Bronx Bomber Mailbag First Edition (12/1/15)

Welcome to the first edition of the Bronx Bomber Mailbag! Here, you can tweet your questions (make sure you use the hashtag #BBBMailbag for future purposes) you have for us and we will respond to them in an article. We will keep these going in the future!

Who should the Yankees target (realistically) this offseason? (@GiantsMUT24)

Boy, what a way to start out. I can tell you that realistically the team should stay away from a high priced pitcher like Price, Greinke, and to a lesser degree, Cueto. All three of them want a massive amount of money and making a big financial commitment to a starter is like playing russian roulette - it could back fire at any minute due to injuries, performance decreases, etc.

Instead I prefer looking in the second tier pitching market at lefties Scott Kazmir and Wei-Yin-Chen. I prefer Kazmir - he was superb this season posting a 3.10 ERA between Oakland and Houston and won't have a draft pick attached to him. Chen wouldn't be a bad addition either. He's posted back to back years of 185 innings and a 3.54 ERA. He's got a draft pick attached to him, which wigs a lot of people out, but for his (comparatively) cheaper price, it's worth it. Both will cost far less than the 'elite' tier starters and offer solid, left handed pitching - something that's been missing in the Bronx for a while.

Ben Zobrist seems like a perfect fit for the Yankees. I'm not suggesting we remove Rob Refsnyder from second base, rather use Zobrist to fill in for guys in the infield and corner outfield spots when they need a day off during the week. That's a way to keep guys on the team fresh while also giving a great hitter in Zobrist regular at-bats. The Yankees would be wise to cut Brendan Ryan loose - it would only cost $1 million - and get a utility man as productive as Zobrist. His recent postseason experience would bring some nice intangibles as well.

In the even Brett Gardner is traded, I think Alex Gordon would be a nice signing to take his place. I've written about why he fits the team better than any other free agent out fielder here. His performance and projected contract simply align better than any of the others on the market. Justin Upton would certainly be a nice signing as well, but I feel Aaron Judge can put up the numbers that Upton would for far cheaper, and he's only a year away.

Another option would be to try and sign a reliever and further bolster their bullpen. It's how the Royals did it. You don't need as strong a starting rotation when your 'pen can take over in the sixth or seventh inning. Darren O'Day hasn't been linked at all to the Yankees, but maybe a guy like Tyler Clippard makes sense. Relievers also cost far less annually than starters and can impact the game more often than a guy who only pitches every five days.

Under what circumstances should the Yankees trade Brett Gardner? @nolanrabine2

I'm hardly going to sound original here, but they should trade Gardner for a young, controllable pitcher if given the opportunity. We've heard Gardner linked to Seattle (for James Paxton) and Cleveland (Carrasco or Salazar) so it seems like there's definitely interest being generated.

After trading for Leonys Martin I doubt the Mariners would still be terribly interested. Cleveland is the better option in my book anyways. Ideally they could somehow get Danny Salazar, who's only 25 and under control until 2021. Carassco is hardly a bad grab either though, as he turned into a solid #2 pitcher with flashes of ace-like brilliance at times. Gardner plus a decent-ish prospect should get that done. It'd probably take an upper level prospect for Salazar.

One potential team that lines up well is the Cardinals. If they lose Jason Heyward they may have interest in acquiring Gardner. Carlos Martinez is a young, star pitcher in the making and he really come into his own this year in St. Louis. It's going to take far more than Gardner to get him, but Gardner would at least be a good starting point. Maybe Nova, Mateo, and Gardner for Martinez?

I'm not someone who thinks the Yankees should trade Gardner simply for the sake of trading him. I would actually much rather trade Jacoby Ellsbury, but the likelihood of that is slim to none. Regardless, the team should make sure it's getting value for him, because at the moment he's probably the best outfielder the team has at the big league level. His contract is pretty reasonable as well. Maybe they turn him into a stud pitching prospect who has yet to see big league action. No matter what, I think a trade with Gardner has to bring back a starter who's young and is a pretty close to guaranteed thing.

Does hicks have a shot at starting? I think thames could really do wonders with his swing. (@rvk723)

Hicks shouldn't have a shot at starting. Hicks isn't more than a back up player despite what Brian Cashman says. That's just him trying to exude confidence about his trade. Hicks has been a career .225 hitter in the big leagues and there's not much to suggest that will change.

Hicks really hasn't excelled in any way at the plate, at any level. His .276 minor league average might be nice if it were instead in the Majors, but an average like that isn't overly impressive in the levels below. As mentioned earlier has has no real category that he specializes in. He stole 32 bases in AA ball in 2012, but hasn't come close to that at any level since. He simply can't get on base to utilize his speed - his OBP through three big league seasons is an unimpressive .306, suggesting he just can't adapt to the big leagues. He also hasn't consistently shown the ability to hit for power. He hit 11 dingers in 97 games last year, but that power has been absent throughout the rest of his career. Hicks is a solid defender sure, but he hasn't done anything at the plate to make me think he can be anything more.

The Yankees have been trying to add more athleticism to the roster as opposed to guys with good baseball skills, specifically last offseason, and none them really stood out besides Didi Gregorius. I understand there being hope that Thames can turn it around for Hicks, but there's not too many cases of a hitting coach turning a below average hitter into an impact player player just like that. Curtis Granderson's work with Kevin Long is probably the most recent example even close to that happening, but Granderson was already a solid hitter to begin with.

I think a lot of the hype around Hicks has been Yankees fans trying get excited about something as a result of the boring offseason so far, but with Hicks there isn't much to be excited about. I'm basing this solely on what he's done his entire career and I just can't find any real stat he's posted to make me think he would be good every day player - the Yankees would be better off keeping Gardner to play the outfield. Simply put, if Hicks is starting on opening day, something went very wrong.

Is it time for Cashman to go? (@Timbo367)

This is a difficult question. It really all boils down to who's been calling more of the shots the last few seasons: Cashman or Hal? My guess is that Hal has been imposing spending limits on Cashman that haven't become public.

That's understandable to an extent. A few seasons ago the team found it a good idea to give $438 million in guaranteed money to Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka. I thought three of those contracts were pretty bad for a lot of reasons at the time - and I still do. Tanaka, Beltran, and Ellsbury were those contracts. Tanaka had proven nothing in the MLB, Ellsbury was and still is one of the most injury prone players in the game, and Beltran was clearly on the decline.

I'm an advocate of the Yankees spending big to acquire proven talent, but they really shot themselves in the foot when they gave crippling contracts to the wrong players like that. That much might be Cashman's fault. Once again, I'm guessing tat Hal gave Cashman the go ahead to spend the money he did, but Cashman should've known better than to give it to those guys.

The Cash Man
The result has been a mind numbingly boring offseason so far this year and all of last year. Cashman has been trying to buy low on former top prospects and it hasn't exactly paid off in a big way. Didi Gregorius provided some nice defense and good hitting towards the end of the year last year, but that's about it. Nathan Eovaldi was hittable as usual and even developed a real problem pitching past the fifth inning to boot.

I'm all for trying to get youth on the team, but the focus should instead be on getting young, proven talent instead of picking up all these reclamation projects that they have been the last few years. They just haven't been paying off. There's a reason they're dubbed 'reclamation' project.

If I'm in charge, yes, I'm letting Brian Cashman go. His approach these last few years just hasn't been working. Whether that's his fault or not is certainly up to debate and I can both respect and see that side of the argument. But that doesn't change the fact he's really only earned one championship in his time with the Yankees and that was six years ago. This team needs to make an approach towards proven talent and a good way to do that might be to find a new GM.

Will the Yankees give Rob Refsnyder a fair chance to be the starting second baseman in 2016? (@MichaelPacholek)

No. I'm not saying I don't want Refsnyder to start, I just don't see the team giving him a chance at sole possession of the position. For whatever reason the team seems to have a real reluctance to give Refsnyder a shot at the job. Just look at last year. The Yankees called Refsnyder up for a few games in which he performed well, then sent him down for essentially the rest of the year. The guy supposedly 'blocking' him was the beyond struggling Stephen Drew. In fact, the only reason Drew lost his job was a concussion that ended his season. He should've been replaced a long time before that.

I think it's time to let Refsnyder shine, but the team has indicated it wants to try a platoon of Ackley and Refsnyder (insert eye roll here). What platoon has ever been that successful? I'm sure someone will bring up an isolated case or two, but the majority of the time one side of the platoon ends up playing better than the other and just takes over the starting role by the end of the year.

Ackley had a nice little run at the end of the year for the Yankees, but that was in only 23 games. In comparison to the four and a half years the Mariners gave to him to develop (and in all honesty, he didn't) I'm not terribly convinced that he can expand that kind of production across an entire season. Is Ackley a good bench player to have? Absolutely. Is he a good back up plan if Refsnyder can't handle starting there? Of course, but let's give Refsnyder the chance to finally prove himself. Ackley has had five years to do that.

So to answer the question, I really do hope Refsnyder somehow manages to capture the starting job all for himself - I think he will provide some production that was sorely missed at second base last year - but don't be surprised if the Yankees lead camp splitting starts there between he and Ackley.

Article by: Nick Scott
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