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Yankees Mailbag: Cole Hamels, Greg Bird, juiced balls

The answers to this week’s mailbag have arrived!

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Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Hello, friends, happy Friday! We have five questions in this week’s mailbag. I bookmarked a few submissions to save for later, too. Remember to keep sending your questions in our weekly mailbag call or via e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Larry asks: Would Cole Hamels be a good fit for the Yankees? Would a two-year, $24 million deal get it done?

I can see the tweets and back pages now: the Yankees finally sign Cole! They would have a field day with it.

Hamels pitched to a 3.81 ERA (4.09 FIP) across 141.2 innings in an injury-shortened 2019. He struck out a decent number of batters (9.08 K/9) but also posted a career high walk rate (3.56 BB/9). The southpaw actually pitched quite well prior to landing on the injured list in late June with an oblique strain. Before that, he sported a 2.98 ERA (3.59 FIP) over 99.2 innings. If a team thinks he’s the pre-injury pitcher, then he has some value.

The Yankees have liked him in the past, too.

What would it take to sign him? Consider some of the expert predictions.

Jim Bowden (subscription required): Two years, $36 million
MLB Trade Rumors: Two years, $30 million
FanGraphs: Two years, $28 million

Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) recently made the case for him to get the J.A. Happ contract, or two years and $34 million. Hamels, who will be 36 on Opening Day, reportedly will consider one-year deals for teams in contention. That could change the calculus behind contract estimations.

Would Hamels make sense for the Yankees on a one-year deal to shore up the back of the rotation? Sure, why not? He shouldn’t be the top target, though. They should go get the other Cole, the better Cole.

ogrover asks: If MLB goes back to the 2017, 2018, or even the 2019 postseason ball, don’t contact hitters become that much more valuable? Don’t pitching stats like HR/9 also improve? I’m sure MLB just loved the power surge and the numbers that were put up, but this past year was ridiculous—almost like 1930, which is still considered an outlier year. Even during the 1966–1968 pitcher-friendly era, the genuine power hitters still put up 35–40 homer seasons. I’m not saying raise the mound again but find a balance between the two.

On the contrary, it would make power hitters more valuable! With a de-juiced ball, home runs would occur less frequently, thus making home-run hitters a scarcity. Contact hitters would be the norm. Besides, the Yankees have a good amount of them on the team already; Freeni wrote about it yesterday.

Remember, home runs are good. A dinger is the best possible outcome in any given plate appearance. Now’s a useful time to bump last year’s Home run or bust: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bombs series.

Major League Baseball does need to pick a lane, though. They can’t keep jerking everyone around, going back and forth with empirically different balls. No other sport would tolerate such tampering with the equipment. Juiced or de-juiced, pick one and stick with it.

Jack asks: How did Greg Bird do in winter ball?

Bird, 27, spent a week in the Dominican Winter League, playing for the Gigantes del Cibao. He managed three hits in 24-at bats, striking out eight times and drawing six walks. What does this tell us? Nothing really. The sample size remains too small. The Yankees were probably just happy to see him healthy enough to play. Bird still remains a prime non-tender candidate, where he would almost assuredly hit 40 home runs for the Tampa Bay Rays. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

psualum9931 asks: Any info on when Field of Dreams game tickets go on sale and how to purchase them?

The Yankees and White Sox will play a Field of Dreams game on August 13, 2020. Few details have emerged since the official announcement, but Anthony Castrovince does have an official FAQ page at “Information on a limited ticket availability will be announced by MLB in the months ahead,” the page reads.

imramet asks: For purposes of this question, let’s assume the Yanks sign Brett Gardner; as GM, would you then be content with your outfield? If not, whom do you target? Center field depth for defense and speed (e.g. Billy Hamilton and Jarrod Dyson) or even cheaper depth like Mason Williams or Keon Broxton? Maybe a more proven player who can’t really handle center like Cameron Maybin?

If the last two seasons have taught me anything, it’s that a team can never have enough outfield depth. It doesn’t take much to end up with Shane Robinson or Thairo Estrada roaming the outfield. Goodness.

Now, if I were the GM, I’d pay good money to keep Cameron Maybin around. My team, my rules, and I just so happen to think Maybin rules. He seriously climbed my list of random all-time favorite players this year. Realistically though, any of those names you mentioned work. They fit the Billy Burns category of emergency outfield depth nicely.