Mailbag: Pence, Hart, Shoppach, Ross, Nets


Five questions this week, but four of them got relatively short answers. Make sure to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything at any time.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)

Tucker asks: With the Cole Hamels extension, could Hunter Pence be a trade option for the Yankees? Could he help to replace Nick Swisher next year?

Pence, 29, is having a solid year (111 wRC+) but has been just a touch worse than his career norm (118 wRC+). His walk rate (8.6%) is better than his career average but otherwise the power numbers (.180 ISO) are normal. He’s hitting for a slightly lower average than usual (.267), most likely due to BABIP issues (.299 this year vs. .324 career). Pence has stopped stealing bases (only four so far) and the various defensive metrics say he’s trending downward in the outfield. He’s making $10.4M this year and will likely jump up to $14-15M through arbitration next year before becoming a free agent the following winter.

Now that all that is out of the way, sure. Pence definitely makes sense as a stopgap outfielder in 2013. My only concern is that the Phillies are going to market him as a superstar even though he very clearly is not. He’s a consistent, profile right fielder who never ever gets hurt. At the same point of his career, Dan Uggla was traded for a big league ready bullpen prospect (Mike Dunn) and a fringy utility player/everyday big leaguer (Omar Infante). Pence is a bit of a hacker and that concerns me, but I feel like the disconnect between the type of player he’s perceived to be and the type of player he actual is will make things difficult.

Chip asks: Would trading for Corey Hart be wise? The Brewers look to be on the edge of falling out of the race and Hart is signed at reasonable money for [next season]. Yeah, he sucks at defense and doesn’t take walks but I would imagine he’d outproduce Chris Dickerson (or they could somewhat platoon) next season.

The 30-year-old Hart is owed $10M next season, the last one on the three-year, $26.5M deal he signed in the middle of the 2010 season. He owns a 117 wRC+ this season, right in line with his career norm (115 wRC+). Apparently the Brewers would have to be overwhelmed to deal him, and Hart’s not a guy you go overwhelming his club to acquire. He’s similar to Pence in terms of raw production — both right-handed hitters too — but gives you cost certainty next year. He’s an option, but it always comes down to price.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Nick asks: Do you think the Yankees could look at Kevin Shoppach or David Ross to be the starter over Russell Martin next season?

Sure, I think so. Shoppach is a straight platoon player (126 wRC+ vs. LHP last three years) and Ross has been the best backup catcher in baseball since landing with the Braves (123 wRC+ overall last three years). Neither is a Gold Glove type defender but they’re not awful. The offense makes up for it. Both Shoppach and Ross are playing for less than $1.7M this season and will be free agents this coming winter. They’re both great stopgaps options as far as I’m concerned, though there are legitimate questions about Ross’ ability to be productive in more than 180 plate appearances or so.

Nico asks: Are there any MLB managers who buck the conventional righty-vs-lefty mentality when they’re facing changeup specialists with reverse platoon splits? Does Joe Maddon? Can we ever hope to see that from Joe Girardi in the Bronx?

Maddon has done it plenty of times it past — you’ll see it referred to as The Danks Theory around the web. Maddon first used it against …wait for it … John Danks in 2010, loading his lineup with left-handers — the switch-hitters batted left-handed as well — to take away his changeup. The result? They hammered him for eight runs in four innings. Tampa still does it occasionally but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of another team doing it.

I can’t imagine the Yankees and Girardi will employ something similar anytime soon. It’s too against the grain I think. Tommy Milone, who shut the Yankees down and set a career-high in strikeouts in Oakland last week, is a perfect Danks Theory candidate as a soft-tossing changeup guy. Instead, New York has faced him twice this year with a right-handed heavy lineup and he’s pitched well both times. Alas.

Ori asks: With the Nets moving to Brooklyn and having a formidable roster now, do you think YES Network ratings will spike, and if so, will this help the Yankees in doling out more cash for a big name?

I don’t know much about basketball at all, but there sure seems to be a lot of buzz around the Nets these days, no? I have no idea how the financials work between the network and the team, but I have to think that higher YES Network ratings — regardless if it’s the Yankees, Nets, Yankeeographies, whatever — the better it is for the Yankees overall. The team has never had a problem with shelling out big bucks for a player though, and I don’t think improved YES ratings will cause ownership to suddenly scrap the 2014 payroll plan or anything like that.

Categories : Mailbag
  • Eddard

    Forget about trading the farm for Pence or Headley. The only upgrade we really need is at the catcher position. That’s the only black hole right now. We’ve already upgrade our outfield defense with the Ichiro trade. Starting pitching is already good plus Andy coming back in Sept. Bullpen with Joba is already solidified. All we need is a better catcher than can hit at least .200

    • Robinson Tilapia

      All options for RF should be on the table in the off-season. I agree the team’s probably in good shape there for the stretch run.

      My mind can’t help but wander to Austin Romine here and whether there’s now real questions as to his durability. His staying healthy, and hitting enough, would seem ideal to team up with one of these guys who looks good playing 80 games a year.

      • Ted Nelson

        If he earns it I’d imagine that there will be a chance for Romine. At least as a backup.

    • NZ Sam

      The questions probably came in before the Ichiro trade became news…

  • kenthadley

    It doesn’t matter how much money is coming into the Yanks via Yes. They have stated the 189 cap, so extra money just gets pocketed.

    • steve (different one)

      As opposed to going to the rest of the league, whom they are trying to compete against. Crazy notion.

    • Eddard

      Hal is an idiot. He’s never going to be able to re-sign Robbie Cano and Granderson and get under 189 million. And he does have to re-sign both of those ballplayers. Hank gave A-Rod $30 million for 6 more years. Hank gave Soriano $35 million. This is his doing and now he wants to cut? George never would have cut team payroll to line his pockets.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        The holes in actual logic here are so big that they will, hopefully, disrupt the spacetime continuum enough that, somehow, Gary Sanchez will be MLB-ready next season. So…..thanks, Eddard?

      • steve (different one)

        Anytime I read a “things were better under George” post, it’s like the bat-signal…

        • kenthadley

          My comment is just in response to the Yes ratings part. Things were not better under George, but they were more exciting. Exciting didn’t get a WS championship from 2001-2008. They are in a much more “sane” business model now…but, as their revenues grow, it isn’t going to go to payroll. So consequently, since they are also capped via draft, IFA’s etc, where exactly will the extra $ from Yes go….my take is, it goes in their pockets.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I would have traded in Dave Winfield versus Papa George as well for a couple of championships.

          • Dan

            It’s not like they are going under 189 million for the years after 2014, they need to get under so they can get rid of the amount of money they have been putting into other teams by being over the threshold for the past several years. For example, I believe Andrus will be a free agent after that 2014 season so maybe the Yankees will be able to use those savings towards signing him.

            • Laz

              Yea for every year you are over consecutively you have to pay a higher percent. If they are over in 2014 they will be hit very hard because they have been over so long. They could bounce back and forth, but that is extremely hard to do, especially with 5-8 year contracts that many players have since it goes AAV.

      • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing w Balls and/or RI$P FTW)


      • Murderers’ Row Boat

        You’re right. George would have hired a PI to dig up dirt on both Grandy and Cano in order to use against them as blackmail.

      • Ted Nelson

        They absolutely can sign both under $189 million. Try actually doing the math. And they don’t have to sign them, especially Granderson.

    • RI$P FTW

      It won’t go to the lineup for one year only. Then it’s GAME ON once again.


  • Johnny O

    I see the trend of quiet trade deadlines continuing. Ichiro was splashy name value but definitely not a blockbuster trade in terms of quality of the acquisition or of the prospects given up. Hope Ninja Cash proves me wrong.

    • jjyank

      Meh. The Yanks are in first place by a good margin, I don’t want Cash to make a trade for the sake of making a trade. A quiet trade deadline could just mean that Cash didn’t make a foolish knee-jerk move. And I’m cool with that.

      That being said, if something makes sense for the right price, go for it.

      Maybe I’m just being overly nit-picky because I’m massively hungover and am trying to look busy at work rather than deal with customers.

    • steve (different one)

      What was the splash they should have made last deadline? Jimenez?

    • Ted Nelson

      Quiet trade deadlines are a great thing. Means they did their work in the offseason, when players can be had for only cash, and don’t have to overpay.

  • steve (different one)

    I think Ross is a guy who has been reported to take less money, less playing time to play for the Braves. I assume he is from the area.

    I don’t think the Yankees would be able to lure him to the Bronx.

    Sometimes, on very rare occassions, it’s not about the money.

    • Reggie C.

      Well, free agency is still free agency and the Braves will only be able to offer Ross so much considering that team’s need to lock up a front line pitcher and possibly finding a replacement for Bourne.

      I dont see how Ross leaves a significant amount of money on the table as a free agent.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….or a starting job possibility.

        We’re all taking guesses here.

        • BK2ATL

          Thge Braves already have Brian McCann and a top C prospect in Christian Bethancourt. NO ONE expected Ross to produce as he has this year. He’s not in the future plans as they decide whether or not to extend McCann.

          I’m thinking they’ll let Ross walk when his contract expires after this season, but it wouldn’t shock me if he re-ups in the offseason on the cheap. He’s from GA.

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

            NO ONE expected Ross to produce as he has this year.

            Sure they did, he’s done it four years in a row now.

            • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing w Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

              ill call bullshit that you expected a 35 year old catcher to have a year like this considering last years production and peripherals. especially after a measley 500 ML at bats with much higher BABIPs than he had in the minors.

              • jjyank

                I think the point is that over the last 4 years, Ross’ wRC+ and wOBA this year ranks only 3rd. So it’s pretty reasonable to have expected the production this year.

                • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing w Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

                  theyre all only 150 AB, and have higher BABIPs than the rest of his career, both in the minors and MLB. at 34, he took a major step back with plate discipline and stopped hitting for power. i think its giving a lot of credit to mike that he placed that much importance on 300 ABs of 09-10 ross.

                  • jjyank

                    His BABIP is 6 points higher than last year and 5 points higher than 2010. Hardly a huge statistical outlier.

                    Ross is a BUC, of course the sample sizes are smalelr.

              • BK2ATL

                It is BS. I doubt if HE even expected to produce like this.

                If any other team had that much confidence in his numbers, surely someone would’ve made him a legit offer and he’d be starting right now over the crap that some of these teams are rolling out. I guess he just wants to be stuck as a BUC on 1 year deals now.

                Hell, even our own Yanks didn’t get in on the 4 year thing. Instead, Chris Freaking Stewart for George Kontos.

                • steve (different one)

                  Ross signed a 2 year extension in July of 2010, without testing the market. Not sure how this applies to the yankees. He hasn’t been a FA in four seasons.

                  Like I said originally, he’s from GA. He never tested the market last time he could have.

      • steve (different one)

        Obviously, I don’t have all the answers. I have no idea what the guy would do.

        My point was that he’s ALREADY been eligible for free agency twice and twice signed with the Braves, the second time without testing the market.

        You are right, if the Yankees knocked him over, would he take it? He might. I have no idea.

        Just seems like the rare guy with different priorities than most.

        • RI$P FTW

          Maybe he has low self-esteem?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’m not sure about the Nets. I think a successful team right off the bat builds a fanbase, with the alternative in NYC being the thoroughly (at least to me) unlikable Knicks. It’s going to take a while, and some wins, for them to really win people over.

    The t-shirts are great. The politics around moving the team into Brooklyn have been crummy but, as someone who has actually collaborated with the team on their community efforts, the players themselves are doing a hell of a PR job to connect to actual real people in Brooklyn. After seeing them in action, I’ve gone from “no way in hell do I support this team” to absolutely cheering them on…..as long as they don’t get in my Heat’s way.

    • RI$P FTW

      I agree. I see some excitement (cool shirts, cool hats, new house, NOT being in Jersey), but I don’t know if the team made enough personnel changes to be a real threat.
      We’ll see. Maybe a playoff berth will help, but it might be tough to compete with the Yankees/Sox of the NBA.

  • J6takish

    In in the Extra 2% there is a chapter about the Rays employing said strategy against Mussina with some pretty stellar results. Joe Maddon rules

  • J6takish

    In in the Extra 2% there is a chapter about the Rays employing said strategy against Mussina with some pretty stellar results

    • steve (different one)

      Unfortunately, the game logs don’t seem to back this up. It looks like under Maddon, Mussina’s numbers against the Rays:

      10 starts, 58 IP, 6-3, 3.57 ERA

      It looks like this story comes from ONE bad start Moose had, in the middle of a bad season for him (2007). Maybe the Rays started a few extra righties, but all the damage was done by BJ Upton, Brendan Harris, and Dioner Navarro, all guys who were the regular starters.

      So did the strategy work, or did Mussina just have a bad game? Ditto with Danks?

      I’ve also noticed that the Rays are a .500 team without Longoria.

      I do think he is a good manager, but it also seems like a not insignificant portion of Maddon’s genius is that he can spell “Longoria” correctly on the lineup card.

      • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing w Balls and/or RI$P FTW)

        i remember a fangraphs article a couple years ago that slurped him up for his amazing bullpen work in an extra innings game on the road. he pitched his best reliever in the bottom of the 9th, and then… pitched his 2nd best reliever in the bottom of the 10th. you know, a very standard and obvious move.

        4 paragraphs about how genius and cutting edge this was, simply because maddon did it.

  • Reggie C.

    I dont think Hunter Pence is going anywhere. Phillies are “all-in” after the Hamels signing. There’s no real market for Lee since the money owed is extreme that only a handful of contending teams could consider it.

    That said when the Phillies dont make the playoffs, i fully expect Hunter Pence to be a very available trade target in the offseason.

    • YankeeGrunt

      Philly is 9.5 out with some very good teams between them and the WC. They’ve won four straight and that’s a pick-me-up, but Hamels is more about next season.

  • MannyGeee

    I might be in the minority here, but I think Swisher is EXTREMELY underrated. if people are going to throw names like Pence and Hart around, I think we have to consider the fact that Swisher is AT LEAST marginally better than both of them.

    I would say markedly better than Pence, but Pence is a hot name right now and it was percieved as a ‘big splash’ when the Phils got him last year.

    Yeah yeah, Swish ‘cant hit’ in October, and he goes into reallllllly ugly slumps, and he is ‘horrible defensively’, and ‘can’t be trusted in a big spot’ (all your words, not mines)… but I honestly would not spell him for any availible outfielder not named Justin Upton.

    jus sayin

    • Robinson Tilapia


    • YankeeGrunt

      Swish is a good player, but he is a couple years older than Pence and while Pence isn’t a speedster he was a double digit steals guy not long ago. You’re right, it is not that big a gap, but all things being equal I’d take Pence.

      • MannyGeee

        I honestly consider it a toss up (Swish has more power, Pence more speed I guess??) but all things are not equal. Considering the cost of prospects to get Pence vs just money for Swish, I would take the latter.

    • jjyank

      Probably a couple of non-Upton guys I would like more, but otherwise I 100% agree with this.

      • MannyGeee

        who are availible now via trade? I’ll bite…

        • jjyank

          I have no idea, I was just speaking generally. I want the Yankees to resign Swish when thinking about it not in a vacuum.

          • MannyGeee

            I feel ya. Agreed

    • BK2ATL

      I completely agree.

      I still think that if Ichiro finishes out this season well, he’ll be our 2013 RF. He’ll be significantly cheaper than Swisher, and will play a better RF. Offensively, we’ll lose power, but gain more speed.

      • steve (different one)

        You could be right, but I don’t see it. That would be punting power at 3 positions, assuming a similar catching situation.

        Ichiro fits into this OF with Swisher and Granderson, but not so much with Gardner and Granderson.

        That said, if Ichiro was willing to be a platoon player? Possibly, I could see that happening. Get a lefty masher like Cody Ross and piece it together that way. Perhaps…

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t think it has much to do with power. No reason to isolate power from other forms of production. It’s tough to be productive without power, but guys do it. If Ichiro were still in his prime putting up huge BA numbers, he would be fine in that OF. It’s just a matter of him not being that good anymore.

          • steve (different one)

            Well sure, if we were disussing prime Ichiro, things would be different. Even then, they *might* look to swap Gardner. It just happens that power is usually easiest to find at the corners.

        • BK2ATL

          I think that Swisher is the better player right now, but he will also cost much more than Ichiro and for longer. This is something that comes into play with an eye toward upcoming 2014 deal and knowing you will have to re-up Cano AND Granderson.

          I think if they can get Ichiro on a 1 yr deal at say $5-8 million (ballparking), Cashman and Girardi would do it. Girardi would prefer it, as he’d have both great OF defensive coverage and more speed in the lineup to do more things. Cashman would love it as it would give the kids another year to progress and delay the RF issue another year, in a pretty weak FA market. Jones could be signed on for another year as the 4th OF and DH.

          Ideally, if money weren’t the factor, I’d take a shot at this version of Melky Cabrera over Swisher over Ichiro. Younger and trending upward much better than the other two. Hits in the clutch. The fluke narrative has died after 1.5 seasons of high-level consistency. However, I don’t see anyway that SF lets him go and he will get paid very well.

      • Dan

        It’s hard to see them prefer Ichiro over Swisher just because then they have two outfielders (Gardner and Ichiro) that offer no power. The only way I think they do that is if they are looking forward to 2014 and Swisher will cost too much and keep them from keeping both Cano and Granderson.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’m not seeing that. I think the Yankees will want to have someone there who provides a bit more power.

        I don’t know the answer. I guess that’s why I currently expect Nick Swisher to be standing out there on Opening Day with a big shit-eating grin on his face.

      • Deep Thoughts

        Think of 2005-2006 Bernie, then imagine about a 20% steeper drop-off. Unless Ichiro has Jeter’s 2011 second half, he is done.

    • Brian S.

      No. Swisher is a good player but we need to try to get a high draft pick from him and we also need to move Curtis to RF. Ichiro could be signed for like 1 year-2 mil for next season and be just as valuable because of his defense. Or we could go the cheap platoon option or give Mustelier a shot.

  • thenamestsam

    It’s fun to talk up all these trade targets but I think the Yankees should, and will, basically stand pat. According to the Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds Report we have a 99%+ chance of making the playoffs and almost a 98% chance of winning the division. So if you upgrade the roster at this point it’s basically exclusively for the playoffs, and that’s such a crapshoot. The difference between Pence and whoevers playing time he’d be replacing (Ichiro I guess?) over a 5 game series is so small.

    It makes much more sense to make a trade if you’re fighting for your playoff life because two months gives a guy a real chance to make an impact. The Yankees aren’t in that situation.

    • jjyank

      Agreed. I definitely don’t want to see the Yankees make a trade for the sake of just doing something.

    • MannyGeee

      “The difference between Pence and whoevers playing time he’d be replacing (Ichiro I guess?) over a 5 game series is so small.”

      This. Textbook example of mortgaging the future for the immediate impact.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Which the team seems to be reluctant to do recently. I think if they make a move, it will be for a long term fit, not simply for this season.

    • steve (different one)

      Agree with all of this, but in Pence’s case, he would also slot into RF next year giving the farm until 2014 to produce an OFer.

  • http://Riveraveblues Austinmac

    This year’s Ichiro is far worse than Swisher. Swisher has value, but the team is not paying him big money to stay. They don’t have space in 2014. Make him them qualifying offer so at least they get a draft pick.

    • BK2ATL


      But I don’t think they’ll even make the qualifying offer, as he might take it.

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        If he takes the qualifying offer that’s good for the Yankees. He’s going to get far more than a 1-year $12.5 million deal.

  • Kevin G.

    Speaking of the Nets, if the Steinbrenners did the unthinkable and sold the team, I wonder if the Russian would pursue the Yankees.

  • Jim

    Hunter Pence would be an excellent addition and certainly worth a couple top prospects.

    Pence averages about 20 plus homers and 100 rbi’s over last 3 seasons while being around a 300 hitter. He is also a hard nosed big time hustler that is very popular with the fans and fellow players.

  • Bubba

    Corey Hart might be a good player for the day games, but the Yankees play an awful lot of night games. Those SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT are going to have a big impact on his performance numbers.

    Yeah… I went there.

    • steve (different one)

      i lol’ed

  • RI$P FTW

    What’s the Aramis Ramirez contract situation?

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    What’s the latest on Romine? Is he an option for 2013?

  • IWannaBeAHirokstar

    Sign Corey Hart purely because itnwillnallow us to make “Sunglasses At Night” jokes incessantly.

  • IWannaBeAHirokstar

    I meant to say “it will allow us” that’s mobile typing for you.