Mailbag: Lester, Hudson, Reynolds, 2014 Draft

O'Brien hits 20th homer in Tampa loss
8/9-8/11 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

Got six questions for you this week, so this is one of the longer mailbags we’ve had. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the best way to send us anything throughout the week.

(Greg Fiume/Getty)
(Greg Fiume/Getty)

Joe asks: Any chance the Red Sox decline their team option on Jon Lester and if so should the Yankees sign him? Also what are your thoughts on Tim Hudson for them next year?

The Red Sox do have quite a bit of pitching depth going into next year, with Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Dempster all under contract for 2014 with youngsters like Allen Webster and Brandon Workman waiting in Triple-A. Lester, who is still only 29, had an awesome start to the season but has been terrible for more than two months now. Following last night’s outing, he is sitting on a 4.38 ERA and 3.97 FIP, which isn’t much better than what he did last year (4.82 ERA and 4.11 FIP)

Lester has not been a truly dominant ace since 2010 (3.25 ERA and 3.13 FIP), so I don’t know if he’s a guy who simply peaked early or what. He’s definitely worth examining more in depth, in a non-mailbag setting. The Red Sox hold an affordable $13M option for next year, and when you consider that Ervin Santana was terrible last season (5.16 ERA and 5.63 FIP) yet still found a team willing to pick up his $13M option, I’m guessing Boston will pick up Lester’s and look to trade him rather than cut him loose entirely. If they do cut him loose though, I would definitely want the Yankees to look into him. Reasonably young AL East proven lefties are a rare commodity.

As for Hudson, I’m very wary of a 38-year-old coming off a major ankle injury like that. He was good but not great before getting hurt (3.97 ERA and 3.46 FIP) and it’s fair to wonder how he can rebound. Even though he’s not a pitcher, we needn’t look further than Derek Jeter to see how hard it can be for an older player to come back from a traumatic ankle injury. If Hudson’s willing to take a low-base, incentive-heavy one-year contract with no guarantees, sure, look at him. I just wouldn’t want the Yankees to sign him with the idea that he’ll automatically step into the rotation.

Alex asks: If Alex Rodriguez were to get injured this year, say a pulled hammy, can he decide to start serving his suspension before the appeal is heard to get some games out of the way and miss less time next year if the suspension is reduced?

Sure, A-Rod can drop the appeal at any time and start serving the suspension right away. I don’t think he would in the case of injury because he would still get paid while on the DL. He won’t get paid during the suspension and that’s what this is all about. Alex isn’t stupid, he knows his career is probably over after the suspension. He’ll try to stay around as long as possible to collect as much of his contract as he can, especially since it’s front-loaded and his salary goes down the next few years.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Donny asks: How about Mark Reynolds (DFA’d)? He sure has sucked since May 1st, but so has every other third basemen we have run out there this year.

I can’t imagine many teams have cut their leading homerun hitter, but that’s what the Indians did when they designated Reynolds for assignment yesterday. He is hitting .205/.307/.373 (93 wRC+) with 15 homers on the year, but it has definitely been a tale of two seasons. Reynolds hit .254/.340/.503 with 12 homers in his first 50 games and .173/.272/.235 with three homers in his last 49 games. He’s been awful since the end of May.

That said, Reynolds is useful. Limited, but useful. The just-turned-30-year-old has hit .215/.333/.411 (111 wRC+) against lefties this year, plus he can play the two corner infield spots. “Play” the two corner infield spots, if you catch my drift. He’s a bad defender and he strikes out a ton (32.0 K%), but he hits lefties and works the count very well (11.2 BB%). The Yankees could send David Adams, who is unlikely to play all that much anyway, back to Triple-A Scranton and platoon Reynolds at first with Lyle Overbay. It’s probably too late for a move like this to impact the playoff push, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be an upgrade.

Paul asks: Let’s assume for a moment that the season ended today. Where would the Yankees pick in the draft, and is it a strong draft this year? I’m looking for any kind of silver lining to this season, help me out here.

The Yankees currently have the 14th best (16th worst) record in baseball, so they would have the 17th overall pick in next summer’s draft if the season ended today. The Blue Jays have a compensation pick for failing to sign this year’s tenth overall pick (RHP Phil Bickford), which is why it’s the 17th overall pick and not the 16th. New York had the 17th overall pick in the 2005 draft (SS C.J. Henry), which they got from the Phillies as compensation for losing Tom Gordon. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1993 for the last time they picked that high (RHP Matt Drews, 13th overall).

As for the quality of next year’s class, here’s what an unnamed scout said to Chris Crawford (subs. req’d) back in June:

“On paper, it’s a much better crop (than 2013),” an NL scout said. “It’s not the strongest group of advanced bats again, but there’s so much more depth than there has been the past two years, particularly with the high school hitters and even more particularly up the middle. This year, other than J.P. Crawford, there isn’t one high school shortstop I would have taken in the first round. Next year, there’s about four or five that I’d consider. It’s all speculation, but I feel much more confident about getting a quality player this year than the last two.”

It’s still way, way too early to get a firm grasp on the quality of next summer’s draft class. NC State LHP Carlos Rodon is the clear favorite to go first overall right now, he’s David Price-esque, but everything else is up in the air. We have to wait for the high school and college seasons to start in January and February before players start falling into place.

Brendan asks: Any chance if Gary Sanchez rakes the rest of the season in AA and then in Spring Training he makes the big league club? Or are we going to have to wait until he is 24 to see him?

He turns 21 in December, so let’s not jump off the ledge worrying he’ll be old when he debuts just yet. The Yankees have been relatively conservative with Sanchez so far, having him repeat Low-A Charleston last year and spending most of this year in High-A Tampa. I like that, I do think they’ve been a little overly aggressive at times with their top guys the last few years. I wouldn’t expect Sanchez to have a realistic chance to make the team out of camp next year, though that could come in 2015. Have patience. They need a catcher in the worst way, but rushing the top prospect to fill that hole isn’t the answer, especially not with J.R. Murphy in Triple-A.

Ori asks: Who is the best Yankee pinch-hitter ever? I remember Ruben Sierra being a particularly good one.

Hooray for the Play Index? Hooray for the Play Index! Here are the team’s top ten pinch-hitters during the DH era (since 1973), minimum 20 pinch-hitting opportunities (34 qualifiers):

1 Cliff Johnson 23 15 5 0 0 3 6 8 2 .333 .565 .933 1.499
2 Darryl Strawberry 25 19 7 3 0 2 10 6 7 .368 .520 .842 1.362
3 Ron Hassey 28 27 11 1 0 1 5 1 3 .407 .429 .556 .984
4 Hideki Matsui 31 25 9 1 0 1 5 5 7 .360 .452 .520 .972
5 Jason Giambi 24 22 6 1 0 2 3 2 6 .273 .333 .591 .924
6 Daryl Boston 23 20 5 0 0 2 6 2 4 .250 .348 .550 .898
7 Dan Pasqua 31 27 7 1 0 2 8 4 9 .259 .355 .519 .873
8 Pat Sheridan 25 21 4 1 0 2 2 4 8 .190 .320 .524 .844
9 Oscar Gamble 59 48 11 2 0 3 10 8 6 .229 .356 .458 .814
10 Steve Balboni 33 26 7 0 0 1 3 6 15 .269 .424 .385 .809
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/8/2013.

Bernie Williams is 12th with a .768 OPS and Sierra is 21st with a .646 OPS. Hassey has the highest batting average as a pinch-hitter in team history (Strawberry is second) while Johnson has the highest OBP and SLG (Strawberry is second in both).

Johnson, who played with the Yankees from 1977-79, and Strawberry are clearly a notch above everyone else here. I like that pinch-hitting was part of their role too; they weren’t full-time guys who came off the bench a few times like Matsui or Giambi. They were legit part-time players who were expected to pinch-hit in key spots. Strawberry was awesome, still my all-time favorite player to this day.

O'Brien hits 20th homer in Tampa loss
8/9-8/11 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers
  • trr

    I see no point in adding Reynolds now.

    • Donny

      Out of pure curiousity, why? I understand that A-Rod is now back and that Reynolds has been terrible since May, but he is worth taking a flyer on. He can play first and third, he’s a righty bat, and he won’t cost anything significant. If he comes in and strikes out too much or can’t drive in runs he wouldn’t be doing anything that this team already can’t do, no?

      • Selig is a self serving hypocrite (formerly not the droids you’re looking for…)

        Takes playing (adjustment) time from Adams and cannot possibly put the team over the top?

        • Donny

          I am not the biggest Adams advocate. He had much more value as a second basemen. At this point, I have my doubts that he could ever be much more than a utility player. I get the value in that, but those type of guys can get most of their development accomplished in the minors. but, again, I get your point.

      • trr

        Mostly for what you said, Donny: He’s been awful for the last 3 months. As you say, we’ve got enough under-producing players already – so why add another? But my main reason would be that it does nothing to help us going forward. Any at bats Reynolds get would likely be at the expense of David Adams. I’m not saying we should totally give up on this season, but everything we do from now on it should be done with an eye on 2014. I’m not a big Adams guy, but he just may be a big part of 2014, especially if Cano walks. In short, adding Reynolds wouldn’t be a terrible thing, I just don’t feel it’d be enough of a difference maker to warrant the move.

        • Former ACE MannyGeee

          For the sake of conversation, Ichiro was dreadful before coming over last season. He worked out OK. It is possible, if not guaranteed, that he could snap out of the funk and provide a solid 2 months of value.

          *counterpoint- Ichiro was the exception, not the rule, I know…

          • Dick M

            He has not worked out OK. He’s a corner outfielder with a barely 300 OBA and no pop. You can’t win that way. And we gave him 2 years?

            • I’m One

              Manny was comparing this to when Ichiro came over last season, not what has happened since then.

    • OldYanksFan

      Basically you are talking about him platooning/replacing Overbay against LHP. Reynolds numbers against LHP compared to Overbay is a huge upgrade.

      I know many have given up, but if he doesn’t cost much, seems like a no brainer to me. Also, especially against LHP, the guy knows how to take a Walk… which is valuable on this team.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    That great lost role-player in baseball: The pure pinch-hitter. Is there really anyone left in the NL who falls into the Rusty Kuntz-type role?

    Yes on Lester. No on Hudson. Yes on Reynolds.

    • Donny

      How about getting a .269 average out of Balboni? Not a bad job of managing there. I wonder what manager that was that was able to get those kind of results out of him (Bob Lemon, Stick Michael, Billy Martin, Clyde King, Dallas Green, Bucky Dent, Stump Merrill?) My money is on the combo of Stick and Martin getting the most out of him. I highly doubt Stump Merrill was able to wave any kind of magic wand when ti comes to baseball…

    • jjyank

      *rubs eyes*

      I…can’t believe that’s a real name.

    • Darren

      Did you mean Rusty Staub?

    • JLC 776

      Dude is easily top 5 on the double entendre list.

  • nycsportzfan

    I’d love to get Lester next yr if the Sox passed on his option, but i don’t think they will. I know he hasen’t been good, but hes still pretty young and more importantly, left handed, and had prior success.If they do pass, i’d love to sign em.

    • OldYanksFan

      For $13.8m, the Sox almost have to give Lester a QO. And it would make sense for Lester to take another year and try to reset his FA value.

  • nycsportzfan

    Jeff Hoffman RHP E.Carolina is my early fave i’m hoping for next yr in the draft. Kids the real deal.

  • Selig is a self serving hypocrite (formerly not the droids you’re looking for…)

    Freakin loved the Straw man while he was here. Gooden too. Former Mets finding redemption in the Bronx ftw!

    • Kramerica Industries

      Might as well add David Cone to that list.

      • I’m One

        Cone tops my list of that bunch, but enjoyed Gooden and Strawberry’s time with the Yanks as well

    • Rolling Doughnut

      Torre played for the Mets in the mid 70’s foes that count? I remember he once hit into 4 DP’s in one nine inning game.

  • DERP

    I wonder if the Sox decline Lester’s option and then make him a qualifying offer. If he accepts, they can still trade him, and if he doesn’t, they get a pick, which is probably better than what they would get back in a trade.

  • Jamie

    How’d you land on Strawberry as your favorite player of all time…while not being a Mets fan? I ask cause, while not my favorite of all-time, Vladimir Guerrerro was my favorite of the 90s/00s…also, obviously, not a Yankee.

  • mick taylor

    more meaningless stats. straberry was the best when you consider how great he was post season

  • Cashman’s Mistress

    The [Insert Team] do have quite a bit of pitching depth going into next year…”

    Haven’t we learned yet that this statement is so often wrong as to meaningless?

    In the case of the Sox, those arms almost all have significant injury concerns. Certainly a better position than most teams, but far from a certainty.

    On Lester, no way in hell they decline. But they do have a tough call to make on the extension. Wouldn’t you know it, this is where option years are really helpful to evaluate!

  • Coolerking101

    I just saw that list and the first thing that popped into my head was sitting in my parent’s basement watching Ron Hassey pinch hit for Bobby Meachum in 1985 against the Blue Jays. Top of the 9th, 2 outs. He flied out and the Blue Jays clinched the division. #Feelingold.

  • Cashman’s Mistress

    Sign Reynolds. Why the fcuk not? Then again, I have little doubt Randy Ruiz would be a positive contribution to this team, especially against LHP.

    Ugh, what a joke. So glad I gave up my season tickets. Too bad half the fanbase thought they make the playoffs two weeks ago. Suckers…

    • Slugger27

      Too bad half the fanbase thought they make the playoffs two weeks ago

      what website do you read? sounds like you just made this up

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I won’t mind being the sucker next time as well. If the alternative is not to believe, I might as well go root for another team.

      Until they’re mathematically eliminated, I still believe.

  • Oy

    I’d look into Haren or Jimenez on a one year deal to replace Pettitte as an innings eater. No way that Red Sox do not pick up Lester’s option. He’d easily get somewhere between Lohse/Jackson money on the market.

    • D$1184

      I’d go higher than that. He has a higher ceiling than either of those 2 guys.

      • Oy

        Yeah, most likely. Lackey is a good comparison.

    • JOhn C

      Haren wants to return to the West Coast. No way he comes here. Don’t want Jimenez either

      • D$1184

        There was a time it was thought Kuroda wanted to remain on the West Coast as well where the time difference between his home city and his native Japan wasn’t as dramatic. Things change.

  • Mike

    Are the top 15 picks still protected? Ie if we lose a few more games and end up with the 13th pick then sign a “Type A” free agent like Brian McCann do we get to keep the pool money and just lose our 2nd rounder?

    • Oy

      Top 10 are protected.

  • D$1184

    Jimmy Rollins has cleared waivers. I know he’s not what he used to be but does betting on 34/35 year old Rollins make more sense than betting on a 39/40 year old Jeter?

    • LarryM Fl

      IMHO we have to hang with scissors hands to make a valid judgment on his potential going forward. He is very inexpensive.

      Yes to Lester, no to Reynolds, I still need more of Adams before I give up on him.

  • Wandai Wrection – Retire 21

    “I’m very wary of a 38-year-old coming off a major ankle injury like that.”

    (Insert Derek Jeter jokes here)

  • D$1184

    So many players coming through waivers that, apparently, the Yankees haven’t put a claim in on. The waiver claim on Alex Rios went to the Rangers–the Yankees would have had priority over them. Michael Young made it through without any claiming him, which is shocking since the Yankees, Orioles and Rangers were all thought to be in on him prior to the trade deadline. Casper Wells made it through to the Phillies which means every team in the AL passed on him.

    • Former ACE MannyGeee

      Why would they claim Young if the reports of Amaro wanting an arm and a leg for him were true? Why even bother?

      Rios would have been a 6th(!) OF on this team that needs more warm bodies anywhere but…

      Casper Wells is on his 5th team and sucks like insanely bad. no need to even discuss…

      Srsly dude, are you JUST here to bitch?

      • Slugger27

        i think he makes a good point about young. youre correct, rios would be unnecessary and redundant on this team, and wells is worthless, but young makes perfect sense. platoons with overbay at first and can help out on the left side of the infield.

      • D$1184

        First of all, I comment on other people’s thoughts and I crack jokes and the like. I do more than “just bitch”.

        Second, when the trade deadline passed and the Yankees didn’t make a move, one of the things we heard was “They’re low in the standings meaning they’ll have waiver priority” and “August moves are very possible”. Well, I’m not saying I wanted them (although I argue that Rios would come in front of Wells and Ichiro on the depth chart) but these are the players we logically knew would be placed on waivers. So why point out that the Yankees have waiver priority if they aren’t going to actually put in any claims on any players that get placed on waivers?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Other than Young, I’m really not concerned there.

          It’s funny to see how many guys any one of us advocated for at the start of the season wound up laying major eggs. I was certainly on the Casper bandwagon. Hell, I was on the Scott Hairston bandwagon.

          Also, the team is probably going ahead with the assumption that Alex is here the rest of the way, making Young a bit redundant. These are all just stabs in the dark on my part.

      • D$1184

        Even if I concede your point about outfielders (and I was just trying to list the players who got through waivers who they were linked to at one point or another in the past, not necessarily say they should have picked them up), are you seriously going to tell me you’d rather see David Adams and/or Jayson Nix on the roster rather than Michael Young?

  • mt

    Still ambivalent about signing Reynolds now – what’s the point? (I wanted him in off-season rather than Youkilis at $12 million, though). I have not seen him play this year but last year with Orioles he was actually pretty good defensively at first base. Not great at 3B.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If you’re of the belief that you never stop trying to upgrade while you’re still mathematically in it, and he doesn’t really cost anything of value, then there’s the point. Of course, the sobering reality of being seven back in the WC helps mitigate some of that.

  • RobG

    Its obvious JerryJRC is a closet Yankee fan….

  • Samuel

    That picture of Reynolds swinging might be the absolute worst swing and mechanics a hitter can show.

    Trying to pull an outside pitch with hips already completely open. Arms fully away from the body (limits power) and weight all over the front side.

    Stay away from that type of swing. No wonder why he was DFAd.

  • Rolling Doughnut

    Lester OK. Hudson maybe and Reynolds—NO.

  • Dick M

    A thousand times NO to Lester. Goin on 30, showing obvious signs of decline, a power pitcher who shows an inability to adapt his game; he gave the Sox his best years and now we overpay for the back end? Stop the madness and develop your own.

  • Winter
  • Improbable Island’s Dirty Midget Whores

    Real question: Why are people acting so smug and self satisfied that they were “right” that the Yankees are bad and the more optimistic fans were “wrong”?

    Congrats, guys. You’re right. The team sucks.

    All right then.