Editor’s Note: As is the custom each month, editors Jason Evans and Billy Brost continue their email banter. Whether it’s roster moves (Yes, more Eduardo Nunez), topics around baseball, or the arrival of their favorite video game, their conversations are never dull, and give you the reader, a behind the scenes peek at the inner workings and thoughts of the Yanks Go Yard leadership.~BB
Jason Evans: So we are almost at the start of 2014. Have you calmed down bout C.C. yet?
Billy Brost: Haha. I have somewhat. I wasn’t sold after his start in Panama, but seeing how well his new cutter worked against the Pirates, maybe he’s worthy of a #3 rotation slot.
JE: He’s the number one for now. He may not be when the season ends. The ace may end up being Nova
BB: You know it’s really too bad that the Yankees are messing around with Pineda, and talking innings limit. The guy hasn’t pitched in the show in two years. I think he’s plenty rested. Didn’t they learn anything from the way they screwed Joba up with the “Joba Rules”?
JE: He has barely pitched in 2 years. Can’t expect him to throw 190 innings.
BB: Why not? These teams baby pitchers far too much. They’ve trained their whole lives to pitch, so let ‘em pitch. I love the Nolan Ryan mentality of training guys that they will go beyond 6 innings and/or 100 pitches. You watch, he’ll have the same influence on the young Houston Astros arms that he did when he was in Texas. Back to Pineda, I would monitor him, to ensure he doesn’t wear down and re-injure himself, but if it’s September 1st and he’s still blowing hitters away, let the man do what he does best.
JE: I like that mentality too but not coming off major arm surgery where he hasn’t pitched in a major league game since Jesus Montero was considered a prospect.
BB: I get your point, but it’s not like he’s barely removed from the surgery. The procedure happened in 2012, and the Yankees chose to keep him in the minors last season. He knocked off the rust when it didn’t matter, and got himself into phenomenal shape. I’d even be willing to skip him in the rotation once a or twice a month, use Phelps or Nuno, but you have to keep this guy churning along. They’ve got too much time and money invested not only in his rehab, but his production.
JE: They haven’t invested that much in him. Let’s see him actually make it through a full season. If he doesn’t, prepare for Max Scherzer rumors this off-season.
BB: I think Max Scherzer rumors are going to fly anyway, just because I think Kuroda is done after this season, and what faith does the organization have in Phelps, Nuno, Warren, or Banuelos when you can have Max Scherzer or Justin Masterson?
JE: Or (James) Shields…or Chase Headley?
BB: Headley, if A-Rod somehow isn’t a Yankee next season, I like Shields, but he’s no Scherzer.
JE: Shields is a bulldog. You need guys like that on winning teams.
BB: Don’t get me wrong, I like Shields a ton, but…he’s a little older for a free agent pitcher, and has a ton of mileage. I feel like Scherzer is just now coming into his own and the best is yet to come.
JE: Two years difference, though Shields has pitched more innings.
BB: Yeah, and those are some hard-earned innings. I could totally see him not signing until a week before spring training begins next season. Scherzer though, will be signed before Christmas. What are your thoughts on (Justin) Masterson and Scherzer cutting off talks with their teams?
JE: Makes sense. No distractions during the season. I understand why both turned down the offers. Probably can get more next year.
BB: What do the Yankees do about A-Rod if they want Headley? Do you really think they would just pay him to go away? Or do you think with Soriano either leaving or retiring, A-Rod becomes the DH, and Headley takes over at third? Doesn’t that stunt the growth of Jagielo? The Yankees have $46 mil possibly coming off the books next season. What do they do with it?
JE: I’m not sure A-Rod ever plays for them again. I believe they will reach a buyout at some point. Let’s see what Jagielo does before we talk about stunting his growth. Someone can always move to first if need be. With that $46 mil, they are going to need two infielders at least and probably a starter.
BB: Since we started this conversation, Pineda has been named the fifth starter. I’m dancing in the streets over that decision. Back to next season for a minute. With $46 mil coming off the books, I can’t see Headley getting $20 mil. I could see Scherzer getting that and more on a shorter term deal given his age, Shields and Masterson maybe $16 mil each. You know their teams will make a qualifying offer, so their market will be slow and a pick is tied to both. Who in your opinion, are the best free agent infielders to fill the slots aside from shortstops, which we’ve already discussed before?
JE: Well at second if for some reason the Rays decline Ben Zobrist‘s option he’d be perfect. At third it’s either Kung Fu Panda or Headley. Maybe Jed Lowrie could be an option at second. He isn’t the best defensively at short.
BB: Okay, I could buy Headley and Lowrie. Gotta love Jed, fellow Oregonian like yours truly. Budget-wise, which starter do you see them going after, or…does everyone move up one spot in the rotation, and the Yankees hold another tryout next spring between Phelps, Warren, Nuno, and Banuelos again, maybe a wild card could be De Paula?
JE: Depends on how the team does and those guys. If Phelps settles into a reliever role I don’t think they move him. I think if they miss playoffs, they go all-in on Scherzer or Lester as a tweak to the Sox for the second year in a row.
BB: You know, I’ve never bought into Lester as a staff ace. I look at him as a very good #2, even better #3.
JE: Doesn’t have to be an ace here either. Beast in the playoffs. Has a ton of guts too.
JE: I cant believe Solarte made the roster over Nuni!?!?!!?!? Actually I can, Solarte tore it up during spring. I wonder if the Hitman lasts the entire season?
BB: I LOVE IT!!! This kid is so versatile, and he just went about his business, knowing the odds were long to make the squad. He just put his head down, knocked the stuffing out of the ball, and earned his roster spot. For Nunez to even be considered was what was disappointing to me.
JE: As I’ve said about Nuni before he was never give a full shot at one position. I think if he was, he would be just fine.
BB: You know that I was never a Nunez guy to begin with. I don’t think his defense would’ve come around if he played 5 seasons at SS. Solarte is a better, more versatile player and he adds a ton of depth to Girardi’s bench. Then the questions will be, who goes down when Ryan comes back, Anna or Solarte? I’m sticking with my guy Yangervis.
JE: I think Anna goes as well since he is basically the backup shortstop. Though if Solarte doesn’t hit all bets are off.
BB: Agreed. We’ve seen our fair share of spring training MVPs over the years not hit a lick once the season begins…
JE: Can’t focus too much on spring numbers. Too many guys who never make it or are never any good.
BB: So, with opening day just around the corner, tell me some of the things non-Yankee related you expect or would like to see this season…
JE: I expect another star pitcher or two to need Tommy John. I expect Mike Trout to win MVP finally. I expect that buy July 31st, half of the teams in MLB will still be in the playoff hunt. I expect Jose Reyes and Cliff Lee to have different addresses by then as well.
BB: How crazy is that with all the TJs already rearing their ugly head? A couple of those guys are heading in for their second one. I think I’d want a warranty on that work. I love Trout. I’d love to see both he and my fellow Vegas guy Bryce Harper bring home the hardware this season. I agree with you on the playoffs…with the extra wild card (which I’m not a fan of) it allows many more teams to be buyers rather than sellers…yes even the Phillies and Mets will be in contention for a little while. As for Lee and Reyes, that is a ton of cash to move. I buy Lee, not Reyes. Who are some of your surprise teams this year?
JE: I think Milwaukee will be better than people thik. Solid top 3 of their rotation. In the AL, I think the Angels could surprise people and Baltimore will contend. You?
BB: Well, I know the sexy pick in the AL this year is KC, but I’ve been pushing them for three years now. I’m picking them to not only make the playoffs, but to win the Central outright. In the NL, I’m going to say keep on eye on South Beach, along with San Diego. If both teams can stay healthy, at a minimum, they will give their divisional rivals headaches all season.
JE: It should be a fun year, plus a ton of prospects to watch out for. Baez, Springer, Syndegard, etc.
BB: Well, until next month, we can sit back, await our MLB The Show:’14 which will arrive TODAY, along with Yankees baseball for the first time in several months!
JE: And today is a good day…