Mailbag: Danks, Kuroda, Oswalt, AL East
Just three questions today, but they're good ones. After you recover from New Year's, use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send your questions along.
Peter asks: Does Danks's extension really spell the end of the Yanks interest in him? Or is this the White Sox trying to get a MUCH better haul for him than if he only had one year of control on him left? Does the length of the contract now scare the Yanks (and other teams) away or does the price in potential prospects for a number 2 starter for half a decade do it instead? Thoughts?
Kenny Williams and the White Sox are very hard to figure out. They say they're going to rebuild, act like they're rebuilding by letting Mark Buehrle walk and trading Sergio Santos, then they turn around and sign one of their most tradeable assets long-term. I don't get it. What's the plan, sign Danks and hope you're competitive by year four of his five year deal? This isn't the first time they've done this either. They said they were going to rebuild a few years ago as well, then ended up signing Buehrle and Paul Konerko long-term. Doesn't make any sense.
Anyway, yeah I think that contract effectively halted any interest the Yankees had in the left-hander. Danks for one year was not only cheaper (in terms of salary and trade cost), but it also gave the team time to evaluate him in Yankee Stadium, the AL East, New York, the whole nine before deciding if he was worth that kind of commitment. Now they'd be locked into the guy until 2016 in a sink-or-swim type deal. I'm a big John Danks fan, but no thanks.
Late add: Apparently Danks has a full no-trade clause in year one of his contract, so so much for that. It's a partial no-trade in years two through five, allowing him to block trades to six teams.
Anthony asks: I fully understand (and agree with) the Yankees stance on the free agent and trade markets. I don't think John Danks was worth any 2 of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos and I feel the same towards Gio Gonzalez. But why do they *seem* hesitant with going after guys like Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt on 1 year deals? Banuelos and Betances are most likely not ready to bring Spring Training as the 4-5 starters. So, what gives?
I think it's because they just don't see Kuroda or Oswalt or even Edwin Jackson as clear upgrades, or at least big enough upgrades to invest something like $16-17M in them (including the luxury tax). Do I think they should sign one of those guys (preferably Kuroda)? Yes. Can I understand why they're hesitant to sink that much cash into someone that's not guaranteed to be any better than the six or seven pitchers they have already lined up for the 2nd through 8th rotation spots? Also yes.
That money is money they won't be able to use later. Sign Oswalt and his back goes out (again), and they're out of luck. They won't have that cash available to them at the trade deadline if something comes along. It's the same situation with lesser pitchers like Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis, Joe Saunders, Joel Pineiro, etc. Yeah they'd cost less money and add a smidgen of depth, but where's the upgrade? The Yankees need someone better than Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, and although I think Kuroda and Oswalt are, you can certainly make a case they aren't.
Dennis asks: Since the Yankees won 97 games in the AL East, which is easily the best division in baseball, how many games do you think the Yankees would win if they played in each of the other 5 divisions in baseball – ones with with much weaker competition?
A lot, almost certainly over 100 on an annual basis if they played in another division. The Yankees have gone 122-94 (.565) against the AL East and 173-97 (.641) against everyone else over the last three seasons, and a .641 winning percentage is a 104-win pace. That's pretty nuts when you consider that we're talking about a three-year sample.
Just think, while the Yankees are busying playing the Red Sox and Rays a combined 36 times next year, the Angels and Rangers will each get to play the Mariners and Athletics a combined 36 times. Then starting in 2013, the Angels and Rangers will each get the M's, A's, and Astros a combined 54 times. That's a third of their schedule against teams that apparently have no interest in being competitive. Some life, huh?