Mailbag: Ibanez, Montero, Closer, Martin


Just five questions this week, and the answers aren’t even that long. So yeah, pretty straight-forward mailbag. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything, including mailbag questions.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Dan asks: Let’s say Raul Ibanez gives the Yankees a good reason to release him, thus giving Russell Branyan, Bill Hall, etc. a shot of making the team. What would the Yankees have to pay Ibanez?

Assuming it’s a guaranteed big league contract, which is probably is, the Yankees would have to pay Ibanez the full $1.1M no matter when they cut him. If it’s not a guaranteed deal, they could release him by March 19th and only pay him 30 days termination pay (~$191,860), or 45 days termination pay (~$287,790) if they release him between March 20th and Opening Day. If it’s non-guaranteed and they released him after Opening Day, they’re on the hook for the full $1.1M. Like I said, chances are it is a guaranteed contract (Eric Chavez‘s is) and they owe him everything regardless.

Arnold asks: Why do I get the feeling that the Yanks never intended to keep Jesus Montero? Supposedly, they were concerned about keeping the DH slot open for the senior citizens, but now that Montero’s gone, they sign every octogenarian in sight (see Ibanez) to clog up the DH slot. Will the youngsters ever get a chance in this organization?

I can understand why you feel that way, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. I do think the Yankees have been overly cautious promoting youngsters to the big leagues over the last two or three years after being overly aggressive in the past, almost like they’re overcompensation by going from one extreme to the other. It’s not like they gave Montero away though, the only time his name popped up in (legitimate) trade rumors was when there was a bonafide ace (Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) or a young hurler with that kind of upside (Michael Pineda) on the table.

It’s not easy integrating young players into the ultra-competitive AL East though, especially with this ham-fisted “win the World Series or the season is a failure” mentality embedded in the fanbase. Growing pains and are tough to stomach when you’re trying to win the World Series.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Daniel asks: If this is indeed Mariano Rivera‘s last season, next season the Yankees have Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and now David Aardsma as well as various minor leaguers vying for the closer position. None of them are Rivera and no one ever will be, but as far as closer options go, the Yankees wont be in too bad a position will they?

No, I don’t think so. Not only do they have plenty of quality in-house closer candidates, but they also have the means to go out and get an established closer (Ryan Madson? Joakim Soria?) if they want (I’d rather see them exhaust the in-house options first). Replacing Rivera’s production will be hard but not impossible, at least in terms of save percentage and actually recording that 27th out for the wclosing out games for the win. No one will be as utterly dominant and flawless as Mo, of course.

The one thing no one will ever be able to replace is the sense of security Rivera provides. No matter how chaotic the situation or big the game, there is never a sense of unease when Mo’s on the mound. I can’t imagine anyone will ever make us feel that way again. I hope he doesn’t retire after the season, but if he does, the team is well-prepared to replace him. It just won’t be as pretty.

Alec asks: With recent news about Russell Martin’s extension talks and Yadier Molina’s talks of extension with the Cardinals, I hope neither signs so the options are open for the Yankees in 2013. I know you value Miguel Montero a bit better than Martin since he is a better hitter, but what do you think about Yadi? I prefer him over Martin, Montero, and Mike Napoli in the 2013 FA crew. Cash must think otherwise since he is trying to extend Martin. Your take?

I’d rank those four guys: Napoli (moderate gap) Montero (small gap) Molina (small gap) Martin. I do value catcher defense but I also don’t think it’s the most important thing in the world, so the two defense-first guys lag behind the big bats for me. Yadi would be an upgrade over Martin especially if he shows that last year’s offensive spike (.349 wOBA) is a real thing during his peak years, but the big question is money. I have a feeling Molina’s going to get huge bucks only because the Cardinals won’t want to lose him after losing Albert Pujols.

Martin’s not the best catcher in the league, but he’s better than the average catcher offensively and is a strong defender. The Yankees also value makeup, and Russ does come across as a tough dude. I’ve thrown out that three-year, $25-30M deal for Martin with these rumors in recent weeks, and that’s pretty much my limit. Joe Torre ran him into the ground earlier in his career and I worry that a big crash is coming in his early-30′s. Ideally, Martin would mentor Austin Romine for a few years then hand over the reigns. Molina’s a great catcher, but I think I’d rather have Martin at his price than Yadi at his, especially if the Cardinals get desperate.

Mike asks: Where would Rafael DePaula have ranked in your top 30 prospects if he had obtained his visa?

If he’d have gotten the visa this offseason, I probably would have had him in the 20-25 range somewhere, likely behind Nik Turley. If he’d gotten the visa last offseason and spent the entire 2011 season in the farm system throwing real innings, he probably would have ranked even higher barring injury, 11-15 possibly. The kid’s got a fantastic arm, but he’s losing a lot of precious development time.

Categories : Mailbag


  1. TheOneWhoKnocks says:

    My absolute limit for Martin would be 3 years 24mil. I like him but anything more than that and I’d rather look at other FA options. We do have Romine who should be ready for full time duties next season. May be a downgrade but I’d rather save the cap space to land a higher impact player knowing the team’s goal is to be under $189mil. Paying 10mil for martin under those kind of constraints is a bit bananas.

    • TheOneWhoKnocks says:

      Just saw a quote from Martin’s agent about them willing to be flexible about the 2014 austerity budget. That gives me a sense that in a 3 year deal, he’d make more in 2013 and 2015. 10m in 2013, 4m in 2014, 10m in 2014 or something along those lines. I’m not sure how the austerity budget works (sometimes these things are measured by AAV of the contract and not be the actual salary that year) but based on the agents comments i’d think it works this way.

      • Mike says:

        They use AAV, so it wouldn’t matter how much he makes in 2014.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          Unless they structure it with options…

          • Ed says:

            2 years, $20m, covers 2012-2013. 3rd year team option for $10m with a $10m buyout. He can play the first 2 years at a $15m hit against the luxury tax, then the third year is free.

            This of course being losely inspired by the Roger Clemens 2003 contract, $10m player option with a $10m buyout. I have no idea what the team was thinking there, but it must have been an attempt to exploit the old luxury tax rules.

            • Needed Pitching says:

              I’m thinking the league would see through the blatant attempt to circumvent the spirit of the luxury tax.
              A cheap, unlikely to be exercised player option for 2015 could be used to somewhat lower the AAV for the first years, at the expense of the 2015 luxury tax payroll, though there was a provision in the old CBA (I’d assume it would still be in place for the new CBA) that somewhat limits the effect of this strategy.

  2. David Ortiz's Dealer says:

    In terms of kids not getting a chance… look at Cano, Gardner, Nova, Hughes, Robertson, Joba.. that class plus, Jeter/Mo I bet even with the high priced FA’s the Yanks have more players who were in their minor league system than most teams.

    Only Ian Kennedy in recent memory, “blossomed” post NY, and he became Granderson… not really a bad deal, then consider NL west from AL east et al.

    Sure Montero may win a MVP, Pineda may win a CY Young….

    • jsbrendog says:

      it only bodes well for the yankees system to see guys like axford, clippard, melancon, kennedy, now montero etc doing well. even to see a guy like tabata in the majors. the more players that make it ot the majors from your system whether it be for you or someone else means you’re doing something right.

      granted axford might not be a great example cause they cut bait but guys that thye had that other teams wanted, especially guys that played in ml for the yanks and then had success elsewhere before having a chance to siucceed in ny make your system and scouting look great

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Completely agree here.

      • JAG says:

        Axford is a weird case since he became a much better pitcher after going into the Brewers’ system, but your overall point is solid. The only thing I’d say is, you’d still prefer that your own team benefit from the fruits of your farm system. Using those guys as trade chips is a legitimate way to gain that benefit, but as fans we all kind of want to see the homegrown superstars emerge.

        Then again, it’s hard to argue that Cano is anything but that, so there you go.

        • David Ortiz's Dealer says:

          I am not sure what the “goal” is but isn’t something like an All-Star per draft class considered great. I forget about the Yanks having Axford, but until Melancon pitches well in the AL east I will defer judgement.

          Tabata will hurt as he was flipped for Nady and Marte… well we had the 09 run.

  3. What ever happened to Cash’s “no extensions while under contract” rule? Obviously they extended CC, but I’d say that was a special case with the opt-out looming.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I imagine that rule is going to be tested several times in the coming years, and common sense/prudence should always come above sticking to your word. If someone like Pineda or Nova (or anyone else – just giving the two most obvious examples there) were to make sense to extend early, I would have zero problem with him breaking his word.

  4. CP says:

    If the Yankees release Ibanez, would they still have to pay luxury tax on his salary?

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    3/30 would be my limit on Russell. I assume a raise and some security would be in order, but there’s definitely a top limit to all this.

    I also think letting this season play out a bit would be prudent, even if its to the detriment of the team if his play winds up bumping his demands up.

    Where would Melvin Crousett have ranked? Melvin? Melvin? Are you still here?

    • jsbrendog says:

      whatever happened ot melvin??

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Lost with a generataion of commenters you don’t see much anymore on a wooden ship somewhere?

        • jsbrendog says:

          i’m like a dinosaur here is what you’re saying.

          ::one lone tear::

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            Croussett was a joke associated with screennames you don’t see a whole lot of anymore. The screennames you see now may not be in on the joke. Is that less dickish for you this time around?

            • jsbrendog says:

              i didnt say it was dickish, jeez whats with everyone assigning emotions to my comments? does no one know how ot have fun a joke around anymore? le sigh. there’s a reason you don’t see those guys around here anymore

            • jsbrendog says:

              ps, i know about the melvin joke as i was here when it started. so no need to explain. i was asking what ever happened to MELVIN, not the jokes associated with his name. you know, the real human being who pitched

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

              I tried to respond to your comment yesterday, but my phone wasn’t working right, but I was trying to insinuate that you were being a dick about commenting about Arod’s lunch. I’m sorry if it read that way. I’m not one to attack anyone on this site, so if I pissed you off, I’m sorry.

              PS Melvin is always watching and judging.

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                The stuff about the lunch was a joke itself. Not looking to rehash that. We can move on, really. I am glad you wrote here, though, and I apologize as well if I got a bit too snappy there. Snappy happens a lot around here.

                • Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

                  I even wrote my apology wrong, I WASN’T trying to insinuate that you were being a dick about Arod’s lunch.

                  • Robinson Tilapia says:

                    Ha! Well, if it was the way initially intended, I thought you were being a pretty stand-up guy about it anyway.

      • Gonzo says:

        Rumor has it that after the Haiti earthquake he took to building hospitals and schools barehanded by himself.

        He didn’t want notoriety for it so he is giving Sean Penn and Wyclef all the credit.

  6. Martin for 3 years seems perfect, cause I feel like Romine could be the starting catcher at some point.

    As far as the discussion of bullpens/closer…post Rivera, I’d like to see them go with a bullpen that deploys the best pitcher at the highest leverage situation.

  7. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Ugh…thinking about what the Yankees would look like without Mariano Rivera closing. Sheesh, hopefully I’ll die before I have to come to terms with that.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      It’s been done before. I’m not saying it will feel the same, but I think someone not named Mariano (and probably on this team right now) will do an effective job closing out games in the near future.

      I will shed a small tear every night if it turns out to be Soriano, but whatever works.

    • Murderers' Row Boat says:

      Statistically, closing is a very easy job since the higher percentage of the time the 3-4-5 hitters come up in the 8th inning.(I wish I could remember what site the numbers were listed on)

      • JAG says:

        I also wouldn’t be averse to some homegrown closers who are worse than Mariano for a while, especially if Cashman can pull off some Billy Beane magic and flip effectively meaningless Saves for useful pieces.

  8. Murderers' Row Boat says:

    I don’t understand the Montero trade hate. If turns out to be a middle of the order hitter it will have to be at DH to maximize his skill. He can’t catch 130-140 games a year well and be healthy enough to drive in 120 RBIs. He is going to end up as an Ortiz-type player, a middle of the order bat that is only good in the AL, and you lose him for all of interleague and you have to weaken your defense in the World Series.

    • I think ppl are just concerned about the aging line-up moving forward.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        I think a lot of the initial hate was simply going through the mourning process with a guy fans had become very attached to. I also think there’s a natural inclination, warranted or not, to see the young pitcher as less of the “sure thing,” worry about health and whatnot, than there is on the part of your own, homegrown, supposed “sure thing” at the plate.

        As time goes on, more fans move towards the middle with this trade. Some will remain at one extreme or the other.

    • jsbrendog says:

      i would say more of a victor martinez than an ortiz

      • DM says:

        Not attitude-wise. Despite Victor’s defensive limitations, he’s always been a hard worker, and a leader with a great clubhouse rep.

        • jsbrendog says:

          and there’s no way to know if montero, a freaking 22 yr old kid will or will not end jup being that way. offensive/defensively he will be more like a martinez player than an ortiz. none of us know anything about any of these guy’s makeup, esp such young guys, so it shouldnt be a point of reference

          • DM says:

            relax — I was just pointing something out that’s been said before. And there’s “freaking 22 yr olds” who have great attitudes; they shouldn’t be lumped together with those that don’t as if it doesn’t matter. It counts. The immaturity thing can manifest in different ways. I wouldn’t equate a kid who runs into outs b/c he’s young and overly aggressive with someone who jogs to first, gets benched, then doesn’t show up on time to BP the next day to protest. Isn’t it interesting what A-Rod chose as his method of motivating a kid? A monetary fine? Not an incentive — a punishment. That speaks volumes about Montero. You’d think he’d pay A-Rod to carry his bags and follow him around just for the tutelage. Not Jesus. Not Tabata. And it sounds like Gary Sanchez might have some issues too. Not a good sign.

            • Mike HC says:

              I get the same feeling with Sanchez. He could be the next one traded, although the team may have a different look and different needs 3 years from now when Sanchez is in the mix. And the Yanks did trade Austin Jackson, who by all accounts was destined to min multiple Good Samaritan Awards.

              • DM says:

                Of course I’m not saying you can’t trade guys with good attitudes (Grandy has a good rep too) or try to get knuckleheads to wake up — but it is a factor, not a non-consideration. The “great kid” thing helps. Ask Gardner. And I think Romine has a lot supporters in the organization for that same reason. It helps. And if you think the Yankee brain trust didn’t bring up Montero’s attitude when debating whether to trade him or not, you’re crazy. I’m not saying it was the key factor but it was part of the discussion I’m sure.

                • Mike HC says:

                  I’m with you completely. Attitude is definitely a factor in evaluating a player, whether it is a prospect or a free agent.

            • jsbrendog says:

              i’m relaxed haha, that’s why i didnt curse. all i’ll say is if it is not a good sign sanchez has issues at 18-19 and he turns into a trade chip that lands a pineda like guy i could care less. prospects aren’t always for you to keep for your team.

  9. DM says:

    It’s amazing to compare the reaction to Ibanez vs Branyan here. Predictions of Raul’s demise in ST, and subsequent release in favor of Branyan are comical. Raul has been an ironman during his career; and last year Branyan collapsed in the same manner everyone fears will happen to Ibanez this year. Do majestic homers really count that much? Why does every analysis of Russell the Muscle leave out last year’s — his most recent — dreadful performance. And with Chavez and Swisher already on the roster, we don’t need additional 1st base depth.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      I have to agree. I did not care for the Ibanez signing, I wanted them to sign Damon, but there is a bigger tendency to just wave away Branyan’s 2011, while putting 100% weight on Ibanez’s 2011.

      I am getting more comfortable with Ibanez because it doesn’t sound like he will play every time there is a right handed pitcher. It sounds like he is more like another piece of the bench than the starting DH. That is not how I thought they would fill the DH role, but I’ve been wrong before and it will happen again. He may thrive in a more limited role. Hopefully.

      • Tom says:

        The other key is the Chavez signing (which people also hate). He’ll be playing against righty starters and in all probability ARod will be getting DH AB’s against righties that Ibanez would normally be getting if he was the full time lefty DH.

        If it was simply Nunez on the bench giving ARod the day off, ARod would be “resting” at DH against lefty starters and Ibanez would continue to get most of the DH AB’s against righties.

  10. Gonzo says:

    I keep looking at the Montero trade and understanding it more and more. I’m not saying I know what was going on in Cash’s head.

    The team was in decline in terms of how far they competed in the playoffs the last couple of years. He could have sat back watched the team make the playoffs each year and hope for good luck. However, he decided to make the big move and hope it works out.

    In a sense, I am happy that he saw a team that has been reasonably the same the past couple of years and decided to make a big move. It may not work out, but I like the idea of going out and throwing punches instead of sitting back trying to win on the cards.

  11. Bavarian Yankee says:

    if Mo retires I have no doubt that Soriano will be the next closer. I think they’d sign another superb reliever but I’m not sure if that one would be the new closer. Madson and Soria are good, no doubt, but Soriano is on the same level.

    btw: chat today? That Ryan Braun thing is killing me. He took the old Lance Armstrong route. Tested positive (okay, not several times like Armstrong, but still), never punished.

  12. austinmac says:

    I hope Cashman’s no extension while under contract rule dies a natural death. If you can get a club friendly contract it is vital to do so with 2014 looming. They used to be able to absorb the potential extra salary to reduce risk of injury, but no longer.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      As we discussed yesterday, there is no rule since they did this with cano and now CC.

      • Ed says:

        Cano was under team control, but not under contract. The choices were go to arbitration to decide on a 1 year deal or negotiate something else.

        CC was going to opt-out, so delaying the negotiations until after he did would have only resulted in giving CC more leverage.

        And of course the early A-Rod negotiations were all about the money Texas was paying.

        • Steve (different one) says:

          Don’t understand the Cano comment, that’s exactly what people want the Yankees to start doing. Extend young players before FA.

  13. Ted Nelson says:

    I have a feeling catching defense is going to become seen as more valuable in the coming years as it becomes better quantified on a mass scale. Early indications are that Martin really excels at the things we don’t measure. I also have a feeling that the Yankees were ahead of the curve with Martin and that some of the “smartest” teams in baseball have had Jose Molina the last few years because they’re also ahead of the curve (Rays, Jays, Yankees themselves).

  14. Tom says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong Mike but if the Yankees DFA’s Ibanez they’d only be on the hook for the entire amount if another team doesn’t pick him up.

    If another team picked him they’d be paying him the league min, which would be deducted from what the Yankees owe him (so they would owe him 620K)

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