Is Robertson The Next Yankee Closer?

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Mike Silva raised an interesting point this morning, one that often gets overlooked in all the hullabaloo around Joba and Hughes:

Everyone talks about Joba Chamberlain as the “heir apparent” but Robertson should be just as much in the conversation. If he qualified his 12.98 K/9 would be second to only Jonathan Broxton last season. The one thing he needs to work on is his command, but that hasn’t stopped K-Rod (4.1 BB/9) from carving out a great career as a closer…..
Look, no one will ever replace Mariano Rivera. There is also no indication he is ready to retire or hang it up. At some point, unless he isn’t human, there will be a need for someone else to take the reins. Even if he is still around perhaps a break would be necessary from time to time. If you want him to pitch two innings every postseason you might need to pace him during the regular season.
Robertson gets overlooked in the conversation, but a pitcher that can miss bats like him certainly should have a bright future.

As Silva notes elsewhere in the article, if Joba and Hughes both succeed in the rotation, the Yankees will be in the market for a closer. Can Robertson be that guy? Some would watch him and wonder how a guy with just two pitches, including a fastball that averages just under 92MPH, could be so successful and strike out so many batters. However, his curveball is excellent and he hides the ball very well in his delivery on the fastball, such that it has “sneaky speed” and plays more like 94-95 than 91-93. He has the minor league pedigree and major league success, he has the stuff, and he has the K-rate. So where are the flaws? Why isn’t he seen as a future closer?

Jim Callis was asked that question in his chat this week, and said the following:

Not sure I see him as a top-notch closer, but I love him as a setup man. Yet another guy whose prospect stock soared in the Cape Cod League.

I agree with Callis, simply due to the one issue that Silva raises: his BB rate (4.74 last season) is high for a top closer. K-Rod is simply the exception that proves the rule, and he has a better repertoire than Robertson. While Robertson could improve in that area, he has always walked plenty of hitters, with a minor league BB-rate of 3.6. Even if he drops the walk rate below 4, that will still be significantly higher than most elite closers. Putting a lot of runners on base through the free pass is a dangerous prospect for a person who will often be pitching with a one run lead and the game on the line. I could see Robertson closing for some other clubs, but for a team that is used to the greatness that is Mariano Rivera, I think David will have to be satisfied with being the setup man.


As longtime readers know, baseball is my one and only love when it comes to sports. However, as a teenager growing up in Manhattan in the mid-90s, I, like many of my peers, fell in love with the Pat Ewing/Charles Oakley/John Starks/Derek Harper/Charles Smith Knicks teams. Unfortunately, as talented as they were they just could not get it done. I’ll never forget the 1994 NBA Finals, featuring O.J.’s white Bronco irritatingly interfering with a huge Game 5 Knicks victory, and of course, quite possibly my worst sports memory of all time, John Starks missing shot after shot after shot en route to a miserable 2-18 performance and blowing the Knicks’ best shot at a title.

The Knicks pleasantly surprised us with a return trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, but we all knew they were no match for the Spurs. After 1999, the Knicks embarked on a nightmarish 10-year downward spiral that many fans hope will finally come to end this summer if the team can land Lebron.

All this is to say that I haven’t paid serious attention to pro basketball in more than 10 years; I find football boring, predictable and insulting to my intelligence; and I’d rather watch “The Marriage Ref” than hockey. Thankfully, the NCAA tournament is the one annual sporting event outside of baseball that really gets me going. Even better, the end of the tournament typically coincides with the greatest day of the year: Opening Day.

1996 was the first year I filled a bracket out. My pal and sometime Yankeeist author Skip ran the pool that year, and I managed to come in second place on the power of a ridiculously stacked Kentucky team featuring a whopping nine players who made it to the NBA, including Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer and Derek Anderson. Needless to say, I was hooked.

In the years since that first pool, I’ve actually managed to win the whole thing two other times — in my 2003 pool I had Kansas over Syracuse, and even though ‘Cuse won I still ended up taking the whole thing down; and two years ago in 2008 I had Kansas over Memphis. Had Memphis won I would have come in second, but thankfully Memphis choking away that nine-point lead with under two minutes to go made me doubly richer than I would have been.

So while I certainly don’t proclaim to be an expert, it feels good having taken down two entire March Madness pools in the last seven years. As for this year? Impossible to say after day one, although I’m currently tied for 6th place with about 13 other people. I managed to get the Murray State, Washington, St. Mary’s and ODU upsets right, but I ended up getting a little too upset happy as I also had SDSU beating Tennessee and UTEP over Butler.

UTEP crapped the bed, but to their credit SDSU at least made it close last night. While Tennessee wasn’t all that impressive itself, it was pretty clear throughout the second half that they were the superior team. Tennessee’s win coupled with Georgetown’s stunning loss has already given me a second-round game in which I have neither team playing, although I imagine a fair amount of people had Georgetown beating Tennessee, so it shouldn’t affect my bracket too harshly.

“If everyone pitches great…”

“If everyone pitches great, we might run them all out again”

That’s what Yankee manager Joe Girardi said in his pregame interview when asked if the 5th starter competition would get wrapped up next week. As Chris reported yesterday they intend to wrap things up soon, but things could get extended with some big performances among the participants.

But it begs a question, one that I thought would be fun to kick around. I think we know that all things being equal, this is a 2 horse race between Joba and Hughes. Let’s assume that both of them pitch lights out in their next outing, and then again in the next run-off outing. So what were effectively doing is taking performance out of the equation, and going with who you believe is the best choice for #5 starter. I’m going to hold off on weighing in, because I don’t want to steer the debate in any particular direction. I’ll do a follow-up piece tomorrow with my choice and the reasons behind it.

So tell me, if both Joba and Hughes are pitching great, who’s your #5 starter?

Flaherty disses A-Rod (sort of)

I’m calling it a diss, although you might disagree.

Here’s the quote in question, via Seth Livingstone of USA Today:

John Flaherty, former big-league catcher in his fifth season as a broadcaster for the YES Network, came up through the Boston Red Sox system ahead of Garciaparra and now sees Jeter and Rodriguez on a regular basis. He remembers well the discussions in the clubhouse similar to those among fans who debated the merits of the three stars.

“(Players would say) Alex might have the best all-around ability of the three — the fielding, the power, the tools scouts would see,” Flaherty says. “But then you’d go in a different direction: Who would you want on your team? Who would you want up in a big spot? Kind of throw the tools and talent out and the competition starts coming. You’d start thinking about Derek and Nomar.”

Each was different when it came to working them behind the plate.

“Nomar went up there, and you knew the first thing he saw he would let it fly,” Flaherty says. “He could do some damage on the first pitch of an at-bat. There was no trying to set him up. He wasn’t going to give you a strike. He was going to be very aggressive and, in Fenway, create a lot of damage.

“Derek’s the same way — very aggressive. He’s not going to hurt you as much (with power), but in a big spot you really had to be careful.

“Alex was more patient. He would try to work into a hitter’s count, so you could try to jump ahead, get strike one, then go to work.”

There’s a tacit, “Alex Rodriguez isn’t clutch,” argument embedded in here, isn’t there?

Photo by the AP

Yanks likely to announce 5th starter next week

Not sure if this was mentioned at some point earlier this week, but, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, Yankees skipper, Joe Girardi, “has said he would like to decide on a fifth starter by next Thursday or Friday,” meaning that it is imperative for each of the five competing starters vying for the team’s final rotation spot to make the best of their remaining opportunities (possibly one more game a piece). Basically, this is it. It’s crunch time down in Florida.

Now for a quick tangent…

When you think about it strictly from a statistical perspective, spring training “battles” – assuming there are absolutely no preconceived notions going into them – are extremely asinine. In essence, Girardi, an example here, is making a pivotal pitching decision, one with real consequences, based on a few abbreviated and meaningless outings. Now, I do not view the Yankees’ fifth starter battle as a true spring competition, as Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have always seemed to have inside tracks, but it is still worth noting the inanity of the longstanding spring competition. The only utility I see provided by this practice is that it forces a complacent player to think he is fighting for his spot.

In this case, Joba Chamberlain is that particular player.

Photo by the AP

Guest Post: Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford and 2011 Free Agency: Irresponsible Speculation

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The last of our guest posts was done by (sic). Some of you might recognize him from RAB as “the artist formerly known as (sic)” or from twitter as @tafkasic, and you can read more of his work at He took a look at the 2011 free agent market and the Yankees’ place within it. It is an entertaining read that I think you will enjoy.

The 2010-2011 offseason could be one of the most exciting Hot Stove periods in recent memory for Yankees fans. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will both become free agents, and the contracts of Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez will both expire. Additionally, Cliff Lee, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Manny Ramirez, Ted Lilly and Brandon Webb will all become free agents. Will CC and Cliff Lee stand side-by-side in pinstripes as the new New York Knick LeBron James throws out the first pitch of the 2011 season, causing the entire city of Cleveland to light itself on fire? Will they go for shorter contracts on pitchers, and pursue speedster Carl Crawford? Will they package IPK and Melky for Johan Santana? Wait…what?

There are a lot of moving parts, so the best way to attack this is to determine how much cash the Yankees will have to spend, try to hazard a guess at how much Lee and Crawford will earn on the open market, and see if there are any scenarios in which one, or both, fit into the Yankees 2011 payroll.

For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to be making several assumptions. First, I’m assuming that the Yankees resign Jeter for something close to $100M over 5 years. I’m also assuming the Rivera is resigned for $30M over 2 years. Finally, I’m assuming that the 2011 payroll will be in the $200-210M range. The first two are huge assumptions, obviously, but I can’t see those two leaving. The money may be different, but hopefully won’t be too much in excess of what I’m envisioning.

2011 Salary Commitments
Thanks to the invaluable tool at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, we see that New York already has $144M committed to the 2011 payroll. When you add my proposed $20M to Jeter and $15M to Rivera, and the payroll is already at $179M. From there, you have to factor in raises for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, who will become eligible for arbitration for the first time. Using Liriano as a comparison, it won’t be unexpected to see them both pull in $1.5M apiece. This bumps the payroll up to $182M, and I’m going to round it up to $183M to cover raises for Boone Logan, if he’s still around, and for the pre-arb guys like DRob, Aceves and others.

With a budget of $183M, the Yankees will have, at the most, $17-27M to spend.

2011 Free Agents
The premier OF free agent in 2011 will be Carl Crawford. Crawford will be 28 years old at the time of his next deal, and is the owner of a career tripleslash of .295/.335.437, an OPS of .772. This line is a bit misleading, because its weighed down by his first two seasons as a 20 and 21 year old when he posted a line of .274/.304/.364. If you remove that, he’s good for a .300/.342/.456 line. Crawford has averaged 50 steals per year over 7 full seasons and has posted phenomenal defensive numbers over the course of his career in LF.

I can’t envision Crawford earning as much as Holliday, who scored a $120M/7 year deal from the Cardinals. A better comparison might be Jason Bay, even though Crawford and Bay are as different as they come in LF. Bay received a 4 year deal worth $66M, with a $17M vesting option for the 5th year from the Mets, a total value of 83M over 5 years. Still, I expect Crawford’s lack of power to keep the value of his deal low, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him find a new home for a contract of 5 years and 65M, an AAV of 13M. His age, his defense, and his speed will work in his favor, but his lack of power ought to prevent him from earning an eight-digit deal.

Cliff Lee is the biggest starting pitcher to hit the market in 2011. He’s the owner of a career ERA+ of 109, but has seemingly put it all together to become one of the best pitchers in the game. In his last two years, he’s posted a 2.89 ERA over 455 IP, striking out 6.9 batters per nine and walking only 1.5 per nine. His K/BB ratio over that period is one of the best, 4.56. That’s superb. The risk with Lee is his somewhat low K/9, and his age. As a 31 year old free agent, it’s hard to see Lee getting more than five or six years guaranteed, despite the Phillies’ claims that he is looking for “Sabathia-type” money. Instead, I look for Lee to receive a six year deal worth $100M, an AAV of $16.67M. It’s expensive, but it is becoming increasingly rare to see bona fide aces hit the open market in free agency, and Lee’s price may go up even further if the Red Sox sign Josh Beckett to an extension.

Roster Analysis
The most obvious holes in the 2011 roster are starting pitching and LF. Here’s where it gets dicey (as if it weren’t already confusing):

Scenario 1: Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain have successful, injury-free 2010 campaigns, and are considered locks for the 2011 rotation.
In this scenario, the Yankees can simply resign Pettitte to another one-year deal worth around $11M. This would bump payroll to around $194M, and leave around $6-14M to spend elsewhere. With a full rotation, the Yankees could become players for Crawford. Signing him to a $13M AAV deal would max out the payroll for 2011.

Scenario 2: Either Hughes or Joba gets injured or very ineffective in 2010, and is slotted for a spot in the bullpen in 2011.
Here, the Yankees will only have 3 starters under contract for 2011. If they bring back Pettitte for around $11M, they’ll have $6-14M to spend elsewhere, and will need a fifth starter. The Yankees could attempt to pursue Lee, creating a formidable rotation of Sabathia-Lee-Burnett-Pettitte-Joba/Hughes. This would leave them unable to sign Crawford and completely maxed out on budget.

Scenario 3: The Andy Pettitte Era ends
If Pettitte decides to retire, or the Yankees decide to go in a different direction, then any number of things could happen. With a healthy Joba and Hughes in the rotation, the Yankees could bring in Lee for $16.67M per and sit right at the $200M threshold. This would give them a rotation of Sabathia-Lee-Burnett-Chamberlain-Hughes, and leave them with up to $10M to spend elsewhere.

Scenario 4: The Andy Pettitte Era ends and only Joba or Hughes is in the bullpen
If one of Chamberlain or Hughes is in the bullpen, or injured, then the Yankees would still need a fifth starter in addition to Sabathia, Lee, Burnett and Hughes/Joba. Here, we might see the Yankees use Zach McAllister in the 5 spot, or attempt to bring back Vazquez for $10M per year. Other alternatives include Lilly or Webb.

Scenario 5: The Twins fail to resign Joe Mauer
Twins fans, avert your eyes! If Mauer hits the market, all bets are off with Lee and Crawford. The Yankees could offer Mauer a deal of $180M over 8 years, an AAV of $22.5M. Assuming they were able to outbid the Red Sox and ink him to a deal like this, no sure thing, they would see their budget rise to around $205-207M. Accordingly, they would need Joba and Hughes to man the 3 and 4 spots in the rotation, and then attempt to get a 5th starter for cheap. Signing Mauer would also mean the end of the Jesus Montero experiment at catcher, and so the Yankees could shift him to LF and have him split time with Posada at DH. Scenarios like this are why non-Yankee fans hate us so very, very much.

Personally, I think Scenario 5 is very unlikely. I think the Twins will pony up the dough they’re about to get from their new stadium and sign him to an extension, allowing Twins fans everywhere to come back in off the ledge. That said, I can’t see the Yankees landing both Crawford and Lee. Their payroll is already precipitously high, and management shows no inclination to blow past the $210M ceiling. Of the four remaining scenarios outlined above, I’m fairly excited about #3, even though it involves saying farewell to Andy Pettitte. Signing Lee would provide them with a second ace, and a good hedge against the risk of Sabathia leaving after 2011. The best thing that can happen to the Yankees in the meantime is Joba and Hughes putting together successful 2010 campaigns, which will give the Yankees more flexibility and more options going into the 2010-2011 Hot Stove.

Bad ideas and ludicrous statements (aka: Why people hate NYY fans)

RAB’s Joe Pawlikowski wrote the article I had been wanting to write but never got around to completing.  Well, he wrote it better than I probably would have, but nonetheless, he’s spot on:

If Mauer does hit the free agent market, though, I don’t expect the Yankees to outbid the Red Sox for him. They’ll make a play, of course, but I don’t expect them to use their resources that way. Yes, Mauer is one of the most valuable players in the game, but the Yankees have spent the past three or so years filing their farm system with catchers. After all that, why go and use an enormous portion of your resources to sign one in free agency?

As it stands, the Yankees have $144 million locked into the 2011 payroll before they work out contracts for Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. They’ll also have arbitration cases for Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. In other words, they could be near $185 million for just 13 players — and that doesn’t include Javy Vazquez or Andy Pettitte. At that point they’d probably need at least one starting pitcher. Other needs could crop up during the season, including left field.

Yet at catcher the Yankees would have Jorge Posada under contract for one more season. They’d also have Jesus Montero with a year of AAA under his belt, and Austin Romine with a season of AA — and possibly with some AAA experience. Below them they feature a number of low-level catchers, too, including J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez. Signing Mauer to a six- or seven-year deal would render these developing players essentially useless to the organization. Wouldn’t that render a waste the past few years of focus on catcher?

What more is there to say?  The Yanks DO have a budget, albeit worlds higher than every other team, but there is a ceiling.  Allocating a significant percentage of their available resources to sign someone when they have been focused on developing high level talent themselves is a foolish decision.  Joe did a great job of capturing this logic and I offer him my thanks for doing so.

The NY Daily News’ Bill Maddon threw more gas on this fire yesterday:

Unlike most other teams, however, the Yankees have both the financial resources to afford the MVP catcher as well as the surplus of talent it would take to acquire him should the contract talks reach an impasse and the Twins elect to put him on the trade market. Indeed, if there is one area where the Yankees are rich in prospects it is catching where Jesus Montero and Austin Romine are rated by most scouts as can’t-miss major leaguers. The question is, which of them – if either – will be the one to succeed Jorge Posada.

A bunch of scouts were discussing just that Tuesday night before the Yankees’ game with the Houston Astros at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Their consensus was that the 20-year-old Montero’s bat alone will likely get him to the big leagues by next season, but in the long run the 21-year-old Romine has the complete package – bat, arm, mechanics, makeup – to be a top quality all-around catcher – for someone.

But in my opinion,” said one scout, “the next catcher for the Yankees will be Joe Mauer. Imagine if the Twins don’t sign him and he goes out there on the market next winter with both the Yankees and Red Sox in need of a catcher? That will be the wildest bidding war in baseball history, and don’t think his agent doesn’t know it. And if they (Twins) decide to trade him, the Yankees have the better pieces to get him.

“Said one scout”.  Not to be mean or bitter, but there’s a reason why he’s a scout and not a GM.  The Yanks DO NOT need a catcher.  They have Posada, for better or worse, for two more years and as we already mentioned, a solid pipeline of catching talent on the come, lead by Montero. Not to mention, there’s that little issue of money.  It’s always about the money.

Now, back to NYBD’s Mike Silva and the line that had my skin crawling:

Mauer deserves the big stage of New York.

Holy crap.  That’s the last thing this guy deserves.  He deserves to remain in his backyard, with family and friends and being the face of a very good, talented and competitive Twins franchise for the next decade a half. Why does Silva think that Mauer deserves New York?  Because it’s bigger, more crowded, can afford to pay him more?  It’s a dangerous word, deserve.

“Deserves”.  This one word gets Yankee fans in so much trouble.  It implies a God-given right.  We tend to think that we, the Yankees, deserve the best players because we’re New York, because we have the most money to spend, because we’ve won 27 World Series titles, etc… We don’t deserve anything more than what we go out and earn.  Wins, respect, whatever.  Joe Mauer doesn’t “deserve” New York anymore than New York “deserves” Joe Mauer.  This is exactly the sort of sentiment that gives Yankee fans the reputation they have (well, along with the cast of Jersey Shore and guys like this, to the right).

You know who deserves Joe Mauer?  The fine people of Minnesota.



UPDATE 3/19/10, 11:45am

Mike has a rebuttal.

Will I apologize for saying Mauer, or any other great player, deserves New York? Never. Why should great players be denied this environment? Why shouldn’t they be rewarded for their talents with sports immortality?

OK then. These types of guys don’t need NY to validate their skills.

Should The Yankees Pursue Elijah Dukes?

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(I know, terrible headline. The NY Post would be proud).
As I am sure most of you know by now, Elijah Dukes was released by the Nationals yesterday. The Nats stated clearly that Elijah had not done anything wrong in terms of behavior, and that this was purely a baseball decision. The first question on the mind of many Yankee fans was, should the Yankees pursue Dukes?

Last offseason, I felt fairly strongly that the Yankees should try and trade for Elijah:

If I were Brian Cashman, I would strongly consider swinging a deal for Dukes. The Nats have a very weak farm system, so that the Yankees may be able to put together a package of pitchers enticing enough to aquire the mercurial outfielder. He would fill the Melky Cabrera role in 2009, as he is a much better bat than Melky, is not appreciably worse in the field, and runs as well as, if not better than, Cabrera. He would allow the Yankees to field offers on Xavier Nady at the deadline, and could slot into left field in 2010 when Damon and Nady leave. At worst, he would give the Yankees the ability to walk away from Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, and Manny Ramirez if the cost got too high.

I turned out to be wrong about Melky, and he put up a strong year while Dukes regressed mightily. The regression was such that if Dukes would cost prospects now I would definitely stay away from him. However, being that he is now a free agent likely to command a minor league deal or something close to the minimum, he becomes a more interesting option. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

1) He has plenty of talent: He had a poor 2009 that was marred by injury and a strange loss of power, but his 2008 was fantastic. I’ll let JMK at Mystique and Aura explain:

Dukes mostly destroyed the minors in the Tampa Bay system, then struggled mightily in his 2007 callup, and was shuttled off to Washington, where he rebounded to hit a line of .264/.386/.478/.864, an OPS+ of 127 in 81 games. His power numbers were excellent with .214 ISO, and he posted a strong UZR in RF (11.2), albeit in a very small sample. He snagged a few bags, too. All in all, Dukes was one of the few bright spots in Washington that year with his 2.8 WAR.

Those numbers from 2008 represent those of a star in the making. I am not really sure why he fell of a cliff in 2009, but it is clear that he has the skills and athleticism to be an above average player with the bat and adequate with the glove.

2) He projects to be better than the Yankees current options at 4th and 5th outfielder, and may be better than Brett Gardner: His projected wOBA based on an average of four projection systems is .346, significantly better than that of Jaime Hoffmann, Marcus Thames, and Randy Winn. Brett Gardner would likely remain the starter as he is a bit closer with the bat than the others and is much stronger with the glove than Dukes, but it is not hard to envision Dukes wresting the job from Brett at some point. Dukes is also a right-handed bat, so he provides the same advantages that a guy like Thames or Hoffmann does. From a purely baseball standpoint, this is a logical move that would improve the ballclub.

3) This is a good fit for Dukes: While he may not start right away, New York is likely his best shot to play in a winning environment for the first time while also affording him a reasonable chance of grabbing a starting spot. Being that Dukes has played for two awful franchises thus far, it might be a strong motivator for him to play with regularity for a winner.

4) He’s cheap, you can cut ties immediately if there is a problem, and he gives them options next offseason: Dukes will likely require less than a million dollars to sign, and can be stashed in the minors if he does not make the team immediately. Furthermore, there is no real downside here. If he acts up or plays poorly, he can simply be cut or traded without any repercussions. On the flip side, if he plays well and behaves, he can allow the Yankees to pass on an expensive left fielder such as Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford this offseason. It is the very definition of low risk, high reward.


1) His performance dropped in 2009, and he cannot stay healthy: His performance in 2009 was fairly shoddy, and he gained a reputation amongst National fans for having poor baseball instincts in the field and on the basepaths. The article quoted above from M & A suggests that pitchers were picking on him by throwing significantly more breaking pitches, and the Fangraphs data does support the idea that pitchers were cutting down on fastballs to Dukes. Furthermore, Dukes has had trouble staying on the field, with 4 stints on the DL over the last 2 seasons. Then again, if he gets hurt, the Yankees would simply be right back where they are right now.

2) There are some very serious behavioral issues. I do not want to sweep these under the rug, because Elijah has had some serious issues that include multiple arrests and prompted the Nationals to hire someone to follow him around and keep him out of trouble. Furthermore, dropping that a player with that sort of history into the shark tank that is the NY media frenzy may not be the brightest of ideas.

That said, I think that the Yankee clubhouse might be the best place for Dukes, as it is a tight-knit group filled with professionals who can set a positive example. Dukes is unlikely to disrupt such a veteran clubhouse, and as Mike Axisa explains, it might be the right place for Dukes to learn how to be a positive asset to a baseball team:

I think this is exactly the kind of support system that could help him thrive. Joe Girardi and Jorge Posada provide the tough love, A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher would allow him to loosen up and be himself, and even guys like Alex Rodriguez and Joba Chamberlain, who’ve had their fair share of off-the-field troubles, can help him relate. I hate to bring race into it, but CC Sabathia and Curtis Granderson are two African American guys widely considered to be class acts and great people, and I can’t help but think they would be a positive influence on Dukes.

Might that be wishful thinking? Certainly. But once again, if he does something stupid and becomes a distraction, the Yankees can simply cut him. While it may add to the media circus around the Yankees, that should be irrelevant to the club, as they are certainly used to that sort of thing. I think that this is a risk worth taking.

Do you agree?