Mailbag: Bench, Martin, Hill, Amnesty, JoVa

Report: Blue Jays bid close to $50M for Darvish
The Yankees' Top Ten WPA Games of 2011

Seven questions this week, but the answers are pretty short so it’s kinda like a rapid fire mailbag. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Larry asks: If the plan is to use the Montero as a DH a good amount of the time, should/will the Yankees carry three catchers? If they do, do they carry Cervelli or Romine? Does it make more sense to carry Cervelli since he can play second or third in an emergency?

This situation really is no different that last year, when Jorge Posada was the regular DH. Russell Martin is the starting catcher, Montero is the starting DH, Frankie Cervelli is the backup catcher, and Austin Romine is in Triple-A. They can still let Montero catch say, 25-30 games with that roster, they’ll just have two catcher on the bench that day. Not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world if they do it once or twice a week.

Tucker asks: What’s the real danger in locking up Martin for a 2 or 3-year deal? If one of their catching prospects develops, couldn’t they always just trade him?

There is no real risk, at least not in terms of additional risk compared to the usual risk associated with multi-year contracts. Yeah, he is a catcher, so he is theoretically more of an injury risk than other position players, but nothing insane. It should be relatively ease to move him unless he completely craters, and even if he does, Martin’s unlikely to get paid so much that eating the contract (by designated him for assignment) is out of the question. I wouldn’t go anymore than three years though, his offense is still a question even if his defense is as good as advertised.

Patrick asks: Rich Hill. Second lefty and possibly the long man out of the pen?

Yes as a second lefty but no as a long man. Hill remade himself as a sidearmer this past season in hopes of becoming an effectively left specialist, and he was pretty good for the Red Sox until he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery last summer. He was non-tendered and will be out until sometime midseason. He’s a minor league contract guy, obviously, but not the worst candidate for a roll of the dice.

Arad asks:  If baseball were to have an amnesty clause where each team could get rid of one player without paying the contract, like basketball has, who would you do it to? I can’t see myself getting rid of Arod. I guess Burnett would be my choice.

Easily Alex Rodriguez, it’s not even a question in my mind. The final two years of A.J. Burnett‘s contract will be a walk in the park compared to the final six of A-Rod‘s deal. Alex is one of my all-time favorite players, but good gravy is that contract ugly. Amnesty the hell out of thing and never look back.

Arms. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Daniel asks: If the Marlins have a hypothetical fire sale at this time next year, and gave each team the opportunity to make ONE offer for Mike Stanton, what would you offer?

Man, I’d offer pretty much everything. Jesus Montero, Brett Gardner, and Ivan Nova? Maybe substitute in Manny Banuelos for Nova, but the point is I’d offer a lot. The kid’s a star, a homer mashing star. Dude just turned 22 years old, and he’s got 56 homers and a .264 ISO in 250 games while playing half his games in a huge park in Florida. We can only dream that Montero turns into that guy that quickly.

Travis asks: Is there any chance Jorge Vazquez gets a shot at being a righty off the bench for the Yankees or is he stuck in AAA until they trade him?

There was an unconfirmed rumor floating around a few days ago that JoVa was headed to Japan, which would be a good move for him. He’d definitely make more money there than he would sitting in Triple-A. And no, he won’t get a chance to be a bench player for the Yankees. The guy has big power but also big holes in his swing, hence the 220 strikeouts in 700 plate appearances between the regular season and winter ball this year. He also doesn’t offer much on defense. Don’t worry, someone else just like him will be along in a year or two.

Chip asks: In light of the Matt Moore contract, would you offer the same contract to Banuelos if he put up something like 9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 in AAA and forces himself into the major league rotation? Maybe even Montero would take something like that.

I’d offer it to Montero before I offered it to Banuelos (position players are safer than pitchers, yadda yadda yadda), but the Yankees have no reason to rush into a long-term deal with either player. Tampa has to do it because they won’t be able to afford these guys in three or four years, but the Yankees don’t have that problem. They can be patient, see how these guys develop, then make an offer if one is warranted. Just imagine if they’d signed Phil Hughes long-term in 2007, or Nick Johnson in 2003. It’s very risky business when you’re talking about guy with less than two years of service time, just look back at how many Rookie of the Year Award winners were total duds a few seasons later.

Report: Blue Jays bid close to $50M for Darvish
The Yankees' Top Ten WPA Games of 2011
  • ADam

    Yanks can’t even buy out Arod’s contract, can they? Yikes so terrible…

    • Plank

      What do you mean by “buy out”?

      • ADam

        In 3 years when hes pushing 40 and assuming he’ll be barely mobile and still owed 61 million dollars plus milestone incentives. I wish they could buy him out of his contract. Cant imagine at 40 YO with his knee/hip/other problems that he’ll contribute all that much. Buying him out of his contract would help them in terms of luxury tax

        I think he’s protected from a buy out or so the guys at IATMS tell me. More of a pipe dream than a reality.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          In a sense, they can buy him out. They can continue to pay his contract and have him sit on the bench. He doesn’t have to play. Of course, it’ll still count towards the luxury tax.

        • Plank

          There’s no mechanism for that. They can cut him which involves him getting paid his full salary, most likely playing for a front-running AL team for free, and leaves a hole at third. They can bench him which would cause construction issue and lead to an inferior player in the everyday lineup (in 2012 at least.)

          There’s simply no way of getting out of the Arod contract. There is no such thing as buying someone out.

  • MattG

    “It’s very risky business when you’re talking about guy with less than two years of service time, just look back at how many Rookie of the Year Award winners were total duds a few seasons later.”

    Good point, but not the best point. Corderos, Hamlins and Listachs were never going to be stars, they just started out hot.

    Moore and Longoria are extreme talents. As good as Banuelos is, he is not in that class. If the Yankees are fortunate enough to come up with a Moore or Longoria (or Price), they absolutely should lock them in the first opportunity they can.

    Interestingly, you might argue that Hughes was in that class, too, and you maybe right. Had the Yankees locked him in, they would be regretting it now, but not all of those deals will work.

    • thenamestsam

      If they had given Hughes a slightly smaller contract (since salaries have inflated somewhat since then) than the one Moore just got they would hardly be regretting it. The contract Moore signed will pay him 3M in his first arb year; Hughes got 2.7M. In his 2nd arb year, Moore will get 5M; Hughes is projected for 3M. The Yankees would have come out almost exactly even in that kind of contract and would have team options for the next three years after this one if Hughes has a big year.

      The point–That deal is pretty amazing for the Rays. Even if Moore turns out to be disappointing like Hughes (to this point) it should still be about fair. Essentially the only way it can be an overpay is if he completely washes out.

    • Ted Nelson

      Montero might be in that class.

      • Monteroisdinero

        The man will have an elite spray chart. He is dinero so the Yanks need to play it smart.

    • Bo Knows

      Honestly we don’t know what Banuelos’ class is right now. Right now its a notch below but he is still extremely young, hell Moore at age 20 was in A ball walking 5+ per 9 with a 91-93mph fastball. Things can change a ton in a few years.

  • thenamestsam

    I’m pretty sure the amnesty clause doesn’t work the way both Mike and the questioner are assuming it works. You don’t get out of paying the player, you just wipe their salary off your books so it doesn’t count for any luxury tax or salary cap. So the Yankees would still have to pay ARod his ~30M every year, it just would help them get under the luxury tax line. I think they’d rather have ARod play for his 30 even if it means paying the tax then pay him to play somewhere else.

    • Gonzo

      Yes, I asked a similar question a few days ago. You are right, in the NBA it’s a little different. You have to pay the total sum if he does not recieve a bid in the auction process. The money is not counted towards your luxury tax however. That’s the benefit.

      Someone would probably bid on A-Rod but it would probably a small amount compared to what he’s owed.

    • A.D.

      Yup, which is why you would probably go with Burnett because you care less about losing his, er, “production”

  • Benjamin Kabak

    Cannot wait to hear from the Boo Hoo Jorge Vazquez crew. They don’t take questioning a 30 year old stuck at AAA too well.

    • thenamestsam

      I’m definitely not in that crowd, but the projections systems I’ve seen all suggest he could put up reasonable numbers in the majors, and he has been mashing pretty much non-stop for like a year now, right? Personally I’d rather see him and Laird get a chance than pay money for another year of Eric Chavez. Is that crazy?

      • Benjamin Kabak

        Just depends on how you view roster construction. Vazquez will give you absolutely no defense and he’ll strike out a lot. He’ll probably lay into some too. If your best-case scenario is Steve Balboni on a team already rich with offense, the Yanks would be wiser to go with defense on the bench considering the age of the left side of the infield.

        • Ted Nelson

          Don’t really understand the roster balance argument in terms of having reserves who play defense well being more important than an equally vale guy who is more of an offensive player. Guys who play the field also have to hit. Guys who hit and don’t DH also have to play the field.

          Not talking about Vazquez, just in general.

          • Burn Baby Burn

            It makes perfect sense. The Yankees have enough offensive power that a bench player doesn’t have to be counted on to mash, just come in play solid defense and let the rest of the starters do the bulk of the scoring.

            • Ted Nelson

              You have not addressed my point. Saving x runs on defense compared to another player while costing x runs on offense compared to that player is a wash to your team.

              A bench player could just as easily provide solid offense and let the rest of the starters do the bulk of the defending.

            • Plank

              Watch out!!!

              He got a 720 on his SATs.

              • Ted Nelson

                You can’t even get facts straight in your insults, huh?

                • Plank

                  I think it could go either way on the compliment/insult spectrum.

                  You “claim” you got a 720 on your SAT verbal but have offered no proof despite repeated requests. Until that happens, I think it’s safe to assume you got a 720 overall.

    • Rick in Boston

      I do enjoy that one guy who really tries to convince everyone else that Vazquez would be a stud at 3B or 1B or would be better than Swisher in right. Oh, and I think Vazquez just struck out again.

    • vin

      Boo Hoo Jorge Vazquez crew? Wonder how many of them are hold-overs from the Boo Hoo Juan Miranda, Shelly Duncan and Mitch Jones crews.

      Like Mike said, “Don’t worry, someone else just like him will be along in a year or two.”


    If you are refering to me, I do not ever say that Chato would be a stud at third and first, he is average(not poor) at the positions. I never said he would be better that Swisher in right…he cant play the OF. I have said over and over, with what he provides, he is a perfect guy for the last bench spot. He has 10 times more powere than Chavez and Laird, will be at minimum wage, and if you look at his ZiPS, if you gave both Tex and Chato 560ab’s, Tex is projected at 32hr and 109rbi, Chato would have 32hr 106rbi. Not my projections, the ZiPS. Yes he strikes out a lot, and his ZiPS show him at 180+ with 560abs, but that is only a little more than Granderson who had 600abs. If you can understand what I am saying, I am not saying he should replace Tex at first, or ARod at third, I am showing you that he would be a very good option for THE LAST BENCH SPOT!!….Oh, and you were incorrect. Chato didnt just strike out, that was just strike two. The next pitch he just hit one over the scoreboard!!! Peace V

    • Steve (different one)

      OBP my friend. Love the enthusiasm but you cant compare him to Tex and Grandy. He’ll hit bombs, but he’s going to make twice as many outs. Zips pegs him for a .275 OBP. .275! If you gave him 560 AB’s, he might hit those 32 HRs you mention, but it will cost so many outs that it will wipe out the benefit of the HRs. If he could play a legit 3B, I would be with you, but I don’t think he can. The only way he fits on the roster if if they went with 2 catchers, and he is the DH on the days Montero catches

    • Bo Knows

      He strikes out 30% of the time in triple A, can’t take a walk to save his life, and provides 0 value with the glove.

      Regardless what zips says when someone K’s 166 times in 118 games in AAA, it is not a stretch at all to expect well over 210+ if given the AB’s in the MLB.

  • Mike Myers

    The Upside of Arod.

    can you put a dollar amount on the home run record being in pinstripes?

    glass is half full!

  • JobaWockeeZ

    All 3B suck. ARod is still above average. Yeah we have an injury plagued 3B for 6 years but for the next 3 years the replacement will blow. I’d amnesty Teix before him. First baseman are everywhere.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      All third basemen suck?

      Healthy A-Rod

      Not a bad list at all. And there aren’t that many first baseman available right now, all are locked up besides Prince, who will be soon.

  • Thomas Cassidy

    I’m not in the “Vazquez would be awesome” party boat, but can you see a comparison between him and Mark Reynolds? Reynolds is not a bad player at all. They look like they could be close to the same minus the OBP, but I’m just being optimistic. He will never see a pitch in the majors, anyway.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      But I did just shit my pants thinking about how Vazquez would bat clean up on the Giants or Mariners.

  • Mike

    If we are going to carry 3 catcher, I want the Yanks cut Cervelli and get a good defensive back-up catcher. Cervelli is an absolutely horrible baseball player. He can’t hit and is a bad defensive catcher. Plus, I think he has gotten very lazy over the last year behind the plate. The guy walk around acting like he is a major part of this team and that he is alock to be on the roster no matter what.

    I can’t stand any of Cervelli’s antic like when he hit that homer in Fenway back in August and over celebrated it. Guys like Grandy, A-Rod, Cano or Tex can do that but not a scrub like Cervelli. I for one was glad that Lackey threw at him because it showed that tool Cervelli what a moron he really is. Cashman disappointed me when he tentered a contract to Cervelli this week. With all the concussions Cervelli has had it was the perfect time to get rid of him and stop wasting a spot on the 40 man roster.