Inbox: Additional catching depth?
Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers Yankees fans' questions
Depending on Jorge Posada's health, what other catchers do the Yankees have besides Jose Molina? Let's hope that this is the year for the Yankees and all the players stay healthy.
-- Mike M., Richmond, Va.
The Yankees would share that sentiment. They're counting on Posada to come back strong and be able to catch at least half of their games. Posada is shooting higher than that, having set his own personal target at 120 to 130 games. No one is quite sure how this is going to work, but the reports out of Tampa, Fla., have been good so far.
Posada has already increased his throwing to 120 feet, but there is a reason that Molina packed his bags in October vowing to have a more intense workout regimen over the winter. The Yankees will have a serious issue if Posada is unable to catch more than half of their games.
The Yankees don't need another designated hitter -- not with Hideki Matsui already on the roster and questionable for extended outfield play. There is also a sizable offensive dropoff with Molina in the lineup instead of Posada's switch-hitting bat. We saw that last season.
Kevin Cash was picked up as a free agent and will likely head to Triple-A as insurance, much in the same way New York bounced Chad Moeller around last year. Prospect Francisco Cervelli appeared with the Yankees last September and is also still in the system.
But for the purposes of 2009, here's the bottom line: if either Cash or Cervelli spend much time on the big league roster, there will have been bigger problems.
Why are the Yankees so concerned with trading Xavier Nady and keeping Nick Swisher? Nady has already proven himself and Swisher has been a mid-range player for years. And why hasn't general manager Brian Cashman looked into signing Orlando Hudson?
-- Brent G., Lafollette, Tenn.
For the moment, it looks like New York is going into spring with both Nady and Swisher on the roster. The reason the Yankees have told teams they are more willing to trade Nady is strictly contractual -- Nady will be a free agent after the 2009 season, and with Scott Boras as his representative, you know he is going to be testing the waters.
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It's entirely possible the Yankees could try to sign Nady next winter, but there's a guy out there -- Matt Holliday -- that they'll probably try for instead. Swisher is under contract through 2011 and is considered relatively affordable. That's not to say the Bombers wouldn't consider trading Swisher, just that there is no apparent urgency to do so.
As for Hudson, he said on the MLB Network last week that the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Nationals had shown interest in him, but there doesn't seem to be a fit in the Bronx. He isn't interested in a position change and the Bombers are excited about how trim Robinson Cano looks heading into the spring, putting their chips on him to have a bounce-back year.
Why do they always mention Joba Chamberlain as both a starter and a reliever, yet they never mention Phil Hughes as a reliever? Why can't Hughes be put into Chamberlain's old bullpen role?
-- Mike M., Raleigh, N.C.
As far as I know, no one within the Yankees organization is looking at Hughes as a potential reliever. Really, they're trying to wean everyone off the idea of Chamberlain as a reliever as well. That was a move made because New York desperately needed some bullpen help during the 2007 playoff push.
Chamberlain just happened to be available for a conversion, but even then, the Yankees said they envisioned Chamberlain as a starter going forward. It just so happens that we've seen more of Chamberlain as a reliever -- and he's pretty good at it -- but it makes sense that you'd want your best pitchers throwing more innings.
Hughes saved the Yankees with 3 2/3 strong innings in the 2007 American League Division Series, relieving Roger Clemens' final big league appearance, but that doesn't necessarily make him a reliever. What Hughes needs now is to continue refining his pitches and prove he can stay healthy for an entire season.
I assume that all teams find out if a person is signable or if they are leaning toward college. So why is it that in 2008, Scott Bittle, Jeremy Bleich and Gerrit Cole are not signed, and they will not be signed? How did they not ask these potential draftees if they would sign or not?
-- Mike A., Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
Actually, Bleich did sign a $700,000 deal, and it was the Yankees' decision not to sign Bittle after team doctors found some areas of concern in his pitching shoulder. New York has taken on the philosophy that signability is not nearly as important as rolling the dice and trying to get the most talented player on the board.
Cole fell to them in part because teams were scared off by who his advisor was -- Boras -- but at the time, there was every reason to believe he'd sign. Cole even held a conference call with reporters at Yankee Stadium, telling a story about meeting Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill in an Arizona hotel lobby during the 2001 World Series.
Cashman later said that, at the time, Cole's interest was to play professionally, even though he had a choice to go to UCLA. Sometime between the Draft and Aug. 15, Cole and his family had a change of heart and decided to go with college. That's what happens when you gamble -- sometimes you lose.
Do you think a strong showing at the World Baseball Classic can help Williams win a spot with the Yankees? It will give us a chance to honor one of the best players in the franchise history.
-- Roberto D., Barcelona, Spain
I guess you can never say never, so I won't. But the chances of that happening seem slight considering that it was Joe Torre, not Cashman, who was pounding the drum for Williams to be on the roster in 2007. If Cashman believed Williams' skills had faded too much then, why would they be any better in '09?
Last month, Williams admitted that it would be nearly impossible for him to juggle his budding music career and a return to life in the big leagues.
"As a performing artist, you have to do dates and promotions and try to promote your music albums," Williams said on Jan. 24. "That is not really going to be very conducive to being 100 percent out there playing baseball as well.
"There's got to be a compromise at some point, but we haven't really gotten to that point yet. I anticipate that if I want to do it the same way I do baseball, it's going to be very difficult to do it at the same time."
Hopefully Williams is able to make Puerto Rico's Classic roster -- it'd be great for him to be able to do what he loves most, and allow his fans to cheer for him one more time. But the odds are against him being on someone's big league roster come Opening Day.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.