Mailbag: Moseley, Kuo, Soriano, Cashman

Reports: Yankees may or may not have made offer to Kuroda
The 2012 CAIRO Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching

You folks almost didn’t get a mailbag this week, but my flight was delayed yesterday afternoon and I was able to bang it out. That’s some serious dedication, if you ask me. Anyway, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions, yadda yadda yadda.

Dramatic photo for Dustin. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Will asks: It looks like there’s a possibility that the Padres will non-tender Dustin Moseley. If they do, might the Yankees take a flier on him as a back-end rotation guy, or would they avoid him given his struggles in the AL East the first time around?

Moseley had a superficially nice year for the Padres, pitching to a 3.30 ERA in 120 IP across 20 starts before a dislocated non-pitching shoulder* ended his season. His underlying performance was generally unchanged from his time with the Yankees though, with similar strikeout (4.55 K/9 vs. 4.80) and ground ball rates (49.1% vs. 49.5%). He did cut down on the walks big time (3.72 BB/9 vs. 2.70), and his homerun rate fell off a cliff (1.79 HR/9 vs. 0.75 HR/9). I think park effects are misused quite often, or at least their impacts are overstated, but that’s a definite example of the difference between Yankee Stadium and Petco Park.

Moseley is what he is at this point, and although I always say there’s nothing wrong with a minor league deal, I don’t think he’s any better than what the Yankees currently have slated for the back of the rotation (A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes) or stashed in Triple-A. The depth never hurts, but I don’t think he’s someone they should rush out and sign. Nice pitcher, nice guy, but not much more than an emergency option for a contender.

* Oh by the way, how did he hurt his shoulder? Swinging a bat. Way to go NL, I’m sure Dustin appreciates all the extra strategy.

Moe asks: Probable long man from within, next year if no acquirement this season?

Sorry Moe, but this is an oddly worded question. I think you’re asking who the long man would be next year if the Yankees don’t acquire someone this offseason, so that’s what I’ll answer.

If the season started today, it would probably be Hector Noesi. Actually, it would almost certainly be Noesi. Maybe someone like David Phelps or D.J. Mitchell has a big spring and claims the job, but I’d rather see them get regular starting gigs in Triple-A. Joe keeps saying he’s going to write a post about bringing Bartolo Colon back for that role (nudge nudge), a plan I would definitely be on board with. Heck, you know what? Moseley wouldn’t be a bad option for that job. Neither would the recently released Ross Ohlendorf, always a personal fave.

I don’t like to see an actual prospect in the long man role because I want it to be someone the manager can abuse. Someone who’s not in the long-term plans. Run the guy into the ground when the bullpen is short, then discard. Harsh, but for many of these guys, it’s their only shot to remain in the show.

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Antony asks: What about Hong-Chih Kuo? I doubt that the Dodgers will give him a new contract. Good lefty, obviously with some level of risk regarding surgeries and injuries. Minor league deal sounds pretty good to me.

Kuo is likely to be non-tendered at the deadline next Monday, something that was completely unthinkable a year ago. From 2008-2010, the Taiwanese southpaw led all pitchers (min. 150 IP) with a 2.30 FIP (Mariano Rivera is fifth at 2.56), which is what happens when you post a 10.64 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, and 0.37 HR/9. He held left-handed batters to a .158/.210/.247 batting line with 88 strikeouts and 13 walks in 207 plate appearances during that time. Look at this. Just filthy.

Anyway, I wrote this post about why Kuo is a non-tender candidate at MLBTR back in October, so I suggest reading that to get up to speed. Long story short, he battled back problems and struggled on the mound (5.06 FIP in 27 IP) in 2011, then hit the DL with social anxiety disorder. “If I want to still play and somebody wants to give me a try, I’ll play,” said Kuo in September, hinting at retirement. “If not, fine with me. I’ll miss it.”

Kuo is famous for having five elbow operations — including two Tommy John surgeries and a minor arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies in October — but now the problem is his desire to play. He said he plans to pitch a few weeks ago, but it’s a red flag anytime a player mentions retirement. The Yankees should look into signing him if he is indeed non-tendered, and they’ll have a little extra input courtesy of Russell Martin. Whether or not he’s worth a big league contract is another matter entirely, and I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that at the moment.

Kevin asks: Crazy idea: what about Alfonso Soriano if the Cubs make him, say, a $5 million dollar player? It would not be much more than bringing Andruw Jones back, and he could fill in in right next year if Swisher doesn’t come back. Teams could do a lot worse than .250 with 20 HR in the seventh spot.

If the Cubbies eat enough money to make him a $5M a year player, that’s still a three-year contract worth $15M for a fourth outfielder. So you’re not only impacting 2012 payroll, but you’re also impacting 2014 payroll, and we know the Yankees are trying to cut down on that just a bit.

Soriano, who will be 36 in January, has been hit or miss against left-handed pitchers in recent years (he’s been alternating sub-.350 and .400+ wOBA‘s vs. LHP since 2005) but generally mediocre against righties (sub-.333 wOBA vs. RHP every year since 2007). He’s pretty bad on defense and stopped stealing bases about three years ago. I’m sure he could be had for basically free, even if Chicago eats that much money, but I’d much rather see the Yankees go year-to-year with Andruw Jones and Marcus Thames types that lock themselves into the imminent disaster portion of Fonsy’s career.

Mark asks: Do Yankee fans and the media give Brian Cashman enough credit and respect for the job he’s done in his 14+ year career as Yankee GM?

No, I don’t think so. That does come with the territory though, the Yankees never get full credit for anything because they’re the Yankees and they have the biggest market and the biggest payroll and all of the advantages the other teams don’t. Want to sign CC Sabathia? Piece of cake, any monkey with a checkbook can do that. Except it’s not that easy, it never is. Managing a $200M anything is difficult, as is negotiating nine-figure contracts.

Cashman is far from perfect, there’s no doubt about it. The Yankees have been completely unable to develop starting pitching under his watch, a pretty major flaw, but basically every other facet of the team is in tip-top shape. The lineup, the bullpen, the farm system, etc. I don’t think Cashman is the best GM in the game, but I definitely think he’s in the top five.

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Reports: Yankees may or may not have made offer to Kuroda
The 2012 CAIRO Projections: Yankee Offense and Pitching
  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    The Yankees have never been good at growing a batch of pitchers. Now they seem to be giving more attention to that. In the coming years I hope to see a home grown staff (starters) if everything pans out.

  • Steve (different one)

    Didn’t Cashman just say that Noesi will NOT be in the bullpen this year and will be starting somewhere?

    • Mister Delaware

      Hope so. Love that arm.

    • RetroRob

      Yes. I saw him interviewed in the last week (might have even been at this week’s meeting) where he basically said it wasn’t ideal having Noesi as the long/mop-up man, and that they didn’t want to repeat that this year. He’d either be starting in AAA or in the Bronx.

      Of course, saying it and doing it are two differing things.

  • Ted Nelson

    With a stacked AAA rotation I can’t see the Yankees being towards the front of the line for minor league deal starters like Moseley. They don’t particularly need them, and the guy is a long-shot for both the MLB rotation and AAA rotation… so would make more sense to take another option if it’s available. Suppose they could see the long-man role as available and a shot at collecting service time on a winning team.

    Someone mentioned yesterday that Cashman said Noesi would be starting next season in AAA before he’d be a reliever in MLB. Could have been misinformation, but someone posted that here yesterday.

  • CJ

    I have been pushing for Prince as dh especially since pujols joined the AL pennant race. When is the next elite bat available via free agency? I don’t see one 2-3 years out am I missing someone? is it worth jumping the gun now rather than waiting?

    • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

      They already have an elite DH: Jesus Montero, for league minimum.

      • Soriano Is A Liar

        Gotta trade him for Jon Niese.

        • Soriano Is A Liar

          Also I almost want them to get Fielder. Then, when Fielder goes 1-12 in the ALDS, everyone can talk about how what a weak unclutch hitter he is and how we should trade him and get Juan Miranda.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t think the availability of “elite bats” via free agency is a good reason to sign any player, let alone to a gigantic deal.

      The Yankees have one of the best offenses and overall teams in baseball. Certainly they should look to improve it, but on good value deals that make sense. Marginal improvements at huge costs aren’t good value. To me that appears to be the case with Fielder.

      Where is Prince Fielder going to play? You can reshuffle players for the right guy but… He’s such a piss poor defender at 1B that DH seems like the only logical choice. That would effectively block the Yankees’ best offensive prospect in a decade and a player Cashman has just (jokingly) called Pujols a version of (even if Montero’s a C, he’s going to nsplit time with Martin)… while also blocking the “half day off” strategy they seem to favor.

      Fielder is such a poor defender and baserunner that I would not necessarily expect him to be an improvement on Teixiera going forward. Especially not for the next 7 or 8 years that he’s apparently looking to sign for. Teixiera is 32 next season, so I’m not ready to conclude he’s declined physically so much as needs to fix his swing from the left side. Listed a 5-11 270… Fielder could start to physically decline at any time himself.

      • CJ

        Figure 8 years for fielder he’s 27 plays 162. Montero has to catch, that’s it. Mike Napoli looked pretty good in postseason for a guy who could hit but can’t catch and pushed to dh/1b. 2012-2014 are key years for yanks given age of Mo, Jeter and Arod.

        • Ted Nelson

          Why does Montero have to catch? Because you said so?

          Fielder’s 2011 games played total says nothing about his long-term sustainability. Teixiera has played at least 156 games since 2007 and he’s still slumped the last two years.

          I don’t buy any argument about a closing window for the Yankees, nor that a closing window makes bad decisions good ones.

      • viridiana

        +1

        • viridiana

          That was +1 for nelson post (reply fail, iguess)

    • http://www.bronxbombersreport.com Craig Maduro

      If the Yankees trade Montero, I’ll only get over it if Prince Fielder is signed as the DH. Unrealistic, but who says we have to be rational all the time?

      • CJ

        Let montero catch. Piazza, Napoli and victor Martinez were all bat can’t catch guys who played on winning teams. Montero can’t be a 22 year old DH that’s ridiculous.

        • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

          Montero will probably catch every once and awhile, but he’s not going to be the main catcher as long as Russell Martin is around.

        • Ted Nelson

          What does age have to do with position? Those are two totally unrelated things. Position is determined by skill-set, not age.

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

            So you’re saying age has no impact on skill-set.

            • Ted Nelson

              Please let me know where I said that. Are you saying that age is the only determinant of skill-set and thereby position? Probably not, so I’m not going to ignorantly jump to that conclusions. Would appreciate your extending the same courtesy.

              I’m saying that it doesn’t have a direct, predictable impact. There is a general trend, but no steadfast rule.

              That some guys are best suited to DH at 22 and some guys are best suited to play 1B (or SS or CF or wherever) at 35-40.

              When Prince Fielder was 22 he was still a fat, slow, bad defensive 1B.
              Mo was 41 and a stud closer last season, but at 25 he was just cracking MLB.
              Ted Williams was still a stud at 40.
              Dwight Gooden was a stud at 19 and totally dominant at 20. By 30 his career was practically over.

              • Ted Nelson

                And the original logic was shooty in the first place, as CJ is suggesting the Yankees replace Montero with a 28 year old DH entering the theoretical physical prime of his life.

          • Ted Nelson

            Your buddy Prince Fielder is actually a perfect example of a guy who ideally should have been DHing (in the AL obviously) since he was 22. Guy has been awful at 1B his whole career. Part of it depends on roster construction, though, as the idea is to put the best all-around team on the field within your budget while balancing the present and future… so it becomes Martin + Montero vs. Montero + Fielder… and one can make arguments either way.

            I do think there’s an argument for Fielder. I just think your insistence that the Yankees are making a big mistake by not signing Fielder immediately this moment is ridiculous.

          • the Other Steve S.

            Position is determined by skill-set, not age.

            Why? Because you say so?

            • CP

              So you think that a young player should play in the field, even if he doesn’t have the skills to do it? I think Montero should be given an opportunity to catch and develop into a catcher, but that’s based on his skill set, not his age.

            • Ted Nelson

              Because of logic… a player’s age is relevant insofar as it impacts his skill set.

        • pat

          He’ll only have to be a DH until he’s 26. Then Tex bounces and he can move to 1B.

    • http://riveraveblues.com Rich

      You are missing someone–he makes $30M a year and we’re stuck with him as our DH when he can’t cut it at third anymore.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        A-Rod does appear to present a problem in the future, but we can’t know that for sure. He appeared to do quite well at 3B this past season. Doesn’t mean he won’t declien, but we can’t predict when that will happen. By that time, Montero may have developed into an acceptable defensive cacther (a Piazza/Posada type) or may have been traded. The team will adjust as necessary.

        • http://yesnet tendollarcard

          yes we can know that for sure. a-fraud aint worth the crap under my shoe.

  • aRX

    Well since you left it hainging in the air…who DO you think is the best GM in the game?

    • Thomas

      I’d say TB’s Friedman.

      • CP

        Let’s see him do it for more than 3 or 4 years.

        It’s one thing to put together a solid team that can contend. The bigger challenge is rebuilding that to remain competitive once that first group of players ages or leaves. Cashman has been a GM for 14 years and his teams have made the playoffs in 13 of those seasons and won 4 World Series.

    • pat

      AA has done some amazing work in Toronto so far. He had to have used some Jedi mind tricks to unload Rios and Wells.

      • Steve (different one)

        Just for the record, Rios was actually dumped on Ricciardi’s watch.

        • pat

          Well then…

      • 28 this year

        He has done amazing work but he let Mike Napoli go for a reliever. People overlook that but he had an awesome hitter on his team for cheap and he let him go. Now the Blue Jays were in on Pujols and Fielder when Napoli was a cheap version of both of them.

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

      Probably Friedman. They are a player development monster, and he seems to win every single trade. Only serious blemishes are Percival, Burrell and Manny.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think it’s pretty tough to evaluate GMs, since their job is to manage other people behind closed doors. As fans all we can do is judge them on the results… but that’s tricky.

      -Sample sizes are often small, so luck can play a big part in the short-term: string of a few lucky breaks whether the decisions were good or bad could leave someone looking like a genius, while a few unlucky breaks on good decisions could get someone fired.
      -The guys around them can actually be the ones making them look good. I imagine we’ve all had bosses who take credit for our successes even though they didn’t do squat. As fans it’s tough to say how much credit goes to the GM vs. the GM’s right hand person vs. the scout vs. the owner vs. the coach.
      -GMs can only play the hand they’re dealt. Part of this goes to the point above… could have payroll constraints that stop you from signing guys you want and/or an over-active owner who keeps ignoring your advice to make deals you hate. Part of it has to do with the roster as you acquired it: one guy might excel at continuing a winning team but would struggle building from scratch, or vice versa… in the wrong situation you might get fired too soon to show your strengths. And there’s the whole inter-action with other GMs and agents/players. If the White Sox didn’t want to move Swisher, for example, would the Yankees have a big hole or albatross contract in RF? Would they have a better player than Swisher?

      A lot of these things even out over time. Someone like Cashman has been around a decade and a half. A lot of GMs might come into a really bleak situation, catch a few unlucky breaks, and be on the street though…

      As much as Alex Anthopoulos has done on paper, for example, guy’s got to make some more magic happen/catch some breaks for the Blue Jays to be a real contender. He also inherited arguably the best pitcher and best offensive player in baseball. Williams and Moreno lent a hand by taking two terrible contracts off his hands. He loves him some established relief pitchers, a major gripe a lot of Yankees have with that org.

      Friedman is the new golden boy inheriting that crown from Theo who inherited it from Beane… those are still well respected execs from what I’ve seen, but their stars have really been tarnished recently compared to the prime of their hype. Perhaps Friedman losses a couple key staff members who help with their drafts, makes a bad signing or two… and he’s no longer the golden boy.

  • Pete

    Well, at least I’ll always have the Moseley start against the Red Sox to remember.

  • CJ

    Honestly, I would rather see Prince stay with brewers but I’m guessing Texas or the mystery team on pujols (how that has remained secret blows my mind). I really think yanks need to go for it, prince will be an MVP. As for montero as dh, name one big hitter who started his career at dh.

    • Thomas Cassidy

      Does it matter if he starts his career at DH? No. The only thing that matters is production.

    • FIPster Doofus

      “As for montero as dh, name one big hitter who started his career at dh.”

      Irrelevant. Who cares?

  • http://none Favrest

    Terry Francona had a great answer when pressed about David Ortiz’ chances of winning the MVP in 05. Some reporter said “he doesn’t play the field. It’s not fair.” francona’s response, “if it made us a better team to put him out there, I would.” it’s a position. Whether its harder/easier doesn’t matter if it works for the team. For us, Martin did a great job behind the plate. If Montero whacks the ball, no one will care if he plays the field.