Sep
23

Mailbag: Montero, Posada, Affeldt, Robertson

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We’ve got four straight forward questions in this week’s mailbag, so no nonsense answers today. Remember to use the always handy Submit A Tip box in the sidebar if you want to send in any questions during the week.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Will asks: What do you think of Jesus Montero‘s debut so far on the big league team? It seems like he’s been striking out way too much. Do you think Montero has a good chance at making the playoff roster? And how much can we expect him to actually contribute?

I think Montero’s been fine overall, neither great nor terrible. He obviously started out very well and has cooled off a bit (still at .313/.389/.542 overall), but that’s a function of having just 54 plate appearances more than anything else. Yeah, the strikeout rate is high (27.8%), especially of late (11 whiffs in his last 28 PA), but it’s not terribly surprising for a 21-year-old kid making his debut. Montero’s shown that Yankee Stadium-friendly opposite field stroke and we’ve seen the power on display, so we know the tools are there. Regardless of what happens this month, good or bad, we weren’t going to learn too much about the kid anyway.

As for the playoffs, yeah I think he makes the roster as the primary DH against lefties. We’ll talk more about Jorge Posada in just a second, but I hope the team decides to leave the traditional backup catcher at home and rely on those two as emergency fill-ins should anything happen to Russell Martin.

Cliff asks: Not sure when you do these but I was curious if you think Posada is going to make the postseason roster. If not, do you think they will announce it before Sunday so we can give him a proper send off in the last home game?

I was pretty sure that Posada was going to make the playoff roster all along, but I think that AL East-winning hit on Wednesday cemented it. He can still hit righties (.270/.346/.464), so he’s probably the best choice to platoon with Montero at DH. Plus Jorge can also be useful off the bench as a pinch-hitter and super emergency catcher. I don’t put much stock in intangibles but they definitely do exist, so if nothing else, we know that Posada won’t be overwhelmed by the moment in the postseason. He’s been through all that already, and it’s just one less thing the Yankees would have to worry about.

I would be very surprised if the Yankees announce that Jorge will not be on the playoff roster in time for the final home game,but like I said, I expect them to carry him on the roster. So that last point is basically moot.

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

Scout asks: If the SF Giants decline his 2012 option, Jeremy Affeldt will become a free agent, and evidently without compensation. Does the lefthander make sense for the Yankees, assuming he will require a two-year deal?

Damaso Marte‘s contract expires after the season, so the Yankees have one of those $4M a year LOOGY spots to fill. We’ll go more in depth with potential free agent targets and what not during the offseason (so I don’t want to spoil it too much), but yeah, Affeldt would be a fine target. He held lefties to a .144/.206/.200 batting line with 24 strikeouts and just five walks in 97 PA this year, which is quite a bit better than the .245/.369/.365 batting line they posted against him from 2009-2010 (43 K, 29 BB in 195 PA). I think that has more to do with health than anything.

Affeldt, 32, still has pretty good stuff (low-to-mid-90′s two and four-seamers with a curveball) and he has been really dominant against same -side batters when it comes to getting ground balls over the last few seasons. The Giants have a $5M club option for his services next year, but apparently it will be tough for them to bring both Affeldt and Javy Lopez back next season. I’m very much against multi-year deals for less than elite relievers, but the Yankees obviously aren’t. Affeldt would definitely be an intriguing target after the season, assuming he hits the open market.

Daniel asks: With the success that Robertson has had this year and should he have a similar year next year, should he be made the closer after Rivera? If Rivera retires at the end of his current contract, the Yankees will still likely have Soriano for another year, and he has experience closing, but Robertson appears to be the better pitcher.

The one thing we have to remember is: how often do relievers have back-to-back elite years? The answer is not very often, so we shouldn’t plan out the rest of David Robertson‘s career just yet. That said, he’s obviously the best in-house replacement for Mariano Rivera, just like Phil Hughes was in 2009 and Joba Chamberlain was in 2007. I’d almost prefer that if Robertson does take over as closer, he does it as the guy that replaces Rivera’s replacement. It’s going to be impossible to fill Mo’s shoes, and I suspect the natives will be restless if the new guy struggles out of the gate. We saw it when Tino Martinez took over for Don Mattingly, fans booed him like he kicked their dog or something.

Assuming Rivera retires after next year, the last season on his current contract, I’m not sure the worst move in the world would be to let Rafael Soriano (a.k.a. the Proven Closer™) close at first, then have Robertson replace him if he fails. And if he doesn’t fail, then he’ll be a free agent after the year and Robertson could step after that. The closer’s job is overrated in general, and I think you can make a really strong argument that Robertson would be more valuable to the team pitching the seventh and/or eighth inning while a lesser reliever starts the ninth with a clean slate.

Categories : Mailbag

89 Comments»

  1. Nuke LaDoosh says:

    I completely endorse leaving the typical backup C home during postseason and using Posada/Montero as emergency backups and recommended it prior to Cervelli’s injury. Just thought it made sense even with a healthy Cervelli.

  2. Guest says:

    How about Montero behind the plate last night? A couple of solid picks/blocks on balls in the dirt.

    Personally, I think catcher defense is waaaaay overrated unless the guy is incredibly great or incredibly bad.

    Obviously, the Yanks have seen enough to think he isn’t very good or can’t hack it (despite Cashman’s claims to the contrary).

    But, hopefully, he can string together a few more nights like last night and become serviceable enough behind the plate to provide the Yanks with 80 or so starts behind the plate each year (plus 1B, DH). That would be pretty valuable.

    • IRF says:

      If you don’t think catcher defense is important, read the article Mike Fast just wrote about framing pitches. Also, reports have indicated that Montero is indeed incredibly bad behind the plate (although that could change)

      • Ted Nelson says:

        To me the question becomes about the trade-off between Montero and Romine as back-up Cs. Is the defensive fall-off from Romine-to-Montero or the offensive fall-off from Montero-to-Romine larger / more valuable to the team?

        • DB says:

          Not really because Montero provides value at DH, the only way Romine is getting in the game is if Martin gets hurt. Montero will most likely platoon with Posada unless they want to keep either Montero or Posada off the roster and use Romine as the backup catcher. This scenario might happen because the Yankees have other right handed and left handed hitters they can use at DH (Chavez or Jones)

          • Ted Nelson says:

            “unless they want to keep either Montero or Posada off the roster and use Romine as the backup catcher.”

            Yes… that was the issue at hand. Should they use Romine on the roster…

      • Guest says:

        I don’t doubt that framing pitches is a useful skill, but is framing pitches more important than homeruns and the ability to not make an out?

        I probably went too far with my inital comment re: the isolated import of catcher defense. I still feel, though, people pay way too much attention to catcher defense relative to catcher hitting.

        My mind still boggles at the idea that the Angels found Jeff Mathis to be more valuable than Mike Napoli. Boggles.

        And on how bad Jesus is behind the plate: I think most of us are just going off of reports, some of which are conflicting. Cashman has expressed confidence that he can catch at the ML level, some people have written that his defense has improved; but more people have said his defense sucks and that he can’t catch at the ML level.

        There is enough conflicting information out there that, I, as a fan, would like to actually watch him catch and see if it looks like he can actually do it. Last night, based on what I saw, was a extremely SSS good start.

        • MannyGeee says:

          one thing lost in translation here is that he caught a SHIT LOAD of guys yesterday. its not like Colon went 8 IP and all Montero had to do was catch 2-Seamers all night. There were alot of different looks out there

        • “My mind still boggles at the idea that the Angels found Jeff Mathis to be more valuable than Mike Napoli. Boggles.”

          Well sure, but I think this is one of the extreme examples and most people would agree with you. It’s when the differences are more minor that we have to figure out how much catcher D is really worth.

          “There is enough conflicting information out there that, I, as a fan, would like to actually watch him catch and see if it looks like he can actually do it.”

          Amen.

  3. Sarah says:

    Don’t forget Affeldt tried to cut his hand off recently. When will these pitchers learn to not play with kitchen knives?

    I think that Affeldt is also decent against righties, as opposed to Javy Lopez who can only get lefties out.

  4. Jericho Spade says:

    Robertson if keeping up anywhere near his current abilities, should be left for the 7th and 8th (pressure situations) with men on base. Having him start clean innings is a waste of his best talent. His ability to get out of jams with his very high K numbers.

  5. MikeD says:

    While I know there’s always been rumors of a battle between Girardi and Posada, I think there is zero chance that the Yankees end Posada’s career by keeping him off the postseason roster. He’ll go out with dignity and he may even get a key hit or two along the way. Just don’t ever have him bat righthanded. Be it age or rust, or a combination of both, he somehow lost his ability to hit from the rightside, even though he’s a natural righty and through his career was the better hitter righty.

    My guess is we’ll see Montero behind the plate at least twice more over the next six games. If Girardi is comfortable with his catching skills as a backup, then I don’t think they’ll carry Romine. Montero will be the backup and Posada the emergency catcher.

    Up until Colon’s performance yesterday, I was pretty sure that the Yankees might leave AJ off the postseason roster, just as the Giants did with Barry Zito last World Series. Yet with Colon’s recent problems, and Hughes’ back issue, I’m really not sure if they even have a fourth starter, something they’ll need to figure out if they advance to the ALCS. They can probably get by with three in the first round.

    • B-Rando says:

      If (heaven forbid) something serious were to happen to Martin too, than you just replace him on the roster with Romine. You would only need to get through whatever remaining game you were playing when Martin was injured with Montero/Posada catching.

    • MannyGeee says:

      He’ll go out with dignity and he may even get a key hit or two along the way.

      ~~~~~~~~

      highly unlikely based on those fly swatter swings he was taking last night… ug-leeeee

    • fire levine says:

      Never heard of the battle you mention before but it would be an awesome narrative for the folks at espn:
      “Girardi is bitter at Posada for replacing him back when”

  6. CountryClub says:

    Girardi basically said that Posada is going to be on the post season roster before yesterday’s game. At least that’s what all the beat writers reported.

  7. Donnies Mullet says:

    Montero looked good last night behind the plate. The only complainant was his inability to settle down Betances. He seemed reluctant to take charge like an involved catcher would. Still, that’s a very minor complaint.

    • MannyGeee says:

      that was less about Montero and more about a 23 yr old kid from Brooklyn making his first Major League appearance in Yankee Stadium.

      Horse tranquilizers *might* have been able to settle him down.

  8. Donnies Mullet says:

    Lame answer on Affelt. As we have seen
    relievers should be developed not signed. How many more wasted contracts do you need before that lesson is clear?

    • Cuso says:

      While I agree with you, that hypothesis goes out the window with regard to LHP.

      Garrison just got DFA’d if I’m not mistaken, and they’re not going to stunt Banuelos’ growth by turning him LOOGY.

      There’s noone left at the higher levels to be “developed” in time for next year.

  9. Gonzo says:

    Just curious. I’ve haven’t been around much recently. What’s Romine’s deal? Will he make the playoff roster? I personally think Montero and Posada could do in a pinch. It’s not like Martin is going to need much rest for the playoff games either.

  10. “…I suspect the natives will be restless if the new guy struggles out of the gate. We saw it when Tino Martinez took over for Don Mattingly, fans booed him like he kicked their dog or something.”

    Yeah, but the story didn’t end at your arbitrary end-point, right? Tino righted the ship and Yankees fans embraced him as a True Yankee (trademark and all that jazz). So the lesson to be drawn from the Donnie/Tino example isn’t necessarily that it’s so awful following a legend, but maybe more accurately that it can be tough to follow a legend if you struggle really badly (as Tino did at first) but really, if you perform, all that following a legend stuff goes away and everything’s fine, no? Like just about everything else fanbase-related, if a guy performs, he’ll be celebrated, and the other stuff doesn’t really matter as much as we instinctively think it does.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      True, but teams are much quicker to pull the plug on a closer than a first baseman.

      • Gonzo says:

        And it’s not like Donnie Baseball was the greatest 1b of all-time. Love Donnie Baseball, and he was my favorite player growing up, but I think Mo is different.

        • MikeD says:

          True, Mo is different, but I’m not sure any player — Mo or Jeter — is more popular than Mattingly.

          That said, I think Yankee fans were more than ready to move on from Donnie Baseball, who was past his peak. Tino was booed because he just wasn’t good at the start. Soon as he started hitting the fans embraced him. The same will happen with Mo’s replacement. If he’s good, the fans will be fine; if he sucks, well he better be prepared for lots of boos.

          It’s possible an internal replacement, like Robertson or Joba or Hughes, will be more easily accepted by fans as Mo’s replacement. An outside player will not be given any runway to prove he’s worthy.

          • Nuke says:

            I think a big part of Donnie’s popularity goes back to Donnie being “all we had” back then. Mo came up with the Core 4 and there were plenty of other popular Yankees at the time (Bernie and Paulie to name just a couple.) Plus – the teams were bringing home rings making the need to embrace one player less necessary.

            • Cuso says:

              There’s really no need to qualify “why.”

              The fact is, there’s no more popular or beloved (living) Yankee than Donnie Baseball.

              Not Yogi, Not Derek, Not Mo, Not Reggie, Bernie or Paulie.

              It’s Mattingly.

              And if anyone disagrees, congratulations for jumping on the the Yankee bandwagon at the perfect time.

              • Nuke Ladoosh says:

                I would personally put Whitey and Yogi above Donnie but I agree with your assessment for the fan-base.

                Please clarify what your last sentence is saying because I don’t understand it.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                No offense, but your argument is entirely “because I say so.”

                Maybe your timing of becoming a fan has a lot of do with why you feel Mattingly was/is so much more popular than Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, Jeter, Mo, etc. that you don’t even have to quantify it. All those guys were/are pretty bloody popular. I don’t know how one goes about deciding who was the most popular among them by gut to the point of insulting anyone who disagrees.

              • Alex Taffet says:

                So, because I was only two years old when Mattingly retired, I am now a bandwagon jumper? Excellent.

              • Thomas Cassidy says:

                No way, dude. Jeter is the most popular player since Mantle. Who cares about Mattingly anymore besides Yankees fans? He manages the Dodgers. Who cares anymore?

          • Paulies Favorite Water Cooler says:

            I’m not sure an internal replacement for Mo would feel less heat than an outside replacement. I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that anyone who replaces him internal or external, is going to receive a hard time from the fans at least initially. We’ve been at the point with Mo for the past few years really that when he blows a few saves here or there it’s just written off as a slump and he’ll work things out. He doesn’t get booed ever. And for obivous, good reasons. Whoever the replacement turns out to be will never be given that same luxury. Ever. Guy could save 60 games a year and as soon as he blows one the fans will all say to themselves “This wouldn’t have happened with Mo”. Jeter was replaced this year for a few weeks by a very hot hitting Nunez and I’m not entirely sure fans missed Jeter all that much. Except for his defense which says more about Nunez than it does the Captain. Paulie was replaced, Bernie was replaced, and their replacements didn’t have to live up to the pressures of replacing a Mo. I’ve rambled on too much probably but my point is I wouldn’t want to be the guy to replace Mo. (I probably could’ve just said that as my comment, however I’ve been reading the site for awhile and just yesterday signed up with a username so I could join in the discussions. Guess I’m trying to get all my thoughts out there too qucikly. I apologize guys)

        • There’s no way to measure this definitively but I just want to throw my opinion into the discussion on this one point… I love Mo, he’s the fucking greatest, nobody can touch him at his position and he seems like an awesome guy, to boot… and the fanbase clearly loves Mo… but he’s not as beloved as Mattingly was.

          Totally subjective, and maybe I’m too much a product of my age-group, but I just think Mattingly was even more of a fan favorite than Mo is. Not in Mo’s class as a player, but how much the fans loved the guy is a different question.

          • Jimmy says:

            Not to mention that Mattingly for 5-6 years carried the Yankees with so many clutch hits and solid play at first. If you weren’t a fan back then, its impossible to describe the run he had. And that swing was a work of art. Stupid back injuries.

            Its impossible and unfair to expect a relief pitcher to have that sort of influence on the fans. Mo is the greatest at his position there will ever be, but that still doesn’t add up to the influence of an every day player.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Wow… a comment where you didn’t tell someone how much they “suck…” Amazing.

            • WELL THE RUN IS OVER BITCH, YOU SUCK.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Man are you cool. Such a stand-up guy.

                • LET’S POST 20 MORE INANE COMMENTS ABOUT THIS IT’S GOING TO BE SO AWESOME AND NELSONLICIOUS.

                • Heisenberg says:

                  C’mon, you basically asked him to reply like this.

                  • SteveD says:

                    This is entertaining. thanks guys. Now lets kick some redsux ASS !!!!

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    I never asked him to personally insult every person who responded to his comments on a previous thread. I never asked him to take the insults to twitter.

                    All I did was point out that he was unnecessarily being a dick to Sayid when Sayid had made it very clear he was not trying to be a pain with his typo comment, merely trying to help RAB. For that I was berated with personal insults. As was Jesse for the same “offense.”

                    • Hey now. I berate Jesse for massacre he levels on odds and probability. That’s much more fun than smack talking about typos and typo corrections.

                      (I’m aware you meant THCM, but I can’t stay out of a good blog flame war)

                    • Heisenberg says:

                      I understand what you’re saying, but, in this specific case, he wasn’t insulting anyone until you kinda asked him to insult you.

                      Because this is semi-anonymous and text based, you can’t have thought your comment would elicit any response except exactly what happened.

                      It’s really a no win situation for you, and you gave THCM an avenue to continue to poke you.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Jim… I may have missed it, but I did not see you personally insult Jesse or anyone else with absolutely nothing that related to the conversation at hand even present in the comment. THCM literally responded to a point Jesse made simply by saying “Your blog sucks.” Nothing else. There is just no call for that at all.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      Heisenberg,

                      I didn’t really care how THCM responded, and in his attempts to poke me I feel he is only revealing himself to be a vile human being.

                      However, that wasn’t the only possible response. Could have continued with the insults, or could have laughed about it and basically said “you know, things got out of hand there.” All I said was basically “wow you didn’t insult anyone” which was meant half seriously and half jokingly.

                    • Heisenberg says:

                      ” I feel he is only revealing himself to be a vile human being”

                      Maybe. This is only my opinion, but my anology would be, He’s being the stand-up comic and you’re being the guy in the crowd that continues to serve up material for him to play off of.

                      It’s very possible that more people reading it are seeing like you see it, but since this is “infotainment”, I don’t get the impression that he’s vile, just that he is trying to be entertaining in a Andrew Dice Clay sorta way.

                      And it wasn’t his only possible response, but the probability was heavily in favor in how he responded. If he responded in the way you gave as a possibility, might I say it would have been pure “luck”.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      I don’t find insults like “Your blog sucks” or “You’re pathetic” to be funny… but maybe that’s just my sense of humor.

                    • Ted Nelson says:

                      I don’t find insults like “Your blog sucks” or “You’re pathetic” to be funny… but maybe that’s just my sense of humor.

      • DB says:

        Also, Tino came from Seattle and not from the Yankee system. I feel like fans have seen Robertson grow over the last two years and might be quicker to embrace him. However, I agree with your answer in the article that if he starts blowing saves that could change quickly. I just don’t know how much of a parallel you can use with Tino because Yankee fans might have been willing to accept a first baseman that was in their system and had shown flashes of dominant ability at the ML level.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Agreed, and if Robertson continues to dominate as a set-up man between now and then (obviously not at all a given) he’s not going to have to win-over fans since they’re already won-over. If he struggles fans will get on him, but the same for any Yankee… and most players on most teams.

  11. Yank The Frank says:

    If Robertson did become the heir apparent to Mo he would have to stop the Houdini act, my heart couldn’t take it.

    • YanksFan says:

      Except that’s what closers do. That is where Yankee fans are spoiled. Enter Sandman, 3 up, 3 down, NY, NY by Frank is the MO way. Most other closers suck. The 2nd echelon closers are give you agita.

  12. Yazman says:

    “Montero’s been fine overall, neither great nor terrible”

    Of course, sample size is tiny, but shouldn’t we say he’s been GREAT when he projects to 38 HRs, 100 RBI, 88 runs, and of course .313/.389/.542 over 600 ABs? Thinking he should do better than .931 OPS might be shooting a little high this early in his career.

  13. Monteroisdinero says:

    I am admittedly biased but….Montero is an ELITE bat. He should be batting EVERY game. He is 21. He can hit 2 HR’s in a game to deep rf/bleachers in YS off quality major league pitching. He can hit it way out to left and left center. His bat speed/torque is ridiculous. Valuing Romine’s D over Montero in any way is nuts if you ask me. Who was Piazza’s competition back there for 15 years? In 2013, Martin/Montero or Romine/Montero. Martin or Romine will not be here in 2 years.

    I assume Cervelli is toast (trade-wise) basically.

  14. Evan says:

    I don’t comment all that often, though I read daily. I gotta say…you guys bring a new meaning to pedantic today. Impressive stuff gentlemen. Impressive.

  15. YanksFan says:

    The closers job is overrated?

    How can you tell me this when I’ve been told by the MSM that Mo is the number 1 reason for the Yankee dyanasty.

    My day is shot. What’s next – Santa Claus isn’t real?

  16. cranky says:

    Here’s another name the Yanks ought to keep an eye on as a potential lefty reliever in 2012:
    Dontrelle Willis.

    That’s right.

    Dontrelle Willis is death to lefties. I don’t like him as a starter. But as a reliever, he could be great.

    He might, or might not, be a free agent after this season, but, if he is free, the Yanks ought to give him a long look.

  17. Grover says:

    Forget Affeldt or any $4M lefty free agent reliever. The need for that second lefty out of the pen was overblown and I would sooner trade for one that is performing at the July deadline than take a chance on another one with Logan, Feliciano and probably a cheap one year of Marte on the roster next year. Priority one is signing CJ Wilson or Cashman pulling off a trade for a stud starter that will become painfully clear during the playoffs.

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