Mailbag: Cameron, Prince, Montero, Banuelos

Sabathia strikes out 13 as Yanks complete sweep
2011 Draft: Yankees sign second rounder Sam Stafford

Mailbag time. Lots of questions this week so I tried to keep the answers short. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any questions…

(Photo Credit: Flickr user surfneng via Creative Commons license)

Orciari asks: Heard Sox just DFA’d Cameron, any interest for NY?  Obviously it would mean removing Jones, who would you rather have?

Neither is great, and they’re basically the same player. Low average guys that will draw some walks and hit for power, mostly against lefties. Also solid defenders that were once great in center. Mike Cameron was cut because he’s been brutal this year, a .216 wOBA in 105 plate appearances including a .232 wOBA against southpaws, which is why they got rid of him in the first place. Yeah, Andruw Jones strikes out a bunch, but so does Cameron, and at least he’s still shown that he can be reasonably productive. It didn’t work for Cameron with one AL East team, I see no need to make the switch.

EJ asks: What percentage of chance do you think the Yankees have in signing Jeremy Rathjen? Who do you think will be the five toughest players to sign from the 2011 draft?

Very small, and in face Baseball America called Rathjen completely unsignable right before the draft. They’ve already taken care of one tough sign in 13th rounder Justin James, who came to terms a few days ago. The other difficult ones will be Jordan Cote (third round), Rookie Davis (14), Hayden Sharp (18), Dan Camarena (20), and Adam Ravenelle (44). I’m confident they’ll get Cote signed (they didn’t take him that high not to sign him), though the others will be tough. My guess today is that they land two of them, likely Davis and Sharp.

Sven asks: If Freddy Garcia is a type B free agent at the end of the year do the Yankees offer arbitration? What about Swisher? If he finishes with say 25 HRs and an .800 OPS do they buy him out and then offer arbitration as a type A free agent?

Garcia is just short of qualifying as a Type-B (as in ~1.5 points short), and I assume he’ll make the jump into Type-B territory if he continues to pitch the way he has. If he does that, he’ll earn all of his incentives, pushing his total 2011 salary to $5.1M. If the Yankees offered him arbitration and he accepted, Garcia would probably get a salary somewhere around $7-8M next season. Is that worth the risk for a sandwich pick? I think it’s a fair salary, but there’s a heightened risk give his age and recent injury history.

I don’t see why the Yankees wouldn’t pick up Nick Swisher‘s option at this point. If you can find me a better right field option for next year that will sign for less than (or equal to) one year and $9.25M (the net cost of Swisher’s option), then we’ll talk about buying him out. But for argument’s sake, if they did decline the option, I’m guessing they’d absolutely offer him arbitration. He’s comfortably a Type-A free agent, and worst case scenario he accepts and they’re stuck with him next year for $12-15M or so. Obviously the option is the cheaper way to go, assuming they want to keep him.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Steve Paluch via Creative Common license)

Nick asks: Why don’t the Yankees focus on signing Prince Fielder this offseason? Prince is not a pitcher but would be a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium and he is about to hit his prime. Prince isn’t one of the free agents on the wrong side of his 30s when the Yankees signed him either.

Of course he’s a great fit for Yankee Stadium, pretty much every left-handed power bat is. Where is he going to play though? Are they going to give him a six or seven or eight year deal just to be the designated hitter? I can’t see why the Yankees would give Prince Fielder a deal like that when they’re going to need that DH spot for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter in the not too distant future. Would he make the team better? Absolutely. But the cost is astronomical and it would destroy future roster flexibility.

bonestock94 asks: Are you beginning to doubt Montero’s ability to be a star in the majors? Am I just overreacting to a poor 2011 campaign?

It’s been 282 plate appearances, relax. The kid is 21 years old and in Triple-A, if he’s still struggling when he’s age appropriate for the level, then I’ll be worried. That’s at least two years away.

Steve asks: [What do you think about Brian Cashman saying there are no high-end starters available? Could they go after Jered Weaver?]

I had to shorten that question up, Steve got a little wordy. One of the many things I’ve learned in recent years is to never believe a word Cashman says. He never says anything that will tip his hand one way or the other, which is exactly what he should do. From here it doesn’t look like any ace-caliber pitchers will be available, but who knows. The trade deadline is a month away and things have a way of changing. I’m sure he and his staff are working diligently to find a high-end starter.

I have an irrational dislike of Weaver, so I might not be the guy to ask. He’s having a great year, but I can’t imagine the Angels would trade him away before at least attempting to re-sign him. I think they’d sooner trade Dan Haren to free up some money for Weaver.

CS Yank asks: At the start of the season, we were seeing 3-4 IP from ManBan and it seems like they either were going off a PC or pacing his IP. In seeing his [69.1] IP YTD, seems like it will likely be a two year build-up of innings (as AA is better than 50% done) as AA is typically over by Labor Day … so do you think his target was around 120 or will they have him go 6-7 from here on out to bring him up to around 150 IP this year? I’m guessing the ship has sailed (with the DL time, BB issue, etc) on any realistic chance to see him in the bigs in 2011.

The short starts early in the year had to do with with Spring Training and his blister. Remember he didn’t have a normal camp because he was with the big league team, so he was throwing 2-3 innings at a time rather than being stretched out normally. Once he got going with Trenton, he had to be shut down with the blister. He (and Dellin Betances) are on 90-100 pitch counts, but because of their control issues that usually means just five innings. They’ll go six innings if possible.

Banuelos only threw 64.2 IP last year because of the appendectomy and he’s already over that, but he did throw 109 IP in 2009. I’m guessing they’d like to get up around 120-130 IP, though remember that they can send him to a winter league (Arizona Fall League again, most likely) to get even more innings. Plus there’s Instructional League, all sorts of ways to get those innings in. But yeah, 120-130 IP this year seems like a reasonable target, then 150-160 next year.

This is what Matt Moore looks like from the third base line. (Photo Credit: Flickr user tedkerwin via Creative Commons license)

Reggie asks: Would you be in favor of a prospect trade : Jesus Montero to the Rays, Matt Moore to the Yankees.

I think it’s fair value and it fills a need for both teams. Tampa could use another big bat to pair with Evan Longoria, and they could stick Montero at first long-term. The Yankees could always use a young, hard-throwing left-handed starter, so it’s easy to see why they’d want more. Fair and logical is one thing, but I think it goes without saying that neither team will ever make the trade. Every team loves their prospects more than everyone else’s, plus there’s the whole intra-division thing. That sure would be fun though, prospect-for-prospect trades don’t happen too often.

Would I do it? Yeah I would. Free agent hitters are safer bets, so it’s better to grow your own arms rather than throw money away. The more pitching prospects the merrier.

Kevin asks: What kind of a contract is Bartolo Colon looking at this offseason? Also, do the Yankees look to retain him or let him go and keep their lightning in a bottle from this year?

I have absolutely no idea. There’s no precedent for a situation like this, so anything I say is just guesswork. If he comes back from the hamstring injury and pitches like he did in April and May, can’t he go out on the market and say he wants $10M a year, maybe even for two years? I think in a perfect world, they’d re-sign him for one year and $5M with a bunch of incentives, assuming he continues to pitch as well as he has. At the end of the day, he’s still 38 years old with a bum shoulder. Who know how the stem cells will hold up.

Sabathia strikes out 13 as Yanks complete sweep
2011 Draft: Yankees sign second rounder Sam Stafford
  • Tom Zig

    Banuelos first full season…2013?

    • YankeesJunkie

      Banuelos is an interesting case in handling pitching since he only a 20 yr old spending a full season in AA. The Yankees should be taking it fairly slow and do as Mike says in getting Banuelos to 160-170 IP by next year mainly in AAA. However, after that since he is such a young pitcher it would be unwise to push him more than 30 starts and 190/200 IP until he is 25 when you can let the reigns go a little more. This is just based off the fact that you do not want to tax sub 25 pitchers too hard as there body is still developing. Betances on the other hand since he is 23 should be pushed a little harder and hopefully can get close to 170-180 IP by next year.

      • YankeeGrunt

        Age isn’t the biggest factor. Betances has had some injury problems over the course of his career, particularly the ligament (not TJ) surgery in 2009, which is why his high to date in innings was in 2008. The only significant time Banuelos has missed was for an appendectomy and a blister, neither of which is related to his ability to throw. Banuelos has a repeatable delivery, although the extra velo he’s dealing this year might take a little bit more of a toll on his arm. I’d imagine their innings progression will be pretty similar, and it should be.

  • YankeesJunkie

    Honestly, I wouldn’t want to get in Colon bidding war next year and just be grateful for the wonderful year he gave the 2011 Yanks.

  • deadrody

    The only thing in this post I take issue with is the future prospects of using Derek Jeter as DH. I can only think of one thing worse than using Jeter at SS, and that is DH. You DO know what the H in DH stands for, right ? Right now Jeter’s 2011 numbers put him in the running for worst DH in baseball.

    In the future when they need to sit Jeter because his body cannot stand up to the everyday rigors of playing SS, they need SIT him and not make the lineup any weaker by inserting a no-hit (less no-hit than Jeter?!) SS and also including a no-hit DH. What a horrendous idea.

    • vin

      ” You DO know what the H in DH stands for, right ? ”

      Yeah, Designated Hero.

      How long before Derek becomes a better SS than hitter? Are we there now? Yikes.

    • David, Jr.

      That is a perfect illustration of the Jeter insanity. We can’t sign a guy, Fielder, who could hit 50 home runs as a DH, because of the prospect of “What on earth do we do with this guy” “How about DH?”. “Oh, shit. He would hit maybe two home runs and an ultra light .260. How in H could we put him there?”. “We have to. No place else to put him.”.

      • Ed

        We’re not signing Fielder because it’s a dumb idea to spend anything near $200m over 8 years on the DH spot.

        There’s almost always someone on the team that’s going to get a large chunk of DH time because he’s either old or injured. That’s what happens when you sign a bunch of long term free agent deals. They’re great at the start, but iffy at the end.

        Over the past decade we’ve had Giambi spent lots of time at DH – several years he was more a DH than 1B. Damon and Matsui had seasons mostly spent there. Posada this year. A-Rod had a year where he needed regular days at DH.

        Jeter, A-Rod, and Tex all have contracts that carry them through their late 30’s or even early 40s. They’ll all have years where they spend a lot of time at DH. Signing a guy like Fielder is a horrible move.

        • toad


    • Rob

      to add insult to injury, they will still bat him leadoff as dh

      • David, Jr.

        It is bizarre. I grew up in Minnesota. This would be like the Twins signing a 36 yr old Harmon Killebrew to a monster multi- year contract, and batting him cleanup come Hell or High Water.

        • JohnnyC

          Killebrew was the highest paid Twin ($115,000)in 1972, his age 36 year, and he batted clean-up. Very few players had multi-year deals in 1972 (Yaz was one). There were reports of hellish tenperatures and over-flowing lakes that summer.

    • Esteban

      vin’s, David jr’s, and Rob’s comments are so depressingly true. Three more years after this one.

      • David, Jr.

        I hope he sticks it up our butt and hits a hard .322 the rest of the year, including gobs of extra base hits. Don’t see any reason to expect that, though.

  • duzzi23

    Montero is going to be a stud homegrown hitter and has always been really young for his level he needs to stay in NY n play for the Yankees not traded. I dunno why they cant let him catch 2 times a week dh 2 n maybe let him play RF n dh swish some games.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      I highly doubt Jesus Montero ever plays a game in the outfield in his professional career.

      • David, Jr.

        Agree. I have seen him four times, and other than the arm, he doesn’t remotely look like the athlete that could do that. It would be like putting the statue of a baseball player out there. Think Jim Thome in the outfield.

      • CP

        He won’t be an outfielder, but he’ll probably get at least one game there. Heck, the Red Sox started Adrian Gonzalez in RF this week.

        • Ed

          I think Montero is more like Ortiz than Gonzalez in the awkward Red Sox defense setup.

          • Cris Pengiuci

            And Ortiz has played some OF for the Sox

  • John Kruk’s belly

    Jesus Montero for Matt Moore? I’d soo do that.

  • John Kruk’s belly

    Cashman will pull off a trade for Felix Hernandez AND Clayton Kershaw.

    • Donotfeedthetrools

      The devil does need souls

  • Adam Parker

    “The kid is 21 years old and in Triple-A, if he’s still struggling when he’s age appropriate for the level, then I’ll be worried. That’s at least two years away.”

    Cue the riot at the suggestion we won’t see the Messiah for another two years+ at the major league level…

    • David, Jr.

      I think there is a 75% chance that Ted has been right all along in saying that Montero simply isn’t ready. However, the other 25% is that he gets traded because he may not fit long term, assuming the Yankees don’t view him as a starting C.

  • Kosmo

    I dunno . When Jeter achieves his 3,000 golden egg , it makes some sense to DH him vs. LHP and sitting Posada, this would allow Nunez a few extra ABs a week while giving Jeter a half rest. Posada should not be facing LHP period.

    • Kosmo

      it seems to me Montero has been DHing alot lately.
      Check Montero´s splits:
      .297 ave
      .338 OBP
      .547 SLG
      .885 OPS

      He would be a great choice to DH vs.LHP because Posada ain´t gettin it done vs.LHP .
      I´m betting Montero will be called up within 2 weeks.

      • vin

        Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be the first person to lose that same bet this year. With Jorge’s resurgence and Chavez’s impending return, I don’t see Jesus getting the call-up until the rosters expand (unless there’s a significant injury of course).

        The 4-man bench will be Jones, Nunez, Chavez and Cervelli… with Dickerson and Pena getting demoted.

        • Clay Bellinger

          A solid bench by the way.

    • deadrody

      Yeah, I suppose I could concede that, though the situation is far from ideal. I was more looking at Jeter as the DH in future years when Posada should not be on the roster, frankly. At least not making anywhere remotely close to what he is now, anyhow.

      • Kosmo

        I hear you ,I´m hoping Jeter breaks his contract and walks away after this season.

        • Clay Bellinger

          There’s no way in hell.

    • JPB

      If Derek Jeter continues at his current level of production – even if we assume he could go another 2-3 years at this level without decline – he would be a disaster as a DH. He has no power anymore and his speed is of course far more ordinary now; his only decent skill is he draws some walks.

      ARod will need to be the primary DH. Derek is going to be awful during this remaining contract. I wouldn’t look on signing Prince Fielder as a bad thing. Yes, it would limit flexibility some, but the middle and end of a long term contract for Prince would dovetail nicely with Teixeira’s decline and inevitable decreased playing time from injury, not to mention giving the Yankees a legit power bat for the back end of ARod’s contract, which is going to be an unmitigated fail at the end.

      The way I see it, signing Prince would look funny, and would be a bit awkward, but only for maybe a year or 2. After that, we’ll be VERY happy we got him.

  • Dela G

    This is one hell of a mailbag response.

    epic job, mike

    • David, Jr.

      There is an art to it. Anything related to Montero and/or Jeter, and it lights up.

  • jon

    What do Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia, James Shields, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain all have in common? If the schedules and rotations hold, they could all pitch on the final Sunday before the All-Star Game, which would make them ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game.


    • JohnnyC

      Somehow Bud Selig didn’t anticipate that eventuality.

    • Clay Bellinger

      Yeah this sucks. The AL may not be able to use what are arguably their three best arms.

      • jsbrendog

        who cares….

  • duzzi23

    Wow didn’t no that about the AL pitchers that would really suck if none of those guys could go

  • JPB

    Oy. The stem cells are doing NOTHING for Colon. That sort of thing is snake oil, I’m telling you. He’s had a recovery, which is certainly believable in the context of athletic injuries, and I’m tellin’ ya he’d be doing the same thing whether or not some shyster convinced Colon to allow himself to be injected with stem cells.