Mailbag: Hughes, Bullpen, A-Rod, Pena

2013 Draft: Day Two Open Thread
Chien-Ming Wang opts out of contract; signs with Blue Jays

Four questions in this draft-free mailbag. If you’re interested in the draft though, check out today’s open thread. Otherwise, think up some questions for next week’s mailbag and send them to use with the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Kenny asks: What are your thoughts on re-signing Phil Hughes next year to close? Granted, he’d have to want to close and it would take a few other things like Michael Pineda coming back strong, re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps continuing to progress, but he could dominate there.

Barring injury or a complete performance collapse, there’s no chance Hughes will re-sign with the Yankees as a closer. Zero. None. Not unless they pay him like a starter. Some team(s) will offer him a nice contract and a rotation spot, and that’s where he’ll go. He has no reason to come back as a reliever.

I do think Hughes would be awesome in the bullpen though, and in fact we already know he would be. We’ve seen him do it in 2009 and remember, he was dynamite out of the bullpen late in 2011 and during the postseason. If for some unexpected reason the Yankees don’t need a starter next year, sure, bring him back a reliever. He wouldn’t be open to it, however. The money is in the rotation.

Nick asks: Why not have an eleven-man pitching staff? They have several guys in the pen who can throw multiple innings, and a long man in Adam Warren so I think they can handle it. The 12th guy on the staff seems to go weeks between games (at least for the last few years). The extra bench player could allow them to do more of a platoon with several of their veterans, who are old and have platoon splits.

The easy answer is that a seven-man bullpen is commonplace these days and teams always hesitate to go against the grain. It’s been a while since the Yankees used a six-man bullpen and I don’t see them going back anytime soon. Having the extra arm is always nice, really.

That said, I do think teams could get away with it as long as they have three or four relievers capable of throwing two innings at a time. It also means having no lefty specialist. The Yankees have more platoons than they know what to do with — seriously, pretty much the only positions they aren’t platooning in some way this year are catcher, first base, second base, and center field — so having that extra position player would be nice.

Considering how important the pitching staff is for this team, carrying the extra pitcher (Joba Chamberlain? Shawn Kelley? Preston Claiborne?) over the extra position player (Brennan Boesch?) isn’t the end of the world. I do think a six-man bullpen is more doable that most realize, however.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Biggie asks: If an Alex Rodriguez suspension comes is he suspended without pay? If so, does his entire salary count against the salary cap or is it adjusted? We are almost 60 games in and suspensions sound two weeks away. Add an appeal and this can possibly carry over into next year. What would that mean to the 2014 $189 budget if anything. Thanks!

Well, the suspensions are nowhere close to two weeks away. The appeals alone will probably take months, especially if they do indeed go after 20 or so players. If A-Rod gets suspended, it won’t happen anytime soon.  This labor war party is just getting started.

Anyway, yes the salary Alex forfeits during a suspension would not count against the luxury tax. Ken Davidoff was nice enough to spell it all out today, so I strong suggest reading that. We’re talking upwards of $15M in savings if he does get the 100-game ban MLB is seeking, so it’s a big chunk of change. That can fill a lot of roster holes.

Ariel asks: With our replacement shortstops playing abysmally, do you think the Yankees regret giving up on Ramiro Pena? Do you think he would be playing as well as he has with the Yanks?

You can file this under questions I never thought would be asked. New York has gotten a .216/.286/.289 (67 OPS+) from their shortstops this year while Rakin’ Ramiro has hit .318/.372/.506 (143 wRC+) in 95 plate appearances as utility infielder with the Braves. What the hell is that about?

Now, obviously Pena won’t maintain that pace. It’ll be a minor miracle if he does. A 50.0% ground ball rate and 16.7% HR/FB rate in that ballpark just don’t make sense considering the type of hitter he is, plus the .353 BABIP is a bit above what you’d expect even if he was a true-talent .320 BABIP guy. Pena could always pick it defensively, so that wasn’t the issue.

Considering who the Yankees have used at short and what they’ve gotten out of the position this year, I definitely think they want him back. Of course this kind of production was completely unforeseen, and I don’t think he’ll maintain this at all. He might hit better than he did in the Bronx, but Pena didn’t suddenly become Troy Tulowitzki.

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2013 Draft: Day Two Open Thread
Chien-Ming Wang opts out of contract; signs with Blue Jays
  • Travis L.

    Considering how inconsistent Phil has been, do you think the Yankees should re-sign him? With CC, Pineda (hopefully), Phelps (hopefully) in the rotation, they will need someone. I’m not sure Nova will succeed there. Will Adam Warren get a shot at the rotation considering how well he has pitched in long relief or is he stuck in the bullpen?

    • wsa

      Depends on how much he costs. In all likelihood I would prefer they move on than pay his market rate. That’s because I assume his market rate might be too high. Maybe if they aren’t going through with the luxury tax plan or are confident he will not accept they can Kyle Lohse him with a qualifying offer and get him below market. In all likelihood I would just prefer a more cost effective stop gap than paying Phil Hughes like a top of the rotation starter.

    • jjyank

      Gun to me head, I say yes for now. They’ll need a starter next year. That being said, I don’t think he’ll actually re-sign here. Someone will pay him more money and offer to let him use a bigger ballpark, perhaps even closer to his California home.

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      I’d say no. If he hasn’t figured it by now, he likely won’t IMO. To pay a 2-2.5 WAR/year pitcher long term big money is a bad move.

      He needs to go to Seattle, San Diego, Oakland, SF and he’ll be a solid mid rotation starter but in in the AL east and YS3, he’s more of a back of the rotation starter

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Only for market value. Anything above that is an overpay which is something they can’t afford to do anymore.

  • trr

    Hughes as closer? In a word, no.

  • wsa

    I think that the 7 man pen is a risk management thing. You get a few short starts or extra innings games in a short period and your pen can become overtaxed very quickly.

    The value in keeping that extra reliever around isn’t that great but neither is the value in having a pinch hitter who can’t hit or a pinch runner / defensive replacement.

    • Dr. TJ Eckelberg

      I think Mike put it perfectly. I would much rather have Claiborne/Kelly/Chamberlain/whatever than Bosch/whatever. Once you get to that level of bench player, I don’t think the difference is game changing.

    • jjyank

      Agreed. This is the 25th man we’re talking about. The impact of having an extra bat on the bench or an extra reliever is pretty minimal. Given the inherent risk all pitchers carry, I think I’d rather have the extra arm in the bullpen to help ensure that nobody gets too much work.

      • WhittakerWalt

        The 25th man is BASEBALL PLAYER Jayson Nix.

        • jjyank

          It’s probably Brignac, actually. But even if it is Nix, he’s a useful piece. Not his fault he’s been pushed into more than a utility role.

  • Mikhel

    Fun fact of the day: Ramiro Peña has always been a good hitter in winter baseball, this years numbers in Atlanta are in line with his lifetime stats, he just needs a bit of time to adjust and to play regularly.

    Other great hitters who never got a chance with the NYY even when they were their best hitters in spring training: Jon Webber and Jorge Vázquez.

    It is not as if winter success will translate to success in the majors, right Puig?

    • Steve (different one)

      I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say here.

    • hogsmog

      Vasquez has like, a 200 strikeout/160game average… in AAA.

      Nope.

  • Wolfgang’s Fault

    “Of course this kind of production was completely unforeseen, and I don’t think he’ll maintain this at all. He might hit better than he did in the Bronx, but Pena didn’t suddenly become Troy Tulowitzki.”

    Actually, a lot of people thought Peña could hit, particularly from the left-hand side, and I’m not surpirsed at all how well he’s played for Atlanta. He didn’t need to be Tulowitzki, just a solid defensive shortstop who could fill in and keep the line moving if given the opportunity. He’s been all of that for the Braves & should have been doing it here w/the Yankees!

    • jjyank

      You’re not surprised that Ramiro Freaking Pena is hitting .318/.372/.506? You are a liar.

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        He’s had 85 ab’s shiitehead. What I wrote was “Peña could hit, particularly from the left-hand side, and I’m not surpirsed at all how well he’s played for Atlanta. He didn’t need to be Tulowitzki, just a solid defensive shortstop who could fill in and keep the line moving if given the opportunity,” which is what he’s done in Atlanta. You play him everyday, he gets exposed. You plug him into favorable matchups at the right time and place, he can help a ball club — certainly at shortstop — and yeah, mostly from the lefthand side w/the stick. Now, unless you’re going to be more polite next time, you can run along & stick that fecally encrusted thick skull of yours back up your arse where it came from & don’t bother me again, ok.

    • Slu

      Nobody thought Pena could hit. Nothing he did in minors or majors before this year would lead anyone to think that.

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        He hit every year in winter ball, and he had his moments, albeit, few and far between, in the Bronx. He was on the Scranton/NY shuttle too often, & even when he was on the roster, mostly sat & didn’t get to play enough. The guy’s human, & unless & until you’ve done that before successfully, it’s tough to play well under those pressures & circumstances. He still showed enough imo that he was capable of platooning at shortstop w/someone, & knowing they were coming in w/Jeter at 39 & a busted ankle, I thought he was a better option than Nix to backup Nunez or even platoon with him. Granted, he doesn’t hit from the R/H side, or he hasn’t as of yet, but he has shown he can handle the stick from the left-side, at least to me.

    • hogsmog

      Got any stock picks?

      • FLYER7

        Always thought Pena was better than Noonie…but management fell in love with Nunez potential…current Yankees would have been better with Pena at SS instead of Nunez…Nix has been a valuable utility man/starter now for two seasons

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        Yeah, there’s this little Asian company ready to take off. I can’t pronounce it in their native hieroglyphics, but I’m told it sounds something like “hugosugamyabalz” or some such and trades under symbol UGSMBALLS on the far eastern under the cover markets. A big spender like you, why, you can probably lap up as much of the public float as they’ve already discharged to the general public. Happy trading, & always remember, past performance is no indication of future results.

  • Ken

    Ramiro Pena playing well? I am not surprised. I am glad he is playing somewhere that puts him on the field, and not just the bench. He wasn’t right for the Yankees. They should have let him go long before they did so he could have the opportunity to get more time on the field.