Chad Jennings is a former beat writer for the AAA Scranton Yankees. He took over as a Yankees beat writer in October and has agreed to do a quick interview with The Pinstriper. We thank him for the interview. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out his work here!
1. Thoughts on the Curtis Granderson trade? Who got the best of it?
I think every team got what it wanted. Granderson is a great fit for the Yankees. They gave up some real talent to get him, but that’s what it was going to take for an impact player like that. I think some people are getting a bit too caught up in his splits. They’re bad, and they’re a factor in judging him as a hitter, but at the end of the day he’s consistently hit 20+ home runs with 70+ RBIs while playing good defense in center field. He’s also young and signed to a good contract.
2. Can you profile Austin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for us?
Jackson is going to be an everyday center fielder, but his lack of power suggests he’ll be more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He could develop more power and become more of an impact bat — wouldn’t surprise me, actually — but right now he’s a guy with a little bit of speed who hits for a high average despite striking out a lot. He’s also a good defensive player in center field. Kennedy started throwing a two-seam fastball during the Arizona Fall League and his curveball has improved since his bad 2008 stint in New York. It’s easy to overlooked that he’s been absolutely dominant in the minor leagues and that he pitched very well in the big leagues when he was first called up in late 2007. He throws strikes — quality strikes — and that makes him a good pitcher.
3. Any idea who the Yankees might want in the Rule 5 Draft? What position?
Can’t figure it out, to be honest. Infield makes no sense because the 40-man is already packed with utility candidates, I can’t imagine the Rule 5 providing a better backup catcher than Francisco Cervelli, and if the Yankees wanted a power arm, why not protect Grant Duff or Kevin Whelan? There are a few right-handed hitters available who can play the outfield and also have experience at catcher. I wonder if that might work for the Yankees, giving them a little bit more outfield depth — which they need — as well as a spare catcher for days when Cervelli is behind the plate and Jorge Posada is the DH.
4. Any idea of any players that might be taken from the Yankees?
I think Zach Kroenke will be taken, I think Kevin Whelan should be taken and I think Colin Curtis might be taken. There are other candidates — Jason Hirsh, George Kontos, Grant Duff, Alan Horne — but I tend to think Kroenke, Whelan and Curtis are the guys most at risk of being taken.
5. Do you think the Yankees need to improve the bullpen at all or they are good as it is?
I don’t think they have to make a bullpen move, partially because I think they’ll sign Andy Pettitte plus one more starting pitcher. That could leave either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to return to the eighth inning (I still think they should both be starters, but that’s a whole other issue). David Robertson and Mark Melancon are also legitimate options for high-leverage bullpen roles. And you never know what young starter they might convert to the pen. If they were willing to move Hughes, they’re willing to move anyone, and guys like Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister might work well in that role. You never know.
6. Is Zach Kroenke an MLB option at this point? Was he part of the reason they were willing to trade Coke?
I think Mike Dunn was the reason the Yankees were willing to trade Coke. After last year, it’s hard to believe the Yankees see Kroenke playing a role in the big leagues. Kroenke was terrific in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year. When he didn’t get a shot then, and when he wasn’t added to the 40-man this winter, it became obvious that the Yankees don’t view him as much of a major league option. I hope he’s taken in the Rule 5 because he deserves a shot.
7. If you had to predict the rotation for next year what would it be?
Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain
I think they’ll bring someone else in to compete, but unless that person is Ben Sheets or Rich Harden, I think it’s entirely possible that Hughes and Chamberlain will outpitch the new competition and win the job.
8. The outfield? What could Melky Cabrera net in a trade and are the Yankees definitely more willing to trade him rather than Brett Gardner?
The short answer is, I have no idea. Cabrera is an enigma on the trade market. He’s still cheap and he’s coming off a nice year, but is his trade value that of a starting center fielder or a fourth outfielder? Everyone seems split on the way they ultimately view him. As for which one I would trade, it’s no secret that I really like Gardner, but I’m not sure it makes sense to have two left-handed center fielders.
*Interview conducted by Brandon of The Pinstriper and Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees Blog*