Mailbag: Webb, Rhodes, DH

This week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag features less gibberish than usual and queries about Brandon Webb, Arthur Rhodes, and the designated hitter spot. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to submit your questions at any time. Let’s get to it…

Carl asks: Wouldn’t it make sense for the Yankees to offer Brandon Webb a two year, incentive laden contract sort of how Jon Lieber’s was. That way he can take his time coming back this year, and be 100% next year. In that scenario he becomes insurance in case CC opts out.

The reports on Webb from Instructional League were not good at all, he was in the low-to-mid-80’s and was basically throwing junk. Remember, he’s missed what amounts to two full seasons because of a frayed labrum and a debridement in his shoulder, which is serious stuff. The odds of him turning back into the guy that was arguably the best pitcher in baseball from 2005 through 2009 are extremely small. I’m in favor of signing anyone to a low risk contract (i.e. short term, low base salary with incentives), though I would expect absolutely nothing out of Webb going forward.

Make sure you look at this from his point of view too, what is Webb looking for? He wants an opportunity to show he’s healthy and can be effective. He just spent two seasons on the shelf and is already 31, I doubt he wants to take his time coming back and then have to force his way into a contender’s rotation. I bet he signs a a one-year deal with a team that will put him in the Opening Day rotation no questions asked.

Dan asks: Is Arthur Rhodes a guy the Yankees will/should watch closely this offseason? Lefty Reliever, yeah he’s old but his last 3 seasons have been awesome, his groundball rate is great and he wouldn’t cost a draft pick. Perfect fit for the Yanks?

Nah, he’s on borrowed time right now. His 2010 season was good overall (3.24 FIP, held lefties to a .257 wOBA) but tremendously deceiving. Rhodes got taken deep three times by lefties after the end of June, and overall they hit .273/.298/.591 off him after June 26th. Unsurprisingly, he dealt with a foot injury (plantar fasciitis, which hurts like a bitch and doesn’t go away easily) in the second half. Rhodes is also 41 years old already and his stuff lost its luster as the season progressed, so there are red flags everywhere.

Someone’s absolutely going to overpay for that All Star appearance (probably the Reds), and I would rather it not be the Yankees. I think Keith Law put it best when he said Rhodes is “a bad month away from a forced retirement.” Given all of the lefty relief options on the market, they can afford to avoid to steer clear of this one.

Mark asks: Say Jorge retires or is strictly used as a back-up catcher in 2012. Any possibility that ARod becomes the permanent DH and Jeter moves to 3B? Could this be a scenario that is brought up during this year’s negotiations?

Sure, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t count on it. It would be rather foolish to move A-Rod off of third base in the fifth year of a ten-year deal, especially when it’s not absolutely necessary yet. They need to extract as much value of him as possible, which means leaving him in the field until he needs a Rascal Scooter.

I stand by my belief that Derek Jeter will be the shortstop for the Yankees until the end of the time he decides to hang ’em up, and I suspect he and his agent wants him to be paid as such. The Yankees could discuss a potential position change during this discussions, but I can’t imagine it’ll have any effect. And I also have zero expectation of Jeter going to the team and suggesting a position change until he becomes embarrassingly bad out there, and even then you’re probably pushing your luck.

Olney: Yankees are talking to Carl Crawford

Via Buster Olney, the Yankees are “very much engaged in discussions” with free agent outfield Carl Crawford, though it’s unclear if they’re looking at him in combination with Cliff Lee, or as an alternative to the lefty. I suspect it’s the latter, and they’re just covering all their bases. Should they miss out on Lee, they could attempt to sign the other CC and then deal one of their spare outfielders for a sorely needed starting pitcher.

It was pretty busy last night, so in case you missed it: Mariano Rivera is on the verge of re-signing for two-years and $30M, and the Yanks came dangerously close to trading Frankie Cervelli for the since non-tendered Russell Martin. That would have been awesome.

A deal that almost was: Cervelli for Martin

As we celebrate Mariano Rivera’s inevitable homecoming, here’s something juicy for your late-night dreams: The Yankees, reports Michael S. Schmidt of The Times, were on the verge of trading Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers in exchange for Russell Martin. The Yankees and Dodgers exchanged medicals on Wednesday, but the deal seemed to slip away shortly before the non-tender deadline at midnight. The Dodgers eventually decided to drop Martin, and the Yanks could take a flier on him without surrendering Cervelli — my favorite Yankee punching bag.

Martin would be an intriguing addition to the Yanks. As a 24-year-old in 2007, he hit .293/.374/.469 with 19 home runs, but health problems have slowed him down of late. Due to an issue with his hip labrum, he played just 97 games in 2010 and hit only .248/.347/.332. Still, his walk rate has been above 10.8 percent for the past four years, and when healthy, he’s a very solid defensive catcher. He’d definitely be an upgrade over Cervelli, and he’s one upon whom the Yanks will probably keep an eye this month.

Welcome home, Mo

Via MLBTR, the Yankees will sign Mariano Rivera to a two year, $30 million contract (according to Christian Red of the Daily News). The deal isn’t official yet, but Red reports that it will be completed by Friday night.

The real interesting part of this is the following passage:

Thursday night, Rivera’s agent Fernando Cuza – who was one of the many guests at Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s celebrity golf tournament kickoff dinner – had said the Yankees and Rivera’s camp were “a little far apart” on getting a new deal done for Rivera, and that “hopefully we’ll be able to work it out.” But within hours, a deal came together, perhaps expedited because Rivera had recently received a three-year deal and more money (believed to be in the neighborhood of $17 million per year) from another team, according to the source. The source added that Rivera wanted to maintain his ties to the only team he has ever played for, and went with less money and fewer years to continue wearing pinstripes.

The smart money is on Anaheim as the team that offered Rivera three years at $17 million each. Maybe it was serious, maybe it was a ploy to get the Yankees to up their bid. In either case, it didn’t work. Red’s source notes that, “[Rivera] wanted to stay loyal to the Yankees.”

Still, that does seem a bit fishy. To rephrase the above quote, the deal got done because another team offered Mo more money and more years than the Yankees were willing to offer, and Mo chose less money and fewer years. That doesn’t sound quite right. If the Yankees were willing to go 2/34, maybe I could see it. But 3/51 vs. 2/30? That just doesn’t add up. Maybe Mo really is just that loyal to the pinstripes. But before we make that determination, I’d like to hear someone else confirm the story — if for no other reason than my unfamiliarity with Red.

Maybe Mo taking the same average annual value with fewer years has inspired Derek Jeter. Shortly after the Mo news Broke, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti tweeted:

I’m told Yanks/Jeter have made “significant progress,” could have deal before WM begin. Yanks sticking to 3yr deal, possible 4th yr option.

It would be fitting if both Jeter and Mo came back at the same AAV as their previous contracts, but for a shorter term.

Update: Jon Heyman hears that it was the Red Sox who made the three-year offer in question, and that two other teams offered three years. That’s an, uh, interesting twist to the story.

Update 2: Per Heyman again, another team was the Angels. I knew it!

Leyritz sentenced to probation in DUI

A judge in Florida sentenced former Yankee Jim Leyritz to probation and fined him $500 for his misdemeanor DUI conviction. Leyritz was arrested in December 2007 when he collided with another car at a Fort Lauderdale intersection, resulting in the death of the other driver. Late last month, Leyritz was acquitted of charges in his case for manslaughter DUI.

Yanks non-tender Moseley, Aceves

The Yankees have non-tendered Dustin Moseley and Alfredo Aceves, Mark Feinsand reported a minute ago. In light of the team’s decision to re-up with Sergio Mitre, Moseley’s departure was a foregone conclusion. The Yanks do not need to mediocre right-handers clogging up the roster in the name of depth, but the decision on Aceves is surprising. My guess is that the Yanks did not want to burn a 40-man spot on a guy who missed most of 2010 and will be out for around the first six-to-eight weeks of 2011. The club will, in all likelihood, try to resign him to a minor league deal without burning a 40-man spot on a question mark.

Open Thread: ‘Cuse coming to the Bronx

(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

The Syracuse Orange (7-5 overall, 4-3 in conference play) have accepted a bid to play in this month’s Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium according to the team, though their opponent still hasn’t been confirmed. Based on my quick Google search, it appears that Kansas State is the favorite for the other bid. The game is scheduled for Monday, December 20th.

“We are thrilled to have Syracuse representing the Big East Conference in the inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Hal Steinbrenner. “We expect the historic backdrop of Yankee Stadium and the many attractions of New York City to create a one-of-a-kind bowl event for the athletes participating and … Syracuse fans that will have the opportunity to watch their team play in person.”

I know a few of our regulars are Syracuse alums, so any of you going to head out to the game? Based on what I heard, last month’s matchup between Army and Notre Dame was a rather cool experience.

Anywho, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Texans are at the Eagles and you can watch if you have the NFL Network, otherwise you’re stuck with the Rangers at the Islanders. It seems like all of the local teams have had the week off. Eh, whatever. Oh, and Lebron is going back to Cleveland tonight (8pm ET, TNT). I hear that’s kind of a big deal. Talk about whatever you want, so have at it.