Inbox: Was getting Youk the right move?
Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers fans' questions
Kevin Youkilis' transition from Red Sox crimson to Yankees pinstripes (by way of Chicago) is complete, and a two-year agreement with Ichiro Suzuki was announced last week, crossing another item off the to-do list.
The 2013 Yankees appear to be taking shape, but general manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that they still have plenty of work to do between now and spring. Here's a look at some of the questions you're asking:
Why did the Yankees decide to sign Youkilis as opposed to giving the position to a Minor Leaguer until Alex Rodriguez is ready? They'd save quite a bit of cash and might discover a future star or trade bait at the same time.
-- Al S., Morocco
That would have been ideal, but the Yankees quickly made it very clear that they did not believe they had an in-house candidate to take over at third base. The club has refused to consider moving Eduardo Nunez back to third base, saying it only wants him to focus on refining his defense as a shortstop (possibly to boost his trade value), and Jayson Nix isn't viewed as an everyday player.
There also wasn't a whole lot to choose from at the upper levels of the Minors. The Yankees could have given David Adams, Corban Joseph or Ronnier Mustelier serious looks in the spring, but I'm not sure you can definitively say that any one of them would have been an answer if A-Rod winds up missing more time than expected. The organization thinks A-Rod should be back by June or July, but there's no guarantee there.
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Instead, the Yankees were able to move forward with Youkilis on a short-term, flexible basis, which exactly lines up with their needs. His recent decline aside, the Yankees can at least point to Youkilis' solid track record of success in the league and know that -- in a worst-case scenario -- they should have their everyday third baseman for all of 2013.
It seems there is little chance the Yankees will re-sign Curtis Granderson after this season. Will they trade him to help restock the farm system?
-- David F., Boston
It's still possible, but not probable. The Yankees have made it known around the league that they are willing to listen to offers on Granderson, but I'm not sure they can receive enough in trade to make it worth their while. Granderson is due $15 million next season and will be seeking a long-term deal after 2013, which is sure to make some potential suitors think twice about parting with their top talent.
Granderson's strikeout totals (195 this year) are a turnoff as well, which is probably part of the reason you don't hear many people talking about the Yankees giving him the extension they'd hinted at earlier. Granderson has plus power, and that's also part of the reason why the Yankees might need to keep him around -- 43 homers is tough to replace, and especially needed in an outfield that figures to have both Brett Gardner and Ichiro in it. Granderson's power numbers would also suffer by not playing 81 games at Yankee Stadium, something any potential trading partner would have to consider.
I've been reading a lot about a pitcher named Mark Montgomery, who has been progressing through the Yankees' farm system. How close is he to pitching on the Major League level?
-- Ken S., Hicksville, N.Y.
Montgomery -- the organization's No. 14 prospect, according to MLB.com -- appears to be on the fast track to helping the Yankees. A strong showing in the Arizona Fall League didn't hurt his chances, and even if he begins the year in the Minors, he might be in position for an early-season callup. Contributions on the level that David Robertson provided in 2009 aren't out of the question.
With these latest signings, the Yankees are getting older. When will there be a youth movement?
-- Ed A., Jacksonville, Fla.
We hear this complaint a lot, and Cashman said that the advancing age of the Yankees roster is a concern. There are promising prospects (Gary Sanchez, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and more) in the pipeline, but they've still got more to prove before seriously threatening to break into the Show.
The Yankees seem to be collecting guys well into their 30s and beyond this winter, which works with their criteria of obtaining talent on a flexible, one-year basis. Cashman defended his recent moves, saying the Yankees didn't like their other choices on the market.
"I'd say you're always concerned about [the age of the roster], but I'm not concerned about it when you look at the alternatives," Cashman said. "The alternative is, hey, I could get a younger player that just isn't very good. But hey, you could run him out there for 162 [games]; it wouldn't hurt, but he wouldn't help you."
What type of compensation will the Yankees get if Nick Swisher or Rafael Soriano sign with other teams, and will they get anything for Russell Martin?
-- Jody S., Peru
The Yankees will receive compensation picks at the end of the first round of the 2013 Draft, now that Swisher has signed with the Indians and Soriano seems to be a lock to sign elsewhere. They'll receive no such compensation for Martin, because the Yankees didn't extend him a one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer; Martin likely would have accepted that, considering he signed with the Pirates for two years and $17 million.
Are the Yankees concerned about having an all left-handed outfield?
-- Chris W., King of Prussia, Pa.
It's something they need to address. Cashman has said he needs to find someone to fill the Andruw Jones role, and though the Yankees have had some success finding players in late January and early February, you'd rather not have to wait that long. This week's Minor League deal with Matt Diaz gives them something to look at in Spring Training with no risk attached. Scott Hairston's name has been floated quite a bit, and he'd seem to be a good fit, but Hairston is said to be looking for at least a two-year deal and we've seen that the Yankees are reluctant to offer those right now.
When will Mason Williams and Melky Mesa be ready to help the Yankees outfield?
-- Harris K., Schaumburg, Ill.
You know what they always say: prospects are suspects, at least until they make it. Mesa did make it into three Major League games late in the season, so it's possible you'll see him helping out at the big league level this year -- if not to start the year, then perhaps later. Williams, the Yankees' No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com, had just 83 at-bats at Class A Tampa last year. That's probably where he'll start 2013, and the best estimate for his big league ETA would be '15.
With all this talk about starting pitching, I'm not hearing Michael Pineda's name anywhere. Did I miss something? Is he done for 2013?
-- Phil K., Pittsfield, Mass.
No, the Yankees are still quietly optimistic that Pineda will be able to help them at some point in 2013. If everything goes perfectly with his rehab, you might see him in the big leagues by June, but the Yankees are thinking of it as though anything they get from him will be a bonus. Considering the nature of Pineda's injury and the challenges that go with it, pitching coach Larry Rothschild recently said that it "would be a mistake" to count on Pineda helping the '13 club.