Mailbag: Montero, Oppenheimer, Sabathia, Bay

Report: Texas ready to throw a "boatload" of cash at CC
What Went Right: Bartolo Colon

Got five questions this week, but two are pretty short. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar whenever you want to send in questions in the future.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Mark asks: Could Montero be taught how to play 3B? A-Rod seemingly will need to become the Yankee’s full-time DH eventually. Do you know of any player that converted to 3B with his body type and lack of athleticism?

The official site lists Jesus Montero at 6-foot-3 and 235 lbs., and you can count the number of regular third baseman that size on one hand: Scott Rolen (6-foot-4, 240), Alex Rodriguez (6-foot-3, 230), Ryan Zimmerman (6-foot-3, 230), Mark Reynolds (6-foot-2, 220), and Danny Valencia (6-foot-2, 220). Montero’s a touch bigger than Valencia and he’s definitely not in the same class athletically as A-Rod, Rolen, or Zimmerman. That’s for sure. Reynolds moved to first base late this season, so I’m not sure he counts.

Most guys that move to third base after their fourth or fifth pro season are failed shortstops or second baseman, middle infielders moving down the defensive spectrum. Brandon Inge did the “catcher turned third base” thing, but he’s only 5-foot-11 and 190 lbs. Realistically, the only place Montero can move is to first base or DH. If they want to try the outfield, then I wish them luck. It won’t be a quick or painless transition. A-Rod looked perfectly fine on defense in the ALDS, more than fine actually, it was his bat that slowed. I don’t think we have to worry about him in the field just yet.

Tucker asks: Despite the obvious loss that would be felt by Damon Oppenheimer’s potential departure, could there be some benefits towards having him elsewhere? He knows the Yanks system so if he goes to a team, such as the Angels, could we expect some trades?

We see this happen all the time, guys leave one organization to become the GM elsewhere, then they start stockpiling players they drafted or had with their original team. Dayton Moore’s loaded up ex-Braves in Kansas City (Kyle Davis, Brayan Pena, Jeff Francoeur), Jack Zduriencik brought in a number of ex-Brewers after hooking on with the Mariners (Russell Branyan, Bill Hall, Brad Nelson), and it seems like every trade Ed Wade has made as GM of the Astros has been with the Phillies (Hunter Pence, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge). The examples go on and on.

Is there a benefit to this know? Maybe. On one hand you can argue that the new GM is overvaluing the players he knows, but on the other hand you can say that he knows them better than anyone and is digging up the hidden gems. I would definitely expect some trades, but I don’t think Oppenheimer (or Billy Eppler for that matter, since he’s up for the same job) would just give his new players to his old team out of the goodness of his heart.

Shaun asks: Just a quick question, do you think the yankees would negotiate with CC Sabathia before he opts out of his contract or would they wait? I think they waited with A-Rod at the time and took a hard stance with him. I’d argue that they would need CC more than they needed A-Rod at the time.

I agree with you about needing Sabathia now more than they needed A-Rod then, but let’s not forget how awesome Alex was four years ago. Anyway, I’m sure they would be open to negotiating with CC at some point soon, even though the company line is to wait until the contract is over. That would eliminate the hassle of the open market, and as we heard last night, the Rangers are prepared to get involved. Let’s put it this way, the Yankees have nothing to lose by talking to him about an extension beforehand.

(Photo Credit: ESPN)

Kevin asks: What about an A.J. Burnett for Jason Bay swap?

We’ve gotten this question a number of times, and apparently it all started with some MSM article that was published during the summer. I’m not quite sure what the goal is here, is the plan to put Bay in right and trade Nick Swisher for a pitcher? Swish alone won’t fetch a legit number two starter just because he’s a year away from free agency. The net result would end up being Burnett, Swisher, and prospects for Bay and an unknown number two starter.

Burnett’s terrible, you don’t have to tell me that, but so is Bay. As an added bonus, he’s now injury prone as well. This isn’t just a CitiField thing either folks; since joining the Mets, Bay has a .358 wOBA at home and .296 on the road. I don’t but into the idea that getting him back on the contender with somehow reinvigorate him, and I can’t imagine the Yankees will fall for that either. The deal also doesn’t work in the Yankees favor with regards to contracts. Bother are locked up for the next two years (Bay at $32M, Burnett at $33M), but Bay has an easily vesting option for 2014 (Omar Minaya’s specialty). All it takes is 500 plate appearances in both 2012 and 2013 or 600 plate appearances in 2013 alone. You’d end up trading for the guy, then hoping he doesn’t play much the next two years to prevent the option from kicking in. No win situation.

As terribad as A.J. is, the Yankees aren’t exactly in a position to trade pitching for offense, even if the corresponding move is to trade Swisher for an arm. There would be no winners in this trade, so I’d rather stick with the devil I know rather than the devil I don’t.

Dan asks: Which roster player(s) would you trade for a legitimate #2 starter?

This depends on our definition of number two starter, but I’d trade pretty much everyone other than Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, CC Sabathia, and Jesus Montero for that kind of pitcher. When I think of a number two starter, I think Matt Garza, Jamie Shields, Matt Cain, John Danks … guys like that. That’s just me though, you’re welcome to feel differently.

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Report: Texas ready to throw a "boatload" of cash at CC
What Went Right: Bartolo Colon
  • Yazman

    Mike, you wouldn’t consider Montero for Cain?

    27 yrs old, 5 yrs in a row with >3.8 WAR, four with 1.23 ERA+…

    http://www.baseball-reference......ma01.shtml

    That sort of trade would make me think about Fielder again…

    • Yazman

      (and I’m almost always on the “don’t trade Montero” side)

    • Johnny O

      I don’t think I’d do 6 years of Montero for 1 year of anyone at this point. When he was farther away from the majors it was more palpable because you didn’t know how he’d pan out. Now that we’ve seen him in the Bronx and his minor league career is over, it’s a lot harder. I guess the only thing is that it might not take Montero to get Cain since he is 1 year away.

      To my point below, we can just hold pat for 2012 and go after Cain when he hits FA. He’ll only cost $ and a draft pick. I’d feel much better giving Cain (or Hamels or Grienke or Danks) a big contract than CJ Wilson.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nope. Cain’s a free agent after this season, and I’m not sure he can continue to avoid giving up homers in Yankee Stadium. If you were getting three or four or five years of him, sure. Just one though? Nope.

      • Ted Nelson

        I think the “one year of” stuff gets overplayed. Surely there is a lot of value in a cost-controlled player like Montero and I don’t know if I would or would not trade him for Cain (leaning more towards not). However, the Yankees can negotiate an extension with Cain before trading for him if they want to do the deal and are only hung up on the impending free agency.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          You’re not acquiring the contract though. You’re trading for one year of him, then signing him to a market rate deal afterward. All you’re acquiring is the right to negotiate an extension.

          • Ted Nelson

            If you make the deal contingent upon a 5-year extension, you are effectively trading 6 years of Jesus for 6 years of Matt.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              You’re trading six years of below market Jesus Montero for six years of free agent priced Matt Cain.

              • Ted Nelson

                Agreed. Originally I said that there is value in Montero’s contract and I probably don’t do the deal myself, but that if the only thing holding up the Yankees is that they only get Cain for one year (meaning otherwise they want Cain at his price more than they want Montero at his)… just negotiate an extension.

            • JT

              Let’s not forget the difference between the minimum/arb pay of Montero compared to the open market price that you would be paying for Cain.

              Let’s be careful not to diminishing the importance of that.

              • Ted Nelson

                I did not dismiss the importance of that in any way. I specifically addressed it and said it has value. I also said I would lean towards not trading Montero for Cain myself.

          • Yazman

            Excellent points.

  • Johnny O

    I know we have a glaring hole with a #2 starter, but we basically had a World Series-caliber team as is. Assuming we get CC back, the 2012 team is basically the same as this year. We have CC/Nova/AJ/Hughes plus Noesi or Warren and maybe we bring back Sweaty Freddy. Offense is the same with Montero replacing Jorge so maybe a bit better. And maybe Manny or Dellin makes a few starts too?

    My point I guess is that we can contend in 2012 without signing CJ Wilson for $100M or picking up Yu Darvish for who knows how much, or trading for a #2. Then just hope at least 1 pitcher better than Wilson hits FA in 2012.

    Signing Wilson or Darvish for ~$100M seems like a Red Sox signing Lackey move. Team fills need with flawed FA just because he’s the best on the market, doesn’t make it a good move.

    • Tim

      Yu Darvish >>> John Lackey just before the Red Sox signed him. Wilson is, too. Lackey was not very good before the deal (coming off injury, showing a decline in his FB). Apples and oranges.

      • Johnny O

        I didn’t mean to say that CJ or Yu were identical pitchers to Lackey. I meant that it’s a bad idea signing those guys to major elite-pitcher type contracts just because they fill a need in a weak FA class, just like signing Lackey was a bad idea because he was the best of a poor FA class at a need position.

        • Ted Nelson

          But, again, a major difference is that Wilson is an elite pitcher while Lackey was no longer elite when signed. Your whole premise is that Wilson is not elite, which flies in the face of reality.

          Darvish I don’t know about because I don’t watch Japanese baseball at all, but unless you are very knowledgeable about Japanese baseball I do not see why you feel like you can decide whether or not Darvish is elite. The Yankees have scouted the guy, why not let them decide?

    • Ted Nelson

      “Signing Wilson or Darvish for ~$100M seems like a Red Sox signing Lackey move. Team fills need with flawed FA just because he’s the best on the market, doesn’t make it a good move.”

      Except that Lackey has averaged 2.9 fWAR the previous two seasons, while Wilson has averaged 5.25. Lackey was not an elite pitcher who was paid like an elite pitcher, while Wilson is legitimately an elite pitcher.

      Unless you scout Japan extensively, I don’t see how you can have an informed opinion on Yu.

      • CP

        I think the Red Sox hope with Lackey was that his struggles those two years were just due to injuries and he’d be fine once he was healthy.

        It didn’t work out that way.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Matt Garza is a good #2 and he has pitched in the AL East. He has pitched well against the RS and the rest of the East. Those lucky Cubs got him for nothing. Now they will not trade him. Perhaps Epstein will trade with the Yankees and we can bring him over.

    • BigDavey88

      Nah, the Cubs are more desperate for pitching then we are. Garza isn’t going anywhere.

      • Kosmo

        Not even for a 3 or 4 for one deal ? Warren,Hughes,Romine and ?

        • Kosmo

          CC
          Garza
          Nova
          Garcia
          Noesi

          with Banuelos and Betances in the wings .

          • Kosmo

            Geez I already forgot about Burnett. Wishful thinking ??

        • Ted Nelson

          Would you trade a reasonably priced SP coming off a 5 fWAR season for a bunch of fringe guys?

          • Hardy

            Well if ? = Montero the Cubs might say yes.

            • Ted Nelson

              And do you want to trade Montero + “Warren,Hughes,Romine” for Garza?

              • Hardy

                Of course not.

                My post was meant to be directed at the initial proposal. Like most proposals including a “?” the answer depends on what “?” actually is.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Agreed.

          • vin

            I wouldn’t trade him for fringe guys, but once Theo takes complete inventory of his team he may find that the best way to improve is by dealing someone useful like Garza or Soto. I think something like Kosmo’s trade proposal (above) might work for both parties.

            • Ted Nelson

              Again, if you were the new GM in Chicago and decided to improve by trading your Ace… would you trade him for fringe guys or for a better package? Why is Epstein going to gift wrap Garza to the Yankees for a bunch of guys with limited ceilings who may or may not be useful MLB players going forward? Why not keep Garza? Why not trade him for a better package?

              • vin

                Of course, trade him for as good a package as possible. I said above, I wouldn’t trade him for fring guys. However, Romine, Hughes and Warren are hardly fringe prospects… especially if they buy out the remainder of Phil’s arbitration years and one or two of his FA years.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Hughes future is a serious question mark. Warren is a fringe starting rotation prospect. He’s seen as having the upside of a solid back-end starter… which leaves a whole lot of room below that. Romine is also a borderline starting C prospect. They are not “fringe prospects” in the sense Melky Mesa is… they are fringe MLB contributors.

                  Let’s put it this way. One year ago Garza was traded for the #27 and #92 prospects in baseball, plus three fringe MLB contributor types. Then he went out and had a career year with an fWAR of 5. Why is Epstein going to turn around and trade him for (probably) zero BA top 100 guys and a pitcher who may never start again?

                  I don’t see why he’s trading him for less than a top prospect.

    • Ted Nelson

      Garza wasn’t actually that good in the AL East, he broke out last season with a 5 fWAR season after never topping 3.1 in Tampa.
      http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....position=P

      The Cubs did not get him for nothing. They traded two top 100 prospect in baseball at the time according to BA, including a pitcher who was #27 on their list. That’s like the Yankees trading Manny and Austin Romine. Not nothing at all. Saying as much is a huge homer move.

      • CP

        3.1 WAR is quite good.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s not at all in the same class as 5 fWAR. That’s why I said it’s not *that* good, and did not say it’s not good.

          Nor is it in the same class as Cain (who bottoms out in that area, not tops out), Danks (up and down, but had 5.2 and 4.3 seasons by 25), or Shields (above 4.1 3 of the past 5 seasons and 3.7 4 of 5).

          • CP

            Well, Garza had the 19th highest WAR in the AL from 2008-2010. Not too bad…

            As for Matt Cain, you’re comparing apples to oranges. You’re saying that Garza was a 5 WAR pitcher this year only because he left the AL East, but then you compare Cain’s performance in the NL West to Garza’s in the AL East.

            • Ted Nelson

              “You’re saying that Garza was a 5 WAR pitcher this year only because he left the AL East”

              I’m not saying that. The original comment was that he’s a stud and was in the AL East. The truth of the matter is that he was a real stud this season and in the AL East was good. If I had to bet I would bet against him repeating 2011 in the NL Central. Who knows, though? Certainly might have developed as a pitcher.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        They got a catcher who cannot hit a supersub who can run play the outfield bu also cannot hit. The other two I’ve not seen yet. Maybe the Rays get lucky there.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s not luck. They traded an established player for a package of prospects. That’s industry standard. The headliners of the deal were Archer and Hak-Ju Lee. The others were throw ins. Like the Vazquez deal was not headlined by Melky, it was headlined by Arodys. That you don’t know who a couple of really good prospects are does not mean Tampa doesn’t. Clearly they did know who those players were when they traded for them.

          Hak-Ju Lee is one of the best SS prospects in baseball. Archer had a bit of a rough year in AA, but he entered the season as a stud and still has a load of potential.

          • Jose M. Vazquez..

            O.K.

  • DERP

    Trade CC for a number two starter, let him opt out and then resign him. /Wally Matthews

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    at least if we got bay, he could stop being one of the few mo killers. i don’t know if this is 100% true, it just seems that way, i remember he hit a hr off him 2 years ago, a big double a year ago and worked a bb this past year (which led to a loss). but if the fo thought that way, they might as well sign kubel and scutaro too

    • MannyGeee

      the fact that he’s on a team that will never make the World Series before mo retires and a contract that makes him untradeable makes him no longer on the list of ‘Mo Killers’…

  • JohnC

    Wonder if Yanks would play hardball with Cashman knowing that they have Oppenheimer and Eppler as GMs in waiting

    • DERP

      I think playing hardball with players is different with playing hardball with executives.

      • http://RiverAveBlues.com Matt Warden

        Agreed. I would also think that the Yankees will want to wrap up discussions with Cash sooner rather than later so he can spend more of the offseason improving the team. A sticky, drawn out contract negotiation with Cash does a lot more harm than good.

  • Hardy

    I wouldn’t trade Gardner or Nova for Cain.

  • alphachef1

    I’m all for keeping Montero and letting him catch next season. Especially since Tony Pena will be around to mentor him. He could become our version of Mike Piazza. Offensively, solid. Defensively, mediocre. I can accept that.

    • http://RiverAveBlues.com Matt Warden

      “Defensively, mediocre”

      The Yanks could probably live with that too … especially if he hit anywhere close to Piazza territory.

      All indications (at this point) suggest he’ll be below average defensively though.

      • Monteroisdinero

        Defensively, “Posadian”

        /fixed

  • MannyB ace2be

    Based on what CJ has shown this postseason it would be a horrible mistake to throw a ton of money at him – 20+ mil/season for a pitcher with over a 4 ERA no ty

    • Ted Nelson

      Why would you base your decision on such a small sample? If there’s evidence of a long-term injury, ok. A few poor starts though? Look at how CC pitched down the stretch and in the playoffs. Is re-signing him a mistake too?

      CJ Wilson’s ERA this season was under 3, not over 4.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        I think he meant his ERA in the postseason was over 4. But I agree with your point here Ted. SSS shouldn’t override your plans for building a team that has to get to the playoffs competing with 13 other teams for one of two possible spots.

  • Kevin

    While we do need a number two starter, let’s be blunt. We didn’t lose this year’s ALDS because of pitching. We lost because of our offense.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      That is so true Kevin. In fact credit must be bestowed om Larry Rothschild for the great turnaround of the pitching. He is absolutely the best pitching coach we have had (that I can recall).

    • vin

      And they had an excellent offense this year. They lost the ALDS because a best of 5 doesn’t give a complete indication of which team is better. A best of 5 (and even a best of 7) tells you which team is some combination of hotter, luckier and better.

      And of course you can break down “better” in terms of offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, roster depth, managerial skill, coaching, players’ mental state, preparedness, etc.

      Over 162, all these factors even out and the best teams usually prevail. Crazy as it seem, as I get older I’m starting to think of the regular season as the championship (the true showcase of the best team), and the playoffs as just some exciting crapshoot that would be awesome to win.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

      I think a big reason why this team did not go farther is because they had no choice other than to ride a patchwork rotation longer than their sell-by date, so I would profoundly disagree with your assessment.

      Feel free to throw five games worth of stats out there to prove otherwise.

    • aluis

      No it was becuase of Pitching: Scherzer > Garcia and Valverde > Soriano.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    John Danks isn’t in the same class with Garza, Shields or Cain even if he is a lefty.

    Danks is a 3, borderline 4 starter.

    • Ted Nelson

      Danks had 5.2 and 4.3 fWAR seasons by 25 years old… why are you assuming he’s what his 2011 season was going forward?

      Calling Danks a #4 starter, by the way, is bat-shit-insane. Totally crazy. Even in his bad year he’s been a 3 fWAR pitcher. You do realize that before last season, Garza’s best season matched up closely with Danks’ worst, right?

  • Hardy

    That’s a matter of interpretation. One could argue that the offense won two games by scoring 9 and 10 runs and that the pitching failed to win just one of the remaining games with 4, 3 or 2 runs of support.
    (Unlike the Cardinals pitching who won Game 5 1-0 or the Brewers pitching who won two games with 4 and 3 runs of support.)

    • Hardy

      This was meant as a reply to Kevin’s post two above.

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah, they lost as a team. One less HR by Nova and/or one more hit by several guys and they win the series. Anything that tilts the scales in that Game 5 and they win rather than lose.

  • China Joe

    If we’re talking about anyone less than the King Felix tier, Montero should be OFF THE TABLE. Remember last week when everyone was complaining about A-Rod and Teix’s decline and onerous contracts? Jesus is going to be a key cog in the lineup for them pretty soon – they don’t have any power bats coming up in the system, and I can’t see them signing Albert Pujols to play right field.

    • Ted Nelson

      I doubt they’ll trade Montero because I doubt they’ll find a deal with the value they’re looking for, but Albert Pujols is not the only power hitting bat the Yankees will have access to via FA and trades… this off-season alone Prince Fielder is also out there. Next off-season Matt Kemp. Assets in baseball are pretty liquid. If you have lots of pitching talent and not much power hitting talent, for example, you have the opportunity to trade pitching for power hitting.

      And by the time the current line-up is no longer elite, who knows what will be coming through the farm? Gary Sanchez, Mason, Bichette, Murphy, Slade, Bird, Tyler Austin, Duran, Cave, Tejada, Ravel, Yeicock… Yankees could have a power bat waiting in the wings (and while Salde and Mason aren’t traditional power bats, they have good power for CF) or even be stocked in that area. Teixiera is 31… let’s not act like he’s an old man. They can also sign cheap Anruw Jones/Marcus Thames platoon types to fill holes in their line-up.

      So, basically, I would look at the value you’re getting in a Jesus deal and not the needs of the team. Value > Need IMO.

      • LiterallyFigurative

        When it comes to Montero, there have to be special parameters in order to trade him.

        The pitcher we’d get in return would have to be:

        a)young, but experienced as a top starter. Trading a 21 Y/o beast in training for a 30ish y/o pitcher makes no sense.

        and

        b)under contract for at least 3 years. Why trade him for a guy you can sign in a year?

        and

        c)an ace-type pitcher. That goes without saying.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Outside of Felix or Kershaw, there is no starter I’d trade Montero for, especially when considering the FA class of 2012.

    CJ Wilson is hitting the market at the right time. He’s the lone marquee guy and he’s been strong the past two seasons. But he’s only been a starter for 2 years. Now, he might be consider a “young” 31, but I can’t endorse a $100 mil contract based on 2 seasons.

    The Yanks won 97 games, and they have won 90+ forever, even with shaky SP staffs. Even in 2008, they lost due to their offense struggling in close and late situations, and bad records versus bad teams.

    The strengths of this team are it’s offense, it’s improved defense, and it’s lockdown BP.

    There is no magic bullet, sure thing postseason pitcher or player. The Yanks would be foolish to think “We’re one player away”, because if that one player struggles, where does that leave you? Crying about that guys huge contract on RAB.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Being an old timer I still hold on to the custom that if you hit .300, drive in 100 runs and score 100 you are a good player. Same with pitchers: you win 20 games, have an ERA below 3.5 in the american league an strike out 150-200 batters you are a good pitcher. “them thar” sabermetrics to me are just a distortion of the same stats to confuse old folks like me for which I have no use. In other words, I go by what I observe and not what some dadfangled sabermetrician tells me.

    • Ted Nelson

      So… you have no tolerance for the application of reason? I will officially ignore every comment you make going forward based on this ridiculously asinine comment.

      • Ted Nelson

        I mean what a load of illogical crap… You literally say that you use stats to determine who is a good player. You go 100% by “traditional” stats, but you are unwilling to question these stats or consider improving them?

        • Jose M. Vazquez..

          Guess I’ll have to study up on sabermetrics so that other commenters will read what I say. Most of what I said was tongue in cheek.

    • aluis

      flame on!

    • Hardy

      Must be depressing to watch a MLB with just a dozen good players.

  • Monteroisdinero

    To summarize this thread once again:

    Monteroisdinero.

    /thank you.

  • cranky

    1) Re-sign CC
    2) Sign CJ Wilson
    3) Sign Wilson Betemit
    4) Sign Dontrelle Willis
    5) Trade AJ Burnett and cash to an NL team for whatever they can get
    6) Trade Phil Hughes to the Twins for Francisco Liriano
    7) Rest, knowing you’ve put together a championship team

    Rotation: CC/CJ/Nova/Liriano/Noesi
    Bullpen: Wade/Willis/Soriano/Robertson/Logan/Kontos/Rivera
    Infield: A-Rod/Jeter/Cano/Tex Outfield: Gardner/Granderson/Swisher
    Catcher: Martin
    DH: Montero
    Bench: Nunez/Cervelli/Betemit/a RH OF

    • radnom

      Where is Joba?

  • William

    Montero is expendable. Get A groundball pitcher like Trevor Cahill, who is a few years away from free agency. However, it might take Montero and Banuelos to get Cahill.