Oct
21

Mailbag: Montero, Miller, Outfield, Yu, Hughes

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I swear, one of these weeks I’m going to do a Jesus Montero-free mailbag. Maybe next week, just to see how it goes. Hopefully you folks don’t revolt or something. Anyway, we’ve got two Montero-related and three non-Montero-related questions this week. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the easiest (and preferred) way of sending questions in. Thanks.

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Chris asks: I wrote to you guys earlier about Montero’s conditioning assignment. What is the pro of keeping him as a catcher? Just trade value? Look at all the catchers that break down because of the position. Mauer being a great example. I’d rather keep that bat in an area where he can remain healthy for a LONG time.

That’s the exact reason why the Nationals moved Bryce Harper to right field the instant they signed him two summers ago, and I can see that side of the argument. The pros of keeping Montero at catcher, not that he’s much to write home about back there, is that he’d simply be more valuable at that position, both to the Yankees or in a potential trade. Catchers that can rake are rare and therefore extremely valuable. The downside if obvious, he and his bat would need regular days off, the nagging injuries, etc.

I agree with moving him to a position that will allow him to play every day and theoretically remain productive, but what position is that? Okay, DH is obvious, but what else is there? Mark Teixeira still has five years left on his contract, so first base isn’t much of an option even though it’s the most logical spot. The outfield isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon. That’s not the easiest transition to make. Split duty at DH and behind the plate, maybe 100 games at DH and 40 behind the dish, seems like the most logical plan for Montero next year, then reevaluate after the season.

Evan asks: Assuming, and I know this is a huge assumption, that Albert Pujols signs anywhere besides with the Cardinals, do you think a Shelby Miller for Jesus Montero swap makes sense?

I don’t, actually. If the Cardinals lose Pujols, they’ll just stick Lance Berkman at first and play Allen Craig in right, or use Craig with a platoon partner, something like that. Obviously Montero wouldn’t catch for them with Yadier Molina around. Miller is arguably the best right-handed pitching prospect in the game, but he’s thrown just 86.2 IP above A-ball. That’s not enough of a sure thing to get back in a Montero trade in my book. I’d prefer a player that’s unquestionably ready to step in and play in the big leagues right now, kinda like Jesus.

Nick asks: Who are the prospects that can replace Nick Swisher after 2012?

There aren’t any really, and that’s part of the reason why the Yankees brought in guys like Justin Maxwell and Jordan Parraz last offseason. Their outfield depth at the upper levels of the minors is pretty thin. Melky Mesa has a long way to go before he can be considered a viable big league option, and both Abe Almonte and Mason Williams are years away from being options. Slade Heathcott needs to stay healthy for a full year before we can think him getting to Double-A, nevermind the bigs. If the Yankees let Swisher walk after 2012, they’d have to fill the position from outside the organization. Either that or take a big hit in production.

(Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

Kevin asks: Will Yu Darvish generate a posting fee as high as Dice-K? Will a shallow free agent market balance out the recent dismal big Japanese pitcher free agent history i.e workload, adapting to a new culture? Who would you choose considering price between Darvish and Wilson? Is it possible to grab both and fill out the rotation with C.C., Wilson, Darvish, Nova and Hughes? Thanks.

I don’t think anyone knows what kind of posting fee Darvish will require, it’s all guesswork. It’s worth noting that although the Red Sox won the right to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka with that $51.1M bid, the second highest bid was $39-40M by the Mets. Boston really blew everyone out of the water for Dice-K. Darvish is supposedly better than Dice-K, but baseball salaries have come down a bit in recent years, and I do think Matsuzaka will scare some teams into lowering their bid. It only takes one team to go overboard though, and I’m willing to bet it takes at least $40M or so land him.

As for Darvish vs. C.J. Wilson, I’d rather go with Darvish. Wilson is the safer bet, sure, but Darvish offers more upside (and more risk) and is considerably younger. There’s also the benefit of keeping the draft pick and saving money because the posting fee is not counted towards the luxury tax. Wilson is the safe move and is probably the better bet in 2012 and 2013, but over the next five or six years, Darvish is the guy I want. And no, I don’t think the Yankees, or any team for that matter, will land both guys this winter.

Anthony asks: I was wondering if you can see the Yankees trading Phil Hughes this offseason. He’s been with the team for a while now (since ’07, no?) and we’ve only seen him perform to his expectations just twice: as a lights out reliever in ’09 and as a dominant starter in the first half of the ’10 season. What would someone like Hughes get the Yankees in a trade?

Hughes’ value is at an all-time low right now, so I can’t imagine they’d get much in return. He’s not that young anymore, nor is he cheap and under team control for another half-decade. He’ll make something like $3-4M in 2012, his second time through arbitration, then become a free agent after the 2013 season. I could definitely see the Yankees trading him, but I doubt they’d get anything special in return. Maybe another kid like Hughes, struggling to take the next step at the big league level. The Yankees aren’t exactly in a position to give away potential starters though, so I’m not sure I’d be okay with dealing him for another reclamation project just because.

Categories : Mailbag

73 Comments»

  1. LeftyLarry says:

    With both Posada and Mariano coming off the board (Posada this season and Mariano after next, yes everyone gets old)Yankees will have some substantial dough available for pitching.
    Heck there’s even a savings with Igawa off the books.
    Too bad they didn’t let AROD walk when they should have.

  2. Rich in NJ says:

    If people are going to ask questions about Montero, I prefer the ones that aren’t about trading him. Just sayin’.

  3. DERP says:

    Miller was also suspended this year for an alcohol related incident. Wasn’t his first alcohol related incident either. Pass.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      David Wells was out drinking before pitching a no-hitter. Simply stating that someone drinks alcohol doesn’t say anything to me. Certainly alcohol can lead to serious problems, but simply saying he got in trouble for something somehow related to alcohol (he’s 20 years old…) doesn’t do it for me.

  4. I’m old enough to remember the Yankee teams of the 80s, when all we did was trade away homegrown talent. Then along came the 90s, George was banished from f*c&ing things up, and we grew a homegrown dynasty.

    I just can’t fathom that anyone wants to even think about trading Montero. How was Manny’s defense? Didn’t really matter though, did it? Hitters like the Jesus come around once every decade.

    To the trade mavens: Relax. Let it come to you. Not everything in life has to be forced.

    • Virgil Earp says:

      I agree! Build from withing. The Bernies, the Jeters, the Andys, the Marianos all would have been traded away before they could develop into the core of that 90s dynasty. We’ve got a core now- Cano, Gardner, Nova, Robertson, Montero. Keep these guys and build around them.

      • Henry says:

        Agreed. I would get our pitching in the offseason via free agency. Yankees are trying to develop from within unlike in the recent past. The team’s core is getting old and we have some of the best prospects in all of baseball. More talent than I can ever remember. Montero is a star in the making and is still considered by vast majority of scouts as the best catching prospect based on his hitting and and defense combined the is how you judgy his value. He should be almost untouchable. Have to see the B boy’s perform. The time will come we will trade some of our talent. How about Ian Kennedy winning 21 games!

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Certainly there are advantages to having cheap young talent… but just because the Yankees built one way once doesn’t mean that it will work every time or is the only way to build. In fact, you are selectively remembering the prospects they kept and not the ones they traded. They got Tino with Russ Davis (top 100 BA prospect 3 seasons in a row) and Sterling Hitchock. They sent top prospect Eric Milton plus Christian Guzman for Knoblauch. O’Neill was acquired for a homegrown player, Roberto Kelly. They traded Ruben Rivera for Irabu. Several young prospects were sent out for David Justice. They traded for Jack McDowell and David Cone. Wade Boggs, David Wells, Jimmy Key, Mike Stanton, and Kenny Rogers were signed as free agents. Brosius was acquired for Rogers. Clemens came for Wells. El Duque was 32 when the Yankees got him.

      While the core homegrown guys had a whole lot to do with the Yankees success, so did a whole lot of guys from outside the org. A lot of those guys were acquired for homegrown prospects.

      This specific trade proposal actually had the Yankees trading Jesus for another prospect. A kid who is younger than Jesus.

      • KeithK says:

        But look at the prospects the Yankees traded. Very few of them amounted to much of anything while some of the guys we held onto turned into stars. Ideally that’s what a big market GM wants to do. Use your prospects as currency to pick up good established players who can help you (see Granderson, Curtis) but keep the best of them in house to develop into the core of your team. Not only is it cheaper to develop a Derek Jeter (which affects even a team with Tankee resources) but you get to have him for longer and are more likely to catch his prime years.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          “Ideally that’s what a big market GM wants to do.”

          That’s what I’m saying. You don’t just hold all prospects. You try to get the most value out of them, whether that’s holding them or trading them.

          “But look at the prospects the Yankees traded.”
          ” keep the best of them in house to develop into the core of your team.”

          Part of my point is also that there’s a lot of luck involved. There are stories that George literally tried to trade Jorge and Pettitte and Mo at various times and was rebuffed by the other team. They got lucky that they didn’t pull those trades off, and they also got lucky with all the success those guys had. Even the best scout in the world can’t predict the difference between fluke injury and the ridiculous run of good health Jeter, Posada, Bernie, Pettitte, and Mo experienced.

          “Not only is it cheaper to develop a Derek Jeter”

          Did you not read my comment. Literally read the first sentence and you will see that I already made this point.

    • CP says:

      This idea that the 1996-2000 dynasty teams were primarily homegrown is not accurate. Among the 9 position players and 5 starters for the 1996 team, only 4 (Jeter, Gerald and Bernie Williams, and Pettitte) were homegrown products. After 1996, you can add Posada to that list. There were also Ramiro Mendoza and Mariano Rivera in the bullpen.

      The real difference was not keeping the homegrown talent – it was being smarter with it. They didn’t give up young talent for a name, they gave up young (potential) talent for more established players. They were also better at identifying talent and putting it together.

      I would have no problem with trading Montero if they were getting an elite player back. The problem would be if they traded him for an over-the-hill name.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        They also got lucky in that several of the homegrown players they kept (often reportedly after trying to trade those very players) had great careers. Probably some scouting in there, but probably also some luck. If Milton is Pettitte and Pettitte is Hitchcock, while Bernie and Ruben Rivera switch careers… probably a different situation. If Mariners insist on Jorge instead of Russ Davis maybe it’s a different story.

        I agree that the narrative is overblown, but let’s not go to far the other way. I would look at performance weighted roster, rather than just roster spots. The “Core 4″ or “Core 5″ (with Bernie) were among the top fWAR guys a bunch of years, so their production is more than the number of roster spots would indicate.

    • Henry says:

      Montero’s defense isn’t as bad as many think. The concern is that with such a good bat the rigors of catching might negatively affect his hitting. I tend to agree with that so I would keep him as dh/c/rf. I just found out that Yogi Berra played a lot of right field during his career and he was only 5’7″ tall while not having the greatest speed. Montero has a plus arm so RF would not be a bad idea for him on occasions as well. Yankees carried 3 catchers in the early sixties. Berra, Elston Howard and Johnny Blanchard. Blanchard played a lot of first base.

  5. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I read in an ESPN blog that the Yankees could consider Casey Blake as a back up for Arod. Now who would want Blake over Laird who is younger and a better defensive player with more upside than Blake who has been a journeyman all his life. Are we going to get younger or not?

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

      If someone else values Laird as a starter more than the Yankees value him as a backup type, then his best use is a trade bait.

      Yes, the Yankees should always continue to get younger. They’re not going to be doing it a 1B, SS, or 3B anytime soon, and the bench isn’t exactly anyone’s first priority as to where you get younger.

      If Graig Nettles could give you 30-40 games a year of quality 3B as a backup right now, that’d be fine, and the team could still try to get younger elsewhere.

    • MannyGeee says:

      give me Nunez over either of them, thanks. better glove than Blake, better pop off the bat than Laird has shown so far.

      disclaimer: I have seen Laird hit and hit well when he was in AA Trenton. His bat will come around, but for 2012, play the Nunie.

      • YanksFan says:

        I don’t think it’s either/or. Nunez is the backup MI while you get Blake/Laird for backup 3B. The question is who replaces Chavez.

    • I think you’re a little too high on Laird.

    • Johnny O says:

      Once you typed “i read an espn blog” you should have realized that you would be discussing a ludicrous proposition.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      A. Getting younger doesn’t help you if it also means getting worse. The goal is not to be young, it’s to be good.

      B. The Yankees don’t have to choose between Laird or Blake… they can have Laird AND Blake. Blake is going to be 39 next season and is unlikely to be well paid. Take them both to spring training and see how things play out from there. It’s not like Laird ripped the cover off the ball in AAA last season… he had a fairly miserable season actually. Corban Joseph might surpass Laird on the depth chart at some point next season.
      Depth is a good thing, and Blake might allow Laird some needed AAA seasoning. Or he might get cut in spring training.

      • James d. says:

        Blake is going to be 39? Man, I’m getting old.

        I don’t know a lot about what Blake has left (116 OPS+ from ’06 to ’09, 99+ since), but seems to me signing him would be a relatively risk-free proposition a la Morgan Ensberg — he either has something left, or you cut him, and no one’s feelings are hurt.

        This is assuming that no one else would want him, though.

  6. Ted Nelson says:

    I think Nats also moved Harper so that he’d make the bigs sooner.

  7. Paul D says:

    what about Jeter as swisher’s replacement in right? he’s gotta move off short at some point, right?

    • Rich in NJ says:

      Jeter doesn’t provide the kind of production you would want in RF, and right now, his defense at SS is not a problem.

    • MannyGeee says:

      good luck. the Cap’n is his own island empire.

    • CMP says:

      I don’t think Jeter has anything even close to a strong enough arm for RF. If he ever went to the outfield, it would have to be left.

      • Dave B says:

        Do you think he has a strong enough arm for 3B (a la Ripken in his later years)?

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I think Jeter’s arm is pretty strong. That hop-throw he’s patented is not an easy throw to make. 3B doesn’t necessarily require a better arm than SS. The throw from deep in the hole at SS can be as far as or further than the throw from 3B. Same can be said for RF. It’s sexy to have that young-Vlad cannon that can throw out runners at home on the fly (the Tom Emanski into the garbage can commercial sort of thing)… but having good range and hitting the cut off man is as big a part of playing RF as gunning guys down and the threat of gunning guys down.

          • mike says:

            also, with Caro as the c/o, the RF arm doesnt get as exposed as it may with a smaller, 2B with a lollipop arm ( which is the biggest reason a 2B isnt the SS)

          • Dave B says:

            Jeter in RF is an interesting concept considering your points. Clearly he is SS this year, but if Swisher is gone in 2013 that may be an option for them to consider. I’ve heard rumblings about Jeter to CF in the past but thought that was kind of ludicrous since you wouldn’t put an aging guy to cover that much space. RF is interesting.

      • JohnnyC says:

        Yeah, like Swish has a cannon for an arm.

        • CMP says:

          Swisher defintely has a below average arm for a RFer and I’d bet Jeter’s arm would be even worse.
          If you can remember a SS that transitioned to RF with success, I’d love to hear it because I can’t recall even one. Runners would go 1st -3rd on him every change they got.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Why do you assume SS in general have bad arms? I find that to be very flawed logic. SS often have excellent arms. If a guy can play SS, why are you moving him to RF?

            How short is your memory? As I said, why are you moving a competent SS to RF, and how does his bat play there? That’s why you don’t see it happen.
            There are examples, though. A few notable ones. Gary Sheffield moved from SS to RF, though his defense was poor his arm wasn’t the problem. Robin Yount moved from SS to CF. Biggio moved from 2B to CF. A throw from dead center or the right-center gap can be as far as from most spots in RF.

    • Donny says:

      he doesnt have a right fielders bat

      • Ted Nelson says:

        If you assume his bat is in the line-up one way or the other (which I do), then what it really comes down to is whether SS Jeter + RF X > = or < SS X + RF Jeter. If you had a young A-Rod at SS, play Jeter in RF. If you had a total zero in RF, play Jeter in RF. With Swisher there, though, about the only chance at moving Jeter to RF would be Jose Reyes, and that's highly debatable given the up-and-down nature of Reyes' career production and durability.

      • CP says:

        Maybe he could borrow Swisher’s bat?

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I don’t think this is the time to move him off SS. You could make an argument for Reyes at SS and Jeter in RF… but you could also make an argument against it.

  8. Kosmo says:

    Another ridiculous trade proposal-
    Philip Hughes for Homer Bailey

  9. Paul D says:

    not typical RF production but this is the bed we made. We have a retirement community on the left side of the infield. something has to be done….at some point… eventually, right? if you get + production from your centerfielder and catcher maybe you can live with 5-10 homers of out of your RF.

    Dont think the arm will be an issue at all.

    • Rich in NJ says:

      I think you try to acquire a player (unless Nunez can fill the role) who can provide significant offense filling in at both SS and 3B, while also being able to play the OF on the days that Jeter or A-Rod play, which will likely be a declining amount of games as the years wear on.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      What’s wrong with the right side of the IF? Production > age. Why does it matter whether you get 2 fWAR from Jeter or a 29 year old SS? Why does it matter if you get 4 fWAR out of A-Rod or a 29 year old 3B? Why are you so sure Jeter’s defense will be relatively better in RF than SS?

      • Rich in NJ says:

        The point is that it makes sense to be able to have quality depth for any potential fragility (both were on the DL this season for a long period), and that regular rest can possibly extend their careers and provide sufficient rest for maximal production.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I doubt you’re going to find a better part-time SS/3B than Nunez. There’s no candidate in the farm system, and to get a quality starting SS to be a part time player is pretty ridiculous. You’re going to pay through the nose either in free agency or trade to get a quality SS… there are like 10 of them in the entire world. Jeter himself was 13th among MLB SS in fWAR last season, and was 9th in 2010 when he had a worse season. Perhaps you find a struggling young guy someone is giving away and he turns it around… easier said than done, though.

  10. Dan says:

    The Yankees might not be in a position to move a starting pitcher now, but that might change a few months into the season. The Yankees might want to move Hughes after part of next season or at the end of the season if it starts looking like Banuelos and Betances are ready. Them along with Noesi and possibly Warren gives the Yankees a lot of possible replacements for a back of the rotation starter. Right now I would probably put Hughes as the #4 starter in front of Burnett, but behind whoever the Yankees sign and Nova (assuming CC stays).

  11. Mike K says:

    Big year in AAA for Dan Brewer who can hopefully stay healthy. He is a criminally underrated prospect – IMHO – because he doesn’t excel at anything. But he’s average or better at pretty much everything. Lost season for him with injuries, but I think he could take a step this year and be looked at as a replacement for Swisher in 2013. Maybe no better than average in RF, but average and free could allow them to upgrade at a different position. E.g. upgrade at SS.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      You are going to put what you say is likely to be at best an average RF out there to bench the Captain of the team who is an average SS at this point, so that you can upgrade at maybe the hardest position at which to find talent? With which SS are you going to upgrade? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just stick with your average SS/Captain, find talent at an easy position to find talent at in RF, and *IF* Brewer bounces back use him as your 4th OF until he *MAYBE* pushes his way into the line-up?

  12. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I realize it has been said time and time again, but we Yankee fans have been spoiled. I myself since being a little boy expected the Yankees to win it all every season. Here is Tony La Russa manager of the Cardinals. In 34 years he has won only 2 WS. Here I am moaning and complaining because our last title was two years ago. That is what we are.

  13. Bartolo's Colon says:

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know how much darvish makes annually with the nippon ham fighters, or how much he could make if he decided to stay in japan? i would imagine he could make a lot more in the mlb, but i have no idea what kind of salaries the japanese leagues pay

    • Kosmo says:

      I think his salary is 330 million yen. LOL

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Yeah, he was the highest paid player in the league at ~$6.5M this season.

      • Kosmo says:

        What´s your guess on what he´d make annually as an MLB player. 15 million per ? Endorsements would be thru the roof.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          I’d imagine it would be much closer to $10 mil (and perhaps just slightly less) than to $15 mil. He has no MLB experience, so its tough to find a comp.

    • JohnnyC says:

      He currently makes 6.5 million USD per annum. He’d be lucky to make 10 million in MLB considering the recent downturn in salaries and his lack of leverage in negotiations (posting fee is only paid IF a contract is successfully negotiated).

      • YanksFan says:

        I don’t know if Yu lacks leverage. If he balks at 10/yr from MLB he can stay in Japan & make 8. Put up a similar stat line in 2012 & be posted again. ANd still be only 25.

  14. Bart says:

    I guess that the Yankees have concluded that Jesus can’t play the outfield as well as, say, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Lou Pinella, etc.

    • Darren says:

      Looking at the way jesus runs the bases, I would have to extrapolate that he would play the outfield as well as Lou Pinella.

      Unfortunately, that would be current day Lou, not Lou in 78, who was ok or even good. Actually, 78 Lou reminds me of Swisher. Sometimes he makes a great play, sometimes he’s a butcher.

  15. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I’ve heard enough! We cannot sign Japanese pitchers because of the Irabu and Igawa experiences. Next thing will be we cannot sign Italian Americans because of the Pavano experience, nor Puerto Ricans because Vazquez failed. How about Anglo-Saxon descendants because Wright failed. This is becoming ridiculous. We will have no one to sign.

  16. CANO FAN #1 says:

    Trade Hughes for Justin upton

  17. cranky says:

    A few things:

    1) The Yanks would have shifted Montero to RF or LF two years ago, if they’d thought he could handle the OF. Watching him run the base paths once or twice this past September didn’t leave me thinking he’s fast, but neither did it seem as though he couldn’t move at all. If he can’t play the OF because of a lack of speed, could he, maybe, play 3B? Many former catchers have been good third basemen. You need quickness and a good arm, but not footspeed. I wish they’d try it, at least. But I don’t think the Yanks have tried Montero anywhere on the field but at catcher. THAT’s something I can’t understand.

    2)Darvish will be well worth whatever it costs whatever team to sign him. If he’s as good in the States as he’s been in Japan, he’s a 25 year-old ace. If he’s somewhat less than that, he’s a solid #2 or #3. He’s been a MUCH better pitcher than was Nomo or Dice-K or Irabu. Pursuing him vigorously ought to be a “no-brainer” for the Yankees.

    3)Hughes ought to get traded. The Yankees don’t know what to do with him. He’s been de-volving over the past year. It’s a sad mess. Ship him to the Twins for Francisco Liriano. Yes, his trade value is rather low, but there are other young pitchers in the game who fit into the same boat. Liriano (whom the Yanks have coveted) is one. A deal of Hughes+Romine+Joseph for Liriano+Perkins would be a good one for both teams.

    • Dave203 says:

      Darvish — Assuming he will be a solid #2/3 is the same mistake everyone makes every time. They thought Dice-K would be an ace and would be happy with a solid 2/3 — now…he’s a solid DFA candidate if he wasn’t paid so much. I’m not saying not to pursue Darvish, but having inflated expectations only sets you up for failure.

      Hughes — Unfortunately, Hughes has an all-time low value right now and it would be hard to get much for him outside of prospects. Trading for Liriano is ridiculous though. Liriano is injured more often than Hughes. I think we are over the Liriano craze.

  18. Nhat says:

    Mike, can you make a poll to voet the price posting fee for Yu?
    I bet it will be higher than Dice-K, I would make a 55.2 for posting fee and 60 million USD for 6 years. Posting high to prevent other teams to take him too.

    Regarding to Montero, why not move Tex to right field and try Montero at first?

  19. Henry says:

    The yankees will be bidding on him. Question is how high will they go. I would be willing to risk 35million if their scouting reports are great.

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