Mailbag: Draft Picks, Gordon, Girardi, Soriano

I went with short-ish answers this week so I could squeeze in as many questions as possible, but I still only got to six. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us anything, mailbag questions or otherwise.

Missin’ you. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mark asks: Assuming Brett Gardner is indeed out for the year and that the Yanks’ main AL title competitor, the Rangers, make another big trading deadline splash and acquire either Cole Hamels or Zack Greinke, should the Yanks counter by acquiring a solid hitting left fielder?

Nah, don’t make moves to “answer” another team’s moves. That’s how you end up with a Kei Igawa situation. If the Yankees are able to find a reasonable upgrade for the outfield given Gardner’s surgery, then by all means go for it. What another team — particularly a non-division rival — does is immaterial. Put the best possible team on the field and it doesn’t matter what everyone else does.

Cory asks: One big element missing from the offense this year is speed. Obviously Gardy’s out and his 49 steals from a year ago makes a big difference, but a 36-year-old Alex Rodriguez is the team leader. 38-year-old Jeter is second, and rounding out the top eight are guys with limited action (Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, Eduardo Nunez, Gardner), a 40-year-old Ibanez, and Curtis Granderson. Do you expect Cashman to target speed come July 31, or is that an element they can live without this year?

We’re already heard that if they do make a trade to acquire a replacement outfielder, that it would be a speedy center field type similar to Gardner. Overall team speed is the club’s one glaring hole just because there is none of it. They’re very station-to-station but they can live with that because they get guys on base and hit a bunch of extra-base hits. I think they can get by without any speed but it is something that would be nice to have, just to add a different element to the offense and occasionally put some pressure on the pitcher. Like I said, if they find someone reasonable to fill that need, by all means go for it.

Mike asks: Does signing money from competitive lottery picks factor into a team’s bonus pool? Could you see the Yanks sending a prospect to a team in exchange for the pick and the pool money, someone like a Adam Warren or Corban Joseph? Other team gets a prospect near MLB ready and doesn’t have to pay $1M for him, Yankees get the pick and don’t have to lose the prospect in the Rule 5 draft.

Yep, the extra competitive balance lottery picks comes with extra draft pool money and they can be traded. There are a dozen such picks and the Yankees don’t have one because they’re the Yankees. I have no idea how teams will value those picks in a trade but I’d guess they’d value the draft pool money more than the pick itself. Trading a near-MLB ready guy like Warren or CoJo seems like a backwards move given the high attrition rate of draft picks in general. I’d rather use them as part of a package for a piece to help the big league team or just keep them for depth. These competitive lottery picks seem like they would be the second or third piece in any trade, not the headliner.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Jon asks: A lot has been mentioned about the Royals looking for starting pitching (now and future). Could a package of David Phelps, Brett Marshall, and another lesser prospect get us Alex Gordon?

I don’t think that’s nearly enough. Gordon’s one of the better outfielders in the game even if his power dropped off quite a bit this year, and he’s signed to very reasonable long-term contract ($50M through 2015 with a player option for 2016). As impressive as Phelps has been in the first half, he’s still just mid-to-back-end starter and that’s not enough incentive for Royals. If they’re going to move Gordon, they’ll need a potential impact, number one type guy in return. Just look at what the White Sox gave up to acquire Nick Swisher at a similar point of his career — a potential front-line guy in Gio Gonzalez, another high-end pitching prospect (Fautino DeLoSantos), and a solid outfield prospect (Ryan Sweeney). Gordon obviously makes sense for New York but they would really need to sweeten that pot.

Michael asks: What do you think it would take for Joe Girardi to get fired in the next couple of years? Losing in the ALDS, losing in the wild card round, not making the playoffs, or maybe even just not winning the World Series?

An awful lot. Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman, and the rest of the brain trust hand-picked Girardi for the job so it would take a ton for him to get fired. They’d have to miss the playoffs a few years in a row I believe, and even then he would just be a scapegoat. More than likely, the end of the Girardi era will come when he says he’s had enough and decides to walk away due to burnout or because another team offers a megacontract.

Anonymous asks: Given Rafael Soriano‘s success in Mariano Rivera‘s absence, do you see the front office pushing Cashman to renegotiate a contract and extend him beyond 2013 when this season is over? Despite the tools, something tells me David Robertson won’t be successful as our closer and there’s no telling how Mo will perform coming back from an injury at 43 years of age. Speaking of which, what kind of money will Mo receive next year if he’s healthy?

I really hope they don’t push to re-sign Soriano. If he opts out, say thank you very much and let him walk. That $14M he’s owed next season can go not just towards replacing Soriano with another high-end reliever, but also replacing Swisher in right (or even re-signing him) and maybe even adding various depth pieces. Soriano’s been awesome, better than we could have possibly expected once Mo went down, but he won’t continue pitching at this level because no reliever not named Mariano ever has sustained a performance like this across multiple years. It just doesn’t happen and I wouldn’t expect a 32-year-old with a history of elbow problems to do it.

As for Mo, I think they’ll re-sign him to a one-year deal at similar money to what he’s making now, so $15-16M. I know he’s 43 and coming off knee surgery and all that, but I have a hard time thinking they’ll play hardball with the money. They might hold the line on one-year but I doubt they’d balk at a high salary. It’s just money and Mo’s one of the few players with legitimate high-end marquee value that transcends his on-field value.

Yanks, Freddy drop opener in Oakland


Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees lost Thursday night’s game but kept the streak alive — Nick Swisher‘s solo homer with one out in the ninth inning gave them at least three runs for the 43rd consecutive game. That’s the second longest streak of the live ball era and just six away from the record. Sadly, that was the highlight of the night. Let’s recap…

  • No Bueno: The Angels smacked Freddy Garcia around five days ago and another AL West team did the honors on Thursday. The Athletics tagged Freddy for nine hits and four runs in 5.2 innings, including two on a golf shot homer by Yoenis Cespedes in the first. Everything Garcia threw was up, and when he did manage to get the ball down it was out over the plate. His next start will come against the Mariners in Seattle — they have a team 58 wRC+ (!) at Safeco this season — and if he can’t dominate in that environment, it’ll be time to give David Phelps a legit chance in the rotation.
  • West Coast Offense: The Yankees’ bats looked sluggish after the long trip out west, not putting up much of a fight until right-hander A.J. Griffin had visibly tired in the sixth. Mark Teixeira drove in a run with a long sacrifice fly and Swisher plated another with a single. He was their best offensive player on an otherwise forgettable night. No walks, seven singles, and Swisher’s homer. That was it.
  • The Kid: With four strikeouts in 2.1 innings in this game, Phelps has now struck out 35 batters in his last 23.2 innings (13.3 K/9). He retired all seven men he faced and was getting a ton of called strikes with that little two-seamer down and on the outside corner to righties/inside corner to lefties. At some point, likely very soon, the Yankees are just going to have to let him start to see what he can do, Freddy’s feelings be damned.
  • Leftovers: Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 22 games and his on-base streak to 25 games with a sixth inning single … Derek Jeter (two singles), Alex Rodriguez (two singles), and Swisher (single and homer) had multiple hits while Cano and Raul Ibanez chipped in singles … Teixeira hit the sac fly to deep center plus another ball to the warning track in left, so he just missed a few that could have gone a long way … the Yankees had won nine straight in Oakland, dating all the way back to the Dallas Braden “get off my mound” game in April 2010.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Every other AL East team won except for the idle Blue Jays, so New York’s lead in the division is down to (gasp!) nine games over Baltimore and double digits over everyone else. Ivan Nova will look to get the Yankees back in the win column against Tommy Milone in game two of this four-game set on Friday night. That’s another 10pm ET start, unfortunately.

Williams continues hot streak with a homer

Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread. Here are a few notes from the minor league side…

  • OF Dan Brewer has been traded to the Braves. No word on the return but it won’t be anything substantial — maybe a few grand, maybe less. Milwaukee really dropped the ball here, they should have been the first team on the phone.
  • RHP Taylor Morton is done for the season with some kind of shoulder problem. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious and explains the 9/20 K/BB in 23.2 innings this year. Meanwhile, RHP Conor Mullee had some kind of surgery this morning and is also done for the year.
  • RHP Danny Farquhar has been bumped up to Triple-A Empire State, taking the roster spot of the recently released RHP Nelson Figueroa.
  • LHP Josh Romanski has joined Short Season Staten Island as part of his rehab assignment. He hasn’t pitched since mid-April due to a blister(s).
  • Baseball America published a midseason list of the youngest players in each league. The Yankees have the youngest player in the Triple-A International League (LHP Manny Banuelos), High-A Florida State League (C Gary Sanchez), and Rookie Level Gulf Coast League (3B Miguel Andujar). Five of the 17 youngest players in the FSL are Yankees farmhands.

Triple-A Empire State (2-0 win over Charlotte)
CF Chris Dickerson: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — got picked off first
C Frankie Cervelli: 0-3, 1 K, 1 HBP
2B Corban Joseph: 1-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
DH Brandon Laird: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 K — eight hits in his last 23 at-bats (.348) with three doubles and a homer
LF Kosuke Fukudome: 1-2, 2 BB — second straight game with a pair of walks, his specialty
RF Cole Garner & SS Ramiro Pena: both 1-4, 1 K
3B Doug Bernier & 1B Matt Antonelli: both 1-3 — Bernier struck out … Antonelli played his second career game at first
LHP Mike O’Connor: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 38 of 54 pitches were strikes (70%) … picked a runner off first
RHP D.J. Mitchell: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 4/4 GB/FB — 42 of 63 pitches were strikes (64%) … he’ll start five days from now

[Read more…]

Game 92: The Left Coast

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Yankees have completely manhandled the Athletics over the last three seasons, taking 25 of 31 games against Oakland including 13 of 15 in the Coliseum. The A’s are streaking though, having won ten of their last 12 overall. Then again, they won’t be facing the Twins, Mariners, and Red Sox anymore. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Alex Rodriguez
3B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C  Chris Stewart

RHP Freddy Garcia

Tonight’s game starts a little after 10pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy if you’re awake.

David Phelps Update: Joe Girardi said that he will essentially use Phelps in the Cory Wade role, not strictly long relief. I suppose that means the middle innings between the starter and David Robertson, which will be pretty awesome if he’s willing to let him work two or three innings at a time.

Gardner will have arthroscopic surgery next week

Brett Gardner will have arthroscopic surgery to remove inflamed tissue in his right elbow next week, the Yankees announced. Team doctor Dr. Ahmad will perform the procedure and it will likely end Gardner’s season.

Gardner suffered a bone bruise and an elbow strain on a sliding catch in the team’s 11th game of the season and has since suffered three setbacks during his rehab. He made it as far as minor league games in the first two attempts. The Raul IbanezAndruw Jones platoon has been absurdly productive in left field in the meantime, but the Yankees really lack speed on offense without Gardner. Plus their defense suffered big time. Whether or not they try to plug the hole via trade remains to be seen.

Thursday Night Open Thread

Shouldn’t he be ringing the closing bell? (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The good news is that the Yankees are going to get their second and final West Coast trip of the season out of the way in mid-to-late-July. In fact, after this trip the farthest they’ll have to travel the rest of the year is to Tampa. That’s pretty cool. Unfortunately that means we have to wait a few more hours for tonight’s game and stay up late to catch all nine innings. It could be worse, they could be going to Anaheim.

Here’s an open thread to hold you over until the regular game thread comes along. The only baseball game being played right now is the Red Sox and White Sox (Buchholz vs. Quintana), and you can watch that one on MLB Network. You folks all know how this works by now, so have at it.

Yanks send Darnell McDonald to Triple-A, release Nelson Figueroa

Via Donnie Collins, outfielder Darnell McDonald has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Empire State. The Yankees designated him for assignment on Tuesday to clear a roster spot for CC Sabathia. McDonald will join Chris Dickerson, Kosuke Fukudome, and Cole Garner as the only healthy outfielders on the Triple-A roster.

In other news, right-hander Nelson Figueroa was released from the Triple-A squad. The 38-year-old pitched to a 3.92 ERA (4.82 FIP) in eight starts and eight relief appearances for Empire State. A few of the older roster fillers figure to be on their way out in the coming weeks as late-season promotions are made. Figueroa was the first casualty.