into games lately, so how is he faring against lineups the 2nd and 3rd time through?

From B-Ref

First Time: 1.45 K/BB, 96 sOPS+
Second Time: 1.44 K/BB, 112 sOPS+
Third Time: 1.09 K/BB, 88 sOPS+
Fourth Time: 3.00 K/BB, 120 sOPS (just eight batters faced)

sOPS+ is the opposing batters’ OPS relative to league average in that situation. Although his K/BB ratio is the same the first and second times through the order, opponents are hitting Nova more the second time around due in part to a .327 BABIP (.253 the first time through). The K/BB is the big number for me the third time around, and it’s worth noting that batters have drawn more more total walks against him the third time through in fewer plate appearances. Once they’ve seen him twice already, the element of surprise is gone.

Nova’s done a much, much better job of pitching deep into games this year (though we didn’t have a huge sample of starts last year), and last time out against the Reds we saw him complete eight full innings for the first time in his career. It’s not a coincidence that Ivan was mixing four pitches in that start compared to his usual fastball-curveball heavy approach. He’s not going to have all four pitches working every time out, but hopefully he continues with that approach just to keep hitters guessing.

Lou asks: In reading the DOTFs it appears that Brackman has been shifted to the bull pen. Is this the case? Have the Yankees decided he could possibly help the bull pen in 2011, or is this more of a change to try and get him back on track?

Yep, he’s in the bullpen, and at this point I’m pretty sure it’s just an attempt to get him back to pitching effectively. Andrew Brackman‘s been absolutely brutal this year and it hasn’t been much better since the demotion to the bullpen, almost like he’s back at square one. The control has completely deteriorated, back to 2009 levels. I can’t imagine his confidence is all that high, and they just had to try something to get him going. He still has one more minor league option for next season, but the clock is ticking.

John asks: David Ortiz is a free agent at the end of the year and the Yankees could use an upgrade at DH. His bat would look great in the middle of the Yankees order, especially in Yankee Stadium. Perhaps it’s an unlikely marriage, but do you think the Yankees may/should pursue Big Papi for 2012?

Man, I sure hope not. There’s no doubt he’s killing the ball this year (.421 wOBA), but he’s going to want a multi-year contract and he’ll be 36 this winter. That has bad news written all over it. Ortiz and his agent could point to Adam Dunn as a starting point for negotiations or perhaps Jorge Posada‘s contract, since he was the same age at the time of the signing and was coming off a similarly huge year. Signing him would strike me as a classic George Steinbrenner move, locking up an old, nonathletic player with no defensive value through his decline years just because he’s got a clutch reputation and is coming off a great year. Ortiz is having a huge dead cat bounce year, but I’d rather let the Red Sox be on the hook for his age 36, 37, and 38 seasons.

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  • CP

    It’s entirely possible they never actually get visas.

    Is there some clause in the contract that would protect the Yankees in the event that they never get visas?

    • CountryClub

      The contracts are subject to the players actually getting Visas. If they cant get one, the Yanks pay them zilch.

  • sangreal

    I really don’t think Ortiz would have any interest in playing for NY. He has certainly made his recent distaste for Girardi public. Regardless, if the Yankees were to overpay for a DH (I don’t think they will), I’d rather have Fielder.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      If you pay him, he will come.


      • Jorge

        Exactly. There’d be a time where I would have been giddy to see either Ortiz (or Manny, even) in pinstripes, but that ship has sailed for me. I just don’t see where he fits.

    • boogie down

      But he’s hugging people all over NYC.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Hey, Wally! It’s not what you think, man!

    • MikeD

      Trust me. If the Yankees pay him, he’ll play for the Yankees and he’d suddenly love Girardi.

  • vinny-b

    after reading a couple posts by Florida Marlins fans (alluding to his defense at SS) i don’t even think i’d want him at shortstop.

    and this is the player i ranked #1 last off-season, on my future yankee ‘wish list’


    • MannyGeee

      any chance Hanley has the chops to play the hot corner? A-Rod is 37, after all.

      • Xstar7

        Actually A-Rod is 35

      • CP

        And under contract for 6 more seasons after this one…

      • MikeD

        At 35 (36 in a few weeks) A-Rod is also a better fielder than Hanley, and probably at 40 A-Rod will still be a better fielder than Hanley. I’m not saying he’ll be a good fielder at 40, but I don’t think Hanley will ever be a good infielder. Probably best to move him to the OF.

  • CountryClub

    Here’s a white player that’s had his personality/attitude questioned throughout his career: JD Drew.

    I’m sure there are others. That was just immediately popped into my head.

    • Esteban

      I think he’s questioned for being ‘soft’ more than being lazy and having a conditioning problem.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Yeah, Drew’s rep is that he’s soft, injury prone, and/or aloof, not that he’s selfish, lazy, disinterested, has a bad attitude, doesn’t respect the game, doesn’t take things seriously, is a clubhouse cancer, only cares about his numbers, is a coach killer, is bored, doesn’t love the game, etc.

        And Drew is the exception to the rule. Mike shouldn’t have said that “no” white player gets saddled with those stereotypical #badattitude questions, because that’s not true. Far fewer white players get those questions, though. It’s not representative.

        • bexarama

          I have heard that Drew is lazy and disinterested and doesn’t fully apply himself. But he is definitely the exception to the rule, don’t get me wrong.

          • bexarama

            and I’ve DEFINITELY heard that he doesn’t love the game. Didn’t Dunn get that slapped on him too? But again – for white players, it’s far less common.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              What’s interesting is, I remember in both cases you cited the presence of a small MSM pushback against Drew and Dunn being thusly labeled disinterested or dispassionate. When Riccardi slandered Dunn, tons of baseball writers/bloggers/etc. came to Dunn’s defense and rightly called Riccardi out for being a chowderhead.

              I personally don’t remember much MSM pushback when guys like Hanley get labeled similarly; it’s just “well, someone said he has attitude issues so let’s run with it”. There’s slightly less skepticism and more willingness to believe those slights are true.


              • bexarama

                That’s true, at least with Dunn. There’s never really been a pushback against Drew being characterized like that, and I’m not sure why. FWIW, some site – maybe it was Walkoff Walk? – used to keep track of what white players were called lazy, unmotivated, etc., and what players of color were called those things. The numbers overwhelmingly tilted toward the latter, of course.

    • Tom

      The same name came to my head immediately

    • MannyGeee

      Latin Player = Lazy/Attitude (hell, Cano as recently as 2008) or ‘fiery’…

      and then there’s Mo, who might be the only publicly recognized example of a Latin player who is neither.

      jus sayin

      • Coolerking101

        No doubt some of the latin guys get called out on being lazy/having a poor work ethic more often than white players. I don’t think this is a racism issue, but rather a result of the language barrier these guys face. It’s much harder to defend/explain yourself when you have trouble speaking the language.

        That being said, bringing up this issue when discussing Ramirez is TOTALLY out of line. This guy obviously has serious attitude issues. He just got chewed out by his teammate for not giving it his all. Not to mention this:

  • Johnny O

    Nova has been everything a 24 year old 5th starter should be. Best $433K the Yanks will spend this year. Actually Garnder’s salary is the best money they’ll spend all year but Nova won’t be far behind, at least in terms of $ per fWAR.

    • Jorge

      He looks like a rookie starter with potential. If he can get those four pitches working, I wonder if that “#4 starter ceiling” starts changing.

    • B-Rando

      Its almost as if giving a kid more than a couple of months in a big league rotation to develop is good for them. Who wouldve thought?!

      • Monteroisdinero

        Patience is something we don’t have in NY. Injuries help though! Nova may be the biggest beneficiary of Hughes’s problems.

      • Preston

        Don’t worry the Yanks won’t make a habit of it. As soon as Hughes and Colon get back he’s going to the pen. So that next year in ST we can have the starter, reliever debate. I want to hear the media explain why a great long-man is more valuable than a starter. It’ll be interesting.

  • mt

    Given how Red Sox seem not to overpay for what their good players have done in the past (witness Damon, Pedro, Lowe and Varitek) I cannot imagine the Red Sox will sign Ortiz for three years – they may go year to year (which he won’t like but where else is he going to go for three years?) – I can see one year plus a mutual option.

    That is one thing Red Sox have over us – if they didn’t kill themselves to make sure they did not lose the folks above who broke the curse, it will be hard for anyone in future to say that there is a precedent.

    The Jeter negotiations (and his intial demands which were way too high and made it very difficult for Yanks to counter all the way back down closer to his true market value), I am sure, were colored by the outrageous AROD re-signing (“you overpaid him; you can overpay me as a true Yankee icon also).

    Red Sox can say to Lesters and Pedroias of future during contract negotiations – we let Pedro go, etc.

    (I guess one exception might be the Beckett re-signing)

    • JohnnyC

      The difference is they have always held themselves to a payroll budget that avoids paying the assigned luxury tax level (it’ll be interesting to see what cuts they make next year when Gonzalez’s average salary is factored in). The Yankees have worked under no such restrictions. It’s not cold-hearted rationality for the Sox…it’s about profit margin.

    • The BIG 3

      That team has two very tough decisions to make this winter, both because the players in question are not easily replaceable.

      Ortiz, who is one of the best DH’s in the league. Papelbon, who is one of the best closers in the league. Epstein’s history indicates he won’t sign either because of positional value and contract years required to sign the two, but the team will most certainly wind missing both very much.

  • Mike Myers

    ” If he was still Yankees’ property and had progressed the same way, I probably would have had him third on my pre-draft top 30 prospects list.”


    • Jorge

      It happens. Move on. There will be other prospects, and there will be other seemingly terrible trades.

      • jsbrendog

        there is no guarantee he even ever makes the majors let alone is successful or stays healthy.

        javier vazquez pitched lights out for a 2-3 month period when no one else was and they might not have made the playoffs without him. boone logan pitched lights out second half last year and while they more than likely wouldve made the playoffs without him there is no guarantee dunn would’ve done equal or better.

        • Ted Nelson

          I know that’s the conventional wisdom, but does it really matter when you’re terrible and when you’re good timing wise? Javy had 2 good months and 4 horrible months. If someone else had been good all 6 months or good the four months he wasn’t and bad the 2 months he was good… how does that help? I’ll take the 20 good starts rather than the 11 good starts regardless of timing.

          Logan I can see making that argument for, but Javy was below replacement. There’s no evidence he helped more than some AAA lifer like Brian Gordon. At the time it made sense, but I think it’s a huge stretch to say that Javy worked out better than a top prospect… a top prospect could at least be traded for something better than Javy.

  • infernoscurse

    they cant sign Ortiz, they need a spot for Montero, Montero has a UZR of +170 as a DH, stats dont lie

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Montero has a UZR of +170 as a DH, stats dont lie

      I laughed.

  • Opus

    “Dead cat bounce year.” I love it!

    • The BIG 3

      The guy’s 33-35 years are whacked.

      2009: .794 OPS
      2010: .899 OPS
      2011: .977 OPS

      That’s how you play for your last contract.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Posada did something similar in his last cintract year. I think Ortiz has several good years left but he has always been a DH so doesn’t need to change his approach and will have less wear and tear. Posada’s catching skills declined big time in the first 3 years of his current contract. No one wants to see him catch now.

  • Carl

    Hanley has less then 50 Million remaining on his contract, not 60. 11MM this year, $15MM next year, $15.5MM in ’13, and $16MM in ’14, and does not have a no-trade clause. Still a lot of $$$$, they can keep him, Yanks have their own problems. IMO

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


    2006 – .292/.353/.480, .364 wOBA, 120 wRC+, .343 BABIP
    2007 – .332/.386/.562, .411 wOBA, 147 wRC+, .353 BABIP
    2008 – .301/.400/.540, .405 wOBA, 146 wRC+, .329 BABIP
    2009 – .342/.410/.543, .410 wOBA, 152 wRC+, .379 BABIP
    2010 – .300/.378/.475, .373 wOBA, 130 wRC+, .327 BABIP
    2011 – .211/.304/.301, .280 wOBA, 71wRC+, .245 BABIP

    Bounceback potential? Bounceback potential.

    (Yes, I know his grounders are up and liners are down. They’re not up or down as dramatically as that BABIP, which has inexplicably cratered. The other changes in his peripherals are relative statistical blips. He’s just getting luck-fucked. Hanley will be fine.)

    • B-Rando

      There is a noticeable dip in slugging there though from 2009 to 2010. Just something else to consider.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Meh, his ISO dropped from .200 to .175. It’s a dip, but not a horrible dip. Probably just normal random statistical fluctuation.

        It’s down to .091 this year. THAT’S a dip.

        • MikeD

          True. The BABIP suggests a strong rebound either this year or next season, especially when taking into account his young age and that skill level he’s shown in the past. When assessing Hanely, though, I wouldn’t expect a rebound to peak his 2007-2009 levels, but a 2010 version would be nice.

          No idea where he’d play, though, if on the Yankees.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Probably RF, with Swisher becoming trade bait.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              It’s moot, though, we won’t like the pricepoint that Florida will sell him at. Yes, he’s becoming persona non grata there, and yes, he’s having a down year, but they’re not going to just give away a 27 year old player with a career .306/.380/.506, no matter how much he lacks “hustle”.

  • dan l

    Nova just needs to bring the same focus to his pitching when there are no runners on base. Once they get on he bares down which bodes well for his future.

  • JohnnyC

    Can Hanley play RF? The money’s not prohibitively bad. But he’s not a viable shortstop, he won’t move ARod off third, and just DHing him would be a waste. I tend to think he’s going through a tough patch and will recover. But the Marlins will exact a hefty price. Do the Yankees use their best chips for him or save them for a ace or #2 starter?

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Can Hanley play RF?

      (looks up Hanley’s career offensive numbers, totally ignoring any of his defensive numbers)


      • JobaWockeeZ


      • Slugger27

        wait, why is his defense irrelevant? bobby abreu’s last full year with the yanks saw a disappointing 1.7 fWAR, despite having a fine 368 wOBA. sheffields last full year brought a 2.3 fWAR despite having a 384 wOBA, easily higher than what we could expect hanley to have moving forward.

        considering we would have to give up both significant money (60M left on deal) and significant prospects, his ability for even mediocre RF defense should absolutely be considered.

  • Carl

    Looking through Brackman’s stats for this year one STAT jumped out. AHEAD IN COUNTS Stats, ERA 4.34, 18.2 innings 20 hits, 9ERs, 0HR, 0BBs, AGAIN “0” WALKS, 24Ks, GO/AO 2.0 and BAA .282. Can it be his biggest problem is IN HIS HEAD????????? Like, here we go again type thing???

    • jsbrendog

      he is white and tall. therefore he is aj burnett. aj burnett is crazy so andrew brackman must be crazy…tattoos to follow.

    • Dan Novick

      I’m not sure if this is sarcasm or not, so I’m going to respond “lightly” and not call you out (consider this informative for those who read Carl’s post as a serious comment).

      It’s impossible to walk someone when you’re ahead in the count…So all those plate appearances only include those that were a 0-0, 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 count. I don’t have anything to compare to, but those ahead in the count stats look pretty fucking atrocious to me.

  • blove

    Bad comparison Mike. Turning Hamlet Ramirez attitude issues which are blatent as two coaches have had documented turmoil with him into a race issue. Lol. Funny thing is many stereotypes do apply and it has nothing to do with color or race and more to do possibly with geographics and environment these players grow up in.

    • Ted Nelson

      Because you spend a lot of time around MLB clubhouses and training with MLB players, so you know about their work ethics?

  • blove

    Has anyone complained about how more immigrants are making biggest salaries than so called white/black players.

    • Ted Nelson


  • Ted Nelson

    Sort of a shock to see that Hanley is approaching 30… I still sort of think of him as a young phenom type.

    Adam Dunn doesn’t seem to really fit with the racial stereotyping you’ve laid out… his dedication to baseball has been almost constantly questioned.

    Could be racial profiling, but there’s also a chance that Hanley is just lazy/out of shape/whatever. Just because there’s a tendency to stereotype people on race, I wouldn’t just write off every report that a player fits that stereotype as false.

  • http://none Favrest

    The Javy Vazquez is totally defensible if you were in a coma throughout the entire 2004 season. That bumb might very well be the worst Yankee pitcher in the modern era. Move over Dave LaPoint and Andy Hawkins. At least they can claim they had garbage behind them.

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s also defensible if you hadn’t been in a coma or living under a rock since 2004.

      • http://none Favrest

        Fool me once, shame on you.
        Fool me twice, shame on me.

        We all know that Cashman’s hand has been forced many times by the morons above him, but Javy was his brainchild.

        And I believe that Cashman really wanted to prove to management and to everyone else that Javy’s first season in Pinstripes was the exception, not the rule.

        You can’t just look at stats when acquiring a player. Javy pitched like a guy under tremendous pressure in NY. Look at Colon. He gets out there, he throws. He laughs, he smiles, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. There is a mindset there shouldn’t be ignored. Players need to be right for this city from the neck up too.

        I think the Yanks have started to pay more attention to a player’s mental make up. And that’s why Zack Grienke isn’t a Yankee.

    • Adam Parker


  • Chicken Stanley

    Mike – stop being a white apologist. It’s embarrassing.

    Can you name 5 white guys that jog down to first on routine grounders? I can easily name 10 latino players who do without stopping to think.