Mailbag: Ellsbury, K-Rod, Gillaspie, Homegrown Players


Got four questions for you this week. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box to send us your questions or anything else throughout the week.

(Jason Szenes/Getty)

(Jason Szenes/Getty)

Mark asks: If Jacoby Ellsbury stays healthy and has a productive 2013, should the Yankees consider signing him as Curtis Granderson‘s replacement in the unlikely event Robinson Cano signs elsewhere this offseason? Even though he is a Scott Boras client, I cannot imagine he will get anything close to the 7-10 guaranteed years Cano likely will get from some desperate team given his past injury history.

Ellsbury, 29, desperately needs to have a strong season in 2013. He was a monster in 2011, but otherwise has only played 92 games with four DL trips in 2010 and 2012 combined. I’m pretty sure the Red Sox will let him walk — or even trade him at the deadline — after the season because Jackie Bradley Jr. is coming, so Ellsbury really needs to have a good healthy season if he wants to cash in next winter.

Here’s the thing though: if Ellsbury does stay healthy and has a strong year, Boras will be looking for $100M+. No doubt about it with an MVP-caliber season so close in the rear-view mirror. If he gets hurt again, then you’re talking about signing an injury prone player and expecting him to play everyday. Not the wisest idea. Ellsbury is a good player but I don’t thing he’ll ever repeat his 2011 effort, so I don’t like the idea of signing him to replace Granderson. Even if he stays healthy this summer, there’s still a long injury history there and it would make me wary considering his likely asking price.

Kevin asks: What about Francisco Rodriguez? He isn’t is former self obviously but I refuse to believe he is useless. He could give us insurance with closer experience if Mariano Rivera has a set back.

K-Rod, 31, pitched to a 4.38 ERA (3.83 FIP) in 72 innings for the Brewers last year, his worst season in the big leagues. His strikeout (9.00 K/9 and 23.6 K%) and walk (3.88 BB/9 and 10.2 BB%) were right in line with his career rates, but his swing-and-miss rate (7.9%) was by far the worst of his career (career 12.4%). His homerun rate (1.00 HR/9 and 12.3% HR/FB) were his worst since he first broke into the show. On the bright side, Rodriguez’s fastball velocity spiked back up last summer after a steady multi-year decline.

Last week Jon Heyman reported K-Rod will pitch in the upcoming World Baseball Classic and use the event to showcase himself to teams. The Yankees have a good amount of bullpen depth behind right-handers David Aardsma, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Rivera, but K-Rod would be the first guy I’d call if one of them got hurt in camp. He’s had continued off-the-field troubles and I doubt the makeup-loving Yankees would go for that, however. Rodriguez isn’t what he once was, but he’s still a useful reliever and someone New York should keep tabs on during the WBC.

No batting gloves? Gamer. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

No batting gloves? Gamer. (Lenny Ignelzi/AP)

David asks: Just happened to be surfing during a boring part of SNL and took a look at the MLB list of players with no options. What do you think of Conor Gillaspie? If the Giants don’t keep him, I’m sure someone will claim him, but I’m wondering if it makes sense to try to work out a trade? Yankees would use a young lefty bat who plays third with good minor numbers. Could be a useful left-handed bat on the bench to pinch-hit for a catcher or someone to spell Youk.

I’m willing to bet you are able to do a whole lot more than skim the out-of-options list during the boring part of SNL these days. Ba-dum ching!

That was my attempt at humor. Anyway, the Giants drafted the 25-year-old Gillaspie with the 37th overall pick in the 2008 draft and rather than give him a Major League contract, they promised him a September call-up. He made his big league debut that September and has since burned through his four minor league options (he qualified for a fourth because he used his original three during the first five years of his pro career).

Over the last two seasons, Gillaspie has hit .289/.368/.447 (~107 wRC+) with 25 homers and strong walk (11.1%) and strikeout (13.7%) rates in nearly 1,000 Triple-A plate appearances. He’s had three big league cups of coffee but hasn’t hit (60 wRC+) in 48 total plate appearances. Gillaspie is primarily a third baseman but the Giants have tried him out at first and in left field in the past. Baseball America did not rank him as one of the 30 best prospects in a brutal San Francisco farm system — system ranked 26th by Keith Law and 28th by BA — in their latest Prospect Handbook, which gives you an idea of how farm his stock as fallen. At this point he’s more of an organizational player than anything.

The only locks for Bruce Bochy’s bench right now are backup catcher Hector Sanchez, infielder (and former Yankees farmhand) Joaquin Arias, and outfielder Andres Torres. That leaves two spots open, one of which figures to go a left-handed hitting pinch-hitter. Given the names on their 40-man roster and non-roster invitee list, it sure looks like Gillaspie has a great chance to make the team. If he doesn’t, then I doubt he’s good enough to crack anyone’s bench. The “former (supplemental) first round pick” stuff means he still has a little bit of prospect shine, but I’m not sure Gillaspie is a legit big leaguer. He might be worth a minor trade or waiver claim, but I wouldn’t offer up much of anything even though he appears like a nice fit for the Eric Chavez role on paper.

Update!: The Giants just announced that they traded Gillaspie to the White Sox for a fringy minor league pitcher. I suppose the Yankees could look to acquire him from Chicago, but meh.

Sal asks: Who is the best player the Yankee farm system EVER produced? I’m guessing Derek Jeter or Mickey Mantle?

Without looking, I’m guessing Mantle. Now here are the top five position players and top five pitchers in franchise history according to bWAR…

1 Babe Ruth 138.2 1920 1934 2084 9198 2518 659 1852 1122 110 .349 .484 .711 1.195
2 Lou Gehrig 108.5 1923 1939 2164 9663 2721 493 1508 790 102 .340 .447 .632 1.080
3 Mickey Mantle 105.5 1951 1968 2401 9907 2415 536 1733 1710 153 .298 .421 .557 .977
4 Joe DiMaggio 75.1 1936 1951 1736 7673 2214 361 790 369 30 .325 .398 .579 .977
5 Derek Jeter 69.3 1995 2012 2585 11895 3304 255 1039 1743 348 .313 .382 .448 .829
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/21/2013.
1 Mariano Rivera 52.7 1995 2012 1051 10 76 58 608 1219.2 277 1119 2.21 206 65
2 Whitey Ford 50.6 1950 1967 498 438 236 106 10 3170.1 1086 1956 2.75 133 228
3 Andy Pettitte 45.8 1995 2012 417 408 208 116 0 2611.0 841 1892 3.95 115 219
4 Ron Guidry 45.4 1975 1988 368 323 170 91 4 2392.0 633 1778 3.29 119 226
5 Red Ruffing 41.7 1930 1946 426 391 231 124 8 3168.2 1066 1526 3.47 119 200
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/21/2013.

Yogi Berra (56.2 bWAR) was a distant sixth behind Jeter and Lefty Gomez (39.5 bWAR) was right behind Ruffing, in case you’re wondering.

Ruth obviously wasn’t homegrown, so he’s not relevant in this discussion. Gehrig and Mantle are essentially tied — a difference of 3.0 bWAR spread across nearly 10,000 plate appearances is nothing. Gehrig is the best first baseman in history by a not small margin (Albert Pujols is second at 88.5 bWAR) while Mantle is “only” the fourth best center fielder (behind Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Tris Speaker). Is that enough to say Gehrig is the greatest homegrown Yankee over Mantle? Eh, sure. Why not.

Now, we have to remember that back in Gehrig’s and Mantle’s day, every amateur player was a free to sign with whatever team. The draft and international free agency as we know it (more or less) were implemented in 1965. The best homegrown Yankee during the draft era is Jeter by a mile. Rivera is the second best, then you’ve got Bernie Williams (45.9 bWAR), Thurman Munson (43.3 bWAR), Pettitte, and Guidry essentially tied for third.  Fred McGriff was a Yankees draft pick who was traded away before reaching the big leagues, and he managed to rack up 48.2 bWAR. He’s the second best player the team has ever drafted with the caveat that Pettitte could pass him in 2013. Pretty crazy.

Categories : Mailbag


  1. Jim Is Bored says:

    No to Ellsbury on principle, aside from the dispassionate reasons not to sign him.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Everyone’s “no on principle” reasons tend to be my “hell yeah” reasons. Stealing their heroes never gets old.

      Agree on the injury stuff, though. I’d rather just get three more years out of Granderson and/or look elsewhere and hope for the best with one of the minor leaguers. I’d only be interested in Ellsbury if we were buying low.

      • jjyank says:

        Yeah, I don’t have a problem with Dingleberry because he’s a Red Sock, but because I’d be wary of giving him a large contract. If he has a good year in 2013, you know Boras is going to market him like Matt Kemp or some such nonsense. If the Yanks want to hand out monster contracts, I prefer they at least restrict it do guy who have proven durable *cough* CANO *cough*

        But if the Dinglemeister just as an okay year and/or some injury issues, I’d love to take him on a “prove yourself” contract.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          I mean just the fact that you’re calling him dingleberry/dinglemeister shows that you do care, a little.

          I am definitely win-first, connection-second, but having a connection to the team still matters to me. I know it’s an old-baseball attitude, and the players/team’s don’t give a crap about me, etc. But all things being equal, I’d rather watch a Yankee team of homegrown guys win than a team of ex-red sox.

          • jjyank says:

            Well sure, if I had to choose between a team of homegrown Yankees, I’d obviously pick that in a heartbeat.

            Maybe I do a little bit, but I had nicknames for all the Red Sox guys, just to needle all the people around me in Red Sox Nation while I was in college. I used to call Youk “Puke-ilis”, but I stopped doing that after he was traded to the White Sox. I got over Damon too as soon as he shaved that ridiculous beard.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              Yeah I mean they grow on me eventually. Cost of doing business I guess.

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                I’ve got my list of “never” guys as well, like Papelbon, Drew, and Varitek (not all of those are even possible, at this point.)

                In the end, though, if Papelbon were to somehow become a Yankee, and he handled the transition with proffesionalism and class, I know I’d warm to him. They’re all just baseball players.

                • jjyank says:

                  Papelbon is one mine, for sure. Or as I like to call him, “Poopelbon”. I think I’d add Beckett as well. I hate that guy.

                  Never really had a problem with Drew, I actually kinda felt bat for him since he was productive, yet caught so much hate from Sox fans due to his injury proneness. Varitek is on the fringe for me. I never really got over Pedro throwing Don Zimmer to the ground either.

                  • Robinson Tilapia says:

                    I actually think my Drew dislike predates his being with the Sox and comes more from his nonsense with Boras and Phillies.


                  • LK says:

                    Papelbon and Beckett are my two guys, partially because they take freaking forever to throw a pitch. Now that they’re in the NL my dislike has faded though.

                  • MannyGeee says:

                    I always went with “Papelboner”… I always assumed he was a fan of phallic humor… Or penises in general.

                    • Rooting for U.S. Steel says:

                      What, speaking of “not even possible, but still no” nobody mentions John Rocker? Ah, youth — how soon they forget!

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        I mean I’m cool with stealing their heroes once in a while. But eventually the sheen wears off and you’re stuck with rooting for guys who’s best years were spent killing your team.

        Obviously if I thought he’d really help it’d make me think about it though.

      • MannyGeee says:

        I am going to go out on a limb and say that Ellsbury gets MORE than Granderson in total contract (and shockingly close in AAV) because of the Boras Experience…

        That said, give me Granderson over Jacoby every day.

        • Herby says:

          doubtful because of injury history, I don’t think anyone wants to shell out big money on a player who is going to have a high risk of being injured. Especially when you can have someone like Granderson who rarely misses a game.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Also, I have a former Sox fan co-worker (not the current Sox fan co-worker) who used to hang a picture of Ellsbury over her PC so she could stare at him all day. It’d be great just to stick it her.

  2. JohnC says:

    I wanted the Yankees to draft Gillepsie in the 2nd round that year too, but Giants got him in the supplemental round.Glad they did.

    • Laz says:

      Not necessarily. Yankees chose Bleich, who never amounted to anything. Even if he didn’t work out, he could have been a valuable trade chip when he was still a top prospect. And to be honest 50 PA over 4 years isn’t enough to judge him all that much yet.

  3. Slu says:

    Only Tilapia could find something to “correct” in a thread with one post in it.

  4. steves says:

    Can’t say I am that fluent with WAR but when it has Mo (as great as he is) with a higher total than Ford there seems to be something amiss with the components being measured. I’d take Whitey in his prime (or any great starter in his prime) over even the greatest reliever.

    • Mister D says:

      That’s the problem with bWAR, it just uses raw ERA rather than a predictive (thus normalize) metric like FIP or xFIP. Reliever ERA has so many dependencies (matchups, strand rates, etc) that you really need to look at the batter-by-batter results rather than the raw numbers.

  5. Mister D says:

    Isn’t is somewhat likely that Krod’s velo jump and swing and miss drop is an indication that he’s muscling the ball up there and its flattening out?

  6. Robinson Tilapia says:

    As far as Gillespie goes, doesn’t seem like a guy I’d want to give a 40-man slot to, but would make for good depth in AAA if he clears waivers.

    I’m imagining a few depth do get added in this manner. Wouldn’t be surprised to see someone who winds up being a contributor during the season happening this way.

  7. Reggie C. says:

    Ellsbury is an interesting case b/c he’s essentially a Michael Bourn type player with that jaw-dropping, outlier Arod-esque like season.

    Would you sign Ellsbury to a Bourn like deal if Ellsbury shows he can play a 150 plus game load and put up lots of SBs, decent OBP, and hit a dozen triples or so. I would eat my shoe (not really) if Ellsbury returned to hit more than 20 homers.

    This season will tell us all we need to know about this guy.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      If the team lets Granderson walk, and Ellsbury (if this is even possible) can make you feel strong as to his ability to stay healthy, I’m not sure he’s the type of player I’d want to replace Granderson. I think I’d want a player with a bit more potential to hit for power.

      Do you keep Grandy, move Ichiro to fourth outfielder, and bring him in to play RF, assuming Wally Matthews is right (for once) as to the celery cap possibly not happening? Not sure. I actually want a Slade or Austin to have an opening to get some at-bats in the next couple of seasons.

      Ellsbury just might not be the right fit.

      • Govin says:

        I agree about Slade and Austin, I would love to give those two guys a chance to show what they can do in the major leagues.Providing they take steps forward this year.

        • jjyank says:

          Yeah, and celery cap or no, the team’s gonna need some young talent at some point. Obviously the progress that Heathcott/Austin/Williams make in 2013 will play a big role in a decision like that. If they all remain healthy and productive and end their seasons in AA/AAA, the Yanks may be more likely to hedge their bets there.

      • Reggie C. says:

        Ellsbury replacing Granderson would essentially cost the lineup at least 25 homeruns, and thats assuming Ellsbury reaches the double digit mark since Grandy has solidified himself as a 30 plus hr producer.

        I guess i’m just not in the camp that sees Cano leaving, and my interest in Ellsbury will only last so long as he’s a cheaper option that Granderson. Like i said, a Michael Bourn type of deal isn’t bad. Granderson would want Ethier-type money, so even if the celery/ 189 cap isn’t greenlit , I cant see the organization splurging like that.

        Of course, should Tyler Austin tear it up in Trenton, the 2014 roster calculus gets alot more interesting.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I think the team would pay more than you and I think to keep Granderson, but I also don’t think his price gets out of hand unless he has a ridiculous 2014.

          We pretty much agree on everything else, though. Ideally, a healthy Slade or Austin hits the snot out of the ball this year and remain healthy.

    • Barry's Gift Basket says:

      Yes, to a Bourn-like deal i´d sign him a heart beat.

      But that is not happening if he puts a good 2013 season, you know he’ll get more, in wich case i’d walk away from him.

  8. trr says:

    OMG, the Babe’s stats seem made up!

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      For real.

    • Barry's Gift Basket says:

      Yeah no kidding, it’s like that Nick Jhonson in AA line Axisa likes to show everytime he has an excuse, but for a whole fucking career in the majors.


      • Now Batting says:

        Exclude blacks and latins from the “majors” and see how his numbers jump.

        • Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

          You need to read “The Truth About Ruth”. That’s a big myth that his numbers would’ve dropped a ton if there were blacks in MLB. He played against the Negro Leagues all the time and he hit amazingly well there too.

          This is NOT directed at you, since this is the first time I’m responding to it from you, but I’m really tired of hearing that shit. Ruth was the best player ever.

    • Ramondo Stallings says:

      What’s more amazing to me is that Joe D struck out only 369 times in 7673 plate appearances!!

      • Donny says:

        While I agree that only 369 strikeouts in 7673 plate appearances is insane, I read in one of the Yankee books I have (can’t remember the name offf the top of my head) that Joe D. never was thrown out going from first to third. The guy might have been the best instinctual player ever.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          Psh. I’ve never been thrown out going first to third either. Next!

        • I am not the droids you're looking for... says:

          Or, he was too cautious? Don’t know the answer, but feel like I’d need to know how many opportunities he had, how many he converted successfully, and compare that to others in order to have some sense of it.

          Yes on the surface it seems pretty amazing.

      • toad says:

        And note that he compiled the numbers he did while missing three prime years to the service.

  9. Eddard: Back and better than never says:

    Ellsbury – Can’t afford him, don’t want to give another 7 year $100 million deal to a player turning 30.

    KRod is a joke. The Yankees need to stop going with these washed up has beens and start going with the kids. If Dave Phelps isn’t going to start he’s the perfect middle reliever. Go with the kids!

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I think KRod’s all name value as well, and think the pieces to build a solid bullpen exist internally already, but you know and I know you mix and match your bullpen pieces.

    • Govin says:

      If you actually read the article you will see that the whole point of getting Krod is so the Yankees can have someone who has closed before, behind Rivera, just in case he gets hurt. Personally I would like to see how Aardsma looks, before giving anything to Krod, since Aardsma also has closing experience.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Rodriguez doesn’t exactly make me feel all fuzzy inside as an insurance option, though. I wouldn’t at all bet he turns into even half of 2012 Raffy in that situation. I’d honestly rather roll the dice with Joba or DRob in that case and have someone who can step in and be a solid set-up guy.

        • Govin says:

          I agree with you I’ve followed Krod since he was on the Mets and I was never impressed with him. I just felt that Eddard missed the whole part about having a backup up closer. I feel that if Mo goes down, one of the relievers we already have will be able to fill in for mo, and for that matter do a better job then Krod.

      • Eddard: Back and better than never says:

        KRod is no Soriano, he’s been in decline for years. Soriano was actually good for Tampa. Robertson was only given the one chance so if anything happens to Mo he would fill in. Phelps, Joba, and Boone as set up. This whole closing experience concept is overblown. Every closer starts with no closing experience.

      • Herby says:

        Aardsma was a really particularly effective closer though, I’d much prefer to see D-Rob get the job, we still haven’t even seen what Aardsma is going to offer the team. He may never even make it back to the player he was.

      • NoMaas says:

        “Closers” are overrated. Sure plenty of guys have 1 or 2 good years, but the the only TRUE closer is MO. Beyond that, its just a title given to whatever guy currently pitches the 9th.

        and anyways the “save” might be the stupidest stat in existence. man i hate it…

  10. Barry's Gift Basket says:

    So, that Ruth guy was good at the plate…


  11. Havok9120 says:

    Ba-dum ching?

    Did you hit the wrong button on your cash register or something?

  12. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    Ruth had 110 stolen bases. Holy crap.

  13. Who hates bunts more? Axisa or Earl Weaver? (Formerly Austin Aunelowitzky) says:

    What if you add Ruth’s pithcing WAR to his batting WAR….yikes!

    • Who hates bunts more? Axisa or Earl Weaver? (Formerly Austin Aunelowitzky) says:

      Yes I know he never pitched as a Yankee. I’m talking Babe combined career WAR. Anyone?

      • jjyank says:

        According to Fangraphs, Ruth totalled 177.9 WAR for his entire career as a position player, and 15.6 as a pitcher. So his total career WAR would be 193.5.

        Interestingly enough, it appears that Ruth actually did pitch 31 innings for the Yankees, spread across 4 years. He pitched in 1920, 1921, 1930, and 1933. With the Yanks, we went 5-0 and it appeared he actually had 2 complete games. His ERA’s and peripheral stats weren’t all that great, but the sample sizes are very small.

        Interesting stuff, don’t think I ever knew that.

  14. Bavarian Yankee says:

    the White Sox just trade for Gillaspie. So let’s quickly forget about that ;)

  15. TCMiller30 says:

    In the realm of completely irrelevant and useless tidbits..

    Assuming all of the Babe’s games were 9 innings. If you gave Mo as many innings as The Babe, he’d have a WAR of 810.9. Not bad. Haha

  16. mick taylor says:

    ridiculous rankings. no way mantle was better than joe d. even mickey said dimaggio was the best player he ever saw and better than him. joe had a higher lifetime batting average, more 100 rbi seasons, and had 9 championships in 13 seasons. he missed his 3 peak years while serving in ww 2 and still came back to win 3 world series. and if babe ruth or gehrig or mantle were exclusively right handed batters, their stats. would decline by at least a third because of the old yankee stadium dimensions. take your war and stuff it.

  17. I grew up with Mantle, Berra, Ford et.al. I even saw Maris hit #61 off Tracy Stoddard. While it is impossible to compare across generations, it is hard to imagine that we will soon see players comparable at their positions to Jeter or Rivera, and, in his day, Rodriguez (hopefully not drug propelled). In addition, Pettit, Posada,Williams, O’Neill, Cano, Mattingly, Guidry, Munson, if not HOF, are pretty close to it. Ruth and Gehrig played in a different world and Joe D played during the transition from that world to the modern game. If I were to pick an all time great Yankees team, Jeter, Cano, Rodriguez, and Rivera would be on it. How about some comments?

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