Archive for Aramis Ramirez

Huge mailbag this week. Twelve questions and not a single one about Alex Rodriguez, thankfully. I tried to keep the answers short since there are so many of ‘em. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar if you want to send us anything.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)

(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Jeff asks: What happened to Brian Roberts besides his problems with concussions and post-concussion sickness? I distinctly remember him being one of the best offensive second basemen in the mid-2000s. Is there even a minuscule chance he repeats anything close to it?

Roberts was awesome from 2005-09, hitting .294/.369/.451 (116 wRC+) while averaging 68 extra-base hits, 39 steals and 4.9 fWAR per 162 games. He missed more than three months with an abdominal strain in 2010 then suffered his first concussion later that year after whacking his helmet with his bat out of frustration. True story. He suffered his second concussion in May 2011 after hitting his head sliding into first base, and he dealt with post-concussion symptoms for several months after that. Roberts had surgery to repair his hip labrum in July 2012 and then missed three months last year after tearing his hamstring. That’s a lot of serious injuries, especially the two concussions. Roberts was decent after returning from the hammy in late June (93 wRC+ in the second half) and that’s probably the best we could reasonably expect out of him at age 36 and with all those recent injuries.

Manny asks: Suk-Min Yoon is planning on signing somewhere soon. Is Boras putting the cart before the Masahiro Tanaka-horse going to screw him here, or are they different markets for a guy like Yoon? Also, should the Yankees take note? From the little we’ve heard, he can start, he can close, he’s useful and sounds like he could project something similar to a non-criminal Ace Aceves.

Everything you need to know about Yoon is in this post. The Yankees have had interest in the 27-year-old and he’s a true free agent — there are no posting process hoops to jump through. Yoon is no Tanaka and he might not even be another Wei-Yin Chen — even Boras admitted he is “not an overpowering arm” — and the consensus is that he’s more of a swingman/reliever than a big league starter. In fact, shoulder problems limited him to the bullpen for most of last year. Yoon will have no impact on the Tanaka sweepstakes whatsoever. I don’t really have a grasp on what it would take to sign him and I’m not sure if he’s an upgrade over in-house options like David Phelps and Adam Warren. The Yankees need relievers though, and if he’s affordable, he might be an outside the box option to shore up the bullpen.

Ethan asks: The Giants would never do it because they don’t have any other options at third, but would you do Brett Gardner for Pablo Sandoval in a vacuum?

Yes, I would. In fact, I wrote about Sandoval as a possible trade target earlier this offseason. He’s a switch-hitter with power and surprisingly good defense, but weight and conditioning issues have hampered him his entire career. Both guys are due to become free agents next winter and given the team’s needs, a Gardner for Sandoval trade would make a lot of sense for the Yankees. It would be risky — the one they call Kung Fu Panda has shed 42 points this winter (photo!) — but I think the potential reward is mighty big. It just doesn’t make sense for San Francisco. Their outfield is full and they need Sandoval at the hot corner.

Dylan asks: Could we please have an update on Michael Pineda? I don’t see too much about him recently in the news.

(Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News)

(Ron Antonelli/New York Daily News)

There is no real update on Pineda. At his annual end-of-season press conference, Brian Cashman said they shut him down late last year because he needed to rest after pitching and rehabbing for 15 months straight. “He is on a throwing program and healthy,” said the GM to George King last month. “He is coming to Spring Training to win a spot in the rotation. He is a viable option.” That’s the update, I guess. No news is good news.

Mike asks: Given this story from MLB Trade Rumors: “Minor League Free Agents Finding Major League Deals” which highlights Jose Quintana, David Adams and others, could not “hating their own minor leaguers” be a new market inefficiency that the Yankees could exploit?

Heh. Letting Quintana walk was a massive blunder in hindsight. He could blow out his arm tomorrow and it still would have been a huge mistake. I would be surprised if the Yankees regret letting Adams go, especially since they’ve already replaced him with almost exactly the same player in Scott Sizemore. Those guys are a dime a dozen. Just about every team has given away an Adams or a Tyler Clippard or a Zach McAllister at some point, so the Bombers aren’t all that different in that regard. None of their non-Warren minor leaguers impressed when called upon last year, so maybe they’re right not to trust their own kids right now. The farm system isn’t in great shape, especially when talking about MLB ready talent. Quintana was a huge mistake but I don’t that’s enough of a reason to give absolutely everyone a chance. He’s an extreme outlier.

Billy asks: Ideally how many roster spots on the 40-man should be allocated towards players who will be of absolutely no help for the current season (Gary Sanchez, Jose Campos, etc.)?

I don’t think there is an answer to this. It varies team by team and depends on a number of things, like the strength of their farm system and whether or not they are legitimate contenders. Every club is going to need to use a few spots on extra players, like extra bullpen arms and bench players. Guys you can send up and down without worrying about their long-term development. Is there a point where having a bunch of guys like Campos, who isn’t expected to contribute to MLB at all in 2014, counterproductive? Sure. But that point is different for say, the Dodgers than it is the Astros.

Jeff asks: In the event that the Yankees don’t sign Tanaka, would they be interested in Josh Beckett or Chad Billingsley if they’re healthy and made available by the Dodgers?

I think the answer is no on Beckett but yes on Billingsley. Beckett was showing serious signs of decline — fading fastball and inability to put away lefties, mostly — before getting hurt and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is no joke. It ended Chris Carpenter’s career. Billingsley is still only 29, he’s been rock solid for years (3.79 ERA and 3.42 FIP from 2010-12), and his contract includes an affordable ($14M) club option for 2014. He “only” had Tommy John surgery and is due back sometime around May. Billingsley is someone I think the Yankees should pursue with or without Tanaka. He makes sense for them both this year and next.

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

Dustin asks: Would you trade for Aramis Ramirez if he were available?

I said no back before the trade deadline but at this point, after seeing how the offseason has played out, I think I’d say yes. Ramirez would have to come cheap though, either in a pure salary dump trade (he’s owed $20M in 2014 between his salary and the buyout of his 2015 option) or a deal involving one or two Grade-C prospects with the Brewers eating some salary. Grade-C prospects coming from the 21-30 range of a top 30 list, for example. Aramis is 35 with bad knees but he can still hit (12 HR and 132 wRC+ in 351 plate appearances in 2013) and his right-handed thump would fit the lineup well. It would be risky but even a half-season of Ramirez would be a big upgrade at the hot corner.

Ben asks: What do you think about the Yankees possibly trading for Jonathan Papelbon? Personality aside, I think he’d be a great addition to the bullpen, which is one of the last areas NY can throw money at to improve. What would it take to get him, a couple non- prospects (assuming NYY takes on the whole contract)?

I am anti-Papelbon and it has nothing to do with his personality or anything like that. He comes with a lot of red flags — I highly recommend this post by Jason Collette detailing those red flags — and he’s owed $13M in each of the next two seasons with a vesting option for another $13M in 2017. I have no problem with paying big dollars for elite relievers, but I’m not very confident in Papelbon being elite or even comfortably above-average these next two years. The Yankees definitely need bullpen help, but I’d be careful about getting caught up in the name here. He’s not the Red Sox version of Papelbon anymore. Read the linked Collette post, he breaks it down very well.

T.J. asks: Do you think the Yankees should go after Tommy Hanson? He had his best years in Atlanta with Brian McCann as his catcher. Of course, he could also be Phil Hughes 2.0.

There has been close to zero interest in Hanson this winter and I think that’s very telling. We’re talking about a 27-year-old who was one of the best prospects in baseball and an above-average starter as recently as 2010-11, yet no one wants him. Hanson has had a bunch of injury problems (with his shoulder, specifically) and it shows in the velocity in each of his pitches (via Brooks Baseball):

Tommy Hanson velocity

Don’t get too excited about that uptick in velocity at the end of last year. Hanson made exactly two appearances in July, August, and September, and he was working out of the bullpen by the end of the year. It’s not like he was making a start every five days and showing that velocity. Hanson was not been the same guy since his shoulder started acting up (4.76 ERA and 4.59 FIP from 2012-13) and I’m not sure throwing to his old batterymate McCann can help. I’d give him a minor league contract, sure. But I wouldn’t count on him for anything. You’d have to treat him almost like you’d treat Johan Santana. Anything he gives you is a bonus.

John asks: What would it take for a team (not necessarily the Yankees) to land Jhoulys Chacin?

A lot. Chacin very quietly broke out last season, pitching to a 3.47 ERA (3.47 FIP!) in 197.1 innings while allowing only 11 homers despite pitching half his games in Coors Field. His bowling ball sinker explains that. Chacin turned 26 earlier this month and he’s under team control through 2015. He’s on the cusp of becoming the next dominant sinkerballer, a Tim Hudson or Derek Lowe type. Given the price of pitching, it’ll take a boatload to get him. Two or three very good prospects/young minor leaguers at least. If I were the Rockies and the Yankees offered me Sanchez, Slade Heathcott, and someone like Phelps, I’d say no. Easily. Chacin’s very young and very good.

Joe asks: I watched the 2013 World Baseball Classic, is there any chance that Kenta Maeda a right-hander will be posted?

Maeda, 25, has been the second best pitcher in Japan these last two years behind Tanaka. It’s a big gap though — Ben Badler (no subs. req’d) says scouts view Maeda as a back-end starter while one international scouting director said “he could be a fourth starter at the big league level … he’ll keep you in games.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. It’s unclear if Maeda will be posted this winter but it is more and more unlikely with each week that passes. (The latest a player can be posted under the new system is February 1st.) More than anything, the takeaway from Maeda is that there won’t be another Tanaka or Yu Darvish for at least a few years.

Categories : Mailbag
Comments (50)

Another six questions this week, so I tried to keep the answers relatively short. If you want to send us anything throughout the week, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

(Trenton Thunder)

(Trenton Thunder)

Andrew asks: How long do you think J.R. Murphy has to continue tearing the cover off the ball before he gets a shot? He can’t be worse than Austin Romine or Chris Stewart. Seriously, I think it’s statistically impossible.

Oh, it’s possible. David Adams tore the cover off the ball in Triple-A but has been worse than Jayson Nix. Thomas Neal was worse than Vernon Wells after his big Triple-A performance. The “he can’t be worse” idea is a terrible reason to make a move. They can almost always be worse.

With that said, I don’t think the Yankees should replace Murphy with Romine, not right now. The kid just got to Triple-A and is having his first real standout season since turning pro, and I wouldn’t risk screwing that up for the sake of upgrading the backup catcher spot. Not when Ramon Hernandez and Kelly Shoppach are freely available. Joe Girardi‘s not going to not play Chris Stewart, so I don’t see the point of calling him up to play twice a week. Let Murphy work on his catching and continue to rake in Triple-A. Rushing a prospect to plug a big league hole would only compound the problem.

Mitchell asks: MLBTR says Aramis Ramirez and maybe Jonathan Lucroy are available. Does one or both make sense for the Yanks? And what would it take, do you think, to get him/them?

Matt wrote about Ramirez the other day, so all I’m going to add to that is that I don’t like the idea of adding another aging veteran on the wrote side of 35 who is under contract through 2014. The Yankees have met their quota already. Ramirez would certainly help the team right now, but he’s battling continued knee problems while his strikeouts are up and his power is down. Classic signs of decline in a slugger, otherwise known as “The Kevin Youkilis.” Not a fan.

Lucroy, on the other hand, would be great for the Yankees. The 27-year-old has hit .274/.321/.443 (108 wRC+) this year and .285/.333/.443 (111 wRC+) since becoming the full-time catcher in 2011, plus he’s signed affordably ($9M through 2016 with a $5.25M club option for 2017). Lucroy isn’t all that good at throwing out attempted base-stealers but he grades out okay in the other defensive aspects of catching. Given his age and contract, I imagine it’ll take quite a haul to get him. At least two very good prospects, probably two plus a third piece.

Paul asks: Joe Girardi has stacked lefties recently. The criticism is that late in games you are likely to have the platoon disadvantage as the opposing manager will deploy a lefty reliever. My question is this: isn’t that a little negated by having the platoon advantage for the first 5-7 innings? What about neutralizing their righty relievers, or, better yet having them use a righty closer against your lefties?

Stacking the lefties isn’t ideal because of those late game matchups, but given the current Yankees roster, I’m perfectly fine with it. They don’t have many good hitters as it is, so the ones they do have need to bunched together if they want to generate any kind of rally. Breaking up Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano with Nix defeats the purpose, really. Those mid-to-late-inning lefty specialists are problematic, but stacking the left-handers is a net positive for New York right now given their personnel.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Ted asks: Can you guys please clarify injuries and insurance? If the Yankees are getting money back from insurance for Mark Teixeira‘s recent DL stint, then shouldn’t they also have boatloads of money if they have insurance policies on Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter (not to mention all the other injuries)? Thanks!

From what I understand, team don’t purchase insurance for everyone, nor do they fully insure the contract either. A lot of times teams will only get coverage for what is morbidly referred to as “total loss or death” because the premium are so damn high. For pitchers with huge contracts with CC Sabathia and Zack Greinke, the premiums could wind up costing more than the actual contract. In that case, they just pass. The Yankees are apparently getting 80% of Teixeira’s salary back for this injury, but I have no idea what the case is for the other injured guys. I assume there’s some protection in place, but who knows how much.

Brad asks: Next season, as everyone moves up a rung in the bullpen, do you think Dellin Betances gets a shot in the show?

It depends entirely on how well he pitches the rest of the season. If he continues this strong run, then yeah I think they would find room for him in the bullpen next year. Not as a setup man or anything like that, just as the last arm for blowout games or whatever. At least at first, he could always pitch his way into more responsibility.

If Betances starts pitching like he did as a starter, he’d be a candidate to get taken off the 40-man roster over the winter. There would be no value there. Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Mariano Rivera will all hit free agency after the season, so there figures to be some bullpen competition in Spring Training even if the Yankees sign a free agent reliever or two.

Steve asks: Any reason the Yanks wouldn’t go after Eric Thames?

Not really. I mean, he isn’t all that good. He’s a career .250/.296/.431 (97 wRC+) hitter in 684 career big league plate appearances with awful, awful defense, yet he continues to put up very good numbers at Triple-A (124 wRC+ before being designated for assignment last week). Thames hasn’t been resigned to Quad-A status yet, but he’s getting there.

That said, he’s 26 and a left-handed hitting outfielder with minor league options remaining. The Yankees also drafted Thames in the 39th round of the 2007 draft back in the day, so they liked him once upon a time. They have an open 40-man roster spot — Youkilis is prime 60-day DL bait as well — and an open outfield spot in Triple-A (for the time being), so it’s close to a no risk move. I don’t think it would be some great travesty if they passed, however.

Categories : Mailbag
Comments (37)
Quentin. (Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Quentin. (Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Last week, I scoured through some of the RAB comments (bold!, I know), and wrote a post on a few potential trade candidates. Since then, we’ve received several trade suggestions. So, what was initially expected to be a two-part series has now become a four-part series. With that said, let’s dive into part deux.

Carlos Quentin
A former Diamondbacks first round draft pick (2003), Carlos Quentin, has done fairly well this season, batting .262/.364/.482 (.367 wOBA, 143 wRC+) over 195 plate appearance heading into last night’s game. He’s spent time throughout his career at both outfield corners, and would represent a noticeable upgrade over the cumulatively less-than-stellar production of Ichiro Suzuki, Vernon Wells, Thomas Neal, Brennan Boesch, and former Yankee, Ben Francisco.

Eventually, Curtis Granderson will return, though who knows how he’ll do after having sustained injuries to both the wrist/forearm and the hand. Zoilo Almonte has been a feel good story thus far, though I think it’s unrealistic to expect him to be a productive full-time starting big leaguer right away. Much to Carlos’ credit, he takes a fair amount of walks (9.2 BB%) and doesn’t give up a ton of strike outs (15.5 K%).  He also fits the Yankees hit-for-power mantra (.237 ISO). On the surface, Quentin (who’ll be turning 31 years old in August), makes for a sensible choice in trade targets. As an added bonus, the Yankees would never have to wonder who’d be willing to fight Zack Greinke should he get mouthy on the mound again, so there’s that.

Just as with all players, there are some concerns though. For starters, Quentin’s never been particularly consistent. He had a really solid season in 2008 (4.7 fWAR) in which he ended fifth on the MVP balloting. Other than that though, he’s been very mediocre through limited play (just twice in his career has he amassed over 500 plate appearances). Why the limited exposure, you may ask?  Well, the answer is simple — injuries, injuries, and more injuries. Here’s the run down:

  1. 2003 — Tommy John Surgery
  2. 2007 — Partial tear of left labrum
  3. 2008 — Injured wrist after slamming bat in frustration (later reported that he had a fractured wrist and would undergo season-ending surgery).
  4. 2009 — Plantar fasciitis
  5. 2011 — Sprained left shoulder on a diving catch (would make only two more plate appearances the rest of the season)
  6. 2012 — Opened the season on the DL after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus (his knee bothered him again later in September which resulted in another season-ending surgery)
  7. 2013 — Sore left shoulder, sore right knee, sore right wrist (all have kept him day-to-day this season)

Quentin is also currently signed to a three-year, $27M contract (with a mutual option for 2016) with the Padres, though he has expressed a willingness to waive his no-trade clause for an AL club if he could take on a designated hitter role. These last two points are what make this scenario challenging. The team would be taking on a defensively limited guy for a couple seasons who’s not only injury prone, but also earns an average of $9 million a year. Moreover, we’re talking about a guy who is realistically only capable of playing in the lineup as a DH on any sort of regular basis (if at all). To make matters worse, over the past few seasons, Quentin has also shown an increased tendancy of not hitting lefties.

Quentin wouldn’t necessarily resolve the outfield concerns, nor would he help with the inevitable log jam at DH. It’s also difficult to say what this would cost the Yankees in terms of prospects. Perhaps San Diego requests a couple mid-level prospects and some salary relief. Or maybe they ask for more given the lack of options available by the trade deadline. Basically, I think this is one of those ideas that’s kind of nice in theory, but isn’t the most practical in reality.

Mike Morse
My gut reaction to Morse was “Here’s another guy that I have absolutely no interest in.” He’s been generally regarded as sub-par defensively and on the bases. While he does showcase some power (career .197 ISO), he doesn’t take walks at all (career 6.1 BB%) and strikes out often (career 22.2 K%).

So with proper bias in place, I visited FanGraphs. To Morse’s credit, he’s actually produced relatively well the past few seasons, basically since getting the opportunity to play full-time (148 wRC+ in 2011, 113 wRC+ in 2012, and 115 wRC+ so far in 2013), though he too has been limited in exposure throughout his career overall (only one season with 500+ at bats). Oddly, this season Morse has had some difficulty with righties despite being a .284 career hitter against them (through 138 plate appearances in 2013, he’s batting .225). I don’t think that that would be a deal-breaker by any means, but it would be something to keep an eye out on.

The Mariners owed Morse $7 million this season so the Yankees would only be on the hook for about $3.5M or so at most, depending on when the deal is done — granted that’s not really cheap for a rental. He’s also a free agent next season, so I don’t think the Yankees would be necessarily forced to give up a whole lot despite Morse’s solid start to the season, especially if the Mariners are expecting any salary relief. Again, maybe a middling prospect and some cash gets it done. As an added bonus, Morse can also play first base, which would alleviate some of the burden currently being caused by a cooling Lyle Overbay and an injured Mark Teixeira. In other words, I actually give this proposal a relunctant thumbs up. I think it may make sense now given the overall lack of power production, and wouldn’t hinder the team too much down the road.

Hart. (Mark Hirsch/Getty)

Hart. (Mark Hirsch/Getty)

Corey Hart
 A guy like Hart sure is tempting, huh?  We’re talking about a guy who’s been pretty good offensively the past few seasons (career .276/.334/.491, .354 wOBA, 117 wRC+), has hit over 25 home runs in each of the past three seasons, and who is only 31 years old. Hart’s concluding his three-year commitment with the Brewers (owed $10.3M this year) and is expected to be a free agent after the season. Better yet, we’re talking about a guy who plays Right Field and First Base — a guy kind of like Nick Swisher.  The Brewers are currently sitting in last place in the N.L. Central at 31-43, so they may even be sellers by the deadline (or perhaps before).

So what’s the catch?  Well for starters he’s been sidelined all season recovering from knee surgery. He was supposed to be back in May initially. Then he was expected to return in June. Now he’s not going to be back until after the All-Star break at the earliest. Knee injuries are a pain (literally) and they take time to recover from. It’ll be interesting to see how he does when he returns. He may go back to being his old self, or he may struggle at the plate if he’s unable to deal with the impact of pivoting through the swing. Hart is the kind of guy who wouldn’t necessarily come cheap either.  Aside from some salary relief, I’d imagine the Brewers would be looking for an above-average prospect despite the injury.

That said, Hart would be the type of player who I would hope the team seroiusly considers in the offseason if he has a strong second half of this season. Who knows, maybe another short-term deal is plausible if enough teams question his durability heading forward.

Alex Rios
Mike discussed Rios briefly in last Friday’s mailbag. He hit on my two biggest gripes against Rios, age 32. He’s been very inconsistent throughout his career and would cost quite a bit (he’s owed $13M this season and next, so the Yanks would presumably be on the hook for up to as much as $20M). Frankly, it was viewed as an act of brilliance when the Blue Jays managed to dump both Rios’ and Wells’ contracts onto other teams; I’m not sure I want to be cheering on the team that intentionally acquires both after having already committed two years too many to Ichiro. That’s a lot of cash for a potentially disasterous outfield.

To be fair, Rios was pretty solid last season, and has been pretty good this season so far (.280/.340/.465, .348 wOBA, 116 wRC+ with 11 home runs), and would certainly mark an upgrade over what the team’s been marching out into right field. On the plus side, Rios has been relatively healthy throughout his career, has some speed on the bases, and can handle pitchers of either handedness (which is a nice change of pace given all the platoon players the team currently employs). One interesting tidbit is that almost all of Rios’ home runs are hit to left field (he’s a dead pull hitter). When I checked out his home run trajectories and then overlaid Yankee stadium, they all would have been Home Runs. The point is, maybe Death Valley in left-center wouldn’t be that much of a hindrance to Rios despite less-than-ideal dimensions for his swing.

I guess what it comes down to is whether you think Rios will continue his production for another season and a half. He seems to have figured it out these last couple seasons with the White Sox. Given that it’s not my money (or my ass on the line), I’d be tempted to take this gamble assuming the cost of acquiring Rios is reasonable beyond the dollars and cents. The White Sox also currently stink (31-43), so they very well could be realistic sellers by the trade deadline.

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

Aramis. (Mike McGinnis/Getty)

Aramis Ramirez
The first thing I’ll say about Aramis is that I didn’t realize he was already 35 years old. I forget that he’s been in the league since 1998 having spent time with the Pirates, Cubs and Brewers. The second thing I’ll say about Aramis is that he’s a Third Baseman, which by default, makes him appealing to me given the nonsense the Yankees are currently fielding at the position.

As it turns out, Ramirez has actually been pretty good too. After posting a strong season last year (5.8 fWAR), he’s continued to swing the bat well this season (.267/.347/.413, .336 wOBA, 113 wRC+). He provides some power (.151 ISO) and patience (10.2 BB%). He doesn’t strike out a ton either (18.1%), and has been pretty effective throughout his career when it comes to hitting for average (.285 BA) which is fueled by a career .292 BABIP. And as mentioned above, the Brewers will be a team likely to sell.

So, time to bring him on board, right? Well, not so fast. There are some hurdles. First, Alex Rodriguez could potentially return to the roster not too long after the All-Star break. This creates a bit of a lineup logjam. I assume they would try to to keep both Ramirez’s and Rodriguez’s bat in the lineup which means one will have to play DH — a spot already occupied by Travis Hafner, and eventually shared with Derek Jeter and probably Teixeira (should he not go the season-ending surgery route).

Secondly, Ramirez wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon if the Yankees did acquire him. He’s owed $10M this season and $16M next season, with a $14M dollar mutual option ($4 million buyout) in 2015. So what else is new with the expensive 35-year-old you might ask? Well, he’s also recovering from a knee injury. I’m not sure he’s the type of guy you want to break the bank on when it comes to rejuvenating an already severely injured lineup. I assume the Brewers will look for at least a couple decent prospects in addition to salary relief. Right idea, wrong timing here maybe. Then again, that seems to be the case for a lot of trade candidates, really.

Categories : Trade Deadline
Comments (88)

Got six questions for you this week, covering a wide range of topics. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions throughout the week, that’s the easiest way to do it.

(Photo Credit: ChiCitySports.com)

Chris asks: What kind of contract will Aramis Ramirez get? Is it too soon into the A-Rod deal to bring in someone like Ramirez to play 50 games at 3rd? As Alex declines in his ability to play every day when do the Yankees look to put more than a bench player at 3rd?

I don’t know what kind of deal Ramirez will get, but he’s not going to sign with the Yankees to be a part-time player. Even if you sell him on the idea of being a part-time third baseman and a part-time DH, then you’re blocking Jesus Montero with another guy past him prime. I thought Alex Rodriguez looked fine defensively late in the season and during the playoffs, plus he can still hit (fifth among third baseman in wOBA over the last two years), just not at the absurd level he once did. The problem is staying on the field. Going year-to-year with Eric Chavez types is perfectly fine right now, spending big bucks and locking yourself into more bad contracts is counterproductive.

John asks: Hey guys, I just wondered what you guys thought about signing Michael Cuddyer to a contract as the ultimate utility man? He could be the 4th outfielder, cover A-Rod at third, cover first (if the Yankees trade Nick Swisher) and also get a few at bats at DH. By covering all of those he could get 350-400 at-bats guaranteed. Also if someone went down injured he could get more. What would it take to sign him?

Again, it’s the same thing as Aramis. Cuddyer’s not going to settle for 350-400 at-bats with the Yankees when half the league is willing to play him everyday. Versatility is nice, but he’s nothing special with the glove (at any position) and nothing special against right-handed pitchers (.313 wOBA last two years). You’re again taking playing time from Montero, and again handing out a big contract to a player in his decline phase. Cuddyer’s the kind of guy that will get a three or four year deal, and a year from now the team that signs him will be asking themselves “what have gotten ourselves into?”

The idea of a super-sub has gotten out-of-hand in the last few years, going back to the obsession with Chone Figgins and Mark DeRosa. There’s someone like this every winter. Just sign bench players to be bench players rather than sign an everyday player and pigeon-hole him into a reduced role. That’s better than locking yourself into someone that doesn’t really want to do the job.

John asks: Are you concerned by the new CC Sabathia contract? I am no expert on contracts but I found his contract very interesting in that the option vests once he avoid shoulder injuries over the years – Is this normal for an option? Has he had shoulder issues in the past? Or why would they put that in there? If they were putting conditions in there I would have figured issues with his weight or knee (past issue and weight) over his shoulder?

I’m not at all worried about it, frankly I think that contract was the best case scenario. They only had to add one more guaranteed year, and sixth year option does include some protection against major shoulder injury. Sabathia’s arm has been perfectly healthy throughout his career, with his only two DL stints resulting from oblique strains.

The Yankees probably just put that in there to protect themselves a bit. The guy’s thrown a ton of innings already and figures to throw a ton more during the life of the extension, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to worry about his health five years from now. Elbows are generally fixable, but shoulders can’t be much more problematic. I’m guessing the Yankees didn’t put any kind of weight clause in there because they feel comfortable about his work ethic and all that, plus his weight is theoretically controllable. The health of his shoulder is pretty much out of everyone’s hands. If it’s going to go, there’s not much they can do about it. I think both sides did very well with the contract, CC got his extra money and the Yankees kept their ace at a reasonable cost.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Sam asks: Would it make sense to trade for Dom Brown and then have him try and re-discover his mojo in AAA? That way, when Swisher’s contract is up next year he could hopefully slot right in.

Oh definitely, I’m a big Domonic Brown fan, I just don’t think the Phillies will trade him. They need to add some cheap pieces around that expensive core, and Brown figures to step right in for the departed Raul Ibanez. He does have big left-handed pop though, and when those bonus Brown-for-Dellin Betances rumors popped up on Twitter before the trade deadline, I prematurely started drooling about Brown and Montero hitting three-four for the next decade.

Matt asks*: Why not play hardball with Yu Darvish? Why not use their best asset (money) while using the posting system to their advantage, i.e. bid $40-50 million for his rights then offer a 5-year $30 million dollar deal. The Yankees could just make it a take it or leave it offer, and if he rejects he heads back to Japan and the Yankees get their posting fee back. They could then do the same thing next year. 

* I had to do some major chopping to get this question down to a reasonable length, but this gets the point across.

As far as I know, there’s nothing actually stopping the Yankees (or any team, really) from doing this, though MLB and NPB can award the player’s negotiating rights to the second highest bidder if they feel the winning team did not act in good faith. This isn’t a video game however, there are reputations and business relationships at stake here. Darvish is represented by Arn Tellem, one of baseball’s most powerful agents. He represents guys like former Yankees Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi (so we know the two sides have a good working relationship already), as well as plenty of other clients, including some of the best players in the game. If the Yankees stonewall Tellem with Darvish, it doesn’t exactly set a good tone for their relationship going forward. I think their overall reputation within the game would take a hit as well.

Remember, negotiations aren’t a “Team vs. Player” situation. It should be two sides working together to make a deal happen, and there’s give and take on both sides. Play hardball with Darvish and coax him into signing an unfair deal, then you’re stuck with an unhappy player.

Dan asks: With the possibility that the Yankees bring back Freddy Garcia and the number of potential back of the rotation pitchers they have in AAA, how likely is it that the Yankees pass on making any major moves this offseason? They could plan to go into this season with a rotation of CC, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, and Garcia and try to get a pitcher like Cole Hamels next offseason to replace Garcia and then maybe Josh Johnson the following year when A.J. comes off the books?

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees didn’t do anything more to shore up the rotation beyond bringing Sweaty Freddy back. That would be a mistake in my opinion, because you can’t count on Garcia repeating what he did last year, nor can you count on Phil Hughes rebounding or A.J. Burnett not sucking. Nova’s not a given to do anything either. I like the depth in Triple-A, but I’d rather not see those guys on April 10th or something. This pitching staff wasn’t a problem in 2011, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be in 2012.

Next winter’s crop of free agent pitching is crazy deep, and it’ll continue to be even if a few of those guys sign extensions between now and then. Can’t get Hamels? Then there’s John Danks. Can’t get Matt Cain? There’s Zack Greinke. Or Shaun Marcum. Or Francisco Liriano. The list goes on and on. The Yankees do want to win in 2011 obviously, but Brian Cashman showed tremendous restraint last offseason after losing out on Cliff Lee. I suspect he’ll do the same if nothing to his liking comes along this winter.

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