JABO Mailbag: Are the Yankees for real? (and other burning questions)

BY foxsports • June 12, 2015

Answering some mail while still recovering from all the vintage goodies inside Dodger Stadium, which now seems like some sort of fevered dream. Oh, and speaking of which...

Will Alex Guerrero ever be freed? It's not like next year is gonna be any better with Olivera and Seager right behind him.
- Dayton Cripe

This is a good question! Guerrero’s got a nifty .617 slugging percentage, but hasn’t started even half of the Dodgers’ games this season, even though left field is one of the few positions where the Dodgers haven’t gotten tremendous production. And Guerrero’s best position is probably left field.

Of course that’s setting the bar pretty low, as it seems he’s rather atrocious at any position, whether left field or (his other occasional spot) third base. And he’s not taking over at first base, not without a serious injury anyway.

Will he be “freed,” though? I think that depends largely upon how badly some other team wants him. As lousy as Guerrero might be, he’s a tremendous bench player. So unless someone makes an offer the Dodgers can’t refuse – and this should be an American League, because Guerrero looks an awful lot like a future Designated Hitter – I don’t see him going anywhere this season, and maybe even beyond then.

Do the Mariners need another big trade to get to the playoffs?
- Scott Siegrist

When you say another ... oh, you mean Trumbo. Mm-kay.

Yeah, that’s a cheap shot.  He’s now got 28 at-bats with the M’s, and all of four hits. Four singles. I’m sure the power will come, eventually. It always has before, right?

To answer your question directly, though … No, the M’s don’t need another big trade. I mean, sure: It might help a little. But what they really need is Robinson Canó to hit, and for almost everyone to hit better in the clutch situations; the M’s are 10th in the league in OPS but 15th in scoring. It would also help a lot of Taijuan Walker  stopped giving up so many homers and Hisashi Iwakuma got healthy. Basically, the Mariners have dug themselves a hole so deep that most things that have gone well have to keep going well, and what’s not gone well has to go better. It’s still early, but it’s not that early.

Can the Yankees keep playing this well?
- Darren Baker

Can they? Sure. They can do just about anything. I think the question, rather, is will they. And that strikes me as largely related to the future health of four players who were not healthy last season: Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Masahiro Tanaka, and Michael Pineda. Most of the rest of the Yankees are, generally speaking, known quantities. What’s more, they’re known quantities who are already doing approximately what we expect them to do.

But Teixeira’s been far, far better than we’ve seen him in a long time, and of course Mr. Rodriguez hadn’t played at all in a long time. Tanaka and Pineda both showed flashes of greatness last season, but combined for only 33 starts.

I think the Yankees will go about as far as those four guys take them.

It seems like bullpens are becoming more and more important, and starting pitchers are pitching fewer and fewer innings. Now we're seeing the occasional 6-man rotation. Will there be another 300-game winner in our lifetimes?
- Colin Christopher

Colin, it’s now difficult to see where all this will go, but the trend is obviously toward fewer and fewer starts. I remain unconvinced that six-man rotations will become the norm anytime soon. But on the other hand, many teams are talking about giving their starting pitchers a break here and there, regardless of exactly how that’s done. Which means fewer and fewer pitchers will start more than around 30 games, which makes it just a little harder to rack up the W’s.

I write all this with at least a tinge of embarrassment. When other writers first began to doubt the existence of future 300-game winners, I scoffed. With some arrogance, I’m sure.

Well, now the joke’s on me. A few years ago, the only good-looking candidate for 300 wins was CC Sabathia and you know what’s happened to him. Otherwise ... uh, whom? Tim Hudson’s almost 40 and he’s 82 wins away. Mark Buehrle would have to pitch, and pitch well, until he’s 42. Hudson, Buehrle, Sabathia, and Bartolo Colon are the only active guys with more than 165 career wins. At the moment, our only decent candidates are Justin Verlander – you know, the old Justin Verlander, whom we haven’t actually seen in a while now – and Felix Hernandez. And there are a LOT of years between those guys and even sniffing 300.

So until someone invents a way for this era’s starting pitchers to throw 250 innings every year for 15 or 20 straight years, I’ll have to admit that my arrogant self was wrong and the naysayers were right. We might have seen the last of them.

Any heat on Samardzjia trade?
- Anthony Tony Pecora

I kinda doubt it, for a bunch of reasons.

One, Rodon – remember when he was supposed to be great? – has been shaky, thanks to a ton of walks, while Hector Noesi’s been just plain terrible. So it’s not like the White Sox rotation is particularly deep. Or deep at all.

Two, Samardzija’s pitched somewhat better than his bloated ERA. Yes, his strikeout rate’s down some, but otherwise there’s not much to worry about here. Still, that bloated ERA does knock down his perceived value some, so this might be the worst time to trade him.

And three, I doubt if the White Sox have given up yet, and in fact I’m not convinced they should give up.

Wait. Strike that. They should give up. But I don’t think they will, not when they’re just a good weekend shy of .500. Last winter, the franchise made a lot of noise about being competitive this season. Now, that might have been empty noise. But I don’t believe they’ll admit that until it’s absolutely necessary. And it’s not necessary quite yet.

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