I decided to split this week’s mailbag answers into two posts since so many questions were submitted. I wasn’t able to get to all of the questions, but there is a possibility that some of them could still be answered in the future.
rockyb30 asked: Yankee quiz: he had the lowest ERA, lowest WHIP, walked only four, didn't allow a HR, and lefties hit .150 off him. However, you don't hear much about him.
The pitcher in question here is 29-year-old Richard Bleier. He was originally drafted by the Rangers, but has spent time with the Blue Jays and Nationals as well. Bleier ended up with the Yankees over the offseason after he elected free agency. The lefty has worked as a starter and as a reliever during his time in the minors, and the Yankees used him exclusively out of the bullpen during his 23 innings with the team this year.
Bleier finished the season with a 1.96 ERA along with a 1.04 WHIP. He certainly pitched well for the Yankees, but I would caution against getting too excited about him. This was his first taste of the majors and 23 innings is a small sample size. Don’t forget that fellow lefty Chasen Shreve also pitched incredibly well for a short period of time in 2015, and has been unable to repeat that success.
Eric M asked: Now that Gardner has won a Gold Glove, should that increase his value on the trade market? Or will it have minimal effect since most teams already knew about his defensive stats?
What is most interesting about Gardner’s win is the fact that many people feel that he was snubbed back in 2011 when he lost the Gold Glove award to Alex Gordon. I don’t imagine that any of the teams put a lot of stock in the Gold Glove awards. There have been several instances when a player has won the award without deserving it, such as the time that Derek Jeter (and his limited range) won the Gold Glove in 2010. At this point, teams know that Gardner is a good defensive outfielder, but they also know that he is 33 and that those skills decline with age.
E Mail asked: Is there any way that Jacoby Ellsbury could possibly be traded? His contract is right up there with the worst in Yankees history and I'd like to see him traded no matter what, even if we eat the rest of the contract and only get 2 low-level prospects in return. Any ideas?
Ellsbury is set to make roughly $85 million between 2017 and 2020. His contract also has a 2021 team option worth $21 million with a $5 million buyout. This deal just seems worse all the time. Over his past three seasons with the Yankees, he has hit .264/.326/.382 and has dealt with some injuries. He has not lived up to the Yankees expectations so far, and we haven’t even reached the halfway point in his contract.
The Yankees do have a bit of an outfield logjam happening, but it is difficult to imagine another team wanting to trade for Ellsbury. The Yankees probably wouldn’t be willing to eat enough of the contract to make a deal possible, either. The only trade that might make sense would be swapping a bad contract for another bad contract. However, Ellsbury has a full no-trade clause so he’ll probably be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
Aidan R asked: Who are some low end starters on the free agent market this year who could help the Yankees? Chris Capuano?
This free agent class is bad, but a reunion with Chris Capuano would also be bad. The somewhat scary thing is that deals have been coming together really quickly over the past few days. RA Dickey and Bartolo Colon have both been scooped up. The Yankees have already expressed interest in Rich Hill, who is somehow the best pitcher available, but because he is coming off of a good year, he will probably get way more money than he should and will likely get a three-year deal.
Our potential free agent target series just began, and we’re planning to cover several possible rotation options over the next few weeks including Doug Fister, Jeremy Hellickson, Colby Lewis, Jason Hammel, and a few others (provided they don’t get signed in the meantime).