Mailbag: Hamels, Tanaka, Starters, Judge, Draft

Update: Jacoby Ellsbury leaves game with right hip tightness
Sabathia could begin throwing off a mound next week

Got nine questions and seven answers for you this week. If you want to send us anything, mailbag questions or links or comments or whatever, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

(Drew Hallowell/Getty)
(Drew Hallowell/Getty)

Scott asks: I’m sure this has been asked a million times but how about Cole Hamels? It is a pretty big contract but money isn’t an issue. Cliff Lee is hurt and the Phillies are pretty bad. He has had some injury issues but what would it take?

Hamels started the year on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, but he has a 3.07 ERA (2.80 FIP) in ten starts and 67.1 innings since being activated, so he’s been as good as ever. There is still $103M or so left on his contract through 2018, so he could be a cheaper alternative to upcoming free agents like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. The only problem is that you’d have to trade players to get him. The Phillies aren’t exactly hurting for cash either. If they trade Hamels, it won’t be for salary relief only. The shoulder issue is a little scary, especially because he has had some other shoulder problems in the past, but I do think Hamels is worth keeping in the back of your mind as a Scherzer and Lester alternative over the winter. I don’t think the Phillies are going to go into sell mode at the deadline no matter how bad things get.

Erick asks: We all know Ichiro won Rookie of the Year and MVP. Has anyone ever won Rookie of the Year and Cy Young? I know it’s dreaming since pitchers nowadays rarely get mentioned as MVPs, but MVP, CY and ROY for Tanaka? How crazy would that be?

Fernando Valenzuela is the only player in history to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards in the same season. He did it back in 1981. Jose Fernandez came kinda close last year, when he won the Rookie of the Year and finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. Tanaka obviously has a very good chance to win both awards this season with the obvious caveat that he still has about 20 starts to go. Sweeping the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards would be completely ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome.

Dan asks: At this point, it’s honestly worth wondering if the Yankees should be buyers or sellers. Is one bat really enough to put this team over the top? I don’t think so. If they became sellers, who (if anyone) would they be able to move? Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki, and Brett Gardner is pretty much it, right?

To be fair to Dan, this question came in a few days ago, before the sweep of the Mariners. Things obviously felt quite different then.

Anyway, they aren’t going to sell. They’re the Yankees. They’re close enough to both the division lead (3.5 games back) and a wildcard spot (tied for the second spot) that they’ll go for it and try to add pieces at the trade deadline, especially after spending all that money over the winter. One bat probably isn’t enough to put them over the top, but a bat and a starter and improved performance from Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann might be.

In the highly unlikely event they do sell, I think Kuroda, Gardner, and David Robertson would be their most attractive trade chips. Kuroda has a no-trade clause but would probably waive it to go back to Los Angeles, either the Dodgers or Angels. His family still lives out there. Gardner and especially Robertson would make sense for several teams. Ichiro could draw some interest but the return wouldn’t be anything great. That’s really it. Not much available for this team to realistically sell before the deadline.

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

Joey asks: Assuming the NYY either acquire a starter or Michael Pineda comes back and can contribute, who goes first between Chase Whitley, Vidal Nuno, and David Phelps? Whitely gives the least distance but seems to be the best of the bunch, Phelps seems to be best in a reliever role. Thoughts?

Dustin asks: What is with Joe Girardi always pulling Whitely out of the game early? Has he never thrown 100 in a game before?

Going to lump these two together. First, no, Whitley has never thrown 100 pitches in a game before. His career high is 91 pitches in the game against the Cardinals a few weeks ago. Remember, he was a reliever up until the end of last year. He’s thrown more than 60 pitches in an outing only 13 times in his entire five-year career. Whitely never got the chance to learn how to turn a lineup over a third time in the minors and Girardi has been careful with him in those situations at the MLB level, and rightfully so. I would have liked to have seen him get a chance to finish off that eighth inning last night, but otherwise I don’t think there’s anything wrong with how he’s handled the righty.

At this point in time, I think Nuno would go back to the bullpen whenever Pineda or CC Sabathia comes off the disabled list. Phelps has had three really rough outings in a row but I think the Yankees are more comfortable with him in the rotation. Remember, the only reason Nuno was the first guy to move into the rotation was timing — he made a spot start following a doubleheader and happened to line up perfectly to start again when Ivan Nova blew out his elbow. Phelps has more experience as a starter at the MLB level and his stuff is better. Nuno feels like the guy to go back to the bullpen in my opinion, but that could change by time Pineda or Sabathia actually get healthy

nycsportzfan asks: Hey Mike, I was wondering if you thought the Yanks could make one big trade at the deadline to find a hitter and pitcher? Examples are Aaron Hill and Wade Miley from D’Backs, Andrew Cashner and Everth Cabrera from Padres, and Charlie Morton and Neil Walker from Pirates? Could Yanks have enough to make a similar deal to those I mentioned happen? Kill two birds with one stone type thing.

I think the most realistic scenario for a trade like that would be Hill and Brandon McCarthy from Arizona. I haven’t heard anything about Miley being available, which makes sense since he is under team control for another few years and McCarthy will become a free agent after the season. I can’t see the Padres trading Cashner and I don’t think the Pirates would move Morton (just signed an extension) or Walker (local Pittsburgh guy). Ben Zobrist and David Price would be the best case scenario, but that ain’t happening. Maybe Alex Rios and Colby Lewis? Luis Valbuena and Jason Hammel would actually be a real nice fit. Valbuena can play second and third and is hitting .288/.394/.456 (136 wRC+).

Sandro asks: When the Yankees drafted Aaron Judge last year, he was touted as a potential center fielder with huge power. At 6’7″ 230, he has a similar body type to another slugger, Giancarlo Stanton. Is this comparison too hopeful?

Yes. Stanton was a third year big leaguer when he was Judge’s age. Also, Judge has big power, but it’s not Stanton power. Stanton has true 80 power (on the 20-80 scale). Just let Judge be himself. It’s unfair to compare him to Stanton. They have very little in common aside from being physically huge outfielders.

Harrison. (StudentSports.com)
Harrison. (StudentSports.com)

Jack asks: Oppenheimer was quoted that with each of the first two picks they were within “one or two picks” of picking a position player, instead of the two pitchers they actually took. Looking at rounds 2 and 3 the only position players picked 1 or 2 picks before the Yankee picks were Matt Railey (Rd3) and Aramis Garcia (Rd2). What do you think of those 2 instead of the two the Yankees picked?

Danny asks: Any of their 2014 draftees enter Yankees top 20 prospects?

Going to lump these two together. Here’s the full quote from scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, in case you missed it (via Chad Jennings):

The Yankees first five picks were pitchers, but that wasn’t deliberate
“It really was just coincidence because we were real close, within a pick or two, of a position player both with the first pick and the second pick. So it could have gone either way real quick,” Oppenheimer said.

Missouri HS OF Monte Harrison and Georgia HS OF Michael Gettys were selected 50th and 51st overall, respectively, a few picks before the Yankees took Mississippi State LHP Jacob Lindgren with the 55th selection. (Garcia was 52nd.) Oregon State OF Dylan Davis and Railey were taken 87th and 89th overall, again respectively, right before the Yankees grabbed Connecticut HS RHP Austin DeCarr with the 91st pick.

I think Oppenheimer was referring to Harrison and Gettys specifically because they were considered first round talents who slid for whatever reason. The Yankees seem to love their toolsy and athletic high school position player prospects and those two definitely fit the bill. I would have preferred either over Lindgren because they offer way, way more upside than the typical 55th selection. Alas, it was not meant to be. As for the third round, I don’t really have a preference for Davis or Railey over DeCarr. Davis did not have a good spring by top college player standards at all (.283/.338/.430). Without spending too much time thinking about it, give me DeCarr over the other two.

The signing deadline is Friday, July 18th, so I’m going to post my annual post-draft top 30 prospects list the following week (here’s the pre-draft list). I haven’t put too much through into it yet, but Lindgren is a safe bet to crack the top 20. DeCarr might. He is a lock for the top 30 though. Central Michigan RHP Jordan Foley will get consideration for the top 30, ditto Florida HS RHP Garrett Cave and Connecticut HS 3B Will Toffey if they sign. That’s about it. With no first round pick and a draft class geared more towards probability than upside, not many guys will jump into my top 30. The international signing period will be a different story.

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Update: Jacoby Ellsbury leaves game with right hip tightness
Sabathia could begin throwing off a mound next week
  • Mister D

    Ever wonder what this year’s roster, or maybe just our top 5 prospect list, would look like had we decided it was more important to sell and build last year than give appearances we were trying to win one for Mo?

    • nyyankfan_7

      You mean when they “gave appearances” to win one for MO by being in the playoff race until mid-September?

      And even if you’re ridiculous statement had a valid point, which it doesn’t; no one was going to give them a top 5 prospect for half a year rental of Cano, Gardner or Kuroda. So the roster would be worse and the prospect list would be the same. Yeah Cashman failed.

      • nyyankfan_7

        *your* not you’re…… just getting it out there before the grammar police get ahold of me.

      • Mister D

        No one is going to give a top 5 prospect for a half year of Cano? I respectfully disagree as hard as I can.

        (Its possible you’re not a context clues guy, but it does read “our top 5 prospect list”. Thus an acquisition at the “Heathcott/Williams” level, not “we should of traded for Bryan Buxton because maybe the Twins would think they could sign Cano”.)

      • Coolerking101

        His statement is not ridiculous. Not even close. Yes they were in the running, but that was mostly b/c their competition tanked out of the blue. I recall Tampa lost like 15 out of 20 games at some point. At the time I (and many on this site) were in favor of trading Cano. In hindsight we were right.

        No one sane is suggesting that Cano would have fetched some Willy Myers/consensus elite prospect, but there is no doubt they could have obtained a young bat or two that could be difference makers right now or in the near future

        • nyyankfan_7

          It doesn’t matter why they were in the running, only that they were in the running.

          You don’t have to have the best team in July to win the World Series, only the hottest team in October. If you have a shot at the playoffs you take it. Period. There is zero argument for trading anyone when you have a shot at the playoffs. You can sit here and play Monday morning quarterback all you want, but bottom line is that baseball is a business. Had the Yankees sold their best players in July when they had a shot at the postseason they would have alienated a large portion of their fan base and tanked their profits for the final 2 months of the season and for what? A couple of lottery ticket players who most likely would never sell the combined amount Yankees jerseys in their careers as Cano did in those 2 months?

          • Mister D

            Teams have sold from outside shot positions and I’d imagine 9 out of 10 times they’ve been glad they did.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          ” Yes they were in the running, but that was mostly b/c their competition tanked out of the blue.”

          So…you’re saying they were in the running.

        • ChuckIt

          Has it occurred to anyone that that maybe they thought Cano could have been signed if they could get him to agree to a contract that would have let them still sign the Names they did this off season? Cano is a great player, but the contract he got is ridiculous (well, maybe not by MLB standards)

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      RAB would have been full of:

      “THIS IS ALL WE GOT FOR X?”
      “What the hell, this bullpen sucks.”
      “WHY CAN’T WE HIT AT ALL!!!!”
      “Cashman sucks”

      • Mister D

        I would have been all “cool, that was smart, we’re not good enough to win this year so selling for the future makes a lot of sense”. I may be an outlier.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          You are an outlier.

          • Mister D

            Thats reassuring.

            • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

              Disagree…you would not have been alone. I think the difference is there are a lot of quiet readers of the blog who don’t want to wade into the commentary because of the vitriol and ignorance of other commenters (that’s internet-wide, not just here).

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                I wasn’t making a statement on how the entire Yankee fanbase would react.

                Just RAB commenters. The people you’d hear. And I would have been right.

                • Looser trader droids FotD™

                  Not me. It would’ve been a smart move and perceived as such by anyone with anything other than rose colored glasses, those who could plainly see that the team was going absolutely nowhere.

                  • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                    Except that we were within 2 games of first place in September.

  • John C

    Anyone interested, tomorrow Texas vs. UNC Irvine kicks off the CWS on ESPN at 2:00. Chance to see 2 of our draftees play against each other. Mark Payton for Texas, Connor Spencer for Irvine.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    Tanaka is in line to sweep MVP, Cy Young and ROY and he should with the way he’s pitching. He gives the Yankees a QS every start, without him they’d be under .500 and he’s held the staff together amidst numerous injuries.

    Yanks will be buyers, I just don’t know what they’ll be able to get. So many teams are still near .500 and in the race. Tampa won’t trade to the Yanks.

    Big Game Chase is in the rotation for the rest of the year as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think Phelps is a starter. The wheels come off in the 5th or 6th for him, but Nuno can’t pitch in YS so pick your poison.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Big GameProven Winner

    • ChuckIt

      Right now they really need to get a bona-fide top line starter.
      Sjmardza(I cant guarantee spelling)would be sweet. How are the Cubs
      set for catchers.It seems that is one position we have cornered the market on in the minors.

  • Kosmo

    Aaron Hill would be a nice pickup. Far from being convinced McCarthy has anything left.
    Valbuena and Hammel would be excellent pickups.

  • http://google NYcornerstone

    How about jr Murphy, Michael Pineda second base prospect rob ryden what ever his name is for chase Utley and cliff lee :)

    • Looser trader droids FotD™

      Shut your whore mouth.

    • ChuckIt

      Utley & Lee? they could get them right now for Bill Sudakis,Brad Gulden & a bag of balls.

  • nycsportzfan

    Thanks for answering my question Mike. Another way we could kill 2birds with 1stone is a 3team trade. Dosen’t have to be hitter/pitcher from same team. I’d love to add Aaron Hill and Jason Hammel at the deadline. Or even Hill and Colby Lewis. Even in 2 different deals.

    I didn’t realize the Pirates just signed Morton to a extension. He seems like such a good fit to our rotation.

    One other player I woulden’t mind us trying to get is Todd Frazier from the reds. They are not playing that well this yr and some of there studs, mainly Bruce and Votto have been avg to below avg. They may want to try and get there system revamped for the next wave of future reds players. Frazier could be the player to take over for Derek Jeter next yr as well.

    • nycsportzfan

      What would it take to get Jason Hammel anyways Mike? Hes pitching better then ever this yr. His career on the other hand shows hes pitching above his usual ability. Would Murphy and Claiborne be enough to get it done, or are we talking more hefty price?

      • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

        Don’t think Claiborne has much value in a trade. You would have thought that the Cubs would love to get someone like Murphy for signing that one year deal with Hammels. Maybe they try and extract more value though with his good year.

        • nycsportzfan

          Claiborne is not a bad secondary piece. Big and strong bullpen arm whos ML ready and has had success in the AL EAST. Without the emergence of Betances and Warren, Claiborne would probably be our 7th inning guy.

          Hes also pitching to a below 1.00Era in Scranton over 11inn’s.

          Murphy would be the big prize though. A ML ready catcher who can hit and is hitting over 300Ba as our primary backup in 2014.

          But for all I know, it might not be enough. I’m thinking who ever trades for Hammel(if anyone) will at least bring up the rest of his career to there benefit. Saying things like “At any point he can resort back to avg”. What kinda package do you think would be fare?

          • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

            Claiborne has value to us, but I don’t think he is someone the Cubs would really be looking for in a trade. He simply isn’t that great. Cubs are looking for longterm pieces, not someone to stick on their 40 man, who would slot in as their 6th best reliever. Bullpen arms come and go. We traded Kontos like that and it nets you about a backup catcher.

    • Jersey Joe

      Frazier is a 3B/1B, not a shortstop. He’s played a grand total of three innings at short – not a replacement for Jeter. Plus, he has fourteen home runs at this point with a really good outlook for the rest of the season; I don’t see the Reds giving him up too easily.

      • nycsportzfan

        Could of swore he was there SS. Either way, i’d love to get em. I thought he’d be a FA soon but hes still got a ways to go. They will probably keep him.

        • ChuckIt

          Bottom line:Replacing Jeter is like replacing MO ,Damn near impossible.Right now the problem is with the starting staff.Tanaka is on another plane, & Kuroda has been solid,but what then? C.C. a BIG ?,& can Pineda pitch without goop?.And a 3 man platoon for a fifth starter just won’t cut it season long.
          We Yankee fans (me,personally,46 yrs)are spoiled, but so is the organization. Win Now. And to do that a top line starter & power off the bench(as a backup at first)are needed.As IS we can make the playoffs but we won’t go far.

  • TopChuckie

    If Tanaka keeps pitching like this all season, and the Yankees make the playoffs, it would be wrong not to give him all three. He has to overcome the anti-pitcher MVP voting and the anti-foreign professional ROY voting and he should if he keeps it up. Cy and ROY should be a given. Cabrera and Trout don’t deserve to be in the MVP discussion so far, Cruz & Encarnacion maybe, but I don’t really think their teams would be as bad off without them as the Yanks would be without Tanaka. The Yanks would be down with the Rays and Red Sox if not for Tanaka.

    Mike says “To be fair to Dan” his question was asked before this three-game sweep, but in reality that’s just exemplifying how unwarranted Dan’s question really was. If all it took was a three-game sweep to make the question seem silly, it was silly in the first place. If the season ended today they are a Wild Card team, they are 3.5 games out of first behind the team almost everyone picked for last in the division. Mistakenly or not, it’s not far fetched to assume the Blue Jays will cool off, maybe already are cooling off. And there may be help on the way in the form of Pineda, CC, the trade deadline, the minors, and the fact almost the entire team are better hitters than they’ve shown to date. The idea of giving up on this season is ridiculous now and it was three days ago too.

    • nyyankfan_7

      I don’t think Tanaka has a chance at MVP and quite frankly I don’t even think he even will get ROY. Writers hate the Yankees. If Abreu keeps it up he is getting AL ROY.

      MVP in my mind goes to Josh Donaldson – at least thus far. Obviously much can change in 3.5 months.

      • Kosmo

        Donaldson is a solid choice although I can´t recall when a .258 hitter won an MVP. Right now I´d go with Miguel Cabrera or Jose Batista. Like you said a lot can change in 3.5 months

      • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

        I don’t think it goes Donaldson at least at this point. Miggy, Cruz, Trout, and Bautista are more likely at this point.

    • nycsportzfan

      I don’t think he’ll get all 3 because so many other players have had to step up outside of Tanaka to make a postseason push happen. Without Whitley, Solarte, and Betances, even Tanakas masterful season woulden’t of helped get us into the postseason. He deserves Cy Young and Rookie of th Yr in my opinion.

      • ChuckIt

        It will be hard pressed for him to get all three-nyyf is right the writers HATE the Yanks ,but as “king Felix” proved you don’t have to have the best stats to get their vote for anything.C>C> should have won the CY. And remember Heinke over Pettite?

  • al

    wouldnt prado be a much better fit than hill?he is much more versatile, can play 1st 2nd and 3rd bases, plus he has a few games at shortstop,and can play outfield(mostly left). he also happens to be two years younger than hill, and i think the yankees hav enough old guys. or maybe he is too good for the dbacks to trade away??????

    • Kosmo

      I think Prado´s versatility is what keeps him around. Hill is strictly a 2B and is 32yrs old and is owed for the remainder of this season and 2 additional years close to 30 million. A contract NY could easily absorb.

    • Jersey Joe

      Exactly what Kosmo said.

  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkley Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

    Hamels & Utley for ALLLLLLLLLLLLL the prospects.

  • cashjr

    I don’t think Tanaka has any real chance of sweeping all three. Too much bias against (perhaps justified) pitchers being MVP’s, and also too much bias against (again perhaps justified) Japanese league stars even being considered rookies. If I remember Darvish didn’t win the ROY even though he was by far the best “first year player.” Add in any perceived or real bias against the Yankees, and it would really take a situation where they were no other credible candidates for either award and I don’t think that’s at all likely this year. I’ll be thrilled with the Cy Young though.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Darvish was in the same Rookie class as Cespedes and Trout, that’s why he didn’t win the ROY. I mean, Trout should’ve been the MVP that year, he was a true 10 win player.

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      And this is why I think they tried get the Hank Aaron award, but it hasn’t clicked. MVP and CY are the 2 big awards. I have just always seen the CY as the pitcher’s award, and MVP as the hitter’s equivalent.

  • Dalek Jeter

    I really don’t understand (and never understood) the argument “One (pitcher/hitter/fielder) isn’t going to put us over the top so we might as well fold up shop.” Over the top of what? I believe the team as constituted could compete for a playoff spot, especially in the shit heap that the AL East has been, and the mythical “one whatever type of player” would make us better, so why not if the price is right? Is one player going to all of a sudden make us favorites to win the World Series? No. But who is the absolute favorite to win the World Series right now? Oakland? Maybe?

  • Jersey Joe

    What package would it take to get Hammel?

    The Cubs have very few catching prospects, and I’m not sure they see Castillo as a long-term answer to their catching situation. Maybe, just maybe, we could give Murphy in addition to a C prospect and B prospect to get Hammel and one of their bullpen arms (Rondon, Schlitter, Grimm, Wright, and Russell are all young relievers having good seasons).

    #mytradeproposalsucks

    • ChuckIt

      Don’t forget Pete O’brien has been hitting moon shots all over the field, & been playing 1st base &some outfield.

  • C.Roy

    I actually was looking at Hill and a pitcher packages the other day and was thinking Arroyo may be a good pickup with Hill or even Prado. As the question alluded to, that covers both needs. I dont love Arroyo but he can definitely eat innings and is an upgrade on Nuno.

  • Mike HC

    Just like last year, I think the Yanks are in position to be either buyers or sellers depending on the offers and what comes available. I don’t think we should nix either route until we (Cashman) sees what is out there from both sides.

  • Looser trader droids FotD™

    Obviously the second WC spot has upturned the entire buyer/seller framework. So many teams are (or delude themselves that they are) in the hunt for so long that in order to find a seller you have to blow them away with a trade proposal. And this at a time when valuable TV contracts and revenue sharing have teams locking up star kids more than ever making them far less likely to be used as trade chips.

    • ChuckIt

      It’s not even the AS break,so there’s no real rush to do anything yet.But there are some Glaring weaknesses that need to be adressed ,
      so testing the market is not a bad idea.