Mailbag: Denorfia, Brown, Corbin, Kemp

Thursday Night Open Thread
Yankees sign David Robertson to one-year deal, avoid arbitration

Four questions and four answers this week. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.

(Justin Edmonds/Getty)
Denorfia & Guzman. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Travis asks: Do you think a trade with San Diego for Chris Denorfia could work? Denorfia had a .337/.390/.500 slash line with 15 walks and 16 strikeouts in 178 at bats against lefties in 2012.

Denorfia, 32, has very quietly emerged as one of the best right-handed platoon outfielders in baseball over the last few seasons. Since joining the Padres in 2010, he’s hit .281/.339/.423 (115 wRC+) overall and .323/.388/.468 (142 wRC+) against southpaws. He rarely strikes out (9.9 K%) against left-handers, can steal the occasional base, and grades out as average or better defensively in the corners. Denorfia would be a fantastic target for that righty outfield platoon bat role, but the Padres just signed him to a two-year extension and I doubt they’re looking to trade him.

Now, Denorfia is not San Diego’s only right-handed platoon bat. They also have 28-year-old Jesus Guzman, who’s hit .276/.339/.439 (118 wRC+) overall as a big leaguer and .311/.387/.509 (150 wRC+) against lefties. He doesn’t make as much contact as Denorfia (16.0 K%) and he won’t steal as many bases, but he draws walks (10.4 BB%) and can play all four corner positions while also filling in at second in a pinch. Guzman was a bit of a late-bloomer who didn’t stick in the show until 2011.

While Denorfia just received his new contract, there was actually some talk the Padres might non-tender Guzman a few weeks ago. I was planning to write a Scouting The Market post the very next day had they cut him loose. Instead, they’re going to bring him to camp and see how the bench shakes out. If there’s no room — San Diego has a ton of bench players to sort through in Spring Training — they could trade him or just option him down to Triple-A for depth. Denorfia would be nice, but I think there’s a much better chance of Guzman actually being available at some point. Needless to say, the Yankees should have interest in both.

A few people asked: What about Domonic Brown?

It’s that time of year again, huh? The Phillies continue to show no interest in giving the 25-year-old Brown a legitimate chance, this time signing Delmon Young (!) to play right field everyday. Not only are they not giving him a chance, but now they’re slapping him in the face in the process.

Anyway, I’m pretty much over Brown at this point. He didn’t look so hot during his 212 plate appearance cameo last summer (.235/.316/.396, 91 wRC+), plus he played awful defense. Like, maybe he should be a first baseman defense. Brown is out of options, meaning he’ll have to go through waivers to go back to Triple-A, plus the Yankees don’t really have a need for another left-handed hitting outfielder. I suppose there’s the DH spot, but meh. The Phillies did Brown no favors by jerking him around these last few years, but at some point we have to assign some blame to the player as well. I’m at that point and wouldn’t give up much of anything for him.

(Justin Edmonds/Getty)
(Justin Edmonds/Getty)

Justin asks: With the Diamondbacks loaded on young pitching, should the Yankees try and pry away Pat Corbin from them?

Corbin, 23, was part of the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels a few years ago. He made his big league debut last season and pitched to a 4.54 ERA (4.00 FIP) in 107 innings spread across 17 starts and five relief appearances. The strikeout (7.23 K/9 and 18.9 K%), walk (2.10 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%), and ground ball (45.7%) rates were all pretty strong. Certainly a solid showing for a rookie.

The Diamondbacks added yet another young arm yesterday, getting Randall Delgado in the Justin Upton trade. Delgado, Corbin, and Tyler Skaggs (another part of the Haren trade and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball) will compete for the team’s fifth rotation spot in Spring Training. The two losers will go to Triple-A and serve as depth. Kevin Towers is a pitching guy and will stockpile arms until the cows come home.

Baseball America (subs. req’d) said Corbin “projects as a No. 4 starter” before last season because he doesn’t light up the radar gun and none of his offspeed pitches is a true swing-and-miss offering. He’s almost like a left-handed (and slightly younger) David Phelps. That’s someone who is nice to have, but not someone you go all out to acquire. Corbin would be nice to have in stock come 2014 after Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes all hit free agency, but I think the Yankees should use their trade chips to acquire a bat first. That’s a much more pressing need.

Tucker asks: Back in the 2010-11 offseason, there was speculation of a Robinson Cano-for-Matt Kemp trade. In hindsight, would you have made the move?

I’m pretty sure that was much earlier than 2010-2011, no? I thought it was during the 2008-2009 offseason, after Robbie had his awful year. That’s usually when fans conjure up trade scenarios for players, after their down seasons. Anyway, I remember the idea was to trade Cano for Kemp and sign Orlando Hudson to take over at second base.

I was all for that trade at the time (not so much signing Hudson, but I digress) because I thought Kemp would turn into a star (he has!) and Cano would settle in a solid second baseman (he’s been much, much better than that). That was back when the Yankees were looking at replacing both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui in the near future, and before they acquired Nick Swisher or had seen what Brett Gardner could do in a full season. There was a need for an outfielder and I was all for such a trade.

Now, looking at this in hindsight is another matter. Cano’s been the better hitter (138 vs. 135 wRC+), the better defender (by a mile), and the healthier player (again by a mile) over the last four seasons. Kemp has the advantage in base-running (by a mile) and in terms of contracts ($21M vs. $39M). Despite the significant difference in salary, I would have not done that trade in hindsight. I valuable durability and Cano never ever misses a game. But, as I said, I was all for it at the time and it’s not like Kemp is chopped liver either.

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Thursday Night Open Thread
Yankees sign David Robertson to one-year deal, avoid arbitration
  • mike

    i was all for a cano-cain swap about the same time

  • trr

    Mets sign Shaun Marcum…the Mets….

    • Barry

      And your point?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        The Yankees should sign all the players, expect for when they do, then they’re bottom-feeding.

        • Barry

          Yeah you’re right. Well no oje better beat us to cPavano or I’m going to the Astros!

        • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

          You sentiment is generally correct but in this instance, it would have been a good signing. On a 1 year deal, there’s a pretty good chance he’d be better than either Nova or Phelps in the 5th spot.

          Mike has been an advocate for signing Marcum for quite some time if I’m remembering correctly.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            I thought Marcum was a good idea as well, but there plenty of “good ideas” out there. Not all of them are going to happen, or even can happen.

            I actually like that he’s a Met. As someone who’s liked Marcum since he was a Blue Jay, I can still watch his starts and follow him closely.

            • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

              Now that he’s a Met, I wish him nothing but the worst. I’ll root for a Met right after I root for Al Queda.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Really? I’m surprised.

                I have zero ill will. Too many good friends love the Mets as much as I love the Yankees.

                • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

                  Living through the 80s when the Mets were great and all we had was Donnie Baseball forever jaded my view of the Mets. I despise them and was rooting like hell for the Red Sox to beat them in 1986.

                  If they played the Red Sox in the WS this year, I really don’t know who I’d root for but I think I might again lean towards the Sox.

                  • LK

                    I was born in the late-80s, so the Mets have never really been anything more to me than the team the Yanks beat in the 2000 WS. I can’t really imagine rooting for the Sox after the year-which-shall-not-be-named, but I can imagine that after a period where the Mets were awesome and the Yanks were bad might change my perspective.

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      I have a good friend who’s a Sox fan, but she can go fuck herself come gametime.

                    • jjyank

                      Yeah, pretty much that R-Tils. I have a ton of Sox fan friends, but no punches are pulled when they play each other.

                    • Herby

                      My pharmacist is from Boston and a Sox fan so I’m very careful and don’t wear any Yankee gear or berate the Sox anytime I pick up any meds. I do want to live till the next day.

                  • Robinson Tilapia

                    I remember ’86 when, suddenly, half the kids in class started wearing Met hats. Back then, sure, it hurt, but I was 12. A lot of things unnecessarily hurt back then.

                    In 2013, if the Mets were in the WS, and the Yanks weren’t, I’d be there rooting for them with everything I’ve got. It means too much to people I love dearly.

                    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

                      If the Mets were playing against aliens for the survival of the human race, I’d have to root for the aliens.

                      The Mets and a handful of football teams like SF, Pittsburgh, Giants, I could never, ever root for no matter who I loved rooted for them. They’d deserve to be disappointed for picking such a despicable team

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      That’s not me, but at least you’re making me laugh my ass off here.

          • Jim Is Bored

            I think he would have been a good signing too, but there was no guarantee that he’d make the rotation. I can’t blame him for signing with the Mets.

            • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

              True, if he’s trying to rebuild his value, coming to the AL east to a launching pad like YS3 probably wasn’t his best option while playing in Yosemite, I mean Citifield likely is a better option.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Especially if he also wants a good burger.

            • MannyGeee

              Exactly, if he signs with the Mets he will bounce to the top of the rotation. With the Yankees, he’s fighting with the Nova/Phelps/Hughes faction for a spot near the middle to bottom of the rotation.

              In other words, great idea for the Yankees, maybe not so much for Marcum.

          • Barry

            His FIP of 4.10, avg fb of apprx. 86, and lots of fly balls and line drives(75%) turned me off enough. I just don’t see him as a worthwhile risk, especially when we have plenty of depth that could at a minimum match him. That being said he does know how to pitch and I wouldnt of been pissed if he became a Yankee but not when we have more glaring needs.

    • jjyank

      Maybe Marcum wanted to pitch somewhere with an open rotation spot?

      • LK

        I think if Marcum is healthy he’s good enough to be in the NYY rotation for sure. For the long term interest of the team it’s probably better for Nova and Phelps to get as many starts as possible though.

        • jjyank

          I’m not saying the Yankees couldn’t make room for him, just trying to remind people that free agency is a two-way street. Maybe Marcum preferred a less complex situation. Maybe he likes the NL better. Who knows?

          • LK

            Yeah, all that stuff is certainly possible; I was just saying that I don’t think he really had to worry about having a spot in the rotation if he’s performing like he usually does. Given that he’s taking a 1-year deal to re-build value, pitching in YS3 as a righty probably wouldn’t have been the best idea.

          • Jim Is Bored

            “Maybe he likes the NL better”

            I think that’s a point people don’t think about during free agency. If I’m a pitcher, of course I’d rather be in the NL, all things being equal.

            • jjyank

              Especially on a “rebuild your value” type deal like LK mentioned above. Why attempt to rebuild your value in the AL East in a hitter-friendly park?

    • MannyGeee

      ZOMG teh METZ!!!!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Thankfully, others are more up on the inner workings of the Padres roster than I am. :)

    It does goes to show, though, that guys who can function in that platoon situation are more than we think, and that the answer does not necessarily need to be in hand right this second. I understand how this is a bit more “heart in throat” than other seasons, but there really is still time to improve the 25-man roster before Opening Day. Lots of it.

    The 2008 paralells are starting to hit a bit more, although I do see the differences as well. The “I prefer to stand pat rather than make moves just to make moves” really is hitting home right now.

    • LK

      The scary part to me regarding the 2008 parallels is that in 2008 they were gearing up for their biggest spending spree ever (granted, they didn’t actually raise the payroll because they had such a tremendous amount of dead money coming off the books). This year, they’re gearing up to shave the payroll by a significant amount. Their margin for error is smaller for 2013 than most recent years, but it’s next year that has me really worried.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        2014 versus 2009 is absolutely the biggest difference, and definitely what I was referring to when I mentioned the differences above.

        Still, the number of moves I wish they wouldn’t have skipped out on is probably smaller in my book than it is in some other folks’ books.

        • LK

          To me, the only non-move that’s really an issue is that they didn’t do anything with catcher, whether that was re-signing Martin or Pierzynski on a 1-year deal (as much as I don’t like him personally) or some type of trade. Anything else I think is perfectly defensible since we have no idea what it would’ve taken from system to get Upton.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            And I actually think it’s some different moves, but none of which I think can’t be figure out in other ways still.

            I miss Chavez. I think there was a move for Swisher that could have been made. I liked the idea of Schierholz.

            The C situation isn’t great….at all….but I can’t say I feel markedly worse right now than I did going into 2011 with the non-tendered Russell Martin replacing Jorge Posada. I feel worse, but it’s not as mountains worse.

            • LK

              I guess I felt better about C in 2011 because A. the position had considerably more upside even if the downside was equally bad and B. they could afford a black hole at C more so than they could this year. Obviously B doesn’t directly relate to quality of the catching situation, but it definitely affected how much concern I had over it.

    • Barry

      Yeah but platoon players can handcuff you if injuries set in. I think we have some peices that can contribute. If not then the trade dedline is only like 6 months away lol. One year deals are a must though.

    • Ted Nelson

      I definitely think the hype about a RH OF is overblown on here because the Yankees still have a really strong roster and their fans need something to worry about.

      I’ve been saying for a long time that a RH corner OF is about the easiest thing in MLB to find.

      Ichiro also has a reverse split on his career, Gardner’s split isn’t that great, and while Granderson has a huge split he’s not necessarily unusable against LHP. Finding that Thames or 2011 Jones would be a nice boost, but ultimately I think it’s more marginal than most are making it out to be. And easier to find.

  • Bronx Bomber23

    Still bummed we didn’t get Morse. I think he would have been the perfect fit.

    Still think Cashman has something cooking on the back burner, but I could be fooling myself. Lot of holes still left to fill.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Lots?

      Catcher, maybe another bat? What else?

      We can always use more pitching but I wouldn’t call it a need.

      • LK

        Well, C and DH, plus the 4th OF. Having 2 starting spots open this late in the offseason isn’t exactly typical for the Yankees. (Whether they fill C internally or not, it’s definitely open.)

        • Robinson Tilapia

          As recently as five years ago, they went into Spring Training with two rotation spots open. Now that didn’t go well, but it did, in fact, happen.

          DH isn’t really “open” if folks will be rotated through it, plus additional DH slop.

          Yeah, it’s different than recent years. That’s for sure. You can’t have that forever, though. Not even on the Yankees.

          • Barry

            If youk stays healthy I can imagine A-twat being primary DH to limit his wear and tear. Hes not going anywhee anytime soon so they have to be easy on him. There aren’t really any big upgrades at C available so our two holes aren’t anywhere like 08 like you said.

        • Jim Is Bored

          But the DH isn’t really open; we’ve shown that we like to have that spot to rotate our aging roster through. And once ARod is back, we’ll need that for Youk/Tex/Arod/whoever else needs to DH.

          C is really the only open spot, and all the Yankees actions thus far have shown that they really don’t think it’s open.

          Calling either of them open starting spots is tenuous at best.

          • LK

            Just because they’re not going to fill the spot doesn’t mean the spot isn’t open. If you want to say that catcher is filled because they’re going to put a warm body that’s already on the roster there, sure go ahead because at that point we’re really just debating semantics.

            Even if they’re rotating DH, they clearly need another bat for the roster. Even Hal, who at least publicly looked at the offseason about as optimistically as you possibly could, admitted that. I suppose it’s possible that they’ll roll with Dan Johnson for that spot, but he’s played so little recently it’s hard to know how that would go.

            • Jim Is Bored

              We’re only debating semantics inso far as whether the Yankees are looking at that spot is open. Every action this offseason has shown that they don’t think it is.

              • LK

                I guess it depends on whether we’re discussing which spots are open or which spots the Yankees are likely to fill before the start of the season. I would put C in the first group but not in the second.

                • Jim Is Bored

                  We’re talking across each other, I think.

                  But it’s such a minute difference it’s not worth continuing. Obviously I agree we’re weak at catcher, even though I think we disagree with the FO on exactly how weak.

                  • LK

                    Yeah I think we’re on the same page.

    • Blake

      Soriano could service as a poor mans Morse I guess if Theo will get real on a price and eat enough money so that it doesn’t affect 2014 significantly. He hits righties and lefties enough to be a primary DH and could spell Ichiro in RF vs lefties…..Theos asking price would need to come down though and he’d need to eat most of the money….don’t know if that’ll happen

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Do we really consider Mike Morse to be that good that Alfonso Soriano is a poor man’s version of him, though?

        From being traded for A-Rod to being the poor man’s Mike Morse. Old age sucks.

        • Jim Is Bored

          I’d probably rather have Soriano for 1 year than Morse for one year. Even at the same price.

          • Blake

            In 2011 Morse was a 147 OPS+ bat…..that’s better than any season Soriano has ever had and Soriano will be 37 this year…..there is more potential for impact in Morse’s bat but he’s also hurt more and a worse defender than Soriano in the outfield

            • Jim Is Bored

              Soriano, still, despite being 37 is a better defender and a better baserunner. I don’t think Morse is going to repeat his 147 wrc+, I think a 120-130 wrc+ is much more likely based on his track record. It’s still better than you’ll get from Soriano, but I’m not convinced that baserunning and defense won’t make up the difference.

              • Blake

                That’s fair….but at the moment the reports are that Theo wants real prospects for Soriano and can’t see the yanks doing that

                • Jim Is Bored

                  Agreed, I was just saying that I can’t describe Soriano as a poor mans Micheal Morse.

                  • Blake

                    Ok….we will say an alternative then

        • Blake

          Well Soriano isn’t lot older and doesn’t hit for as much average….if healthy I think Morse is a better hitter right now yea. The biggest issue with Soriano is that his contract runs through 2014…..so that money would be on the books for CBAaggedeon.

          Theo would need to eat enough money so that the AAV is 5 or less for the Yanks to even consider it and even then they may not want to go there

          • Blake

            Is a lot older i mean

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Also, Cano/Kemp as an example of why you shouldn’t plant your feet too firmly on the ground when looking at projections and basing your opinions on them.

    • Blake

      Cano has been a better player than Kemp to this point…..but Id probably take kemp from here forward simply because he’s younger and is signed to a reasonable long term deal whereas Cano is not……of course that has nothing to do with the question asked in the email really

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I prefer Cano, but a good half of that is pure homerism.

        What I was referring more to is that, when one says the Yanks have to make this move OR ELSE, OR ELSE is pretty likely not to happen.

      • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

        Kemp though had some pretty significant damage to his shoulder and had a labral repair so who knows how he’s gonna come back.

        • LK

          The history of second basemen in their 30s is pretty terrifying though. Cano’s good enough where he might buck the trend, but history isn’t exactly on his side.

          • Jim Is Bored

            Yeah I can’t say I’d be completely distraught if the Yankees went a different direction, especially if Cojo or Adams can show that they can handle an MLB 2B starting gig.

          • Blake

            That’s mostly because historically most second basemen never could hit much to begin with.

            Cano’s age and his approach at the plate worry me more on a big contract than the position he plays

        • Herby

          Odds of Cano staying on 2nd long term are pretty slim, but I’d been hoping for Kemp. Can we do a manager swap if this non-existant trade could ever happen as well? If Cano asks for too much I just don’t see him staying long term, I don’t think fans have embraced him to the point that they’d be horror stricken if he were to leave.