Mailbag: Is Pudge here for long?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers Yankees fans' questions
Pudge Rodriguez is a great addition for this season, but what does this mean for Jorge Posada's future with the Yankees? Will the Yankees try to keep both catchers or will Pudge be moving on after 2008? Would the Yankees keep Pudge over Posada?
-- Jennifer H., New York, N.Y.
At the time of the trade, Brian Cashman was very careful to note that trading for Rodriguez was a move for the rest of this season, and not something that should be construed as a change for the future. Rodriguez and Kyle Farnsworth can both be free agents after this season, so in terms of commitments, the move made sense.
Posada will have three years remaining on his contract when he eventually returns from surgery on his right shoulder, and the Yankees would not have signed him to that type of deal if they didn't envision him catching going forward. There's plenty of debate if Posada will really be catching games for the Yankees in 2011 or, by then, have had an inevitable position switch.
As far as how this affects Rodriguez, it's probably easiest to think of his time in pinstripes as a two-month rental, since that is all that can be assured at this point. Certainly, it's possible that it could go longer than that, but Jose Molina is also under contract for next season and is widely regarded as one of the better backup catchers in the big leagues.
The trade was more about immediately upgrading the Yankees for August and September; they liked Chad Moeller plenty, but it isn't often you're able to add a future Hall of Fame catcher and a 14-time All-Star to your lineup with a little more than 50 games to go in the season.
Interestingly, Cashman had noted that Rodriguez was swirling around the trade market earlier in the year as well, but the Yankees did not pull the trigger then because they still held out hope that Posada's shoulder would be strong enough to catch the rest of the season. Instead, Posada is looking at a six-month minimum recovery time from the surgical procedure and Rodriguez gets two months in New York to live out what he called "a dream" of catching for the Yankees.
Ian Kennedy is pitching pretty well right now in the Minor Leagues, and Kei Igawa is pitching decent too, so why are the Yankees watching Darrell Rasner struggle?
-- John R., Wakefield, R.I.
It's something that has been noted, certainly. The Yankees wanted Kennedy to earn his way back to the big leagues and he has pitched well his last four times out at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 3-0 with a 1.33 ERA over 27 innings, walking five and striking out 20.
Rasner has had a pretty long leash this season, and it's fair to say that the Yankees have not always given him the best run support. Yet the timing of his latest start may hurt his chances of staying in the rotation, since his next turn would come on Friday against the same Angels team that seemed to handle him so well.
Joe Girardi didn't exactly deliver a ringing endorsement of Rasner's chances of making that start, speaking after the 14-9 win over the Angels on Sunday: "I've always said that we talk about things all the time. Ras is in our rotation. We'll continue to discuss things, and if we make a change, we make a change."
The Yankees know that time is running short to put wins on the board and every game is crucial; if it's determined that Kennedy gives them a better chance to win a game than Rasner, they'll make that move. At some point, you also need to figure that Kennedy has been touted as a piece of the organization's future moving forward -- he'll get another chance to swim or sink.
Why don't they make Giambi shave his mustache? One of the reasons I've always preferred the Yankees is the clean-cut professionalism they have always represented.
-- Jeni H., Reno, Okla.
Never fear, the 'stache is clear. Giambi shaved it after Sunday's game, telling reporters that there were "no more hits in it." But again, I have to argue the point that Giambi was not the first Yankee in the Steinbrenner era to sport facial hair -- Don Mattingly, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, on and on and on. The official rule is no facial hair below the lip, and Giambi had the organization's full approval, even organizing a Stadium giveaway to pump his chances to make the All-Star team in the MLB.com Final Vote.
Why wasn't Bernie Williams at Old-Timer's Day?
-- Jose M., Bronx, N.Y.
Have a question about the Yankees?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
It seems to me the weakest link for the Yankees right now is Melky Cabrera. With Nady joining Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, why does he still play every day? Will he sit if Hideki Matsui returns?
-- Ralph C., Honolulu, Hawaii
You can't really quantify these things, but Girardi has said that he believes Cabrera leads the Yankees in hard outs this season, and accordingly hard luck. Maybe that's just an example of Girardi defending his player, but there's some truth in it. At this point it's fair to say that Cabrera appears to have regressed offensively from last season, but defensively he can still play a winning center field. Matsui's possible return would not impact Cabrera because, best case, Matsui would be coming back as a designated hitter -- and there is no timetable for that, though he has gone to Tampa, Fla., and the Yankees would not have sent him there if he needed surgery immediately.
When Phil Hughes went on the disabled list, initial reports said that he would be back around the end of July, but I have not yet heard anything about him. When will he be coming back?
-- Parker J., Moultrie, Ga.
Hughes made his second Minor League start on Aug. 2 for Class-A Charleston, throwing 3 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball, striking out five. Girardi said that he was "encouraged by the numbers," but Hughes still needs to build up his endurance. He threw 54 pitches in that outing and will jump to 65-70 next time out. And hey, Carl Pavano is pitching as well, don't forget about him. Pavano has made two appearances for Charleston and, barring a setback, can put himself in position to appear for the Yankees at least one more time before his four-year contract runs out.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.