Author Archives: Ricky Keeler
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to another Yankees Mailbag. Thank you to those who sent in questions – we appreciate it. If you have a question you’d like to ask, either email Mike at email@example.com or contact us on Twitter (@yankeefansunite). Let’s get started…
I’m hearing a lot of talk about the Yankees and Gio Gonzalez. Anything is possible, so you think it’s a good fit?
– Natalia, I think Gio Gonzalez would be a good fit for the Yankees. He is the prototypical number two starter that Yankee fans desperately want after the ALDS loss to the Tigers. Gio does not get much run support for the Oakland A’s and yet still wins 16 games with a 3.12 ERA. His breaking ball is one of the best in the American League and would give the Yankees two lefties at the top of their rotation. Their GM, Billy Beane, reportedly likes the Yankees’ prospects, but I don’t see Brian Cashman pulling the trigger on this deal. I think he wants to see Banuelos or Betances grow into the system. Don’t expect the Yankees to make a trade for Gio, but Matt Garza is a possibility.
John Danks name is coming up in trade talks a lot lately, he seems like the ideal #2 starter and a solid lefty. What would it take to land him in a trade? Would Romine, Warren, Mitchell, Heathcott do it? I appreciate the feedback.
– Will. I disagree with you on John Danks. The guy has never won more than fifteen games in a season and he had a stretch in the first two months of 2011 where he did not even win a game. He would be nothing more than a back end starter in the Yankee rotation. I think the White Sox would trade him on the cheap just because they have shown no signs that they will give him a long term deal since he is a free agent at the end of 2012. I would not give up Romine or Warren for him, but I would give up a Slade Heathcott for him. I look for NY again to look at Matt Garza, Jair Jurrjens, and Gio before they explore a John Danks trade.
On Monday, the Yankees and C.C Sabathia pleased the fan base by agreeing to extend his contract before Sabathia was going to opt out. Brian Cashman has kept most of the team together from 2010.
But, Yankee fans can dream can they? That dream has a man wearing number 5 and wearing two championship rings from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, I am talking about first baseman Albert Pujols. Pujols even had a game in the World Series that was reminiscent of another former Yankee, Reggie Jackson, in Game 3 against the Rangers.
Most people think Pujols will stay in St. Louis, but with the latest news of the retirement of manager Tony La Russa, will Albert stick around if he does not like the new manager?
Let’s take a look at my player evaluation of Pujols:
- No Breaking Down: Pujols shows no signs of breaking down anytime soon. In his 11 seasons in the league, Albert has had at least 30 home runs and 99 RBI’s every single season. This shows Yankee fans that at least this guy will not pull an Alex Rodriguez and eventually have hip issues. He also hits .300 every single season, except for last year when he hit .299. This guy is the true definition of a machine.
- Postseason Success: When you are the Yankees, you look at what is going to help you win the World Series. It is not about the regular season numbers. Albert takes his regular season success and brings it into the cold October and November months. In 15 series, Pujols is hitting .330 with 18 HR’s and 52 RBI’s. Even though he struggled in the other six games of the World Series, we know Albert is capable of having that one game that can change a series.
- 1. He is going to want a lot of dinero!: We know this from watching any sport. When a player experiences the thrill of free agency for the first time, they are going to want to soak it in and embrace it for as long as they can (i.e Cliff Lee). If I am Pujols, I ask for the highest paid contract in baseball history. It depends upon whether or not he is going to give the Cardinals a discount. Right now, Albert is looking at obtaining at least $200 million. I think he deserves A-Rod money at minimum because of two World Series rings and he shows no signs of wearing down anytime soon.
- 2. Who’s On First? Albert Pujols is a great first baseman and it is not just because of his bat. His glove is what makes his impact to a team so great as well. He does not make many errors at the position (2nd in the NL with 11) and his putouts at first base are in the top five in all of baseball. The only problem is there are not many teams like the Yankees who need a first baseman at this point when they have a great defensive player in Mark Teixeira who can hit 35+ HR and drive in 100+ RBI’s.
Does He Fit in For the Yanks: Pujols fits in for the Yankees in terms of an offensive perspective. Yankee fans were so angry that the team could not get a clutch hit in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. Well, Pujols is more than likely going to get that hit. Plus, teams would oitch around him giving players like A-Rod and Teixeira more pitches to hit in the bottom of that lineup. The problem is Albert has nowhere to play in the field unless he wants to go back to playing the outfield, but the re-signing of Swisher probably does not help that cause.
Prediction: Before I get to my prediction, here is what Tim Dierkes, the head writer of MLB Trade Rumors put for his top 50 Free Agent Predictions:
Albert Pujols – Cardinals. The Cubs, Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners, Rangers, Marlins, Nationals, and Dodgers are other potential suitors, but a significant premium would be required to lure away the longtime Cardinal. $225-230MM over nine years seems a fair compromise for the Cardinals and their superstar first baseman.
I do think the Cubs can be a real serious player on Pujols. This is the perfect move for Theo Epstein to spurn a hated rival in his first month or so on the job. However, I see Prince Fielder as more of a viable option for them than Albert. Do I think Pujols deserves the salary of the highest paid player? Yes, I do! Do I think he gets it? No, I think he gets around $240 million and stays with the St. Louis Cardinals for the rest of his career. That does not mean though Yankee fans can’t dream about seeing Pujols in pinstripes!
LF Brett Gardner
CF Curtis Granderson
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Robinson Cano
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada
C Russell Martin
3B Eric Chavez
SS Eduardo Nunez
SS J.J Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
DH Vladimir Guerrero
C Matt Wieters
1B Mark Reynolds
2B Ryan Adams
LF Nolan Reimold
3B Robert Andino
Starting Pitchers: Freddy Garcia (10-7, 3.16) vs. Alfredo Simon (4-6, 4.30)
With the Red Sox off again tonight, the Yankees have a shot with a win to head to Fenway Park just 1.5 games behind the division lead.
Also, I am taking questions for my Yankees-Red Sox podcast tonight. If you have thoughts on the series or a question, put a comment on this thread and I will get to it as I always do.
Damaso Marte suffered a setback in his rehab from shoulder surgery.
Marte was knocked around for six runs over two-thirds of an inning in his first minor league rehab appearance with the GCL Yankees last Thursday. The southpaw was already a longshot to help the Yankees this season, but this pretty much seals it.
Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) suffered a setback in his rehab and is unlikely to return this season.
Feliciano tossed a scoreless inning in his first rehab appearance with the GCL Yankees last Thursday, but he’s apparently still having issues with his shoulder. It wouldn’t be surprising if he finally undergoes surgery.
There has been one question that has been going around for the past months amongst Yankee fans and MLB fans alike. Who will be the Game 2 starter when the ALDS begins? Will it be the young kids like Ivan Nova or Phil Hughes or will the veterans in Colon and Garcia fill out the rotation? The good news for the Yankees is that they have the best bullpen in baseball, so they only need their starter to go six innings to shorten the game. Today, I am here to give you my plan on how I would set up the rotation for the postseason.
Game 1: CC Sabathia – even with CC’s recent struggles, how can you not put this guy at the top of your playoff rotation? Yes, he is 0-4 against the Boston Red Sox, but you have to trust that this guy can win a game when it matters the most. He is only 2-2 in the month of August, but the thing you have to love with this ace is that when he does not have his best stuff, he always battles his way through the game, gives the Bombers innings, and always keeps the offense in the game. Plus, you have to expect his recent struggles are because of the new six-man rotation and the after effects of that rain delay filled game against Seattle. You can pen Sabathia into that first game.
Game 2: Ivan Nova – You can go either way with this decision. It is tough to trust a playoff rookie with an important Game two start. I went with Nova because you have to ride the hot hand. He is 8-0 in his last nine starts and it seems the only team he can’t seem to dominate lately is the Kansas City Royals. If we are going by the hot hand, you have to love the fact that in the second half of the season, he has only given up three home runs and walked a total of four batters in five games. He has become more confident with his offspeed stuff. If New York doesn’t win the division, his road ERA (3.71) is a whole run lower than his home ERA (4.62). I will give one of the frontrunners for AL Rookie of the Year the ball in this spot.
Game 3: Freddy Garcia – This decision I know will be questioned by a lot of people, but Freddy is a guy who is 6-2 in his career in the postseason. He knows how to get it done compared to Colon’s 2-3 lifetime record. The one thing I worry about is the finger injury. Hopefully, that will be healed by September. However, I go by the numbers and he has only lost two games from June 17th to today! He doesn’t have the fastest velocity like a Colon/Hughes, but he locates very well and that split-fastball has been a weapon all season.
He also is an innings’ eater! Over that stretch of time from June 17th on, he has only had two starts where he has not reached the 6th inning. I like a veteran who can be crafty and give a team length. Plus, he is not as good a long man candidate as the guys I have in the bullpen.
My Long Men: Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes
If I had to have a Game 4 starter, I would give it to Hughes just because I like that his velocity is staying on the uptick for now and he is beginning to gain his confidence back. We talked about on the podcast how Hughes has only given up six earned runs in his last 18 innings while walking just three batters. His ALCS wasn’t impressive last year, but I think you can get a good enough Hughes for five innings if you need it in a Game 4 of an ALDS or ALCS. The bullpen, in my opinion, ruins Hughes’ confidence because of the constant switching of roles of a young pitcher. Remember Joba Chamberlain everybody.
The reason I like Hughes and Colon to be in the bullpen is because they can play a Mike Mussina role from past years. They are two guys who can come in and throw 94-95 mph for 1-2 innings if let’s say Nova and Garcia struggle early in the ball game. Colon’s rough outing in KC is a small blip, but I can still trust him in a big spot. Like I mentioned before, if the other 2-3 pitchers give this team five innings, then it should not be a problem. As for AJ Burnett, he still has a lot to prove if he even wants a shot at being near this rotation in October.
Well, that is my rotation plan! Now, I want to hear yours, Yankee fans. No matter how you slice it, rotation has enough talent to get this team past the Red Sox and into the World Series.
That has been the question all season for the Bronx Bombers. They have a great record against other teams, but a 2-10 record against your archrival doesn’t cut it for the fans. At Fenway Park, the Yankees held their own in two of the three games, but they just quite couldn’t win the finale. Are the Red Sox in the Yankees’ heads? Can they beat this team in a seven game series in the ALCS? I still think this team can do that even though most of the media does not think so.
The Red Sox are portrayed as a super team, but they have flaws as well with their rotation just like the Yankees do. A lot of people expected Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon to struggle mightily in this series. Even though they both only went five innings and each got no decisions, I thought they handled themselves well and more importantly, avoided giving up the crooked inning that would take the Yankees out of the game. Those two guys have taken the two and three spots in the rotation by the horns and they increased their trust level for a short series ALDS matchup.
You might only need Garcia/Colon/Nova to go five innings with the strength the Yankees have in their bullpen. We know about the dominance of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, despite his 9th inning blunder on Sunday. Howver, there were three pitchers that did their job this weekend. Cory Wade continued his stretch of stranding 89% of inherited runners, Boone Logan got a great lefty to strikeout in Adrian Gonzalez on Friday.
The most important pitcher who did well in this series was Rafael Soriano. The $39 million man is now the 7th inning guy, but he has finally figured out to accomplish a 1-2-3 inning. He is starting to look like the man who saved 45 games for the Rays last season. If he can stay this dominant, the Yankees can turn every playoff game into a six inning game.
The offense did struggle to hit with men in scoring position, but they should be able to figure that out. Plus, the offenses for the Yankees and Sox are similar. I am not concerned about CC Sabathia because even though he is 0-4 against Boston, I trust him to go into Fenway or the Bronx and win a playoff game.
These teams have six games left and all six will be huge in impacting who gets home field throughout the American League playoffs. Boston is not in their heads because look at it this way, the Red Sox hae dominated the Yankees and the Bombers are still just a game and a half back! This team still has a GREAT chance of winning the AL East and beating their archrivals for the pennant once again.
Here is this week’s mailbag. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here we go:
Can the prospects provide real help this season? Can Montero’s offense really contribute to the lineup as the DH? If he does DH for them, what what happens with Jorge?
Darrin, I think the prospects can provide some help this year. Jorge Posada is now on waivers and even though its tough to see him on there, he did go back to his struggles from April and May during the month of July. Montero could bring some instant power to the DH position that Posada just can’t do. Manny Banuelos is rising up to AAA and his swing and miss ability will be a reason why New York uses him as the second lefty in their pen with Boone Logan in September. Adam Warren is another guy the Yankees like in their organization and he could get a start or two towards the end of the season if the Bombers have everything clinched.
This one was from @marka42. His question was:
“With 3 highly regarded catching prospects in the system and Montero the poorest defensively, why not try another position for Montero?”
Marka, the reason Montero would have to be at catcher is because most of the other positions Montero does not fit and the Yankees have sufficient backups at those positions. The only other place where Montero could play is at DH. Montero’s catching skills are not the best, but he is the most Major League ready because of his bat. They could use him as the backup to Martin down the stretch, get him some at-bats, and give him some vital experience should the Yankees want to use him on the postseason roster.
This one was from @GeneMoney13. His question was:
“Could we get another pitcher for a small price?”
Gene, in terms of a starter, I think the Yankees will stand pat at the waiver wire deadline. They have six quality starters as Joe Girardi is showing Yankee fans by going with a six man rotation at this point and time. I could see them adding another lefty, but right now, all signs point to maybe Manny Banuelos being the second lefty that is called up into the bullpen in the coming weeks. I would like to see the Yankees obtain Randy Choate from the Marlins if he is put on wiaivers, but Florida is looking to get as many wins as they can go into their new stadium next year. Look for the Yankees to go with basically the same pitchers for the rest of the season.
This question was from @gardnerbrett11. His question was:
“Will Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova’s next starts be observed as to who gets the rotation spot?
GardnerBrett11, it appears that the organization is observing their next starts. If they are, they have to be very impressed from what they got out of Phil Hughes last night. He took a gigantic step in re-establishing his spot in the 2011 rotation and his importance to the team in October. Putting Hughes in the bullpen would be a Joba-esque move that could really mess with his development. If Nova continues to succeed, the Yankees will find a place for him, even if it is as a long man. However, that will cause Hector Noesi to probably go back to down to Scranton.
The next question was from @YankeesGalaxy. His question was a 2 part question:
“Do you think the Yankees standing pat will pay off? Can you trust Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon in October despite their success?”
YankeesGalaxy, I think the Bombers standing pat will pay off. They got a great start from Phil Hughes last night and getting Hughes back to form is just as good as making a trade for a top line pitcher. Brian Cashman made the right decision by not pursuing Wandy Rodriguez and the $39 million he has left on his contract. I am starting to trust Garcia and Colon a lot more. Garcia, I trust a lot because he continues to put up quality starts despite the lack of velocity on his fastball. He has been in postseason baseball before with the Seattle Mariners and a pitcher can dwell on that experience in October. Colon has shown great resiliency especially when everyone thought he lost it after that debacle against the Blue Jays. If these two have to pitch a closeout game in October, I would have trust in those two over say A.J Burnett.
The next question was from @PrimoBledBlue. His question was:
“If Phil Hughes begins to struggle, will he be sent down and reduce it to a normalized Yankees 5-man rotation?”
Primo, even if Phil Hughes struggles again, he is not going back down to Scranton. The more likely scenario would be that Hughes go back to the bullpen and Ivan Nova would take his spot in the rotation. We will see next week if Hughes can continue his positive progression to let Girardi go back to a five man rotation.
And the final question is from @nyerkid625. His question was:
“How do you think Ubaldo Jimenez will do for the Cleveland Indians?”
Nyerkid, even though the Indians paid a lot to get Ubaldo, I think they will get a good return this season. Jimenez has pitched better the last two months and is starting to re-gain the control on his fastball that he had in the first half of 2010. The one reason I did not want the Yankees to obtain him was that he had a lack of control. Take a look at his game logs for this season and you will find a lot of games where he walks three batters or more. Kind of reminds you of A.J Burnett, doesn’t it? He will keep the Indians in the pennant race, but it will be tough to take down the Tigers and Justin Verlander with just one guy. They will need pitchers like Justin Masterson and Carlos Carrasco to give him some supporting help.
Over the past month, I have noticed a lot of concern from Yankee Nation on Twitter and Facebook about the team’s starting pitching. Yes, the Yankees have CC Sabathia, who they can trust in a big spot. However, the other four starters are still a question mark. With the recent rumors of Ubaldo Jimenez and even rumblings of Felix Hernandez rolling around, starting pitching is something I wanted to address this week in the trade deadline series.
Keep this in mind: Next Friday night, I will be recording a special trade deadline podcast over at YanksGoYard.com where I will break down what the Yankees need in more detail and give my take on who they will obtain next Sunday by 4:00 EST. I want to hear from you guys as always. Questions and Comments as always will be taken for the show and put on air.
Well, let’s get to it. Here are five pitchers I think the Yankees will look at to help the rotation, but they are in no particular order.
- Wandy Rodriguez (Houston Astros) – The Yankees would love to have another lefty in their rotation for the playoffs, even if it is from the lowly Houston Astros. Rodriguez is not the sexiest choice, but he is a very efficient pitcher. He is 6-6 with a 3.67 ERA in seventeen starts. Now, his record is not pretty in any of his seasons in the Lone Star state. The positive on Rodriguez is that he has a 1.37 WHIP, which is pretty good and he has only given up 44 ER in 17 starts. The negative is that he is under contract till after the 2013 season, where he will make $13 million. The Yankees are a team that will spend money, but not that much on a number three starter at best.
- Anibal Sanchez (Florida Marlins) – I have been sticking up for Anibal for the past two weeks on Twitter. We all know this guy has no-hitter stuff since he has thrown one and nearly threw another one back in April. He is 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA and has great stuff. It shows with his two complete games. The only problem is Florida might want to keep him and put him in the rotation of the future in their new ballpark. The only starter they are really putting on the block is Ricky Nolasco. His strikeouts are up (9.3 K/9), but his asking price might be way up despite being a free agent. I would love him as a Yankee, but I do not see that happening.
- Chad Billingsley (Los Angeles Dodgers) – You know that a lot of teams will be looking at players from the Dodgers because of their financial situation. One of their pitchers in Hiroki Kuroda has already publicly he said he would not play on the East Coast. Former Yankee Ted Lilly just got a new deal with LA last year, so why not take a look at Chad Billingsley. The former Dodgers’ ace is 8-8 with a 4.07 ERA in 2011. Can the City of Angels afford to pay him over 10 million dollars in the next few years? Probably not. The guy does have postseason experience, but he is only 1-2 in four starts and went 0-2 in the NLCS back in 2008. Kuroda is a more reasonable option, but with his lack of desire to change time zones, I look for the Yankees to pursue Billingsley or Lilly as they always do.
- Ryan Dempster (Chicago Cubs) – This name came across me when I was listening to Mike Francesa’s conversation with SI.Com’s Jon Heyman on Tuesday. He has pitched much better in the past two months. He went 3-1 back in May with a 2.55 ERA and impressed the Yankees back in June during the series at Wrigley Field. His contract expires at the end of the year, but has a player option of $14 million. New York has Colon and Garcia who have pitched more effectively than the 7-7 Dempster, but Chicago might give them the right hander for practically nothing since they are trying to dump payroll.
- Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado Rockies) – Yes, I saved the best for last. Jimenez has not been the same Ubaldo that went 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA before the All-Star break last year. I find it rather strange that GM Dan O’Dowd wants to trade him even though his contract is very manageable over the next couple of years. Ever since he defeated the Yankees back in June, he has seem to regain some of that arm strength on his fastball. The only problem is he doesn’t control his pitches well and pitching coach Bob Apodaca has tried very hard to fix those issues. The price is reportedly very high on his services and it’s not surprising since he is 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in the month of July. Unless the price goes down, I don’t think the Yankees will trade for him.
2009 – No Roy Halladay
2010 – No Cliff Lee
2011 – Why would it be yes Ubaldo?
With Alex Rodriguez out for at least the next month with the torn meniscus in his right knee, the Yankees now have to think about possibly adding another infielder at the trade deadline. Eduardo Nunez is a capable third baseman with his bat, but his fielding is just atrocious. Even though most Yankee fans think this team needs to add a top of the line starter in a blockbuster trade, I think they could use a veteran third baseman to platoon with Nunez since the team will most likely not see Eric Chavez for most of the season.
Here are a few options I could see the Yankees looking at:
- Casey Blake (Los Angeles Dodgers) – This is not an attractive option as of right now with Blake on the disabled list with a bad back. However, Blake is scheduled to return to the Dodgers by the end of July. He is hitting just .243 with four home runs and eighteen RBI’s, but I value his experience. Over the last few seasons, Blake has been to three championship series’ (Cleveland in 2007, LA in 2008 and 2009). This guy is a veteran who knows how to win, which is similar to an Eric Chavez. The Dodgers’ third baseman has a $6 million team option, with a $1.25 million buyout. Look for owner Frank Mccourt to try to get rid of him. If healthy, we may not see Blake in pinstripes on July 31st, but it could be a possibility in late August.
- Jorge Cantu (San Diego Padres) – Two years ago, Jorge Cantu was driving in 100 RBI’s for the Florida Marlins. We know what potential Cantu has who can play a variety of positions in the infield. San Diego is only paying him $850K this season and probably will not ask for much. He was on the Rangers last year, so he has playoff experience. Even though he is only hitting .194 this year, you have to think playing on a contender would maybe raise that average at least a little bit.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. (Washington Nationals) – Could we see the Yankees possibly bring a popular bench player from 2009 back to the Bronx? Hairston was a nice role player during the run to the championship. His most memorable moment came in Game 2 of the ALCS when he scored the winning run to defeat the Angels in 13 innings. His numbers are decent in a limited role for an upstart Nationals’ team (51 hits in 69 games). He is a great clubhouse guy and it would be a good fit to bring him back.
- Chase Headley (San Diego Padres) – I remember a month or two ago that the people at Yankees Fans Unite were having a huge debate on whether or not the Padres’ 3B would be a good fit in New York. Headley is maturing into a solid hitter with a .300 average this season. That is impressive in a pitchers’ park like PETCO Park. He has a .339 average away from home so that is a huge plus. However, GM Jed Hoyer could ask for a ton for his starting third baseman of the future. I don’t expect a deal to get done for a big prospect.
- Aramis Ramirez (Chicago Cubs) – The third baseman on the north side of Chicago has not been in the good graces of Cubs’ fans over the past couple of years. However, his 2011 has not been that bad. This year, he is hitting .297 with 15 HR’s and 51 RBI’s. There is a crazy clause in his contract though. He makes 14 million this year, but he gets an extra million if he gets traded. Also, he has a $16 million team option for next season. I would stay away from that contract especially since the Cubs don’t seem to be trading any of their big players.