DotF: Slade Heathcott has another big game, Jorge Mateo steals another base

According to Matt Eddy, RHP Domingo Acevedo was both placed on the 7-day DL and activated off the DL this past week. Hopefully it happened in that order! Also, Donnie Collins says LHP Matt Tracy will jump into the Triple-A Scranton rotation on Sunday. He was re-claimed off waivers from the Marlins the other day.

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 loss to Pawtucket)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-3, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB — 8-for-11 (73%) in his last three games
  • LF Ramon Flores: 2-3, 1 BB — missed just one game after being hit by a pitch
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 K — stuck in an 0-for-12 (.000) slump
  • RF Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 K
  • C Austin Romine: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 3 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GB/FB — 48 of 79 pitches were strikes (61%) … that’s not going to help his case if he wants to get a call-up for sixth starter duty
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 28 of 45 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 3 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 26 of 42 pitches were strikes (62%)

[Read more…]

Teixeira homers twice, Yankees beat Mets 6-1 in Subway Series opener


Source: FanGraphs

The streak lives on. No, not the Mets’ eleven-game winning streak. That sucker’s over. The Yankees extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-1 humbling of a Mets team that seemed to be getting a little too big for their britches less than three weeks into the season. The Bombers have won seven of their last eight games overall. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Large Michael: I think that was the best Michael Pineda has looked as a Yankee. He had it all working. Cutters, sharp sliders, a filthy changeup he apparently woke up with one morning in Spring Training … it was all going. Pineda carved the Mets up for 7.2 innings, allowing just one garbage time run (infield single, wild pitch, advance on a fly ball, sac fly) on five hits. He struck out seven, walked no one, and recorded 17 of 23 outs on the infield. Seventy-eight of his 100 pitches were strikes. Seventy-eight! Only five of 28 hitters saw a first pitch ball. Brilliance.
  • deBombed: It started right in the very first inning. Brett Gardner ripped a single to center and Mark Teixeira skied a high home run into the second deck in right field for quick 2-0 lead. It was just inside the foul pole. Two innings later, Jacoby Ellsbury blasted a cheap Yankee Stadium solo homer and Teixeira followed with another two-run homer a few batters later. It was basically identical to first homer. The Yankees were up 5-0 just 13 batters into the game. Jacob deGrom didn’t know what hit him. (They were homers. Too many of ’em.)
  • Leftovers: The sixth run scored on two singles, a walk, and a Stephen Drew sac fly. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh but didn’t score. Blah … Chasen Shreve recorded the final four outs without making it interesting … the top five hitters in the lineup went a combined 9-for-20 (.450), the bottom four went 2-for-14 (.143) … for only the second time this year, a Yankee threw 100+ pitches in a start and Pineda threw 100 on the nose. (Nathan Eovaldi threw 101 in Baltimore.)

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and Announcer Standings. The Yankees and Mets will continue the Subway Series on Saturday afternoon. That’ll be CC Sabathia against Matt Harvey. Fun fact: Sabathia was starting his seventh year as a big leaguer when he was Harvey’s age.

Game 17: Big Mike and the Mets

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The Subway Series opens at Yankee Stadium this weekend. Three games in the Bronx now, then three games in Flushing in September. That’s better than the four-game home-and-home series we’ve had the last two years. Believe it or not, this is the very first time both teams are heading into the Subway Series at least tied for first place in their division. The Mets have the best record in baseball (13-3) while the Yankees are tied for first in the AL East with the Blue Jays and Red Sox (9-7).

Michael Pineda is on the bump tonight and is making his first start of the year on regular rest. It’s the same deal as Masahiro Tanaka yesterday — Big Mike made all his Spring Training and regular season starts with an extra day of rest by design. Tanaka pitched very well yesterday, so hopefully Pineda does the same. He’s coming off a stressful 92-pitch outing against the Rays. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Stephen Drew
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s been pretty cold and windy in New York today and the weather will be the same tonight, only colder. Yuck. It’s been more than a week now since the Yankees last played a game outdoors in nice weather. First pitch is scheduled 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES and WPIX locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

2015 Draft: Kyle Cody

Kyle Cody | RHP

Background
Cody was a 33rd round pick (Phillies) out of high school in 2012 who declined to sign and instead followed through on his commitment to Kentucky. He had a 4.05 ERA with a 67/33 K/BB in 95.2 innings while bouncing between the rotation and bullpen as a freshman and sophomore. This spring he has a 5.80 ERA with a 42/11 K/BB in 45 innings, almost all as a starter.

Scouting Report
First things first: Cody is listed at 6-foot-7 and 245 lbs., so he’s a behemoth on the mound. He sits 93-95 mph with his fastball, touches 97 mph regularly, and holds his velocity deep into games. Cody also throws a mid-80s changeup and a low-80s slider, both of which are inconsistent but improving. His command has improved considerably over the last calendar year and Cody knows how to use his size to his advantage by pitching downhill. As with almost all pitchers this size, his mechanics can fall out of whack from time to time.

Miscellany
MLB.com and Baseball America ranked Cody as the 19th and 25th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. Keith Law (subs. req’d) did not rank him among the top 50 prospects in the upcoming draft. The Yankees love physically huge pitchers and guys who have had success in the Cape Cod League — Cody chewed up wood bats last summer and was ranked the second best prospect on the Cape by Baseball America — though they usually look for college arms with more polish than Cody. He’s a bit of a project and may need three years in the minors before being ready to help at the MLB level. Cody should still be on the board for New York’s first pick (16th overall) and may even be available for their second (30th).

4/24 to 4/26 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Subway Series

The 2015 Subway Series begins tonight. Unlike the last few years, when the Mets and Yankees played a four-game home-and-home series, they’re playing three games at Yankee Stadium this weekend and another three games at Citi Field in September. I like that. It gives you a winner for each series. Both teams are playing well right now, so this should be the most exciting Subway Series we’ve seen in years.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Unless you’ve been completely unplugged from the baseball world, you know the Mets are riding an eleven-game winning streak coming into the series. All eleven wins came against the Braves, Phillies, and Marlins, but hey, you can only play who the schedule says you have to play. The Mets outscored their opponents 57-31 in the eleven games, though seven of the eleven were decided by two runs or less (five by one run). The Amazin’s have baseball’s best record at 13-3.

Offense & Defense

Manager Terry Collins has an offense that has been a tick better than average in terms of runs per game (4.56) but basically average in terms of wRC+ (99). Timing is everything. They’re getting hits at opportune times. The Mets are currently without both 3B David Wright (hamstring) and C Travis d’Arnaud (fingers), two of their three best position players, and they’re not due to return for a few weeks now. Big losses.

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

With Wright and d’Arnaud out, the Mets’ best player is 1B Lucas Duda (179 wRC+), who may be getting over his career-long inability to hit lefties thanks to some help from current Mets hitting coach and ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long. It’s too early to say definitively though. OF Michael Cuddyer (125 wRC+) is off to a nice start and ex-Yank OF Curtis Granderson (93 wRC+) hasn’t hit (.200 AVG and .020 ISO), but he leads baseball with a ridiculous 21.9 BB%. Betcha the Grandyman hits at least one homer in the Bronx this weekend.

SS Wilmer Flores (128 wRC+) is getting hot at the plate and 2B Daniel Murphy (46 wRC+) has generally looked lost. UTIL Eric Campbell (109 wRC+) and C Kevin Plawecki (102 wRC+) are filling in at the hot corner and behind the plate, respectively. OF Juan Lagares (61 wRC+) had a huge Spring Training but a small regular season so far. OF John Mayberry Jr. (183 wRC+) platoons against righties and joins C Anthony Recker, IF Daniel Muno, IF Ruben Tejada, and OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis on the bench.

With Wright and d’Arnaud injured, Lagares is the only clearly better than average defender on the field for the Mets. He’s a stud in center. The scouting reports say Plawecki is strong behind the plate but he’s only played two games, so we haven’t seen him much. Flores and Murphy are a brutal double play combination, maybe the worst defensively in baseball, and Duda is no great shakes at first. To his credit, he’s worked hard to go from abysmal to playable. Cuddyer is below-average in left and Granderson is average at best in right, but he can’t throw. Just don’t hit it to Lagares, basically.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (Career vs. NYY)
The 26-year-old deGrom is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, and he actually made his MLB debut against the Yankees at Citi Field last season. (Chase Whitley also made his MLB debut in that game.) deGrom has a 0.93 ERA (2.45 FIP) with good strikeout (21.8%) and ground ball (44.4%) rates to go with excellent walk (3.9%) and homer (0.47 HR/9) rates this year. He’s been much stingier against righties (.256 wOBA) than lefties (.298 wOBA) so far in his young career. When he’s on, deGrom has maybe the best fastball command in baseball, sitting in the mid-90s with both his two and four-seamers, and locating both pitches flawlessly. His array of secondary pitches include an upper-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup, and a low-80s curveball. The curve is his fifth pitch but he still uses it regularly, about 10% of the time or so. deGrom is a late bloomer who played shortstop in college, yet he has developed into one of the best starters in the game right now.

"The Dark Knight" is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)
“The Dark Knight” is a terrible baseball nickname. (Al Bello/Getty)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (Career vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (Career vs. NYY)
Harvey has allowed seven runs in 18 innings in his first three starts back from Tommy John surgery (3.50 ERA), but his underlying performance has been insane. He’s struck out 24 (32.0%) and walked just one (1.3%), leading to a 2.34 FIP. Harvey’s ground ball rate is about average (40.0%) and he’s served up two homers, both in his last start to the Phillies. He has a reverse split both this year and throughout his MLB career — lefties have a .228 wOBA against Harvey in his career while righties have a .274 wOBA. Weird. Elbow reconstruction has not sapped any of Harvey’s stuff. The 26-year-old still sits mid-to-upper-90s with his heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up Saturday.

Sunday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. NYM) vs. LHP Jon Niese (Career vs. NYY)
Compared to deGrom and Harvey, the 28-year-old Niese is a bore. He has a 1.50 ERA (4.79 FIP) in 18 innings so far this year with strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.4%) rates that are a little too close together in the early going. Niese is getting a ton of grounders (58.1%) and he’s traditionally been a bit better against lefties than righties throughout his career. Some arm injuries — both elbow and shoulder — have sapped Niese’s velocity in recent years, so he now sits in the upper-80s with his two and four-seamer and mid-80s with his cutter. Low-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs are his go-to secondary pitches. Niese has been a really good pitcher for several years now. Just because he’s not deGrom or Harvey doesn’t mean he isn’t a tough draw for the Yankees.

Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)
Jeurys. (Elsa/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Injuries have really decimated the Mets bullpen. They’re without closer RHP Bobby Parnell (Tommy John surgery), backup closer RHP Jenrry Mejia (elbow), setup man RHP Vic Black (shoulder), lefty specialist LHP Jerry Blevins (forearm), and secondary lefty specialist LHP Josh Edgin (Tommy John surgery). That’s a lot of quality relievers out of action for extended periods of time.

So, with all those guys hurt, Collins is using RHP Jeurys Familia (2.86 FIP) as closer and RHP Buddy Carlyle (1.57 FIP) as the setup man. Carlyle spent some time with the Yankees in 2011. He and Familia have each pitched in the last two games, by the way. LHP Alex Torres (3.07 FIP) is now the team’s go-to lefty and RHP Carlos Torres (2.91 FIP) does a little of everything. Setup work, middle relief, long relief, you name it. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (6.07 FIP), RHP Erik Goeddel (5.32 FIP), and RHP Hansel Robles round out the bullpen. Robles was just called up and has yet to make his MLB debut.

Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. Then head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about New York’s fourth most historically relevant baseball franchise.

Yankeemetrics: April 20-23 (Tigers)

Good times in Motown. Photo credit: Associated Press)
Good times in Motown. Photo credit: Associated Press)

Don’t blame CC
The Yankees wasted a dominant pitching performance by CC Sabathia in the opening game of the series, losing 2-1 to the Tigers on Monday night. Sabathia, who faced the minimum number of hitters through six innings, went the distance and allowed just two runs on seven hits.

Sabathia ended up losing for the third time in three starts this season, despite not having given up more than four earned runs in any of those outings. Bad luck? He is the first Yankee to lose his first three games of the season, allowing four-or-fewer earned runs in each game, since Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre both had streaks like that to begin the 1972 season.

While the loss was painful, at least it was over quickly. The game last two hours, 20 minutes, the second time this season the Yankees have played a game in less than two-and-a-half hours. The only other year since 2000 that they played multiple sub-2:30 games within their first 13 games was 2003.

Two outs are better than one
Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven innings of one-run ball on Tuesday to pick up his first win in pinstripes (he was wearing road greys, I know).

Like Sabathia in the first game, Nate the Great was helped out by an infield defense that converted four double plays behind him. This was the first time that Yankee starters generated at least three GIDPs in back-to-back games since Fritz Peterson and Mel Stottlemyre (them again!) on April 14 and 15, 1973.

Chris Young continued to swing a hot bat, going 3-for-3 with two walks and fell a triple short of the cycle. Before Young, the last Yankee right fielder to reach base at least five times, make no outs and hit a home run in a game was Shane Spencer on August 7, 1998 against the Royals.

Snow is the Yankees best friend
The winter-like forecast for Wednesday night’s game couldn’t cool down the Yankee bats, as they routed the Tigers 13-4 and pushed their record over .500 (8-7) for the first time this season.

Jacoby Ellsbury picked up his first RBI of the year in the Yankees six-run first inning, ending a drought of 65 plate appearances without driving in a run to start the season. It was the longest such streak by any Yankee since 1967, when Mike Hegan didn’t get his first RBI until his 88th plate appearance of the year.

Breaking news: You cannot stop Chris Young, you can only hope to contain him. Young went 3-for-6 and scored two runs, raising his batting line to a ridiculous .368/.442/.816 in 13 games. He also became first Yankee outfielder with back-to-back three-hit games vs. the Tigers since Bernie Williams in 1995 (a fitting tribute on the same day that Bernie announced his retirement from baseball).

The Yankees did nearly all their damage against former Cy Young winner David Price, who got shelled by the Bronx Bombers for the second time in a row. Last August he gave up eight runs on 12 hits; Wednesday he was tagged for eight runs on 10 hits.

He’s in pretty good company, though, with those two awful performances: The last pitcher to allow at least eight runs and double-digit hits in consecutive outings against the Yankees was Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1938-39.

Hits are overrated
The Yankees ended their 10-game road trip with another win in Detroit on Thursday, giving them a ton of momentum heading into the weekend matchup against the streaking Mets.

Masahiro Tanaka delivered another strong outing, pitching six-plus innings of one-run ball and giving up only three hits to the powerful Tigers lineup. Here is the list of Yankees in the last 100 years to throw back-to-back road games of more than six innings pitched, three or fewer hits allowed and at least six strikeouts within a single season: Masahiro Tanaka, Whitey Ford (1962). Yup, that’s it.

Andrew Miller pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to get his sixth save in six chances. Since saves became an official stat in 1969, Miller is just the second player to begin his Yankee career by converting his first six save opportunities while giving up no more than one hit in those games. The other was the immortal Xavier Hernandez, who was part of the trio of closers the Yankees used in the 1994 strike-shortened season (along with Steve Howe and Bob Wickman).

Mailbag: Hamilton, Young, Relievers, Infante, Spending

Got eleven questions for you in this week’s mailbag and some of the answers are longer than usual. Please use the “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar to send us any questions. I know the form sucks, there’s no confirmation message or anything like that, but trust me, your questions go through.

(Jonathan Moore/Getty)
(Jonathan Moore/Getty)

Many asked: What about Josh Hamilton?

Lots of questions about Hamilton this week for whatever reason, so I’ll try to cover all the bases. First, no I don’t think the Yankees should look into trading for Hamilton even though the Angels are so clearly down on him. A contract like that — big bucks for a player in his mid-30s who is already declining and has injury issues — is exactly the kind of contract the Yankees need to avoid. Hamilton is owed $90.2M (!) through 2017. Nope.

Second, if the Angels release Hamilton, it’s a different story. They’d be on the hook for all that money and the Yankees or any other team could sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. The Yankees don’t need another left-handed hitting outfielder/DH type, so he doesn’t make sense for the roster, but, in a vacuum, the idea of going after Hamilton in that case is fine. The Angels have treated him like crap and the Yankees won’t do that. They didn’t even treat Alex Rodriguez as poorly as the Angels have treated Hamilton.

Third, I actually wouldn’t trade A-Rod for Hamilton right now. Forget about A-Rod’s hot start. We’ve got two declining players with off-the-field baggage (Hamilton’s is much more severe) signed through 2017, except one is owed $64M and the other is owed $90.2M. Alex is also a better fit for the roster as a righty hitting corner infielder. There are very few players in MLB who I wouldn’t take in a trade for A-Rod. Hamilton is one of them. Make no mistake, the Yankees want A-Rod gone, but not enough to take on Hamilton’s contract.

Jamie asks: Chris Young might not be an everyday caliber player, but would he be an everyday upgrade over Carlos Beltran? Or is best situation platooning them? (Assuming Beltran coming back to life is an impossibility!)

Well if Beltran coming back is an impossibility, then Young is definitely the better everyday option. In reality, a Young/Beltran platoon is probably the best short-term option, and I would be surprised if the Yankees committed to that. At least right now, maybe later in the season if Beltran doesn’t start hitting. A Ramon Flores/Young platoon could probably out-produce Beltran at the moment, especially if we count defense, though the club owes Beltran a lot of money and they aren’t prone to knee-jerk moves. Look how long Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, and Brian Roberts lasted in recent years.

Aaron asks: Obviously this is a little ways off, but could you see Aaron Judge, Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, and Luis Severino forming a new Core Four? Assuming they all stay in the Yankees system of course.

No. Let’s stop it with the next Core Four stuff. It’s never happening again. We’re talking about two no-doubt Hall of Famers and two borderline Hall of Famers (and a third borderline Hall of Famer!) all coming up with one team at the same time and spending nearly two decades playing together. That’s an impossible scenario to replicate. Let’s just let Judge, Bird, and whoever else be themselves. I strongly feel the “next ______” line of thinking is tired. These guys are all human beings and they’re all unique. Just let their careers play out without worrying whose shoes they will fill.

Fulmer. (Peter Aiken/Getty)
Fulmer. (Peter Aiken/Getty)

Bob asks: Seeing the numbers Vanderbilt players Dansby Swanson and Carson Fulmer are putting up is there any chance the Yankees could get one of those players at the 16th pick?

No on Swanson, yes on Fulmer. Swanson is the best all-around college position player in the draft (he’s hitting .354/.455/.628 this spring) and a true shortstop — he’s playing short now but played second as a freshman and sophomore in deference to Vince Conde, who the Yankees selected in the ninth round last year — and guys like that tend to come off the board very early. Swanson is a projected top ten pick right now and I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he comes off the board in the top five.

Fulmer came into the spring as more of a mid-to-late first rounder, but he’s climbed draft boards these last few weeks because he’s been untouchable (1.69 ERA and 90/24 K/BB in 64 IP). Fulmer is a short righty (listed at 5-foot-11) and there’s still a bias against short righties throughout baseball, which may work against him come draft day. Either way, he sits mid-90s with a power breaking ball and off-the-charts competitiveness. Fulmer is far more likely to be available when the Yankees pick 16th overall than Swanson, though I would be shocked if Fulmer is still on the board by time their second pick comes around (30th).

JonS asks: Why are relievers so volatile compared to starters?

Lots of reasons. First and foremost, they inherently work in small sample sizes, so if a guy struggles for a few weeks at some point, there won’t always be enough time to even things out. Think about all the guys who have a brutal outing early in April — say, six runs in an inning — and are still trying to work it off their ERA in August. Clubs are quick to pull the trigger and replace a struggling reliever too. Just about all relievers are pitchers who couldn’t start for one reason or another. Injuries, bad command, herky jerky delivery, lack of a third pitch, stuff like that forces them out of the rotation and are reasons why relievers tend to be unpredictable — they all have some kind of serious flaw to start with.

Mark asks: As a swap of ugly contracts, would you trade Beltran for Omar Infante? Garbage for more versatile garbage.

No. Beltran is owed more money but is under contract one fewer year — the Yankees owe him $30M through next season while the Royals owe Infante a total of $25.75M through 2018. I’d rather just get rid of the dead weight sooner. Infante’s versatility doesn’t really exist anymore either. He’s been a full-time second baseman since 2011. The last time he did the super-utility player thing everyone seems to love was 2010, when he was 28 years old. He’s now 33, can’t hit (75 wRC+ since the start of last year), and has lingering back and shoulder issues. I’d probably do the deal if the contracts were equal length. But yeah, I just want the awful contracts gone as soon as possible. I’m not sure how Beltran for Infante helps the Yankees aside from saving $5M spread across three years.

Joe asks: But seriously, IF A-Rod continues to hit like this and the Yanks make the playoffs, what are the chances he wins MVP? (My dream BTW)

I don’t think he would get enough support, so very small. Let’s say … 2%. It’s hard enough for a Yankees player to win a major award as it is — a Yankee needs a monster season far better than anyone else to win an award (think 2007 A-Rod), been that way for a few decades now — and I’m not sure A-Rod is capable of doing that at this point. He’s been awesome! But it was hard for peak Alex to win an MVP in pinstripes. Voters have shown they generally won’t support players suspended for PED ties for awards as well. Look at Melky Cabrera in 2012. He absolutely deserved MVP votes but didn’t get a single one.

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Anonymous asks: In the event Didi Gregorius completely falls on his face this year do the Yankees sign Ian Desmond? I’m very scared of his defense, more so that Didi’s offense and mental errors.

That would be the ultimate “if the Boss was alive!” move, wouldn’t it? Young player flops, replace him with the biggest available name. Desmond’s off to a strong start at the plate (122 wRC+) but he’s been a total disaster in the field. Errors are far from the best way to evaluate defense but his MLB leading eight errors do accurately represent his terrible play. Desmond hasn’t been able to make routine plays — he’s pulled the first baseman off the bag with throws, booted grounders, the works. Routine plays a Triple-A caliber shortstop needs to make. Desmond turns 30 in September so he’s not old, but he’s not going to be a shortstop much longer and his swing-and-miss tendencies have gradually gotten worse the last few years, which is a red flag. If the Yankees decide to replace Didi this offseason, I’d hope they’d steer clear of a huge contract for Desmond. That’s not something they need right now.

Tom asks: Do you think if Ivan Nova and Chris Capuano come back healthy and somewhat effective it would be smart for the Yanks to maybe trade Adam Warren + Justin Wilson + another minor piece for offensive help or even prospects? They can call up Jacob Lindgren and will still have 6 big league SP’s. What do you think that package can net?

I’m inclined to say keep the pitching depth, especially since Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia are hardly guaranteed to make it through this season (or next!) in one piece. But, if they did look to trade Warren and Wilson for an upgrade elsewhere, I don’t think they would get a ton in return. We know what Wilson is worth on the trade market: Frankie Cervelli. An oft-injured yet sorta interesting part-time player with two years of control remaining.

I try to find similar players when gauging a player’s trade value but Warren is tough because he has four years of team control remaining (counting 2015) and is a starter now after spending two years in the bullpen. Cesar Ramos kinda works but he was traded in a salary dump — the Rays took a bad control Double-A reliever in return for shedding his $1.3M salary. Maybe Tyson Ross? He was similar to Warren before his career took off with the Padres, and all he netted the A’s was a utility infielder (Andy Parrino) and a Triple-A depth arm (Andrew Werner).

A Warren plus Wilson package might net the Yankees something useful, but if you’re hoping they can get a top prospect or someone they could plug into their MLB lineup right away, you’ll probably be disappointed. Wilson and Warren are solid big leaguers but not stars, and many teams have players just like them in the organization. If the Yankees throw in a prospect, it might be worthwhile. Me? I say hang on to the depth.

Ian asks: I’m confused a bit by some of your analysis. On the one hand, you suggest that by not spending money the Yankees are negating their primary advantage. In the same chat you say they can’t keep overpaying for veterans. What gives? Moreover, if the Yankees do reset the luxury tax, they aren’t only saving money for themselves, but they are giving much much less money to other teams. Who are, after all, their competition. Thoughts?

I probably haven’t been clear enough. I absolutely think the Yankees should pay high salaries and have a top payroll. They’re in the biggest market in the game with a brand new stadium and their own television network. They print money. I understand the benefits of getting under the luxury tax threshold — in addition to resetting the tax rate, the Yankees would also be eligible for a revenue sharing rebate — but cutting payroll to get under the threshold doesn’t sit well with me at all.

That said, they have to spend smarter, specifically by steering clear of super long contracts that buy decline years in bulk. The years are the problem, not the dollars. Players don’t age differently just because you give them more money. These contracts limit flexibility and leave the Yankees with a bunch of unproductive players in their late-30s. Remember this past offseason, when it was reported the Yankees were willing to tack on the fourth year to get Andrew Miller and Chase Headley as long as the average annual value of the contract was lower? That’s completely backwards to me. The Yankees should be willing to pay a higher annual salary in order to keep the contract shorter. They shouldn’t use their financial might to absorb decline years. They should use it to avoid them.

Andrew asks: With Lucius Fox just being declared a FA and free to sign, should Yanks be all over him? 18 y.o. SS who probably would be a top 50 pick in the draft.

Fox, who shares a name with Morgan Freeman’s character in the various Batman movies, has a bit of a weird backstory. He was born in the Bahamas, attended high school in Florida (and did the whole high school draft showcase thing), then moved back to the Bahamas. There was some debate over whether he would be draft-eligible or considered an international free agent. MLB chose the latter and recently declared him a free agent, according to Kiley McDaniel.

McDaniel called Fox a “plus plus runner … (who) now projects to stick at shortstop with feel to hit from both sides of the plate,” and says he would have been a projected top 50 pick had he been draft-eligible. McDaniel also says Fox may not sign until after July 2nd, which means the Yankees would only be able to offer him $300,000 as part of the penalties for last summer’s international spending. In general, my stance is this: quality middle infielders are very hard to find, so any time the Yankees can scoop up a good middle infield prospect for nothing but cash, they should absolutely break out the checkbook. This is where they should go the extra mile, not for 37-year-old DHs.