Mailbag: Price, Severino, Sabathia, Papelbon, Teixeira

Got a dozen questions in the mailbag this week. Remember to use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us questions, comments, links, whatever.

Price. (Leon Halip/Getty)
Price. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Christian asks: What are the chances that Detroit will trade David Price, and what will a rental cost in terms of prospects?

I think the chances are extremely small. They’re good enough to hang around the wildcard race the next few weeks at the very least, even without Miguel Cabrera. The trade deadline is only three weeks away, remember. They’d have to tank real hard to consider selling by July 31st. (Or even trade Price in an August waiver deal.) I have a hard time thinking that will happen.

But, just for fun, let’s say the Tigers do decide to sell before the trade deadline. Price should cost as much as Johnny Cueto, right? They’re both rentals aces, after all. Maybe Price costs more because he’s never had any injury problems (Cueto missed a bunch of time with a series of lat strains a few years ago) and has shown he can pitch in the AL. I don’t doubt Cueto can pitch in the AL as well, but Price has … clears throat … Proven It.

The Tigers would probably want MLB ready pieces in return for Price. Not prospects. They are going to try to win next year. No doubt about it. They don’t have a choice but to go for it, really. Jon Lester (and Jonny Gomes) was traded for Yoenis Cespedes last year, so I guess that’s the going rate for a rental ace. Nathan Eovaldi and Mason Williams for Price? The Tigers probably say no to that.

CanGuest asks: Regarding Luis Severino, does his success at Triple-A change your mind about his long term viability as a major league starter? Also, I’ve heard a lot about how he doesn’t use his lower half well in his delivery. Should the Yankees (or another team, if he is traded) try and alter his delivery and risk messing with his results, or leave him how he is?

No, his Triple-A success doesn’t change anything for me. Severino has three quality pitches and good (but not great right now) command, which is more than enough to start. I think he could be a very good starter in fact, and that was the case before he got to Triple-A. As for his mechanics, I wouldn’t change anything until absolutely necessary. There have been plenty of guys who had ugly deliveries that scouts didn’t like who held up long-term. Look at Tim Lincecum. He’s the perfect example. Let Severino do what he does until something has to change.

Mark asks: If you say the Yankees won’t take CC Sabathia out of the rotation, what happens if they do make the playoffs? Is there a chance they leave him off the roster, or do we finally get to see him as a LOOGY? Or worse yet, do we see him starting a game after he continues to pitch this badly?

We’re a long way from worrying where Sabathia fits into the postseason roster. That said, should the Yankees make it, there’s no possible way they could give him a start over Eovaldi or Ivan Nova (assuming Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka start the first two games in whatever order.). The postseason is no time for being sentimental and trying to squeeze value out of his contract.

Given who’s in the bullpen, I’d say Sabathia should be left off the postseason roster entirely. Now, what will the Yankees do? Probably start him in Game Three with Nova in Game Four and Eovaldi in the bullpen. What they should do and what they will do don’t always line up. Like I said though, long time to go before anyone has to think about this seriously. Sabathia’s status on the postseason roster is a decision I hope the Yankees have to make come October.

Michael asks: Mark Teixeira keeps hitting like this next year. Do you make a qualifying offer? I say yes, worst case he tanks on a $15 to 16mm 1 year deal. Obviously next year a long way away. And to add to this if we do make him a QO, do you think he would accept or reject?

If he continues to hit like this, yes, absolutely make him the qualifying offer after next season. It’ll be an expensive one-year contract (it’ll probably be in the $17M range), but that’s fine. If he accepts, you have a productive Teixeira on a one-year contract. If he declines, you get a draft pick. My hunch is he would decline and look for a two-year deal, even if it’s at a slightly lower average annual salary (Adam LaRoche got two years and $25M this past offseason, for example.) Of course, this is all predicated on Teixeira keeping up this level of performance. That’s not impossible, just seems unlikely.

Papelbon. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Papelbon. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

Upstate Yanks: Any chance we could see ol’ Jonathan Papelbon in a salary dump/mid level prospect trade? I know he has a full no-trade (to certain teams) and wouldn’t like the idea of being a “set-up” guy, and the baggage but man, Paps-Dellin-Miller at the end of the game would be ridiculous.

It makes sense from a baseball standpoint because Papelbon is still good (1.46 ERA and 2.75 FIP going into last night’s game) and what team can’t use another quality reliever? His $13M vesting option could be an issue, though the Yankees would have some control over that (he needs to finish 55 games for it to kick in, and he went into last night’s game with 29). The Yankees do love their ex-Red Sox players too, mostly because they’ve shown they can thrive in a hectic market.

That said, Papelbon’s got a bit of a mouth on him, and when’s the last time the Yankees brought in someone like that? Reggie Jackson almost 40 years ago? Adding Papelbon the reliever makes sense from a baseball standpoint — I’d let him close and turn Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller loose in the seventh and eighth innings, but that’s just me — but the Yankees tend to steer clear of dudes with distraction potential. Maybe Papelbon would be someone ownership would go over Brian Cashman‘s head to acquire. Also, I’m pretty sure I’d puke if I saw him wearing pinstripes.

LL asks: Always been curious about veteran player interactions when they’re on rehab assignments in the minors. Do they ever take guys out for dinner or something, like with Jacoby Ellsbury with High A Tampa?

Oh yeah. Absolutely. They don’t necessarily take them out to eat, but it’s standard practice to buy the team a great big spread after the game. Whenever a guy rehabs there are always some minor leaguers on Twitter thanking them for the meal. Here’s a good article from John Wagner on guys buying their temporary teammates dinner while on rehab assignments. Minor league food really sucks. Those few days with a rehabbing big leaguer is the best most minor leaguers will eat during the season.

Remco asks: If we stop the season at approximately the halfway point, who would be the biggest candidates for the comeback player of the year award? As a Yankees fan I’m biased towards A-Rod of course, but what other comebacks are going on this season?

I think Teixeira has to be ahead of Alex Rodriguez in the AL Comeback Player of the Year race right now. A-Rod’s awesome! But so is Teixeira and he actually plays a position. Jason Kipnis, Kendrys Morales, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jose Iglesias stand out as other candidates. I always feel like I’m forgetting someone obvious when discussing Comeback Player of the Year candidates and I probably am now. (Also, does coming back from a bad season enough to be Comeback Player of the Year? Or should the guy be coming back from an injury, etc.?) I’d say Teixeira is definitely among the favorites right now with Rodriguez lagging a bit.

Luke asks: I know Sabathia technically never opted-out of his original Yankee contract and instead signed an extension, but given the situation it seems like the 2012-2017 period can be thought of as a separate deal. Where would that deal rank among the worst signings of all time? It’s basically $140M for one good season.

Sabathia leveraged the opt-out into the extension, getting one guaranteed and a vesting option tacked onto the four years and $92M left on his original deal. If the option vests, the Yankees will pay him $142M across six years, and he currently has a 4.44 ERA (92 ERA+) and a 3.96 FIP in 557.1 innings in the first three and a half years of that six-year deal. That’s terrible! Here are the consensus two worst pitching deals in history:

  • Mike Hampton, eight years and $121M: 4.81 ERA (96 ERA+) and a 4.74 FIP in 891.1 innings with two full seasons lost to injury.
  • Barry Zito, seven years and $126M: 4.62 ERA (87 ERA+) and a 4.61 FIP in 1,139.1 innings.

Sabathia could finish his current contract with something like a 4.70 ERA in 1,000 or so innings, assuming he stays healthy, which isn’t a safe bet given his degenerative knee condition. That’s at least as bad as Zito, right? I don’t know if it’s as bad as Hampton, but man, it’s bad. I will forever love Sabathia — remember, he was a beast right before signing the contract (3.00 ERA, 143 ERA+, 2.88 FIP in 237.1 innings in 2011) — but man, this deal is ugly. Definitely in the conversation for the worst pitching deal in history, and thus one of the worst contracts in baseball history overall.

Samantha asks: In the 3rd inning of Tuesday’s game, Stephen Drew caught a ball on a fly that was ruled a grounder. He got a double play off of it. Could the A’s have challenged the call and ended up with just one out instead of two?

No, because after the catch the runner was doubled off first base anyway. Here’s the play:

The runner at first kept going to second and never tagged up after the catch, so it would have been a double play either way. Either a traditional 4-6-3 or the unconventional line drive 4-6-3. That’s why A’s manager Bob Melvin never bothered to challenge. Two outs no matter what.

Dan asks: If Carlos Beltran‘s injury lingers, might we see Aaron Judge this season?

I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but I do think it’s unlikely. The Yankees have so many other outfielders on the 40-man roster ahead of Judge as it is, and I think if it ever got to the point where Beltran was going to miss a significant amount of time, they’d go out and make a trade. If Judge were to come up now, we’d probably see a lot of swings and misses on breaking balls away. I don’t think he’s ready. I’m totally fine with letting Judge get a few hundred plate appearances against the best pitching the minors has to offer the rest of the season.

Dan asks: Ultra-specific question for Mike. On RAB he most often cites to wRC+ when evaluating hitters, but on CBS he cites to OPS+. Is that because wRC+ is a FanGraphs stat and CBS doesn’t have a partnership with them? Which stat do you actually prefer?

I prefer wRC+ to OPS+ because it’s a little more fine-tuned, though they’re usually within a point or two of each other anyway, so it’s not a big deal. As for using wRC+ here and OPS+ at CBS, I’m just catering to different audiences. Not too many CBS readers are down with sabermetrics — I’ve gotten email from people complaining when I list AVG/OBP/SLG because OBP and SLG are too nerdy (I’m not joking) — so I stick with OPS+ to make it as simple yet somewhat informative as possible. I have done stat-heavy posts at CBS, though they never do much traffic. It’s not worth my time at this point. RAB’s different. I’m not overly concerned with generating traffic here, so I can use whatever stats I want. CBS is a job, I have a responsibility to get people to click and read and come back for more clicks and more reads, and there still isn’t much interest in sabermetrics among casual fans. I am trying to find a balance that works. It’s not easy.

John asks: I know that you’re a diehard NY Rangers fan. What would it take to interest you in the Knicks?

I’ve tried to get into basketball! I’ve tried and tried and tried again. Basketball just isn’t my thing. I watched the NBA Finals this year and it just didn’t grab me. I can’t imagine getting invested in a bad Knicks team at this point. I tried to follow them when they were good (well, good-ish) and it wasn’t happening. I enjoy the fast pace of hockey and since baseball has become more than just a hobby for me, hockey gives me a sport to follow on a non-obsessive level. I’m old. At this point I don’t think the basketball thing is going to happen.

Mailbag: Second Base, Sabathia, AL East, Mets, Eovaldi

Got a dozen questions for you in the mailbag this week. Use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us any questions throughout the week.

Prado. (Presswire)
Prado. (Presswire)

Soxhata asks: Other than Ben Zobrist, what 2nd baseman could be on the radar?

Zobrist is definitely the headliner at second base. He’s been outstanding the last few weeks and is hitting .266/.360/.456 (131 wRC+) overall with a 13.2 BB% and an 8.6 K%. Zobrist is probably a multi-win upgrade over Stephen Drew even in just half a season. Looking around the league, other second base candidates could include Emilio Bonifacio, Dustin Ackley, and Daniel Murphy. And Brandon Phillips too, but forget him. I’d list Martin Prado as a candidate too if he wasn’t on the DL with a shoulder injury and expected to miss several weeks. There aren’t many bad teams with decent second basemen, so the market’s limited.

Bonifacio has a -15 wRC+ (!) and has basically nothing to offer the Yankees other than speed off the bench. Ackley’s been terrible too (70 wRC+) but the Yankees have had interest in him for a while now. He hasn’t played second base regularly since 2013, however. Murphy is the opposite of Drew — an awful defender who is hitting a solid .285/.335/.420 (110 wRC+) overall. He’s a rental and I’m sure the Mets would move him at the deadline a) to get something in return because they won’t make him a qualifying offer after the season, and b) to save a few weeks of his $8M salary. I’m not sure if the two sides match up for a trade though. The Mets reportedly want to add offense, not subtract it. So yeah, after Zobrist, the second base market is really thin.

Mike H. asks: At the end of the season Ben Zobrist will be a free agent. What kind of deal can he expect given his weak offensive season so far? Would 2 years $20 million with an option for a third be sufficient?

Zobrist’s season hasn’t been weak, he just had a slow start around a knee injury in April. He turned 34 in May yet I still think his skill set — on-base ability, good defense, and versatility — will be in high demand when he becomes a free agent this offseason. I think three years is the starting point. Heck, Marco Scutaro got three years at age 37 with a similar skill set a few years ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zobrist ends up with Chase Headley money (four years, $52M). Just about every team in the league would jump at two years and $20M for Zobrist this winter, including the Yankees.

Yuri asks: You’ve been advocating to move CC Sabathia to the bullpen. But, if he also performs badly as a reliever, what is left to do then?

Gosh, I don’t know what happens then. That’s one of those “we’ll deal with it when the time comes” situations. Sabathia has destroyed left-handed batters this season — they’re hitting .195/.205/.267 (.205 wOBA) with a 31.8 K% and no walks (!) against him this year — so at the very least there’s reason to think he could be a really good left-on-left matchup guy. He might even be able to handle righties better by airing it out one inning at a time in relief. I have no idea what the next step would be if Sabathia stinks in relief. Release him? Either way, we’re not going to find out because the Yankees are keeping him in the rotation.

Jack asks: Not exactly a Yankee question, but on June 29 you put up a “This Date in History” video featuring the 1947 Yankees’ 19-game win streak, and I loved it. Very well done. Does MLB do one of those every day? If so, do you know where I can find it?

Those videos are put together by YES, not MLB, so they’re Yankees-specific. As far as I know MLB doesn’t produce any sort of daily “this date in history” video. YES doesn’t have one for every single day, but they do pump out a few each month. Here’s the archive. Enjoy.

Oh Mets. (Presswire)
Oh Mets. (Presswire)

Zachariah asks: What do you make of the future of the Mets? Their starting rotation next year is looking potentially nasty, young, and affordable. If they can get a couple of bats, and the front office starts shelling out some bucks, they can make some noise for years to come.

The rotation really does look great, but man, the offense is terrible. Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda are having good years, and Murphy’s hitting whenever he’s not on the DL. That’s it. They’re playing too many Eric Campbell and Ruben Tejada types. I think they should trade one of their young arms for a young middle infielder. Go big too. Noah Syndergaard for Addison Russell. Jacob deGrom for Xander Bogaerts. Something like that.

Ownership needs to allow GM Sandy Alderson to spend more money just so he can add better depth players. They’re never active on waivers (six claims in four and a half years under Alderson!) and they brought four players to camp on minor league contracts. That’s not enough! The pitching is great, but unless they do something drastic to improve the offense (spend money or trade some pitching) and improve organizational depth, they’re going to be stuck spinning their wheels and are at risk of wasting the primes of those great young arms. It starts with the Wilpons. A New York team should never ever ever have a bottom third payroll.

Mike asks: Going in to this year, all we heard about was how bad the AL East is. If the season ended today, both wildcards would come from the AL East. So is the AL East better than we thought? Or is the league just really mediocre? Or both?

(This was sent in a few days ago. The AL East would not have both wildcard spots as of today.)

The AL East is about what I expected — a bunch of closely matched good but flawed teams — and I think the division’s awfulness was overstated earlier this season. I’m guilty of that. There is no great team in the division and I think that maybe clouded everyone’s judgment. The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees are doing what everyone thought the Red Sox would do — score a ton of runs and pitch juuust well enough to contend — and the Rays are getting unreal work on the mound. The AL East is the only division with four .500 or better teams and the only one without a sub-.455 team. So the division lacks a great club, a clear World Series contender, but it sure looks like the most competitive division in the game. The AL East race is wide open. The last few months are going to be a blast.

Dan asks: What top 5 players do you think are most overrated and underrated?

I think we’re at the point where Brett Gardner has to be considered one of the most underrated players in baseball, right? His 142 wRC+ is tied with Andrew McCutchen (!) for seventh best among all outfielders. My guess is a lot of people don’t realize how good Gardner really is at this point. Off the top of my head, four other underrated players are A.J. Pollock, Joe Panik, Lance Lynn, and Yasmani Grandal. I also feel like Paul Goldschmidt is underrated even though he’s one of the two or three best hitters in the world right now. As for overrated … I’ll go with Phillips, Jeff Samardzija, Elvis Andrus, Chris Tillman, and Dexter Fowler. Good players! Not as good as their reputations though.

Jonathan asks: Is there a comparison between Nathan Eovaldi and Phil Hughes at the same age? Both righties with great fastballs, command, poor secondary stuff, and results that don’t live up to their talent level?

I understand why people make that comparison but I don’t think it fits well. Eovaldi throws way harder and gets a lot more grounders than Hughes ever did, for example. Here’s the side-by-side comparison of their ages 24-25 seasons (2010-11 for Hughes).

Hughes 251.0 4.66 4.35 18.1% 8.0% 34.8% 1.22 .303 .337 92.1
Eovaldi 287.1 4.42 3.49 16.5% 5.5% 46.2% 0.69 .302 .352 95.6

Hughes had a better strikeout rate and more success against lefties, otherwise everything else is advantage Eovaldi, including health. (Hughes was limited to 71.2 innings in 2011 due to shoulder fatigue.) I also think Eovaldi has taken to the splitter way better than Hughes ever took a changeup, though that split is still very much a work in progress. What are the three things you want pitchers to do? Get strikeouts, limit walks, keep the ball on the ground. Eovaldi is quite a bit better at two of the three than Hughes was at the same age. That doesn’t mean Eovaldi will ever live up his ability, I just don’t think the comparison to Hughes fits beyond both guys frustrating fans.

Correa. (Presswire)
Correa. (Presswire)

Rob from North Dakota asks: In the first inning of Sunday’s game the Astros missed a double play when both Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, shifted the left side of 2nd base, went for the ball. That got me wondering. With all the shifting going on, are double plays down?

No, actually. MLB teams are turning a double play in 11% of double play opportunities this year, meaning a runner on first with less than two outs. The league average has been right in the 10-11% range every year since 2000, so well before shifts became widespread. The Yankees have turned a double play 10% of the time this year, up from 8% last year. They were all over the map from 2000-13, falling anywhere from 8-13%. I’m guessing that’s common — the league average double play turned rate stays the same but individual teams fluctuate year to year. Teams usually don’t shift much — or at least not as extremely — in double play situations, so it makes sense the rate of double plays being turned hasn’t changed much over the years. The Astros are super aggressive though, hence Sunday’s play.

Tamir asks: If you had caught A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit what would you have asked for?

A bunch Legends Seats tickets and maybe some memorabilia, stuff like that. Asking for a big wad of cash seems kinda tacky. I’d use a few of the tickets and sell the rest, probably. Same with the memorabilia. Save some, sell the rest. I’m not a big collector and I’d rather just have the money to spend on whatever I want. Does that make me less of a fan? Oh well.

YankeeB asks: If they miss the postseason by a game or two and CC doesn’t miss a start, who takes the fall, Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, both or neither?

Man that would be a disaster. Imagine if they miss the postseason by a game or two after letting Sabathia throw 170+ of these innings? I feel like reducing the role of a player of Sabathia’s caliber has come from above. Girardi can’t just make the decision and stick him in the bullpen. It has to come from Cashman or even from the ownership level. Would missing the postseason by a small margin while letting Sabathia stay in the rotation be a fireable offense? I don’t know. It would be a damn shame if things played out that way though. If I have to pick someone, I’ll say Girardi gets the axe before Cashman.

Marc asks: Steven Matz for Gardner: who says no and why?

The Mets. Gardner’s awesome and on a team friendly contract, but he’s also going to turn 32 in August, so there aren’t many (if any) peak years left there. Matz is a very good pitching prospect with a really scary injury history — he had Tommy John surgery in May 2010 and didn’t get back on a mound until June 2012 due to setbacks and complications — and I do think the Mets would trade him for that reason, but not for a veteran guy like Gardner. I could see them trading Matz for a young shortstop. Russell or someone like that. But another veteran outfielder with Granderson and Michael Cuddyer on the books? Nah. I don’t know if the Yankees would trade Gardner for Matz — the front office loves Gardner — but I’m sure they’d consider it. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t.

Mailbag: Turner, Pineda, Sale, Sabathia, Inherited Runners

I’ve got 13 questions in the mailbag this week. If your question didn’t make the cut, don’t be mad, we get a ton of questions each week and a lot of good ones get left on the cutting room floor.

Turner. (Presswire)
Turner. (Presswire)

Guy asks: How does Ivan Nova for Justin Turner sound? Could be an interesting idea.

I like the idea but I don’t think the Dodgers would do it no matter how badly they need pitching. Turner has been unreal — he’s hitting .324/.395/.582 (174 wRC+) this season and has a 163 wRC+ since the start of last season. Only Paul Goldschmidt (172 wRC+) and Mike Trout (166 wRC+) have been more productive during that time. Turner told Eno Sarris he made some approach changes two years ago after working with ex-Mets teammate Marlon Byrd, who revived his career by basically swinging as hard as possible all the time. Turner’s done the same. He’d look great at second base for the Yankees. I don’t think the Dodgers would trade a year and a half of Turner for a year and a half of Nova though. I know I wouldn’t. Also: lol Mets.

Hank asks: Should there be some concern over Michael Pineda as his innings start to build up? 1st 7 starts: 46 IP, 44 hits, 54K, 3 BB, 2.72 ERA, .656 OPS against; last 7 starts: 38 IP, 52 hits, 33 K, 9 BB, 6.10 ERA, .857 OPS against.

I’d say mild concern, yes. Not outright panic. Pineda has thrown 84.2 innings this year after throwing 76.1 innings last year, so he’s already heading into uncharted workload territory post-shoulder surgery. It is absolutely something to monitor going forward and the Yankees are aware of this. They didn’t skip his start a few weeks ago because they had nothing to better to do. Pineda’s a big, young, strong guy and I don’t think his performance will collapse anytime soon. (I mean really collapse. These latest issues are just a blip right now.) That said, the Yankees still have to watch him going forward. Shoulder surgery is no joke. If Big Mike needs rest, he needs rest.

Stephen asks: Why should we expect James Kaprielian to sign for above-slot? It seems like he landed in the draft right around where his talent level indicates he would. Is it just because Boras?

Aaron Judge was drafted right around where he was expected to go as well, and he still got an overslot bonus. It boils down to two things. One, Scott Boras is a really tough negotiator and Kaprielian hired him to get the most money. Mark Appel, another Boras client, walked away from the Pirates as the eighth overall pick a few years go and went back to school for his senior season because they didn’t meet his asking price. Boras doesn’t bluff. Two, how highly does the team value him? All the scouting publications say Kaprielian was a mid-first rounder but the Yankees could have seen him as a top ten talent. It wouldn’t have been unreasonable at all.

Kaprielian might not get an overslot bonus, but the Yankees have a ton of draft pool money saved ($643,900) and not many places to spend it. Chipola 1B Isiah Gilliam (20th round), New Jersey HS LHP Andrew Miller (34th), and Florida HS SS Deacon Liput (39th) are their only unsigned draft picks who are overslot bonus candidates and they may all be dead set on college. The Yankees probably knew Kaprielian’s asking price going into the draft, remember. Letting him go back to school over a few hundred grand and settling for the compensation pick next year is not a viable strategy to me. Get the prospect now and get him in your system. Talent now is greater than talent later.

Mikey asks: Would you have traded, say, Rob Refsnyder to AZ for Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint?

Yes I would have made that trade. The Diamondbacks, who just signed a $1 billion television contract, basically sold Toussaint to get out from the $10M or so they owe Arroyo. (Toussaint was the 16th overall pick in last year’s draft and No. 61 on Baseball America’s top 100 list before the season.) Refsnyder is probably a better player than Phil Gosselin, the utility infielder the Braves sent to Arizona, but I’d still make that trade. The Yankees should be buying prospects in situations like this whenever possible. They have the money. The problem is trades like this very rarely happen. Fans of the other 28 teams are wondering why their club didn’t pull the trigger on a random infielder for Toussaint and Arroyo trade right now too.

Sale. (Presswire)
Sale. (Presswire)

Evan asks: If the White Sox get blown up, who would the Yankees need to give up to acquire Chris Sale? It would have to be much much much more than Johnny Cueto.

Yes. Much much much much more. Sale is arguably the best pitcher in baseball at this very moment after coming into the season as a no worse than a top five pitcher in MLB. He’s a stud. And he’s only owed $50M or so through 2019 when you include his two no-brainer club options. (I could have sworn I remember reading that Sale can void the options if traded, but apparently that’s not the case.) Every single team will make an offer if Sale is made available. A package starts with Judge and Luis Severino and includes at least two more very young players. Dellin Betances and Nathan Eovaldi maybe? I’m not even sure I’d take that four-player package for Sale if I was the ChiSox. He’s so, so good and so, so affordable for years to come.

Matt asks: If CC Sabathia moved to the bullpen, could he be a great LOOGY?

The numbers say yes. Lefties are hitting .193/.202/.256 (.200 wOBA) with a 29.8% strikeout rate against Sabathia this season. (He hasn’t walked a lefty yet!) Righties are hitting .332/.374/.580 (.406 wOBA) against Sabathia and that’s just awful. In theory, he would make a great matchup lefty reliever. We don’t know how he would adjust to a bullpen role or anything like that, but there’s evidence to suggest Sabathia fits best as a left-on-left bullpen guy at this point. But he’s not coming out of the rotation. The Yankees will continue to shoot themselves in the foot and decrease their postseason chances by keeping this version of Sabathia in the rotation because of his contract.

Bob asks: With the Cubs allegedly looking for a cost-controlled but proven starting pitcher, what kind of return could the Yankees expect from the North Siders for Adam Warren?

Is Warren a proven starting pitcher? I think he’s promising but not proven. Anyway, I don’t think the Cubs are looking for Warren types. I think they’re looking for high-end young starters, not mid-to-back-end guys. Warren won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season and, at the very worst, he’s a solid big league setup man. Maybe he can be more. Warren’s trade value is probably similar to Eovaldi’s this past offseason, no? Maybe slightly less because Eovaldi’s younger and shown he can hold up as a starter over a full season. Warren shouldn’t untouchable but I don’t think trading him for okay-ish prospects makes sense right now either.

Paul asks: Do undrafted free agents have any impact on draft pools? Like, does signing an undrafted FA take money out of the available pool?

They’re treated like players drafted after the tenth round. If they sign for $100,000 or less, it has no impact on the draft pool. If they sign for more than $100,000, the excess is applied to the draft pool. So if an undrafted free agent gets a $150,000 bonus, the extra $50,000 counts against the draft pool. It’s not often unsigned free agents get big bonuses though. The only instance I can remember is Daniel Aldrich a few years ago, who the Yankees inked for $150,000. He played in 39 minor league games before being released.

Mike in EV asks: Now that Sergio Santos is on the 60-day DL, are the Yankees required to put him on the 40-man roster at the end of the season and keep him there through the offseason? Given all of the young players added to the 40-man roster so far this season, it appears the Yankees are headed for quite the roster crunch in the offseason.

No, the Yankees don’t have to keep Santos on the 40-man roster all offseason. There is no DL in the winter — he’ll be activated after the World Series and the Yankees can release him at that point (if they want). They’re not obligated to keep him on the 40-man all winter just because he’s hurt. The Braves cut ties with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy while they were rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last winter, remember.

Now, if the Yankees do cut Santos after the season, they do still have to provide him with a place to do his rehab work until he signs with a new team. That’s in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Santos doesn’t need to take them up on the offer, he can go and rehab on his own if he wants, but the Yankees would have to give him access to their facilities (in Tampa, I assume) even after releasing him. The player doesn’t get hung out to dry.

Dylan asks: You mentioned Judge as starting RF next year as a possibility … if that’s the plan, would he still be held in AAA for 10 games a la the Cubs & Kris Bryant? Or do those service time issues not apply?

Oh they still apply, for sure. It only takes 11-12 days to delay free agency and about three months to delay Super Two status. I don’t love the idea of simply handing Judge the right field job next year — I think the Yankees would do it, I’m just saying I don’t love the idea — because I’m not a fan of throwing non-elite prospects to the wolves. (Judge is very good but not elite!) If they keep him down for a few weeks to delay free agency, great. That’s the system and teams would be foolish not to exploit it. I don’t think the Yankees would hesitate to play Judge just to ensure they manipulate his service time if they feel he’s the best option though.

Holt. (Presswire)
Holt. (Presswire)

Ethan asks: Do you think defensive flexibility, a la Brock Holt or Ben Zobrist, is a market inefficiency/currently undervalued skill?

I actually think it might be overvalued. Martin Prado, for example. He’s an average hitter and a below-average fielder. Being able to play a bunch of positions doesn’t increase his value much if at all. Prado’s still an average hitter and a below-average defender, he can just play below-average defense at different positions. Flexibility is wonderful but guys like Holt and Zobrist are an exception because they can not only play a lot of positions, but play them well and produce at the plate. Most versatile guys either aren’t that good defensively or can’t hit, so yeah, they can play all over the place, but that just means they can stink at multiple positions instead of one. Holt and Zobrist are big time outliers. They’re valuable if you have them. Trying to use someone like, say, Jose Pirela in that role usually turns out bad.

Mark asks: Is there a statistic that applies the “league average bullpen” to inherited runners. It seems that pitchers are penalized or rewarded depending on the quality of the reliever who is called in to clean up the mess they leave behind.

I haven’t seen anything that adjusts for inherited runners — that would be a little complicated, because you’d have to consider the base/out situation (easier to strand a runner on first with two outs than a runner on third with no outs, etc.) — and things like that. For some reason I know Pineda had brutal inherited runner luck during his season with the Mariners. Seattle’s bullpen allowed 72% (!) of the inherited runners he left on base to score that year. That’s more than double the MLB average.

Anyway, inherited runners have scored 29% of the time league-wide this season. The Giants are the best at only 13% and the Phillies are the worst at 43%. The Yankees are tied with four other teams for seventh worst at 34%. Here are how the core relievers have done this season at stranding inherited runners, via Baseball Reference:

Dellin Betances 36.0 32 20 8 40%
David Carpenter 18.2 22 9 4 44%
Chris Martin (40-man) 16.0 18 9 7 78%
Andrew Miller (15-day dl)* 26.1 26 7 1 14%
Esmil Rogers 33.0 18 15 7 47%
Chasen Shreve* 29.2 25 15 2 13%
Justin Wilson* 25.2 33 25 5 20%
Team Total 283 125 42 34%

So the three worst offenders (Carpenter, Martin, Rogers) are not on the roster right now, partly because they stunk at stranding runners. Betances has actually been crummy overall in his department but a big chunk of the damage came in that near meltdown against the Angels a few weeks ago. You remember that, right? Rogers took over an 8-1 game in the ninth inning and before you knew it, it was 8-7 with the tying run on third. Betances allowed all three inherited runners to score that night. Outside of that game Dellin has been exactly league average (29%) at stranding runners, which is still higher than I would have expected.

As for the starters, Sabathia has had the worst inherited runner luck, but it’s a really small sample: four of nine have scored. That’s it. Eovaldi has left the most runners on base (19) and five have scored (26%). Warren has left 14 men on base and three have scored (21%). Pineda has left ten and two have scored. Masahiro Tanaka has handed two inherited runners over to the bullpen all season. Two! (Neither scored.) I haven’t seen anything that adjusts a starters numbers for inherited runners, and I’m not sure who useful it’s be because we aren’t talking about a ton of runners anyway. Inherited runner rates are more useful for relievers for sure.

Liam asks: What’s it like running RAB? Do you have set routine for daily updates like the Bullpen Workload and DotF? Do you plan your analytical pieces ahead of time or just write them as they come to you? I’d love to get some insight on what makes this site tick.

The RAB life is probably not as time-consuming as it seems. I write up DotF during the game each night — it took 15-20 minutes tops in the first half of the season, but now that the short season leagues have started it’s closer to 30 minutes (so many affiliates!) — and I usually write regular features (mailbag, series previews, etc.) a day or two ahead of time, then just go back and fill in the stats. Those are easy enough, usually.

Other posts I try to write the bare bones the day before, but that isn’t always possible if there’s some breaking news that needs to be analyzed (trade, major injury, etc.). My usual routine is this: piece together the next day’s posts in the morning, go about the rest of my day, handle the game and DotF at night (updating the Bullpen Workload, Announcer Standings, and Prospect Watch is all part of my game coverage routine), then put the finishing touches on the posts for the next day. Sometimes I have to call an audible and write an entirely new post(s) after the game, but that comes with the territory. I keep a list of post ideas and add to it as things come to me. Some get written immediately, some get written weeks later, some never get written. Riveting stuff, eh?

Mailbag: Tex, Gee, Closer, Warren, Home Field Advantage

Got a dozen questions in this week’s mailbag. If you want to send us a mailbag question(s), use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar. If you want to send us links or tips or anything like that, email us directly at riveraveblues (at) gmail (dot) com, especially if you want a reply. We can’t reply through the mailbag form. Thanks.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Dan asks: With Mark Teixeira’s resurgence this season, any chance the Yankees are able to trade him in the offseason with a year left on his contract, maybe even getting a decent prospect in return? With his defense, plenty of teams would be willing to take a one year flier on him.

I’m guessing a few teams would be willing to take on one year of Teixeira (Mariners? Padres? Tigers with Miguel Cabrera back at third? Athletics? Angels? etc.) but there are two problems with this. One, Teixeira has full no-trade protection thanks to his 10-and-5 rights, so that’s an obstacle. Two, does trading Teixeira benefit the Yankees? Maybe they get a decent prospect in return but probably not given his contract. They’d be out their first baseman and best power hitter to save $22.5M, which is not an amount that will hamstring this team. Teixeira has shown he’s still a pretty good hitter with a healthy wrist. I’m not sure the trade return would be enough to make it worthwhile. Teixeira seems more valuable to the Yankees in the lineup than as part of a trade, which is not something I thought I would be saying before the season.

Kip asks: Would you actually want all your team playing in the All-Star Game like how the Royals are currently set up or would you want most of your players getting a chance to relax at home and get ready for the second half of the season?

When I was younger I wanted to see every Yankee in the All-Star Game. Even the bench players. Now I want them all home and resting. I mean, yeah, I would have loved to have seen Dellin Betances pitch in the All-Star Game last year, but, in the grand scheme of things, the rest was better for Dellin and the Yankees. I still consider the All-Star Game a fun novelty and yes, I do watch every year, but I’m the point where I don’t mind if a Yankee doesn’t play. I guess it’s a win-win. It’s cool if a Yankee gets into the game and cool if they don’t.

George asks: Since the AL starting team for the ASG has so many Royals, do they still have to have one player from each team? Maybe we should have a maximum number any one team can send if everyone has to send one? Any minor league player from the Royals going?

Oh yeah, of course they still need at least one player from each team. Each roster is 34 players deep, so even if those eight Royals win the voting and start at their positions, that leaves 26 other roster spots for the remaining 14 AL teams. Close to two per team. And that doesn’t even count the guys who are named to the team but replaced on the roster later — pitchers who start the prior Sunday, guys who have to bow out to the injury, etc. Joe Torre used to always take a ton of Yankees to the All-Star Game each year simply because he could. I don’t like the idea of putting a limit on the number of players from one team but I could see the argument. Royals fans are voting like crazy. Let ’em have their fun.

Gannon asks: I’m sure they don’t keep stats for this, but can you remember an instance when a left handed batter hit a home run off the left field foul pole?

There are no stats for this as far as I know but I do remember this happening once. Well, sorta. Carlos Delgado hit a home run off the very bottom of the left field foul pole at Yankee Stadium back in 2008, but that was before the days of instant replay, and it was incorrectly ruled a foul ball. Here’s the video:

After the game home plate umpire Bob Davidson told Christian Red: “I —-ed it up. I’m the one who thought it was a —- foul ball. I saw it on the replay. I’m the one who —-ed it up so you can put that in your paper … No one feels worse about it than I do.” The Mets went on to win 11-2 (box score), so the non-homer call didn’t matter. I’m sure there have been other left-handed batters who have homered off the left field foul pole, but I can’t remember any.

Tom asks: If Betances does well closing while Andrew Miller is hurt (no reason to think he won’t obviously), will Joe Girardi revisit the co-closer idea when Miller comes back? Should he?

I hadn’t thought of that and I hope Girardi would revisit the idea. I like the co-closers plan. It seems like a good way to create some bullpen flexibility and get more platoon advantages. At the same time, both Betances and Miller are so insanely good that I’m not sure it would matter much. They both dominate righties and lefties. There is a financial incentive to letting Miller close — more saves for Dellin means larger salaries in his arbitration years, that’s just how the system works — and those savings might actually be more valuable than any platoon advantage gained with these two. They’re just so good.

Ethan asks: In your opinion, which Yankee starter (including Ivan Nova) has the most trade value?

I’d say Michael Pineda over Masahiro Tanaka for two reasons. One, fair or not, Tanaka’s elbow is viewed as a ticking time bomb. Two, Tanaka’s got a huge contract that hurts his value even if it is more than fair for a 26-year-old ace. Not many teams can afford him and that would limit his trade market. Pineda is not as good as healthy Tanaka but he is pretty great himself, and he’s both substantially cheaper and somewhat less of an injury concern. (I think?) I’d rank the trade value of the starters this way: Pineda, Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren, Nova, CC Sabathia. Warren’s only been a full-time starter for less than three months and Nova will be a free agent after next season.

Kevin asks: Now, the last time the Yankees drafted a defense-first shortstop in the first round it did not turn out very well. What makes Kyle Holder different than Cito Culver?

Holder is both a way better hitter and defender than Culver. Outside of the position and the reputation for being glove-first players, there’s not much of a comparison here. Holder did hit .348/.418/.482 at San Diego this spring and I’m not sure Culver could even do that. He hit .269/.320/.363 in rookie ball, remember. Cito is a really good defensive shortstop but Holder is on another level entirely. He’s just several grades better than Culver both at the plate and in the field. I understand why the comparison is being made and I get the skepticism surrounding Holder, but he and Cito aren’t all that similar.

Gee. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Gee. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

Scott asks: Any reason for the Yanks to take a flier on Dillon Gee?

Other than stashing him in Triple-A for depth — Gee does have at least one minor league option remaining, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said their plan was to send Gee to Triple-A if he clears waivers and they can’t work out a trade — not really. Gee has a little more than $3M left on his contract this year but that’s not a backbreaking amount to the Yankees. Gee is not very good (5.90 ERA and 4.39 FIP) but on a straight waiver claim, sure, stash him in Triple-A. That said, teams usually don’t spend $3M or so for seventh or eighth starters in Triple-A. It’s just not realistic.

Dustin asks: How about piggy-backing Warren after Nova for Nova’s first few starts back, as he ramps up his innings? That would keep Warren pitching while he’s hot and then ease him back into a late-inning pen role, while helping limit the pen usage for Nova’s first few starts and not putting too much pressure on stretching him out too soon.

I like the idea. It would keep Warren stretched out so he could easily slot back into the rotation if necessary, and it would effectively be a scheduled off-day for the rest of the bullpen. That said, Girardi would be working with a six-man bullpen the other four days, and you know he’d be itching to bring in Betances and Miller (once healthy) if he as a late lead in a Nova/Warren start. Who could blame him? I’d want to use Betances and Miller whenever possible too. I like the idea of piggybacking Nova and Warren, I just don’t think it’ll actually happen.

Jim asks: In last week’s mailbag you were asked how James Kaprielian compared with Mike Mussina; my question is what is your opinion on how Kaprielian compares with Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain, who were both 1st round college pitching selections by the Y’s?

Joba and Kaprielian aren’t really comparable. Joba had injury issues in college and his stock was down at the time of the draft — had he been fully healthy at Nebraska he probably would have been a top ten pick. He had nasty stuff, a mid-to-high-90s fastball and that wicked slider to go along with a curveball and a changeup. Joba’s stuff was better than Kaprielian’s but his command and health lagged. He developed into a top prospect, but, on draft day, Kaprielian was better than Joba.

The Kennedy comparison is much more appropriate but still not perfect. I mean, no comp is going to be perfect, but you catch my drift. Kennedy was a candidate to go first overall heading into the spring of 2006 before he had a subpar junior year. I think their secondary pitches are comparable but Kaprielian had more fastball — he was sitting 93-95 come April this year — while Kennedy had more command. Kennedy had (and still has, really) tremendous command and that’s why he was a considered a first overall pick candidate for a while. He’s the most appropriate comp for Kaprielian almost by default. I’d take 2006 Kennedy over 2015 Kaprielian. That’s just me.

Home field advantage. (Jamie Squire/Getty)
Home field advantage. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Tamir asks: How can baseball decide which team in the World Series gets home field advantage in a better way? Clearly the current way is not ideal.

I agree. I don’t like the All-Star Game determining home field advantage in the World Series at all. The league can either have fans voting for the All-Star Game starters or having the All-Star Game decide home field advantage. Having both doesn’t really work. Years ago the AL and NL used to alternate home field advantage in the World Series which was equally dumb, if not worse.

I don’t understand why the team with the better regular season record doesn’t get home field advantage. Doesn’t that make the most sense? If they had the same record, the tiebreaker is head-to-head record during interleague play. If they didn’t play during the regular season, the next tiebreaker is run differential. Is that so hard? The team that had the better record in the regular season should get home field advantage in the World Series. That’s my take. Problem solved.

Joe asks: What pitcher had the highest game score for the Yankees in 2014? So far this year?

Game Score is a really simple stat created by Bill James that attempts to quantify the quality of a start in a single number. I’m not going to explain the entire calculation — here’s the Wikipedia page — but, in a nutshell, it’s a points system. Start with 50, add X points for good events (strikeouts, etc.) and subtract Y points for bad events (walks, runs, etc.). The average Game Score is around 50.

Three starts tied for the highest Game Score by a Yankee last season. Here’s the full list and here’s the top four, via Baseball Reference:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
Brandon McCarthy 2014-08-21 NYY HOU W 3-0 9.0 4 0 0 0 8 0 107 79 87
Masahiro Tanaka 2014-05-14 NYY NYM W 4-0 9.0 4 0 0 0 8 0 114 76 87
Masahiro Tanaka 2014-04-16 (1) NYY CHC W 3-0 8.0 2 0 0 1 10 0 107 76 87
Michael Pineda 2014-09-22 NYY BAL W 5-0 7.1 1 0 0 1 8 0 106 73 83

Those were the team’s only 80+ Game Scores last year. Only the Nationals (five), Indians (five), Dodgers (four), and Red Sox (four) had more starts with an 87+ Game Score last season. The single best Game Score in 2014 was Clayton Kershaw’s 15-strikeout no-hitter at 102. Here’s the full list. That would have been a perfect game if not for a Hanley Ramirez error. Womp womp.

As for this season, the Yankees’ best start by Game Score is not Pineda’s 16-strikeout masterpiece because he did allow a run, and runs are bad. Here’s the full list and here are the top five:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 Masahiro Tanaka 2015-04-18 NYY TBR W 9-0 7.0 2 0 0 0 8 0 85 58 81
2 Michael Pineda 2015-05-10 NYY BAL W 6-2 7.0 6 1 1 0 16 1 111 81 77
3 Michael Pineda 2015-05-05 NYY TOR W 6-3 8.0 5 0 0 1 6 0 101 70 77
4 Masahiro Tanaka 2015-06-03 NYY SEA W 3-1 7.0 3 1 1 0 9 0 78 58 76
5 Michael Pineda 2015-06-17 NYY MIA W 2-1 6.2 1 1 1 2 9 1 100 63 75

The best start by someone other than Tanaka and Pineda this year was Chase Whitley‘s gem against the Blue Jays — that registered a 72 Game Score. The best start in baseball this season was Max Scherzer’s recent 16-strikeout one-hitter, which came in at an even 100 Game Score. Chris Heston’s no-hitter and Corey Kluber’s 18-strikeout game both check in at a 98 Game Score. I don’t think Game Score has a ton of analytical value, but I do think it’s useful for something like this, trying to decipher which start was better than another. It’s a “for fun” stat.

Mailbag: Nova, Kaprielian, Gordon, All-Star Game, Warren

Got 14 questions in the mailbag this week. Use the “Submit A Tip” box in the sidebar to send us any questions throughout the week. The form stinks, it doesn’t give you any kind of confirmation, but trust me, the question goes through even if it looks like it doesn’t.


Zac asks: Instead of bumping someone like Adam Warren to the bullpen when Ivan Nova returns, couldn’t the Yankees just stick Nova out there, at least for the short-term? They’ll need to manage his innings anyway, right?

For what it’s worth, Joe Girardi has said sending Nova to the bullpen is not an option they are considering. “That’s how we look at him, yes,” he said to Chad Jennings when asked if they see Nova as a starter going forward. Nova has some experience in the bullpen — he was demoted to long relief in the middle of 2013 because he was getting smacked around — so it wouldn’t be new to him, though I think the Yankees want to keep him on a set schedule coming off Tommy John surgery rather than working irregularly. I also think they feel they’re better off with Nova in the rotation and Warren in the bullpen, which could very well be true. I’m not sure anyone expected Warren to pitch this well as a starter. I don’t think using Nova in relief would be a bad idea. I just don’t think the Yankees will do it.

Hank asks: Assuming the Andrew Miller injury is not a lengthy one, is it a potential blessing in disguise? Dellin Betances as closer should dial back his workload some, and Girardi is going to be forced to start entrusting other relievers in his Circle of Trust with 3, 4, 5 run leads more often which should make things better for the Millertances formula when Miller gets back.

Eh, maybe. I don’t think there’s much positive to be taken from the reliever you just signed to a four-year contract going down with an arm injury 26.1 innings into the deal. Betances might work less, yeah, and that might because the Yankees are losing more often. He could also end up working more if Girardi doesn’t trust his middle relievers — it sure seems like he doesn’t — and goes to Dellin for four or five-out saves regularly. It’s an opportunity for someone else to prove themselves, sure, but that’s not really a blessing in disguise. Miller getting hurt is bad news, both in the short-term and potentially long-term for the health of his arm.

Michael asks: Does James Kaprielian compare at all with Mike Mussina as the same age?

Oh no, not at all. I know Mussina was a guy throwing mid-80s and locating like video game the last time we saw him, but Moose had nasty stuff earlier in his career when he was coming out of Stanford. He sat mid-90s with that hammer curveball and a great changeup, and he had top notch command of everything. Young Mussina was a bonafide ace in every way. Kaprielian’s very good, he should have a long MLB career as long as he stays healthy, but everything about him is at least a grade behind Mussina at the same age. They aren’t comparable at all. I wish they were.

Joe asks: Wouldn’t a fair comp for Kaprielian be Warren — 4 pitch pitcher from major college who projects as a 3-5 starter or high leverage bullpen piece?

This is the opposite of the Mussina question — Kaprielian is better than Warren was at the time of the draft, rather easily too. Warren didn’t have much of a changeup and his slider was just okay when he was drafted — he relied on his curveball a ton in college — though he did develop that change and improve his slider as a pro. He took some big steps forward in the minors to get to where he is now. Maybe the current version of Warren, the 27-year-old in MLB, is an appropriate comparison for the 21-year-old Kaprielian, but I think even that sells him short. Kaprielian has both a really good changeup and curveball already. He’s way ahead of where Warren was a the same age.

Flash Jr. (Presswire)
Flash Jr. (Presswire)

Andrew asks: I know it’s unlikely to happen, but what kind of package would the Yankees have to put together to get Dee Gordon? He’ll be arbitration eligible soon so you have to assume the Marlins won’t hang on to him for too long.

It’ll cost a ton, I’m sure. Gordon has been awesome this year, going into last night’s game hitting .356/.381/.421 (120 wRC+) this year and .308/.342/.390 (106 wRC+) with 84 steals (!) in over 900 plate appearances since the start of last season. Gordon reportedly hit the weight room hard during the offseason two years ago to add some strength so he can better drive the ball, which has made him a BABIP machine when combined with his speed (.367 BABIP from 2014-15). He doesn’t walk, no, but he also plays strong second base defense now that he’s had time to adjust after moving over from short.

The Marlins traded Andrew Heaney (4.39 ERA in Triple-A), Chris Hatcher (6.88 ERA for Dodgers), and Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes (two young, cheap bench players) for Gordon and Dan Haren plus the money to cover their contracts. Would Miami trade Gordon for Heaney, Hatcher, Hernandez, and Barnes right now? Probably not. The Yankees would have to start a package with Luis Severino and add a few other pieces, good ones like Eric Jagielo, Rob Refsnyder, Jacob Lindgren, or Greg Bird. Severino plus Refsnyder plus Jagielo seems like a starting point. Gordon is good now and he’s under control through 2018. It’ll hurt to get him.

Will asks: You said Brian Cashman is looking for a right-handed reliever. What about Brian Wilson? I’m surprised no team has taken a flyer on him yet.

Wilson was pretty bad last season (4.66 ERA and 4.29 FIP) and I think teams are growing tired of his act too. The forced over-the-top shtick. When he was dominating in the ninth inning for the Giants, sure, you live with it, but when he’s maybe nothing more than a replacement level middle reliever, nah. Wilson was let go by the Dodgers in mid-December and any team could have signed him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum since then. That he’s out there doing live readings of Major League rather than pitching in games is pretty telling. MLB clubs don’t think Wilson has anything left.

Kevin asks: I may be getting ahead of myself here, but do you see any AL team that you don’t think the Yankees could beat in the playoffs? No team out there to me is particularly scary right now, but it’s only June so we’ll see.

There is no great AL team this year. The entire league is awful. I think the Yankees are just as likely to win the pennant as the Royals, the Tigers, the Astros, the Orioles, whoever. Obviously the teams right now in mid-June are going to look a different than the teams we see in late-September, so who knows what will happen. Maybe a truly great AL team or two will emerge by then and become the favorite. The AL East is wide open but so is the rest of the league. The only club that seems to be really out of the race at this point is the Athletics. So I guess the answer is no, I’d feel pretty good about the Yankees going up against anyone in the postseason, especially with Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda healthy.

Michael asks: Assuming the Yankees sign their top 3 draft picks where do you see them being assigned?

Jeff asks: If/when Kaprielian, Holder, and Degano sign where would you slot them in your prospect rankings?

Going to lump these two questions together. I expect the Yankees to sign everyone they picked in the top ten rounds, including the top three guys. Once those deals get done, I figure all three will head to Short Season Staten Island. Kaprielian and Kyle Holder are locks for High-A Tampa next season while Jeff Degano might start with Low-A Charleston.

As for the prospect rankings … I’m not sure right now. Kaprielian would be pretty high up there, I’ll probably have him in the back half of the top ten and the second best pitching prospect in the organization when I do my post-draft top 30 prospects list in a few weeks. Holder’s a good bet for the 20-30 range somewhere. I’m not sure how I stack him up against other shortstop prospects like Angel Aguilar, Abi Avelino, and Thairo Estrada just yet.

Rhett asks: Does Warren have stuff/off speed to project as a long term 2 or 3? He throws 92-95, has a good change, and control seems to be continuously improving. Why do guys like Buster Olney have him as eventual reliever of back of the rotation chaff? His stuff almost reminds me of Zack Greinke with a little less velo.

Warren has been way better as a starter than I expected this year, but I don’t think he’s doing to be that good long-term. Let’s see what happens when the league gets a second look at him first. Remember what happened with Chase Whitley last year? Warren’s stuff and command are better, but still. Warren’s been very good his last five starts. Let’s not change our opinion of him and start dropping Greinke comps based on that. Remember, Warren looked very much like a reliever masquerading as a starter in his first six starts, and he still only has a 14.6 K%, which is well-below-average.

The AL All-Star Team. (Presswire)
The AL All-Star Team. (Presswire)

Kevin asks: Will the latest All-Star ballot update finally prompt MLB to get rid of fan voting for the All-Star game?

No. I don’t think that will ever happen. MLB wants the fans engaged and part of the process. Yes, it’s incredibly dumb the AL All-Star Team is going to be Mike Trout and the Royals, but people are talking about this, and that’s a positive for MLB. The league did step in to “fix” the All-Star rosters in 1957 when Reds fans stuffed the ballot box, and I suppose they could do that again, but I’m not sure they will. If anything, maybe this will lead to severing the ties between the All-Star Game and home field advantage in the World Series. That’s what MLB needs to get rid of, not the fan voting.

Gai asks: Not a Yankees question here, but: If a team somehow only has 8 players left that can play, including 1 pitcher, are they forced to forfeit or can they play with just 2 outfielders like in Soccer down 10 vs 11?

No, they have to forfeit. MLB rules say that if a team can not field nine players at any time, they have to forfeit the game. There are no exceptions. As soon as a team is down to eight players, the game’s over and they lose, regardless of score.

Dan asks: Do you think MLB ballparks are safe enough for fans?

No, I think the league can do a better job. They have nets down the lines in Korea for example (here’s video), and while that’s extreme, I do think MLB should at least extend the netting from dugout to dugout. The MLBPA actually proposed this in the last two rounds of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, but the owners said no because fans pay a lot of money for those seats and they want them to be able to get autographs and balls and whatnot. The recent incident with the lady at Fenway Park is not the worst case scenario, and we see screaming line drive foul balls ripped into the seats every game. It’s hard to react in time even if you’re paying attention. Start with extending the netting to the dugouts. The “fans won’t get balls or autographs!” excuse is as lame as it gets.

Eric asks: Followup to Chris’s question. Dellin Betances may have fewer games than Clay Rapada and Jeff Wallace, but he has more innings than either of those two without a loss. Who has pitched the most innings without a loss, if not Betances?

This refers back to last week’s question about the pitcher with the most appearances before suffering their first career loss. The most innings without a loss in MLB history does belong to Betances, who is at 130 innings right now. Evan Scribner of the A’s is second at 120 innings. The most innings to start a career before taking a loss is 154.2 by Julio Mateo, who last pitched in the bigs in 2007. There’s a bunch of players between Betances and Mateo, but Dellin isn’t far away from catching him.

Rick asks: With the increased prevalence of extreme defensive shifts, is there any evidence that teams are prioritizing hitting to all fields when evaluating prospects for the amateur draft?

Not that I’ve seen, but teams always prioritize hitters who can use the whole field anyway. The guys who can do that are usually the best hitters in the draft and they go in the early rounds. Teams don’t teach players to become dead pull hitters, it just happens because of their swings and approaches. They’re all looking for guys who can hit to all fields. Those players are hard to come by though.

Mailbag: A-Rod, Betances, Cano, Ramirez, Banuelos, Prado

Got a dozen questions for the mailbag this week. If you want to send us any questions or links or anything, use the “For The Mailbag” form to submit it at any time.


Vinny asks: Check out A-Rod‘s splits this season. He’s batting over .300 against righties, and under .200 against lefties.

Yep. Alex Rodriguez is hitting .294/.365/.544 (151 wRC+) with nine homers against righties (he was hitting over .300 when Vinny sent the question in) and .190/.358/.429 (120 wRC+) with two homers against lefties. I think this is a sample size issue though — A-Rod has only 53 plate appearances (.214 BABIP) against lefties compared to 136 plate appearances (.323 BABIP) against righties. Rodriguez did have a big reverse split back in 2013 as well (131 vs. 82 wRC+), but again, he only played 44 games that season, and it’s probably just sample size wonkiness. My guess is his right-left splits will even out as the season progresses, and chances are his numbers will be better against lefties than they are against righties come Game 162.

Christian asks: With David Carpenter being DFA’d in favor of demoting Jacob Lindgren and reports floating around that Luis Severino could be up by the All-Star break, do you see the Yanks possibly bringing up Severino in the bullpen and dumping Esmil Rogers? Maybe they really are going with talent over cost/veteran experience?

I definitely think it’s possible Severino will be called up to work out of the bullpen in the second half. I don’t know if he’ll replace Rogers, but I’m sure it’s on the table. As poorly as Esmil has pitched (4.94 ERA and 4.79 FIP), I’ve always felt there’s value in having a veteran retread long man, someone Joe Girardi could abuse — perfect example: Rogers threw 35 pitches on April 9th then 81 pitches on April 10th in the 19-inning game, and that’s not something you could do with a pitcher you’re planning to have around long-term – without worrying. That said, I absolutely trust Girardi to not overwork a kid like Severino. Who Severino replaces will depend on who is pitching well at the time more than anything. Could be Rogers, could be Chris Capuano, could be Lindgren. Maybe Lindgren pitches himself back to Triple-A. We’ll see.

Brian asks: Either I’ve missed that inning every game I’ve watched (and granted I am using MLB.TV as I’ve moved between seasons) but did YES get rid of the trivia question? Am I crazy?

I hadn’t noticed this until you said something, but I asked around, and apparently they still have trivia questions, though it isn’t an every game thing anymore. They ask on special occasions — “So and so reached this milestone, who is the last Yankee to do this?” sorta stuff —  and that’s it. I’m not sure why it changed. I don’t really miss it, though it was fun getting the answer right once in a while.

Chris asks: Dellin Betances has pitched in over 100 MLB games without taking a loss. Is this a record to start a career!?

Betances is 9-0 in 104 career appearances, but no, that is not the record to start a career. Not even close, really. The record for most appearances before suffering a loss belongs to a recent Yankee, lefty Clay Rapada. He is 8-0 in 152 career appearances and that streak is still active, though he hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2013. Rapada is still bouncing around Triple-A and could resurface at any moment. As best I can tell, the second most appearances before the first loss is 105 games by ex-Pirates reliever Jeff Wallace, so Betances is right behind him.

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

Dan asks: How much money would the Mariners have to eat for the Yankees to trade for Robinson Cano?

Gosh, I don’t even know at this point. Last year my default answer was “enough to turn it into the seven-year, $175M contract the Yankees offered Cano,” but I’m not sure that applies anymore. Robbie looked really bad in that last series, worse than I ever remember him looking when he slumped with the Yankees. And we’re in June now, we have to start seriously asking if it is a sign of major decline or just a slow start. The aging curve for second basemen is not pretty historically. Cano is still owed ~$208M through 2023, but is he even a $150M player at this point? I think the conversation has to start there, with Seattle eating $58M, and I’m not even sure that’s enough. I love Robbie, but man am I happy the Yankees do not have his contract on the books right now.

Sean asks: How are the Yankees doing in pitches per appearance? It seems like Brett Gardner, Mark Teixeira, and A-Rod are leading the way in that department.

Believe it or not, Teixeira is one of the worst Yankees when it comes to pitches per plate appearance. That surprised me, especially since he leads the team with 31 walks (only 29 strikeouts!). The MLB average is 3.80 P/PA this season. Here are where the Yankees regulars rank among the 169 hitters qualified for the batting title:

Brett Gardner 4.28 6th
Alex Rodriguez 4.00 40th
Stephen Drew 3.99 42nd
Chase Headley 3.92 51st
Jacoby Ellsbury 3.90 58th
Carlos Beltran 3.88 64th
Brian McCann 3.78 98th
Mark Teixeira 3.77 100th
Didi Gregorius 3.75 105th

Carlos Santana leads MLB with an average of 4.46 P/PA while Jose Altuve ranks dead last at 3.10 P/PA. Altuve really likes to swing. The Yankees as a team are averaging 3.86 pitches per plate appearance, sixth most in baseball. Last year the Yankees ranked eighth (3.88 vs. 3.83 average) and the year before that they were 15th (3.84, exactly average). So the Yankees are doing a better job working pitchers this year, albeit slightly.

Nick asks: What is Jose Ramirez at this point? Is he even a decent bullpen prospect or is he the second guy to be DFA after Matt Tracy?

No, I don’t think he’s next in line to be dropped when a 40-man roster spot is needed at all. I imagine Jose DePaula, Gregorio Petit, and Danny Burawa are ahead of him at the very least (Tracy was outrighted off the 40-man yesterday). Ramirez is still walking too many guys (10.8 BB%) but he’s missing bats (25.5 K%) and had a 2.49 ERA (2.58 FIP) in 25.1 Triple-A innings heading into last night’s game. I still believe in the stuff — PitchFX had Ramirez at 94.6 mph with an 87.0 mph slider during his brief one-inning cameo earlier this year — and he has a minor league option left for 2016, so there’s no rush here. Ramirez’s prospect stock has taken a hit the last few years, no doubt about it, but he still has a live arm and I think he can be a factor for the Yankees out of the bullpen at some point.

Nick asks: What would a contract extension for Dellin Betances look like this offseason. Figuring he isn’t the closer, would a 4-5 year deal make sense? Maybe around $4 million a year?

There are no good comparables for Betances, an overwhelmingly dominant setup man. Most pitchers this dominant wind up in the ninth inning, and saves do still pay around MLB. Dellin only has one year and 79 days of service time too.  Only two relievers have signed an extension longer than two years with fewer than three years of service time over the last six and a half years: Sean Doolittle (four years, $10M, plus two options) and Sergio Santos (three years, $8.25M, plus three options). That’s it.

The Yankees have Betances under control though 2019, his age 31 season, plus Andrew Miller is going to be saving games for the foreseeable future. Dellin won’t rack up enough saves to inflate his earning potential through arbitration. Also, Spring Training and early-April were a little reminder things can fall apart pretty quickly for Betances. We can’t completely ignore his pre-2014 history. I’m not so sure the Yankees should rush to sign Dellin long-term. Tyler Clippard made $20.3M and Luke Gregerson made $10.3M during their final four years of team control as elite setup men, though Clippard was a Super Two. Betances won’t be. So maybe four years and $16M or five years and $20M is reasonable if the Yankee do want to sign Betances long-term. That’ll save the team some bucks at the end of his arbitration years, especially if Dellin takes over as closer at some point.


Zachary asks: Why did the Yankees give up so early on Manny Banuelos? It looks like he’s pitching pretty well out in Atlanta and David Carpenter has unpredictably been horrendous. At the time of the trade, ManBan was 23, a former star prospect, coming off Tommy John surgery. Why not give the kid a couple of years before dispatching him for a middle reliever, especially since the Yankees were already signing Miller, have Betances and drafted Lindgren. Seems quite nonsensical.

I wouldn’t say they gave up on him early. Banuelos was in the farm system for seven years before they traded him, and he’s only gone backwards the last four years. Remember, Banuelos had a 3.75 ERA (4.15 FIP) with an unsightly 12.3 BB% back in 2011, his last healthy season before the elbow acted up, and we were all wondering where his trademark command went. Banuelos has shown nothing more than marginal improvement this year …

2014 3.60 5.56 18.6% 14.3% 40.0% 1.20
2015 2.93 3.55 20.7% 10.4% 43.2% 0.34

… aside from the fluky low home run rate. There are no reports his stuff has improved or anything like that either. Banuelos is in his final option year so the Yankees couldn’t “give the kid a couple of years” to work it out even if they wanted to. He he has to stick in MLB for good next year or be exposed to waivers. Carpenter flat out stunk in pinstripes, but Chasen Shreve has been really good, and what are the odds Banuelos was ever going to be as valuable to the Yankees as Shreve is right now? Banuelos is no longer the guy he was three or four years ago. Maybe he’ll get back there are some point, but the Yankees opted to turn him into something useful before his stock fell any more.

David asks: When was the last time neither a Yankee or a Red Sox was voted onto the All-star team?

There were no Yankees or Red Sox players in position to start the All-Star Game when MLB released the latest voting update earlier this week. There were no Red Sox players in the starting lineup last year, so that’s the easy part of the question, but the Yankees have had at least one player start the All-Star Game every year since 1999. Somehow they ruled the baseball world in 1998 but had no All-Star starters in 1999. Go figure. The last All-Star Game with no Yankees and no Red Sox players in the starting lineup was 1998. Weird.

Dan asks: Could the Yankees target Martin Prado for a trade?

Sure, I suppose they could. Prado has been kinda blah so far this year, hitting .287/.323/.370 (92 wRC+) with three homers and a career low walk rate (3.9%) for the Marlins, but that’s enough to be an upgrade over Stephen Drew at second base even with the defensive hit. Prado’s got about $18M left on his contract — the Yankees are paying $3M of his salary this year and next — through the end of next season, so he’s probably overpaid at this point, yet he’s still useful and could also be a backup at third base and another outfield option. The Yankees got two and a half years of Prado for Peter O’Brien last year, so it stands to reason one and a half years of Prado would cost less. Then again, the Diamondbacks seem to value O’Brien very highly. Very, very highly. For what it’s worth, Joe Frisaro says the Marlins aren’t planning to sell, which is something teams always say this time of year. Prado is on the radar but I’m not sure how realistic it is.

Frank asks: How long do the Yankees have Slade Heathcott under contract for? How does his one-year minor league deal that he signed this offseason effect his free agent eligibility?

It doesn’t change anything, the minor league contract went away when the Yankees re-added Heathcott to the 40-man roster last month. (Players technically sign a new Major League contract that supersedes their minor league deal when they get called up and added to the 40-man.) This is Slade’s first stint in MLB, so he came up with zero service time. The Yankees have him for the rest of this year plus another six years after that — Heathcott does accrue service time on the DL but he won’t be up long enough to get a full season’s worth of service time in 2015 — so through 2022 assuming he never goes back to the minors, which is unlikely.

Mailbag: Betances, Heathcott, Soriano, Braun, Severino

Got 13 questions in the mailbag this week. That’s a lot. Use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us questions at any time.

Dellin. (Presswire)

Jon asks: Is it possible that Dellin Betances is even better this year than last? I think most assumed that he was so historically good last year that he could not even repeat it.

It’s possible, sure. We need to see the rest of the season play out — I love Dellin as much as anyone, but I doubt he’ll maintain that 0.00 ERA and 0.0 HR/9 all season, especially considering his home park — but that’s not an unfair question. Here’s a real quick comparison of his 2014 and 2015 seasons:

2014 1.40 1.64 39.6% 7.0% 46.6% 13.0% .223 .186
2015 0.00 1.24 42.3% 11.3% 48.9% 14.6% .198 .090

The only drop there is in walk rate, so yeah, I guess we can say Betances has been better so far this year than he was last year. The important thing to me is that he got over his early season control issues and has shown he can sustain some semblance of last year’s performance. That’s pretty remarkable. Dellin had one of the best reliever seasons in history a year ago, and now he’s doing it again.

Steve asks: Conspiracy Theory: The Yankees have every intention of paying A-Rod that $6M bonus from passing Willie Mays in April. They know that by refusing to pay A-Rod, they made him a sympathetic figure who the fans have (mostly) welcomed back. Had they just paid him, he would have been vilified.

That … is a conspiracy theory, that’s for sure. If the plan all along was to pay the $6M, they would have marketed the hell out of the milestone homer to make as much money as possible. The Yankees are a for profit business, remember. They care more about making money than fans siding with A-Rod.

Jimbo asks: If the division wasn’t so close, do you think we would see Rob Refsnyder by now? I’m honestly not expecting much from this team. I think it would be more fun watching the young kids playing up here at this point.

Everyone wants to watch young kids until they play like Didi Gregorius, amirite? Anyway, yeah I’m sure the team’s handling of Refsnyder would be different if they were far out of the race. They’d have more incentive — and less to lose — to give another young player a shot. Personally, I’d much rather watch the Yankees stay in contention and try to win this year than give some young players a shot. Winning and watching meaningful games is way more fun.

Geno asks: If Didi put up a .250/.330/.375 each year, do you think the team is happy enough with that to keep his starting SS role for the rest of his team control?

I think they would take that, assuming his defensive brain farts come to an end at some point reasonably soon. I don’t think that’s a safe assumption, but let’s roll with it. The league average shortstop is hitting .248/.300/.358 (82 wRC+) this season, so a .250/.330/.375 hitter would be solidly above-average for the position. If the defense doesn’t come around, then no, the Yankees shouldn’t be happy with that production from Gregorius. But if he settles in as even an average defender with that slash line, I think they’d be thrilled.

Slade. (Presswire)
Slade. (Presswire)

Michael asks: Should they Yankees trade Slade Heathcott while his value is high, considering his injury history and our other needs for the team?

I don’t think it’ll work like that. Other teams could have signed Heathcott this offseason and passed. I don’t think the last two months have changed many minds about his long-term outlook, especially since tools and performance were never a question, it was health. If I was another team, I think the most I’d give up for Slade is a similar busted former top prospect trying to stick around.

That said, maybe a deal like that does make sense for the Yankees. They have plenty of outfielders at Triple-A and Double-A — if they trade Heathcott, they could simply call up Ramon Flores and put him in left with Brett Gardner in center — so perhaps there’s an opportunity to flip Slade for a pitcher or a middle infielder. Something like that. I don’t think his trade value has climbed significantly these last two months, but maybe there is an opportunity to use him to strengthen another part of the team.

Hank asks: Looking at the Brooks data on release points, Nathan Eovaldi‘s release point seems to vary quite a bit by pitch type (for example his horizontal release on his Curve is ~6″ different than his fastball). Could this be one of the reasons batters hit him so well – they can get a good idea of pitch type by his release point? Guys like Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia seem to have much tighter release points between pitch type.

Release points tend to be different for different pitches but not to that extreme. Six inches is a pretty big deal. Here are Eovaldi’s release points from 2013-15. I prefer FanGraphs for these because their graphs are easier to read. Click the image for a larger view:

Nathan Eovaldi release points

First of all, Eovaldi’s overall release point has risen a few inches this year and is back to where it was in 2013, for whatever reason. That could be a PitchFX/ballpark issue — he’s on a new mound and we don’t have a big sample size, so little inconsistencies like this can happen.

You can see the difference in release points between his fastball (baby blue) and curveball (green), though Eovaldi has only thrown his curveball 11.5% of the time this year. The difference between his fastball and slider (purple) might be more relevant since those are his two main pitches. (He throws his fastball 54.6% of the time and his slider 27.0% of the time.) There’s a difference in release point there, not a huge one, but a difference nonetheless, and perhaps that plays a role in his hittability. Hitters might be reading the pitch out of his hand because of the different release points. We can’t say that for certain, but it could definitely be a factor. Nice catch.

Steve asks: With the middle relief looking not all that hot lately, would taking a flier on Rafael Soriano make sense?

Yeah I think so. Assuming he comes really cheap — what’s he looking at now, one year and $2M if he’s lucky? — it’s never a bad idea to add a veteran end-game reliever, especially with David Carpenter showing no signs of coming around. I don’t think this is a “they need to sign him today!” situation, the Yankees do have bullpen depth, but if MFIKY will sign cheap and is okay being (at best) the seventh inning guy, why not? He’s not the Soriano we saw a few years ago, he has declined some, but it would be so low risk. If he blows up, big deal. The Yankees would be right back where they started.

Bob asks: Things seem bleak right now, but can anything really compare to 1965 in terms of a Yankee team falling off a cliff? World Series to last place in one year, and with a reasonably good looking roster? I realize most RAB readers are too young to remember those days, but that seems to be the team one needs to refer to when perspective is needed. Thoughts?

This was sent in when the Yankees were in the middle of that whole ten losses in eleven games mess, as you can tell from the tone of Bob’s question. Here are five largest winning percentage decreases from one year to the next in team history:

Seasons Win% Drop Notes
1924-25 0.138 89 wins, 2nd place to 69 wins, 7th place
1964-65 0.136 99 wins, lost WS to 77 wins, 6th place
1939-40 0.131 106 wins, won WS to 88 wins, 3rd place
1998-99 0.099 Best team ever to 97 wins, won WS (lol)
1943-44 0.097 98 wins, won WS to 83 wins, 3rd place

I wasn’t around back then but yeah, the drop from 1964-65 is often cited as the worst year-to-year collapse in franchise history. The Yankees won 17 pennants and ten World Series titles from 1947-64, and still had Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, and others in 1965. They suddenly got bad and stayed bad — they didn’t return to the postseason until 1976. They were bad for a while. Legitimately bad. The Yankees nowadays are just mediocre.

Since I have the spreadsheet open, the best year-to-year improvement in team history was 1925-26, so the worst winning percentage drop in Yankees history was followed immediately by the biggest improvement (+0.143). The second biggest improvement? That would be 1926-27, the following season (+0.123). Here’s the team’s win total from 1921-28: 98, 94, 98, 89, 69, 91, 110, 101. One of those things is not like the others.

Mitch asks: Isn’t Ryan Braun a good a trade target? The Yankees need a middle of the order bat, they have the money to eat most of the contract, and they have the prospect depth to make a trade. Obviously he’s an injury concern, but so is the entire team. What would it take to get him?

Braun is hitting again (12 HR and 132 wRC+) this year, probably because he finally had the nerve issue in his thumb surgically repaired this past offseason after playing with it for nearly two years. He’s not back to where he was in his prime, but he’s still productive. That said, Braun’s contract is the kind of contract I think the Yankees need to avoid. He’ll turn 32 in November and his six-year, $105M extension doesn’t kick in until next year. He’s got negative defensive value and it’s hard to think his production will do anything but go down from here on out. I don’t even know where the Yankees would play Braun at this point. Play him in left field until Jacoby Ellsbury returns and then what? The Yankees could use another bat, sure, but I don’t think taking on six and a half years of 31-year-old Ryan Braun is the answer either. That’s the kind of move that put the team where they are today.

Jim asks: Thoughts on this statement: David Wright is Don Mattingly.

Interesting! Both bonafide homegrown stars in New York whose best chance to be a major piece of a contending club came early in their careers. Mattingly’s career was sabotaged by back problems, and now Wright is going through something similar with his back trouble. And Mattingly had been relegated to complementary player status by time the Yankees were ready to win again. The same may be true with Wright. Thus far the middle of Wright’s career has been more productive than Mattingly’s:
Source: FanGraphsDavid Wright, Don Mattingly

Wright found that second gear for another few years at age 28 while Mattingly petered out. Depending on the severity of his back problems, the end of Wright’s career may be more productive than the end of Mattingly’s. There are definitely similarities though. They were both on the Hall of Fame track before injuries set in and ruined things.

Quintin asks: What level of prospect would Betances return in a trade? This is just a hypothetical question.

I’m not even sure. Guys like Betances — an elite reliever with four and a half years of team control remaining — never get traded. Craig Kimbrel was traded with four years of control remaining and he netted a top pitching prospect (Matt Wisler) and an interesting secondary prospect (Jordan Paroubeck). That’s about the only similar trade we can reference. (The Melvin Upton for Cameron Maybin/Carlos Quentin part of the trade was basically a two-way salary dump.) Kimbrel had a longer track record than Betances but was also substantially more expensive during those four years of control. I’m not sure how to value Dellin in a trade. Highly, obviously, but how highly?

Baez. (Presswire)
Baez. (Presswire)

Mark asks: Would Luis Severino be enough to swap with the Cubs for Javier Baez?

I don’t think so. I’d want more if I was the Cubs. Severino is a really good pitching prospect, but he’s not elite, and several other clubs could match or exceed that offer. (Ahem, Mets.) Baez really struggled in his MLB debut last year, I mean really struggled (51 wRC+ and 41.5 K%), but he’s only 22 and has elite bat speed/power potential. The tools are off the charts. Baez does have more bust potential than the typical high-end prospect because he has no plate discipline, sure, but is it higher than that of a young pitcher who generates most of his mid-90s velocity with his arm? The Cubs are probably thinking more along the lines of Noah Syndergaard for Baez. That seems more appropriate.

Alex asks: Thoughts on the Yankees making a play for Arismendy Alcantara? He’s pretty clearly extraneous on the Cubs and seems to have a pretty dynamic bat despite the high K totals.

I like Alcantara. He’s one of those players I just like for no reason in particular. He’s another guy like Baez who has really struggled during his brief time as a big leaguer (63 wRC+ and 31.3 K%), but he’s consistently hit in the minors and has both some power and a lot of speed. Alcantara is only 23 and he can play almost anywhere — he’s played all over the infield and outfield in his career. Severino for Alcantara is more realistic than Severino for Baez, though I’m not sure I’d do that if I was the Yankees.