Jan
04

Mailbag: Pollock, Kennedy, Jackson, Draft

By

After nursing from the mailbag teat during the holidays, it’s time to get back to the once-a-week Friday morning mailbag setup. I’ve got four questions for you this week and entirely too many words worth of answers. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Davis asks: Now that the Diamondbacks have signed Cody Ross, is there a chance that they will trade someone like A.J. Pollock? He bats right, has showed solid doubles power and seems to be pretty good on defense. He might make some sense for the Yankees, even if only as depth in case of an injury.

The D’Backs have a ton of outfielders. We all know about Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, and Ross, but they also have Adam Eaton (117 wRC+ during his September call-up) and Pollock. The 25-year-old Pollock hit .247/.315/.395 (83 wRC+) in 93 plate appearances with Arizona last season, his big league debut. Prior to that he hit .318/.369/.411 (105 wRC+) in 471 plate appearances in the hitter friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Baseball America ranked him as the team’s sixth best prospect before the season, and here’s a snippet of what they had to say in their subscriber-only scouting report

First and foremost, he’s a blue-collar player with great makeup and excellent instincts in all phases of the game. He’s a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter who squares balls up consistently and produces lots of doubles. He could develop 15-homer power once he gets stronger. He makes contact so easily that it hampers his ability to draw walks. Though he has just average speed, Pollock is the system’s best baserunner … He’s solid defensively at all three outfield positions, making good reads in center field and displaying an average arm … Though some scouts see him as a fourth outfielder because he isn’t loaded with plus tools, the Diamondbacks envision him becoming a solid regular.

Because he was added to the 40-man roster just last year and didn’t accumulate a full season’s worth of service time, Pollock has two minor league options remaining and all six years of team control. He didn’t have much of a platoon split in the minors over the last two seasons and his big league performance tells us nothing, but either way it’s still too early to pigeon-hole him into the right-handed half of a platoon.

Pollock is a (much) better prospect than Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte, and he also provides more roster flexibility than Chris Dickerson, so yeah the Yankees should definitely be interested. I like his chances of sticking as a regular by 2014 much more than I do Mesa’s or Zoilo’s, that’s for sure. Prospect-for-prospect trades don’t happen very often because teams are like parents, they all love their own kids more than everyone else’s. I’m not sure what the D’Backs need at the big league level at this point or if they’re even willing to move Pollock despite their glut of outfielders, but he would certainly be a fit for New York.

Mark asks: Doesn’t Adam Kennedy make some sense to fill an Eric Chavez-type role? He also has the benefit of playing played 2B (a lot) and the outfield (a little).

Kennedy, 36, is opening a baseball academy in Anaheim but is not officially retiring and remains open to playing according to Alden Gonzalez. He hit .262/.345/.357 (97 wRC+) in 201 plate appearances for the Dodgers last season while missing more than a month with a groin strain and playing primarily first, second, and third bases. It was his best offensive season since 2009 and second best since 2005, thanks mostly to a career-high walk rate (11.4% in 2012 and 6.6% career) that I really can’t explain. His plate discipline rates didn’t change and he only had eight total plate appearances as the number eight hitter (ahead of the pitcher), so who knows.

As a left-handed batter, Kennedy hit righties pretty well last season (107 wRC+) but not over the last three seasons (85 wRC+). He does put the ball in play (14.4 K% and 86.1% contact rate) and offer some versatility (mostly the non-shortstop infield spots), which counts for something. It’s not much, but it’s something. If Kennedy is willing to leave Southern California and take a minor league contract, sure, bring him to camp a la Chavez in 2011. I can’t imagine guaranteeing him anything though, this isn’t some former star with upside.

(Greg Fiume/Getty)

Damix asks: Given the uncertainty of next year’s market for Phil Hughes, do you think signing Edwin Jackson to the same contract he received would have been a smarter plan for the 2014 budget?

The Cubs officially signed Jackson, who is a little less than three years older that Hughes, to a four-year deal worth $52M earlier this week. That’s $13M annually and the going rate for a slightly better than league average starter. Jackson has been consistently solid over the last four seasons even though his ERA has fluctuated wildly, plus he’s a workhorse who will provide 30+ starts and 180+ innings no questions asked. I think he would have gotten more money had a) his velocity not dropped more than a mile-an-hour last season, and b) he not had a brutal September (6.54 ERA).

Hughes, on the other hand, has been anything but consistent and a workhorse. He’s managed two league average seasons in the last three years and has a chance to make it three in four years before hitting the open market next winter. Hughes has a longer injury history but has done it in the AL East, in the tiny ballpark, and in the postseason (outside of the nightmare that was the 2010 ALCS), and that kind of stuff pays in free agency. If he repeats his 2012 season in 2013, I bet he winds up with a deal closer to Anibal Sanchez’s than Jackson’s given his age.

Anyway, back to the actual question. I’m not a huge believer in Jackson but that is definitely a fair price in my book. I think he’s been overrated because his stuff says he should be an ace, but the last half-decade of performance shows he’s coming up short. He’s a classic “we can fix him” guy, especially at that age. The Yankees are going to need to plug a few rotation spots next winter and Jackson would be a nice guy to have around, but I’m not losing sleep over it.

Jeff asks: Are the Yankees setting themselves up well for the future with the MLB draft? They have four picks in the first 65. Looking ahead to 2014 the Yankees will likely have at least 2-6 picks depending on what happens with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Kevin Youkilis. Those draftees won’t impact the team for 4-6 years, but is this a good way for the Yankees to focus on the farm?

As soon as Rafael Soriano signs somewhere, the Yankees will own three of the first 35 picks in this year’s draft and four of the first 65-ish picks (obligatory Draft Order page plug). That would change if they re-sign Soriano or sign one of the other compensation free agents (Michael Bourn, Adam LaRoche, Kyle Lohse), but I don’t see any of that happening. The Yankees have had three of the first 100 picks just once twice in the last nine years (2008 and 2012), nevermind four of the top 65(-ish).

Based on last year’s slot values (which are expected to increase this year), those top three picks will all be worth seven figures and that’s huge as far as the draft pool and spending restrictions go. The Yankees have to start doing a better job with their high draft picks, it’s imperative given the new system and the team’s desires to curtail payroll. It’s too early to know much about the strength about this year’s draft class, but that’s irrelevant really. There is always talent available and they’re going to have some major bucks to spend in the first round. I think it’s fair to say this coming draft will be the team’s most important since 2006, when they were in desperate need of farm system help (and knocked it out of park with that draft haul).

As for the 2014 draft, I wouldn’t count on those extra picks yet. The Yankees would surely make Cano a qualifying offer, but Granderson, Kuroda, and especially Youkilis are far from guarantees. Given the impending payroll slashing, I don’t think the team would risk that much money in qualifying offers even if the players are worth it. Remember, the offers won’t be $13.3M again next year. They’ll go up since they’re based on the average of top 125 salaries. We’ll worry about that draft a year from now.

Categories : Mailbag
  • mike

    This is what it must be like being a KC or Seattle fan…. absolute joy over draft picks

    • kenthadley

      It’s what being a Yankee fan was like back in 1966 to 1974….after that, George took command and the draft was meaningless until the early 90’s.

    • LK

      The fact that there are some Yankee fans who now think they know what it’s like to be a KC or SEA fan is why all other fans hate Yankee fans.

      • mustang

        Wow!!

        So ture.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’m trying to quote Pulp’s “Common People” here, but it’s not psting. Look up the lyrics.

      • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

        Remember that the championship years brought in a LOT of people that didn’t sit through 1989-1992. There were also a lot of people that jumped on the bandwagon in 1996 and don’t even know how the team got there. Not to mention the younger fans that aren’t old enough to remember those years. I won’t even mention those that sat through 1965-1975. Anyone who thinks this current team is in any way similar to K.C. or Seattle is clearly either too young to remember what that’s really like and/or became a Yankee fan in 1996.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I think they definitely make Granderson and Hughes qualifying offers and of course Cano but I think Cano resigns with the Yanks so next year they most likely will have those 4 picks as well as there is no-one next year worth giving up a pick for.

    • Paco Dooley

      I agree – no way do they not make Granderson and Hughes qualifying offers, even with the risk against the salary ‘cap’. Neither would take that offer unless they either suck in 2013 (and hence wouldn’t’ get an offer anyway) or they believe that the draft pick compensation will dramatically hurt their value (I’m looking at you Mr Soriano).

      • trr

        Granderson is a goner, and should be. Hughes? unsure at this point. Cano? The Yanks want to re-sign him, but at what price?

        • MannyGeee

          All teh prices!!!

  • MannyGeee

    Why would Arizona trade a guy like Pollack? he has options and potential to do something for someone in his career. Kubel I get (textbook “spare part” guy), Upton I get (classic “cash in on the golden ticket” guy), but Pollack is a stash guy all day long.

    • MannyGeee

      GODDAMMIT. I just Romaine’d mysefl

      POLLOCK the ball player, not POLLACK the fish.

      (fun fact: both spellings are acceptable for the fish per Merriam Webster)

      • jjyank

        #celerycap

        • MannyGeee

          With Romaine and Pollack on the roster, Ceaser Cabral in the pen and the impending celery cap, this could be the healthiest and most profitable season in Pistripes in a long time.

          Just sayin

          • http://www.thewallbreakers.com Scully

            Youkilis isn’t happy, but this all makes sense knowing Girardi’s clubhouse healthy food tactics.

            #nobeerforyouk

          • Robinson Tilapia

            This makes me long for a player named “Beef.”

            • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

              Bring back “Chicken” Stanley.

            • Gonzo

              “Olive Oil Can” Boyd

      • trr

        long as u didn’t mean Jackson Pollock…
        btw, he’s available

        • Jimmy

          How many Pollacks would it take to end this thread?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Give this man a standing ovation.

    • Havok9120

      Yeah, I agree. I’d like to have him, but I really see no reason for them to trade him without getting a good return.

      • Betty Lizard

        I pray we get Pollock so we can carp.

        • Gonzo

          This made me laugh.

        • Fish

          I prefer Trout rather than Pollack

          • The Doctor (formerly known as G formerly known as Matt Smith fornerly known as David Tennant formerly known as etc)

            Just since you mentioned Trout, I’m trying to figure out how someone could trade for Trout, and I’ve come to the conclusion that even if all 29 teams pooled their resources they’d still have trouble unless they were giving away multiple superstars and eating the entire salary. I just don’t see any group of prospects that could net him. Maybe Stanton+a bunch of right on the cusp prospects would do it.

            Anyway, I’d be open to Pollock. Sure why not.

      • Vern Sneaker

        Right, and no doubt we’ll get asked for Sanchez, Williams, et. al.

        • Ted Nelson

          I doubt it

    • Ted Nelson

      They don’t have to trade him, but they might trade him to fill a hole or get a prospect Towers liked in the Yankees’ system. Even if they trade a Kubel or Upton, they still might trade Pollock, as he still might be their 5th OF. Depth is great, but if you can trade someone who looks like nothing but depth going forward for someone you expect to use, that’s probably a move you make.

  • http://twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Drew

    I would really like it if the Yankees locked up Hughes now. They are definitely going to need the pitching going forward.

    • Dan

      Why? He is a homer-prone pitcher in a homer-friendly park. I would rather they make the qualifying offer for him and collect the draft pick when he goes and signs somewhere on the west coast. I think the Yankees would only sign him long-term after the season if it looks like Pineda has no chance of starting in 2014, or Nova and Phelps both look like they are not going to be able to stay in the majors during 2014. I think they will offer qualifying offers to both Kuroda and Hughes and Kuroda will take it and Hughes won’t.

      • http://twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Drew

        Proven AL East pitcher, if he puts up a similar year in 13 as he did in 12 that’s 3 good years and he would be entering the prime of his career. The HR are a problem but there aren’t many other options in FA from what I can tell.

    • Ted Nelson

      Needing a P and needing Hughes specifically aren’t really the same thing.

  • Buhner’s barber

    “As soon as Rafael Soriano signs somewhere, the Yankees will own three of the first 35 picks in this year’s draft and four of the first 65-ish picks (obligatory Draft Order page plug). That would change if they re-sign Soriano or sign one of the other compensation free agents (Michael Bourn, Adam LaRoche, Kyle Lohse), but I don’t see any of that happening. The Yankees have had three of the first 100 picks just once in the last nine years (2008), nevermind four of the top 65(-ish).”

    This is nit-picking, but the Yankees had three picks in the top 100 last year, as we had the additional 2nd rounder (Hensley, Aune, O’brien).

    Also, if he has a really incredible season, could you see Joba getting a QO? He does have his moments where as a reliever he looks dominant and some teams may even use him as a starter.

    In any case though, it’s exciting to think about extra picks rather than less picks.

    • Gonzo

      IMO, I don’t think there is any way Joba gets an offer. Like Mike said, the offer will be higher next year. Maybe over $14mm. That’s a big risk of him saying yes.

      • MannyGeee

        If you look at Joba’s career progression so far and his inability to stay healthy so far, there is a super-real chance that Joba doesn’t make $13.8M for the rest of his baseball playing career.

        He’s got to be coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs if he doesn’t accept that QO so fast it would snap your neck.

        AND I am a fan of Joba, like irrationally so.

        • Gonzo

          It’s sad and sobering to read that. Ooof!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Yeah. Joba would do backflips (hopefully NOT off a trampoline) at that offer, I’m sure.

        • Ted Nelson

          Yeah, I think that’s overwhelmingly likely. Maybe a 1-5% chance he does enough to be looking for a closer contract, so turns down the QO.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    I call bullshit on Pollock being a (much) better prospect than either Melky Mesa or Zoilo Almonte. There’s nothing special about rocking a .780 OPS in the PCL.

    • MannyGeee

      There’s also nothing special about Melky Mesa or Zolio Almonte…

      • http://www.thewallbreakers.com Scully

        This.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        I didn’t say there was, but there’s nothing special about AJ Pollock either. Unless going to Notre Dame makes you special

        • Gonzo

          Is the the “they are better” or the “much better” you are having an issue with?

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Somewhere, Brian S. shakes a fist at you.

    • LK

      It seems like scouts think he’s much better. Minor league stats aren’t useless, but it’s not a clean translation to MLB.

  • Bill

    They probably would not even make Cano an offer Hal would be afraid of any body accepting the offer he does not care about building the farm system he is more worried about the 189 million mark.

  • Curtis

    I forgot who said it but some baseball person said the QO would be around $13.8m next year. I would bet Cano, Grandy, Hughes, & Kuroda get QO offers. They’ll have 80-90m to spend even with the $189. That’s more than just about any team.

    • Gonzo

      There is a debate over how Jeter’s option year is calculated for luxury purposes makes it. It’s possible that they have less than $80mm to spend.

      • Ted Nelson

        I don’t think that really changes the point that they’ll have quite a bit of money to spend.

        • Gonzo

          I really don’t know if it changes Curtis’ calculation or not. Neither do you BTW. I thought he might take it as pertinent information. He might not or he might.

          • Ted Nelson

            There is no calculation: “That’s more than just about any team.” That’s the point that was made. If it’s $70-80 vs. 80-90… that doesn’t change the point.

            • Gonzo

              His point wasn’t that the Yankees have a lot of money to spend in the offseason. BTW, I agree with that wholeheartedly. His point was that the Yankees have $80-90mm to spend and that he bets they will give 4 QOers.

              I just added that they they might have less to spend than he thought. Which you interpreted as me saying the Yankees are TEH CHEAPEST. It is possible that a possible $10-$20mm swing makes him think that they can only give 3 QOers. I have no clue, but I thought he should have that piece of information.

              Excuse me for trying to add relevant information on this board.

              • Ted Nelson

                “Which you interpreted as me saying the Yankees are TEH CHEAPEST.”

                No, I never did that. That has nothing to do with what I said. It never even crossed my mind. Why do you always try to start fights with me?

                What I said is that it doesn’t change his point.

                They will still have more than just about any team. That was literally the point he closed on, even though you want to ignore it. It was part of his point: they have a lot of money to spend, so they can make QOs.

                They can still easily make 5 QOs and have them accepted under $189. 3 of the 4 we’re talking about would be extremely unlikely to be accepted if we’re assuming health for all the players and the contract numbers people are assuming Hughes can command (even if it’s on what seems like the low-end of expectations at $10 mill for 3-4 years). Possibly all four.

                • Gonzo

                  A) He gave a specific amount. I commented about that specific amount. Is that wrong? Tell me where I went wrong here?

                  B) I never said the Yankees could or couldn’t give out QO’s based on financial reasoning. Read it again. For all you know, I could think the Yankees could give out a QO’s to every FA. I never stated my opinion on the matter.

                  C) I simply added something that may, or may not, change his opinion. It may not, but I think it’s relevant information.

                  Tell me where I am in the wrong here? I never mentioned whether or not I think the Yankees should, could, or will give QO’s in my response to Curtis. He put out a number, and I added why people think that number could be lower. I never said he should change his mind at all.

                  So tell me Ted. What am I saying in two sentences? Tell me what you have an issue with in two sentences?

                  • Ted Nelson

                    I never said you were wrong. I also simply added something. You proceeded to flip out.

                    • Gonzo

                      You think I flipped out. I think you flipped out. I think you were being unnecessarily antagonistic. You think I was being unnecessarily antagonistic.

                      No solution. Not worth anymore discussion.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      No. You were antagonistic and have acknowledged that you were trying to be. I was not in any way.

                    • Gonzo

                      Nope. I didn’t call you any names. I didn’t say I don’t respect you. I simply clarified and defended my position with some vigor.

                      You said that you didn’t say I was wrong. I interpreted There is no calculation as you saying I was wrong. Now I realize that you weren’t saying I was wrong. You were just talking about the last sentence of the original post while I was talking about the rest of it. You do understand that don’t you?

                      You would never talk to someone this way in real life. Why would you do it online all the time?

            • Gonzo

              I know you dislike me Ted, but maybe you should give it a rest. I thought we were having a break anyway.

              • Ted Nelson

                I don’t dislike you, and I wasn’t attacking you in any way. You are so defensive, and not just when I respond to you. I made a simple point, just like you made a simple point. Why are you trying to escalate this?

                • Gonzo

                  Dude, I think it’s clear you dislike me. You’ve called me names in the past and said some other ugly things to me.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    In the middle of a heated discussion I said some things months ago. I’ve said some things to like 90% of the commenters on here (not saying that’s a good thing). No offense at all, but I don’t even remember you exist when you don’t comment on here.

                    • Gonzo

                      I hope you don’t think about me when I don’t post on here.

                      It was way more than one occasion. You twice (maybe three, I lost count) told me that you have no respect for what I have to say. You’ve called me names on multiple occasions.

                      I have no problem with the heated discussion. You say those things to me on multiple occasions and I’m treating you like a hostile. It’s that simple.

                    • Gonzo

                      Another thing, you never once apologized to me or anyone else on this site when you do go overboard.

                      You can’t even bring yourself to say what you’ve done. You only say that In the middle of a heated discussion I said some things months ago. What does that mean? Is that even an acknowledgment?

    • MannyGeee

      Hughes doesn’t get a QO at that number. But Granderson & Cano do, and Kuroda might

      Hughes MIGHT make $13 a season (I figure he’s in the $10-12 range, personally)…

      • Gonzo

        It’ll be interesting to keep it in mind during the season. I’m sure opinions will change with good and bad stretches.

      • Ted Nelson

        If you believe he’s expecting a multi-year deal in the $10-12 range, why wouldn’t you offer him one-year at $14 million?

      • RetroRob

        I can see a QO for Hughes if he repeats 2012. The QO will be somewhere north of $14M. He won’t get that in a AAV, but he’s not going to want a one-year deal. A four-year in the $10-12M in the AAV range is much better. Yet the QO seems to suppressing interest in the free agents, so the Yankees can offer Hughes the QO with the worst that happens is they get him for one year. Most likely he leaves and they get a draft pick, or they can sit back and see the market reaction to Hughes and how many teams will be interested in him since they’ll have to pay him money and lose a draft pick and the draft money attached to that pick. It may help drive down his price bringing him back to the Yankees at a lower price.

        • Ted Nelson

          Good analysis. Just to add one other possibility, if he accepts the QO and they don’t want to pay him they could also possibly trade him. Worst case just give him away, but maybe get the equivalent of draft pick comp or better.

  • Ted Nelson

    Pollock, Eaton, and Kennedy would all be interesting possibilities.

    I’d be somewhat shocked if Hughes repeated 2012 and got an Anibal Sanchez deal, personally.

    Who are you referring to when you say the Yankees need to do better early in the draft? Seems like Cito Culver is probably the only pick you’re referring to. Or maybe you’re referring to results that are influenced by luck?

    Depends how 2013 goes, but if it’s like 2012 I could see Cano, Granderson, Hughes, and Kuroda getting QOs. The first three with the expectation that they would turn it down to look for a multi-year deal, and then I could see then wanting back Kuroda or Pettitte at the QO if they perform in 2013. Youk only if he has a monster year. If the QO is pretty fair market value for a guy, they should be able to trade him even if he unexpectedly accepts.

    • RetroRob

      Agreed. I’m having a hard time seeing a Sanchez-like contract even if he repeats 2012. That’s a five-year deal with a $16M AAV, and a sixth year (club option) for another $16M, or a $5M buyout, for a package in the $80-$91M range. Yet, he still could get a four-year,$50M dealf or a $12.5M AAV. Scary, yet if that’s the going price for that type of pitcher, then the Yankees will have a decision to make. If not Hughes, then who? They’ll still end up paying similar if they go the free-agent route.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, I think four years, $50 million is very possible. Might be a little high for the performance, but some other factors like age, AL Eeast, and “fixing” a former top prospect might come into play.

        They could go with Hughes, or they could also look at another year of a Kuroda, Pettitte type one-year veteran, especially if they have 4 other solid SPs and Banuelos or Turley or whoever (Ramirez? DePaula? Omar Rodriguez? Black?) is a good candidate to be one year away at that time. Hard to say who will represent good value in FA or trades or how the internal guys will do/recover, so I don’t really have any answer to the then who? question besides that.

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Over the past four drafts the 1st round picks have been Heathcott, Culver, Bichette and Hensley. It’s a bit tough to evaluate the recent Yankee drafts with the focus on high schoolers, but Heathcott, Murphy and Warren seem like decent work at the top in 2009. Culver seems a reach but Gumbs, Segedin and Mason Williams make a solid return on 2010 top picks. 2011 lost Stafford (unsigned) and Bichette, Cote, Duran, Byrd, Jones haven’t really emerged but are young enough to warrant time. Not much info on 2012 but can’t complain about Hensley.

    The Yankees have drafted a ton of HS guys and need to hit on some of them but its tough to ‘do better’ in such an uncertain endeavor.

    • Ted Nelson

      Agreed.

  • Wayne

    I bet we do sign free agents we will not have there of the top 65 picks. We need a catcher, shortstop, and, outfielder. Its too good to be true that we will have three or four of the top 65 picks in 2013 draft.