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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Hot Stove Mailbag No. 1

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Oct 07, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

mailbox.jpgHere we go with the first of many hot stove mailbags before the start of spring training. Thanks for your questions. Here we go …

Many people have written: What about Rocco Baldelli for center field next season?

Answer: Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense. Baldelli has a rare neuromuscular disease known as mitochondrial myopathy, for which there is no cure. It leaves him fatigued after short workouts and will keep him from playing in the field for more than one game a week, if that. The disease can lead to heart failure, diabetes, deafness, blindness or seizures. Baldelli can DH but nobody is sure how long he’ll be able to do that.

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Herbert writes: What are your thoughts on this deal: Cano and Kennedy for Matt Kemp and Blake DeWitt. And maybe one of the teams throws in an additional player. I think Cano is still going to be a very good player, but maybe he needs a change of scenery. Kemp is a five-tool player and you fill second base with DeWitt, who Torre seems to like. And Kennedy could still be good or he may not. What are your thoughts?

Answer: If the additional player the Yankees throw in is Joba Chamberlain, maybe the Dodgers would do it. Why would LA trade two starters from a team that made the NLCS for a second baseman coming off his worst year as a pro and a AAA pitcher who was demoted twice out of the majors last season? Oh, and both may have an attitude problem. It’s great to try and come up with trade ideas. But you have to consider the other team. If the trade sounds great for the Yankees, it’s probably not getting made.

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Danny from Brooklyn writes: Pete, do you have any idea how common Jorge Posada’s operation was as far as catchers go? Is there a high success rate as far as recovery? How concerned should Yankee fans be about his shoulder going forward?

Answer: Very concerned. This is now the second time Posada will have had shoulder surgery and he is 37, which is old for a perfectly healthy catcher. We were told in July that this surgery would require six months to rehab. Look at this way, his throwing program does not start until Dec. 1. That’s four months after the operation. It’s not a common procedure for catchers but the success rate is high according to his doctor, David Altchek. But given Jorge’s age and history, his return as a full-time receiver is no guarantee.

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Mike from Buffalo writes: I know Brian Cashman mentioned about Johnny Damon being an outfielder next year, but has he mentioned anything about Brett Gardner? Certainly Gardner has done what history has shown, (that it takes a while for him to show anything each level he goes up, but then is a force to reckon with) but is Cashman considering keeping him in center field for next year?

Answer: It will be a long time before you hear Brian Cashman and/or Joe Girardi heap praise or promise jobs to rookies again. They got burned pretty badly by giving Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy rotation spots last spring. The kids will have to earn everything from now on.

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Mike writes: What do you think of any potential trade targets on the market for the Yankees this offseason, specifically pitchers? Would Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke or even Matt Cain be available to the Yankees for the right package? And if so, who do you think would make up the right package? I know Peavy has a few years on his contract left but I’ve read online that he’s pretty unhappy in SD.

Answer: Anybody is available at the right package. But it’s going to take giving up some talent. And by that we mean Cano, Hughes, Melancon, Montero, etc. You can’t expect to trade four guys the Yankees don’t much need for one good player. Peavy is said to be open to a trade. But the Padres would want a lot back for him, as well they should.

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Donald writes: Has a date been set for when Yankee Stadium will be razed? I haven’t heard any reports on this, but I’m assuming it will be before Opening Day 2009.

Answer: I’m sure there is a date but it hasn’t been made public. Given how close it is to the subway tracks, city streets and other buildings, the Stadium can’t be imploded. There will be essentially a dismantling. There is a “closing ceremony” set for early November. I would assume they’ll start shortly after that.

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Dylan writes: Do you think Brett Gardner can play center field next year, and more importantly, do you think the front office sees that as an option? That way, you could move Nady to right, Damon to left, make Matsui the everyday DH and sign Teixeira. Let me know what you think.

Answer: Sounds like a plan to me, Dylan. I’d like to see Brett given every chance to start in center. They Yankees need to get younger and better defensively. I think his ceiling is higher than that of Melky Cabrera, too. As to what the front office thinks, it likely depends on what is available this winter.

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John writes: Was wondering if you think the Yanks have interest in Jon Garland. I really don’t think Sabathia is coming here, so I can see the Yanks going for Burnett and another starter. I am leery of Ben Sheets with his injury history and being an NL pitcher. How about Burnett and Garland? Also, both Hank and Cashman have indicated they will not pursue Manny Ramirez, but do you believe that? As much of a clown as he is, he produces, and when it matters most. What are your thoughts?

Answer: Forget Sheets, he’s hurt. Garland is certainly an second-tier option if Sabathia goes elsewhere. I don’t see Manny coming to the Yankees. He’s an older DH who is a liability in the OF. They already have several of those sorts of players. Plus I don’t see he and Joe Girardi being pals.

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Stephen writes: I know Andrew Brackman is going to play winter ball in Hawaii, but didn’t know if you had any updates on his rehab. Is there a chance he’ll be in the mix by September of next year or will he be babied to the ump-teenth degree after the Hughes/Kennedy situations?

Answer: I would doubt Brackman will be major-league ready in 2009 or maybe even 2010 for that matter. This is a guy who pitched in only 30 games and 149.1 innings in college. He needs to learn a lot before he’s ready for the majors. He’ll start at Class A and work his way up. I also disagree with the idea that the Yankees have babied anybody. Studies gave shown that pitchers need to have their innings built up gradually when they break into pro ball otherwise they risk shoulder and/elbow injuries. Just because people wish they could just run somebody like Joba out there for 200 innings doesn’t mean those studies suddenly lack merit.

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Hank S. in Tampa writes: Has anybody found my cell phone?

Answer: Hopefully not.

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Ted writes: I heard something fairly disturbing during a YES broadcast. Michael Kay said that Joe Girardi commented on a question about being more patient at the plate by saying that he thinks the game has changed, that pitchers now attack the strike zone more aggressively, and being patient just gets hitters in the hole 0-1 or 0-2. The implication was that Girardi was of the opinion that hitters should not try to be as patient as they may have been in the past. Clearly, given his comments at his press conference, this doesn’t appear to be a position Brian Cashman takes. Is there any reason to believe that the team’s lack of discipline at the plate this year had to do with managerial philosophy as opposed to some guys having bad years, and some guys getting hurt? If so, that could spell a more long-term problem for the team.

Answer: I don’t think the manager has a direct impact on plate discipline. I would doubt (at least I hope not) that Girardi instructed his players to swing at pitches earlier in the count. I do think that once the likes of Ponson and Rasner were in the rotation, the hitters started to press and some guys got out of what they would normally do. Girardi probably could have done a better job of calming everybody down in June instead of holding a team meeting every 20 minutes. I can’t imagine being patient and working counts will ever not be the right approach. I’ve not heard Girardi espouse that.

Thanks again for the questions.

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