Cuban defectors: an alternative source of pitching help?

What Is Behind Melky Cabrera's Turnaround?
Mitre says he's worked out the kinks

Yadel MartiLate yesterday evening we got word from ESPN’s Jorge Arangure Jr. that Cuban defectors RHP Yadel Marti (pictured), OF Yasser Gomez, and RHP Juan Yasser had been declared free agents and are now free to sign with any team. (All three players had defected late last year, so that gives you somewhat of a reference for how long it should take Aroldis Chapman to become a free agent.) The White Sox are at the forefront of the Cuban market these days, but the Yankees are established players with an strongtrack record. They signed Orlando Hernandez back in the day and brought him almost immediately to the big leagues, ditto Jose Contreras. Lesser players like Juan Miranda and Amaury Sanit are just a phone call away from the bigs in Triple-A. And as always, money talks.

Of the three, Marti is the most appealing to the Yanks right now because he’s a veteran guy and essentially ready to contribute to the big league club according to Arangure, plus he fits an immediate need. Gomez could be interesting for next year’s outfield, but there’s no spot for him on the team right now. Their agent, famed Cuban representative Jaime Torres, says that three NL and two AL teams have expressed interest in signing either Gomez and/or Marti for the stretch run this year. With Sergio Mitre presently occupying the fifth spot and Joba Chamberlain eventually having to be shut down due to workload limitations, the Yankees are in need of another starting pitcher. But we know that already.

Going after Marti wouldn’t require any finagling of the waiver system, no hoping that a competing team doesn’t block a player. All it takes is money and a sell job, something that shouldn’t be too difficult considering the team’s track record with Cubans and the fact that well, they are the Yankees. The 30-yr old Marti is no stranger to the big stage, having competed in top international competitions since he was 19-yrs old. He was Cuba’s best pitcher in the 2006 WBC, allowing just six hits and no runs in 12.2 IP with 11 strikeouts. B-Ref’s bullpen says that Marti’s fastball sits around 87-90, relying instead on his sinker, slider and curveball, as well as hitting his spots. This nearly two year old Baseball America article says he has “a pair of quality secondary pitches—a sharp-breaking curveball and a diving changeup,” and also mentions that he has “a pause in his delivery reminiscent of many Japanese pitchers.” You can see that right here.

That’s about all I can tell you about his stuff. I wish I had more, but that’s life. Certainly you can expect the Yankees to be a bit more thorough in their research before deciding to pursue Marti. Timeframe will also be an issue, because he’d have to be on the roster by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster. I mean, I guess they could always find some loophole to get him on the roster like the Angels did with K-Rod in 2002, but that’s not something that’s easy to do (the Angels “lucked out” when Aaron Sele blew out his shoulder late in the season). Marti would have to get in game shape before the end of this month, ideally making a minor league start or three before coming up.

By no means am I touting Marti as a rotation savior. I’m just presenting him as an alternative to staking out the waiver wire for a potential fifth starter that would cost money and (most likely) something in terms in players, even if it’s low level filler types. Assuming the money and contract details work out, and the team likes what they see out of Marti in workouts, then maybe there’s a match. It’s a stretch, I’ll certainly admit it, but the Yanks wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t at least look into it.

Photo Credit: Ricardo Lopez, Granma

What Is Behind Melky Cabrera's Turnaround?
Mitre says he's worked out the kinks
  • jsbrendog

    87-90…..those would have to be some KILLER secondary pitches to fly in the al east no?

    • Hola

      If halladay and pettite can get away with throwing that type of fastball with their breaking pitches, it can be done

      Hell, scott kazmir (who went to my high school :D) throws 88-91 now, and dominated the yanks

      • jsbrendog

        right. like i said, in halladay, pettitte’s cutter, in those cases at least, they are killer secondary pitches…

        they are the exceptions, not the rule

      • thebusiness

        Halladay throws near 94, even his cutter is routinely harder than 90mph

        • jsbrendog

          i thought that but i didn’t want to look it up. i would think ven pettitte throws more like 91-93.

          87-90 is quite slow

          • TheLastClown

            Pettitte doesn’t touch 93. The Pitchf/x data isn’t online yet *at least not on Fangraphs* for last nights game, but with all the shortcomings of the YES gun, Halladay still was 91-94, while Pettitte was 87-91.

          • TheLastClown

            Here we go in fact.

            http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=840&position=P&pitch=FA

            the 2009 portion of that graph shows his range of velocity only reaching that 92.5 mark twice this year. So that was his top top out velocity. Sitting well below that normally, and effectively.

            So, maybe he’s a good comp for Andy, excepting his counter-dexterity. :)

            • jsbrendog

              but again, my point still stands. a guy like pettitte is the exception, not the rule, and he has experience dealing in the al and with deteriorated (from his younger days albeit possibly not that much) stuff.

              this guy can come in and throw 87-90 in the al, east especially, and be successful with no ml experience in a month? i’m just saying if that is the case his secondary pitches must be outrageously otherworldly

              i think that is a fair assessment

              • TheLastClown

                Would you say that Aceves secondary pitches are “otherworldly”?

                I know he didn’t have to defect from Mexico or anything like that, but his demeanor reminded me of El Duque, who was ready to come in and produce.

                I think rather than have otherworldly secondary pitches *a la Moose 08* if he has very good command and control, and pitches aggressively, coupled with the ambush factor of never being seen/faced before *except the WBC?* ….it makes me think he has a better chance of success than the waiver wire dreck that’s been talked about so much.

                • jsbrendog

                  aceves has done that out of the bullpen and in limited (extremely small smaple size) starts. If aceves was to be made the 5th starter I don’t think he would be so hot in the long run. Eventually he would get figured out.

                • TheLastClown

                  Sure, but we’re not talking about the “long run.”

                  We’re talking about the stretch run.

                • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

                  Would you say that Aceves secondary pitches are “otherworldly”?

                  But Aceves rarely has to go through the batting order more than once, thus he’s more easily able to get by with lesser stuff.

                • jsbrendog

                  these defectors are nto oging to sign one year deals. this won’t be a stretch run thing. it’ll be a long run thing. and in the long run, this might not be someone they want to get tied up in

                • TheLastClown

                  Aceves had four starts last year, and one game where he pitched 5 or more innings.

                  SSS I know, but he can do it. Especially when they’ve never seen him before.

                  It is a good point about not wanting to be locked up to him for an extended period though.

          • manny

            Hey… Mussina got away with it, why not someone else? I mean, I know I’m talking apples and oranges, but it’s possible. It was mentioned that he did have a good sharp curveball, plenty of control, and great deceiving mechanics. I say get rid of Mitre and spend the money.

        • Hola

          yesterday, his avg fastball was at 91

    • SouthernYankeeFan

      Remember Moose last year?

      • jsbrendog

        yes, again, exception, not the rule.

        and my point still stands that they have to be exceptionally great secondary pitches.

        • Lanny

          You need great secondary pitches in any division if you are hitting 90mph.

          • jsbrendog

            way to ignore the whole conversation, pick one thing out of context and run with it.

            nicely done.

  • Salty Buggah

    So if they sign within a week, they could probably be ready by the end of August or Sept. 1?

    • Hola

      prolly, yeah

  • JeffG

    Mitre is not getting it done. Guess Clagett is coming up as insurance tonight (via Abe). I hope Marti gets signed and can play because I loath Mitre’s starts.
    This will surely test if Hal is willing to spend or not – assuming Marti looks good.

    • J.R.

      Additional bullpen depth cant hurt with Mitre there. Especially sense Clagett will be mop up duty only.

  • http://leegrantphotography.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/madmax.jpg gxpanos

    He’s probably not any kind of long-term option, but if he throws strikes with that deceptive delivery, coupled with guys not having seen him, he might be a surprisingly good 5th starter in September. Just a stab in the dark kind of thing, obviously, since I know nothing about him.

    What they should do, though, is sign whichever of the three knows Chapman the best. Or get all three just so Chapman could have an appealing environment.

  • TheLastClown

    Hopefully he’d have a disposition like Aceves, attacking with what he has. If he’s got good control of four pitches, well, I think he’d do fine.

    I loved it when El Duque came over, and would love to see them persue Chapman.

  • D

    Ransom DFA’d according to Pete Abe..about time

    • JeffG

      That’s the best thing I have heard all day!

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I would hate to be a box right about now.

      • the artist formerly known as (sic)

        +1

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

          HAHA! i still have that clip on my phone tho…mad leaping skills…

    • Ron Burgundy

      Super Duper! That’s nice! Way to go! Neat-o gang!

      • jsbrendog

        well played.

    • Tony
    • Russell NY

      Awesome. Thank god lets hope he doesn’t accept assignment.

      • Evan NYC

        Meh, he’s got nothing else going on right now…

        • Lanny

          Maybe the Mets could use him. They are playing Berroa after all.

          • jsbrendog

            i absolutely loved how berroas error made that game go longer last night and eventually was the reason they didn’t win. KRod gets the save if not for berroa’s error. awesome.

            • jsbrendog

              my bad, misremembered. the error came after the tying run. nm

  • Zack

    isnt the white sox rotation full? they could use the guy for CF, but doubt they sign the pitchers

  • Jeffrey

    How baseball ready are these guys? Are they in shape, have they played in any games since defecting or faced live batting/pitching?

  • Johan Iz My Brohan

    The MLB needs cooler uniforms like those all red ones.

    • jsbrendog

      seriously. i love the old powder blues of toronto and kc and the old fugly yellow of the a’s. i love the tacky ugly jerseys from the 70’s/80’s.

      as long as theyre not the turn forward the clock ones. those were horrendous

    • TheLastClown

      Those unis look like they should have feeties and a two-button butt flap.

      Oh, and maybe should be worn by some fuzzy critter.

    • Dave M

      Well, according to a lot of people I talk too, some I even trust, we are headed to socialism. So it might just happen (red uniforms).

      • bobtaco

        Aye Aye Comrade. What’s wrong with that, according to people you trust?

  • The Scout

    Yankees have made a big deal about how they’re tapped out financially, so why would we assume they would engage in a bidding war for the sevices of a Cuban pitcher?

    • jsbrendog

      diff budget? this could com out of the IFA budget

    • Mikebk

      cause most people here assume that is just some lie cause the yankees could never be financially tapped out especially not when people think they need to add people to win.

      • TheLastClown

        Well they’ve got $40M coming off the books next year, *not including arb raises* so knowing that financial relief is on the horizon could lend them to pursue a Cuban FA. It’s not unthinkable anyway.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          I have a feeling they’re going to just wait for Chapman.

        • Mikebk

          i love how everyone quotes the off but not added on like CC gets a 9 million dollar raise next year. jete adds another mil, cano up 3, swisher 1.45. thats nearly 15 mil not counting arbitration.

          • Lanny

            I find it real hard to believe they will not spend when they need more help and all it costs is money. You really think they will spend 200+ mill and continue to trot out Mitre?

          • TheLastClown

            From Cot’s: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p4ew-fwu2XT25ZJ1RnkNnUw

            The payroll obligations are a full $40M apart.

            Arb for Bruney, Melk, CMW, Ransom…who among them is due for a raise? Any but Melk?

            Oh, and the spreadsheet takes the other regular’s raises into account.

            • Mikebk

              but doesnt take into account if they tender Wang, Nady and also took into account the 5 mil in buyout they paid giambi this year.

              people also forget with pettitte they are probably going to have to pay at least 2 mil more in incentives just based on days on the roster and additional based on starts/innings pitched.

              Innings bonuses: $500,000 each for 150, 160 and 170 innings pitched and $750,000 each for 180, 190, 200 and 210 innings.

              Roster bonuses: $100,000 for 120 days on the active 25-man roster, $200,000 for 130 days, $250,000 each for 140 and 150 days, and $400,000 each for 160, 170 and 180 days.

              right now he is on pace for 205 innings which 3.75 mil in innings bonuses and and 2 mil if he doesnt go on the dl.

              so there is another 5.75 million the yanks own this year.

              • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

                didnt we have the discussion about his innings and everyone agreed he wouldnt even hit 190 much less 200?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              All of them will get raises. Just picking up service time waarants a raise.

              • TheLastClown

                Thanks. Didn’t know that.

  • jsbrendog

    sign paul byrd and sidney ponson. yup, i said it. minimum prorated contracts, that’s what, a mere fraction of 400,000? see what sticks.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      I just threw up in my mouth a little.

      • jsbrendog

        yeah whatever. for what, <$100,000 you bring em in and see how bad they suck then you jettison them

        • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

          makes sense if you are a masochist on a budget.

          • JMK

            IETC.

    • the artist formerly known as (sic)

      byrd yes ponson SAY NO!

      • jsbrendog

        just say no to snacks. the fat arubian kind. not the salty/chocolatey delicious kind

  • Ed

    Timeframe will also be an issue, because he’d have to be on the roster by August 31st to be eligible for the postseason roster.

    Not an issue. The rule is any injured players who otherwise would be eligible for the postseason can be replaced by anyone who is in the organization by August 31st.

    That means at the minimum, Nady and Wang create two openings for September callups to be added to the postseason roster.

    • Rob H.

      correct me if I’m wrong but that applies only to those injuries that occure after August is over like the Aaron Sele situation that was referenced. Nady and Wang have already been replaced by two other people on this team.

      • Ed

        You’re wrong on this one. Back in 2007 Ian Kennedy – who was added to the 40 man roster in September – was going to be put on the playoff roster taking Pavano’s place.

    • A.D.

      Even so the Yanks mainly need someone to eat innings, say they sign him, and he has decent stuff, let Joba rest late august early sept, and then fire it back up for 2 starts to finish off & the playoffs.

  • Raf

    he would be great as an option depending on the cost obviously more so this year but also as depth for next year. without knowing how he would fare in the AL right now it would still be nice to have someone with prior experience in big spots down the stretch. different than a rookie getting his first tastes of the big leagues

  • Lanny

    Can’t see adding depth hurting much but they will still need another starter and they really need another bullpen arm. I’ll believe Aceves is fine when I see him back to back days.

  • anonymous

    Chapman plox

  • J Squared

    Cody Ransom… DFA’d… bring in MARTI!!

  • J.D.

    Cody Ransom was designated for assigment, I think that’s the best news I have heard all day.

    • J Squared

      LoL, that’s the best news i’ve heard since they signed Teixeira…

  • Mikebk

    Well we should find something out in a couple days as
    ESPN.com’s Jorge Arangure Jr. hears that Yasser Gomez, Yadel Marti and Juan Yasser Serrano, who are now free agents, will showcase their talents for major league teams this Friday.

  • Rich M

    According to Cashman Joba will probably be in the rotation come playoff time, and you are not going to need a fifth starter at that point, so is it pertinent that he makes the post season roster? The Yanks just need someone to eat innings thru Sept.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/05/sports/baseball/05pitchers.html?_r=1&ref=baseball

    “General Manager Brian Cashman acknowledged as much after the trading deadline. “It’s all hands on deck in the postseason,” he said Friday, meaning that even if Chamberlain has reached his innings limit in the regular season, he can remain in the rotation if the Yankees reach the playoffs.”

    • Johan Iz My Brohan

      That makes me feel a lot better, a rotation of CC, AJ, Joba and Pettitte can be dangerous especially with Hughes and Mo filling in the 8/9 innings.

    • Mike bk

      cashman does not directly say that he will be in the rotation, that is tyler infering it if you read the article.

      • TheLastClown

        Right, I think he’s just assuring that he won’t be shut down, not necessarily that he’d start.

        I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t flip-flop Joba & Hughes when innings limit time’s a-comin’.

  • http://yankees.lhblogs.com Pete Abraham

    There is little chance any of these guys could help on the MLB level this season.

    They haven’t played competitively in a year. By the time they work out for teams, sign and get physicals, you’re talking 10-14 days. That’s Aug. 20 or so. So you’d have to test them in the heat of a pennant race to decide whether they belong on the roster.

    That would be a heck of a thing, to lose a game because you wanted to see if the Cuban rookie could play. The other players wouldn’t take too kindly to that.

    Your best chance would be to get them in the organization now and see if they could be added for a player on the DL in Sept. at some point. But with the minor leagues over on Labor Day weekend, there’s not a whole lot of time to get them ready.

    • DougPinstripesForever

      So what do you, Mr. Abraham, suggest they do about their serious

      starting pitching problem. I would take my chances with Marti

      over Igawa or Mitre just because of the mystery behind the

      Cuban star and his experience knowing how to get guys out in

      big situations (2006 WBC).

      Also, even if they are not ready by Aug. 20, I do believe

      the Yanks don’t need a #5 starter from August 15- August 30.

      Perfect time to get him some outings in Triple-A before being

      called up for a September test run.

  • adeel

    This is exactly what the Yankees need. Look, if Mitre goes like 4-6 over the stretch run is that really that bad? Does anyone expect a #5 pitcher to have a winning record? Marti (and Yasser) are exactly what we need. Major league ready starters that can fill in if someone gets injured, or Mitre ERA goes north of 10.00.

    What do people think these players would ask? I am curious because I really have no idea… I mean, 1-5 mil? 10-15 mil? We didn’t pay that much for Hernandez but I remember overpaying for Conteras.

    I am of the belief that Aceves should not be a starter. The ONLY way to make hughes a starter would be to flip-flop with Joba sometime in the future; but that probably is not going to happen.

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