Mailbag: Athletics, Ortiz, Youkilis, Lowrie, Bourn


Five questions this week and three of them involve Red Sox players, either current or former. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Travis asks: If Oakland is out of the running, which they may be now, would it be smart to look at possible moves for a NYY-OAK trade? Josh Reddick and Kurt Suzuki could be interesting for NY going forward.

Reddick, 25, is having a real big year (136 wRC+ and 17 homers) in Oakland though he has slowed down a bit in recent weeks. He’s always had power and so far he’s handled left-handers fine (136 wRC+), but it’s going to take an awful lot more than 98 plate appearances for him to prove that a career-long platoon issue is behind him. Obviously the Yankees need a young corner outfielder long-term so they should have interest in Reddick, but he’s not without his faults (he doesn’t walk, hasn’t hit lefties, and has a lengthy injury history). Billy Beane always seems to ask for way too much for his guys and I suspect this would be no different.

Suzuki, on the other hand, is just awful. The 28-year-old has hit .234/.292/.353 in nearly 1,300 plate appearances over the last three seasons and is down to .210/.249/.260 this year. The Athletics recently called up Derek Norris and he’s basically taken over as the starter even though Suzuki is owed more than $8M through the end of next season. Perhaps he’s just worn down after playing so many games behind the plate at such a young age — started 516 of 648 games from 2008-2011 (79.9%) — and his body just can’t handle it. Suzuki is owed way too much money and is just so impossibly bad at the plate that I don’t want him anywhere near the Yankees. I’d rather go with Frankie Cervelli and Chris Stewart next year if Russell Martin walks. Seriously.

Preston asks: What should the Yankees do at DH next season? David Ortiz seems like an obvious target, although that would clog up the DH spot. Another target might be Kevin Youkilis; he might be in line for a bounce back year and he could back up the corner infields keeping the DH a little bit more flexible.

Youkilis can do all of that and he’d be perfectly fine in that role. The only problem is that some team somewhere is going to offer him a starting job. He’s not going to come to New York to be a backup or even a half-time player when another team would pay him more money to start. Youkilis doesn’t want to stick it to the Red Sox, he doesn’t hold enough of a grudge to take a discount — both in salary and playing time — to wear pinstripes. It’s not gonna happen.

The issue with Ortiz is clogging up the DH spot that the Yankees use to rotate their regulars. With Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter getting even older, it’s that much more important to give them regular rest. Raul Ibanez is a guy you could sit for those two no problem, but Ortiz? I doubt it. He sure would look great in pinstripes and with that short porch, but I would be really surprised if the Yankees spent that much money on a player who is a true DH.

Daniel asks: This may be a bit off the wall, but what about going after Jed Lowrie? He’s hit very well since leaving Boston, and could be used as a super-sub with an eye towards taking over for Jeter in a few years.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

Lowrie is actually second among all shortstops in fWAR this season thanks to his 14 homers and 132 wRC+. The Astros have used him at shortstop exclusively but he has experience at all four infield spots. As a switch-hitter with that kind of versatility, he’s an ideal bench target. The only problem is that he’s actually a starter and you’re going to have to pay a starter’s price to acquire him. Houston isn’t trading a bench player, they’re trading a legitimate starting shortstop — with two years of team control remaining — who the Yankees would choose to use as a bench player. That’s not the Astros problem.

Starting shortstops don’t come cheap, especially really good ones. Lowrie has slowed down in recent weeks and he is really injury prone — hasn’t had 500 total plate appearances in a season since 2008 — but he’s definitely a useful player, especially when batting against lefties. I have a hard time thinking that trading several prospects for a would-be bench player would be a net upgrade for the Yankees.

Mark asks: Should the Yanks consider pursuing Michael Bourn this off-season assuming they cannot come to terms with Nick Swisher?

I don’t think so. Bourn is really good, but he’s likely to command a larger contract that Swisher because he’s a better player even though they have very different styles. He does it with speed and defense while Swisher gets on-base and hits the ball over the fence. Plus playing two no-power guys in Bourn and Brett Gardner in the same outfield is really tough to do. They have to replace Swisher with someone capable of hitting the hitting for power; adding another leadoff type to a lineup that already has two of them isn’t the answer. That said, Bourn’s contract should make him a non-option for New York anyway.

Shai asks: In 1996, Mariano Duncan hit .340 and as a kid I felt that it was a weak .340, like he really wasn’t as good (in 1996) as that number. Did he have a high BABIP that year etc?

Andy Fox started nearly 40 games at second base in 1996, though Duncan was the everyday guy at that position for the most part. He hit .340/.352/.500 with eight homers that year, easily the best season of his career at the plate. This is a guy with a career 87 wRC+ suddenly posting a 113 one year. Like I always say, if you want to win a championship (in any sport), you need to get big contributions from unexpected placed. Duncan’s production that season was quite unexpected.

Anyway, that gaudy batting line was propped up by a .400 BABIP (.313 career), the fourth highest single-season BABIP of the last 25 years (min. 400 PA). Duncan didn’t walk at all (nine walks in 417 PA and one of them was intentional) and most of his power came in the form of doubles (34 two-baggers, three triples, eight homers). Does that qualify as an empty .340? Yeah I think so. I can’t imagine someone hitting for that high an average without getting on base 36% of the time, it seems impossible to do. That said, .340 is .340, and it helped the Yankees win the World Series.

Categories : Mailbag
  • Gonzo

    How about that great Lowrie trade?

    • pat

      Not to mention the Reddick trade. Lulz.

      • RetroRob

        I can only imagine what the RAB boards would be like.

        I understand why they moved Reddick, even though it hasn’t worked out. I’m still scratching my head on Lowrie. Granted, I don’t think Lowrie is anywhere near as good as he’s showing right now, which would be my concern if they Yankees tried to trade for him. It’s not that he couldn’t help. It’s that they’d end up overpaying based on his production so far. Yet the thought of him being on the Yankees torturing the Red Sox is enjoyable. Just don’t see it happening.

        • Steve (different one)

          I think I was one of the few here who liked that trade for Houston.

          Once you stripped out the emotion of it being former Yankee prospect Marc Melancon, you were still trading a young SS for a reliever.

          Melancon is “just a guy” in the AL.

          • jjyank

            I liked it for Houston too. And this is coming from someone who liked Melancon as a prospect. But he’s not an elite end game reliever in the AL East.

          • DM

            I’m not a big Lowrie fan — but I thought it was a mistake for Boston to expect Melancon to perform there.

          • Gonzo

            I like it for Houston too. The level of SS play in the majors sucks.

        • Ted Nelson

          I think he’s about this good. The durability is my concern.

  • jjyank

    Heh, RAB might have exploded.

    We thought the Montero stuff was annoying, but he isn’t even hitting. I haven’t read OTM in awhile, but I would imagine there have been at least a couple flame wars over those two.

    • jjyank

      Reply fail. Supposed to be to RetroRob.

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      I don’t want to even think about what it would be like here if we traded two guys who’s replacements have been significant downgrades. It would be the equivelent of trading Swisher(which a lot of people on here were begging for earlier in the season) and replacing him with Dwayne Wise. Then turning around and trading Tex and replacing him with Ryan Doumit.


    i thought Mariano Duncan was fantastic that yr, and it always seemed he was getting hits.. It definetly seemed like a earned 340BA in my opinion.. And yes, it was a huge part to us winning the WS.. I think part of our Unexpectd players to help us win a world series in 2009 was Nick Swisher.. He was kinda our Mariano Duncan, albeit, he might of had better yrs before, he was certainly trending downward the yr we got him..

    • A.D.

      Gotta say .500 SLG is nothing to sneeze at

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      If your BAbip is .400, your average better be at least .330, and yeah that .340 does kind of look weak when paired with his .352 obp. he walked in about 1.2% plate appearances…that’s just, wow…

    • RI$P FTW

      You’re wrong. He wasn’t good. People sitting in their mother’s basements say he sucked, so he sucked.

    • Ted Nelson

      One data point is not a trend.

  • Boomer’s Boy

    There we go again, atleast once a week Mike’s Love Affair with Frankie Cervelli rears its ugly head. How can you say you would seriously be fine with a Cervelli and Stewart Duo for a WHOLE SEASON? The Yankees would get 0 production powerwise from that spot and the defense would be atrocious…. Cervelli is an average Back-up, END OF STORY.

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      way to cherry pick words. All he was saying was that the duo of Cervelli and Stewart would be better offensively (and defensively probably too) than Kurt Suzuki, who’s stats have dropped off worse than the housing market in 2008 or the European economy last summer.

    • jjyank

      What? Did you read the article? Mike said he’d rather have Cervelli and Stewart instead of Kurt Suzuki. Which is not a crazy thing to say, Suzuki sucks.

      • MannyGeee

        butbutbut.. TEH NARRATIVE!!!!!11!11!!

        - All the Trolls

        • Robinson Tilapia

          TEH NARRATIVE would have eventually called for Mike Napoli.

      • Boomer’s Boy

        Suzuki, would still get the edge. Come on let’s be serious. Suzuki plays in a shitty Line up and of course his production is going to drop. I would take Suzuki over Martin as well.

        • jjyank

          I wouldn’t. But if you would, that’s fine. But don’t act like it’s a slam dunk decision, Suzuki is pretty terrible. Read the article next time.

          • Boomer’s Boy

            I read the article. His numbers have been declining. Probably because he is in Oakland. Martin’s decline is more worrisome, because he has been in decent line-ups in LA and great ones in NY. Suzuki over the course of his career is also superior to Martin Defensively, so therefore would be trememdously better than Cervelli and Stewart…. Do your homework….

            • jjyank

              Your original comment sure didn’t reflect well on your reading comprehension.

              • Boomer’s Boy

                Sorry I didn’t know I was taking an English class, my bad. Point is Mike has a hard on for Cervelli. I’m not the only one who has commented about that on here in the past. I for one would rather see a healthy Romine up before Cervelli. Frankie had a long look a few years ago and was adequate at best.

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

                  Point is Mike has a hard on for Cervelli.

                  This just goes to show that you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. Next you’ll be saying I’m an Eduardo Nunez fan.

                  • Brian S.

                    I’m an Eduardo Nunez fan. Is that supposed to be a bad thing?

                    • Ted Nelson


                • jjyank

                  You were bitching about Mike saying that he wanted Cervelli and Stewart all season. And that’s not even remotely what he was saying. That’s got nothing to do with being in English class. If you can’t figure out what Mike is saying in the article, then don’t comment on it. That’s a rule of life, not English class.

                • Ted Nelson

                  “I for one would rather see a healthy Romine up before Cervelli.”

                  And I’d rather have Johnny Bench… unfortunately all we can deal with is reality, not our own fantasy worlds.

            • Need Pitching

              “His numbers have been declining”

              understatement of the year, he’s been worse than Stewart
              Martin (performing horribly) has a 91 wRC+ this year, Suzuki hasn’t been even that high in 3 years and he’s at an incredibly pathetic 41 this season.

              Tremendously better than Stewart and Cervelli … not unless he bounced back tremendously. They all suck. Cervelli at least can hit a little bit.

            • Ted Nelson

              There is not that kind of relationship between the line-up around you and your production.

      • Jim Is Bored

        He said END OF STORY! All other arguments are rendered null and void.

  • your mom

    Youk in pinstripes? Puke.

  • MannyGeee

    So, I might be in the minority here, but I would not be opposed to trading for Lowrie (price being relative of course)… he is the player we hoped Nunez would turn in to. with Jeter/A-Rod/Cano/Teix rotating at DH spots, having a guy who can make the throw to 1st from anywhere (or 2nd, Clay) would be pretty awesome for the next few years.

    That said, Mike is right, he’s gonna cost a kings ransom.

    and in closing, hows that trade looking for Boston right now? lulz @ Cherington…

    • Brian S.

      Lowrie would be a great pickup because Jeter needs to become the full-time DH.

    • Ted Nelson

      I don’t think you’re in the minority at all. I think everyone would agree with you. Price is the problem, as Mike says above. The guy is currently the 2nd best SS in baseball this season, and I don’t see why Houston is giving him up for less than 2 top 50-100 prospects. When you consider that he’d be a back-up and has serious durability concerns… dealing two of Manny/Gary/Mason/Tyler for him doesn’t sound that great.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    “What is it with pitchers and throwing to second?”

    Lots of times they’re throwing uphill but off-kilter. It’s an awkward position to make a bang-bang play.

    They’re professional athletes, so it’s not a “good” excuse. But it is an awkward angle/trajectory to throw in fairness.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      reply fail.

  • Brian S.

    Whoever asked for Youkilis and Ortiz should never comment here again.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Why do I just not follow that line of thinking? Stealing their heroes away is as much a Yankee tradition as The Great Subway Race.

    • Ted Nelson

      Maybe take a look at your own comments before calling out others… In last night’s minor league thread your comments came across as total jokes, but sadly I think they were dead serious.

    • Steve (different one)

      Signing Ortiz would bring SO much misery to Boston that I have to say I would be in favor of it. It would KILL them.