Mailbag: Offense, Soriano, Nova, Pitching, Situational Hitting


Travis asks: How does this NY Yankee team (lineup and rotation/bullpen) stack up against the 2009 team? I feel like this team is better, which makes it also feel like the other American League teams are getting better, but at a quicker pace.

In terms of hitting relative to the league — which is really the only thing that matters — the 2011 Yankees are a bit better than the 2009 team. They have a 121 wRC+ (21 percent better than league average), while the 2009 team had a 118 wRC+. Of course, the 2009 team also did that in a whole 162-game season, while the 2011 season is still playing out. By the end I expect they’ll end up in a similar spot.

It might not be that the AL is getting better. The run environment is much lower this season. Since fewer runs have scored overall, things might seem a bit closer. Regardless, the Yankees do have a top two offense in the league. The only real difference is that Boston has an offense that’s just as good. That was missing in ’09.

The real difference comes from the pitching staff. In 2009 they had a 4.28 ERA and 4.32 FIP, and had the seventh lowest runs allowed per game. In 2011 they have a 3.64 ERA, 3.69 FIP, and have the third lowest runs allowed per game. So even after adjusting for the lower run environment, they’re still out-pitching the 2009 team by a decent margin.

Paul asks: What are the chances Soriano decides he doesn’t want to be the 7th inning guy next year and opts out? How bad would that really be, considering what he gets paid (yes, he is obviously talented)?

I’d put his opt-out chances at slim to nil. Not only does he now have another injury red flag, but he has the two more expensive years of his contract ahead. That is, he’s made $10 million this year and would be leaving $25 million on the table by opting out. Could he do better than 2/25 on the open market? There’s a decent free agent class of closers, including Heath Bell and K-Rod, but the more I look at it the more I’m convinced that Soriano would be a better option than them. But they’d have to know they could get more than $25 million, and I don’t think that’s guaranteed right now. Expect Soriano in pinstripes next year.

John asks: Can Ivan Nova win the Rookie of the Year?

Stephen actually covered Ivan Nova’s chances at the AL Rookie of the Year Award this past weekend. Make sure to give that article a read. He has quality numbers, sure, but the wins are really the thing that the voters will focus on. There are some more deserving candidates, in my opinion. But if Nova pitches well down the stretch and ends with 17 or 18 wins, the old school voters could place his name atop the ballot.

Biggie asks: With Weaver off the board who do you prefer coming out of the 2012 class?

I’ve always been a big fan of John Danks. It’s hard not to think of Andy Pettitte when watching him, and it’s always palatable to have a lefty in Yankee Stadium. Cole Hamels is another swell option, not only because he’s a lefty but because he’s a lefty with good control and excellent strikeout numbers. The class kind of fades a bit from there. The Yanks probably won’t consider Zack Greinke, and Matt Cain allows a few too many fly balls for comfort (and wouldn’t have the spacious confines of AT&T Park to aid him).

Ranking them in terms of desire, I’d probably go Hamels, Danks, Cain, Greinke. I suspect at least two will have signed extensions by then, though.

Paul asks: The Yankees are seemingly historically bad at small-balling in a run from 3rd with 0 or 1 outs. How bad are they really?

This notion, I suspect, is merely frustration from the first two games in the series. Entering play yesterday the Yankees were hitting .356/.362/.663 with a runner on third and less than two outs, with 44 sac flies. That OPS is the best in the league, and the 44 sac flies is second best. With a runner on third and two outs the Yankees are hitting .314/.406/.522, again leading the league in OPS (by a wide margin). They also lead in batting average in those situations, by 40 points.

In other words, the Yankees are absolutely stellar when a man stands on third base, regardless of how many outs there are. And, again, that doesn’t even count yesterday’s game. (Baseball-Reference hadn’t updated when I did this, and plus it’s awesome to see the numbers before yesterday, anyway.)

Willie asks: With Tabatha getting a new contract, can we use his value to see what an extension for Brett Gardner would be worth?

The two aren’t really comparable, because of service time. Tabata didn’t come up until mid-2010, and so has a few more reserve clause years before he even hits arbitration. Gardner, on the other hand, will reach arbitration after this season, so he will necessarily make more than Tabata. As Mike mentioned in a previous mailbag, Gardner might not make a lot in an arbitration hearing. I’m not sure if that favors the Yankees signing him to an extension or letting him go year-to-year.

Categories : Mailbag
  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nova should win ROY. He’s held this pitching staff together with the dead arm of Hughes and the troubles of AJ Burnett. Where would we be without Ivan Nova?

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      In a Yankee-centric universe that might be true. But there are 29 other teams in baseball.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Weeks should win ROY. He’s held this offense together with the dead bat of DeJesus and the troubles of Kurt Suzuki. Where would we be without Jemile Weeks?

        Walden should win ROY. He’s held this bullpen together with the dead arm of Takahashi and the troubles of Fernando Rodney. Where would we be without Jordan Walden?

        Ackley should win ROY. He’s held this lineup together with the dead bat of Suzuki and the troubles of Chone Figgins. Where would we be without Dustin Ackley?

        Hosmer should win ROY. He’s held this team together with the dead bat of Escobar and the troubles of Mike Moustakas. Where would we be without Eric Hosmer?

        etc. etc.

      • Dan

        With ROY, he isn’t being compared to all other 29 teams. Comparing him to AL contenders, its easy to see how he could win it. I think it will end up being a close vote with Hellickson and Pineda in the mix as well.

        • Joe Pawlikowski

          It doesn’t have to be a contender. I mean, limiting MVP to contenders is silly enough. But I don’t think even the voters only consider contenders for ROY.

          • JCK

            I assume he meant ROY contenders, not contending teams.

            • JCK

              Oh he said that below… I should scroll down.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          With ROY, he isn’t being compared to all other 29 teams. Comparing him to AL contenders, its easy to see how he could win it.

          While voters typically restrict the MVP award to contenders, they’re generally more liberal with their RoY and Cy Young votes. Good rookies on bad teams win the award frequently.

          I doubt Nova gets much of a boost from being on a first-place team.

          • Dan

            Sorry, I meant AL ROY contenders, Pineda is not on a good team and I think he could get a lot of votes though it might be hard since Ackley could also get votes on that team.

            • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Oh, okay. I re-read it and I think I get what you’re saying now.

              Yes, Nova is a legit contender. I bet he’s a little bit behind Trumbo, Hellickson, and Ackley at the moment, but if Ivan has a good September, I think he’ll win the award, yes.

              • Dan

                Thanks, yeah that was more of what I was trying to get at. He is a contender, and could become a favorite if he continues to improve. I am at work, so sometimes it gets hard to multi-task.

                I think if the Yankees finish first and he ends up with around 17-18 wins and an ERA under 4 it would be hard to see him not winning it. Also, with a year like that it would have probably meant that if the Yankees didn’t send him down in July he might have wound up as a 20 game winner as a rookie, I am not sure if that has ever been done before.

          • Rainbow Connection

            “I doubt Nova gets much of a boost from being on a first-place team.”

            I had no idea Nova was on a first-place team. I learned something today.

        • Ted Nelson

          I think the point is more to take the team out of it and compare his individual performance to that of other individuals. Looking at a stat like wins does not do this because it does not take the offensive and defensive contributions of his teammates out of it in any way.

          As TSJC points out above, the “he’s helped this team” argument goes for every candidate… that’s why they are candidates.

          Joe specifically says in the mailbag that Nova is a contender.

      • David

        NO! There Are NOT!!!!!

    • Mike HC

      I think the odds of Nova winning the award is not that great. I just don’t think he has the popularity to win it at this point, plus overcoming the universal Yankee hate. Short of really lighting the league on fire down the stretch, I think he will get slighted by the voters.

      • Ted Nelson

        How do you get slighted of an award you don’t deserve?

        • Mike HC

          I was just commenting on the fact that voting is many times a popularity contest, and I don’t think Nova has the name value/buzz, plus the inherent anti yankee attitude of the majority of non Yankee fans, to get over the top.

          I surely think he would be a deserving candidate if he continues to pitch solid down the stretch, along with a couple of other deserving candidates.

          • Ted Nelson

            I was kind of kidding.

            There’s probably something to your point, but the counter-argument is that if Ivan Nova were not a Yankee he might not even be a candidate. Pineda’s got an extra fWAR over Nova, but not the shiny 13-4 record because he doesn’t have the Yankees behind him.

            People might hate the Yankees, but they see them on national TV all the time and for pitcher it helps a lot to have their offense and defense behind you.

            • Mike HC

              Good point. Lets call it back to even then, ha.

      • Rainbow Connection

        “plus overcoming the universal Yankee hate”

        Like when Swisher was voted into the All Star Game?

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    It’s always palatable to have a lefty in Yankee Stadium.

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      I’m on board, but I can’t imagine the cost is going to make any of us very happy.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Thank Mo for Jered Weaver ignoring Scott Boras and deflating the market again.

        Wilson can ask for more than Lackey/AJ, but he’s not better than Weaver, so he can’t expect much more than that. I’ll say 5/90, 5/95 at absolute most. His arm doesn’t have many miles on it, but he’s not quite a 100M pitcher.

        We just have to hope that the Natinals and Jays turn their attention elsewhere (Prince Fielder and Aramis Ramirez?), because those clubs figure to be in spending moods.

        • Rick in Boston

          I’m not seeing the Nats going after a corner bat – they seem to really like their IF situation going forward. They could really be big players in the Wilson lottery and have a good shot at contending in 2012.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            I don’t see the Nats going after a 3B/SS/2B, but they don’t have a stud first baseman mashing in the middle of their lineup. Mike Morse is solid, but they can (and would) move him back into the outfield in a heartbeat if it meant adding Prince Fielder.

            • JimIsBored (Jim S)

              Their leadership has been talking about moving him back for Adam Laroche.

              Yeah, I think Fielder would push him off of 1B.

            • Rick in Boston

              If they get Fielder, Morse might be gone sooner or later – Werth is under contract until 2017, and Harper will be up next year at some point.

        • Ted Nelson

          Not that I see Wilson getting much more that the 5/90-95 you mention, but Weaver wasn’t on the open market. Not sure how much that impacts the market for Wilson. Especially since one less top arm (and a Boras client people might have expected to test the waters and take the most money) is available the following offseason.

          • JimIsBored (Jim S)

            Yeah, I mean, I’d take 5/95, but I’m not jumping for joy at 19 mil/year.

            That applies to most pitchers, though. Not a slight on Wilson at all.

            • Kosmo

              I can´t imagine any team tossing 19 million per year at Wilson.Maybe NY if their unwilling to toss 25 million per for CC.

              • Ted Nelson

                Can you imagine any team tossing $18 mill at Burnett or Lackey? Can you imagine any team tossing 7 years $126 mill at Werth? 7 years $142 mill to Crawford?

                I can’t… and yet all those guys got that money.

                Among guys with 300 IP since 2010 started Wilson is 10th in fWAR, 16th in FIP, 18th in ERA… GB/K pitcher… he’s in the AL and his home park is hitter friendly. He hasn’t racked up the innings, but overall he’s been just a tick or two below CC.

                • JimIsBored (Jim S)

                  Yeah I mean, I like him, I think he’d play very well in YSIII given his bandbox upbringing.

                  I just don’t like giving 5 years, 19$ million a year to a pitcher. I’ll live with it, and if he continues pitching like he has the past 2 years I’m sure we’ll say it’s worth it. It’s just a whole lot of risk.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Yeah, I don’t know if it’s the Yankees but if he goes to the highest bidder I think 5 or 6 years and $17-19 mill sounds fairly reasonable as a market value.

                    I can see arguing either way on whether or not the Yankees should sign him. I wouldn’t really let the difference between $17 mill per and $19 mill per be the hold-up if they want to sign him, though. $2 mill is 1% of their annual payroll. I would guess some of it depends on their plans and expectations for AJ. If they’re unwilling to write that off as a sunk cost and insist on keeping him in the rotation so long as he’s physically able to pitch… I would see Wilson coming in. If they’re willing to eat Burnett as a sunk cost, would make some sense to have CC and Wilson headline the rotation and then Burnett, Nova, Hughes, Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Warren, Phelps, Mitchell, Stoneburner, Marshall, etc. competing for the three spots depending on who shows what at what time (rather than only two spots if Burnett is cemented into the rotation).

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “If they’re unwilling to write that off as a sunk cost and insist on keeping him in the rotation so long as he’s physically able to pitch… I would see Wilson coming in”

                      ***meant that I would *not* see them signing Wilson.

                • Kosmo

                  Teams are certainly aware of the debacle the signings you mentioned created. I assure you the 3 teams are regretting it. Every reason not to go too overboard. CC has sustained a level of performance excellence over a number of years. Wilson has been very good over 2 seasons. I dont see him getting better than AJ money ,16.5 over 5 if he´s lucky and I´m betting Texas will resign him.

                  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                    I dont see him getting better than AJ money.

                    I do, because
                    A.) He’s pitched better than AJ
                    B.) He’s a lefty
                    C.) The Burnett contract happened three years of inflation ago

                    • Kosmo

                      He is undoubtedly a better pitcher than AJ and yes he is a lefty . The rest we´ll just have to wait and see.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Teams see signing debacles every single year, and teams still make signing debacles every single year. It’s not a new thing. Those players are not the first to be given ridiculous contracts in free agency… yet those teams still did it. What has suddenly changed now that hadn’t changed for decades of free agency across major US sports (and same sort of thing also happens in European soccer under a different framework)?

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And Wilson’s track record is only 2 seasons because he’s only been starting for 2 seasons. It’s not like he was a bad starter who suddenly caught lightning in a bottle.

                      CC is a better bet than Wilson… and that’s why we’re projecting him to get 30-50% more annually. 19 vs. 25 is a 30% jump, 16.5 vs 25 is a 50% jump.

                  • Mike HC

                    I’m betting on him re upping with Texas as well. Probably for around 16 million a year, give or take 2-3 million in either direction.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      $13-19 mill is a pretty large range… as in 19 mill is almost 50% more than 13 mill…

                    • Mike HC

                      Yea, as I was writing that I kinda realized it, ha.

                      We all seem to generally agree he is probably going to get somewhere in the upper teens, and as you mentioned, you can’t account for the wild card team that says we are signing this go no matter what it takes. It wouldn’t surprise me if one MLB team is really high on his future and sustainability and makes a big push for him.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I think there’s a good chance someone really goes for it, especially if Hamels and/or others of that FA crop re-sign or looks like they’re going to sign. Then again maybe teams do shy away from a huge number and set a cap somewhere in the $16, 17, 18 mill range for some reason… who knows? I guess there’s always a breaking point, but if I was dying to sign someone for $16.5 mill per I think I’d still sign them for 10-15% more and just not be as thrilled.

                      More I think about it I’d like the Yankees to sign Wilson assuming they’d be willing to view Burnett without thinking of his contract (which only has two years left): if Burnett earns a rotation spot it’s hit, but if not bullpen him… could be a placeholder for Banuelos, Betances, Noesi, Warren, Phelps. They can obviously make the playoffs with CC and question marks (this season the questions have been answered positively, but that wasn’t the case last season really and they still made the playoffs). With Wilson they’d be really strong contenders the next couple of years until some of the young guys are likely to be hitting their stride, though. If that works out even if you’re eating his contract after a couple of seasons in a bad case, you’re replacing him with arb and pre-arb guys and can afford to eat the contract and have hopefully given yourself a much better shot in the playoffs for two seasons while developing young starters.

                  • Mike HC

                    Also, as much as playoff performance should not be overly valued in free agency, I think a lot will depend on how he performs for Texas in the playoffs this year as their ace. If he goes out, pitches really strong for a couple of games a series and gets at least to the ALCS, his value will rise. If he gets hit in game one of the ALDS and they go down, I think his value takes a hit.

    • Accent Shallow

      I can certainly do without Wilson. I just can’t stomach handing him a 5 year deal.

    • Cuso

      I don’t what it is about him, I’m just not buying into him as a Yankee.

      It already drives me nuts that he’s touted as an ace in Texas. He just seems to have this “Barry Zito-as-soon-as-I-sign-a-big-contract-I’m-going-to-focus-on-hackey-sack-and-guitar” thing going

      I will admit, however, that if he has a second consecutive impressive post-season performance – my stance on him will soften.

      I just don’t buy into Wilson yet.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    The Yanks probably won’t consider Zack Greinke.

    I bet we don’t even get the chance. Greinke probably follows Weaver’s example and signs a set-for-life if slightly below market extension before hitting the 2012-2013 winter.

    The Brewers are a little like the Angels; a solid mid-market team who can’t spend like the AL East powers annually but have a good ownership group committed to staying in the hunt as much as possible and rolling the dice on occasion. I bet Greinke finds his paradise there and becomes a Brewer for life.

    Unqualified amateur psychologist, he probably values being in the midwest (but not on a perennial doormat like KC) more than chasing every last dollar on the open market (and the pressures/scrutiny that comes concomitant with that).


    Ed. note: I’m not saying he can’t hack it in the Big Apple, just that I don’t think he will end up trying to.]

    • Mister Delaware

      Always surprises me that far more guys don’t do this. If I wouldn’t take 25% more to go do accounting in the midwest somewhere, why would I take 10% more on a far more massive contract to play a sport somewhere I didn’t want to be?

      (Even if it is only for a quarter of the year or so.)

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        And whatever money Greinke would leave on the table by not going to free agency would be offset (if not totally eliminated) by his lower tax rate and cost of living.

        Shit’s cheap in Wisconsin, yo.

        • JimIsBored (Jim S)

          Yeah. This.

        • Mister Delaware

          Sausages every night.

          • TheEvilUmpire

            Instert double entendre here…

    • Ted Nelson

      Los Angeles is the second biggest market in the country. I think it’s a huge stretch to call a team with a $140 mill payroll “mid-market.” That would basically make every team that’s not the Yankees and spends some money “mid-market.” Since 2008 Brewers have been in the $80-85 mill range, while Angels have gone below $113 mill once to $105 mill.

      Off-hand I sort of consider Greinke the least likely of the big 4 mentioned in the mailbag to re-sign (not necessarily an extension, but also maybe once they hit FA), because I consider the Brewers the least likely to re-sign him. Phillies are getting way up there in payroll, but I can’t see them letting Hamels walk (maybe trade him before he walks). I expect the Sox and Giants to try to re-sign Danks and Cain. Brewers? I don’t know if they’ll pony up.

      Greinke’s from Florida… why is he so attached to the mid-west? I have no idea and maybe he is, I’m just wondering where that assumption comes from.

      • JimIsBored (Jim S)

        It’s the idea that he doesn’t want to pitch under the spotlight he’d have in Boston or NY.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, I just don’t see why it’s the mid-west for a Florida kid though. There are other teams who might pony up that aren’t in the mid-west but have varying degrees of media scrutiny that are probably all way less than NY might have. Toronto, Washington, Seattle, maybe Marlins with new stadium?, Baltimore, Arizona maybe, maybe Colorado… If he really does love the mid-west, one of the Chicago teams might pay him more than Milwaukee without quite the NY media, Cleveland might be back in spending mode, St. Louis…

  • Mister Delaware

    Joe, if you back out all of the times that Swisher and Teixeira padded their stats with runners on third and less than two outs, the line goes all the way down to .177/.241/.265.

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      Fun fact: if you take all of the times the Yankees got a hit or a walk with runners on third and less than two outs, the line is .000/.000/.000

      Worst. offense. ever.

      • Mister Delaware

        And that’s what its going to be like in the playoffs. I just know it. Don’t get mad, I’m just telling it like it is. Be prepared for disappointment. But I won’t be because I already expect it. Go Yanks.

        • Matt Warden

          Life’s hard for the modern day Yankee fan…

          I usually try to make it a point to not critique readership opinion, but I just don’t understand the statement “Don’t get mad, I’m just telling it like it is.”

          The Yankees have one of the most productive offenses in the league. Why such expectations of doom and gloom?

          • Rainbow Connection

            “Why such expectations of doom and gloom?”

            2010 ALCS

        • JimIsBored (Jim S)

          The real irony is these are the same commenters who get pissed off in game threads when things they already predicted actually happen.

          • Jorge

            I love what you wrote, I have to say. Absolutely true.

            When did this “stat padding” thing show up with some commenters? This has to be one of the more ridiculous lines of thought I’ve ever encountered, as if Nick Swisher goes up to bat and says, “nah, I’ll save the good swings for when it doesn’t matter.”

            • Cuso

              If you’re referring to any of my commentary regarding stat-padding:

              1.) I’ve only ever used it in reference to Swisher.

              2.) I’ve been very specific that it’s the natural response to people vastly overstating Swisher’s value. It’s not in response to people that think he’s a serviceable piece. He is that. It’s in response to people that think he’s a very good player. He’s just not.

              3.) It’s true. But you’d actually have to follow every single game over the last three years to comprehend it. He’s awful in pressure ABs. Look to his playoff performance in 2009 and 2010 for proof.

              4.) Just watch the games from here on out. People have disagreed with me for the last 18 months on this topic. More and more people are coming around.

              He is not worth $10.5M on an option for 2012. Noone will admit that because it’s easier to bash people who are negative or “down” on someone, than to admit a jovial, cheery guy isn’t as good as everyone would like to envision him as.

              Just watch the remainder of the season. Swisher is a choke-job in a crucial moment waiting to happen.

              • Mike HC

                But that karate kick/comedy leg kick, botched play with granderson a couple of games ago was pretty damn funny and entertaining.

                Gotta at least give him that.

                (Although the Yanks didn’t win the games, Swisher was the main guy even keeping them in the game and actually hitting in the first two games of the Oakland series. No stat padding there.)

            • Rainbow Connection

              I would call it stat-padding when an All-Star lineup is lauded for scoring tons of runs on some poor schmuck with an exhausted arm who was left to die on the mound by the A’s. It takes away from how impressive the feat is.

  • Reggie C.

    When the Brewers lose Fielder , we could guess that saved up money would go towards locking up Greinke. It’d be mighty interesting if Greinke came into 2012 without signing an extension.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      This winter, they lose their starting 1B (Prince) and three key setup men (K-Rod, Saito, and LaTroy Hawkins). But their pre-arb payroll drops to 58M.

      They’ll have to give arb raises to Shaun Marcum (3rd year, 6M?) and Carlos Gomez (3rd year, 3M?) and a few other cheapies (Manny Parra 2nd, Casey McGee/Nyjer Morgan 1st), figure without signing anyone, they’re around 70M.

      That’s 70M with their Braun-Hart-Weeks-Gallardo/Morgan/Axford core all locked up for the next three-ish years and Marcum/Wolf/Greinke all in their 2012 walk years.

      They could probably extend Greinke at somewhere between 17-19M per and still have room to sign a reliever or two, probably give the 1B job to Mat Gamel. It’s doable.

  • Across the pond

    It’s always palatable to have a lefty in Yankee Stadium.…kei-igawa1.jpg

    • JimIsBored (Jim S)

      Can you imagine if he were a righty?

    • vin

      Nah, just do what I do…

      My kitchen opens up to the family room. And when I’m cooking dinner, I can watch the game in the reflection from the microwave. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the lefthanded tandem of David Robertson and Mo. Positively delightful. It is weird watching the players run to 3rd base after hitting the ball though. Still beats Kei Igawa.

  • Gonzo

    For what it’s worth, Matt Gelb was reporting that Hamels and the Phils want to work out an extension. Not sure how much they can afford considering they have some big salaries in the next few years.

    • gc

      Indeed. If my math is correct, in 2012 they have $110M committed to 9 players. In 2013, $82M committed to 4 players. That’s a lot of coin!

  • JohnC

    Lately the trend has been that teams recognize how hard #1 and #2 starters are to come by and are locking them up before they hit free agency. I would expect the Phils to lock up Hamels long term and the Giants to do the same with Cain before they hit free agency.

  • Dave

    I have an idea for 2012?s staff.

    Move Hughes to the pen. The only time he was consistently dominant with 94-95 fastball was in short relief. It simplifies everything for him and he doesn’t need to pace himself. This will limit his innings as well which might stop these mysterious losses of arm strength. Joba won’t be ready most likely — so there’s room.

    2012 bullpen
    Wade or Ayala (but not both — or a good 2nd lefty if they can find one)
    Noesi (as the long man)

    2012 rotation
    Sabathia (make sure he doesn’t leave)
    CJ Wilson (throw $ at him — we need another lefty starter)
    Garcia or Colon (keep one but not both)

    Use Warren, Phelps, Betances, Banuelos to fill in as needed — especially for the Garcia/Colon rotation spot.

    Make sense?

    • Dan

      It makes sense, but the question is does Hughes provide much value in the bullpen? If they are going to move Hughes I would almost prefer that they try and find someone to trade him to during the offseason. With Robertson and Soriano, Hughes will most likely not help the team that much unless Robertson or Soriano really fall off or get injured. If they can’t trade him I would keep him in the rotation because the bullpen isn’t much of a problem for them.

      • Dave

        I would’ve posed the idea of trading him in the off-season — but I think his value is too low now. Build up his value again with some quality innings in the pen — then dangle him at that point (or when Joba is ready to return). I could see another team being interested in him as a starter even if he’s working out of the pen for the Yankees at the time. Also, he might be more valuable in the pen than you think. Rivera is a year older; Soriano has been good and bad — but he did have elbow problems this year. If Hughes can return to his reliever form from a few years ago, I don’t think he’d be wasted any more than Joba would’ve been wasted had he not gotten hurt. If he can blow away guys like he once did in relief, he’ll get his innings and be a welcome asset.

        • Dan

          Yes, but my point is with the emergence of Robertson and Soriano being a former closer, Hughes is rarely going to get in the game after the 7th inning so he will be brought in to low leverage situations so he will not be traded for like an elite reliever so he really has no trade valude in the pen. As a starter, some team might be willing to buy low and give a prospect that would fall between #5-10 in their organization. If Hughes was pitching like he did last year it would have cost a lot more, so some team might take that chance hoping he can become the pitcher that he was last year. If they can’t find a team then I would keep him in the rotation either in the majors or minors. Though maybe he comes back in the spring and has regained his velocity and improved his off-speed pitches and forces his way into the rotation.

          • Dave

            I see your point — but I think these pitching situations — especially in the pen are fluid to say the least. Soriano led the league in saves last year, but he lost his 8th inning job even before he got hurt. Roles change quickly — very quickly in NY — based on performance. If Hughes got off to a good start and Soriano or Robertson got off to bad start, the whole order could change. And I’d hope that a 95mph fastball from Hughes in relief would look better to other teams’ scouts than a 90mph fastball in the 3rd inning of a start.

            • Dan

              True, but also with Hughes having less mileage on his arm this season compared to last, there is a chance that he comes into camp with less of a tired arm and might be able to regain some of his stuff that he had as a starter last year (when he also came off a season with a smaller workload). If he pitches like that for the first half of the year, they probably could flip him for some good prospects if they would want to.

              • Dave

                Who would you bump from the rotation for him? Nova? Don’t bother re-signing either Colon or Garcia? Let one of them go — but don’t sign CJ Wilson or another FA starter?

                • Dan

                  I would let one of Garcia/Colon go, and not sign Wilson. I am not a fan of paying him a high salary, I would rather wait and try to make a play for Hamels the following year. The Phillies have a ton of money invested in their team, its hard to see how they have the money for a big deal for Hamels.

                  • Dave

                    I’m a little more skeptical of NL pitchers. I was waiting to see if CJ Wilson could continue his initial success as a starter — and he really has (he’s actually having a better year in every category). I also like his grinder make-up. I don’t get that vibe from Hamels. The real issue I see with him is that the Rangers were ready to ante up for Cliff Lee — and they never spent that money. So, I expect them to over-pay to keep him. I have no idea if really wants to stay with him or if he’s a highest bidder guy. Also, with the Jered Weaver contract, it might make it even easier for them to retain him.

                    • Dan

                      I understand where you are coming from, but I share the view that I saw someone else have on this site where I would worry about Wilson being similar to AJ. Hamels has demonstrated success in a major market and in the postseason and I don’t believe he has had much trouble against AL lineups in interleague.

                    • Dave

                      Also, I seem to remember Hamels not handling his one bad year very well. He said some stupid things and seemed to cave into the pressure of being criticized for his poor start to that season. To his credit, he’s since turned it around — but it got ugly there for a bit. I don’t know how that would fly in NY. You can’t wilt and start whining when you don’t pitch well in NY.

                    • Dan

                      I can think of a bunch of Yankees that have thrown fits before. Fans will embrace him as long as he eventually does perform well.

                    • Dave

                      True — but you’ll have to cross your fingers on a suspect 2012 rotation then — and you’ll have to give Hamels a Sabathia-like contract when the time comes. CJ Wilson might sign for 5 yrs. Hamels at his age and track record will want 8 at over 25 mil/yr — easy. You might have over 50 mil/yr wrapped up in just Sabathia and Hamels.

                    • Dan

                      You could just as easily have a suspect rotation with Wilson. I don’t think you can assume that he will have the same type of year next year, and Hamels has more upside than Wilson so I would be okay giving him more money, though I disagree that he will require CC type money. He won’t require 25 million per, but maybe 20-22 which I would be fine with over a 5-6 year deal.

                    • Dave

                      I have a hard time believing that the Yankees will go into 2012 confident in rotation like this:


                      You can’t go into the season with the same view of Hughes that you had coming into this season. Wilson is going to have back-to-back 200 inning 15 win seasons with an ERA in the low 3s. You can’t tell me that the rotation above would be equally suspect with Wilson over Hughes — or Colon/Garcia — or Nova. The Yankees will make moves this off-season. They wont cross their fingers on a Hughes bounce-back, a Colon staying healthy — or a Garcia not regressing to past form. A 30 yr old, 200 inning, low-era, AL lefty is a FA this off-season; Cashman will be taking a plane ride to where ever he is.

                      Also, unless Hamels breaks down next year, the price will be higher than what you’re thinking today’s market is. (Sabathia’s deal will be reworked after he opts out.) Hamels will be only 28 yrs old. Start at 25 mil/8 yrs — easy. He’ll probably be the top starting pitcher in his FA class — and definitely the top left-hander. Hamels will be the belle of the 2013 FA pitcher ball — just like Sabathia was when he signed — except that was 3 yrs ago. Prices go up.

    • Ted Nelson

      I would prefer not to move him to the pen. As a last option if he continues to be horrible? Sure. As Plan A? Would rather he be given every chance to fail as a starter certainly at least another season, whether in AAA or MLB. 2013 when Mo probably is retired I could see more of a need in the pen. As one of 4, 5, 6, 7 very good relievers he’s not going to provide much marginal value to the team, and long-term probably hurts himself.

      If he’s clearly a worse option than Burnett and another pitcher in that 5th spot the Yankees might put him in the pen rather than AAA.