Mailbag Monday: Waivers And Number Two Starter

You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address.  Make sure you provide your first name. Today there are two questions.

Nate asks: Do you see the Yankees making any waiver claims in the next couple of week and if so, who?

I don’t see the Yankees making any waiver claims because from what I’ve seen up to this point, there aren’t really any fits. Now that’s not to say a player who could be of value won’t hit the market, but I honestly doubt it. Brian Cashman seems very content with the team he has at this point and remember they still have to get Alex Rodriguez back to be at full strength. And that’s not to mention the youngsters, Jesus Montero and Mann Banuelos, who could help the team in September. At this point with this big of a lead, they should just be focused on getting everybody healthy and not exhausting anyone.

Thomas asks: There has been a lot of talk about the Yanks number two starter the past few weeks. Who do you think it is?

I quite frankly hate this topic. Since the Yanks didn’t acquire a top tier starter at the deadline, I feel like after CC Sabathia, everyone else is about equal. Unlike seemingly every Yankee fan and writer, I have not jumped on the Ivan Nova band wagon for the sole purpose that he has turned in one start that says he is a number two. That’s not to say he hasn’t been better than AJ Burnett or Phil Hughes, but he certainly hasn’t been fantastic. I don’t like to label starters until the post season when it’s really necessary. If I had a gun to my head, I would say that it would be CC, Freddy, Bart, Nova, Hughes, Burnett.


Mailbag Monday: Mitchell, Nova, Williams

You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address.  Make sure you provide your first name. Today there are three questions.

Steve asks: DJ Mitchell seems like he’s having a very good year down in Scranton. Is he a legitimate prospect or just an organizational guy?

(Martin Griff/The Times of Trenton )

Yeah, Mitchell is having an okay year down in Scranton pitching to a 3.48 ERA, but take a look inside the numbers. He’s striking out just over six guys per nine innings and walking nearly four per nine. Couple that with the fact that he’s already 24 and still down there doesn’t look good. However, that doesn’t mean he will never come up and make a contribution. He seems to be a long term reliever because of his one very good pitch (change up). So he isn’t just an org guy, but not a very highly touted prospect.

Ben asks: Is Ivan Nova for real? Is he actually this good?

Nova’s performance on Thursday was definitely the best of his career. It was actually so good that the Yankees were planning on sending him down until after the game when they reasoned that they couldn’t send down a guy who just struck out ten and walked none in 7.2 innings of one-run ball.

I’m not sure if he’s actually this good, but I think his latest two outing have proven that optioning him down the first time was the right move. It allowed him to work on incorporating all four of his pitches into his game plan. This has made him a much more effective pitcher and the new effectiveness of his slider has definitely raised his ceiling from a back end guy to a two or three. Of course this is one start and we’ll have to see if he can keep it up.

Dave asks: Mason Williams is killing it. Any chance he gets promoted before the end of the year and where does he rank on Yankee prospect lists after the season?

Mason Williams is indeed tearing up the NYPL. He’s hitting .369/.412/.503 with 18 stolen bases for the Staten Island Yankees and is apparently playing a very good center field as well. I’m not sure if he ranks ahead of Slade Heathcott, although Slade is out for the year with that shoulder problem, but I think he could be top ten, but in the 8-10 range on any given Yankee prospect list.

As far as him getting called up to Charleston before the end of the season, it doesn’t look good for two reasons. First of all, the Yanks like to keep high school draftees at each level for about a year. Second, he would only be called up if the Riverdogs were gonna make the playoffs and that looks unlikely.


Mailbag Monday: Deadline, Banuelos, Rotation

You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address.  Make sure you provide your first name. Today there are three questions.

Luke asks: How do you feel about the Yankees deadline?

I thought that Brian Cashman and his executives handled it very well. I understand his point about Ubaldo not being a top guy and with everything down on his stat sheet this season, the Yankees asked for a physical and the Rockies declined. Something was not right there. Colorado also shouldn’t have had this much of an inclination to trade him; he’s young, he’s cheap, and it’s not like they are trying to totally rebuild.

(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

After that, I would’ve wanted Kuroda, but he wasn’t leaving Los Angeles and I figured that no one else besides those two were upgrades. They needed a top tier starter, not just a starter. Cash did a good job of not giving into the pressure and getting someone like Wandy Rodriguez or another player who wouldn’t have helped. It would have been nice to add someone, but there was just no one who fit.

Dan asks: Manny Banuelos was just promoted to Scranton. I have a bad feeling that they are going to put him in the big league bullpen as a lefty specialist in September. Do you?

I do have a feeling that Banuelos will be put in the bullpen as a September call up, but it’s not a bad one. I have no problem with him being broken in as a reliever at this time of year as long as he’s a starter next season. It might actually be better for him because it will allow the Yanks to limit his innings. He threw around 90 in 2010 and he’s already up to 95.1 this season. I would allow him to get up to 130 before I shut him down. Just look what happened to Phil Hughes.

Lucy asks: How do you feel about the six-man rotation?

I think it’s a good idea. It’s a good way to keep Colon and Garcia as fresh as possible for as long as possible and it could somehow help Phil Hughes. They just need to find a way to get the ball to CC every five days because since they didn’t get another starter, they need him to step up and pitch as much as possible.


Mailbag Monday: Noesi Replacement And Danks

You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address.  Make sure you provide your first name. Today there are two questions.

Tim asks: You keep saying that Noesi should not be up in the Majors and that he should be starting for Scranton. If the Yankees were to actually do that, who would they replace him with?

Yep, Hector Noesi should be down in Scranton getting stretched out as a starter to maximize his value.  I can’t think of one logical explanation for him being up.  It’s not even like they are trying to break him into more important roles.  He is still doing mop up work.

(Courtesy of Mike Ashmore)

The best guy to bring up to replace Noesi would be George Kontos.  Kontos was taken by the Padres from the Yanks in the Rule 5 draft this past Winter/Spring, but was returned just before the season started.  He was then placed on Scranton’s roster and has been fantastic for them.  He has pitched to a 2.95 ERA while striking out more than nine per nine innings and walking less than three per nine in 64 innings.  The two knocks on him are 1) he is homer prone allowing 1.41 per nine and 2) he has a very unsustainable LOB% at 85.7%.

This all being said, maybe the Yankees brass doesn’t think that Kontos can get it done in the bigs, but Mark Newman has said in interviews that he is being considered.  I don’t think that he and Noesi are that different in that they have similar Triple-A numbers and can give length if needed.  I don’t see why they need to keep Noesi up when they have someone who they don’t have to develop like Kontos down on the farm.

Chris asks: With all the names that are getting thrown around with starting pitcher on the market, I feel like John Danks isn’t getting the recognition he deserves.  Do you think the Yanks could possible get him?

The White Sox never seem to sell at the deadline no matter what position they are in, so I can’t see this season being much different. However, Joel Sherman just reported via Twitter that Chicago has scouts taking long looks at the Yankees, Phillies, and Red Sox farm systems.  If that is the case, Danks would be my first choice as far as starters on that staff.

Danks, 26, got off to a bad start, but has settled down since.  This may wind up being a good thing because it might decrease his trade value a little bit.  He has struck out more than six per nine innings so far this season and walked less than three per nine, but has almost allowed a homer per nine as well.  Part of his tough start probably has to do with his BABIP which sits at .300 right now while in years past, it has been at around .270.

He is a very good, young pitcher who can be a front end guy in the American League and has another year of team control after this one.  He is also cheap; he’s only making $6 million this year and I can’t see him making much more next season.  Don’t be surprised if you hear his name connected with the Yankees over the next week.


Mailbag Monday: DBJ

As this blog has picked up more steam, I’ve been getting emails from fans that have good questions about the Yankees and their minor league affiliates.  I’ve decided to have a new thing called ‘Mailbag Monday’ in which I answer some of these questions.  You can ask a question by going above to the ‘Contact’ tab and sending an email to the given email address. Today there is only one question.

Jason asks: How is Dante Bichette Jr. doing so far? I know he got placed in the GCL, but I haven’t heard much about him since the draft.

It’s been about six weeks since the Yankees took DBJ with their first selection in the MLB Draft and about a month since he made his professional debut.  Bichette has shown some good and some bad, but has definitely been adjusting to the GCL.

(Photo Credit: Baseball Factory)

His approach at the plate is a lot better than I thought it was going to be. He was shown as a guy with a lot of power, but with some holes in his swing that could easily be exposed. But he hasn’t shown much power (he hit his first GCL homer today and has a .307 SLG). And contradictory to my own and others thinking he has some good discipline, leading the GCL in walks with 21.

He got off to a rough start, only hitting .115 for the month of June, but did have an OBP of .342.  In July, he has fared much better and is seemingly getting a little more comfortable each day as he is hitting .245/.403/.347 (not including his 2 for 2 effort today).

As far as his fielding goes, he has started the season at third base and from what I can tell, he is holding his own because I haven’t seen many errors credited to him.  Then again, I haven’t seen him play and he may look like a mess out there.  The word is still that he is a long term corner outfielder, but we still won’t know for a while.

So Bichette got off to a tough start and there are definitely some holes in his game, but he is a lot better than I expected him to be and he is making good adjustments.  I expect him to stay at GCL for the rest of the year and then start next season with Staten Island.