Mailbag: Pineda, Wheeler, Roberts, Semien


Eight questions this week, so I kept the answers relatively short. If you want to send us anything, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.



Kevin asks: If Michael Pineda comes back and has a strong year, pitching ~150 innings, wouldn’t it make at least some sense to consider trading him for a young cost-controlled hitter instead of betting on his shoulder long-term?

Oh sure, absolutely. Given the team’s needs on the infield, it definitely makes sense to deal a pitcher with a major arm injury in his not-too-distant past for a young position player. Obviously there would be many more variables here. How does Pineda look in 2014? Do any prospects take a step forward and change the team’s long-term outlook? Stuff like that. Pitchers who have shoulder surgeries tend to continue having shoulder problems, so flipping Pineda for a young infielder next winter definitely makes sense. We just have to see how these next few months play out before we can know how realistic that is.

Dan asks: Let’s say that between being healthy and playing in Yankee Stadium, Jacoby Ellsbury‘s power numbers rebound to where he approaches his career highs, or at least becomes a legit 20 HR guy. Would Joe Girardi move him down in the lineup?

I think so, especially since they have Brett Gardner ready to step right into the leadoff spot. I don’t know if it would make sense to bat Ellsbury any lower than third, but I could see the lineup being Gardner, Derek Jeter, Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, so on and so forth at some point. I guess it depends how the rest of the offense is performing. There’s no harm in having a 20+ homer, 40+ steal leadoff man. That’s quite the table-setter.

Howie asks: I haven’t heard a word about Zelous Wheeler from anybody this spring. He was a good enough prospect for the Brewers to protect on their 40-man roster for a while, and it seems he’s been able to get on base throughout his career. He got a lot of ABs for the Yankees in spring training. Any word on him? Any chance the Yankees give him a call up at some point to see if he can play a major league 3B?

Wheeler, 27, has not even played a full season at Triple-A yet, believe it or not. Only 121 total games at the level across three seasons. Baseball America never once ranked him as one of Milwaukee’s top 30 prospects in their Prospect Handbook and that’s really saying something. The Brewers have had some awful farm systems in recent years. Wheeler has put up nice numbers at Double-A (.276/.377/.428 in 321 games) and decent numbers at Triple-A (.264/.342/.410 in 121 games), plus he’s had a monster spring (.287/.381/.486), so he’s on the map. I don’t think he’ll get much of a chance to help the big league team this year though, at least not without a ton of injuries. He’s at the very bottom of the depth chart it seems.

Roberts. (Presswire)

Roberts. (Presswire)

Nic asks: Ryan Roberts worth to pick-up this late in the spring?

I don’t think so. Roberts had a big year with the Diamondbacks in 2011, hitting .249/.341/.427 (109 wRC+) with 19 homers and 18 steals, but he’s only hit .238/.296/.364 (81 wRC+) in the two years since. That includes a .256/.304/.412 (95 wRC+) line against left-handers, so he e isn’t much of a platoon option. Roberts can play second and third, and the various defensive stats say he’s a good but not great gloveman. He’s very similar to Scott Sizemore and I don’t see much of a point of carrying two Scott Sizemores. One in Triple-A is enough. The Yankees went through all that trouble to acquire Dean Anna and they removed other players from the 40-man roster this winter in favor of him. I say let him play while Brendan Ryan‘s hurt. That’s what he’s there for.

Dylan asks: I’m pretty sure I’m the only guy that ever asks this or even cares, but can we get our yearly Pat Venditte update? I saw he was available multiple times but did he pitch this spring? Does he have a shot at getting called up this year? Ever?

Venditte had surgery on his right shoulder two years ago, and he returned last season to throw 28.2 innings at three different levels (3.45 ERA). He has been brought up to big league camp as an extra arm a few times this spring but hasn’t gotten into a game. Venditte is fully healthy now and throwing with both arms, and I think he’ll start the year with either Double-A Trenton or Triple-A Scranton. It might be Double-A because there are a ton of arms ticketed for Triple-A as it is. Venditte will turn 29 this summer, so he’s not some young prospect anymore. I don’t think he’ll get called up this year, but hey, he’ll be a minor league free agent next winter, so maybe another team will give him a shot. Since he’s gone unselected in the Rule 5 Draft several times, probably not.

Frank asks: I know it’s “only Spring Training” but something has to be said about the number of runs the Yankees have allowed this Spring.  As of today, they’re only behind the Rays for fewest runs allowed.  Yankee pitchers haven’t really got lit up this Spring.  Encouraged?

It doesn’t mean anything. I know that’s the cliche but it’s true. A total of 33 pitchers have thrown a combined 266 innings for the Yankees this year, and, assuming Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno get the last two bullpen spots, 124.2 of them have them have been thrown by guys who will not be on the big league roster. Almost half (46.9%, to be exact). Bruce Billings has thrown the same number of innings (8.1) as Hiroki Kuroda, just to drive the point home. (Kuroda’s thrown in minor league games a few times, hence the low innings total.) Remember, many of those innings were against hitters who won’t sniff MLB this year. It’s neat that the Yankees have pitched well this spring — they have the second most strikeouts (234) and second fewest walks (59) among all 30 teams — but ultimately it means nothing. Spring Training stats for one individual player mean little and they mean even less for a group of players.

Dustin asks: John Ryan Murphy for Marcus Semien. Would you do it? Would the White Sox do it?

Semien. (Presswire)

Semien. (Presswire)

Pretty sure I’d do it. Semien, 23, hit .284/.401/.479 with 19 homers, 24 steals, and more walks (98) than strikeouts (90) in 137 games between Double-A and Triple-A last year before getting a cup of coffee in September. He actually made his big league debut in Yankee Stadium. Here’s the box score. Baseball America (no subs. req’d) ranked him as the 91st best prospect in the game last month, and in their subscriber-only scouting report they said he has pushed “beyond his original utility profile” because he’s hit so much. Semien is said to fit best at second or third base, and given the Yankees’ need for both short and long-term infield help, he’d make a lot of sense. It is a bit of a concern that he was considered a future utility man as recently as 12 months ago, but not enough to deter me completely. The White Sox desperately need a catcher and Murphy would fit well for them. I don’t know if they’d pull the trigger though.

Jonathan asks: Since Jeter came into the league, what would be the best 25 man roster that could be put together by the collection of Yankees that have come and gone or are currently on the roster? (Lineup, Bench, Rotation, Bullpen)

The Play Index was made for stuff like this. Here is the highest bWAR at each position (min. 50% of games played) during Jeter’s career, starting in 1996, his first full season. Some of these are obvious (click the link on each position for the full results):

If you’d rather use the second best player at one of the other positions than Justice at DH, it would be Brett Gardner (19.3). I’d put him in left and Matsui at DH for obvious reasons. If you want a second lefty in the bullpen, Boone Logan (3.2) would replace Nelson. I picked actual bench/part-time players for the bench and yes, during the Jeter era, Ryan has the second highest bWAR among Yankees shortstops. Crazy.

That’s a pretty excellent team otherwise, no? Not like we should have expected anything different. Nice mix of dynasty guys and more recent players, though not so much on the pitching staff. Only three guys on that staff joined the team after 2006. Of course, the more recent guys haven’t had as much time to accumulate bWAR. Anyway, there’s a the rest of the team around Jeter.

Categories : Mailbag


  1. Eddardo Nuney says:

    It’s a pretty excellent team except for Jobber in the pen. Bring him in and the game would be lost. Notice that Frankie is the leader of the bench even with this All Star lineup. Just goes to show you how valuable he will be to us this season.

  2. Darren says:

    Minor quibble, but no Strawberry on the bench?

    I also resent Ryan appearing on this list as he’s done absolutely nothing for the team so far, other than offer false hope for the most interesting man in Tampa, Mr. Yangervis Solarte. So far, Ryan is just a bobbly Betty with a bad back.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      You can quibble all you want but the method Mike used gives him as the answer.

      It makes sense, who the heck else has played at SS? No one remotely notable.

      • Dan says:

        LUIS SOJO!!!!

      • Darren says:

        I’m not quibbling (for now) with Play Index’s results indicating that Ryan is the most valuable pure back-up SS.

        My quibble is, why include a pure back-up shortstop on an the “best bench players of the past 19 years”?

        Not to make too big of a deal over a fun question, but clearly Straw is a better player to have on your bench than Ryan. If you’re talking overall balance, you already have Cairo as your back-up infielder. If you want to carry a second infielder, you’d get rid of Joba or Gordon and pick up someone other than Ryan.

      • I'm One says:

        Not gonna quibble with Mike’s approach, but I’d like to see this with best single season WAR during this era. Obviously Ryan remains on the bench. Do other positions change?

    • Vern Sneaker says:

      Really interesting stuff. Absolutely Straw not Ryan.

  3. mick taylor says:

    if pineda can get back to being the pitcher he was in seattle why on earth would you trade him unless you get an allstar infielder who is young. pineda will be under team control for next few years , so he will not cost much. cheap young quality pitchers are the most valuable commodity

    • I'm One says:

      I thought this was pretty well explained in the post. He had a significant shoulder injury and these things tend to cause problems down the road. Will that happen and if so, when? Anybody’s guess. That would be one reason to trade him for another player of need with upside. This is also based on significant improvement from one of the MiLB players (Banuelos?), reducing the need for Pineda.

      • Yankee$ says:

        Nova too if Nova takes a big step forward this year, Tanaka shows the adjustment to US baseball is smooth and Manny develops and progresses, then it makes good sense.

      • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

        It’s mick. He’s still lost in his drug-induced haze from the Exile on Main St. sessions to know what’s going on.

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        The thing is, Pineda’s shoulder injury really doesn’t tend to cause problems down the road.

        People don’t seem to realize that they can’t conflate him with everyone else who’s ever torn a labrum, because, for most of those players, the labrum tear is incidental to a much more serious injury to the rotator cuff or shoulder capsule.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Intellectual exercises r hard.

  4. The Great Gonzo says:

    I know we are all too quick to throw Cervelli out the door in any swingin dick trade, but I would bet a Cervelli/Semien trade might be closer to doable. Sure, Serial Killer John Ryan Murphy is the flavor of the month, but Cervelli has proven more in the Show and has (seemingly) more trade value.

    In theory, you could swing that trade, start McCann, bring The Lettuce Kid up as the back up and keep Serial Killer John Ryan Murphy in AAA catching everyday as to not ruin his development.

    If McCann gets injured, we’re screwed regardless. BUT, if McCann gets injured, you can then bring up Serial Killer John Ryan Murphy.

    • Yankee$ says:

      Not sure Cervelli would have more value to wSox than Murphy (prospect status and years of control.) Right now Cervelli’s baseball card is more indicative of the player he is than a SSS in March.

      • I'm One says:

        I’d still dangle him first to see if the White Sox bite, as IMHO (for whatever that’s worth), SKJRM meets the Yankees needs long term better than Cervelli. But I get your point, the White Sox would probably prefer SKJRM.

      • The Great Gonzo says:

        Actually a valid point, since they are farther away than, lets say… Arizona, from being a contender.

        You can make the argument that Cervelli has turned the corner, but I get where you’re going.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        On paper, yes. As you can see by reading this comment section these past few days, opinions can peak and valley greatly based on SSS and where folks think someone is trending. There could possibly be an opportunity to fool (or not fool) someone into selling high on Cervelli. I also don’t think it’s just fans who do this sort of thing. FO’s do as well.

  5. NeilT says:

    I’d put Gardner in CF and slide Bernie over to LF. Definitely want Gardner otherwise that outfield defense is going to stink up the stadium.

    Also can we get Swisher on the bench? I know he’s never going to supplant Paulie in right but really, Miguel Cairo?

  6. Dropped Third says:

    What about putting Giambi as the DH and Tex on first.

  7. Yankee$ says:

    Semien 71 PA and 1BB in The Show …. So something to work on.

  8. TWTR says:

    Great question by Kevin (and great response too).

    • I'm One says:

      Yeah, thought provoking. That hadn’t crossed my mind, but I guess there’s some merit to that line of thinking.

      • TWTR says:

        Keep in mind, however, that Schilling had similar surgery early in his career and subsequently was fine, but he may be an extreme outlier. Obviously, we will know a lot more as the season progresses, but as long as Pineda is cost-controlled, they can take it year to year.

        • nyyankfan_7 says:

          You can’t compare Shilling and Pineda, it’s ludicrous. Shilling had the bloody sock and what does Pineda have? Soiled underwear from his DUI stop?

        • I'm One says:

          Or, we may not know for a couple of years. Based on the SSS of Spring Training, he’ll look fine to begin the season. He may or may not look good as the season progresses. But we really won’t know if shoulder problems will re-occur until they do (or he retires and they don’t). I’d definitely go year-to-year with him, but would have to consider a trade if the stars aligned on everything.

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          The guy above is an idiot, but it’s true that you can’t compare Schilling to Pineda.

          Schilling’s injury was simply on another level of severity than Pineda’s.

  9. emac2 says:

    I can’t imagine a scenario where pineda does well enough to get a good enough hitter in return to trade him.

    We would have to see 3 guys come out of the farm as likely number 3+ starters before I would give it serious thought. Especially coming off a good season.

    Maybe cc

    • The Great Gonzo says:

      He’s already done enough in his one major league season to be traded for the top hitting prospect in baseball…

      So there’s that

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        He needs to start on Opening Day to truly show his worth.

      • emac2 says:

        I’m sure we can trade him. I just can’t imagine wanting to with his age, the rest of our staff and assuming he does well enough to bring back a quality player.

        I’ll trade young pitching but cheap, young pitching that is proven in Yankee stadium?

        No way.

        • The Great Gonzo says:

          Dude, you’re moving the goalposts.

          Comment 1: ‘can’t possibly be good enough to trade him for a good enough hitter’

          Comment 2: ‘definitely can be good enough to good enough to trade him for a good enough hitter. But I wouldn’t do it’

          • emac2 says:

            I can see the confusion.

            My original statement was intended to convey that no matter how well Pineda does I can’t see trading him. The only way he brings anything of value is if he pitches well and if he does we need to keep him.

            The point wasn’t if we could of could not but that there wasn’t any set of circumstances where it would make sense.

            You shouldn’t use quotes when you don’t use the same words. Quoting your interpretation instead of my words makes it much harder.

      • emac2 says:

        Maybe you are confused about the time element?

        I’m postulating about this season not his career achievements

      • Gonzo says:

        As crazy as the OP is, he does have a point. He was once traded for a top hitting prospect sure, but 5 years of control with no shoulder injury > 3 years of control with a past shoulder injury.

        Not saying he worth nothing, but I wouldn’t even bring up that he was once traded for a top hitting prospect. He’s a different pitcher now.

  10. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    I am very saddened that Mike has not chosen to join Team Ryan Roberts.

  11. Jorge Steinbrenner says:


    1. That is a truly hilarious bench you compiled there.
    2. The real question could be how many young impact hitters could Michael Pineda be traded for throughout his career. What’s the over/under on that?
    3. What I’m taking from this is that Bruce Billings is good enough to be our #2 starter, amirite?
    4. We are not trading for anyone who may inspire John Sterling to make monkey noises as a home run call.

    Thank you.

    • Deathstroke Heathcott says:

      I just imagined John Sterling making excited monkey noises (with Waldman chiming in excitedly as well) and chuckled.

  12. The Great Gonzo says:

    Big question: What would Sterlings Home Run call be for Semian?

    This could be a fun game.

  13. John Duci says:

    Uhmmm no it doesn’t make sence to trade Pineda. He’s young and has stud. He’s a big reason the rotation looks really good for the future.

    • D$1184 says:

      But major shoulder injuries are a concern for pitchers long-term. Exhibit A: Johan Santana, most recently seen not being able to break a pane of glass with his “fast” ball. To be fair, he’s had 2 shoulder capsule replacements, not just the one that Pineda had.

      • Ed says:

        There’s a big difference between Pineda and Schilling’s injuries though. Santana’s return from his first should capsule replacement is the most success anyone has ever had after that surgery. One partial season worth 0.2 bWAR / 1.4 fWAR.

        Labrum surgery is still something to be afraid of, but people have recovered from it and had long successful careers. Clemens and Schilling both had it early in their careers and went on to have Hall of Fame level careers. We also have Anibal Sanchez as a more recent case with an above average career.

        The risk on labrum surgery seems to be whether or not you’ll make it back at all.

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Ugh, Pineda’s shoulder capsule was not and never had been operated on.

        The correct comparison is Anibal Sanchez.

        • Gonzo says:

          The correct comparison is Anibal? I’m curious as to how you can be so positive that this is the correct comparison as opposed to another pitcher with a similar surgery?

  14. D$1184 says:

    I’m a little surprised El Duque cracked the roster as the no. 5 guy. I would have thought maybe Boomer Wells. He always dominated at Yankee Stadium.

  15. D$1184 says:


    SS Derek Jeter
    2B Robinson Cano
    3B Alex Rodriguez
    1B Jason Giambi
    CF Bernie Williams
    RF Paul O’Neill
    C Jorge Posada
    LF Hideki Matsui
    DH David Justice

    LF Brett Gardner
    SS Derek Jeter
    2B Robinson Cano
    3B Alex Rodriguez
    1B Jason Giambi
    CF Bernie Williams
    RF Paul O’Neill
    C Jorge Posada
    DH Hideki Matsui

    That’s surprisingly hard to do. It’s like trying to make up an All-Star line-up.

  16. Ed says:

    Isn’t the recurring shoulder problems issue more true about rotator cuff issues? With other shoulder problems, it feels like you either recover or you don’t (with the odds heavily against you recovering as well as Pineda has).

    The guys thrown around as having similar injuries to Pineda are usually Clemens, Schilling, and Anibal Sanchez. I don’t think any of them at shoulder trouble after their initial recovery. And no, I don’t consider Schilling’s career ending shoulder surgery at 41 to be relevant to this discussion.

    • Gonzo says:

      I’m not sure, but are you saying that no pitcher recovering from a similar injury has reached the majors and then suffered a setback? It’s all or nothing?

  17. Wayne says:

    I am surprised how well Pineda has looked. But if he does come back as being pretty good I would not trade him. You can never have enough pitching in the rotation. You don’t give that up. He seems to have a improved delivery so we will see what happens this year. Trade Nova for a young infielder instead.

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