Mailbag: Cruz, Phelps, Ichiro, Jeter, A-Rod

Jeter on managing: "No chance. No chance. Nada. Zero. No, not a chance."
8/24-8/26 Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

It seemed like we got an awful lot of questions this week, but I picked just four for the mailbag. Keep sending them in though, one of these weeks I’ll do a rapid fire mailbag with like, 12-15 questions. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything at anytime.

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

J.R. and several others asked: With the bullpen not looking great, would Juan Cruz make sense?

I started thinking about this as soon as I saw that the Pirates had designated Cruz for assignment (he was officially released yesterday). The 33-year-old missed just about a month with shoulder inflammation but otherwise has pitched to a 2.78 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 35.2 innings for Pittsburgh this season. His strikeout (8.33 K/9 and 20.4 K%) rate was fine and his walk rate (4.79 BB/9 and 11.7 BB%) was high, just like every other season of his career. That’s actually his lowest BB% since 2006, if you can believe it. The fastball isn’t what it used to be, but PitchFX says he’s still running it up there in the 92-94 mph range.

Cruz has struck out just one batter in his last nine appearances (7.1 IP and 36 batters faced), which includes three appearances before the DL stint and six after. He’s struggled a little bit of late but nothing crazy. You do have to be skeptical anytime a team releases a reliever in favor of Chad Qualls, so perhaps the reason why he’s available is something we just don’t know as outsiders. The Yankees don’t have much bullpen help coming in September, so signing Cruz to a minor league pact with the promise of a September 1st call-up sure seems to make sense from where I sit. I guess it depends on the medicals more than anything.

Steve asks: Assuming Andy Pettitte returns successfully, what would David Phelps have to do the next month to win the postseason rotation spot over Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia?

This was sent in before Nova was placed on the DL, so let’s remove him from the discussion. The easy answer is that Phelps would have to pitch phenomenally well the rest of the season, and I don’t mean slightly out-pitch Hughes or Garcia. Those guys have track records and will get the benefit of the doubt. Phelps would have to pitch like Hiroki Kuroda has been of late, I mean completely dominating each time out. That’s not easy to do.

Obviously a lot depends on the ALDS schedule and who the Yankees would be playing in a potential playoff series, but right now I would lean towards Garcia as my Game Four starter. Both Hughes and Phelps have shown not just that they can pitch in relief, but that they can be true weapons out of the bullpen. As an added bonus, both would be in position to contribute multiple innings in relief. The fourth starter is marginalized in the postseason — quick hooks, starting only when absolutely necessary — and I would rather let Freddy be that guy.

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Donny asks: I doubt I am the first to bring up this idea, but with everyone working under the assumption that Nick Swisher is not re-signed, doesn’t Ichiro Suzuki make sense? I would think a one year deal worth $6-8 million would work with some kind of team option for 2014, no?

A few people asked this as well and I’m not really a fan of bringing Ichiro back. Maybe if they trade Brett Gardner this winter it would make more sense, but I doubt that happens. I’m not a fan of powerless corner outfielders — the Yankees would be lucky to get ten total homers out of Gardner and Ichiro next season if they’re both starters — no matter how much contact they make or how great their defense and base-running is. Having one guy like that in the outfield is fine, but two is really pushing it. If the Yankees let Nick Swisher walk, they’ll need to replace him with someone who can hit for some power, particularly against left-handers. That ain’t Ichiro.

Kevin asks: With all of the recent talk of Derek Jeter possibly breaking Pete Rose’s hit record, which do you think is more likely to happen at this point: Alex Rodriguez passing Barry Bonds or Jeter passing Rose?

Jeter is currently 999 hits behind Rose, so he’ll need another five or six really good years to become the all-time hit king. I’m talking 180+ hits a year on average until he turns 43 or 44. A-Rod, on the other hand, is 118 homers behind Bonds, which works out to another five or six really good years (20+ homers per season). Both seem improbable at this point but not impossible. I know which one I think is more likely to happen, but this question is screaming for a poll…

Which is more likely to happen?
View Results
Jeter on managing: "No chance. No chance. Nada. Zero. No, not a chance."
8/24-8/26 Series Preview: Cleveland Indians
  • Eddard

    Hughes showed what he can do in that game vs Sale. He will be the #4 starter.

    Ichiro will not be back. Swisher will be re-signed. Granderson will not be. Gardner will take over in CF.

    Jeter is more likely because he doesn’t break down as easily as Alex. There’s no evidence that Jeter is slowing down so why wouldn’t he keep playing? The Yanks can’t get rid of him without causing a PR disaster.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      He could keep playing, but 180+ hits over that long a stretch is another story altogether. I’m certainly not betting on that sort of production for that long a period, no matter what we see now, or even next season.

      • jjyank

        Yeah. I voted for Jeter in the poll, but to be honest I don’t think either would happen.

        • Eric Solomon


    • http://none Favrest

      Hughes is night and day. Toronto took his lunch money. I’m not sold on him.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I like Ichiro too, but I don’t like Gardner and Ichiro in the same starting outfield. Sweet Jesus.

    As for Alex/Jeter, I was screaming for the “none of the above” button.

    Potentially agree on Garcia/Hughes. I can see how “swingman” matters more than “fourth starter” in the playoffs.

    “Whatever” on fungible middle relievers, although I’m not opposed to bringing one in and dumping them if they don’t hit the ground running, which is all there’s pretty much time for at this point.

  • MannyGeee

    A Rod reaches Bonds before Jeter reaches Rose… well, because A-Rod is signed for another 12 seasons. 6 more seasons at 20+ homeruns? yeah, he’ll still be here…

  • Mike Myers

    Arod – 23HR avg over the next 5 seems probable no? If he hits 28 next year plus 2 when he comes back this year it would be 22 over 4 years exactly. Even if he is a bit short im sure he would stick around another year as a DH ala Thome and get a few more dingers.

    • Josh

      arod’s gonna stick around in a casket till he gets there

      • Mike Myers

        Thats what I think too…..

      • vin

        And I don’t think Jeter cares as much about passing Rose as Alex does passing Bonds.

    • Slugger27

      i dont think he’ll have another 23 homer season in his career, so i definitely don’t think he’ll AVERAGE that over the next 5.

      wouldnt surprise me if he kept signing 1 year deals til he got there though.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        So a 50 year-old Alex Rodriguez comes into the office saying, “I wanna sign for one more year. I only need five more…”

        “But, Alex, you’ve only hit two in the past two years….”

        “Yeah, but I’m almost there.”

        That’s where we’d need the Invisible Hand of Mo to come take Randy Levine away.

    • Mike

      Averaging 23 HR a season is an extremely tough pace for a 38 year old with an injury history. Even if he plays 140 games a season over those 5 years, I don’t think he would reach that. 23 hr over a full season seems like the player he is now. It’s really hard to predict that he will still be that player in 3 years.

      It’s a tough call. Arod is a better defender at his position than Jeter, but injuries might push him off the position sooner. They have the same numbers this year, but Arod seems like a more viable full-time DH option going forward. Jeter’s a year older, but he has durability on his side. Jeter also has very pronounced splits so he could go the Andruw Jones route and be a platoon DH.

      I voted Arod, but in writing this out I changed my mind. I think it’s probably Jeter. It also helps him that there will never be a time when he’s hard up for a job. The Yankees or some team will always be interested in having Jeter in his 40s. Even though I think it’s ridiculous as Arod seems like a very good teammate and mentor to younger players, I don’t think it’s the case that teams would be lining up to sign the 42 year old version of him.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’d be surprised to see him even reach 23 HRs more than a couple of times for the rest of his career. He’s just a very different guy physically now. It happens, just normally not at a gazillion dollars until 2050.

  • DM

    I’m not sure about the Phelps-needs-to-be-Kuroda-dominant theory. This assumes that Hughes and Garcia pitch well the rest of the way. It’s possible that Phelps could outpitch either without being awesome — and it’s not rare to try the hotter hand in a playoff scenario. The experience factor might help Garcia’s case but not Hughes. If Hughes is fumbling down the stretch, and Phelps is holding his own, I could see him being ahead of Hughes on the post-season starter depth chart.

    • jjyank

      Yeah, I agree with that. I think Phelps does need to out pitch Garcia and Hughes by a good margin, but he doesn’t have to be a borderline ace to do that. It’s all relative.

  • Luisergi

    I guess you can send Hughes and Phelps to the bullpen in favor of Freddy if (big if) Andy returns Dandy… If not, Hughes has to start game 3.

    There is no way Jeter reaches Rose, not happening. Not because he can’t, but because i don’t think he’ll hang around the league long enough to hit 4200 baseknocks (most likely wearing another uniform) while being a shadow of his former self, just to see his name on top of the list. On the other hand this is the kind of thing i could totally see A-Rod doing.

    Kind of reminds me of Mussina and Clemens to say something, Moose retired after winning 20 and having 270 total victories, one could say; “just hang another 2-3 years and you have 300 and your ticket to cooperstown” and he would just shrug. Clemens would’ve gone trough everything (literally) just to earn 300, and then 350 wins, afther his 270th.

    There is people who needs the apreciation (or records for that matter), and others who doesn’t need it that much, they “settle” with less, and i think they live paceful, knowing they did their best and actually acomplished quite a few things anyway.


    Good stuff , but i definetly don’t agree about ichiro.. I think hes just what we need next yr and has been a breath of fresh air having a guy who can just “HIT” at the bottom of the order.. Hes still a 20steal guy and with that short porch and being renergized playing for a contender, makes it a easy re-sign if i’m cash..

    Normally i don’t like holding onto guys a day later then u should, but i don’t put Ichiro in the same category as guys like Corey Wade, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Andruw Jones…etc We’ll get enough power, that we can handle 15-20 less dingers in a yr…

  • VCR1111

    Looking for people’s opinion on this. Why would having Ichiro in left and Gardy in center next year be a problem? Yes, the power would dramatically take a dip, but the speed on the team, and outfield defense would increase. Also, is it realistic to assume Ichiro could hit .270, OBP of .300 and Gardy hits .280 with an OBP of .340 (since he walks more than Ichiro)? They can swipe a combined 60+ bases and set the table for the top of the lineup. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Luisergi

      To have those two guys there there’s need for more power coming from somewhere else. Maybe Replacing Ibañez with Ortiz for 1 year?? I’m not saying i’d do it, ’cause i wouldn’t. But i think that’s the way to go if you want to have those two guys playing on a regular basis.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Ortiz would be even worse out there in the OF if you needed him in a pinch. I’d actually love to bring him in otherwise in the spirit of stealing Sox heroes, but he’d clog up that DH spot more than the team might need.

        I’d love to keep Ichiro. It just doesn’t work for me unless he’s at the point where he, and the rest of baseball, see him as a fourth outfielder. I don’t think that’s likely.

        • jjyank

          Haha I actually chuckled out loud at the image of Ortiz lumbering around left field.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Remember that map of the old stadium from yesterday? Now picture it.

            • jjyank

              Ortiz would have a heart attack by the end of the home opener.

              • VCR1111

                Apparently, Shin-Shoo Choo is available for trades this offseason. What would it cost for the Yanks to get him…maybe he could be a platoon DH/OF.

                • VCR1111

                  Shoo could be int he lineup everyday either as a DH or in the OF giving Ichiro a rest here and there. (Big assumption that we have chips to get Choo). One of my fav things to see in a blog…lineup possibilities!

                  SS Jeter
                  CF Gardy
                  3B A-Rod
                  2B Cano
                  1B Tex
                  RF Swisher
                  DH Choo
                  C Martin
                  LF Ichiro

                • Kosmo

                  I like Choo but he can´t hit lefties to save his life. He´s about on par with Swisher as a defensive OF. He runs better though. I could see him switching to LF moving Gardner to CF and trading Granderson and resigning Swisher.

                • ADam

                  Unless its a few high ceiling guys in A ball.. I’m not giving up any current A or B+ prospects for Choo

              • Mandy Stankiewicz

                What about Ichiro in the OF platoon instead of Jones for righties?

        • Luisergi

          I meant replacing him as the DH obviously, nobody wants Ortiz playing the outfield (you’d have Gardner, Granderson and Ichiro, plus a 4th outfielder coming of the bench), i don’t even want him in pinstripes. I was just sayin’

          • Mandy Stankiewicz

            FYI Ellsbury was just placed on waivers, along with the rest of the sox.

  • vin

    Neither is looking very likely, but I voted ARod. The odds of Jeter hitting like he has been this year for another 5 years seems virtually impossible. Especially considering he won’t be moving off shortstop until the day he retires… and his ability to play the position may very well terminate before his bat.

    As far as Alex goes… who knows? Maybe there’s a reversal of offense in the game, and home runs become more prevalent (for whatever reasons). I think it’s more likely that the offensive side of the game changes (benefitting ARod) than Jeter being great for another 5 years. That’s how little I think of his chances.

    • Laz

      Jeter would need at least 5.5 years without accounting for any decline, and by then would not be an everyday shortstop. Arod on the other hand need 118 homers. Arod is only 2 years removed from a million 30 hr seasons in a row. I think that expecting 50 hr out of him is gone, but I think that if he tries he might be able to give a few more 30 hr seasons. Should be able to get there in his next 6 seasons.

      Why this hr record is so hard, Its always tough for the player to stay healthy towards the end of their career. Bonds had it and so did Griffey.

  • Rich in NJ

    If they trade Gardner this offseason, it will likely be at a significant discount, so they might as well wait.

    • jjyank

      Agreed. I think the Yanks will get more value out of Gardner on the team than they would trading a guy who basically missed the entire season.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I’m also not a fan of powerless corner outfielders. This plus a catcher who can’t hit and letting Swisher go is a way to nowhere. I would sign Grandy to a 3 yr deal if he accepts and Swisher to a 3-4 year deal if he condones it. If we lose both, I don’t believe that we could be competitive in the next 2-3 years.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      The amount of bunting which would occur would lead to the need for a staff psychiatrist on here.

    • jjyank

      Yeah, I also don’t have much faith that this version of Ichiro can replace Swish’s production for 2013. That would be a big downgrade, in my opinion. I’m okay with letting Grandy walk though. Move Gardner to center and find a LF.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      May I add that in the six decades that I have been a Yankee fan, We have never, ever had two powerless corner outfielders at the sme time and perhaps Gardner is the only one I have seen (to my recollection).

      • MannyGeee

        In the Yankees’ defense, he just so happens to be a CF that was displaced by another (better-hitting) CF. Realistically, in batting order terms, Gardner would be your CF and Granderson your LF, but here we are.

  • Kosmo

    I think Jeter will surpass Musial by the end of the 2014 season and then retire. Arod is in a noticable decline, sad but true, I think he´ll not hang around much longer and will negotiate a contract settlement with NY and retire with his dignity still somewhat in tact. I say they retire together after the 2014 season. Catching Ruth might prove to be an ordeal for Arod, that´s at least 3 more years. If he can continue to hit around .270 there is a slim chance he might stick around to the bitter end, but if he falls of a cliff say to .235 – .240 he`ll hang them up.

    • MannyGeee

      Bless your heart… You still think Alex has any shame or dignity. No no no no no no no no… he traded those off right around when he started dating Madonna.

  • hogsmog

    I don’t mind Arod trying, because it probably won’t be with this team. Jeter on the other hand seems like he’d want to do in a Yankee uniform, and just might be able to trick the front office into it if he has another good season…

    Please, I don’t want a 44 year old Omar Vizquel who can’t field. *shudder*

  • CS Yankee

    I’ve always liked Arod, but was much more a Jeter fan.

    Arod has a much better chance, IMHO, as he is inked during the duration needed and cold see a 30 (or two) season in front of him.

    Seems to me that Jeet has more desire to play everyday but needs it to be at a high level, Arod wants the glory of being the man on the top of, what use to be, the most glorious record in all of sports.

    I’m thinking Jeet ends around (or just short of) Hammerin’ Hank & Arod ends about there as well.

  • Rocky Road Redemption

    I think:

    . Swish is resigned

    . Freddy is the 5th starter in the playoffs with Phelps as long man/emergency spot starter

    . A-Rod will break the homer record but Jeter isn’t touching the hit record.

    • Dave M

      do u mean 4th starter? No one uses a 5th starter in the playoffs.

  • RetroRob

    George Kontos would be great to have right now, but I understand that any time a team can trade useful bullpen arm for a downgrade at backup catcher, you have to take it.