Mailbag: Pineda, McCann, V-Mart, Draft Picks

Got six questions for you this week. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us any questions, comments, links, whatever. Someone actually sent us a note the other day saying we should start a premium cheese line called River Ave. Bleus, so yeah. Anything is welcome.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Patrick asks: I know Michael Pineda‘s out until at least June and will have to build arm strength and yadda yadda, but could I be optimistic about him because his surgery was arthroscopic? I’m not expecting much in 2013, but what about the following years?

The fact that Pineda’s shoulder only needed to be scoped rather than the traditional, cut-me-open type of incision is encouraging. It was also an anterior tear only, meaning just the front of his shoulder. The typical kiss of death labrum tear is usually all the way around, front and back. That said, don’t trick yourself into thinking this is not a significant injury. There’s a chance — I don’t know what it is, but it definitely exists — he’ll never again be the guy he was prior to the injury.

Anyway, I expect the Yankees to send Pineda back to Triple-A for a few weeks next season once his 30-day rehab window is up just to delay his free agency. They already lost a full year of control to the injury, so they might as well get that back at this point. I don’t think they’ll worry too much about his arbitration status (Super Two), just the free agency. I’m hoping Pineda can provide about 80-100 league average innings next year, which would make me feel better about his long-term outlook. If he shows the same mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider as he did pre-injury, there’s would be a lot of reasons to be optimistic about 2014 and beyond.

David asks: What is the point of “mutual options?” Seems to me that if the player has a good year he’ll decline his side, if he has a crappy year the team will decline their side. Do any current Yankees have mutual options on their contracts and what is likely to happen to them?

The only time I can remember both sides picking up their half of a mutual option was Jason Giambi and the Rockies last offseason. That’s it. Mutual options serve little purpose as far as retaining a player go, so teams typically use them to push some money onto next year’s payroll (in the form of buyouts). If a club is up against its payroll limit, mutual options create a little extra flexibility. I actually wrote an MLBTR post about these things two years ago because they suddenly started popping up everywhere. The Yankees currently do not have a player under contract with a mutual option, either for next year or any point in the future.

Anonymous asks: Saw on MLBTR that the Braves might decline the option on Brian McCann. I know he had shoulder surgery but do you see any interest from the Yankees? If so, what kind of contract do you see him getting?

Yeah, I think the Yankees would have definite interest in McCann if he hit the open market because he’s a left-handed hitter with power and patience. He was the best hitting catcher in baseball for a few years, at least until Joe Mauer got healthy and started going bonkers. The shoulder surgery is a major red flag however, especially since it might keep him on the shelf for the first few weeks of next season. If the Braves decline what is essentially a one-year, $12M deal for McCann, I’d be very worried about the state of his shoulder. It wouldn’t stop me from looking into signing him, but the review of his medicals would have to be very thorough. It’s the whole “what do they know that I don’t?” thing.

(Brian Kersey/Getty)

Mike asks: If the Yankees don’t re-sign Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones for platoon DH how about trading for Victor Martinez? He’s got 2 years/ $25 million left on his deal, if the Tigers give him away (since with Miggy Cabrera and Prince Fielder they have no fit for him, and he’s coming off injury) and eat a little salary would you be in favor?

Martinez missed the entire season after tearing his ACL in an offseason workout, which somewhat prompted the Tigers to sign Fielder. I think they would have signed him anyway, but that doesn’t matter now. V-Mart has actually hit more homers (nine) at the new Yankee Stadium than any other visiting player, but that shouldn’t be the reason to acquire him.

I think the Tigers would eat some of the money to move him, but the problem is that Martinez is a first baseman and a DH only at this point. He hasn’t been a big league caliber catcher for about three years now, and I can’t imagine the knee injury helped his cause any. As much as I dislike it, the Yankees will continue to rotate their DH to rest their older players, which means acquiring a big money set DH probably isn’t a realistic option. Martinez definitely fits as a switch-hitter with patience, power, and contact skills though. I like the idea — obviously depends on how much money Detroit is willing to eat — but I don’t think the Yankees would go for it

John asks: How good is next year’s draft? If they get picks from Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, and Hiroki Kuroda and don’t surrender any via free agency, would it be a chance to get loads of fresh young high-end talent into the system? Also would they consider trading draft picks for players now like they do in NBA, etc?

I’ll answer the second question first: I love the idea of teams being able to trade draft picks but MLB does not allow it. Well, small market teams can trade their competitive balance picks, but that’s a crazy animal the Yankees won’t be involved in.

As for the actually draft class, it’s too early to know how strong it is. I’ve seen it written in a few places — by Keith Law, Baseball America, etc. — that his year’s draft is weaker than last year’s, but I feel like we hear that every year. Once the college and high school seasons open in the spring and guys start popping up because they’ve added velocity or a new pitch or learned how to hit a curveball, the quality of the draft class will change dramatically. I’ll stick with my default draft answer — there are always good players available regardless of round, it’s just up to the team to find them.

Jamal asks: The Yankees got 20-plus-HR seasons from their catcher, second baseman and center fielder – how rare of a feat is that?

My initial reaction when reading this question was that it probably doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s not some kind of historic feat. Maybe a team does it once every three or four years, something like that. Instead…

Rk Year Tm Lg #Matching
1 2012 New York Yankees AL 3 Robinson Cano / Curtis Granderson / Russell Martin
2 2010 Toronto Blue Jays AL 3 John Buck / Aaron Hill / Vernon Wells
3 2003 Atlanta Braves NL 3 Marcus Giles / Andruw Jones / Javy Lopez
4 1996 Baltimore Orioles AL 3 Roberto Alomar / Brady Anderson / Chris Hoiles
5 1965 Milwaukee Braves NL 3 Mack Jones / Gene Oliver / Joe Torre
6 1939 New York Yankees AL 3 Bill Dickey / Joe DiMaggio / Joe Gordon
7 1938 New York Yankees AL 3 Bill Dickey / Joe DiMaggio / Joe Gordon
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/25/2012.

That’s it. Seven times in history. I only used a 50% playing time requirement as well (meaning the players had to play at least 50% of their games at the positions). Bump it up to 75% and those 1965 Braves disappear. A handful of teams get 20+ homers from two of those three positions each year, but getting them from all three is certainly a rare feat throughout history, even recently.

Joe Girardi spoke the other day about the Yankees getting power from non-traditional power positions like … well … center, second, and catcher, which is why they can carry a non-power guy like Brett Gardner in left. The old saying is that you build a team up the middle and the late-90s Yankees following that model perfectly, with elite players in center, at short, second, and once Jorge Posada took over, behind the plate as well. The Yankees still get a ton of production from their up the middle spots and it’s a big reason why they contend every year.