Mailbag: Danks, Kuroda, Oswalt, AL East

Open Thread: Presented Without Comment
Levine: We have money to improve the team

Just three questions today, but they’re good ones. After you recover from New Year’s, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send your questions along.

(Ed Zurga/Getty)

Peter asks: Does Danks’s extension really spell the end of the Yanks interest in him? Or is this the White Sox trying to get a MUCH better haul for him than if he only had one year of control on him left? Does the length of the contract now scare the Yanks (and other teams) away or does the price in potential prospects for a number 2 starter for half a decade do it instead? Thoughts?

Kenny Williams and the White Sox are very hard to figure out. They say they’re going to rebuild, act like they’re rebuilding by letting Mark Buehrle walk and trading Sergio Santos, then they turn around and sign one of their most tradeable assets long-term. I don’t get it. What’s the plan, sign Danks and hope you’re competitive by year four of his five year deal? This isn’t the first time they’ve done this either. They said they were going to rebuild a few years ago as well, then ended up signing Buehrle and Paul Konerko long-term. Doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, yeah I think that contract effectively halted any interest the Yankees had in the left-hander. Danks for one year was not only cheaper (in terms of salary and trade cost), but it also gave the team time to evaluate him in Yankee Stadium, the AL East, New York, the whole nine before deciding if he was worth that kind of commitment. Now they’d be locked into the guy until 2016 in a sink-or-swim type deal. I’m a big John Danks fan, but no thanks.

Late add: Apparently Danks has a full no-trade clause in year one of his contract, so so much for that. It’s a partial no-trade in years two through five, allowing him to block trades to six teams.

Anthony asks: I fully understand (and agree with) the Yankees stance on the free agent and trade markets. I don’t think John Danks was worth any 2 of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos and I feel the same towards Gio Gonzalez. But why do they *seem* hesitant with going after guys like Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt on 1 year deals? Banuelos and Betances are most likely not ready to bring Spring Training as the 4-5 starters. So, what gives?

I think it’s because they just don’t see Kuroda or Oswalt or even Edwin Jackson as clear upgrades, or at least big enough upgrades to invest something like $16-17M in them (including the luxury tax). Do I think they should sign one of those guys (preferably Kuroda)? Yes. Can I understand why they’re hesitant to sink that much cash into someone that’s not guaranteed to be any better than the six or seven pitchers they have already lined up for the 2nd through 8th rotation spots? Also yes.

That money is money they won’t be able to use later. Sign Oswalt and his back goes out (again), and they’re out of luck. They won’t have that cash available to them at the trade deadline if something comes along. It’s the same situation with lesser pitchers like Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis, Joe Saunders, Joel Pineiro, etc. Yeah they’d cost less money and add a smidgen of depth, but where’s the upgrade? The Yankees need someone better than Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, and although I think Kuroda and Oswalt are, you can certainly make a case they aren’t.

Dennis asks: Since the Yankees won 97 games in the AL East, which is easily the best division in baseball, how many games do you think the Yankees would win if they played in each of the other 5 divisions in baseball – ones with with much weaker competition?

A lot, almost certainly over 100 on an annual basis if they played in another division. The Yankees have gone 122-94 (.565) against the AL East and 173-97 (.641) against everyone else over the last three seasons, and a .641 winning percentage is a 104-win pace. That’s pretty nuts when you consider that we’re talking about a three-year sample.

Just think, while the Yankees are busying playing the Red Sox and Rays a combined 36 times next year, the Angels and Rangers will each get to play the Mariners and Athletics a combined 36 times. Then starting in 2013, the Angels and Rangers will each get the M’s, A’s, and Astros a combined 54 times. That’s a third of their schedule against teams that apparently have no interest in being competitive. Some life, huh?

Open Thread: Presented Without Comment
Levine: We have money to improve the team
  • neo

    You said: “Then starting in 2013, the Angels and Rangers will each get the M’s, A’s, and Astros a combined 54 times.” Are we sure about that? Has there been any announcement on how scheduling will work in 2013 once the Astros are in the AL? I thought there was a chance that things might change and you might not play teams in your own division 18 times.

  • Drew

    Depending on the asking price I would give Oswalt and only Oswalt a 1 year deal. I think Cashman can go to the front office and tell them well you shoved Soriano down my throat, so there needs to be money for an upgrade in the rotation. I think Oswalt is the only one with that sort of potential to be #2 type starter. I would think a 1 year 10-12 million deal would be reasonable. I know it would be a 17 million after the luxury tax but if its there I say go for it.

    I also wouldn’t be opposed to trading Banuelos and other smaller pieces for Garza. Prospects are Prospects, Take the known over the unknown every single time.

    • Bob Loblaw

      “prospects are prospects”

      could there be a more generic statement? But why would you trade a fireballing left handed pitcher with two other plus pitches? Especially one who is going to start the season a freshly turned 21 years old in AAA. For what, Matt Garza? a guy with a career 4 ERA in the AL? Im not opposed to trading the kid but id like to have him included for someone better than Matt Garza.. if not, keep em. For me, his left handedness is key.. Dominate lefties are nearly impossible to acquire these days with teams locking up young pitching talent. If ya got a kid with that type of potential, you don’t just give em a way for a Matt Garza.

      • Drew

        You just never know what he is going to pan out to be. The Yankees history of not being able to properly develop pitching prospects. Coming back to the AL East he doesn’t have to face the Yankees offense. I think he his exactly the type of guy that can anchor the rotation behind CC. Losing Banuelos is tough but again I will take the known for the unknown every single time. Everyone is acting like that he going to turn into Mid 2000’s Johan Santana and it is very unlikely that he will ever reach that potential.

        • Rich in NJ

          The Yankees history of not being able to properly develop pitching prospects.

          That’s a reason to improve the development process, not to get rid of their best prospects.

          • CJ

            Joe torre

        • Bob Loblaw

          He’s still facing the sox… and the bluejays have a dynamic, powerful and perennially improving offense.. even the orioles have strong offense.
          Before his move to the NL, in the previous 3 years his number of hits, HRs and ERA rose each year.. and a declining HR rate wont bode well in yankee stadium.

          as for you taking proven over prospects any day.. yeah, i think they tried that early last decade.. didn’t work too well.. you don’t even wana give him a shot, just give him away for a middle of the rotation righty simply bc he’s the best remaining option at this current time.

      • Rich in NJ

        Yeah, the all prospects are fungible argument glosses over the fact that young talent is projectible, otherwise the Cubs (or any other team) would be as satisfied with Warren or Phelps as they would be Banuelos.

        • Drew

          I am not saying to give Banuelos away for nothing, but prospect hugging isn’t the solution to the problem. Garza is a proven #2 AL East pitcher.

          • Rich in NJ

            I have never understood how wanting to keep 4 or 5 of a team’s best prospects (when they have over 100) amounts to being a “hugger.”

            To the contrary, it is an exercise of simple common sense given the constraints on the acquisition of young talent imposed by the new CBA.

            Then factor in that the Yankees appear to want to reduce payroll, and the idea of trading a near ML-ready high-ceiling LH starting pitcher, who Mariano called the best Yankee pitching prospect he had seen, for two years of control of Garza seems more than a little short-sighted.

            • Drew

              Wasn’t Phil Hughes called Baby Clemens and the best arm I have ever seen by Mariano?

              I love Phil and Mariano but just because he said it doesn’t mean he is the next coming of CY Young.

              • Rich in NJ

                I never heard that.

                Hughes was rushed, so the point is?

              • Bob Loblaw

                Rivera said that about banuelos, not hughes.

          • Alex S

            Banuelos for Matt Garza? No thanks. Matt Garza isn’t Cliff Lee nor Dan Haren (a shame we didn’t trade for him when available). Is better to wait and see how Banuelos and Betances develop in AAA and if they are not ready for 2013, bring Hamels, Cain or whomever is available with that caliber in the 2013 free agent class…

            • Drew

              You are assuming that Hamels and Cain won’t sign extended before they hit free agency. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

              • Alex S

                I think there is a great probability that at least 1 these starting pitchers will hit free agency. Cain, Hamels and Greinke (i think this 3 are better than Garza), Francisco Liriano, Colby Lewis, Anibal Sanchez, Jonathan Sanchez, Ervin Santana could be free agents too, although I think neither of them are better than Garza.

          • Bob Loblaw

            but the reality of the situation is that cash isnt giving him up for a nmbr 2, as we’ll he shouldn’t. On a playoff team, Garza is a nice number three. The Yanks want an ace as their number two and aren’t willing to give up high end prospects for anything less. Although Betances should be more expendable than Banuelos.

      • Plank

        It is what it is.

  • Ethan

    The question about how much the Yanks would win in another division is an interesting one. My concern is that in the AL West and Central playoff hopeful teams are playing far inferior teams. How does this make the wild card fair? In my opinion the Wild Card is a very poor system with the way the divisions are currently designed.

    Personally, I think the divisions should be eliminated altogether. I realize this would cause issues for rivalries but really, with 18 games against the red sox the rivalry is not nearly as intense as it would be playing against them 6 times throughout the season.

    • umbrelladoc

      Here’s a simple solution that is fair but probably won’t happen. I was going to say never, but I think there is a sliver of sensibility out there. If the new schedule continues to be unbalanced – more games played against teams in the division, and differences in interleague play, I suggest determining the wild card by averaging (or adding, it doesn’t matter) the winning percentages versus the three divisions. This effectively rebalances the schedule, by making games in the division count less towards the wild card.

  • viridiana

    Maybe Selig should reverse the decades-long policy of rewarding the worst teams round after round in the draft with a policy that rewards the teams that play in the toughest divisions. Likelihood of this happening: 0.000000%

  • Gonzo

    Yeah, Kenny Williams is hard to pin down. Maybe he wants to give Dunn, Rios, etc… a chance at turning it around in 2012 and winning.

    I would not be surprised if Gavin Floyd was made available for the trade deadline if they are floundering. If that were to happen that could potentially work out great for the Yankees.

  • candyforstalin

    the yankees should offer oswalt a similar deal to what they gave pettitte in 2009. something like 4m + 4m for 25 starts + 0.5m for every start after that.

    • Drew

      Andy accepting that was a hometown discount at its finest. I doubt Oswalt would accept a deal unless other teams are really that concerned about his back issues.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I may be in the minority but I agree with Cashman. The pitchers that are out there are not really upgrades over what we already have and they cost much more. I don’t see a better all around team than the Yankees in all of baseball. We will win the East again but the margin will be less than last year’s.

    • YanksFan

      I think of lot of us agree w/ Cash on this. It’s the loud minority that is constantly bithcing.

    • Mike HC

      I originally liked Kuroda a lot, but after really looking at his numbers, he is going to be 37 and averaged a 3.45 era in a pitchers park in the NL West. That is not anything close to a great bet moving him to the AL East and Yankee Stadium.

      But just the fact that we can take a chance on a one year deal, it not being my money and all, made a lot of sense to me.

    • Plank

      I’m not for signing Oswalt, Kuroda, or EJax, but for 2012, they are absolutely an upgrade over whoever they would replace on the roster next year.

      Why do you think they aren’t?

      • YanksFan

        I don’t believe that they are “absolutely” upgrades. What makes you say that they are?

        Oswalt back problems & missed a good chunk of 11. 4 years approx 3 WAR (avg.). Had incredible 2010 after trade makes him look better.

        Kuroda also 3 WAR over 4 years. NL West to AL East.

        Jackson is the best of the bunch. Approx. 4 the last 3 years.

        Burnett/Hughes/Garcia over the last few years have approx. avg. of 2 – 4. Last year Burnett was 1.5 and Hughes .7. Garcia 2.2. Kuroda 2.4. Oswalt 2.5.

        IF they are ugrades they are extremely minimal. Then you factor in that they will cost 12M. Is 1 win worth 12M. No way.

        • Plank

          In order to be an upgrade, they have to be better than the 11th best pitcher on the Yankees. Garcia has no place in this discussion. Hughes may not, either. All 3 of those pitchers are better than Burnett.

  • CMP

    I’d just as soon stand pat then trade top prospects for a Danks or a Garza. I’d much prefer Oswalt or Kuroda on a 1 year deal while saving the prospects to land more than a middle of the rotation starter.

  • JMFish

    Does anyone think that the reason the Yankees have aggressively pursued one of these available free agents is the fact that maybe one of Betances/Banuelos is in fact ready to start 30 games for the Yankees this year? If this is Cashman’s stance, how can you argue w/ him not signing an overpriced veteran?

    • Drew

      Neither Betances or Banulos are ready to give the Yankees 30 starts. They both pitched around 120-140 IP last year which were career highes. There is 0.0000000% the Yankees rush them to the majors and push them. (minus CC having a stroke)

      • Bob Loblaw

        Couldnt agree more, Mannny and Betances both need more time. Their walk rate wound up at around 5 per 9 last season. They need to tighten their command and continue working on secondary pitches.

        • Bob Loblaw

          on top of the obvious of building arm strength

  • JMFish

    Does anyone think that the reason the Yankees have not aggressively pursued one of these available free agents is the fact that maybe one of Betances/Banuelos is in fact ready to start 30 games for the Yankees this year? If this is Cashman’s stance, how can you argue w/ him not signing an overpriced veteran?

  • YanksFan

    The AL East is clearly the best. I also have loved the past 2 years where the MSM has said that the WC will not come out of the ALE because they would beat each other up. This conveniently misses the point that these teams also beat up the other 2 divisions which keeps them down. Also misses the point that the Central & West teams are not that good.

    I also have a question that is confusing me. I keep on hearing that Danks signed a 5 year extension but that he is locked up til 2016. To me that is only a 4 year extension because he was under contract for 2012. It looks more like a 5 year contract, which is a 4 year extension.

    • Mike K

      May be wrong, but I think 2012 was an arb year. So his new contract covers 2012 (rather than going to arbitration), plus the next 4 years.