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Yankees Mailbag: Prospects, Posada, Montero, Pitching, Hughes vs. Nova, Jimenez

Here is this week’s mailbag. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com. Here we go:

Darrin says:

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.


2011 Trade Deadline: Left-Handed Relief

It has been made clear that among the types of players the Yankees are searching for are left-handed relief-pitchers. Although Boone Logan has done a fairly solid job of late, they really could use another good lefty in the bullpen. And Steve Garrison is not the solution. There isn’t a clear date in which Pedro Feliciano or Damaso Marte are expected to return, so the Yankees definitely need to make a move for a lefty specialist. Here are some favorable options:

  1. Craig Breslow, OAK: Breslow has been a model of consistency in 2011, 2010, 2009. He has averaged a 2.98 ERA over those past 3 years. This year so far has been the weakest year of those 3 seasons, as his H/9 has spiked up from 6.4 to 10.8, but he seems to be able to limit the damage quite well, as his ERA is still only 3.34 despite that H/9.  He hasn’t had a real platoon split throughout his career, with lefties batting .223 and righties batting .217. Although, this year lefties are getting more hits off of Breslow. However, this could be a simple case of bad luck, as his career stats do not reflect this year’s platoon split. Because he can get righties out as well, Breslow doesn’t just have to be a lefty specialist as Logan is. His fastball tops out a 92-mph. In addition to that, Breslow throws a cutter, a 12-6 curveball, an above-average change-up, and a slider. CONTRACT: Signed through 2011, 1 yr/1.4 MM, Arb. Eligible in 2012, Free Agent in 2014
  2. Aaron Laffey, SEA: Although Laffey is no big-name reliever, he is quietly having himself a very strong season with the Mariners. This year, lefties are hitting a mere .190 against him, compared to righties hitting .322. Therefore, Laffey is your typical lefty specialist. Laffey primarily throws an 88 mph sinker, and is a ground-ball pitcher, with a 1.10 Ground Ball/Fly Ball ratio. His secondary pitches include an above average slider and change-up. Considering how well Laffey has done this year versus lefties, he would be very helpful indeed to the Yankees. CONTRACT: Signed through 2011, 1 yr/432K, Arb. Eligible in 2012, Free Agent in 2015
  3. Randy Choate, FLA: Choate is pitching extremely well this year. He is someone the Yankees should have pursued in this past offseason. In 20.1 innings of work this year, Choate has a 1.33 ERA, 26 SO and only 10 BB. This year, lefties have only hit .123 off of him, while righties still only hit .214. So Choate doesn’t just have to be used for lefties, but he’d do a fantastic job against them. Against left-handed batters, he has a terrific 11.50 SO/BB ratio. The Marlins are in last place, and Choate is the pitcher I want to see the Yankees make a trade for. CONTRACT: Signed through 2012, 2 yr/2.5MM, Free Agent in 2013
  4. Trio of Lefties on the Cubs: The Cubs have 3 lefties in their bullpen: Sean Marshall, John Grabow, and James Russell. Marshall is an elite set-up man, who the Cubs have adamently said is not available to be traded. If that changes, then he would be a very solid option, although I’d be hesistant to trade for Marshall because of the potential price tag in prospects. Grabow and Russell are good against lefties, but still lean more on the side of mediocre lefty specialists. If you’re going to trade for a lefty, trade for someone who you know is going to be very effective.
  5. Sergio Escalona, HOU: Escalona has only been in the majors for 2 years, but his numbers against lefties have been fantastic. They hit only .170 against him, and get this: he’s only given up 1 lefty extra-base hit in 2 years. As a result, lefties only have a .226 SLG against Escalona. He had a 4’s ERA last year, but its done to 2.43 this year. I doubt many people have heard of Sergio Escalona, but he looks like a viable option to get lefties out, and I can’t imagine the price tag of a trade being very high. CONTRACT: Pre-Arb Eligible, Arb Eligible in 2013, Free Agent in 2016

Well this is what I narrowed all the lefties in the majors down to. If there are any others that stand out that I missed, let us know in the comments section.