Mailbag: A-Rod, LHP, Lineup, A’s, Mo

Link: Remembering the Yankees when they were bad
2012 Season Preview: Contract Years

Six questions but five answers this week. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything, whether it be mailbag questions or something else entirely.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

EJ asks: Do A-Rod‘s financial bonus achievements impact the salary cap? That is, I believe that if A-Rod reaches certain homerun lifetime milestones, he receives X amount of dollars. Does this money belong to part of the equation for calculating the team payroll amount and thus be part of the luxury tax? Would that amount that he would receive be part of that year that he reached the milestone alone or would it be divided equally by the length remaining on the contract? Could this impact the plan to lower the payroll in 2014?

Alex Rodriguez will get a $6M bonus for each of his 660th, 714th, 755th, 762nd, and 763rd career homers, and bonuses do count towards the luxury tax. I’m not 100% sure, but I do believe they’re applied to the year they are earned as far as the tax is concerned, not spread out over the life of the contract. A-Rod is at 629 career homers this season, so hopefully he starts approaching a few of those milestones by 2014. The Yankees are going to have to leave some room for those bonuses in their payroll that season to avoid going over the $189M threshold.

Mark asks: With Andruw Jones as the LF/DH against LHP, does it look like Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli will be seeing regular playing time against southpaws?

I don’t think Cervelli will see regular playing time against lefties, chances are Joe Girardi will let him be CC Sabathia‘s personal catcher again and get him into the lineup once or twice a week that way. As for Nunez, I can absolutely see him getting regular at-bats against southpaws, playing either short or third while Derek Jeter or A-Rod get the day at DH. He’s hit lefties (.317 wOBA) better than righties (.298) in his short big league career, and he has shown a similar split in the minors. The Yankees seem pretty intent on getting Eduardo Scissorhands a decent amount of plate appearances in 2012, and this is one way to do it.

Jon asks: With Robinson Cano pretty much entrenched as the #3 hitter, where does that leave Mark Teixeira? Is he the #5? Does Andruw Jones (when he plays) or Nick Swisher have a chance to be the #5?

I think the most likely 3-4-5 lineup to open the season is Cano, A-Rod, and Tex. Teixeira did have a disappointing year in 2011, but he remains one of the game’s very best power hitters (39 HR and a .246 ISO last season) and batting him any lower that fifth strikes me as foolish. I think you’ll see Swisher bat sixth and Raul Ibanez seventh against right-handers but Jones sixth and Swisher seventh against southpaws. As long as Cano, A-Rod, Tex, and Curtis Granderson are four of the first five hitters in the lineup, I won’t have any major issues with the batting order.

(REUTERS/Alex Gallardo)

Max asks: Scott Sizemore is out for the season. Any chance the A’s want Nunez for, say, an outfield prospect? Is there anyone in the A’s farm you’d want to pursue that’s reasonably available?

Nick asks: Do you think the Yankees could target one of the A’s extra outfielders as a cheaper alternative to Swisher next offseason? Collin Cowgill? He doesn’t seem to have a spot in the Oakland outfield and the Yankees could stick him in AAA until next season.

Might as well lump these two together. I wouldn’t trade Nunez to the Athletics unless the Yankees would be getting a “significant” piece back just because he’s the team’s only legitimate backup infielder. If Jeter gets hurt and misses a month again, I’d much rather see Nunez out there for 30 games than Ramiro Pena. “Significant” is up for a debate, obviously. I’m not talking about a top 100 prospect or anything, but it would have to be a young, everyday caliber player right on the cusp of the show, an outfielder preferably. Michael Taylor makes some sense (though I’m not his biggest fan), but I don’t really buy Cowgill as an everyday guy on a contender.

I think a trade involving Brandon Laird would be more likely, though I don’t believe his trade value is all that high. A Laird-for-Cowgill swap would be an easy win for the Yankees. The A’s say they’re going to stick with their in-house options to replace Sizemore, specifically converted catcher Josh Donaldson. If that doesn’t work out, the two sides could always get together for a trade a couple months into the season. The Yankees are the ones with the luxury of time here, the A’s are the ones pressed to make a swap.

Marc asks: Clearly Mo is the greatest and we’ve had the joy in watching him dominate over the years. But what few current players get the honor of saying they hit Mo pretty well?

Over the course of his career, Mariano Rivera has held hitters to a .210/.262/.290 batting line (.552 OPS) in 4,815 plate appearances. After the jump is a big huge table listing all active players with at least a .552 OPS against Rivera, min. 10 PA.

Aubrey Huff 21 20 8 2 0 2 1 5 .400 .429 .800 1.229
Magglio Ordonez 15 14 7 2 0 0 1 0 .500 .533 .643 1.176
Jason Kubel 13 12 5 0 0 1 1 4 .417 .462 .667 1.128
Ichiro” align=”left”>Ichiro Suzuki 16 15 6 1 0 1 1 1 .400 .438 .667 1.104
Paul Konerko 14 12 5 0 0 1 1 0 .417 .429 .667 1.095
Luis Matos 11 11 4 1 0 1 0 1 .364 .364 .727 1.091
Bobby Abreu 10 9 3 0 0 1 1 2 .333 .400 .667 1.067
Vernon Wells 21 19 6 1 1 1 2 1 .316 .381 .632 1.013
Marco Scutaro 20 17 5 2 0 1 3 3 .294 .400 .588 .988
Carl Crawford 23 22 8 1 0 1 0 5 .364 .364 .545 .909
J.D. Drew 12 10 4 0 0 0 2 2 .400 .500 .400 .900
David Ortiz 35 33 11 3 0 1 2 5 .333 .371 .515 .887
Nick Markakis 18 17 6 2 0 0 1 3 .353 .389 .471 .859
Brian Roberts 18 17 6 2 0 0 1 2 .353 .389 .471 .859
Alex Rodriguez 16 12 4 1 0 0 3 2 .333 .438 .417 .854
Evan Longoria 13 12 3 0 0 1 1 5 .250 .308 .500 .808
Ian Kinsler 10 10 3 2 0 0 0 6 .300 .300 .500 .800
Kevin Youkilis 15 12 4 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .467 .333 .800
Ivan Rodriguez 26 24 6 2 0 1 2 7 .250 .308 .458 .766
Carlos Lee 12 12 3 0 0 1 0 1 .250 .250 .500 .750
Vladimir Guerrero 21 18 6 0 0 0 2 2 .333 .381 .333 .714
Chone Figgins 16 15 4 0 1 0 1 1 .267 .313 .400 .713
Jason Varitek 46 42 12 1 0 1 3 9 .286 .326 .381 .707
Jim Thome 30 22 3 1 0 1 8 5 .136 .367 .318 .685
Ramon Hernandez 21 20 6 1 0 0 1 3 .300 .333 .350 .683
Michael Young 25 25 8 1 0 0 0 4 .320 .320 .360 .680
Joe Mauer 12 12 4 0 0 0 0 2 .333 .333 .333 .667
Omar Vizquel 18 18 6 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Orlando Cabrera 17 17 5 1 0 0 0 5 .294 .294 .353 .647
Reed Johnson 11 11 2 0 0 1 0 4 .182 .182 .455 .636
Miguel Tejada 31 30 8 3 0 0 0 4 .267 .258 .367 .625
Manny Ramirez 53 47 11 1 0 1 4 15 .234 .302 .319 .621
Eric Chavez 20 19 5 1 0 0 1 5 .263 .300 .316 .616
Casey Kotchman 11 10 3 0 0 0 0 2 .300 .300 .300 .600
Edgar Renteria 10 10 3 0 0 0 0 4 .300 .300 .300 .600
Coco Crisp 15 14 3 0 1 0 0 6 .214 .214 .357 .571
Julio Lugo 19 17 3 2 0 0 2 3 .176 .263 .294 .557
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/1/2012.

Jason Giambi (.551 OPS) just missed the cutoff. The hitter with the most success against Rivera is retired: the great Edgar Martinez. He went 11-for-19 with three doubles and two homers off Mo, good for a .579/.652/1.053 batting line. Sandy Alomar Jr. also had success against him, a .462/.462/.846 batting line in 13 plate appearances. That doesn’t include his homer in Game Four of the 1997 ALDS.

Alex Rios has faced Rivera 15 times but has never reached base while Ray Durham faced him 26 times (!!!) in his career and never once reached base. That’s pretty crazy. Brian Daubach and Tony Clark both failed to reach base in their ten meetings with Mo. Every other player (active or retired) who came to the plate ten or more times against Rivera managed to reached base at least once. Here’s the full table for your amusement.

Link: Remembering the Yankees when they were bad
2012 Season Preview: Contract Years
  • Slugger27

    what about tex hitting 2nd against lefty starters? doesnt the book say the best all around hitter should hit 2nd anyway (i think tex should be considered our best hitter against a lefty starter)? jeter, tex, cano, arod, grandy is the top 5, in that order.

  • Mike Axisa

    I think batting Tex second against LHP is perfectly reasonable and won’t ever happen.

    • Mike Axisa

      Bah, reply fail.

    • Slugger27

      why not? do you think tex would be against it? otherwise he’s likely to bat 5th. is that better in his eyes? may knock his RBIs down a tad, but hes got his $180M and hes 5 years from free agency, i cant imagine it would be that big of a deal to him at all.

      • Mike Axisa

        I think Tex would be open to it, but Girardi probably wouldn’t. Teixeira is an “RBI guy,” not a number two hitter that does number two hitter things. Granted, he did bat Swisher and Granderson second, but I feel like slow, plodding Tex isn’t Girardi’s ideal two-hitter.

        • OldYanksFan

          I don’t like the idea. Teix will never steal a base or put pressure on the INF on a DP ball. Maybe if Grandy falls off a cliff, you move him down… but I hink he should stay where he is until there is a really good reason to move him.

    • CJ

      It’s reasonable but if granderson continues to hit lefties it may be a result of being in the 2 hole. If granderson continues close to last years production you have to leave him alone at 2.

  • Rookie

    Wow! So six of the 23 active players with 10 ABs or more with the highest OPS against Mo were on the Red Sox last year!? Have they figured something out or what?

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      If they have, I’m sure Bobby Valentine will take credit for it.

      • Havok9120

        He found Mo’s weakness when he was in the minors. Picked right up on it. And it became obvious to him once he converted to relief. He’s not surprised no one else saw it though. Its too subtle for the unwashed masses to perceive.

    • Soriano Is A Liar

      Too bad the player with the highest OPS against Papelbon was on the Orioles!*

      *I have zero facts to back this up. Just accept it as an awesome Robert Andino burn.

    • gageagainstthemachine

      I think that statistic was inevitable when they have so much talent and play the Yankees so many times a season (and over the life of their career total). But no worries…”In Mo We Trust”!

    • Thinking man

      In fact on the list, numbers 9-12,18,23,32,and 34-37 are all either current or former Red Sox players. I think gageagainstthemachine is right that it’s inevitable because we play them so often, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

  • Dan

    Arods salary peaks this year at $29 million and drops to $21 million in 2015 and $20 million after that . That mitigates the milestone payments somewhat.

    • Plank

      He made 30-something million the past few years. He is already on the downward end of the contract.

    • Mike HC

      What will really mitigate the milestone payments are all the money and value the Yanks will receive from that attention.

      • JonS

        Like rehashes of the steroid scandal (I bet they wish they could have a mulligan on that contract).

        • Mike HC

          There will be a lot of negative attention, but the Yanks are hated by many already, and negative attention makes money too. People tuning in to see the villain pass the legend counts just the same.

        • Havok9120

          Yes, because Bonds approaching and passing the limit made that a bust too.

          You’re right that the negative attention will be, well, negative. But its almost as profitable as positive, and the Yanks are polarizing enough that it won’t matter. Not to mention that then we get to smash all the “Yankees are the king of ‘roids steroids” trolls, and thats good fun.

          As for the contract….sure they would. But that has nothing to do with the milestone payments or the roids. That really won’t affect the value of his breaking the record if/when he does it. They’d love a mulligan because its a horrible contract.

      • Steve (different one)

        What REALLY mitigates the money is that it means A-Rod is healthy and hitting lots of HRs….

        What would really suck is if he is hurt the next 2 years and hits #660 in 2014. But provided he hits #660 before then, the Yankees should be fine with the bonuses. If he hits #714 in 2014, that means he has been relatively productive in 2012-2013, and it also means he’ll likely pass Bonds at some point, which I think will be worth the extra $$ for the Yanks.

        • Mike HC

          This too.

        • Havok9120


          Yes, twelve. Not 20, and not 10.

    • JohnC

      could offset though if he rreaches any of those home run milestones for which he gets an additonal 6 million per. So ridiculous!

      • Havok9120

        Why? It’ll make the money back. That’s probably one of the most profitable parts of the contract.

    • jsbrendog

      but it is calculated on AAV not year in and year out

    • Tim

      For luxury tax purposes I believe the AAV is used to determine salary. It doesn’t matter what the yearly salary is on a long term contract.

    • nedro

      Not in terms of the luxury tax. That’s based on AAV.

  • Monterowasdinero

    Cervelli gets to catch 30-35 CC starts. Nice for him. I like Pineda but….

    • RkyMtnYank

      Montero never would of caught CC.

      • Monterowasdinero

        That’s fine. He can catch Felix.

        • RetroRob

          The M’s have already said he’d catch between 35-50 games, which says to me they’ve decided he’s not a catcher.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Did the M’s indicate that those numbers wer for the upcoming season? As a rookie, that’s a fine way to break him in, leading to more games in the future (see Posada, Jorge).

            I’d still have been fine with that if he were on the Yankees. It does, however, indicate that Pineda may provide more value to the Yankees.

        • Slugger27

          theyve gone on the record as viewing him not a full time catcher

          • Havok9120

            This, while probably true, is not confirmed and won’t be for another season or two.

            And even if it is true, its clearly beside the point. /\/\

    • DM

      I think the “personal catcher” thing has been overstated. There’s no way Cervelli will catch CC exclusively this year. If it happens to line up with other things, Cervelli might have an edge. But it won’t be drawn up that way ahead of time. Both catchers will see time with every pitcher.

      • Soriano Is A Liar

        Let’s be honest … Jeter has the Edge.

        • DM

          But still no range to his left. Ford couldn’t help him with that.

  • DB

    It may mitigate some of the payment that they have to make annually, but the luxury tax is based on AAV, so it increases the luxury tax by that amount with the milestone. Since they want to get under 189 by 2014, hopefully Arod reaches 660 and is far enough away from 714 that they will not need to worry about him reaching that milestone during the season.

    • DB

      This was a response to Dan’s comment

    • Steve (different one)

      No, hopefully he is as close to 714 as possible going into 2014. HRs are good for the Yankees…if two 40 HR seasons from A-Rod in 2012-2013 makes $189M harder, oh well….

      • DB

        40 seems to be setting your hopes too high, prior to last season he hadn’t hit over 35 since 2007. My guess is he would average between 25-30 over the next two years if he stays healthy (he hit 30 each of the two seasons prior to last year), which would put him in the 679-689 range and it gives him an outside chance to reach 714 in 2014.

        • Steve (different one)

          Agreed. Just saying if that happened, the yanks would probably be thrilled with that development even though it hurts their plans. We’ve gotten used to viewing everything through the $189M in 2014 prism, we don’t want to lose site of the real goal….

          • Havok9120

            Absolutely agree.

  • Nickel

    So, only 3 players have homered twice against Mo, and no one has taken him deep three times. I had the unfortunate circumstance to be in attendance for one of Palmiero’s. It was a walk-off at Camden Yards. Not exactly the “rare baseball moment” we had been hoping to see that day.

  • j6takish

    That Mo table is fascinating. That appears to be a totally random collection of players, none of them have anything in common except for the fact that they can beat Mo. Most notably, Jim Thome has 8 (!!!) walks. Also, Edgar’s line against him is just insane

    • pat

      The thing that have is common (most of them, at least) is that they’re all really freaking good hitters.

  • Nickel

    Brian Daubach. Totally forgot he existed.

  • CJ

    Think Granderson ARod Cano Tex makes the most sense. Give ARod the protection of one of the most feared hitters in baseball.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Makes sense? Then it won’t happen! (I agree with you).

  • Jesse

    So I take it since Cervelli is CC’s “personal catcher” that means Cervelli will be behind the dish Opening Day, right?

  • CJ

    If Billy beane did not call on Brandon laird this week, laird will never be a major league contributor. Laird seems like an available necessity for A’s right now.

  • greg c89

    I hope it takes less than 2+ seasons for A-Rod to approach 31 HRs.

  • RetroRob

    A-Rod’s contract is really going to cause some amazing planning problems when coupled with the new CBA. No way they would have signed this deal under the current CBA.

    It’s the marketing agreements that will be the issue. Right now, the most money A-Rod has made from playing baseball in any single season was $33 million in ’09 and ’10. His salary has now been trending downward, $32m in ’11, $29 million this year, $28m in ’13. Yet here come the marketing agreements based on HRs. When he reaches #660 this year or next, he’ll then set a new single-season record for pay at either $34m or $35m, depending on which year.

    Yet that might not be his all-time high. A-Rod has four more of these $6m bonuses, the last three being the killers with one each for his 755th, 762nd and 763rd HRs. That’s a span of just eight HRs, meaning they’ll most likely all come in the same season. So there’s the potential that in the final year (or two) of A-Rod’s deal, when he’ll “only” be making $20m a season, he could earn an additional $18 million in bonuses, setting an all-time single season mark for pay at $38 million, and he might do it in a year when he might produce an ugly line like .225/.290/.390 with 15 HRs. If that $18 million throws the Yankees back over the luxury tax line, then it could cost them tens of millions in give-backs on revenue sharing. The bonuses and the CBA changes means those last three marketing bonuses could cost the Yankees upwards of $50 million.

    So what would happen if the Yankees outright cut him prior to that final season. What happens to those marketing agreements if some other team picks him up off the wire?