Mailbag: Haren, Dickerson, Rangers, Trout

Morrow shuts Yankees down, Jays take opener
Thoughts following the series opening loss to the Jays

Six questions and five answers today, so we’ve got a good mailbag this week. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box to send us questions throughout the week.

(Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty)

Vinny and many others ask: If the Angels are serious about not picking up Dan Haren’s option, should the Yankees be all over that?

Earlier this week there was a report indicating that the Angels plan to decline Haren’s (and Ervin Santana’s) club option for next season and instead pursue a monster extension with Zach Greinke. Haren, 32, is nearing the end of his worst full season as a big leaguer, pitching to a 4.32 ERA (4.30 FIP) in 29 starts and 170.2 innings. He’ll fail to make 33 starts or crack 210 innings for the first time since 2004, when he was with the Cardinals. Blame the lower back stiffness that led to his first career DL stint.

Based on Twitter these last few days, fans of every single team want their club to pursue Haren if the Angels do indeed decline his $15.5M option. Haren is from Southern California and has made it no secret that he prefers playing on the West Coast, so right away the Yankees are at a disadvantage. It’s also worth noting that his strikeout rate is in the middle of a three-year decline, and his fastball velocity has been heading in the wrong direction for years now. That second link is particularly scary. The back issue scares me as well, especially if the Halos do cut him loose. It’s the whole “what do they know that we don’t?” thing. Haren has been a great pitcher for a long time, and that alone makes him worth looking into. There are a number of red flags however, so any team interested in signing him will have to really do their homework.

Travis asks: Is it safe to assume that if we only carry three starters on the post season roster, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova will have a role on the team out of the bullpen? I’m also assuming the three starters go to CC, Hirok!, and Dandy Andy.

The new playoff system and schedule really discourages the use of three-man rotations, since everyone would have to pitch on three days’ rest after Games One, Two, and Three to get away with it. CC Sabathia can do that (assuming the Yankees actually get into the postseason), but I’m not sure Hiroki Kuroda or Andy Pettitte could. I expect the Yankees to use four starters throughout the postseason, and right now the number four guy is clearly Hughes. Nova pitched himself out of the job these last two months or so.

Now does that mean Nova would automatically go to the bullpen? I don’t think that’s a given. Assuming the Yankees only carry eleven pitchers into the postseason (they could get away with ten, but I doubt it happens), four will be the starters and four other spots are accounted for: Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan. That leaves three spots, one of which I assume will go to Clay Rapada. The candidates for the final two spots would be Nova, David Phelps, Cody Eppley, and I guess Derek Lowe (veteran presents!). Phelps seems like a given in this situation, then you’ve got your pick of the other three. I guess that decisions comes down to who throws the best the rest of the way, but frankly I would rather see the Yankees carry an extra position player in that situation, especially if Mark Teixeira‘s calf remains an issue.

Steve asks: Are the Yankees more likely to go with a iffy Brett Gardner or Chris Dickerson on the playoff roster? Can they fit both?

Ben asks: Don’t you think Chris Dickerson needs to figure into the Yankees big league plans in 2013? At least as a 4th outfielder? This guy is a great fielder and base runner and had a useful bat. Much rather have him over another Andruw Jones-type. What say you?

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Might as well lump these two together. If the Yankees do make the playoffs and use an 11-man pitching staff, they’ll have room for an extra bench player. That spot tends to go to a speedy pinch-runner type (think Freddy Guzman in 2009), a job for which both Gardner and Dickerson are qualified. Gardner is the better player, but he also is physically unable to hit right now. I have a hard time thinking the Yankees will carry someone on the postseason roster that can’t even swing the bat in case of an emergency. Maybe that changes and Brett is cleared to take his hacks at some point in the next six days, but that doesn’t seem likely based on everything we heard for the last four months.

As for next year, Dickerson’s situation depends largely on what happens with Nick Swisher. If they let him walk, then the outfield need will be greater and they should hold onto him. If they bring Swisher back, having a left-handed outfielder on the bench doesn’t make a ton of sense. I’m probably the biggest Chris Dickerson fan you’ll find, but he is just a platoon player at the plate. More of a high-end fourth outfielder than an everyday corner guy on a contender. As much as I would like him to see him stick with the club going forward, Dickerson isn’t a great fit for the roster right now.

Shaun asks: Hey Mike, do you know who would have home field if the Yankees and Rangers tied for the best record? Thanks.

The Yankees are currently two games back of Texas for the best record in the AL, and New York would get the nod as the top team in the circuit if they tie because they won the season series 4-3. They won’t play a tiebreaker game or anything like that, that only happens when the division title or a playoff spot in general is on the line. So yeah, the only thing the Yankees would have to do to secure home field advantage in both the ALDS and ALCS would be to finish with the same record as the Rangers, nothing more.

(Jeff Gross/Getty)

Steven asks: Mike, not sure if you’re aware, but Mike Trout is good at baseball. I was wondering, hypothetically speaking of course, if the Angels were to make him available, what sort of haul would he bring? Do you see his value getting any higher than it is right now? And, finally, what sort of package would the Yankees have to piece together to get these hypothetical talks started?

I don’t think any player in baseball has as much trade value as Trout. You’re talking about a just-turned-21 kid who has already shown he can play at a superstar level. He hits homers, steals bases, hits for average, gets on-base, and plays great defense at a premium position. Plus he remains under the team control for five more seasons, the next two at the league minimum. It’s impossible to top that, and I don’t think he could possibly increase his trade stock unless he agrees to like, a ten-year contract worth $25M or something ridiculous.

There’s no way for the Yankees to acquire Trout even if he was available. What do you start the package with, four years of CC Sabathia and one year of Robinson Cano while offering to pick up the bulk of the money? I wouldn’t take that for Trout. Offer me Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and a guaranteed to be healthy Michael Pineda and I still would say no if I were the Angels. If the Giants come calling and put both Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner on the table, then yeah that catches my attention. The Yankees don’t have anything to get a trade done, I just don’t see how it would be possible. I don’t think Trout can replicate this season (or even improve on it) year after year, but he’s going to be great for a long-time. At his age and with that much cost-control remaining, he’s the single most valuable asset in the game.

Morrow shuts Yankees down, Jays take opener
Thoughts following the series opening loss to the Jays
  • djyank

    aardsma not in running for last spot in postseason pen?…better than eppley (and of course cody is better than nova)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Not a chance. I don’t want someone a week into his TJS recovery on the post-season roster.

      • jjyank

        This. Not the time of year to be rolling the dice like that. If Aardsma looks like the first version of Joba we got when he came back, he won’t be useful at all.

        That said, I’m excited to see what he can do in 2013.

    • forensic

      I agree Eppley’s been bad for awhile, but how does one inning from Aardsma, including a homer and a walk, tell you he’s suddenly better to take for the postseason???

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Going by Mike’s breakdown, if the choices are Eppley, Nova, Phelps, and Lowe for two bullpen spots, I’d say one is easily Phelps, but that there’s much more than a non-zero chance the second goes to Eppley.

        Nova, at least, adds some versatility, and shorter spurts with his current issues could potentially work to his advantage.

      • MannyGeee

        by way of Veteran Presents, of course

        • Robinson Tilapia

          “Circle of Trust” versus “Veteran Presents.” Who wins?

          • MannyGeee

            my binder says presents… but my heart?? My heart says Circle(TM)

            • Robinson Tilapia

              Heart and mind say that the Circle of Trust seems to come with presents of their own and that those presents may, in fact, be nicer.

  • nsalem

    I think Trout will improve immeasurably next season. He will play winter ball, has a weight lifting regiment program all set and will be taking maskable PED’s. I predict an over .400 average and he will break Bobby Bonds HR record. He is also working on his defense and by spring he will be able to jump over 8 foot walls. MLB is planning on installing sky cams just for him to verify if he makes these over the fence catches before he hits he ground.

    • Adam Parker

      What IS Bobby Bonds HR record anyway?

  • handtius

    can you imagine if trout had fallen to the yanks? jeeze. the outfield would be amazing. brett, trout and swish (my preference). the big side of the field would never give up triples, barely any doubles and you still have power from your centerfielder, but with a high ave. bastards.

    • JohnnyC

      If Trout were in the Yankees organization he’d still be in High A Tampa, probably recovering from a dislocated shoulder that he got slipping in the shower. Brian Cashman would then remedy this situation by ordering new shower shoes for everyone. Then they’d convert Trout to third base so he could replace Chavez as ARod’s caddy. Ultimately they would trade him to the Mariners in order to reacquire Hector Noesi, who would then become the 8th inning guy setting up our closer, Boone Logan.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        You forgot Minnie Mantlez.

        • nsalem

          Trout is also taking track lessons from Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The real ones!!! Not the ubber-witty all time commenter. He plans to run the 100 yard dash in the 2016 Olympics.

          • Travis L.

            Says the guy who thinks Trout will break Bobby Bonds’s HR record?????

      • mike cutler

        Too true

    • Drew

      In your scenario, the outfield for this year should be Granderson LF Trout CF Swish in RF and in 2013 it would be Gardner LF Trout CF and Granderson in RF.

      Though if you wanna get really crazy, Gardner could be included in a package for Justin Upton with your 2013 outfield being Granderson LF Trout CF and Upton RF. Thats a tune we can all dance to.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I think Gardner gets the nod if healthy, point about hitting notwithstanding, just because I think Girardi will give seniority the advantage. I guess its possible he’d be kept on the sidelines for the first round, but I just don’t see it as likely. I get while some folks won’t like that, but I also get organizations rewarding their regulars, etc.

    I don’t get why Dickerson doesn’t get full-time fourth outfielder consideration. I don’t think he’s an everyday, or even platoon guy, but he’s, at least to me, slightly above journeyman status. I’d really love to see some real consideration given to him in 2013.

    I’d love to have Haren but, yes, let’s be wary. I wonder what Peavy’s relative value would be as well.

    • MannyGeee

      “I think Gardner gets the nod if healthy, point about hitting notwithstanding, just because I think Girardi will give seniority the advantage”

      Dickerson is older than Gardner. jus sayin.

      and all told, expected price considered, I would rather Peavy.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Didn’t mean “seniority” literally. I meant that Gardner is the starting leftfielder if everyone is healthy, therefore he’d be given the spot even if at 75% or whatnot.

        • MannyGeee

          yeah, i know. just being a dick because its a rainy friday and I want to be anywhere but this cubicle.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I could have taken the full day off instead of the half day I asked for, but I had a conference I didn’t want to miss and hadn’t had weekly supervision with one of my staff yet. Guess what? Conference cancelled and staff called out sick. Wife also has the car in CT which meant taking the subway out into the hood.

            On the other hand, prep for the Jay-Z show tonight seemed to be going well.

  • the Other Steve S.

    Didn’t the Angels delay Trout’s callup partly because they were using Abreau? That’s got to look like the worst wasted month in the history of baseball right now.

  • Reggie C.

    It arguably took Arod nine seasons to surpass the offensive benchmark of his awe inspiring age 20 season; at least from a wRC perspective. It shouldn’t surprise or disappoint fans to see Trout have a return to mere All-Star caliber play instead of All-Time-Great play.

    • OldYanksFan

      This is true. No matter how great Trout has been this year, we really need another few years of sample size to get a handle on ‘just HOW great’ he will be. But no doubt, the kid has all the tools. The question is how the league adjusts to him, and if someone can find a hole in his swing.

  • Cuso

    It’s admirable that you try to answer as many questions as possible.

    But to answer some questions is just a waste of keystrokes and your time no matter how many times people ask it. The last question falls into that category.

    That’s a question where the only viable answer is to crack someone upside the head with a blunt object for even bothering to ask it.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      “That’s a question where the only viable answer is to crack someone upside the head with a blunt object for even bothering to ask it.”

      And that blunt object, of course, would be Melky + IPK.

    • jjyank

      Haha pretty much. Besides him costing too much for pretty much everyone, I can’t see why in the world the Angels would trade him in the first place.

  • JohnnyC

    Mike, your email must have been mixed up with Mike Francesa’s.

  • Vinnie Gagliano

    If the Angels plan to decline his extension could the Yanks trade for him after the seasons over and exercise his option?

    • Slugger27

      the angels would have to pick the option up first. otherwise he’d just be a free agent.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    holy crap, i just realized that there is a chance for an epic bizzaro world yankees collapse. exactly a year ago, the yanks were playing the rays and didn’t care if they won (that was the one and only time i was happy to see the yankees lose). the rays were playing for a wc/play in game. the red sox were playing the o’s for a chance for the wc/play in and the o’s just played spoiler. if the yanks somehow lose the lead this weekend to the o’s, the red sox could be playing that same spoiler role, while the o’s play for nothing and the rays play for the wc. i truly hope it gets nowhere near this, because i know buck would love to see the o’s screw the yanks, even indirectly. additionally i will be at the game on wednesday and am not sure i could handle that situation. please win the next three yankees.

  • vin

    The Yankees missed their chance on acquiring Haren. He’s far less attractive now than he was a couple years ago.

    • Mister D

      Like when he was more clean shaven?

  • Mister D

    More of a high-end fourth outfielder than an everyday corner guy on a contender.

    What about as the strong-side platoon on a contender, assuming Swisher walks? Good defense, good speed and his line against righties (.270/.354/.426 career) is solid enough that, if you can find his mirror image RHB, you’ve probably formed 80% of Swisher at less than half the cost and without a long term commitment.

    (One guy worth considering, if Seattle just wanted to get out from under his moderate-but-too-high-for him contract, is Franklin Guitierrez. Hits righties really well and plays elite OF defense. Otherwise, my guy Cody Ross is a nice FA fit.)