Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Already Forgotten Two

Breaking news... The Yankees traded C and #1 prospect to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Michael Pineda. Did anyone else just hear about this? No? Ok enough with the sarcasm. Wait... we got Kuroda too? Ok seriously this time.

Now I personally like to think of myself as a knowledgeable kind of guy when it comes to the Yankees prospects. I have even been referred to as a "prospect" humper in some circles on the forum that I am a member of, Daily Sports Pages. Just because I have a thread for almost every prospect that I constantly update and just because I don't really want to trade ANY of the prospects that are actually worth trading does this really make me a prospect humper? Maybe... but I digress.

There were apparently two other players involved in the Montero for Pineda swap. One was Yankees RHP Hector Noesi and the other was Seattle's RHP Jose Campos. I personally think that the Montero for Pineda trade was an equal trade, an oddity in major league baseball. The Yankees needed pitching and got a great power pitcher that misses a lot of bats at age 23 and under 5 years team control. The Mariners got a young, cheap, impact hitter that they needed at a premium position. The way the Yankees win this trade, in my prospect humping opinion, is with the "forgotten" two in this trade.

At the beginning of the offseason we heard a lot of talk about patience from Brian Cashman. Wrapped up in that talk was Cashman's willingness to ONLY use Noesi as a starter this season followed by great claims and comparisons to Noesi being "this year's Ivan Nova." I think a lot of us got excited to think we had another potentially young and dominant young starter to come from our minor league system. The rest of us called "bull" and waited anxiously to see what kind of trade that Brian Cashman was working on while he was trying to build up Noesi's trade value. Obviously those of us waited to see a Winter and GM Meetings trade, not a trade in the middle of January, but hey we have to take it when it comes, right?

Hector Noesi was not bad for us by any means, and Jose Campos is only 19 years old and in A ball so its not like we will be seeing dividends from him any time soon, but I still think the Yankees pulled one out of their hats with this trade. Again, Noesi was not bad for us by any means but he wasn't exactly special either. On a crowded 40 man roster including DJ Mitchell, David Phelps, Dellin Betances, George Kontos, and recent Rule 5 draft picks Brad Meyers and Cesar Cabral, Hector Noesi simply became replaceable. Not to mention that we had 6 pitchers for 5 spots competing down in Scranton for the AAA rotation including Adam Warren, Phelps, Mitchell, Noesi, Betances, and Manny Banuelos. It is tough to judge Noesi by his 56 innings in the majors but he is 24 years old and will be 25 when the season starts. Noesi misses enough bats to be successful with 7 K's per 9 IP last season, again with a small sample size. Matching that with 3.5 walks per 9IP doesn't look good and neither does a .331 BABIP. He does have a 40% ground ball rate but a 10% HR/FB rate and neither of them are actually very good. This will all be better when he goes from a hitters park in the Bronx to a pitchers park in Seattle's Safeco. That is why you see pitchers who throw sinker balls like Chein Ming Wang and Ivan Nova, to name a few, be so successful in New York. Noesi's stuff does not mesh well with the stadium he has been pitching in. Not to mention that the Yankees already have 3 more Hector Noesi's already in AAA just waiting and rotting.

Now, on to Jose Campos. I personally, and a lot of my twitter followers, are already putting Campos at #5 on our prospect list in between NYPL OF Mason Williams and GCL 3B Dante Bichette Jr. Jose Campos is 19 years old and is the very definition of a power pitcher. Campos is an extreme strike thrower with an above average fastball touching 95 mph. To go with that he has an inconsistent, but above average slider. Campos showed this season that his hard curveball and changeup show flashes of becoming "plus pitches." Count them... Plus Plus fastball with nice angle, deception, and life. Plus Plus slider, and potentially a plus curve and changeup usually equals a fantastic top of the line starting pitcher. He has yet to pitch a full season yet so he is 3-5 years away but has more upside and potential then any current Yankees minor league pitcher not donned with the nickname "Killer B." Jose Campos has a nice frame for such a power pitcher coming in at 6'4" and 195 lbs. Naturally you worry about repeating his delivery and injuries at that size , and they are legit concerns with ANY young pitcher, but that is just what they are at this point... concerns. Nothing concrete to back any of them up yet so that is encouraging.

The biggest concern in the Montero for Pineda trade was that we have plenty of Noesi's but no more Montero's currently in our system, which is true. We don't have any Jose Campos in our system in my opinion either. Dellin Betances struggles too much with his fastball command, although making up for it with his high strike out numbers, to be considered what Campos could be. Manny Banuelos is there with Campos in projections and ceilings but I did not include him because he is left handed. Jose Campos, if he reaches his potential, will be much better then Hector Noesi. To go out on a limb he could be much better then Ivan Nova for that matter. To reiterate, we have 3 more Hector Noesi's JUST in AAA but we don't have ANY Jose Campos in Low A Charleston where he looks like he is going, and we don't have ANY Jose Campos in High A, and we don't have ANY Jose Campos in AA, and we don't look like we will have ANY Jose Campos in AAA when he gets there. When Campos is expected to reach the majors we wont have Jesus Montero, and we presumably wouldn't have had Hector Noesi.... but we will still have Michael Pineda under team control... for cheap.

Damon at DH?

How about a reunion? Well, how about not?

Okay, looking back on it, my idea of trading for McCutchen is not "all that". In fact, it's closer to being in the category of "sucks" than it does being in the category of "good" or even "plausible". I remembered that the Phillies took a group of prospects for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, but I forgot that Abreu was making $28 million after that 2005 season in which he came to New York (not including his club option of $16 million in 2008, which the Yankees picked up). Perhaps I should stay away from trade proposals. Then again, they can be fun to think about, so I'm not making any promises.

But the DH situation still needs to be addressed. And what I'm reading lately has me scratching my head, as many Yankee fans would love to see Johnny Damon return to the Bronx. I don't get it, and I'm hoping Brian Cashman is as smart as I think he is.

Damon hit .261/.326/.418 last season, with 16 HRs and 19 SBs. His OPS+ of 110 suggests that he is an above average hitter, and he did that in the AL East so there's no reason to expect a large drop-off in those numbers. But the fact of the matter is the guy made $5.25 million (that doesn't include incentives, which could have brought his salary to as high as $6 million), and with the Yankees payroll hovering around $212 million after the Kuroda signing, I see no reason to spend like that on Johnny. Not when the offense is already a strength, even as is, and the team already has good to decent alternatives. Oh, and Johnny Damon is nearly worthless in the field. Last season he played in 84 innings at LF, to a UZR/150 of -15.6. The year before Johnny only played 268.1 innings in the OF for Detroit. So at this point he'd really be another Jorge Posada... a DH only. Why would the Yankees want to blow a roster spot on that?

Andruw Jones hit .286/.384/.540 against left-handed pitchers last season, so he's pretty much a no-brainer to DH against lefties. As for what he did against same-sided pitching... yeah, I'd rather not go there. Let's just say he shouldn't bat against righties. Cool?

Jorge Vazquez is somebody else that could see some at bats as the team's DH in 2012. I was hoping to see what his splits looked like last season, particularly against left and right-handed pitchers, but I couldn't find anything after 2010. In that season though he actually showed a reverse split, as his BA, OBP, and SLG were all better against same-sided hurlers (.263/.317/.516). I don't know much about the Minor League Equivalency calculator at ML Splits, but I plugged in Jorge's numbers from last season and it tells me to expect a line of .227/.274/.427... not an encouraging sign. Perhaps if that calculator could give splits as well. *shrugs* But as for defense, he could give Teixeira rests from the field, as Jorge was a decent 1B in the minors.

I'm not big on the idea of bringing back Eric Chavez, as he wasn't anything special last year and his health record is far from stellar. Also, if you look at what he did versus right-handers (assuming Jones does DH against lefties) you'll see a line of .255/.322/.365. Seeing that I'd rather roll with Vazquez against right-handed pitchers. The only true plus to adding Chavez would be to give ARod a rest at 3B, although Nunez did appear in 33 games there in 2011.

Then we've heard about Carlos Pena. Here's a guy whose batting average over the last three years was .216. The only thing nice about Carlos' numbers recently is his HR total. But let's be honest... the Yankees don't need anymore power. Especially if it would cost anywhere near the $10 million it cost Tampa to sign him last year (it wouldn't, but it's not like Pena would sign a deal like Chavez did last season either). I should be fair though, as his career OBP of .352 is nothing to sneeze at. But again.. a hitter with power that gets on base a lot? The Yankee lineup does not need that at all. They could really use a guy with a good batting average, so if they are going to look outside the organization I think they should look away Carlos.

I'd be totally cool with trying guys out on minor league deals, like the Yanks did last year with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon. Although I wouldn't expect to find a diamond in the rough like they did with Freddy and Bartolo anyway. At this point I think they should try out guys already "in house", and make a move later if necessary.