Mailbag: Kelley, A-Rod, Judge, HBPs, Mo


Six questions this week, but none of the answers are particularly long. Use the Submit A Tip box — which now sits below the Kabak Hat Watch — to send us anything throughout the week.



Kyle asks: I have two questions about Shawn Kelley. 1) How long is he under team control, and 2) If he were still on the Mariners having the season he is now and Brian Cashman wanted to acquire him, what would it take? More than just Abe Almonte this time right? Thanks

Kelley is in his first year of arbitration-eligibility and remains under team control in both 2014 and 2015. He’s making $935k this year and probably won’t crack $3-3.5M in either of the next two years unless he starts picking up saves.

Kelley, 29, has a 3.74 ERA and 3.19 FIP in 33.2 innings this year. His strikeout rate (13.37 K/9 and 36.2 K%) is ridiculous and he’s been outstanding since the calendar flipped to May: 1.93 ERA and 1.78 FIP while stranding 17 of 18 inherited runners. Given his salary and years of team control, he would obviously cost quite a bit more an Almonte at the deadline. Probably two good but not great prospects. The Mariners had just designated Kelley for assignment and basically destroyed all their leverage when the Yankees acquired him. Credit to Brian Cashman & Co. for swooping in and grabbing him, Kelley’s been some find for them.

Rob asks: What happens to the Yankees’ luxury tax situation if Alex Rodriguez is declared “unable to perform” and then retires? I understand that insurance would cover 80% of his remaining salary but would it still count against the luxury tax? What if he’s suspended?

Being “unable to perform” and retiring are two different things. Being “unable to perform” means you just stay on the DL and get paid. Retiring is walking away and forfeiting the rest of your contract. If A-Rod is declared “unable to perform,” he still counts against the luxury tax even if insurance reimburses the team. If he’s suspended, then his salary does not count against the tax. Long story short, the only way Alex won’t count against the luxury tax is if he voluntarily retires or MLB suspends him. That’s it.

Mo asks: Do you think the Yankees hurt themselves for future drafts by going over-slot for Aaron Judge? I think they could have used the pick next year to sign a college senior for $50k (doing this because if they don’t sign the pick next year they lose it) and then used the huge amount of pool money from that pick to select players who dropped for signability reasons. Your thoughts?

Oh no, not at all. They went over-slot a relatively small amount, less than $150k. This wasn’t going double-slot like they did for Slade Heathcott. I’d much rather have Judge now than the pick next year, no doubt about it. Prospects are like money — a dollar today is worth more than a dollar next year, which is worth more than a dollar in five years. Passing on Judge over such a small amount means losing a chip at next year’s trade deadline, for example.

And just as a reminder, picks are now protected for two years under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Had Judge not signed, the Yankees would have been given the 33rd overall pick in next year’s draft. If the player they took with that pick didn’t sign, they would get the 34th overall pick the next year. If that player didn’t sign, then they lose the pick.

William asks: How does the overage tax work? Will the Yankees get a bill after the signing period ends tomorrow? Who gets that money?

I don’t know when the Yankees will get their bill — they are currently $114k over their pool, resulting in an $85.5k tax hit — but that money gets distributed to teams that didn’t not pay the tax this year for next summer’s draft. I don’t know how it’s distributed or if they even get the actual money, maybe they’re just allotted some extra pool space and the cash goes into MLB’s central fund. I’m sure the bill will arrive soon, I know the luxury tax check is due one week after the bills are sent out in December.

Quentin is the HBP king. (Getty)

Quentin is the HBP king. (Getty)

Ethan asks: There seems to be a ton of variance in HBP from player to player, year to year. Is there skill in taking a pitch? Does it just depend on batting stance/purposeful plate crowding, or are these players “disliked” enough to get thrown at more often than anyone else? It can mean 20-30 more times on base per season, which isn’t exactly negligible, but I haven’t heard anyone talk about this statistic at all.

Getting hit by pitches is definitely a skill. Or maybe it’s not so much a skill as it is willingness to get hit. It’s repeatable though. Carlos Quentin, who as been hit by at least 17 pitches in four of the last five years, is the poster boy for the whole “getting hit is a skill” thing. Mark Teixeira is usually good for double-digit hit-by-pitches each year, and Chase Utley always gets hit by a ton of pitches as well. The year-to-year hit-by-pitch leaders are typically the same guys.

I have not seen a good analysis about the ability to get hit by pitches. Like everything else, I imagine it stems from many things put together — crowding the plate, batting stance, how quick a player picks up the ball, and the type of arm protection someone wears could all be a factor. Injury risk is an obvious downside, so there’s a balance between getting on-base more often and staying on the field more often. It’s a topic I’d love to see explored more in-depth.

Jon asks: It’s Mariano Rivera a legitimate Cy Young candidate and could he win?

Nah, not without an outrageously great second half. Mo’s best chance to win a Cy Young was probably 1996 or 2008, when he was a legitimate four-win reliever without accounting for the fact that relievers are generally undervalued by WAR. Rivera’s awesome and he’s having a great year, but he’s not a legitimate Cy Young candidate. It’s not a lifetime achievement award.

Categories : Mailbag
  • jsbrendog


    • lightSABR

      Hey, I was certainly one of the people scratching their heads when they dropped Aardsma instead of Kelley, and I thought the whole “we want multi-inning relievers” explanation was bogus. And the first time I saw Kelley pitch, he didn’t do anything to change my mind.

      But boy has he since then. In a year full of bad luck and disappointments, I’ll take my bright spots where I can find them.

      • jsbrendog

        this was a joke making fun of all the pessimistic cashman haters and trolls

        • lightSABR

          And that was me admitting that I had apparently been one of them. Thank heavens I was wrong and Cashman was right.

          • jsbrendog

            word, my bad. still though, doubting the move (which I did too mind you) isn’t the same as the troll dreck unreasonable he failed and hasn’t developed any players or made any good trades or done anything but bring the team into the toilet. those were more my target haha.

    • Kyle

      Such a broad and immature statement by someone who obviously hasn’t watched enough Yankee baseball and also probably didn’t even read this mailbag. Get off this page, we don’t want you as a Yankees fan!

      • jsbrendog

        you obviously don’t post/rd the comments here often. you’re forgiven.

      • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

        Did you not catch that this was obvious sarcasm? Or his response above clearly saying it was?

  • yooboo

    Arod has long contract so if he was suspended for 100 games next year then which would the saving be discounted from?

    one year (25m) or the AAV (27.5).

    • trr

      Not 100% sure, but believe 1 year basis

  • SDB

    Am I the only one a bit unnerved that there’s been no news yet about Jeter’s MRI?

    • trr

      Can’t worry about what we don’t know. as soon as they say something, it’ll be brodcast everywhere I’m sure…

    • Jim Is Bored

      News frequently comes out in the afternoon.

  • trr

    Speaking of Mo, some co-workers and I were having a debate over whether or not he will be a first ballot HOF-er. They mostly think he will be, I said no because of the built in aversion to relivers the Hall has. What do you think?

    • lightSABR

      There is absolutely no question he’ll first-ballot Hall of Famer. The only question is whether he’ll be the first ever to get 100% of the vote. He probably won’t, just because some of the voters are morons, but his combination of achievement and character is undeniably HoF-worthy.

      You see the treatment he’s getting from teams during his farewell year, the gifts and such? Not even all HoF-ers get that. Mo’s the greatest of all time, and we won’t be seeing another player like him again.

      • Pat D

        He won’t get 100% simply because no one has and some writers just feel that since none of the past greats got 100% they have to make sure that no one else does.

        By the time Mo hits the ballot in 2019 there might also still be a logjam of deserving people/PED suspects lingering on the ballot, and due to the 10 vote limit, some writers might not vote for Mo so that they can vote for other guys they want to stay on the ballot.

      • Laz

        why would you expect 100%?
        No one has ever done it, not Seaver, not Ruth, not Aaron. Mo will get in, but your nuts if you think he is the best of all time and there should be questions why there were some no votes.

    • John S.

      If he doesn’t get in I don’t which reliever would. He has the rings, the numbers (regular and postseason), and he seems well liked and respected by the media. Plus 5 years from now when he’s eligible some of these old dinosaur voters should have passed. I think he gets in comfortably on the first ballot. Of course I don’t know who else will be on the ballot and that could potentially be a factor, but I still say he gets in on the first try.

      • yooboo


        Could be back to back years 98 percentage as first eligible?

        2018- Chipper Jones.
        2019- Mariano Rivera.

        • Pat D

          Chipper won’t get near that high a vote total. The only other guys coming up who I could conceive approaching Seaver’s record vote percentage are Maddux, Johnson and Mo.

    • SDB

      He’ll get in on the first ballot. You’d have to know nothing about baseball, or be seriously impaired cognitively to deny his place in the Hall. There’s a reason that just about every opponent of his this year has shown him so much respect and adoration with these gifts. Fantastic player both in the regular season and postseason, and an incredible human being.

      • yooboo

        Eckersley may be the only reliever that got in on first try. I have no time to check each reliever. If you think you know baseball then you show us your work here.

        • Donny

          Eck also had 197 wins (many as a starter) as well as the CYYoungnd MVP in 1992 with Oakland. So he isn’t the fairest of comparables; though your point is fair.

        • Pat D

          You are right about Eckersley. Fingers was on his 2nd ballot, Wilhelm, Gossage and Sutter were on their 8th, 9th and 13th ballots, respectively.

    • BeanTooth

      Guaranteed first ballot.

    • Slugger27

      media loves him, players love him, number crunching analysts love him. 1st ballot lock.

    • JLC 776

      Undeniably first ballot. And I’m calling BS on every tenth of a percentage below 100%.

      100% should be Mo’s lifetime achievement award of sorts given no Cy Youngs and all. Give him that at least!

      • Pat D

        See above for why he won’t get 100%. You could be right that it’s BS, but it is what it is.

    • RetroRob

      It’s not impossible he could slip a year, but I’d be pretty surprised. He has too many things going for him: Regarded as the greatest ever at what he does; unmatched postseason career; key player on dynasty team; longevity with basically no decline; played for major market team; well respected throughout the game; regarded as clean during an unclean period.

      He will waltz in at over 90% first year is my guess.

  • http://angry.com Favrest

    Rivera won’t win the CY, if you look at how some of these awards have been distributed you can see a clear prejudice against him. In 2005, Arod won the MVP. Arod didn’t deserve that award over Giambi let alone Rivera and Jeter. F the media. Stupid fcks.

    • jsbrendog

      the media are just stupid fans with press passes. this and all awards votes, hall of fame votes, etc. are the same as the fan based all star vote.

    • Steve (different one)

      Insane. How did Rivera, Jeter or Mo deserve the MVP over ARod in 2005?

      ARod only hit .321/.421/.610 that year.

      I’ll wait.

      • jsbrendog

        for real, arod was almost a 10 war player haha.

        • Cool Lester Smooth

          There wasn’t really anyone appreciably close to him, either.

      • Pat D

        It was a stupid comment. Are you that morbidly curious for the stupid explanation?

      • Cool Lester Smooth

        Because he’s A-Rod and incapable of doing anything good, obviously!

  • lightSABR

    On whether there’s a skill of being hit by pitches, I think this Grantland article is great:


    • hogsmog

      Great read!

  • pat

    T be fair, if Almonte was hitting .287/.372/.434 in Scranton this year he would have been enough to get Kelly. Then again, he’d probably be our starting LF if he put up those numbers in Scranton so the whole thing would be moot.

    • RetroRob

      I understand what you’re saying, but Almonte is not regarded as much of a prospect. Kelly was regarded as a good pickup by baseball people when Cashman pulled off the acquisition. If Kelly was preforming for the Mariners as he is for the Yankees, it would take more, IMO.

  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

    I disagree with you saying that relievers are underrated. They’re definitely overrated in my opinion.

    I’ll put it this way: In 2008, Mike Musinna had 5.2 WAR. Mo had 4.9. Mussina wasn’t even in the discussion for the Cy Young. This was Mo’s best chance at the Cy Young.

    Mussina was overrated.

    Then there’s Sparky Lyle’s Cy Young, which should go down as one of the worst awards decisions in baseball history. He had a 3.7 WAR in ’77. Ron Guidry, on his own team, had a 4.8 WAR. Bill Campbell of the Red Sox had a 4.8 WAR. Just an awful, awful decision.

    • RetroRob

      Closers are overrated by media and the fans. What he said is that basically WAR doesn’t properly value relievers. No issue with that since I agree. That said, I’d rarely if ever vote for a reliever for the CYA.

    • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

      I have no idea why I added “Mussina was overrated”. Yeah, just ignore that.

    • Kosmo

      Awful decision ? Absolute bullshit. Without Lyle Yanks would not have made it to the WS.

      • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

        Without Bucky Dent in 98′ they probably wouldn’t have made it to the WS either. So what? They wouldn’t have made it without Guidry either – in fact, they would have been even worse without Guidry. Try an actual argument, or an attempt at a rebuttal, next time.

        • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR)

          *78′, not 98′, of course.