Mailbag: Grilli, Ross, Villanueva, Peavy, DH

Ichiro & Swisher slam Jays as Yanks finish sweep
9/21-9/23 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics

Got five questions for you this week, including three already looking forward to potential offseason roster moves. Aren’t you people excited about the pennant race and a potential postseason run? We’ll have more than enough time to toss roster moves around in winter, trust me. Anyway, please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send up anything, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

Kyle asks: Hi Mike, I’m sure you’re going to get asked this a few times now that MLBTR wrote about him, but any interest in picking up Jason Grilli in the offseason? What potential contract could he get?

Obviously the future of the bullpen is going to depend a lot on what happens with Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera after the season, but I think either way the Yankees should look into bringing in a free agent reliever to shore up the middle innings. That doesn’t mean dumping three years and $30M on someone, but I do think they need someone better than Cody Eppley to hold down the fort until the Chase Whitley and Mark Montgomery types are ready.

As the MLBTR post explains, Grilli is missing a ton of bats (13.58 K/9) and otherwise pitching extremely well (2.91 ERA and 2.95 FIP) after what amounts to a career of mediocrity. His strikeout rate has been trending up for years, so it’s not like this is completely out of the blue. Even though he’s 35 and will be 36 in November, I think Grilli will still be able to find two guaranteed years on the open market at like, $4-5M per year. I’d rather see the Yankees bring someone in on a one-year deal rather than start committing 2014 payroll to middle relievers. Grilli’s a good pitcher worth discussing, but I don’t think is price will matchup well for New York.

Anonymous asks: Do you see the Yankees pursuing Cody Ross this off-season to possibly replace Nick Swisher? He might be able to fill a need against lefties, and is said to be looking to play for a “winning team.” Thoughts?

No, I hope not. He’s a right-handed dead pull hitter, which plays great in Fenway Park (152 wRC+ home) but almost nowhere else (86 wRC+ road). Sure, Ross can definitely hit lefties, but he isn’t much against righties and he’s a poor defensive outfielder. He has decent range and can run some balls down, but he’s also one of the most fundamentally unsound players you’ll ever see. Can’t play the wall properly, misses the cutoff man or just flat out throws to the wrong base, dives when he should be keeping the ball in front of him … it’s brutal.

I’m sure Ross and his agent will be looking to parlay his big career year into a multi-year contract and a full-time job somewhere, which is not something I want the Yankees to get involved in. He’s not a great fit for the ballpark, not a good fit defensively, and likely to sign a contract that is far too lucrative for for the light half of an outfield platoon. One-year and $3M for the Red Sox was a great deal, but someone will get sucked into two or three years at $8M+ this offseason. Just watch.

Travis asks: If Hiroki Kuroda goes back to Japan and Andy Pettitte re-retires, could the Yankees sign guys like Carlos Villanueva or Jake Peavy (with their success in the AL) as two or three-year guys in the rotation?

(J. Meric/Getty)

Yeah, if the Yankees are unable to bring at least one of Kuroda or Pettitte back next year, they’ll definitely need to sign some kind of stopgap starter. I’m a big Villanueva fan but you have to be skeptical about his ability to make 30 starts and throw 200 innings next season just because he’s never done it in his life. I’d love him as an overqualified fifth starter/swingman, but a) some team will give him a full-time rotation slot, and b) the Yankees are going to need more than that.

Peavy is interesting, and yesterday we learned that the White Sox are likely to decline his $22M option. The concern here is health more than anything, but he’s held up well this season and has certainly pitched well in a tough ballpark. In a perfect world the Yankees would find another one-year, $10Mish stopgap starter this winter, but Peavy will end up with more than that, probably fro the White Sox. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t look into signing him, it’s just tough to answer because I have no idea what his market will be. Two years and $30M? Three years and $36M? I don’t have any idea. But yeah, if Kuroda and Pettitte walk this offseason, the Yankees will definitely be in the market for a veteran innings eater.

Anonymous asks: With interleague play becoming an everyday reality next season, how will that affect the DH issue going forward?

It won’t. The number of interleague games did not change, they’re just spread out throughout the season now rather than localized in June. So now instead of playing nine games in interleague parks in the span of two weeks, they’ll be spread out and played at various points of the season. If anything, it will actually helps the Yankees because they can just sit their DH for a few games at a time rather than worry about losing a big bat for a longer stretch of time. I still expect them to have some kind of DH rotation next year, especially with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira getting a year older.

Travis asks: Have you heard any recovery news about Cesar Cabral, Brad Meyers, Jose Campos or Manny Banuelos? I’m just wondering if those guys are going to be ready for Spring Training 2013 and if so, what are the Yankees going to do with Cabral and Meyers?

Joel Sherman confirmed the other day that Banuelos will pitch in winter ball this year and be healthy in time for Spring Training. I believe his former Mexican League team still controls his winter ball rights, so he’ll probably spend the winter pitching there. Don’t quote on my that though. The last we heard about Campos was that he was slated to participate in Instructional League, which will start any day now. If he does that, I assume he’ll be healthy in time for Spring Training.

I haven’t seen a single update on Cabral (elbow) or Meyers (shoulder) since they suffered their injuries in camp. Since neither guy spent 90 days on the active roster this summer, the Rule 5 Draft rules will carry over to next season. I get the sense that the Yankees will just cut Meyers whenever they need a 40-man roster spot this offseason, though the Cabral situation is a little different because he’s a two-time Rule 5er. I explained that whole thing back in March. Maybe the Yankees can leverage his injury into a minor league contract instead of a big league deal, but either way I think he’ll be on the 40-man chopping block this winter if a spot is needed. That’s a shame, he was pretty impressive in March and had a very good chance of winning the final bullpen spot over Clay Rapada.

Ichiro & Swisher slam Jays as Yanks finish sweep
9/21-9/23 Series Preview: Oakland Athletics
  • Better off Eddard

    We’ll probably see Nunez filling in for Jete and Alex in the field while those two older players DH. Nunie can also DH himself and be a better option than Andruw. I don’t like Peavy. I think we should just go with CC, the 3 kids-Nova, Phelps, Hughes, and one fill in. If both Hiroki and Andy want to come back we can slide Phelps to the pen even though he should be starting. I would trade Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero in the offseason.

    • CS Yankee

      Pineda has absolutely little trade value, Montero slightly more. Let the past go, and move onward.

      Pineda ceiling is much higher than a young DH that (NYY) deem that he can’t catch. Those spots are needed for the ever case of the aging IF & guest AARP-OFer.

      Hopefully Pineda is on the bump come June, 2013 for the Yankees.

      • Jim Is Bored

        Pineda has much more value to the Yankees than any other team, at this point.

        • Ted Nelson

          How so?

          • Jim Is Bored

            Because his upside as a 1/2/3 starter is still real. But as an injury risk, he’s not gonna bring back something equivalent to that in a trade.

            • Ted Nelson

              Not sure if I buy this logic. His value going forward is whatever a particular team projects it to be. Without knowing the value different teams place on him, it’s pretty tough to say how the Yankees’ value compares to other teams’ values.

              His value to the Yankees isn’t a 1/2/3 starter or whatever, and the value to another team lower than that. It’s those outcomes times the expected probability of getting to each. Same for any other team. So, his value to any team just depends on the probability they assign to him reaching whatever levels you want to break it down to.

              • Laz

                But if you try and sell pineda now, most teams will assume the recovery from injury is not coming good.

      • jjyank

        Yeah, Pineda isn’t getting traded for anyone. But you know, EddardWorld and all.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Honestly I didn’t even read who wrote this. I really should have been able to tell.

          • jjyank

            It’s pretty uncanny how he manages to have the first post in almost every thread too. You probably don’t need to look at the handle. If it’s the first post and it’s saying something ridiculous, it’s going to be Eddard 95% of the time.

            • RetroRob

              It is impressive, and by impressive, I mean sad. He must sit on RAB hitting refresh all day long.

              • Laz

                Is that wierd?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          It’s not happening, but would you take a mulligan on that one if you could?

          • jjyank

            Probably. But it’s hard to say without knowing how Pineda comes back from the injury.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I am such a closet hater with that trade, I must say.

              • RetroRob

                Understandable how it turned out.

                If it will make you feel any better, we have since confirmed that Montero’s catching is substandard. There were some who would argue that Posada wasn’t a great defensive catcher too (which was true, especially later in his career), but the fault with that position is the belief that all substandard defensive catchers are created equally. Some are acceptable, and some are quite bad. Montero is in the latter and he hasn’t shown any progression.

                Of greater concern is the one thing that made Montero a top prospect was his hitting abilty. For the first time in his pro career that skill is under some question. He’s young and this is his first full year, so he may figure it out. Yet we don’t know. He maybe turn into a DH against lefties, who can fill in at catcher and first base. (Unless he can figure out RH’ers and breaking pitches away, he’ll never hold down a position at first.)

                So removing the emotional attachment we all had to Montero, would I trade the potential upside of Pineda as well as Campos for a player who may only be a part-time DH? I think the answer is no.

                • Ted Nelson

                  Why are you stressing the positives with Pineda and Campos, but the negatives with Montero? It seems like you have an emotional attachment to the guys on the Yankees now.

                  I could just as easily phrase it “would I trade two Ps on the shelf with serious injuries who may never pitch in MLB (again in Pineda’s case, ever in Campos’ case) for the upside of a power hitter a couple of adjustments and a better ballpark away from breaking out and a healthy MLB P who might at least be a decent reliever? I think that the answer is yes.”

                  I’m not crying that he’s gone based on this year’s results, but Montero’s wOBA is .334 away and .255 in Safeco. In YS3 for a full year with his opposite field power he might have the reverse split and be seen as a very promising young hitter ready to break out big next season. (He’s also playing an unfavorable number of games in Oakland being in the AL West… not many games in Fenway, etc.)

                  As I say below, I don’t think the trade was unreasonable. But one can certainly argue that it was good or bad at this point. The Yankees took a big risk by trading hitting for pitching given the frequency of pitching injuries relative to the frequency of top hitting prospects developing into good hitters, so while they got unlucky in year 1 it also came with the territory.

          • Ted Nelson

            Anytime a P has a shoulder injury he hasn’t come back from yet I think you’d have to take a mulligan if you could (though I have no idea of the extent of his injury or long-term repercussions, guys like Clemens and Schilling came back and dominated after injuries that are classified similarly).

            Montero and especially Noesi bombing this year makes the opportunity cost so far a lot less than I expected it to be. (I say especially Noesi because they’re in a P friendly park in a somewhat P friendly division… so Montero’s struggles might be less in YS3, but Noesi’s would likely be greater.) I still believe in both and especially Montero, but the mulligan would be more appealing if they were killing it.

            • RetroRob

              That makes sense. Yet if we could go back in time with knowing what we know what we do today, I wouldn’t trade Montero for Pineda, but I would trade him for some young starting pitcher. I believe Montero will figure out his issues with righties, but I’m not sure he will, so his status has dropped.

              Noesi? I thought for sure he would post an ERA no worse that 4.00 in that park. Surprised.

              • Laz

                I really didn’t think he was anything that I would worry about losing. I didn’t think he would be this bad, I thought he would at least lock down the end of that seattle rotation with maybe a 4.3-4.5 era.

    • Ted Nelson

      Would be surprised to see Nunez at 3B much. His blunders at 3B were the reason he was demoted to concentrate on the middle IF.

  • Matt :: Sec110

    Re: Kuroda – have there been talks about him going back to Japan?

  • Mister D

    … but he’s also one of the most fundamentally unsound players you’ll ever see.

    “I have no idea what that even means.” – Shane Victorino

  • Reggie C.

    Peavy on a two year deal is palatable especially if we’re facing a situation where the team could lose both Pettitte and Kuroda. Pettitte’s performance has been a great story that hopefully carries on thru the post season, but at his age the expectation that he’d be able to maintain his stuff over a full season is unreasonable. Kuroda hopefully has his mind made up quickly on whether to sign another 1 year deal or hang’em up. I’d hate to lose out on a chance of bidding on Peavy (who’s really re invented himself after the TjS) simply bc guys couldn’t make decisions.

    • MannyGeee

      I like Peavy for 2/20. I betcha he’ll want to try his hand at the FA market, as he never has before. especially considering he’s losing $22M in an option, he might be looking to maximize his financial opportunity.

      • Reggie C.

        Peavy will cost more than 10M per. Younger than Kuroda and a proven AL performer probably makes Peavy’s asking price closer to $15M. In my opinion, an assumed $15M price tag isn’t prohibitive since the organization simply doesnt know what it’ll get from Pineda, but then again its not my money.

        • Ted Nelson

          Peavy isn’t particularly likely to hold up for a whole season himself. This is the first time he’s done it since 2007 or so. Obviously you’d have to examine the medicals more closely, but there’s a big risk that you’re buying high with him.

          I don’t know if I’d put his chances much higher than Pettitte’s. It’s not like Pettitte has had any serious arm problems, it was a freak liner to the ankle. Guys who make it to 40 healthy and productive have put up productive seasons after 40.

    • Laz

      I am still sruprised how young peavy is. 31, but he has been around forever and has been attempting to come back for 6 years now.

  • Cesar “Stairs” Cabral

    *extends middle finger*

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Kuroda seems like a loyal guy who enjoys going year-to-year and did very well here. Since the 2013 budget is not a mandate, he should be back.

    Pettitte returned because he had the itch to play, and we may have gotten ‘lucky’ like we did with Rivera in that the injury will make him want another season.

    A 2013 rotation of Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes, Nova, Phelps with Banuelos and Pineda returning is perfectly fine.

    A bullpen with Rivera, Robertson, Chamberlain, Aardsma, Logan and some guys like Cabral, Montgomery and the usual NRIs will be fine as well.

    Big decisions on offense are where the team needs to focus.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Assuming one of Kuroda/Pettitte come back, the 3 through 8 of your pitching depth is Nova, Hughes, Phelps, Banuelos and a returning Pineda. Young, and cheap, as it should be.

    The main decisions are the outfield/Cano.

    Not a fan of paying older, more expensive relievers at this stage. I’m an advocate of the 189m budget, so we are going to have to scrimp and use our younger players for 6th inning guys and bench spots.

    • The Moral Majority is Neither

      I’d be ok with Nunez and Chavez on the bench. I’d like a Martin/Shoppach catching tandem (both on 1-year deals) and could live with an interesting platoon in RF if that was the best short-term option.

      • Mister D

        A Martin/Shoppach tandem is one of those worse-than-the-sum-of-its-parts deals with both having strong weak-side splits for their careers.

        • Mister D

          And by that, I mean less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts. Because worse makes no real sense there.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s a good point, but the C options out there are fairly scarce. The best available option might not end up being ideal in a vacuum.

          • Mister D

            I’d argue that makes it not even the best option. One of those guys, whichever loses LHP PAs, would be expected to have a bad year. May as well let Russell get 500 PAs and carry a true defensive backup.

            • The Moral Majority is Neither

              You need two catchers and they like Martin’s pitch framing. I’d rather have another guy who can hit, since Martin himself is really a defensive catcher.

              • Tom Morea

                Martin was not such a defensive catcher last night with two passed balls!

              • Need Pitching & Hitting

                David Ross?

            • Ted Nelson

              Neither has to get less PAs against LHP as a % of their total PAs. Depends on how they are being used now, but you don’t have to use one against LHP and one against RHP. You can just use one, say, 3 games a week and one 4… and over a large enough sample they’ll both see the same % LHP as a normal starter might.

              It’s tough to talk about the best option when we’ve literally identified one option, and we don’t even know the cost of that option. A great defender might provide comparable or greater value than Shoppach, but he might not. You have to consider exactly how much better defensively, worse offensively, and more or less expensive you project that guy to be.

    • Ted Nelson

      $189 million budget doesn’t come into play for 2013, outside of long-term deals. They can sign some depth on one year deals without worrying about the $189 million budget. I doubt they’ll make big P splashes (unless maybe all 4 FAs jump ship and they’re not huge on the recovery chances of some injured guys… or maybe if a real ace type is available at a reasonable enough price), but some veteran depth would be nice. If the young guys are worth spots, they’ll earn them.

  • jesse

    I must have missed the news on Banuelos. Either way, good news nonetheless. It’s hard to still not like him as a prospect and I hope all goes well this winter for him. I’m still hoping, or dreaming, that he’ll be ready for his big league debut by mid-season 2013.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    Sort of afraid to ask but…anything further on Pineda?