Archive for Alfredo Aceves
We’ve got two quick questions this week, one about the status of Al Aceves and another about the price to acquire Joe Blanton. Make sure you use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week.
Tucker asks: What’s the deal with Alfredo Aceves? Is there competition for him? It seems like the Yanks could bang out a deal with him pretty quickly.
It’s been a very quiet winter for Ace, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. He broke his collarbone riding his bike and needed surgery in December, and the Yankees non-tendered him not long after that. The Rockies showed some interest in signing him, but that died off pretty quickly. That’s it, we haven’t heard a thing about any teams being interested in him since, other than the Yankees wanting to bring him back on a minor league contract.
The collarbone injury will keep Aceves out until well into March, so he’s going to be behind other pitchers in Spring Training and might not be ready in time to start the season. He’d make a ton of sense for the Yanks right now because they could easily stick him in the rotation, where he’d probably outproduce both Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova. The back is the real question mark though, he missed basically the entire 2010 season because of it and had multiple setbacks. I’d love to see the Yanks sign him to a minor league contract right now, but I fully understand why they’d want to wait until he’s healthy. Seems like every other team is thinking the same way.
Anonymous asks: At this point, Joe Blanton is the best guy out there who is available. It may be hard to swallow acquiring him after losing out to Cliff Lee, but let’s put that aside. What would it take to get him?
I suppose the best way to do this would be to look at some recent trades involving comparable pitchers. The first one that jumps to mind is Tom Gorzelanny, who fetched two not top ten prospects and a not top 30 guy. He’s quite a bit cheaper and is under team control for one year longer than Blanton though, so we have to mark down accordingly. Another match could be Edwin Jackson, who required a big league ready, middle-of-the-rotation pitching prospect and a rookie level pitching prospect that would be found towards the middle of the top 30 list. But again, Jackson’s contract was more favorable than Blanton’s, which has two years at $8.5M per left on it.
The trade that send Blanton to Philadelphia isn’t a good comp either, since his recent performance at the time was much better than it is right now, and his contract situation was considerably more favorable. None of these are great matches, but at least they give us an idea of what to expect. It sounds like at least two prospects will be required, and one of them will have to be in the 10-20 range prospect of a top 30 list. Perhaps that guy is Adam Warren or David Phelps, and then you’re still taking on Blanton’s entire contract. It’s a fair swap, but with the Phillies needing to move his contract, no team should offer a fair return. The Phils don’t have much leverage right now.
I wrote about Blanton last month, and although he’s probably the best of the available starters, his contract isn’t great and then you have to give up prospects on top of that. Yes, he’s durable as hell, but he’s barely qualified as league average in the last three years, and that’s while he was in the NL on the best offensive team in the division. Seriously, I would rather just sign Kevin Millwood to a one-year deal. A move for Blanton impacts the 2012 team and isn’t necessarily easy to back out of. If I’m going to start committing considerable future payroll to a starter, I want it to be someone better than Blanton.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees are interested in bringing the recently non-tendered Al Aceves back on a minor league contract, though the Rockies are one team willing to give him a big league deal and a 40-man roster spot. Not only did Ace miss basically all of the 2010 season due to disc issues in his back, he recently had surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered during a bike accident. The rehab from that will have him behind in Spring Training.
The Mexican Gangster was awesome in 2009, but his back is such a question mark that giving him a 40-man roster spot is pretty risky. I hope something gets worked out, but I fully expect him to bolt for a team willing to give him a big league deal.
The Yankees have non-tendered Dustin Moseley and Alfredo Aceves, Mark Feinsand reported a minute ago. In light of the team’s decision to re-up with Sergio Mitre, Moseley’s departure was a foregone conclusion. The Yanks do not need to mediocre right-handers clogging up the roster in the name of depth, but the decision on Aceves is surprising. My guess is that the Yanks did not want to burn a 40-man spot on a guy who missed most of 2010 and will be out for around the first six-to-eight weeks of 2011. The club will, in all likelihood, try to resign him to a minor league deal without burning a 40-man spot on a question mark.
Some people have none of the luck. Take, for instance, Alfredo Aceves. While the Yanks said he might have been available during the World Series had the team made it that far, the versatile long-man missed most of 2010 with a back injury. The Yanks announced this afternoon that Aceves had surgery to fix a broken left clavicle yesterday. The righty injured his collar bone in a bike accident in Mexico. Aceves, says the team, will need three months for rehab, and thus, an early March return will put him a few weeks behind schedule.
Meanwhile, Brett Gardner is set to go under the knife next week in order to cure his right wrist tendinitis. After a hot first half in which he hit .309/.396/.415, Gardner posted just a .232/.364/.330 line during the season’s second half and attributed his slide to a very sore wrist. The Yanks expect their left-fielder to be ready for Spring Training.
The first official day of the GM Meetings has come to a close, at least in theory. Like I said on Monday, the hot stove is a 24/7 business, so who knows what could happen overnight. Obviously, the big news from Tuesday involved Dan Uggla, who was dealt to the Braves for the low, low price of (All Star) Omar Infante and former Yankee prospect Mike Dunn. I know they’re just getting one year of Uggla before free agency, but damn. You mean someone else wouldn’t top that?
Anyway, let’s round up today’s miscellaneous items, with the source in parenthesis again…
- “Things are going well right now,” said Hal Steinbrenner (Chad Jennings). He acknowledged talking to Derek Jeter‘s agent “a couple of times” since last week’s meeting in Tampa, but otherwise there’s not much going on.
- Meanwhile, Jon Heyman hears that the Yankees will bid at least three years to keep Jeter. Three years? Fine. At least three years? I don’t like where that’s going.
- The Yankees still have no idea if Mariano Rivera is looking for a one or two-year deal, but they’re expecting it to be the latter (Buster Olney).
- Bill Hall is on the list of free agents the team is interested in, and they have a bit of a connection: Hall works out with Yanks’ hitting coach Kevin Long during the offseason (Ken Rosenthal). I’m not much of a Hall fan, mostly because the idea of multi-million dollar utility players with multi-year contracts strikes me as utter lunacy.
- The Yankees did in fact contact the Diamondbacks about trading for Justin Upton, but it was nothing more than due diligence (Marc Carig).
- “I’ve got a small player move that I’m working on that might get done at some point this week,” said Cashman (LoHud). “But it’s small.” Let the speculation begin. I hope it’s Randy Choate.
- They won’t consider releasing Damaso Marte to free up a 40-man roster spot even though they expect him to miss the entire 2011 season. Cashman doesn’t believe the team has a roster crunch when it comes to protecting players from the Rule 5 Draft.
- Cash on the pitching coach situation (Marc Carig): “This is a scenario where there isn’t an obvious, without a doubt, in-house candidate.”
- In somewhat surprising news, Brian Cashman said that Al Aceves might have been healthy enough to pitch in the World Series if they’d gotten there (LoHud). The Mexican Gangster last pitched on May 8th and suffered a setback as recently as early-September. Cash said he’s “hopeful” going forward, presumably talking about Ace’s ability to stay healthy. That’s basically all you can do, back issues are tricky.
And finally, former Yankee GM Bob Watson announced that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season. Watson is currently MLB’s VP of Rules & On-Field Operations, meaning he disciplines players and what not, but he ran the Yankees’ ship from in 1996 and 1997, bridging the gap between Gene Michael and Cashman. He was a helluva player before that, hitting .295/.364/.447 with 184 homers in a career that spanned from 1966 to 1984. Watson played mostly for the Astros, but he also had stints with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Braves. Congrats on the retirement, Bob.
The 2009 Yankees were a club that relied heavily on its bullpen, and for the most part to great success. Chien-Ming Wang was horrific before being sidelined with a shoulder issue, Joba Chamberlain was perpetually bumping up against some kind of limit, and the fifth starter conglomerate of Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin were hardly reliable. The bullpen picked up the slack, and the Yanks were able to ride that bullpen right to a World Championship.
The bullpen was again a strength in 2010, especially in the second half, but two key contributors from the previous year were essentially non-factors after the first few weeks of the season, and the Yankees suffered because of it.
Maybe not the most valuable member of the 2009 bullpen, Aceves was certainly the most versatile and relied upon. His 80.2 relief innings were by far the most on the team (Mariano Rivera was second at 66.1 IP) and he pitched in every possible role. Long-relief, righty specialist, middle relief, setup man, four-inning closer, you name it and Aceves did in the 2009. The Yankees penciled Ace in for a similar role this season, but it was not meant to be.
The Mexican Gangster missed the end of Spring Training with a stiff lower back, a sign of things to come. He was healthy enough to crack the team’s Opening Day roster, and proved his value in the second game of the season, firing two perfect innings in a tie game against the Red Sox in Fenway Park on just 23 pitches. He was used somewhat sparingly through April and early May, perhaps held back because of lingering issues with his back that we didn’t know about, but when he pitched he was pretty good: nine games, eleven innings, and just four earned runs allowed, all of which came within his first three outings of the season. The only concern was his lack of strikeouts (just one compared to four walks), but that early in the season no one thought much of it.
The Yankees were again in Fenway on May 8th when a rain delay forced starter CC Sabathia from the game. Aceves was brought in to pick up the slack, his third appearance in five days, and after recording the final out in the fifth, he went back out for the sixth. Kevin Youkilis led off the frame with a single, and two batters later J.D. Drew singled as well. Boston was mounting a mini-rally with the Yanks up by three. Jeremy Hermida stepped to the plate with men on the corners and two outs, and one pitch later Aceves was done for the season.
A first pitch curveball to Hermida dropped in for a strike, but it also dropped Aceves to the ground. Okay, not really, he never went down. But he did buckle at the waist and limp off the mound in a way that made you think it was a hamstring or quad or something like that. Aceves immediately left the game with what turned out to be the same thing that hampered him in March: a stiff lower back. Three days later he was placed on the disabled list with a bulging disc, and two weeks after that he reaggravated the injury while rehabbing in Tampa. Aceves had a few epidurals throughout the summer but nothing worked, and he was eventually shut down for the year after re-injuring himself in a minor league rehab start.
The Yankees were never able to replace Aceves in that jack-of-all-trades role, instead relying on several pitchers to pick up the slack. Gaudin and Mitre were given opportunities to do it, but they just couldn’t replicate the Gangster’s success. The Yankees had a solid setup crew for the seventh and eighth innings, but the gap between them and the starter was largely a revolving door all season.
Marte’s absence wasn’t as damning as Aceves’, nor was it as unexpected. After all, he did miss a huge chunk of the 2009 season with a shoulder issue before returning for that brilliant playoff run. The 35-year-old lefty specialist not only managed to stay on the field into July this season, he was also pretty effective. His overall numbers (4.08 ERA with a dozen strikeouts and eleven walks in 17.2 IP spread across 30 appearances) don’t really tell the story given the nature of his job. Marte faced 45 lefty batters in 2010 and just nine reached base. They hit just .146/.200/.268 against him, which works out to a .227 wOBA. He did a fine job neutralizing lefthanders, exactly what he’s supposed to do.
Marte pitched a scoreless inning in Oakland on July 7th, but that was the last time we’d see him this season. He was placed on the disabled list the very next day with shoulder inflammation, an issue that just kept lingering all summer. The Yankees eventually ruled him out for the season in early September, and he had surgery to repair a torn labrum just last week. Damaso won’t return until after the 2011 All Star break at the very earliest.
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The Yankee bullpen managed to survive the injuries to Aceves and Marte, but there’s no denying they would have been a better team with those two healthy and performing like they’re capable of. We already know that Marte is basically a no-go next season, but Aceves’ status is still up in the air. Given the nature of back injuries, it’s wise to expect nothing from him in 2011 and treat whatever he gives the team as a bonus.
For the last few weeks, we’ve heard rumblings of some discouraging news on the injury front, and this morning, Joe Girardi confirmed the dire diagnoses: Neither Alfredo Aceves (back) nor Damaso Marte (shoulder) will return to the Yankees’ bullpen this year. Marte, out since July and still under contract for next year, could need surgery, and Aceves, who threw just 12 innings before a disc problem shelved him in May, is still under team control. For the sake of depth and with memories of 2009 dancing through our heads, it’s a shame that these two pitchers aren’t coming back, but with Boone Logan‘s emergence and the solid, if not spectacular, work out of the pen lately, the team has the arms to cover these two injuries.
Update (7:50pm): Yep, he’s back in New York to see the doc about his back. Not good.
6:19pm: Via Mike Ashmore, Al Aceves has been scratched form his rehab outing with Double-A Trenton tonight and has instead returned to New York. It’s possible that he’s going to have his back re-examined, which is what’s had him on the shelf basically all season. Aceves’ rehab schedule hasn’t been going very well – 11.2 IP, 14 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 11 K with various minor league affiliates – so this news isn’t terribly surprising. Like I’ve been saying, whatever the Yanks get out of Aceves this season is a bonus, and it’s entirely possible he contributes nothing the rest of the way.
Shortly before the game, work leaked out that Alfredo Aceves was alive and well and in the Yankee clubhouse. I had fleeting thoughts that he would be activated after a lengthy stint on the DL due to back problems, and we would be saved more appearances by Chad Gaudin (or Sergio Mitre). The Yankees, however, have different plans. As MLB.com’s Tim Britton reported, Brian Cashman is not quite ready to activate Aceves yet, and the team hopes to have him make at least one more rehab start and possibly two. “He’s a guy that’s just knocking out the rust,” Cashman said before the game. “The belief is he’d benefit and therefore we’d benefit from him getting a few more outings.”
So far, in 5 innings for AAA Scranton and AA Trenton, Aceves, who may still need surgery this winter, has looked sharp. He’s allowed a run on one hit while striking out six. Although Aceves may be ready to go, the Yankees are probably trying to stretch out his rehab to maintain some roster flexibility. By holding him back until September 1, the Yankees can activate Aceves without having to sacrifice Gaudin’s or Mitre’s spot on the Major League. Since Aceves’ back appears to be a ticking time bomb, keeping those two sacrificial lambs around gives the Yanks some depth during the pennant drive.
News of Andy Pettitte‘s rehab setback scared us all to hell on Friday, but the good news is that his injured groin felt a-okay when he met the team in Kansas City yesterday. He expected to be sore the day after throwing his simulated game, but it looks like he lucked out. There is no firm plan in place to restart Pettitte’s rehab right now, but the team is going to very careful as you could expect. He’s going to play catch early next week, and if that goes well he’ll progress to a bullpen session and/or a simulated game and then hopefully a rehab start. This whole thing set him back about a week or so, from the looks of it.
As for Al Aceves, who threw two fine innings with Double-A Trenton on Friday, he’ll make another rehab start with the Thunder on Tuesday and throw three innings or 30 pitches. Joe Girardi indicated that the team isn’t so concerned with stretching him out to 50 pitches or whatever, but they do want to see him pitch on “short rest,” as in just a day or two. After all the setbacks, it’s been so far, so good with Ace’s rehab. Keep your fingers crossed.