Archive for Hot Stove League
Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees scouted former Yankee Bobby Abreu during his winter ball stint in Venezuela. The didn’t like what they saw and have obviously decided to pass. Remember, they tried to acquire him from the Angels for A.J. Burnett last offseason.
Abreu, who turned 39 on Monday, went 8-for-41 (.195) with three doubles and a triple in eleven winter ball games, drawing nine walks against ten strikeouts. He managed a .242/.350/.342 (97 wRC+) line in 257 plate appearances for the Angels and Dodgers last season, his fourth straight year of declining production. Bobby can still draw a walk like few others (14.4 BB% in 2012), but his power had disappeared (.108 ISO since 2011) and he absolutely can’t hit lefties (79 wRC+ since 2011). He also doesn’t steal many bases anyway and he was a terrible defender when he was playing in the Bronx five years ago. Abreu worked out at first base for some teams this winter, but he’s shown all the symptoms of age-related decline and I don’t want the Yankees to be his employer when he finally crashes.
Via Tim Brown: Derrek Lee has decided to stay retired and not join the Yankees. Oh well, never hurts to ask.
Huff, 36, hit .192/.326/.282 (76 wRC+) in only 95 plate appearances for the Giants last season while battling anxiety disorder and a nagging knee strain. He originally hurt the knee jumping over the dugout railing celebrating a walk-off win. Huff didn’t hit while healthy in 2011 — .246/.306/.370 (87 wRC+) in 579 plate appearances — so it wasn’t a one-year slump. That 2010 season with the Giants (144 wRC+) sure looks like a last hurrah.
Via George King: The Rangers have been scouting Joba Chamberlain, specifically Monday’s outing against the Cardinals. Don Welke, a senior special assistant to GM Jon Daniels, was in attendance for that one. Joba allowed a single and was clocked at 92-95 mph (according to King) in an otherwise uneventful inning against St. Louis, and so far this spring he’s allowed two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in five innings.
Chamberlain, 27, will be a free agent after the season, and non-elite middle reliever/setup men usually don’t fetch much in trades when they’re a year away from free agency. The Yankees have some right-handed relief depth thanks to Shawn Kelley and Cody Eppley, both of whom are currently projected to start the year in Triple-A, but the Rangers are really thin in the bullpen until Joakim Soria returns from Tommy John surgery. Perhaps Joba could be part of a package for Mike Olt — who would be perfect for the Yankees even though he’s gotten more than a little overrated lately — with the Yankees kicking in a good prospect or two. Probably a pipe dream, but who knows.
For what it’s worth, Buster Olney says the Rangers are open to trading outfielder Craig Gentry. The 29-year-old has hit .279/.344/.355 (88 wRC+) with two homers and 32 steals in 476 career plate appearances, including a .294/.364/.392 (104 wRC+) line against righties. Gentry is basically a right-handed Brett Gardner, offering speed, little power, injury concerns, and ab0ve-average defense. He’s not in Gardner’s class with the glove, however. Gentry is under control through 2017 and is a much more reasonable target than Olt.
Boesch, 27, hit .283/.341/.458 (117 wRC+) with 16 homers in 472 plate appearances in 2011, but last year he managed just a .240/.286/.372 (77 wRC+) line in 503 plate appearances. He’s a total hacker — swung at 39.7% of pitches outside of the strike zone since 2010, the eighth worst in baseball — which is not the type of player the Yankees usually target. Boesch is also a brutal defensive player in the outfield corners. Still, the Yankees need to replace Curtis Granderson for a few weeks and the left-handed Boesch has power, plus he has at least one minor league option remaining. Of course the Yankees should look into signing him.
Cooper’s claim to fame is being a former first round pick (17th overall in 2008). The 26-year-old has hit .270/.310/.441 (103 wRC+) with six homers in 226 big league plate appearances over the last two years while battling various ailments, including a back injury that has kept him out of camp and is so serious it could end his career. He’s likely to rehab in 2013 and eye a return in 2014. Like Boesch he is a left-handed hitter, a poor defender, and has an option remaining. Given the back injury, there’s not much to see here. The Yankees need first base help right now, not next year.
Via Joel Sherman: Carlos Lee’s agent contacted the Yankees in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury. Doesn’t seem like there is much going on there, and it’s worth noting Lee invoked his no-trade clause to block a trade to the Bronx last summer. I guess he had a change of heart given the lack of job opportunities.
Lee, 36, is actually a decent fit as the stopgap first baseman/right-handed hitting outfield platoon bat. He’s an awful defensive player, but he can still hit lefties a bit (113 wRC+ vs. LHP since 2010) even though his power is disappearing and his offensive game is built around contact. Did you know Lee walked more times (54) than he struck out (49) in 2012? I sure didn’t. Anyway, I’m not too sure this one is going to happen despite the team’s current needs.
The Yankees have lost more than their fair share of players to injury this spring, most notably losing Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Curtis Granderson (forearm) for the first month of the season. Lesser injuries to Clay Rapada (shoulder) and Boone Logan (elbow) threaten the Opening Day bullpen. The Bombers have the depth to replace the two left-handed relievers if need be, but replacing the first baseman and center fielder will be impossible.
“This ain’t good,” said Brian Cashman to Mark Feinsand following Teixeira’s injury. “We’ll just wait and see. What we have in our camp is what we’ll continue to evaluate, and we have at our disposal potential casualties from other camps … It’s not the time of year to try to make any moves. Usually movement takes place after the draft unless people are trying to cut garbage.”
At this time of year, that “garbage” is typically players who are out of minor league options and can’t go to Triple-A without passing through waivers. A handful of these guys are traded in late-March every season as clubs finalize their roster and try to turn spare parts into something useful. Chris Stewart is a perfect example — he was out of options last year, so when the Giants didn’t have room for him on the roster, they made a small trade with the Yankees. Happens every single year.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, this spring’s crop of out of options players is rather unappealing. Lots and lots of fringy relievers, it seems. There isn’t much potential help in that garbage pile for Cashman, not even decent depth players for first and the outfield, nevermind a legitimate starting caliber position player. Here are three out of options guys who might help New York if they become available before the start of the season.
Daric Barton, Athletics
Barton, 27, was a sabermetric darling a few years ago, when he hit .273/.393/.405 (126 wRC+) with more walks (110) than strikeouts (102) in 686 plate appearances for the 2010 Athletics. He’s been hurt and ineffective since, putting up a .209/.329/.275 (75 wRC+) in 416 plate appearances from 2011-2012 while battling injuries to both shoulders — he had labrum surgery on the left shoulder in September 2011.
Oakland is set to go with the left-handed hitting Brandon Moss at first base — with various platoon partners — making the left-handed hitting Barton expendable. The Yankees have a similar hitter in Dan Johnson already in camp, except he will actually hit for some power in addition to drawing a ton of walks. Barton is a better defender at first, but he hasn’t been healthy and he hasn’t hit. I’m not sure he’s much of an upgrade over what New York already has in-house.
Casper Wells, Mariners
I think the 28-year-old Wells has gotten pretty overrated in recent weeks. The right-handed hitter owns a .264/.349/.489 (132 wRC+) line with a 10.2% walk rate against lefties in his career, but that has come in 313 plate appearances spread across three years. Those three small samples — career-high in plate appearances against a lefty is 151 last season — smashed together doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of what he can provide.
That said, Wells is better than most of what the Yankees have in camp. He is a (much) better defensive player than the established veterans like Juan Rivera, Ben Francisco, and Matt Diaz, and he has more of a big league track record than the youngsters like Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte. Since the Yankees will need a right-handed hitting outfielder even after Granderson returns, picking Wells up would be more than a one-month stopgap. The Mariners are overloaded with corner outfield and DH types, so he could become available. He’s useful, I just think he’s gotten a little overrated lately.
Chris Nelson, Rockies
Nelson, 27, hit .301/.352/.458 in 377 plate appearances last summer and .284/.327/.427 in 593 career plate appearances overall. Pretty solid right? Well, he’s a Rockie and when you adjust that stuff for Coors Field, you get a 105 and 90 wRC+, respectively. Not too hot all of a sudden.
Anyway, Nelson has a little bit of pop from the right side and can play the three non-first base infield positions in a pinch. He’s not a great defender but he is better than Eduardo Nunez, plus he offers a little more with the bat than Jayson Nix. The Yankees have talked about using Kevin Youkilis at first base and finding a new third baseman while Teixeira is out, though I wouldn’t recommend playing Nelson everyday. He could fit as a bench player though, representing a tiny little upgrade over what New York already has in-house. Given where they sit on the win curve and what they’ve lost due to injury, grabbing every little upgrade possible is a wise idea.
11:36am: Cashman also said he looked into signing Scott Rolen, but didn’t elaborate. Unlike Chipper, the 37-year-old Rolen looked pretty cooked last season (93 wRC+).
11:22am: Cashman said he is “not optimistic” about signing Lee, and said he would also be interested in Chipper Jones if he wants to come out of retirement. He wasn’t joking either; he said he plans to talk to his agent. Chipper would be pretty awesome, but I highly doubt it happens.
11:00am: Via David Waldstein: The Yankees have asked Derrek Lee to come out of retirement in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury. The long-time Marlin and Cub is interested, though no deal is imminent. Brian Cashman confirmed the report this morning — “I made a call, I liked him as a player,” he said — and it’s worth noting Lee played for former Cubs GM and current Yankees executive Jim Hendry in Chicago.
Lee, 37, hit .267/.325/.446 (109 wRC+) with 19 homers in 447 plate appearances for the Orioles and Pirates while battling an oblique strain and a broken wrist (suffered on a hit-by-pitch) back in 2011, his final year as a player. He was a very good defensive first baseman with a great clubhouse reputation, so he fits the current Yankees mold. I wrote about Lee as a possible DH target in a mailbag last January, and pretty much all of that stuff still holds true. Coming back after a season away is much tougher to do as a hitter than pitcher just because hitting is such a rhythm and timing thing. A minor league contract would be fine, but expecting him to contribute on an everyday basis is a stretch.
Via Nick Cafardo: The Yankees have inquired about the availability of Chase Headley. Padres GM Josh Byrnes recently told Peter Gammons his third baseman isn’t available, but that is typical GM speak. Even if he is available they would say he isn’t just to create leverage. For what it’s worth, Bill Madden reported last week San Diego has started listening to offers for their franchise cornerstone.
Headley, 28, hit .286/.376/.498 (145 wRC+) with 31 homers and 17 steals last season, including .308/.386/.592 (170 wRC+) with 23 homers and ten steals after the All-Star break. The switch-hitter is an above-average defender at third and is under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2014. He’ll earn $8.575M this summer. The Yankees did not contact the Padres about Headley at the Winter Meetings following the news of Alex Rodriguez‘s hip surgery, but I guess they’re a little more desperate for offense these days. The cost would be substantial — two top prospects plus one or two lesser pieces? — but Headley is a star-caliber player in his prime years with multiple years of team control remaining.
Via George King: The Yankees will look at acquiring both first and third basemen in the wake of Mark Teixeira‘s wrist injury. Kevin Youkilis can play either position and gives the team some flexibility. “This ain’t good,” said Brian Cashman of the injury. “We will look at our best option. We have time to evaluate all our options …. Third base is very difficult. First is always an easier position to fill.”
Teixeira, 32, will miss 8-10 weeks with a wrist strain suffered during batting practice with Team USA yesterday. That timetable puts his return somewhere in the mid-to-late May range, but wrist injuries do tend the linger and the Yankees have to consider the possibility he may come back as a less productive player, especially in the power department. Finding something more than a temporary stopgap would be a pretty wise idea, especially since Youkilis isn’t exactly Mr. Durability either. That won’t be easy though.