Eight questions and seven answers this week, so let’s do this rapid fire style. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us whatever throughout the week.
Vinny asks: Who would you rather have in right field next year, Carlos Beltran or Curtis Granderson?
In a vacuum, Beltran. No doubt about it. But this isn’t a vacuum. In reality, we’re talking about Beltran and a 30-something overall draft pick or Granderson and the 18th overall pick. There’s also the contract size to consider. I think Beltran winds up with a similar deal to the one he has now, meaning two years and $26M or so. Granderson could wind up with three years and $39-45M. Something like that. Injury history (Beltran’s knees vs. Granderson’s fluky hit-by-pitches), potential age-related decline (Beltran is four years older than Granderson), and the team’s current situation (are they really good enough to win during Beltran’s two years?) all have to be considered. I’d take Beltran though, the difference between the 18th pick and a 30-something pick is pretty small.
Bill asks: How much do you think a pitcher can theoretically make or lose based on a few postseason starts? Take Ricky Nolasco the other night. Would an eight-inning, 11-strikeout game have given him a different label going into this offseason and been worth that much more?
Unless a guy gets hurt, very small. Remember, C.J. Wilson was awful for the Rangers during the 2011 postseason (5.79 ERA and 6.31 FIP in 28 innings) and it didn’t matter at all. He still got a very fair contract and reportedly turned down even more money from the Marlins to sign with the Angels. Maybe a history of good or bad postseason performance would affect a player’s market value, but I don’t think one individual postseason or series or start would. Teams are too smart to let one game change their valuation of a player that much.
Mark asks: Not that more payroll is the answer to the Yankees’ problems, but say hypothetically they were to win the World Series with a 2014 team payroll of say $210 million, would the increased television ratings, higher attendance and playoff ticket revenue make a major dent in the luxury tax they would be assessed for going over their $189 million target? Not sure if this is calculable or not, but it seems like it sure bears some serious discussion if I were them.
A $210M payroll means they’d be paying an extra $31.5M compared to staying under the luxury tax threshold ($21M in overages plus $10.5M in tax). Vince Gennaro’s work has shown that simply making the postseason is worth about $40M in increased revenue for the Yankees while winning the World Series is worth about $70M. His study and calculations were done in 2007, before the new Yankee Stadium opened and baseball’s economics changed with the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement. I have to think those $40M and $70M figures are a bit light these days. So yes, I feel very comfortable saying winning the World Series with a $210M payroll is far more lucrative than not making the postseason with a $189M payroll. Far, far more lucrative. Of course, they could always win a title at $189M. I’m sure the Yankees have run their own numbers. They aren’t doing this on a whim.
Sean asks: With the emergence of Yan Gomes as the everyday catcher, do you think the Indians would be willing to deal Carlos Santana? I know they’ve used him at first-base and at DH, but Santana has apparently made it clear that he wants to play behind the plate. What sort of package do you think we’re looking at for the Yanks to land him? Do you think he’s a better option than signing Brian McCann?
Guilherme asks: I want to know what you guys think about Yan Gomes. Would he be a fit? For what the Indians would be willing to trade him?
Might as well lump these two together. I do think there’s a chance the Indians will be open to trading either Santana or Gomes for pitching help this winter, and I suppose the choice between the two may come down to the offers. Santana is far more established but more expensive (owed $17.75M through 2016 with an option for 2017) while Gomes has five years of team control and only 300 or so awesome plate appearances to his credit. Unless the Indians love them some David Phelps or Michael Pineda, I’m not sure what the Yankees could give them for Santana or Gomes aside from Ivan Nova. I’d happily take either catcher though. Backstops who can actually hit (!) and are under contract/control at an affordable rate for another few years are a super hot commodity.
Joey asks: When a scout is evaluating prospects, do they ever take what organization he is in in to consideration? What I mean by that is if the Yankees struggle to develop SP and the Rays crank them out year after year, will the scout look at the player and assume the Yankees can’t develop this guy in to a SP where maybe they says the Rays can?
They shouldn’t. The scout is evaluating a player’s package of tools and those don’t change from organization to organization. Scouts might look at a player and know their organization has a chance to help him develop more than another, but I don’t think that would change his evaluation. Gary Sanchez‘s physically ability is Gary Sanchez’s physical ability whether he’s a Yankee or a Twin or a Padre.
Brad asks: What are your thoughts on going after Bronson Arroyo this winter? He’s an innings-eater and he’s had experience in the AL East. I think we need a veteran arm to round out the rotation, especially if Hiroki Kuroda retires.
No way. It’s been a long time since Arroyo pitched in the AL East and he isn’t close to the same pitcher anymore. Over the last three seasons, he has a 5.52 K/9 (15.1%), a 1.43 BB/9 (14.0% HR/FB), and the fifth slowest non-knuckleballer fastball in baseball (86.6 mph). There’s a small chance three of the four guys ahead of him (Barry Zito, Shaun Marcum, Jeff Francis) will never throw another big league pitch. (Mark Buehrle is the other.) On top of all of that, Arroyo wants a multi-year contract. Innings are good, you need guys to soak up some innings, but I have no interest in bringing a soon-to-be 37-year-old guy with fringe stuff into the AL East and a small ballpark.
Kevin asks: Doesn’t Andre Ethier make sense if the Dodgers are willing to eat some salary and make him, say, a $7M player? He gets on base and doesn’t strike out that much and can take advantage of right field. I know he’s not any good on defense but they could pair him with someone like Justin Ruggiano and have one of the most productive corner outfields in the league.
Spending $7M on an injury-prone DH doesn’t sound like a great idea. Ethier has consistently been a 120-ish wRC+ player throughout his career but he can’t hit lefties at all (73 wRC+ this year and 67 wRC+ since 2011) and is a major defensive liability. I suppose you could hide him in right field for another year or two, but he’s already 31 and will turn 32 right around Opening Day. Ethier can mash righties and there is definitely a spot for him in the Yankees lineup, but that’s an awful lot of money — he is under contract through 2017, remember, so you’re essentially talking about a four-year, $28M contract if the Dodgers eat enough salary to make him a $7M a year player — for a very limited player. With payroll coming down, I’m more than happy to continue dumpster diving for Raul Ibanez types to fill that DH spot. I think that’s the last place the Yankees should commit huge bucks.
Via Jesse Sanchez: The White Sox have agreed to sign Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to a six-year contract worth $68M. The deal is still pending a physical and is (by far) the largest contract ever give to an international free agent, topping the $42M deal the Dodgers gave Yasiel Puig last summer. The White Sox have a pretty good history with Cuban-born players, most notably Jose Contreras, Alexei Ramirez, and Dayan Viciedo.
The Yankees were reportedly among the teams scouting the 26-year-old Abreu, who held some showcase events at their complex in the Dominican Republic last month. I never thought the Bombers were serious about signing him, especially at a price like that. With their payroll coming down and so many other holes on the roster to fill, signing another first base/DH type to a huge contract doesn’t make much sense. If they make a big international splash this winter, I suspect it’ll be for Masahiro Tanaka. · (43) ·
Thursday: Jim Baumbach says the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit agreed to push the conference back two weeks to November 7th. Remember, this is not the appeal hearing of A-Rod’s 211-game suspension, this concerns his lawsuit against MLB. Two different matters.
Saturday: Via Ken Davidoff: Proceedings for Alex Rodriguez’s lawsuit against MLB will begin with a conference on October 24th. This is not the ongoing appeal hearing for the 211-game suspension, this concerns the lawsuit A-Rod filed claiming the league is conducting a “witch hunt” and is trying to get him out of the game. Rodriguez also filed a malpractice suit against Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad over the handling of his left hip injury last fall. He’s going out with guns blazin’, eh? · (23) ·
I mentioned the other day that FOX will air a special 90-minute Mariano Rivera feature this coming Sunday (encore on Tuesday), which will take a look into his life off the field both back home in Panama and with his family. All sorts of stuff we never get to see, really. The trailer was released today (or at least I found it today), so you can watch it via the embedded video above. Make sure you set your DVRs if you haven’t already.
Once you’re done watching that, use this as your open thread for the evening. The Red Sox and Tigers will play Game 5 of the ALCS at 8pm ET on TBS (Anibal Sanchez vs. Jon Lester), plus the Seahawks and Cardinals are playing in the Thursday Night Football Game. The Islanders, Devils, Knicks (preseason), and Nets (preseason) are all playing as well. Lots to talk about tonight. Have at it.
The Yankees have started the process of adding bullpen depth for next season. The team has re-signed right-hander David Herndon to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, according to his agent Joshua Kusnick. He will be Rule 5 Draft eligible in December, but if he goes unclaimed, he’ll come to camp with a chance to win a bullpen spot.
Herndon, 28, blew out his elbow early in the 2012 season with the Phillies and needed Tommy John surgery. Philadelphia removed him from the 40-man roster over the winter and, after a brief detour through Toronto, he was claimed off waivers by the Yankees. New York then removed Herndon from their 40-man roster and gave him a new minor league contract after he cleared waivers and elected free agency.
After returning from his elbow reconstruction in late-June, Herndon pitched to a 2.78 ERA (~2.20 FIP) with a good strikeout rate (9.1 K/9 and 22.5 K%) and a good walk rate (2.5 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%) in 35.2 innings across 21 minor league appearances. He steadily climbed the ladder during what amounted to a rehab assignment, topping out at Triple-A Scranton.
Back in July, Ken Rosenthal heard from a scout that Herndon had been running his fastball up 94 mph during his minor league outings. He was primarily a low-90s sinker/low-80s slider reliever while with the Phillies, but he did touch 94 on occasion. If nothing else, his stuff has come back. During his three seasons in Philadelphia, Herndon was more of a ground ball guy (55.3%) than a strikeout guy (5.9 K/9 and 15.0 K%).
There’s nothing exciting about signing a reclamation project like Herndon, but the Yankees have a big 40-man roster crunch and need to acquire as many quality players on minor league deals as possible to build depth, something they lacked in 2013. The bullpen is usually the easiest place to do this, at least in terms of sheer numbers, plus it’s a good way to save some cash as the club looks to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold. The Yankees watched Herndon rehab and pitch in their system this year, they had to like something they saw to bring him back.
In a piece that is free for all to read, Baseball America broke down this summer’s draft using a variety of categories. The Yankees ranked third in the “Best Draft” category, trailing only the Pirates and Diamondbacks. Pittsburgh had two of the top 14 selections. New York, of course, had three of the top 33 selections, so having a strong draft was pretty much guaranteed.
OF Aaron Judge, the middle of those three first rounders, is said to be the fifth best power hitter in the entire draft class by Baseball America. That’s his calling card, he’s a huge dude who can hit the ball a mile from the right side of the plate. That’s a skill that is very hard to come by these days. 2B Gosuke Katoh had the third best pro debut among high school draftees according to the publication. Those three first round picks are going to make or break the team’s draft haul. In this new spending restricted system where talent goes pretty linearly, those top picks are crucial. · (97) ·
The 2013 season is over and now it’s time to review all aspects of the year that was, continuing today with a young-ish player who finally got a big break before suffering a big break.
The Yankees made little effort to solidify the catcher position this winter. They were seemingly caught off-guard when Russell Martin took a two-year contract worth $17M from the Pirates in November — Martin was reportedly open to returning to New York on a one-year contract — taking the best all-around catcher in a weak free agent class off the market. Rather they overextend themselves for an imperfect solution (A.J. Pierzynski?), the Yankees decided no solution was best.
Spring Training started with what was supposedly a three-man competition for the two roster spots, but that was never really the case. The Bombers have a knack for holding fake competitions. Austin Romine was always a long shot for the Opening Day roster while, barring injury, Chris Stewart and Frankie Cervelli were the favorites. A career backup catcher and a guy who was sent to Triple-A to make room for the career backup catcher last year.
None of the team’s in-house catching options stood out offensively in camp — seriously, all one of these guys had to do to win the starting job was swing the bat decently during Grapefruit League play, but no one did it — but Cervelli showed off some seriously improved throwing mechanics, gunning down seven of 14 attempted base-stealers. That was enough to win him the starting catching job on Opening Day. This was how the Yankees sorted out their catching situation coming into a year in which ownership repeatedly called he team “championship-caliber.”
Anyway, Cervelli made the Yankees look very smart for a few weeks. He was one of the team’s best hitters out of the gate, picking up a single and a walk on Opening Day before hitting a homer two games later. During a two-week stretch in the middle of April, Frankie went 10-for-28 (.357) with three doubles, a homer, five walks, and four strikeouts. Cervelli started 16 of the team’s first 22 games and hit .269/.377/.500 (143 wRC+) with three homers in 61 plate appearances, plus he threw out two of four attempted base-stealers. For the first time in his career, he looked like a starting big league catcher.
Then, in the very first inning of the team’s April 26th game against the Blue Jays, Rajai Davis foul tipped a pitch off Cervelli’s unprotected right hand. It was a direct hit, right on the knuckles:
After being looked at by the trainer and trying to talk his way into remaining in the game, Frankie was lifted and sent for tests. X-rays showed a fracture in his hand that required surgery, which was expected to send him to the DL for a minimum of six weeks. Not only had the Yankees lost one of their most productive early-season players at a crucial position, but Cervelli’s big chance to show what he could as a regular catcher was kaput.
Those six weeks turned into at least two months when the Yankees slid Cervelli over to the 60-day DL to clear a roster spot a few days after the injury. He continued his rehab over the next several weeks at the team’s complex in Tampa and progressed to the point where he was swinging a bat and taking batting practice pretty much everyday, which meant an official minor league rehab assignment wasn’t too far away.
Unfortunately, since he’s a Yankee, Cervelli suffered a setback in early-July. It was a stress reaction in his right elbow — the precursor to a stress fracture, so they caught it early — which apparently happened when he changed his throwing motion to compensate for the hand injury. I’m not exactly sure how that happens, but it sounds plausible. Either way, it happened and Cervelli’s #obligatorysetback effectively ended his season. In the unlikely event he got healthy enough to rejoin the team, it wouldn’t have happened until late-September.
On top of all of that, the injury and the setback and losing his chance at a starting catching job, Cervelli was one of 12 players suspended 50 games in early-August for his ties to the South Florida performance-enhancing drug hub Biogenesis. Frankie did not appeal the ban and was officially done for the rest of the year. He suffered both a season-ended injury and a season-ending suspension. Rough. To his credit, Frankie faced the music and admitted he used a banned substance after breaking his foot in Spring Training a few years ago.
All told, Cervelli played in just 17 games this year before the injuries and suspension ended his season. He never got a chance to show if his hot start was something sustainable or if he could even play at an acceptable level as a starting backstop. The Yankees never got a chance to see that either, meaning right now they don’t know if he in the middle of a breakout age 27 season or if he was a small sample size fluke. Given the half-assed catching situation, the team had an opportunity to learn something about Cervelli, about whether he deserved to be in their plans going forward. Instead, he remains an unknown.
Via Mark Feinsand: The Yankees have agreed to terms on a new contract with pitching coach Larry Rothschild. We first heard a new deal was in the works last week and an official announcement is expected shortly. Terms of the contract are unknown, but Rothschild signed a three-year deal when he first joined the team. There is “nothing to report” about the status of the rest of the coaching staff, according to Brian Cashman. The coaches’ contracts all expire on October 31st. · (12) ·
Ten years. Ten friggin’ years ago today, Aaron Boone had the moment of a lifetime and sent the Yankees to the World Series (for the sixth time in eight years) with a walk-off homer in Game Seven of the ALCS against the Red Sox. The other day I said I remember pretty much nothing about the 1999 World Series, but this game is the exact opposite. It’s one of my most vivid memories as a fan. I remember where I was, who I was with, where everyone was sitting in the room, what everyone was drinking … all of that like it happened just yesterday. It was one of those moments you never forget.
I figure we’ve all seen the Boone homer a million times by now, so for the sake of variety, there’s the video of the game-tying three-run rally in the eighth inning instead. The video archive for the entire game is right here, so if you want to see Jason Giambi‘s two homers off Pedro Martinez or Mike Mussina’s first career relief appearance or Mariano Rivera‘s three innings of work or, of course, Boone’s homer, it’s all right there. Enjoy.
Once you’re done with that, use this as your open thread for the evening. The Cardinals are looking to advance to the World Series with a win over the Dodgers in NLCS Game Five, which is on TBS right now (Joe Kelly vs. Zack Greinke). At 8pm ET, the Red Sox and Tigers will play Game Four of the ALCS on FOX (Jake Peavy vs. Doug Fister). The Rangers are also playing. Talk about all of that and more right here.