Mailbag: Dodgers, Gardner, Aceves, Zoilo, Flores

Blue Jays scratch Josh Johnson from tonight's start
Thoughts on a Random Friday

Got six questions this week, so I tried to keep the answers reasonably short. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the way to go to send us questions, comments, links, complaints, whatever.

(Harry How/Getty)
(Harry How/Getty)

Brad asks: With the Dodgers recent injury bug to their rotation and the news of Derek Jeter being out until late July at the earliest, would it make sense to swap Ivan Nova to LA for perhaps Mark Ellis and a reliever?

Yes and no. The Dodgers started the year with eight legitimate starters for five spots, but they’ve since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zack Greinke (collarbone), Chris Capuano (calf), and Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery) to injury. Behind Clayton Kershaw they have Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ted Lilly, and rookie Stephen Fife. I’m sure they’re in the market for a fill-in starter.

I’ve always been open to trading Nova, but Ellis wouldn’t work because he can’t play any position other than second base. Jerry Hairston Jr. would be a better fit, maybe even Luis Cruz if you think he’s better than his -52 wRC+ suggests. Los Angeles has a ton of relievers, good ones too, so there would be a fit there. I don’t like the idea of trading Nova for a utility man and a reliever though, even if it would fill two fringe roster needs. I’d rather use him as the second or third piece in a package for an impact player and instead trade prospects for infield and bullpen help.

Isaac asks: Would the Yanks ever consider extending Brett Gardner before he hits free agency? If so, what kind of deal makes sense? Does Carlos Gomez’s extension with the Brewers work as a baseline?

I think there’s a small possibility they would, but Gardner strikes me as a year-to-year guy because of his injury history. The thing that worries me most is that he’s going to be 30 this summer, and he’s the type of player who will lose his value very quickly once his speed starts to slip. I don’t really want to be on the hook for that decline.

The framework of Gomez’s deal actually works very well. His new four-year pact covers his final arbitration year and three free agent years for $28.3M total, and his $4.3M salary in 2013 should be similar to Gardner’s salary next season. An $8M average value for the following three years is reasonable. Gomez is several years younger with more power (and more raw tools in general), but he hasn’t had the same kind of success as Gardner. The Brewers bought potential. Eight million bucks a year for Brett’s age 31-33 seasons seems fine, I just worry about a quick descent into uselessness if the speed slips.

Tarik asks: Do you think Al Aceves‘ release was motivated by behavioral issues that just weren’t made public, or did Brian Cashman just not think he’d recover well from his injury? (Had to shorten the question, sorry Tarik.)

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

After seeing how things have played out the last 2+ years, I definitely think Aceves’ nutcase ways played a role in the team’s decision to release him. The back and collarbone problems likely contributed as well, but someone with the Yankees screwed up there. He healed just fine in time for Opening Day after the club’s doctors said he would miss the first few weeks.

I’m guessing the Yankees did a better job of keeping any behavioral incidents under wraps than the Red Sox have, or maybe the veteran clubhouse just did a better job of keeping him in line. Hell, maybe Aceves was on his best behavior with New York because he was a rookie back then. We don’t really know. It’s easier to understand why they released him nowadays, but I still can’t help but wonder if they could have found a trade partner.

Bill asks: Is there any chance the Yankees front office may value Ramon Flores more than any of the “Super 3” based on his approach at the plate?

I think that’s possible but unlikely. The Yankees love athletes first and foremost, and Flores is a bat first player. A bat first player who has yet to show much power at that. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams both provide a ton of value in the field, more than they do at the plate really, while Tyler Austin is simply a better hitter. I like Flores a lot — I didn’t rank him fifth on my preseason top 30 prospects list out of boredom — but he’s clearly behind the other guys for me. He’s underrated, but I would hope the team doesn’t value him more than their other outfield prospects.


Mark asks: Are you in favor of bringing up Zoilo Almonte? If we’re going to get zero production from Ben Francisco as an extra outfielder – why not bring someone up who can at least provide defensive and base running value. Shame that Thomas Neal got hurt.

Not particularly, no. Almonte’s off to a really great start this year (125 wRC+) and he’s drawing a ton of walks (20.5%), but the book on him is that his left-handed swing is ahead of his right-handed swing. That’s typical and it’s just a repetition thing because there are way more righty pitchers than lefties. His splits since the start of 2010 — .267/.324/.433 against lefties, .282/.349/.487 against righties — bear that out.

The Yankees should absolutely be looking for a Francisco replacement, though. Neal was probably the best internal candidate, but he just went down with a hamstring injury. Melky Mesa is back to his super high strikeout ways, so he’s not really a big league candidate at the moment. I guess that makes Zoilo the top option by default, especially since Ronnie Mustelier is still sidelined. Mustelier would immediately become the top choice once healthy.

Jon asks: Let’s say J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez continue to rake while Austin Romine is playing pretty good. What do the Yankees do?

Celebrate! I don’t think the Yankees would dump Chris Stewart in favor of Romine, but I expect them to promote both Sanchez and Murphy at midseason. Romine and Murphy would just have to share catching and DH duties — Murphy can also squeeze in a few games at third base — at the Triple-A level for a few weeks. It’s not ideal but hardly the end of the world.

Blue Jays scratch Josh Johnson from tonight's start
Thoughts on a Random Friday
  • mark

    Re – Aceves. Pete Abraham on the Boston Red Sox blog (formerly LoHud Yankees blog) has really good dirt on Aceves. Basically, Yankees released Aceves for attitude reasons and the fact that he got “too comfortable” on the DL. Worth a read.

    • jsbrendog


      • jjyank
        • THC Mondesi

          Just an interesting note from that Pete Abe post:

          “Aceves was released after breaking his collarbone in what he said was a bicycle accident.”

          Has anyone ever implied that the bicycle accident didn’t happen? Don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like that.

          • jjyank

            That is a semi-interesting way to frame it. I’d lean towards you reading too much into the sentence structure, but who really knows. Clearly the Yankees knew things about Aceves that we didn’t at the time.

    • vin

      Yeah, I would also like to see a link. I’m not doubting it at all though, I just don’t remember seeing it. Pete Abe is definitely a blow-hard who had it out for certain guys (ahemARODahem), but he really did a good job to breaking stories and is a talented writer. Chad Jennings seems like a much nicer dude, but the next story he breaks will be his first.

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      For some reason I always thought he wasn’t allowed to ride a bike, and that’s how he hurt his collar bone so NYY was able to get rid of him. I guess that was totally false.

    • Gonzo

      Next stop, Raiders!

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’d say Musty would get the nod over Zoilo as a call-up no matter simply because of age and development. Zoilo’s a younger guy still developing, who should be getting more regular opportunities, and Mustelier is a relatively older guy for whom it’d be more familiarity than development, if that makes any sense. I don’t mind having a 28 year-old play irregularly. Also, Musty can probably fake more positions on the field.

    Agreed on the infield situation. Boy, would I love myself a Hairston, Jr. reunion. At what cost, though?

    I’d smile greatly if Murphy developed into being a MLB caliber starter, since he’s been the forgotten C prospect for so long.

    • jjyank

      Agreed on Mustelier vs. Almonte. Mustelier is in his physical prime, so to speak, and there are probably fewer reasons to let him keep developing. He likely is who he is at this point. I’d imagine the Yankees would want to give him at least a week or two back in AAA to get into the swing of things before calling him up, but I think he should get the nod over Almonte when the time comes.

    • Ed

      Zoilo is on the 40 man roster. I think he gets first crack unless Mustelier plays well enough in AAA to force their hand. I suppose Mustelier could also get the nod if they decide they need another corner infielder soon.

      • Mike K

        While I generally agree with that, if they’re dumping Francisco that clears up the 40-man spot for Mustelier.

        • MannyGeee

          Counterpoint, they may just be holding that roster spot for when they need to reactivate one of the other starters. Meaning, drop Francisco for Mustellier today, in 3 weeks you will need to drop someone to make a spot for Granderson. While that guy might be Boesch (optioned to AAA), then comes Tex, except with Tex you now need to cut someone.

          • Havok9120

            None of them are on the 60-Day DL, at least not last I looked. They still have their 40 man spots.

  • emac2

    Romane hitting 350-400 doesn’t get promoted at mid season and yet we’re still pining the loss of Martin?

    I don’t see any logical thread that might tie these facts together.

    • Laz

      So he can start once every 5 days?

      Romine has gotten barely any time in AAA.
      120 AB over 3 years. He needs time to get off the rust.

  • DInnings

    Nova for Mark Ellis and a reliever is the most ridiculous trade proposal I have ever read between this blog and Yankees Lohud.

    Yeah, let’s trade Nova, age 26, making only $575,600 (peanuts) this year, age 27 and arbitration eligible next year but probably won’t make more than triple his 2013 salary and so what if he did as that’s only $1,726,800 (still peanuts), and a free agent after 2016, for 36 years old on June 6 Mark Ellis a career .266/.331/.395/.726 (ok at best) hitter whose best seasons were his age 28 and 33 seasons where Nunez has the talent to post that age 33 season with five to six times the number of stolen bases, better defense, and certainly better range. I would be thrilled wit Nunez if he posted Ellis’ career slashline considering his age, cost, speed, defensive improvement, better attitude, and expectations (third string shortstop before Jeter hurt his ankle if even a Yankee in 2013.)

    Nova is off to an eh start but he does have 16 strikeouts in 14 2/3 IP and was a batter shy of giving the Yanks 5 IP every start (4 2/3 IP first start, 5 second, 5 third.) He’s a total fifth starter right now but he is still young (26), cheap ($575,600), under control (four more years including this one), and promising (2010-11, 153 SO in 2012, 16 SO so far this season.) The Yanks could do alot worse for alot more money at fifth starter. Now if he is so bad Phelps has to take his place, ok, send Nova back to AAA and let him work things out.

    Bottom line is if the Yanks trade Nova, they should get alot more than an old infielder. Great that Ellis is having an NL Player Of The Month candidate April, but it is only April and given his history I seriously doubt he will finish anywhere close to that gaudy “It’s April” slashline.

    It is time the Yanks go with youth and homegrown solutions in the rotation and starting nine. Leave Nova alone in the fifth starter slot until he pitches his way out of it and if he is demoted, hold onto him until you can get the absolute best talent for him or bring him back up if Phelps stinks. Leave Nunez alone at shortstop. This is the perfect test for him to show what he has and quite frankly if he does finish with Ellis’s career slashline, I want him to be the 2014 Yankees shortstop and Jeter can move to 2B if Cano signs elsewhere, 3B if A-Rod is gone or at DH, or sign elsewhere.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      You want to keep good young players in those positions. Not ones who are already on about their third season of chances, don’t have high ceilings, and aren’t cutting it.

      Maybe they’ll turn into something. That clock started ticking a long-ass time ago, though.

      • Laz

        Would be able to part for Nova. But don’t see reason parting with him for a 36 yo 2B.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I agree that I wouldn’t make that trade, though.

      • trr

        Yes, since Nova is atill under the team’s control, they’d expect more in return.

        BTW, has Musty returned from injury yet?

        • Havok9120

          He’s in ExST getting his reps in for rehab before getting in MiLB games.

          • trr


    • Gonzo

      Nova strikes me as a guy that you wouldn’t want to trade for anything you could get for him. You know what I mean?

      • Jim Is Bored

        Completely agree with this.

        That’s why I’m on Mike’s side, he could be part of a package, but any 1 for 1 deal isn’t going to make me too happy.

    • JRod

      + everything. Great post. The idea that we should trade a young starter like Nova for scrub infield depth is absurd. Even if you assess Nova’s ceiling as a #4/5 starter (which I don’t accept quite yet), who the hell are we going to replace him with? Even if gets rocked the next few months we could shop him to the NL for some nice prospects, A cheap, young AL East refugee who won 16 games in 2011 is going to be appealing as a reclamation project.

      • jsbrendog

        “Even if gets rocked the next few months we could shop him to the NL for some nice prospects,”


        • Robinson Tilapia

          What if its on the day they pick up recyclables in that NL town?

  • zs190

    Ben Francisco has played 3 innings in the OF, I don’t see why the replacement has to be an OF. Boesch can be 4th OF, and if something bad happens, Nix and Nunie both have played OF before.

    I’ll admit that I’ve defended Ben Francisco on Twitter a lot and I honestly don’t think they’ll dump him until Grandy comes back. If they do want to replace him as the RH platoon for DH, I want to see David Adams promoted instead. He’s hit better than any of these guys and has a long track record of mashing against LHP. He’ll probably get DFA’ed for other guys when various players get healthy but they were willing to risk losing him when they released him and he might not be back with the organization next year, might as well get some use out of him while he’s still healthy.

  • CONservative governMENt

    They might value Flores more than Mason Williams after the DUI incident.

    Wonder if Mason will get the same scorn that Pineda got on this site.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I don’t know why I’m bothering, but if you think the Pineda and Mason incidents were identical, then I think you’re beyond help.

      • Havok9120

        This too.

      • jjyank

        Yep. I drive 10-15 mph over the speed limit regularly. In fact, having spend as much time as I have on the Garden State Parkway, I’d argue that there are situations where going the speed limit is even more dangerous than speeding.

        Should he have been speeding that late at night? No. But he wasn’t exactly drag racing out there, and he was below the legal limit. I’m done plenty of dumb shit at age 21 too, and this isn’t that bad.

        • jsbrendog

          seriously, he prob had a beer or two or if he had mroe he obvs waited till he was sober-er.

          i mean, wtf did the dude do wrong? WHO DOESNT SPEED BY 10-15 MPH ON EMPTY ROADS AT 1 AM ON THEIR WAY HOME WHEN THEY ARE NOT DRUNK/HIGH/TRAFFICKING DRUGS?!??! now, it said he was swervy..somaybe he is just an idiot, or was exhausted. which yeah, dumb but seriously sheeple?


        • Ed

          First, the safety of going 10-15 mph over the speed limit depends on the road. On a highway like the GSP, that’s normal traffic flow. If you’re on a 40 mph road, you’re pushing your luck on getting a ticket.

          That said, it’s not so much that he was speeding, it’s that he was swerving. He didn’t have control of the vehicle. Regardless of whether or not he was under the legal BAC limit, if he’s swerving around the road, it’s a problem. Maybe the problem was simply that he was too tired to drive, but if you’ve clearly been drinking and can’t control the car, how do you expect people to react?

    • Havok9120

      Probably not since his is not a “real” DUI.

      “All” he did was speed and swerve while legally “impaired.”

  • Free Cuba

    How about trading for Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. A YOUNG 3B that can rake.

  • nycsportzfan

    So will Mutellier get a shot as soon as he gets some AB’s in the minors or does he have to rake again in his rehab to be considered?