Mailbag: Rivera, Gomes, Carpenter, CoJo

Brown: Derrek Lee staying retired, will not join Yankees
Spring Training Game Thread: Sabathia's Debut

Skipped the mailbag last week because of the Season Preview series, but we’re back at it this week. Got four questions for you, two about current Yankees and two about players they may or may not look to acquire. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send up anything throughout the week.


Paul asks: In 2011 and 2012 (maybe 2010 too) we saw Mariano Rivera get used more cautiously. Less outings of more than an inning, more rest, etc. Any chance Joe Girardi will just send him out there and give him the Joe Torre/Scott Proctor treatment since this is his last year?

That’s a pretty interesting question, but I would be shocked if Girardi used Rivera for more than three outs semi-regularly. That doesn’t mean I think he should use him for 100+ innings like it’s 1996 either, but I would like to see Mo for two innings in an extra innings game at home, for four or five outs if things are getting hairy in the eighth, stuff like that. I would hope Girardi scraps any workload concerns in the postseason and just goes nuts, squeezing every last bullet out of Rivera’s arm in the weeks before retirement, but they have to get to the playoffs first.

Travis asks: If the Yankees look outside the organization, would Yan Gomes of Cleveland make sense? He can play 3B, 1B and even a little LF.

Gomes, 25, is most notable for being the first Brazilian-born player to play in MLB. He debuted with the Blue Jays last season and hit .204/.264/.367 (69 wRC+) in just 111 plate appearances, then was traded to the Indians with Mike Aviles for Esmil Rogers over the winter. He’s very versatile, with a ton of experience at the corner infield spots and behind the plate, plus he dabbled with left field a bit last year.

Baseball America ranked Gomes as the 27th best prospect in Cleveland’s system in their 2013 Prospect Handbook, one spot ahead of current Yankee Thomas Neal. They said Gomes “may not quite profile as a regular, but he could be useful as a backup catcher who can play multiple positions and provide power,” noting that he’s an impatient hitter and his swing gets a little long. He would make sense for several teams as a right-handed bat off the bench, including the Yankees, but I don’t think I would give up much to acquire him. Pretty much the only thing he has on someone like Ronnie Mustelier is the ability to catch, which is big but not the most important thing in the world.


SMC asks: Rafael Furcal is having Tommy John surgery and Pete Kozma isn’t a shortstop. What about Eduardo Nunez for Matt Carpenter? Fits a need for both sides.

Heh, Nunez is no shortstop either, not unless he manages to get his throwing under control. I don’t expect that to happen, he’s been working on it for years. Going way back in the minors too, I’m not talking about two or three years. The Cardinals have a perfectly capable shortstop in Ryan Jackson who they seem unwilling to use. He’s a great defender but he can’t hit, which is better than no-hit/no-glove Kozma. I don’t think Nunez would be all that interesting to them.

That said, I love Carpenter. The 27-year-old is a career .283/.359/.447 (120 wRC+) hitter with six homers in limited big league time (359 plate appearances), but he’s hit at every step of the minors and consistently walked as much (if not more) than he’s struck out. Carpenter can handle the four corner positions and St. Louis has been working him out second base this spring, and apparently he’s done well enough that they’re leaning towards playing him there full-time to open the season. I’d love to see the Yankees acquire him and playing him fairly regularly at whatever position, but I don’t think the Cardinals will make him available. Certainly not for Nunez anyway.

Tom asks: I feel like I’ve seen Corban Joseph play third a few times so far this spring, and he’s looked okay at third to my untrained eye. We’ve all heard the knock on him is his defense, but I was wondering how big a knock that is? Is he a guy that could fake third for a while and not have it be disastrous, or do you think the truth will get ugly if/when we see him more at 3B?

Joseph’s problem isn’t so much fielding the ball, he just doesn’t have the arm — strength or accuracy — to consistently make the throw over to first. That’s been very evident this spring, as he short-hopped balls across the diamond or muscled up so much they landed in the stands. This isn’t Nunez having the tools and being unable to use them to make the play, this is not having the tools at all. I like Joseph and think he can be a productive enough hitter to at least come off a big league bench, but I just don’t know where he would play. Do you just accept the risk at third and hope the bat makes up for it? Maybe, but it’s very risky.

Brown: Derrek Lee staying retired, will not join Yankees
Spring Training Game Thread: Sabathia's Debut
  • Eddard

    Girardi isn’t going to change anything up with the bullpen. He’s got his formula and he sticks to it. Joba/Logan for the 7th, Drob for the 8th, Mo for the 9th. We’ve got 3 starters who will go 6-8 innings regularly. Phelps as the long man when a starter has to go out early. Pitching is the reason this team will prevail, even with so many injuries on offense.

  • MB923

    I have a question, and although this is something I don’t want to see happen, I decided to ask it anyway

    If the Yankees are out of the playoff hunt by the last week of the season, should Mariano start the last Yankees home game of the year? Even if it’s only 3-4 innings?

    I’d rather see him in YS one last time (this is assuming they miss the playoffs, which is the part that I don’t want to happen) for multiple innings, as opposed to just 1, Maybe 2 innings.

    • CTRob

      If they were in that position, and I don’t think they will be, I’d rather see him get time in CF. He’s said before that he’s always wanted to. That way he’ll get to take in crowd’s appreciation a little more. The last thing I’d want to see is Mo get touched up for a few runs and I doubt he would want that to happen either. Interesting hypothetical though.

      • MB923

        That would be interesting too. Make him play Cf, but then pitch the 9th inning!

        It’s not a scenario I hope the team goes in, but if our playoff hopes are gone by then, at least it can end with a special moment.

        • jjyank

          I’d like to see Mo get an inning in CF regardless. I mean, if the Yanks and another AL East team are tied going into game 162, then maybe not. But otherwise, I think it’d be a cool way to thank him before retirement.

          • MB923

            If that game is an important game (Yankees 1 game back, 1 game up, etc.) and could be a playoff deciding game, then obviously not. That’s why I said If.

            And if the Yankees are in a playoff spot by then, absolutely not either. Don’t want to risk anything.

            Only way I’d want such a thing to happen would be IF the Yankees are eliminated from playoff contention.

            • CTRob

              Yeah, under those conditions it would be amazing to see. I think it goes without saying we would to see that in person.

              Because it will mean they are out of it, however, I won’t hope for it too much!

              • the Lime

                Were he to start at CF and Sabathia were pitching, could Sabathia bat for him or can the DH only replace a pitcher?

                • Laz

                  DH is only allowed for pitcher, not another player.

    • LitFig

      How about he starts the game, pitches 2 innings, then plays center for 6 innings, THEN closes the game in the 9th inning?

      • MB923

        What you said for the first 8 innings works, but I’m pretty sure he cannot pitch a 2nd time in the game in the 9th.

  • Matt DiBari

    Is the new narrative on Nunez that he just “needs to get his throwing under control?”

    Because I never saw any real indication that he’s particularly good at actually making sure he gets the ball in his glove either.

    Or, for that matter showing any instincts whatsoever in the field, staying out of other people’s way or covering third base on a bunt.

    • Havok9120

      I think its more that he’d at least be USABLE in the field if he got the throwing under control. I’m not sure many would claim he’d be good, let alone elite, in the field if he could manage that but until he does we can’t even use him regularly in the field at all.

  • jsbrendog

    is gomes a better option than stewart/cervelli?

    haha cause if he is…which isnt hard…then doesnt the versatility of a backup who can play all those other positions mean something?

    • trr

      Sure does – think about the flexibilty it affords making game decisions knowing you have an extra C if needed

    • Steve (different one)

      Depends how real this spring training defense Cervelli had shown is.

      If Cervelli has somehow morphed his way into an above average defensive catcher (not saying he has, but he’s been on fire all spring), the Yankees will be ok.

      You might even be able to argue that if Cervelli is now a stud behind the plate, letting Martin walk was semi-justified (in a world where there is a tight budget next year).

      Unless of course they wind up scrapping the $189M plan, in which case they should have gone with the relative stability Martin would have brought. But that goes without saying.

      • Laz

        If Cervelli can get his defense under control, and produce his career mlb stats they are set at catcher. That essentially puts them in same league at catcher as the Jays and many other teams.

  • JRod

    Corban Joseph was optioned to Scranton the other day. I think Ronnier makes the team.