Thanks for all of your submissions, folks. Please keep them coming; we’ll certainly address each email as quickly as possible! To submit a question, simply click the “Contact Us” tab under the site’s banner and send us your thoughts. Today’s question involves some serious offseason roster reconstruction.
“Everybody has accepted that Derek Jeter’s range has decreased in the field, but I believe I have found a more difficult problem to deal with … it looks like Jeter’s arm strength is failing him even faster than his range. … Would it be feasible to trade Cano to get a pitcher that will [not] be a free agent next year? That would be two years of Cano for one year of a pitcher … then we can ask Jeter to be the Captain he is and move to second [base] where his arm and range will be less of a detriment. … Now, the opening at shortstop could be filled by [signing] Reyes from the free agent market. In this scenario we will lose little if any offense, the defense might actually come out about even, and [the team will have] a superior pitcher in between C.C. and Nova. … Considering that Cano’s money would go towards paying Reyes, it would not even be a huge investment [for] the Yankees, [and] would be cheaper than going after Darvish or Wilson.”
Derek Jeter’s defense stinks, so move him to second.
Regardless of what metric you subscribe too, chances are it’s been rather critical of Derek’s defensive contributions over the years. At this point, I think it’s probably fair to grade Jeter’s fielding ability as “serviceable at best,” and that’s probably being generous. Certainly, some of his defensive limitations (as you correctly note), can be attributed to his declining range. Diminished arm strength could very well be a factor as well*.
That said, I think the idea of moving him to second is both infeasible and unrealistic. Derek, like every other professional player, has his fair share of ego and would probably balk at the proposal. The organization also seems interested in preserving the peace with their Captain for as long as possible and would probably be hesitant to ask. More importantly, if we put feelings aside, is it really fair to assume Derek could successfully transition to that spot? Frankly, I suspect he’d be even worse in that role; he’d still have the same physical limitations, he’d still be an aging infielder, plus he’d have to cope with the hassle of learning an entirely new role. Like it or not, I suspect the Captain won’t be shifting anywhere anytime soon.
*I’ve always wondered (albeit anecdotally) if Derek’s range, or lack thereof, forces him to compensate in other ways defensively. For example, obviously his patented throw-to-first-while-twirling-in-the-air-play makes for an excellent highlight, but does it also suggest improper positioning? If Derek was quicker on his feet, would he be forced to rely on such a complicated maneuver to get the guy out at first? In the same vein, if he was able to get to the ball more efficiently, could more time be afforded to maximizing the accuracy and power of the throw? Or, maybe, the throw was just made a little more casually than it has in the past because Teixeira is the guy on the receiving end of it and can handle it.
Goodbye Cano, hello Reyes.
Let’s pretend Derek’s willing and able to shift to second for a moment, so now talks between the Yankees and Reyes are heating up. At this juncture, Robby is not really cheap in terms of salary per se (he’ll earn $11M in 2012 and $14M in 2013), but he certainly is cheap relative to his value on the open market (FG suggests his production has been valued over $25M in each of the past two seasons). In terms of production (despite minimal plate discipline), he’s hit to the tune of .308/.347/.496 (.359 wOBA, 119 wRC+) over the course of his career.
Since 2009, he’s taken his game to a whole new level and developed serious power numbers. In terms of durability, since 2007, he’s averaged 160 games played each season and has become a feature bat in an already offensively laden lineup. Obviously, once free agency rolls around, you can bet Boras will help Robby cash in big time.
I can see why you’d be drawn to Reyes as a substitue though. He’s demonstrated some slick fielding and has a reputation for being an electric player on the bases. He’s also a year younger than Cano. Reyes’ career .292/.341/.441 triple slash (.346 wOBA, 112 wRC+) is nothing to scoff at either. The biggest difference (in terms of offensive production) between the two players are the power numbers. In 2011, Reyes posted a .156 ISO (compared with Cano’s .231); also remember, Reyes has only hit 15 or more homeruns in his career twice.
Of course, Reyes is not without his demons either. He’s had a difficult time keeping himself on the field health wise and has a reputation for not always being a team-first kind of guy. Considering he’s a free agent now, he’s also likely command a nine figure salary which will definitely equate to a substantial yearly committment.
For what it’s worth, I’m confident the Yankees offense would survive just fine with either guy in the lineup. However, over the next couple seasons, Reyes will definitely be the more expensive option. The Yankees could concieveably absorb another dubious contract, but if I’m them, I’m sure leery about it.
Would somebody please think of the pitching!
So at this point, Jeter’s scowling at second, Reyes is doing his best non-Met impression at shortstop, and we’re left with an extremely tantalizing trade chip in Cano. Now it’s time to address the starting rotation. What we have to keep in mind though, is that trades have to be realistic (not just in terms of what the Yankees give up, but what they receive in return).
As a young, elite, middle infield player, Cano has tremendous value and would demand a tremendous haul in return. Guys like Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw are really the only pitchers who I can envision as qualifiers. The Yanks would require an undisputed ace that would be both reasonably priced and under team control for several years. I’m fairly certain that New York would not consider a one (or potentially even two) year rental of a pitcher for a player as high-caliber as Cano. While both teams would do jumping jacks for Robby’s services (especially the Mariners), losing pitchers of that magnitude is an awfully tough pill to swallow.
The other point worth considering is that some legitimate pitching options are potentially available to the Yankees without them having to lose Robby, not even including Yu Darvish or C.J. Wislon (although free agency does allow the Yankees to utilize their financial might). If the Bombers aren’t enamored with those guys, they can consider trading for other top-of-the-rotation arms using their replenished farm system. Even though it’s hard to see prospects (such as Montero or Banuelos) shipped off at times, sometimes acquiring a proven commodity is the best move. One other point to consider is the fact that a plethora of pitching talent should hit the market after the 2012 season.
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