Mailbag: Moseley, Kuo, Soriano, Cashman

You folks almost didn’t get a mailbag this week, but my flight was delayed yesterday afternoon and I was able to bang it out. That’s some serious dedication, if you ask me. Anyway, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions, yadda yadda yadda.

Dramatic photo for Dustin. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Will asks: It looks like there’s a possibility that the Padres will non-tender Dustin Moseley. If they do, might the Yankees take a flier on him as a back-end rotation guy, or would they avoid him given his struggles in the AL East the first time around?

Moseley had a superficially nice year for the Padres, pitching to a 3.30 ERA in 120 IP across 20 starts before a dislocated non-pitching shoulder* ended his season. His underlying performance was generally unchanged from his time with the Yankees though, with similar strikeout (4.55 K/9 vs. 4.80) and ground ball rates (49.1% vs. 49.5%). He did cut down on the walks big time (3.72 BB/9 vs. 2.70), and his homerun rate fell off a cliff (1.79 HR/9 vs. 0.75 HR/9). I think park effects are misused quite often, or at least their impacts are overstated, but that’s a definite example of the difference between Yankee Stadium and Petco Park.

Moseley is what he is at this point, and although I always say there’s nothing wrong with a minor league deal, I don’t think he’s any better than what the Yankees currently have slated for the back of the rotation (A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes) or stashed in Triple-A. The depth never hurts, but I don’t think he’s someone they should rush out and sign. Nice pitcher, nice guy, but not much more than an emergency option for a contender.

* Oh by the way, how did he hurt his shoulder? Swinging a bat. Way to go NL, I’m sure Dustin appreciates all the extra strategy.

Moe asks: Probable long man from within, next year if no acquirement this season?

Sorry Moe, but this is an oddly worded question. I think you’re asking who the long man would be next year if the Yankees don’t acquire someone this offseason, so that’s what I’ll answer.

If the season started today, it would probably be Hector Noesi. Actually, it would almost certainly be Noesi. Maybe someone like David Phelps or D.J. Mitchell has a big spring and claims the job, but I’d rather see them get regular starting gigs in Triple-A. Joe keeps saying he’s going to write a post about bringing Bartolo Colon back for that role (nudge nudge), a plan I would definitely be on board with. Heck, you know what? Moseley wouldn’t be a bad option for that job. Neither would the recently released Ross Ohlendorf, always a personal fave.

I don’t like to see an actual prospect in the long man role because I want it to be someone the manager can abuse. Someone who’s not in the long-term plans. Run the guy into the ground when the bullpen is short, then discard. Harsh, but for many of these guys, it’s their only shot to remain in the show.

(Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Antony asks: What about Hong-Chih Kuo? I doubt that the Dodgers will give him a new contract. Good lefty, obviously with some level of risk regarding surgeries and injuries. Minor league deal sounds pretty good to me.

Kuo is likely to be non-tendered at the deadline next Monday, something that was completely unthinkable a year ago. From 2008-2010, the Taiwanese southpaw led all pitchers (min. 150 IP) with a 2.30 FIP (Mariano Rivera is fifth at 2.56), which is what happens when you post a 10.64 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, and 0.37 HR/9. He held left-handed batters to a .158/.210/.247 batting line with 88 strikeouts and 13 walks in 207 plate appearances during that time. Look at this. Just filthy.

Anyway, I wrote this post about why Kuo is a non-tender candidate at MLBTR back in October, so I suggest reading that to get up to speed. Long story short, he battled back problems and struggled on the mound (5.06 FIP in 27 IP) in 2011, then hit the DL with social anxiety disorder. “If I want to still play and somebody wants to give me a try, I’ll play,” said Kuo in September, hinting at retirement. “If not, fine with me. I’ll miss it.”

Kuo is famous for having five elbow operations — including two Tommy John surgeries and a minor arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies in October — but now the problem is his desire to play. He said he plans to pitch a few weeks ago, but it’s a red flag anytime a player mentions retirement. The Yankees should look into signing him if he is indeed non-tendered, and they’ll have a little extra input courtesy of Russell Martin. Whether or not he’s worth a big league contract is another matter entirely, and I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that at the moment.

Kevin asks: Crazy idea: what about Alfonso Soriano if the Cubs make him, say, a $5 million dollar player? It would not be much more than bringing Andruw Jones back, and he could fill in in right next year if Swisher doesn’t come back. Teams could do a lot worse than .250 with 20 HR in the seventh spot.

If the Cubbies eat enough money to make him a $5M a year player, that’s still a three-year contract worth $15M for a fourth outfielder. So you’re not only impacting 2012 payroll, but you’re also impacting 2014 payroll, and we know the Yankees are trying to cut down on that just a bit.

Soriano, who will be 36 in January, has been hit or miss against left-handed pitchers in recent years (he’s been alternating sub-.350 and .400+ wOBA’s vs. LHP since 2005) but generally mediocre against righties (sub-.333 wOBA vs. RHP every year since 2007). He’s pretty bad on defense and stopped stealing bases about three years ago. I’m sure he could be had for basically free, even if Chicago eats that much money, but I’d much rather see the Yankees go year-to-year with Andruw Jones and Marcus Thames types that lock themselves into the imminent disaster portion of Fonsy’s career.

Mark asks: Do Yankee fans and the media give Brian Cashman enough credit and respect for the job he’s done in his 14+ year career as Yankee GM?

No, I don’t think so. That does come with the territory though, the Yankees never get full credit for anything because they’re the Yankees and they have the biggest market and the biggest payroll and all of the advantages the other teams don’t. Want to sign CC Sabathia? Piece of cake, any monkey with a checkbook can do that. Except it’s not that easy, it never is. Managing a $200M anything is difficult, as is negotiating nine-figure contracts.

Cashman is far from perfect, there’s no doubt about it. The Yankees have been completely unable to develop starting pitching under his watch, a pretty major flaw, but basically every other facet of the team is in tip-top shape. The lineup, the bullpen, the farm system, etc. I don’t think Cashman is the best GM in the game, but I definitely think he’s in the top five.

Reports: Yankees may or may not have made offer to Kuroda

10:03am: Both Bryan Hoch and Erik Boland have shot this down, saying the Yankees haven’t made an offer to Kuroda.

8:30am: Via Sponichi (translated article), the Yankees have offered free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda a one-year contract worth approximately ¥936,000,000. That’s $12M in U.S. dollars, which is right in line with the $12-13M he’s said to be seeking. The 36-year-old righty is willing to pitch on the East Coast after the Dodgers pushed him out the door, and I’m a definite fan. I do wonder how much Russell Martin will factor into Kuroda’s decision; they were a battery for the first three years of his MLB career. Familiarity doesn’t hurt.

No use for an off-season plan

Why make plans if they’re almost guaranteed to not work? That’s the off-season approach we’ve taken at RAB. We’ve tried it in the past, and it’s just a big waste of time. There are so many variables in the off-season that it’s impossible to nail down one scenario and hope the Yankees can do just that. Even the Yankees don’t operate in that manner. They make plans, sure, but it’s all fluid. Things change every day, and the plan can change with it.

The off-season is a time of perpetual uncertainty. Despite the constant flow of whispers on MLB Trade Rumors, we can’t be sure of their nature. Did an exec actually say that, or is it the reporter’s interpretation? Was the exec in question actually a part of the discussion, or is he himself getting the information second-hand? Who, exactly, is the anonymous source? Is it sincere, or blatant misinformation? The list of questions go on. It essentially leaves us right where we started.

I hope you guys are enjoying our almost-daily scouting the market series. It’s a way to present players who might be available and who might help the Yankees. It is, essentially, an attempt to look at the market as a whole, rather than pigeonholing a few players as the only ones who can fit the Yankees needs. What fun would it be if we created an off-season plan and then just followed, say, C.J. Wilson news all winter? That would have ended in utter disappointment when he took the Angels’ offer — more disappointing still, because the Yankees didn’t even submit a serious offer.

Part of this sentiment comes out of frustration. We spent a lot of time thinking of ideas and putting together posts. To see comments that outright dismiss the ideas presented, and then repeat some preconceived off-season doctrine, makes it all seem like a waste. Yes, those comments from from probably a quarter percent of our overall readership. Maybe less. But it still hurts a bit. There’s a big world of possibilities in any given off-season. Isn’t it more fun to consider all of those options, independent of the others, than constantly going back to the same talking point?

To be sure, playing GM is fun. You can kill a few good hours doing it with a friend. We’re guilty of that sometimes on RAB. I’m also not asking anyone to stop; it’s not my business how you want to spend your time. I just hope that you read RAB with an open enough mind to understand the logic behind some of the options we discuss. They might not be the best options; they might not be second, third, or fourth. But as the off-season changes, so do plans. It might turn out that the third best option at the outset is the best option by mid-December. That’s just the way baseball works sometimes.

Things could get a little slow from here on out. Clearly the Yankees don’t plan to make a big move. Maybe they’ll win the posting on Yu Darvish. But regardless, it doesn’t seem as though anything else big is on the horizon. Even in the general scene, the biggest signings are behind us. Prince Fielder remains, and Edwin Jackson’s destination could be of interest. Other than that, there’s a lot of mid-grade talent. It’s not exciting, but it’s what we have. I just hope we can have some fun with it.

Yankees sign Dewayne Wise

Saturday: Joel Sherman says it’s a done deal, the Yankees have signed Wise to a minor league deal. I assume he’s Triple-A Scranton’s starting center fielder when the year begins.

Thursday: Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are in talks with free agent outfielder Dewayne Wise about a minor league contract. The 33-year-old is a terrible hitter (career .277 wOBA) but a fantastic defender regardless of metric.

This would be the epitome of a depth move. Greg Golson was released earlier today, and the duo of Justin Maxwell and Chris Dickerson are out of options, so the Yankees could lose all three before the end of Spring Training. That would leave Colin Curtis as the club’s only not terrible outfielder at Triple-A when the season begins. Wise is a guy that could come up, sit on the bench for three weeks in case of an injury, then get designated for assignment.

Open Thread: Winter Meetings Day Four

Adam Miller appears to be on the way. (AP Photo | John Raoux)

Wow, so pretty crazy day, huh? It all started off in the wee hours of the morning when we found out that Yu Darvish is going to be posted, then it continued with the Angels agreeing to sign both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. The Yankees made a pair of Rule 5 Draft picks and are rumored to have interest in both Manny Corpas and Adam Miller. Lost in the shuffle was David Waldstein reporting that the Yankees won the negotiating rights to Hiroyuki Nakajima with a $2.5M bid, a touch more than we heard yesterday. Also, Brian Cashman said this before leaving Dallas (via Bryan Hoch)…

“[Pujols] is a special player. I don’t know him personally, but I see what he does with that bat. It’s Montero-like.”

Please give that man a lifetime contract.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread as I fly back home. The Winter Meetings are always a blast, and this year was no different. The Browns and Steelers will be on the NFL Network tonight (8:30pm ET), and all three hockey locals are in action. There’s plenty to talk about, so have it. Enjoy.

Yanks close to signing Adam Miller to minor league deal

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are close to signing right-hander Adam Miller to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old was the 31st overall pick in the 2003 draft, but he’s thrown just 138 IP since 2006 (zero in 2009 and 2010) due to career-threatening ligament damage in his right middle finger.

Before the injuries, the 6-foot-4, 200 pounder from Texas regularly sat in the high-90’s with a wipeout high-80’s slider and a changeup. It was a true front-of-the-rotation package, which is why Baseball America ranked him as the Indians number one prospect every year from 2005-2008. Miller has had four surgeries on the finger, which is now held together by replacement ligaments from his wrist and calf. He returned to the mound for 44 relief innings this year, reportedly hitting 96 on the gun while working on his feel for the slider. This Terry Pluto article gives you a great idea of what he’s been through, kid sure sounds resilient.

As far as the Yankees as concerned, they’re doing nothing more than rolling the dice. Miller is still pretty young and showed at least some semblance of his former self this summer, so why not take a chance? If he comes up and helps out of the bullpen at some point, great. If not, no big loss. It’s a zero risk move.

Report: Yankees have been talking to Manny Corpas’ agent

Via George King, the Yankees have been speaking with Tom O’Connell, the agent for free agent right-handed reliever Manny Corpas. I wrote about him as a potential minor league target last month.

Corpas, 29, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since late 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. He spent the first five years of his career working the late innings for the Rockies, relying on ground balls (49.4%) and limiting walks (2.52 BB/9) rather than strikeouts (6.48 K/9). He’s still pretty young and has been very successful so far in his career, he’s pretty much the ideal minor league contract candidate. The two sides haven’t agreed to a deal yet, but they’re talking.