Mailbag: Hughes, Catcher, Johan, Joba

We’ve got a relatively short but still sweet mailbag this week. I assume all of you were too busy scheduling your parties for Bartolo Colon‘s start tomorrow to send in questions. Anyways, this week we’re going to talk about a long-term deal for Phil Hughes, Plan B after Russell Martin, a Joba-for-Johan trade, and one more Joba-to-the-rotation scenario. Send your questions in via the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Vinny asks: Though it will obviously be determined by a combination of performance coupled with salary demands, do you see Phil Hughes staying with the Yankees long-term once he hits free agency?

We’re a long ways away from this, but I’ll go out on a limb and say yes. That assumes he’s healthy and performing at a level deserving of a long-term extension, of course. The Yankees have no trouble paying to keep their own guys unless they have concerns with the medicals, so the cost won’t be a problem unless Hughes is being unreasonable. Remember, when Andy Pettitte left after 2003, it was because the Yanks were worried about his elbow. Sure enough, he hurt it the next year.

Hughes will hit free agency after the 2013 season, when he’ll be just 27 years old. Quality pitchers make major, major bucks when they hit the open market at that age, and the Yankees have more money than anyone. A seven-year deal (if it comes to that) would only take Phil through age 34 as well, so it wouldn’t be a crazy commitment. As it stands, I think he stays.

Joe asks: Even though Cashman stated that Russell Martin is the primary catcher, what happens if he does not make it? What will be the best pair then? Cervelli/Montero, Cervelli/Romine, Montero/Romine or at the very least Cervelli/Posada? Or sometime of different catcher combo?

If Martin doesn’t hack it for whatever reason, injury or poor performance, I’m all for turning Jesus Montero loose. Jorge Posada is the designated hitter now and should remain there; I only want him catching in an emergency or in an NL park during the World Series or something. Frankie Cervelli would stay in the backup role because that’s what he’s best suited for, and Austin Romine just isn’t ready yet. He absolutely needs more minor league seasoning.

Montero’s ready as far as I’m concerned. I have no worries about the bat playing against AL East pitching, and he could work on his defense at the big league level as long as he’s behind the plate regularly. In fact, an argument can be made that being around Joe Girardi and Tony Pena everyday would be the best thing for his defensive development. We all know he’s going to be below average defensively but that’s fine, you take the bad with the good. We’ve been talking about Montero’s time coming for over a year now, and that time is rapidly approaching.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Brian asks: Assuming he’s healthy, would the Yankees trade Joba Chamberlain for Johan Santana straight up?

They’d better be willing to do that. Joba’s nothing more than a middle reliever right now, a middle reliever they only control for another three years at a below-market but not absurdly team friendly rate. If you can’t give up a reliever for an ace level pitcher, you love your players far too much, I don’t care how good your guy is. If I was the Padres or Dodgers, I’d give up Luke Gregerson or Hong-Chih Kuo for a healthy Santana in a heartbeat.

Of course, Johan is not healthy and won’t be for some time, so this is just a hypothetical. Shoulder surgery is scary stuff, and Santana would have to show he’s healthy and effective before I’d consider trading for that contract. For all we know, that ace level pitcher could be gone forever.

Shaya asks: Is it all possible that Joba remains a reliever until his late twenties (when there is absolutely no more physical maturing and the body is more durable) and then they try again as a starter (a la C.J. Wilson etc.)?

Sure, it’s always possible. I don’t see it happening with the Yankees though, so Joba will have to either get traded or sign elsewhere as a free agent first. The Yankees seem pretty hellbent on keeping him in the bullpen, which is fine, it’s their call. I don’t agree with it but I’m not the one with my neck on the line if it blows up in my face.

Report: Uniform ads could generate millions

When the Yankees opened in the 2004 season in Japan, their uniforms featured a Ricoh ad patch. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

From TV deals to concession prices to stadium promotions, baseball teams are in the business of making money. Over the past few years, with the onset of variable ticket pricing and all-inclusive stadium packages, clubs have boosted their bottom lines, and the game is booming. But a new report from Horizon Media says that teams could be doing more. Clubs could generate millions of dollars by doing what many consider to be the unthinkable: selling advertising space on team uniforms.

In essence, such a proposal would represent the NASCAR-ization of professional team sports. While logos are plastered over cars and tennis players are rewarded to wear certain labels on the court, baseball has resisted logo creep. Even New Era, the long-time cap provider, hasn’t been able to secure a place on its hats for a logo. But Horizon Media says this is a major missed opportunity, and the Yanks — the top team in the game in top media market in the country — could generate up to $13 million in revenue by selling uniform space.

The company spoke more about its methodology in a press release:

The report aggregates key jersey exposure attributes including; total duration, logo isolation status, logo size and the cost of a 30-second unit in each market. In addition, the report considered the number of detections (how many times a brand/sponsor can be viewed per game), measured duration (how long the brand/sponsor is visible at each detection) and assigned an attribute score (a relative measurement of performance based on the duration, size, isolation and source type) for each sport. This information then produced a media equivalency value – a dollar figure representing the advertising value of each team’s jersey.

According to the study, the Yanks’ TV exposure and ad rates lead to an opportunity to realize up to $13.8 million if advertisements were prominently displayed on uniforms during tv broadcasts. The findings, Horizon Media stressed, are somewhat preliminary, but the dollar figures are enticing. “Roughly two-thirds of all professional sports franchises were evaluated in this study to determine how much revenue could be generated if the leagues and team owners decided to sell the real estate on the front of their jerseys,” Michael A. Neuman, Horizon’s managing partner, said. “We think the findings more than convey the need for stakeholders to take this concept seriously.”

Of course, any proposal that calls for sullying uniforms would quickly be met by gasps from the game’s traditionalist gatekeepers. Perhaps, advertisements, already so prevalent in game broadcast, should stay clear of uniforms. Furthermore, if such an idea were to come to fruition, baseball would like consider these dollars to be, at least in part, a contribution to the revenue sharing pot because media market disparities would give a significant edge to the top teams. (The Marlins, for instance, would draw in just $1.3 million if their ad-filled uniforms had the same on-air exposure time as the Yanks.)

Ultimately, though, this idea is but a thought experiment. No sport has shown a willingness to head down this path, and such a move would indeed sully the purity of the game’s visual aspects. For the money, though, it might almost be worth it.

Open Thread: February 24th Camp Notes

MFIFKY. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Here’s a recap of today’s action…

  • CC Sabathia threw an early morning batting practice session with Joe Girardi, Yogi Berra, Larry Rothschild, and others watching. He threw around 30 pitches and felt he kept his mechanics together, saying his stamina was better after the weight loss. (Chad Jennings, Marc Carig & Erik Boland)
  • Rafael Soriano threw a bullpen session with Jorge Posada behind the plate while Derek Jeter took some hacks against Sergio Mitre. Ground ball pitcher against ground ball hitter? Poor worms. (Carig & Carig)
  • Brian Cashman said that Andrew Brackman has been the most impressive young pitcher in camp so far, but he also mentioned David Phelps, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi, and Manny Banuelos. “You might see all of them [in 2011],” said the GM. (Jack Curry)
  • Position players did a bunch of mundane field drills, including cut-off man work on throws from the outfield. Russell Martin did some blocking drills, but Frankie Cervelli is the likely starter behind the plate for Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener. (Mark Feinsand, Bryan Hoch & Carig)
  • Joe Girardi misspoke when he revealed the Spring Training rotation the other day. Phil Hughes will start the fourth game, A.J. Burnett the fifth game instead of vice versa. He said not to read anything into the order, and I wouldn’t either. It’s still February. (Jennings)
  • Apparently the Yankees have a “director of optimal performance” by the name of Chad Bohling. The players watched him give a presentation this morning on … optimizing performance? I guess. (Jennings)
  • As for the annual team building exercise (the pool hall, arcade, etc.), that’ll happen later on in camp. There’s too much going on right now. (Carig)

This is your open thread for the evening. The Isles are the only local team in action, so yeah. Looks like The Office and Parks & Rec for me. Talk about whatever you like, just be cool.

Carpenter would accept a trade

With Adam Wainwright out for the season, attention has turned to Chris Carpenter. He was already a guy I thought would fit well with the Yanks, and if the Waino injury keeps the Cards at bay in the first half, that could become a reality around the trade deadline. But, since he has 10 and 5 rights, he can veto any trade the Cardinals try to make. According to a recent report by Ken Rosenthal, that won’t be much of an issue.

“If the Cardinals wanted to trade me, obviously I would go. There’s no question about that. I’m not going to hold back or veto or do anything like that if they’re looking to move me.” This won’t become an issue until at least mid-season, but it’s good to know that if the Cardinals fall out of it, there will be few roadblocks to acquiring Carpenter. With a system as deep as the Yanks, there’s surely a match somewhere.

Playoff Odds Report has Yanks sitting pretty

That’s the first iteration of Baseball Prospectus’s Playoff Odds Report, which is available to non-subscribers. Using a Monte Carlo simulator, they run simulations based on expected winning percentage. Even though the Red Sox come out two games ahead in this simulation, the Yankees still have a 70.8 percent playoff odds, thanks to weak competition around the rest of the league. In fact, the next closest team is Texas at 85.6 wins. In the NL, only the Phillies and the Giants come close to the Yanks.

Things might appear a bit bleak when we’re only looking inward. But when compared to the rest of the league, the Yanks still have plenty to be excited about.

The RAB Radio Show: February 24, 2011

Ben joins the show today, and we talk about a few of the position battles in camp. It starts with the pitching and how the competition among the young players is going. We also hit on the bench and the growing perception that Eric Chavez has some kind of edge.

Podcast run time 19:22

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Intro music: “Smile” by Farmer’s Boulevard used under a Creative Commons license