Mailbag: Pineda, Lee, Bailey, Buehrle, Solarte

The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Ep. 3 - 5/2/14
Heyman: Tigers agree to deal with Joel Hanrahan

Only six questions this week — not including yesterday’s Mark Teixeira question — but they’re good ones. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything throughout the week.


Mads asks: Might the injury to Michael Pineda be a blessing in disguise? If the Yankees were to make it deep into the playoffs, he would still be available to them, since he hasn’t reached his innings limit. So it might not be so bad that he is out for a couple of weeks.

Maybe. We said the same thing about Bartolo Colon‘s hamstring injury a few years ago, but he came off the DL and wasn’t nearly as effective. He admitted to being apprehensive about cutting it loose after getting hurt. There’s always a chance Pineda will come off the DL and not be the same pitcher, so who knows if he’ll even be worthy of a rotation spot late in the season? His injury is a concern given its proximity to his surgically repaired shoulder too. The Yankees definitely needed to monitor Pineda’s workload this season but now it’s out of their hands for at least a few weeks. It might help keep him fresh deep into September and possibly October, sure, but there’s also a chance it completely derails his season.

Dan asks: Looking back on it now, since we have at least a little bit of a contribution to point to from Pineda, and also the hope of more to come, would you prefer the deal that brought in Pineda over the failed one for Cliff Lee the year before? I mean, Zach McAllister still was sent away in a complete waste of a trade for Austin Kearns, and David Adams is still David Adams. I don’t really know to be honest. Is it still too early to tell?

As the story goes, the Yankees and Mariners had agreed to a trade that would have sent Lee to New York back in July 2010. Jesus Montero, David Adams, and Zach McAllister were the package going to Seattle. However, Adams was still on the mend from his traumatic ankle injury at the time, and the Mariners balked once they reviewed his medicals. They asked for Eduardo Nunez instead and the Yankees weren’t happy they reneged after essentially having a handshake agreement in place. They said no and that was that.

The Yankees had the best record in baseball at the time of the non-trade and they had just won the World Series the year before, so they were still a league superpower with legit championship aspirations. They eventually lost the ALCS to Lee and his new Rangers teammates. Obviously we have no idea how things would have played out had the Yankees landed the southpaw, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say their chances of winning the World Series would have gone from very good to super duper good.

Because of that, I would have rather made that deal than the Pineda deal. It doesn’t have anything to do with Pineda’s shoulder and his recent back issue. The Yankees were on the cusp of a second straight AL pennant without Lee and he could have put them over the top. I’m in favor of adding the impact player when you’re that close to a title. Lee would have only been a rental and Pineda may potential be a good long-term piece for the Yankees, but flags fly forever. Remember: we’re tryin’ to win a ring around here.

Kerwin asks: Can you explain why CC Sabathia has such a distaste for Jackie Bradley Jr.? Is there history between the two?

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Hah, I have no idea but it seems mostly harmless and kinda funny. I think it stems from Opening Day 2013, when Bradley went 0-for-1 with two walks against Sabathia. CC appeared to call him a “punk ass motherf**ker” after striking him out in a game later in the season, and since them he’s always seemed to have disdain for Bradley. Last week Sabathia hit him with a pitch — it looked like a breaking ball that got away, so not intentional — and then gave him a mouthful after Bradley stared him down. I don’t know how or why it started, but Sabathia’s beef with Bradley seems like a real thing. For what it’s worth, Bradley is 0-for-8 with those two walks and five strikeouts against CC, so maybe the big lefty is in his head.

New Guy asks: Any updates on Andrew Bailey? I know he’s a David Aardsma type reclamation project, but man. Sure would be nice if he could give the pen a boost later in the year.

The last update I saw on Bailey came way back in the middle of March, when it was reported he was playing catch from 90 feet and hoped to stretch it out to 120 feet within the next week. Hopefully he’s done that by now. Bailey had his shoulder capsule repaired in late-July and it comes with a year-long rehab process. Usually longer, but maybe his rehab will be shorter because he’s only a reliever. The Yankees have maintained that if he does pitch this year, it probably won’t be until September. The structure of his contract — minor league deal with a club option for 2015 — indicates the signing was made with an eye on next year, similar to the Jon Lieber and Aardsma signings a few years ago.

Chris asks: Any thought at a run at Mark Buehrle? He would come cheaper than Cliff Lee. No?

I have to imagine Buehrle would come cheaper, yes. He’s off to a very strong start this year (2.25 ERA and 3.21 FIP), but he’ll revert back to the same ol’ Mark Buehrle once his 2.6 HR/FB% rate returns to its career norms (~10%). His strikeout and walk rates are the same as they always were. Buehrle is owed $18M this season and $19M next season, so he’s not cheap, plus the Blue Jays have made it clear they don’t like trading within the division unless they’re blown away. Maybe that isn’t the case with Buehrle and they’d just be happy to shed his salary. Buehrle isn’t great but he’s pretty reliable and would be an upgrade for the Yankees. I just don’t know if acquiring him from an AL East rival is all that realistic.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Donny asks: After seeing Yangervis Solarte go through his first mini-slump of the season and reading/hearing analysts describe teams pitching him differently with more offspeed stuff, it got me wondering: what does the pitch f/x data look like now compared to the beginning of the season? Does this data support those analyses? Or is this simply a hot bat normalizing to the player Solarte actually is?

Anecdotally, it seemed like Solarte was starting to see more offspeed pitches in the middle of last month, after teams got a look at him and realized they would need something more than a fastball to get him out. After going 12-for-28 (.429) to start the season, Solarte has gone only 12-for-51 (.235) since. The good news is that he is still walking and making contact — 2/2 K/BB in the first eight games, 11/10 K/BB since — so he hasn’t been completely lost at the plate.

Yangervis played 22 games prior to last night — couldn’t wait around for the various PitchFX sites to update overnight, so last night’s game is not included in the table below — and let’s break his season down into two seven game segments and one eight game segment to see how he’s being pitched. Courtesy of Brooks Baseball:

All Counts Solarte Ahead Pitcher Ahead
Games 1-7 51.2% 48.8% 75.0% 25.0% 22.2% 77.8%
Games 8-14 66.4% 33.6% 89.5% 10.5% 57.6% 42.4%
Games 14-22 68.2% 31.8% 69.8% 30.2% 61.0% 39.0%

Obligatory reminder that we are talking about very small samples here, so don’t take these numbers to heart. We’re just looked at them for fun.

Anyway, contrary to the theory that he was seeing more offspeed stuff, pitchers have generally thrown Solarte more fastballs as the season has progressed. The pitch type linear weights at FanGraphs show Yangervis has been most effective against curveballs and sliders and least effective against the various fastballs (four-seamer, two-seamer, sinker, cutter), so I guess it makes sense that pitchers are throwing him fewer breaking balls in recent weeks. Solarte has trouble with the heat, it seems. What did we ever do before we could look this stuff up? Hooray facts.

The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Ep. 3 - 5/2/14
Heyman: Tigers agree to deal with Joel Hanrahan
  • jv

    Didn’t Buehrle once say he’d refuse to shave his beard for the Yankees?

    • 28 this year

      I thought that was Brian Wilson.

  • TWTR

    Cliff Lee is some Yankee fans’ white whale.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Can you blame them? The guy was honestly one of the best pitchers in the game and continues to be – there is no telling how different the last 4 seasons would have been.

      I will never forget when the news broke that he was going to be a Yankee – I called my brother and we both knew we would be seeing a repeat World Series title in 2010; I sent out mass text messages gloating about it…..and then it was all taken away from us because of Eduardo freaking Nunez and David Adams. Damn you Jack Zduriencik! Serves him right having Justin Smoak suck and Jesus Montero bloat up.

      • Bavarian Yankee

        “there is no telling how different the last 4 seasons would have been.”

        4 seasons? They would’ve only gotten him for 2 months. In hindsight it seems pretty unlikely that he would’ve stayed with the Yanks.

        • Mike Axisa

          Yes, but then there’s also no Montero to trade for Pineda and who knows who they acquire for the rotation instead. The trade would have changed everything.

        • nyyankfan_7

          Again that’s the fun of what could have been’s. You can’t say there is no way he stays with the Yankees – he would have been just as likely to sign a long term deal with them as not.

          And regardless if he does or doesn’t stay with the Yankees you don’t think that would have impacted each season after that? You think the Yankees don’t attack 2011 different if they had won the World Series with Cliff Lee in 2010? They lose Montero so they don’t get Pineda – that clearly changes their focus on pitching in those seasons. They expected to have Pineda come in and have a rotation spot that first year, surely they would have signed someone else to take that spot in 2012. So yeah I stand by my statement, that last 4 seasons would have absolutely played out differently.

        • Mister D

          BUT … we would have gotten picks 33 and 37 after he signed with Philadelphia. We would have used those picks on Jackie Bradley Jr. (helping us, hurting Boston) and Tony Cingrani (he throws good!).

          • Bavarian Yankee

            let’s not fool ourselves: that Yanks would’ve wasted that pick and drafted guys we wish they’d never have drafted in the first place. Nah, just kidding, didn’t think about the draft picks.

      • TWTR

        Lee may have made sense at one point in time, but he is now old and expensive. This team has enough old and expensive players.

        • Mike Axisa

          Old, expensive, and one of the five best pitchers in baseball. Everyone seems to forget that last part.

          • TWTR

            I haven’t forgotten, but I don’t believe in going all-in for any one season if it means sacrificing an organization’s best prospects, especially with the lack of upper level depth in the Yankees’ farm system and the age on the major league roster. I know we disagree on that.

          • long time listener, first time caller

            Making a move for him now just feels like Randy Johnson 2.0, doesn’t it? That’s about the only reason I can’t get behind this idea. He’s still good, but obviously past his prime.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Cliff Lee is some Yankee fans’ white whale.

      At least Lee’s good. How do you explain the irrational love for a league average shortstop? (I can’t bring myself to type his name)

      • Lukaszek

        The way his name gets thrown around you would think that he is a reincarnation of 1999 Jeter and 2000 Garciaparra

  • Mister D

    What did we ever do before we could look this stuff up? Hooray facts.

    Got it wrong, but with a lot of confidence. Stats are for nerds.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Honestly, it really kind of sucks.

      My friends and I used to spend hours in a bar debating baseball statistics or who was that guy in that one movie….now it’s all answered in 15 seconds. God I’m old.

      • Mister D

        I’m the opposite, debates where’s there’s an actual answer, just one that’s unknown, were the worst thing in the world to me. Luckily smartphones came around relatively early in my life and that was all wiped out.

        Trivia: Cool to consider for hours

        Actual facts: Just figure out the fact and move on

      • Jorge Steinbrenner


  • emac2

    Every player goes through adjustments.

    I had Hanley Ramirez his first season on a fantasy team and I don’t know if he even got a hit in May but was amazing the rest of the time.

    The idea that he struggles with fastballs would explain why he wasn’t highly regarded. It would be easy to platoon around though.

    • Mister D

      That assumes his issue is more “can’t hit 93+” versus “can’t adjust off velo gaps”. Former you could theoretically work around, latter can be exploited by pretty much every starter in the bigs.

      • Preston

        What I find interesting is that he got thrown so many breaking balls early in the year. Usually when a rookie comes up pitchers challenge them with fastballs, then adjust to throwing more breaking balls when they prove they can hit it. They did the opposite with Solarte.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    I was in the camp that NY was right for not giving up Nunez, and to this day I can’t wrap my head around the fact that he can’t wrap his head around baseball. Being not just an evaluator but predictor of talent is ridiculously difficult. I do it for a living for my field, and it makes me feel better knowing NY kept Nunez and then ended up damn near giving him away after he couldn’t keep his helmet on his head.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    In retrospect, yeah, I make that Lee deal every day and twice on Sunday. Retrospect also leads to one too many annoying Fred Robbins posts (Scott Kazmir! Grady Sizemore!) and never really leads to anything useful in life. :)

    If I could have any magical device in life, though, it’d be one which would allow me to see present day if one small past detail would have been changed. Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, McFly.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I cannot believe the Yankees signed Ellsbury with his .309/.364/.464 slash line and 8 steals through the first month when they could’ve gotten Sizemore’s .213/.294/.360 slash and 2 steals at a fraction of the price!

  • PFOJ

    That Entourage video is hilarious. Teixeira is so goofy, it’s so funny to me whenever he’s being sincere.

  • Dick M

    I don’t care what the linear weights say, Solarte is fastball hitter who has trouble staying back on the curve.

  • http://riveravenueblues Mississippi doc

    Forget Lee. That ship has sailed, along with Drew. Maybe Andy will come back, and if he doesn’t, we can try Guidry.

  • UncleArgyle

    CC probably dislikes Bradley so much because he’s a rookie who acts like he’s a ten time MVP. To illustrate, the Sox first game of the year, down in the 9th bases loaded 2 outs and Bradley comes on to pinch hit. He rests the bat on his shoulder for the entire at bat and strikes out looking on 2-2 pitch. Bradley throws his helmet and waves his arms at the Ump like it’s the worst call in history (it was clearly a strike on replay). In the post interview Bradley complained to reports how unfair it was he didn’t get “rewarded” for his at bat. Rewarded for not swinging? I can see why pitcher like CC would find his Hollywood attitude irritating.