A look at the Yanks’ pitching depth

Jeter's prized Joe D theft
Yanks may be able to sign more free agents

Marc Hulet at Fangraphs looked at five pitchers the Yanks could/should turn to if they need to fill a rotation spot next year. The first three pitchers are the usual suspects – Hughes, Kennedy & Aceves (though Hulet doesn’t appear to realize that Aceves spent significant time in the Mexican League) – but the last two names are interesting: Phil Coke & Eric Hacker. We know Coke will prepare for the season as a starter, but he’s a two pitch guy with a show-me third pitch. He might be a decent back end option, but his stuff was so much better out of the pen that I can’t help but think he’d be more useful there (especially given the current construction of the team). Hacker finally reached Double-A after being drafted in 2002, and although he was very successful (91.1 IP, 2.87 FIP) he’s still not a guy you’d expect to see on a list like this. Make sure you check it out.

Jeter's prized Joe D theft
Yanks may be able to sign more free agents
  • Drew

    Why did he mention Chase Wright, I’m sure he hasn’t cleared waivers yet.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    Didn’t coke also have a fist pump going toward the end of the season? Keep him in the Pen, he truly belongs there.

  • http://thebronxzoo.wordpress.com iYankees

    If Coke ends up in the ‘pen, full-time, I’ll wonder why we spent good money on Marte (actually, that money was VERY good in this market).

    • whozat

      If Coke ends up in the ‘pen, full-time, I’ll wonder why we spent good money on Marte (actually, that money was VERY good in this market).

      Beeeeecause we don’t actually know what Coke’s going to do, whereas we have a pretty good idea about Marte. The money they paid him has turned out to be high, yeah…but he’s a reliable power lefty. If Coke turns out to be solid, that means the pen has two power lefties for the next three years at the cost of what, 13MM all told? I’m ok with that.

      It also could allow them to flip Marte at the deadline, and probably get a good return if they toss in a little cash.

      • christopher

        you also have to take into account that the yankee brass may feel that he is a future started – if not this year then nex although
        I agree with Mike A that he is better suited for the bullpen.

        There is also something to be said for having a few veterans in the pen not only because of their experience in games, but for what the youngsters can learn from him.

        It is funny how opinions have changed about him. Remember, he was rumored to originally be a throw in player for the Nady/Marte deal – at least that was the original thought. At the time nobody seemed to mind so much that he was being dealt. Now he is looking like he may have good career and us fans would be pretty upset if they traded him away (unlwss of course he is a player that lands najor talent.) His stock has certainly dramticaly risen – the exact opposite of Ian Kennedy’s.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      “If Coke ends up in the ‘pen, full-time, I’ll wonder why we spent good money on Marte (actually, that money was VERY good in this market).”

      Because relief pitchers are notoriously volatile and in order to construct a consistently good 7 man bullpen, year-in and year-out, you probably need to have about 10-12 decent relievers on your 40-man, because invariably some guys you were counting on to be good will suck and vice-versa.

      Since we can afford to have a surplus of good power bullpen arms, we should.

    • steve (different one)

      and i wonder if there is anything yankee fans won’t complain about.

  • Mikey (Yankee Fan in the OC)

    They excluded Alan Horne, the dude in my eyes, if what is he saying is true, will be a very pleasant surprise for the yankees this year. Humberto+Alan=Under the radar big chips this year.

    • kSturnz

      i really want Al to stay healthy this yr and make it to the show finally. 94 with much movement and a nasty curve. potentially good slider, change, at times being plus

      • Raul

        He was only hitting 94 because he was told that he was going to be taken out after four innings no matter what. I saw him a week later and he topped out at 91. And the control with breaking pitches isn’t awe inspiring. He gave up four HR in 4 starts. Not a good sign.

    • christopher

      Is Horne healthy? I remember reading last year that he had arm issues that made him lose a lot of zip on his fastball.

      Idon’t remember; did he get hurt, or did he stop eating Balco Burgers?

      • Raul

        He got hurt

  • kSturnz

    a lot of commenters seem to like Boston’s depth more… but fail to recognize the rotation. Masterson is very similar to Coke in that they both did not have eye-popping stats in the minors, different rules apply in the pen. I’m actually excited for him to have to start after Penny+Wake fail. Bucholtz, very good prospect, good change, but pitching backwards can only get you so far in the majors. Bowden, don’t know much cept that he pitches wicked faaast

    CC
    CMW
    AJ
    Andy
    Joba

    Hughes
    IPK
    Aceves
    Hacker
    Coke/Kei/Horne

    ~~~~~~~

    Beckett
    Daisuke
    Lester
    Wakefield
    Penny

    Smoltz
    Bucholtz
    Masterson
    Bowden
    X/Y/Z

    • Tom Zig

      Kei Igawa does not belong on that list. Even last year with our pitching troubles, he pitched a total of 4 innings with an ERA of 13.5. I know ERA isn’t the most reliable stat, but if its at 13.5 you don’t need other stats.

      Beckett and Lester may be better in terms of “stuff” but overall, I’d say we have a better rotation.

    • christopher

      I knoe it is greedy, but I would just like to see one veteran added as a sixth man type with experience in big games. I am not talikging about a suoerstar or even high-priced talent and at the moment I haven’t a clue who they could add.

      Prices on free agents should drop even more come a week before ST and maybe they could get someone on the cheap. It would be good insurance to have considering that the staff is so young and having a veteran/swing starter could be a nice cost effective addition.

  • Tom Zig

    Can we drug Peter Angelos to trade us Matt Wieters?

    • Mike Pop

      We would have to offer 30 million, beautiful women, and tons of drugs to get it done.

      • Tom Zig

        I think the Yanks could manage that.

  • Jeff

    I think Coke makes too much sense in the major league bullpen to end up anywhere else (assuming he pitches well of course). A second lefty specialist who can also go multiple innings if needed would give Girardi so much flexibility.

  • ortforshort

    When the dust clears after there are injuries to the starting rotation this year, if Aceves’ performance last year wasn’t a mirage, then Giese will probably end up as the guy getting the most starts. Unfortunately, Hughes and Kennedy look like long shots to be of any use this year and the rest are even longer shots.

    • UWS

      Unfortunately, Hughes and Kennedy look like long shots to be of any use this year

      Um, OK. You base their utter uselessness on…what, exactly?

      Mind you, I’m not claiming that they’ll win 20 games apiece, but it’s not at all unreasonable for them to be at least average when given the chance (especially Hughes).

  • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

    Speaking of depth, we can’t add any more via free agency, even if we wanted to.

    “Yankees Reach Free Agent Quota
    By Ben Jones [January 30 at 1:28am CST]

    Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com is reporting that the New York Yankees cannot sign any more Type A or Type B free agents this offseason.

    According to the Basic Agreement, and confirmed by a top Major League Baseball official, once the Yankees signed CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira, they had signed their quota of Type A or Type B free agents under the collectively bargained rules established by management and the Players Association, Bloom wrote.

    All three were Type A free agents who played for other teams last season aside from the Yankees. The Yankees could re-sign their own Type A or Type B free agents without it affecting the quota.

    Under the rules, “if there are from 39 to 62 [Type A and B] players [during a given offseason], no team can sign more than three.” ”

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/yankees-reach-f.html

    Juan Cruz is out.

    • Jay CT

      Yeah that really blows. Read that myself this morning

      • Raul

        Now that just ruined my morning.

    • Mike Pop

      That is not corrrect. At least I don’t think so. It is 3 type A’s or B’s plus the ones that you lose. Abreu and Pudge we lost. Also it says if 62 players filed for FA’s qualified than 62. There were 63 of them.

      • Mike Pop

        Also, the Giants have signed 4 dudes themselves but they haven’t reached their limit?

        Bob Howry
        Jeremy Affeldt
        Big Unit
        Edgar Renteria.

        Article has to be innaccurate. We getting Cruz.

        • Should be working

          I dont think they were all Type A and Bs tho.

          • Jay CT

            Renteria wasn’t a type anything because they didn’t offer arbitration I thought. And Randy Johnson wasn’t offered arbitration either

            • jsbrendog

              doesnt mater if youre aooffered arb or not you are still classified as a type whatever, the signing team just doesnt give up a pick without arb

      • Reggie C.

        Abreu wasn’t offered arbitration. He’s not a type-A free agent.

        • Should be working

          You dont need arb to be Type A. However looking at ESPN’s free agent tracker my number of 4 below seems way off. So anyone feel free to step in and correct my continuing errors.

    • Should be working

      Not necessarily. There were 63 A & B’s this year. If they decide they want to sign Cruz they can take it to the union and try and work something out as theres nothing in the agreement that says the limit will be raised after 39-62. This is all in that article.

      • Should be working

        Also we can sign as many as we lost if im not mistaken. Which was 4 (?). So I think we should be ok. Everyone is in the grey cause I dont think FA limits have ever been a problem before.

    • christopher

      cruz is really screwed now, I assume that rule lasts for the the entire season. Correct?

  • ryan

    doesn’t coke throw a a straight change and a split change ? From what i’ve read he kept that pitch in his pocket and use his fastball and new found effective slider. The reason he’s being sent to AAA as a starter is because he’s got more than 2 pitches, he’s got 3, 4 if you count the different types of Change he throws.

  • Joe Story

    My 8th sense says..Alan Horn is a Sleeper. He will be back to his 2007 game.

    • jsbrendog

      horne

      • christopher

        horney

        yeah baby

  • Andy

    Please with the Coke and Hacker crap. Coke is a lefty specialist, nothing more, ever. He’s a two pitch guy who was WAY to old to make his MLB debut last year. If he had plus plus stuff, maybe I could see the optimism, but he doesn’t. He had an ERA over 4 in AAA last year at age 26. Please. And Hacker is worse, starting his age 25 year in A BALL, and hasn’t even reached AAA, even though he’ll be 26 opening day. Again, if he had plus plus stuff, maybe, but he doesn’t. Hacker will be lucky to stick for any amount of time in a big league pen, much less the Yankees rotation. Horne is washed up, his injury history is too extensive to ignore, and he’s already 26. As for Sanchez, he has pen written all over him, although I could see him being dominant there.

    You want two other guys to get spot starts? Kontos and Garcia. Kontos has great stuff, will start the year in AAA, and is starting to put it together at age 23. While Garcia will probably start at AA, it is almost entirely because of injury, and he has plus plus stuff. I could see him, healthy to start the year for the first time in a while, dominate early, get promoted to AAA quickly, and get a start or two late in the summer if need be.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      “Coke is a lefty specialist, nothing more, ever.”

      Except, you know, he had better MiLB numbers against righties than lefties last year.

    • ryan

      I agree on garcia and kontos, But coke looks like he’s more than a lefty specialist. His fastball topped out at 96 at times…that to me is plus velocity at least. His slider looked pretty damn good and apparently that’s not even his best secondary pitch…reports say it’s his change. Coke hat a 2.50 ERA as a starter in AA for the year so his numbers are actually better as a starter than Kontos and Garcia’s( in single A mind u). As for being 26 in AAA, that may effect his prospect status but not his ability to pitch in the bigs.

  • ortforshort

    It would be nice if Hughes and Kennedy turned into useful big league pitchers this year, but does anybody really expect that to happen based on their abysmal performances last year?

    • steve (different one)

      can we get an “ignore” feature on RAB?

      the next useful comment from this guy will be his first.

    • ryan

      Hughes is legit and he’s only 22. He’ll be the 5th starter after 09 and have some spot starts during most likely. He had a rough 22 innings in 08 and pitched decent in his 70+ innings in 07. Amazing that people can loose faith so quickly on such a talent. His last start of the year shows you what type of pitcher he can be when he’s right.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      It would be nice if Hughes and Kennedy turned into useful big league pitchers this year, but does anybody really expect that to happen based on their abysmal performances last year?

      Here’s the beginning of Johan Santana’s career as a starting pitcher in the big leagues:

      April 2000: Promoted from bullpen. 3 starts, 0-2, 12 IP, 20 H, 9 BB, 14 ER, 7 K, 3 HR, 10.50 ERA. Demoted back to the bullpen.

      September, 2000: Promoted from bullpen. 2 starts, 0-1, 10 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 10 ER, 6 K, 0 HR, 9.00 ERA. Demoted back to the bullpen.

      June, 2001: Promoted from bullpen. 1 start, 1-0, 4 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 ER, 4 K, 2 HR, 11.25 ERA. Demoted back to the bullpen.

      July, 2001: Promoted from bullpen. 3 starts, 1-0, 15.2 IP, 18 H, 3 BB, 10 ER, 9 K, 4 HR, 5.74 ERA. Demoted back to the bullpen.

      Perspective fail: you.

      • kSturnz

        idk if the people that constantly doubt Hughes and Kennedy have their own agendas to promote or what, but it is getting rather tiresome. and the reasoning that they use is so invalid that it is not even funny; but does anybody really expect that to happen based on their abysmal performances last year?

        yea dawg, i actually do. they had bad years. Cano, Swish, Arod, JoPo, Sui all had ‘bad’ years by their standards. Should we not expect them to improve? if players can only go downhill, how does baseball make so much money?

  • ortforshort

    Who’s bashing Hughes and Kennedy? I’m a Yankee fan. I wish them the best. I’m also a realist. They’ve done nothing yet. They have no history of success in the big leagues like Cano, A-Rod, Abreu and Posada. The point is to count on anything from them this year would be a mistake. We’re talking about pitching depth for this season. That’s the agenda. And I’ll repeat it – does anyone seriously expect anything out of these two this season?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I’m also a realist.

      Were you in fact a “realist”, you’d admit that the phenomenon of highly touted prospects struggling initially and then subsequently improving happens quite frequently. You don’t; you’re needlessly fatalistic, not realistic.

      Were you in fact a “realist”, you’d never say statements like “It would be nice if Hughes and Kennedy turned into useful big league pitchers this year, but does anybody really expect that to happen based on their abysmal performances last year?”

      Because yes, realistically, you CAN expect them to be useful big league pitchers this year despite their prior struggles.

  • ortforshort

    We’ll see. As a fan I’m all for them doing well. If I was team management, tho’, I wouldn’t be counting on them this year and I’d be sure I had a contingency plan in place (aside from those two) when my starters went down.