Mailbag: A-Rod, Dice-K, Rule 5 Draft

Maine leads Empire State to division title
8/31-9/2 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

I took it a little easy this week, so I only have three questions for you. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us mailbag questions or anything else.

(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

Roy asks: Do you think that Alex Rodriguez will be so rusty as to be useless between now and the postseason? I expect that he will take a long time to be back in sync. Just a gut feeling.

Useless is a pretty strong word, but I am definitely concerned about his hand injury lingering and negatively impacting his production when he returns. I don’t just mean being rusty, but not having enough time to rebuild strength in the hand. It’s not at all uncommon for hand, finger, and wrist issues to linger like that even after the break is fully healed. If you can’t grip the bat properly, you’re not going to hit Major League pitching. It’s as simple as that.

For A-Rod, the concern is even greater since it’s his left (bottom) hand. The entire front arm — shoulder, wrist, hand, etc. — is where the power comes from, and that’s where the injury happened. What’s the old saying, the bottom hand is the car and the top hand is the driver? If the car isn’t working right, the driver is irrelevant. Rust and not seeing live pitching for a while is just a small part it. If A-Rod has lost too much strength in that hand during the downtime, he might be physically unable to drive the baseball with the authority when he comes back, at least initially. That’s what I’m worried about.

Chris asks: If the Yankees bring Hiroki Kuroda back next year do you think it would be worth it to try and bring in Dice-K for one year at say $4-6M? Scott Boras might want him to take a one-year show me deal and I think Kuroda might be able to get through to him.

Oh hell naw. He’s coming off the Tommy John surgery now so pretty much anything he does this year can be thrown right out the window as far as evaluating him going forward, but Daisuke Matsuzaka’s been around a while and we’re all well aware of what he is. He nibbles and avoids contact to the extreme despite having the stuff (at least pre-surgery) to challenge hitters, which results not just in walks, but also hitter’s counts. Those are the real problem, not so much all the ball fours.

Dice-K isn’t all that young anymore (32 next month) and even in his best years he was a low-4.00s FIP pitcher. He’s also been an extreme fly ball pitcher (career 36.2% grounders) and when you combine that with the walks (4.29 BB/9 and 11.00 BB%) and Yankee Stadium, you’re looking at a lot of multi-run homers. An NL team with a big park like the Dodgers, Giants, or even the Mets makes a ton more sense for Dice-K as a player, who needs to rebuild his value on a one-year deal. Staying in the AL East won’t do that, no matter how buddy-buddy he is with Kuroda. This one’s a definite no for me.

Travis asks: Who is Rule V eligible next offseason?

Marshall via Mike Ashmore.

The general rule of thumb is high schoolers drafted four years ago (2008) and college players drafted three years ago (2009). There are some exceptions, like Corban Joseph. He was a high schooler drafted in 2008 but had to be added last season because he was a little older than most kids when he graduated. Anyway, the big name this year is right-hander Brett Marshall. I’m not his biggest fan but he’s a no-brainer, you add that guy to the 40-man roster. If the Yankees leave him unprotected, he’d be a candidate to go first overall in December’s draft.

The rest of the drafted player crop is highlighted by right-handers Graham Stoneburner and Mikey O’Brien, though I don’t think the Yankees should protect either. I have a hard time believing both could stick on a big league 25-man roster all season. Adding Ryan Pope or Addison Maruszak to the 40-man would be a huge reach as well. Both are having nice years in Double-A but aren’t actual prospects. Fringe guys all the way.

It’s always tougher to tell which international free agent signees are eligible because their exact signing dates are unclear. I’m almost certain outfielder Abe Almonte is Rule 5 eligible this winter and I’m really on the fence about him. He’s been solid in Double-A while batting injury (.353 wOBA) and is a speedy, leadoff type of center fielder. Utility man Jose Pirela may be eligible as well, but I’d have no problem leaving him unprotected. He had a solid year in Double-A overall (.365 wOBA), but he was repeating the level and it was basically just a great first half.

Ultimately, I think the Yankees should only protect Marshall this offseason (among the player that I know are Rule 5 eligible). Almonte, Pirela, O’Brien, and Stoneburner may be capable of helping the Yankees down the line, but they’re unlikely to next season. There are already too many players like that on the 40-man. Sometimes the best way to keep a player is leave them unprotected like Ivan Nova in 2008. He wasn’t big league ready so it was inevitable that he was coming back. Those four are in the exact same boat for me.

Update: Left-hander Nik Turley is the obvious one I missed. He’s Rule 5 eligible as well. Turley’s had a great season (3.36 FIP in High-A) but I think he’s in the exact same situation as Nova a few years ago. Solid pitching prospect but not ready to stick on a big league roster all season. I wouldn’t protect him but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees did.

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Maine leads Empire State to division title
8/31-9/2 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
  • DERP

    Does Turley get any consideration for the 40 man?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I wouldn’t add him until the team absolutely needs to and we truly think he’s ready for that next step.

      Considering what people seem to be saying about the guy is that there’s signs that he could be turning the corner into a potential impact prospect, that doesn’t sound like a guy who’s knocking down the MLB door right this second. Maybe after next season, or if he really hits overdrive and the need is there?

    • Ted Nelson

      As a LHP I think you might. Theoretically easier for a bottom-dweller with no plans of contending to keep him around all year as a LOOGY. Depends who you’re leaving/taking off the 40-man for him, but if possible I think you protect him.

  • Better off Eddard

    I’m not worried at all about Alex. You look at who we’ve got in his place, not Chavez, but the DHs we’ve had to run out there because of his absence- Pearce, McGhee, you can’t tell me an 80% Alex isn’t better than those clowns.

    Dice K would be a waste of a roster spot. I hope they give Phelps a chance. CC-Kuroda-Andy-Hughes-Phelps is a pretty good rotation.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Bullshit. That was Big Member asking the Dice-K question.

    Agree on protecting Marshall. Borderline on Almonte, but maybe it’s just Brian S. getting to me.

    • Travis L.

      I also agree on Marshall. I’d like to see both Almontes on the 40 man, as I think they could both turn out to be decent corner outfielders…with Mesa in CF. At least until Williams, Heathcott and Austin arrive. Does Pirela’s defense rank better than Nunez? That may be a reason to include him on the 40 man. Cut Pena. O’Brien is my prospect that I’m on the fence about. He seems to be well liked, but also seems inconsistant (at best).

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Do you think any of the guys you mention would actually stick on someone else’s 25 man roster all season next year, though? I highly doubt it. That’s the only reason why you’d protect them.

        • Laz

          If another team carried Pirela as a utility man then he could definetely hit. Assuming his defense at ss/2b is decent then it’s pretty likely, especially after his season this year.

          • Ted Nelson

            His defense at SS is why he doesn’t play there anymore.

            It’s certainly possible he hits in MLB right away, but one good AA season doesn’t exactly guarantee it.

            I’d try to get him on the 40-man. Might have 40 more valuable guys, though.

      • Ted Nelson

        I would bet against Mesa out producing Jones in MLB in 2013. Since Jones only costs a couple mill, I’d just have both around (Mesa in AAA).

        Pirela can’t really play SS. Don’t think Pena is on the 40-man anymore.

        • jjyank

          Agreed. Mesa will likely strike out a ton against MLB pitching. Might get better defense, but that’s probably it.

    • Slugger27

      big member is the old rainbow connection, at least thats what the IPs would indicate.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Oh, I doubt that.

  • JohnC

    Not crazy about Mesa. He’s got speed and power but has some serious holes in his swing. Strikes out an awful lot. Definitely don’t see him as an every day player but would sure prefer him to Andrew Jones next season as a righty platoon

  • Smart Guy

    i love it how noone mwntions pineida in their 2013 plans lol

    • JohnC

      thats cause nobody knows how he’ll bounce back. Shoulder surgery is very unpredictable. ALot more complicated than elbow surgery

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Exactly.

    • jjyank

      This sentence was…smart.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    If he’s not protected, Nik Turley is the next Jose Quintana.

    • Ted Nelson

      Sort of doubt he’d be starting in MLB next year. I could more see stashing him in the BP for a year to send him down the next year, ala John (not that I’m calling him the next Johan).

  • Wayne

    I would definitely protect Nik Turley, Brett Marshall and Mikey O’brien. Not protect Jose pirela, graham stoneburner or almonte. Nor would I protect Addison but protect corban Joseph and Melky Mesa . Leave Brandon laird unprotected . How many players can the Yankees protect before the draft begins and how many with each pick?

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      They can protect as many as they can fit on the 40-man roster. The 40-man roster doesn’t figure to have many open spaces available this off season.

      • RetroRob

        Is there a limit to how many players one team can lose?

    • Ted Nelson

      Guys on the 40 man are protected, so they can basically protect 15 guys not on the 25 man MLB roster.

  • RetroRob

    I’d protect Almonte before Mesa.

    As for Turley, he could very well stick as a bullpen lefty. I’d give him a better chance of staying a full year on a MLB club compared to Marshall.

    Looks like the Yankees will have some tough choices, although they’re tough because many of them are bubble guys. Thing is, probably one of them will turn out to be a contributing MLB player. Hmmm, which one?

  • j

    The entire front arm — shoulder, wrist, hand, etc. — is where the power comes from

    This is wrong. Power comes from coupling the back arm to the hip. The top/front arm directs the bat.

    • j

      Sorry, meant ‘bottom/front arm.’

  • Wayne

    Where is the full list of minor leaguers that are eligible?

  • Wayne

    I looked at 40 man roster and there is about 17 prospects they could protect. I would leave Michael Pineda and betances, Ivan Nova unprotected.
    I would protect Hughes,kuroda , Logan, Lowe , pettite ,phelps,Rivera ,Robertson, sabathia, soriano, wade,Martin ,Stewart,cano, cervelli, Chavez, jeter, Joseph, arod, texeira, nix ,granderson and ichiro. That’s 23 players leaving you with17 prospects you can protect. Leave romine unprotected. Protect prospects almonte, Mesa,o’brien , turley, ,Marshall,,Jose Ramirez , Rafael depaula, mason Williams , Ramon Flores , heathcott, tommy kahnle, nick goody, Gary Sanchez, Tim flight, chase Whitley, Tyler Austin and gabe encinas

  • Wayne

    I changed my mind on almonte wish I could have put Aldrich on the list but hey.