Mailbag: Garcia, Gardner, D-Rob, Pujols, CC

Yanks finish off sweep as Nova dominates ChiSox
Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

In this week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag, we’re going to focus on some future issues/hypotheticals, not necessarily things going on with the Yankees right now. If you want to send in a question, make sure you use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

Brandon asks: With Freddy Garcia having a great season he has put himself in position to be a Type-B free agent, do you see the Yankees offering him arbitration?

Garcia currently projects as a Type-B free agent and is pretty safe, I think we’re too deep into the season for him to pitch his way out of that ranking. Although his base salary is just $1.5M, he’s got another $3.6M in incentives in his contract, which are based on the number of starts he makes. For the sake of argument, let’s just say he makes the 30 starts needed to earn all that cash (he’s got 19 starts right now) so his base salary going into a potential arbitration case would be $5.1M.

That’s nothing given Freddy’s performance, and I figure a winning arbitration case would net him a $8-9M or so salary next year. I’d rather give him another low base salary, incentive-laden deal, but I don’t think that salary is so outrageous that they can’t risk an arbitration offer. There’s always a possible handshake agreements as well, like we saw with Javy Vazquez last year. Gun to my head, yeah I think they’ll offer arbitration as long as he stays healthy.

Shaun asks: When is Brett Gardner arb eligible? What do you think he will get first time through? Same question for Robertson. Thanks!

Both guys are arbitration eligible for the first time after this season. I’ll do a more in-depth analysis during the offseason in my hilariously inaccurate Arbitration Case series, but neither guy will make big bucks next year. Brett Gardner’s primary value is his defense, which is still way undervalued in arbitration because no one’s going to bother explaining the advanced metrics to the arbiters. Robertson is just a non-closing reliever, which is about the worst demographic you can be in if you want to make big money as a big leaguer. I figure Gardner is in line for $2.5M or so (about what Michael Bourn got his first time through arbitration), Robertson about $1.5M (a notch below what Joba Chamberlain got, when he had a season as a starter under his belt), but those are just early estimations.

Planks asks: Not feasible for the Yankees considering Teixeira is at 1b for a long time, but if Pujols expresses strong interest in joining the Yankees this offseason, what contract would you offer? What do you think he will get from the Cards?

Well if he expressed a strong interest in coming to New York, I would assume he’d be amiable to a discount. The thing about Albert Pujols is that he’s having a down year by his standards, “just” a .370 wOBA when his career average is .431. That’s a significant drop-off, plus he is 31 (will be 32 by Opening Day 2012) and has had on-and-off elbow trouble for a few years. It’s going to take a huge commitment to sign him, so you have to at least consider the possibility that this year isn’t a fluke and the sign of decline. I don’t think that’s the case, but the possibly can’t be ignored.

Yankee Stadium is way more hitter friendly than Busch Stadium, though Pujols is one of those guys were park factors don’t matter too much. He’s a great hitter anywhere and has the power to hit the ball out of any park. Does six years and $183M sound reasonable? That’s $27M per season with a $5M signing bonus and a $10M buyout of a seventh year option worth whatever amount ($30M? $35M?). I’m sure Pujols and his agent are thinking Alex Rodriguez money, but the Yankees know the pitfalls of a contract that huge first hand. I’m sure St. Louis would top that offer with a smile on their face, but I wouldn’t offer more in my amateur opinion.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Sam asks: Should CC be getting MVP consideration? Where would be be without the big guy?

I’m not one of those guys think that pitchers should be ineligible for the MVP just because they “have their own award” in the Cy Young, and in fact nothing in the MVP voting criteria explicitly says to omit pitchers. I’m also not one of those guys that thinks there’s a difference between “most valuable” and “best.” The best player in the league should win the MVP because he’s the most valuable to his team. Whether or not the team is in contention is irrelevant to me, Jose Bautista shouldn’t be punished because his teammates stink, which is something completely out of his control. Anyway, that’s my two cents.

I don’t like to look at WAR for MVP voting because a) I don’t love it for pitchers (especially relievers), and b) I don’t like the way a one-year sample of defensive numbers are used, so the fact that Sabathia is so high on the WAR leaderboard means little to me. Position players play every day and overall I think an elite position player contributes more to his team than an elite starting pitcher. Sabathia certainly deserves some MVP consideration, but I don’t think I’d have him among the ten names on my ballot. Among pitchers alone, I’d definitely have Justin Verlander ahead of him, and I’d probably have Jered Weaver ahead of him too. CC’s been phenomenal, no doubt about it, but I think some others are more deserving.

Jimmy asks: It’s been very quiet so far this season, but how long before the CC opt out debate becomes a huge story?

There’s not much of a debate, he’s going to opt-out because it’s the smart thing to do. It’ll be a huge story after the season once he actually says the magic words, but it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Everyone knows it’s coming and the Yankees will deal with it then. Nothing else they can do, and there’s no sense worrying about it.

Tyler asks: Which minor leaguers are Rule 5 eligible after this season? Who do you think will be added to the 40-man?

College players drafted in 2008 and high school players drafted in 2007 are the newly eligible players this year (I have no idea about international free agents), so that includes three important players for the Yankees: Austin Romine, D.J. Mitchell, and David Phelps. All three are no-brainers, they have to be protected. I’m not the biggest Mitchell fan, but he definitely has value and there’s no reason to give him away. George Kontos (a 2006 draftee) is probably worth protecting this time around as well.

David Adams is on the fence, but I think he’s worth protecting as long as his recovery from the foot/ankle injury continues to go well. True middle infielders that can hit are exactly the kinds of guys you keep. The interesting case will be Pat Venditte, though I think the Yankees will leave him off the 40-man roster and some team will grab him for a Spring Training look-see.

Johnny asks: Dante Jr. has been insanely hot with the bat lately. However, do you discount his stats because the GCL hardly has any 2011 draftees playing yet? The level of competition right now is way below where it will be in 2-3 weeks right? Or is it safe to get excited about Dante Jr?

The further you get away from the big leagues, the less the stats matter. Baseball history is littered with guys that tore up the GCL but didn’t hit anywhere else (check out Tony Blanco’s GCL numbers). That said, you’d much rather see a kid tear that league up than struggle, just for piece of mind. If Dante Bichette Jr. started his career hitting like, .200/.250/.350 with 75 strikeouts and ten walks in 50 games, then yeah that’s a reason to worry. Strong performance means less that poor performance, if that makes sense.

Full season leagues are the first big test, that’s when you can really begin to pay attention to performance. It’s the first time these kids are playing every single day for months on end, grinding through long bus trips and crummy hotels and nagging injuries. It’s a tough transition and you’d be surprised at how many players can’t handle it. Great GCL numbers are nice to see, but ultimately they shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion. I won’t rank Bichette any higher on my next prospect list because of what he’s done over the last few weeks. The scouting report always comes first.

Yanks finish off sweep as Nova dominates ChiSox
Series Preview: Boston Red Sox
  • Damix

    Speaking of prospect lists, when will your next one be?

    • Mike Axisa

      A day or two after the August 15th draft signing deadline.

      • Johnny O

        Any hints on whether or not a 2011 draftee would crack the top 10? Top 20?

  • RIP Irabu

    Take brackman off the 40 and replace him with romine, thats all the importance needed

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Guys who should be removed from the 40-man before Brackman:

      Luis Ayala, Jeff Marquez, Pants Lendleton, Kevin Whelan, Gus Molina, Ramiro Peña, Chris Dickerson, Greg Golson, Justin Maxwell, Colin Curtis, Reegie Corona, Sergio Mitre.

      We have one more year of Brackman in the minors before he runs out of options and has to stick on the active roster. Give him that year and cut some of the superfluous fungible depth before cutting a prospect that still has some upside (before absolutely necessary).

      • Artie DeVanzo

        Who coined the name Pants Lendleton bc i must say i laugh everytime i read it

        • Ana

          My brother did, I think. (@DBITLefty)

      • Matt Imbrogno

        How in the HELL has Corona lasted this long?

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Yeah, yeah, he’s been hurt.

          • Thomas

            How sad is it that being hurt is Reegie Corona biggest baseball accomplishment so far?

      • Ted Nelson

        Only one I think I’d consider keeping over Brackman is Dickerson, since he’s gotten it done at the big league level. Not referring to this season, but career: 558 PAs, .342 wOBA, plus defensively capable of playing all 3 OF positions, gets some steals…

  • Tom Bombadil

    We’re just going to have to give CC whatever he wants when he opts out. There’s no other option but to just give him whatever the hell he wants and hope he takes it. If he leaves who will carry our pitching staff, #2 starter AJ Burnett?

    • CMP

      Starter AJ Burnett who is #2.


    • Ted Nelson

      Not saying I don’t sign CC, but maybe the pitching staff could carry themselves?

    • The Great Balboni

      Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. As was pointed out yesterday, CC is not only pitching lights out, which is great, but the not so great part is w/each passing day, he’s turning himself into a house, & I mean a McMansion size house. The guy seems to gain five pounds between each inning, & that’s on days when he’s pitching. I’m wondering where they’re finding all the material for all the uniforms they have to keep getting for him so ’cause there’s flat out no way he’d be able to fit into anything he wore before late June of this year.

      This being the case, do you really want to extend this guy an additional three years under these circumstances w/him carrying all this additional weight while knowing that only this past offseason he had to have surgery on his knee due to all the high torque stress his weight placed on his knee while pitching last year. I like CC as much as anyone, & I think the entire roster loves the guy, BUT, he’s asking for an additional $60+ Million over three additional years, & the guy can almost quite literally blow his body out at anytime.

      Personally, I’m hoping the guy wins the Cy Young award this year, maybe even the MVP, we go to & win the world series, he’s the WS MVP, & then if he plays out his option for the extension, we cut bait. I’d be really surprised if the guy finishes his present contract out healthy & reasonably productive, let alone giving him an additional three years to his deal. Nope, love the guy, but he’s eating himself out of a prolonged stay in NY & maybe even out of a prolonged baseball career anywhere. Without trying to sound like an alarmist, I’ll just have to sound like an alarmist here anyway for the moment & add that his weight is beginning to scare me as far as his longterm general health is concerned. I’d hate to see CC eat himself into a shortened career or even worse an unhealthy quality of life or shortened life due to this. FOr the sake of his wife & family, I hope he gets it under control SOON!

  • CP

    Among pitchers alone, I’d definitely have Justin Verlander ahead of him, and I’d probably have Jered Weaver ahead of him too.


    CC has the best FIP and fWAR in the AL. Why would you rank Weaver and Verlander ahead of him?

    • Mike Axisa

      I think they’ve pitched better. Like I said, I don’t love WAR (any version) for pitchers, and Sabathia’s FIP is supported by a super-low HR rate that’s probably a little too good to be true, especially given his home park.

      • Damix

        Even if you assume the HR rate will regress at some point, do you hold it against CC that it hasn’t up to this point?

        Regression to the mean is good for forecasting future success, but I don’t believe you should hold luck against a pitcher when judging them on what they’ve done up to this point.

        • Mike HC

          Agreed, that super low HR rate can be used to show how ridiculously good CC has been in a homerun hitters park. Maybe you don’t think he can keep it up, but that is a different story.

          But Weaver and Verlander are pitching out of their minds too, so there is no wrong answer really.

      • CP

        So CC’s rate is artificially low, but Weaver’s even lower rate is sustainable? I can get that argument for Verlander (even though I disagree with it), but I don’t see how Weaver has pitched better than CC except for getting luckier.

        Another point is that Verlander’s .232 BABIP and Weaver’s .245 BABIP are less sustainable than CC’s .293 BABIP.

        • Mike HC

          I think the argument of who has pitched better so far, and who can sustain their pace are two different arguments.

          I guess you can claim a low home run rate is more about being lucky than good, but I think it is also about going through a streak of phenomenal pitching that you probably can’t keep up. In which case you should be credited for the results.

          • Ted Nelson

            Mike points to CC’s “unsustainable” HR rate, so that would make their “unsustainable” BABIPs and/or HR rates fair game as a counter-argument.

      • Matt Imbrogno

        To be fair, CC does have the second best xFIP in the league, just behind Verlander.

  • CP

    Position players play every day and overall I think an elite position player contributes more to his team than an elite starting pitcher.

    Position players play every day, but they only account for 1/9th of their teams plate appearances when they play. CC accounts for somewhere around 75% of the plate appearances on the days he pitches.

    Just look at the stats for this season. Pedroia has the most PA for a hitter at 502. There are 41 starting pitchers in the AL that have faced more batters than that, and CC is at 717 batters faced. Maybe the fact that position player also accounts for more defense is a factor, but to argue the ‘he plays every day’ angle is just wrong.

    • Jerome S.

      This. Both pitchers and position players have the ability to contribute equally, but in different ways. In my opinion, the value that, say, CC Sabathia can give you in a day will be approximated by what Curtis Granderson does in the next five.

      • Artie DeVanzo

        I agree with this analysis however i also agree with Mike

        Pitchers have their Cy Young award and position players have the MVP and i think keeping it that way limits the confusion

    • Levi

      I agree mostly with your point. When you factor in how hard it is to find a “true” ace, I’d be inclined to take him over an elite position player. But as you said, you can’t look only at PA’s, defensive innings included, it’s basically a wash.

      • Mike HC

        CC is pretty indisputably the most valuable on the Yanks. We can lose basically any of our position players and not be hurt that much because of how stacked out offense is. But if we lose CC, wrap the season up.

    • Ted Nelson

      Good point.

  • Pants Lendelton

    Tony Blanco. Wow… That’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile. I hope Jorge Vasquez isn’t the next Tony Blanco.

    • Artie DeVanzo

      I hope jorge posada is the next wally pipp

    • Ted Nelson

      Obviously there are tons of them, but Estee Harris was a real GCL all-star who never did anything above that level.

      • bottom line

        Estee Harris — Good one

      • CS Yankee

        Yeah but he wasn’t D-Bich.


      • Jim S

        Sometimes the depth of knowledge on this site just shocks the heck out of me.

  • Bronx Byte

    Burnett belongs in the back end of the bullpen regardless of what his salary is. He is what he is, a .500 pitcher at best.
    The Yankees are supposed to put the best 25 players out there and Burnett is the low rung of the ladder.

    • Jim S

      Yeah, let’s use pitcher win percentage to settle this debate.

    • CS Yankee

      AJ is the sixth ladder being used right now and we have only five workers.

      He cost more than most of our other ladders, has proven to be a worthy ladder in the past, but isn’t the bright one being taken.

      Perhaps other ladders won’t hold up as well, or the said ladder gets inspected and corrected and becomes the ladder we thought we purchased. Make no mistake though, August is not the time when we can remove such ladder from our fleet of ladders.

      • Crime Dog

        Who made the ladder that’s strong enough to hold CC? Or Bartolo for that matter? Or am I taking this analogy too far?

  • Ted Nelson

    I agree that best is pretty much most valuable overall. If anything I would probably argue that a guy like Bautista is more valuable to his team because he’s on a bad team.

    “The scouting report always comes first.”

    Whose scouting report? If you got the scouting report Damon Oppenheimer has it would probably look a whole lot different from the scouting report Keith Law, for example, has.

    • Jim S

      I wouldn’t call the Blue Jays a bad team, being over .500 in the AL East, but I agree with your general point.

      • Ted Nelson

        Should have said relatively bad teammates maybe, or just not a very good team. Point more being that without Bautista they might be a bad team… Without A-Rod, for example, the Yankees are still a very good team.

        Someone above made a good point about value to the team possibly having to do with roster construction… using the example of CC arguably being more valuable to the Yankees as an equally productive hitter. I’m not 100% sure if that’s accurate, but I think there are theoretical situations where it would be.

        • Jim S

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure I agree with that. Minus Bautista, if you buy fWar, the Jays would be at worst 13 games under .500, if he were replaced with a 0 fWar guy. Which yeah, would definitely qualify as a bad team.

        • Jim S

          And yeah, I can see that situation taking place on Philly right now. I would guess a 5 WAR hitter would help them more than another 5 WAR pitcher.

          Just using WAR for ease.

          • Ted Nelson

            Good one

  • Jorge

    A friend of mine who does scoring for minor league games for MLB says that GCL games are laughable to watch because of the low attendance and high-school looking feel of it all. Is this true?