Coke a starter in Detroit? Not likely

Davidoff: Yanks will not tender Wang
Report: Yanks interested in Ryota Igarashi

The Curtis Granderson trade hasn’t fully sunk in yet. It still feels like Ajax the Great is still the team’s No. 2 prospect. It feel like we’ll still be wondering if IPK can break camp in the bullpen. But most of all, it feels like Phil Coke will still play a part in relief. It’s part of the odd nature of the off-season. We grow so used to these players over seven months and over 170 games, and in a matter of 20 hours everything changes.

Coke’s inclusion in the Granderson trade seemed like a token gesture. A “yeah we’re clearly getting the better player, so here’s a major league bullpen arm to make you feel better about yourself” throw-in. He’ll help them out, for sure, especially with a weak bullpen that will lose its top two pitchers. But will he really add more than a half win above replacement? Judging from his 2008, I doubt it. But the Tigers will want to get the greatest possible value from him.

Might that be in the rotation? Coke hasn’t pitched in that role since July 25, 2008, but it appears the Tigers might see if he can stick in that role. “There is a chance, by all means,” said GM Dave Dombrowski of Coke’s chances to be a starter. “I’d not be surprised if he had that opportunity.” Chris from iYankees thinks that it could add immense value to Detroit in the trade. “If Coke becomes a decent left-handed starter for the Tigers behind current ace Justin Verlander and future ace Max Scherzer, then the trade package they received earlier this week will be viewed as an even more valuable haul.” Problem is, it almost certainly won’t happen.

During the Winter Meetings I talked to Chad Jennings about Coke. He loved what he saw in relief in late 2008, but recalled an instance earlier in the year where Coke failed horribly as a starter. That was on June 3, when he allowed eight hits over three innings. Clearly, no one should judge a starter based on one start, but it’s just another bit of evidence in a long string suggest that Coke’s optimal place is in the bullpen.

Never one of the Yankees big-time prospects, Coke ambled around the minors, finally finding success in A+ ball in 2006, and continuing it the next year. By age 25, with Trenton, he definitely hit a groove, and maybe that was a product of his maturing a bit late. But, by most accounts, he just doesn’t have the stuff to be a major league starter. Even out of the bullpen in 2009, we saw his weaknesses exposed. His slider is his secondary pitch, and I hate to think what major league hitters would do to a third pitch.

I personally liked Phil Coke and thought that he was a good option out of the pen at certain points in the season. There were stretches of games where he’d throw 75, 80 percent strikes and retire everyone he faced. But there were also stretches where he hung his slider and allowed a ton of homers. I can’t imagine him improving on that situation in the rotation. Starters are more valuable than relievers, and teams should explore rotation options for their best pitchers. I just don’t think it’s a realistic possibility for Coke.

Davidoff: Yanks will not tender Wang
Report: Yanks interested in Ryota Igarashi
  • Salty Buggah

    “behind current ace Justin Verlander and future ace Max Scherzer”

    Chris forgot Porcello. Someone get him the stats for his last 5 starts.

    As for Coke, yea I don’t think he can be a successful starter. Btw, when first came up in 2008, he was touching 96 mph. In 09, I don’t think he ever did

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Coke’s PitchFx velocity chart, courtesy of his FanGraphs page:

      • Lucas A.

        Yeah, I’ll always remember Coke blowing away the Red Sox with 96 mph in Moose’s 20th win.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    Tigers SP depth chart:
    1- Verlander
    2- Porcello
    3- Scherzer
    4- Gallaraga
    5- Bonine
    6- Figaro
    7- Willis
    8- Robertson
    9- Bonderman
    10- Coke

    I won’t be holding my breath that Coke gets a legit shot in the rotation.

    • Pasqua

      But, of course, if Figaro ends up getting married, Coke may find himself at #9 on that depth chart.

  • scoopemup

    Remember he was orginally part of the Pirate trade for Nady and Marte,but was pulled because the word was he projected to be a starter.

    • Ed

      He wasn’t pulled the Yankees gave the Pirates a choice of 2 out of 4 starters – Coke, Kontos, Karstens, and McCutchen. Early rumors had them picking Coke and Kontos, but the pirates changed their mind in the end.

  • mikeymike

    Ok folks..dont flame me!
    Montero,Mac,Nova to the tigers for Miggy….Discuss

    • Kevin G.

      If by Mac you mean Z-Mac, than no that’s way too much.
      If not, than no that’s way too much.

    • Steve H


    • MattG

      Or wait about 1 year and change Montero’s name to “Miggy.” That might be cheaper.

    • steve (different one)

      where would he play? LF? DH?

      do we have to throw in a handle of Jack?

    • Evil Empire

      That would be a bad move for a variety of reasons, but I’m not going to waste my time going over what those reasons are, as any person with a fuller understanding of how to form a baseball team would already understand them.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      I’ll flame you for hijacking a thread about Coke. Stop.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi


  • MattG

    I bet Coke could start for some teams. The Mets, for instance. If Detroit is intending on contending, I hope they have a better option.

  • steve (different one)

    Coke is the next Randy Johnson. it’s impossible that he won’t turn into a #1 starter, b/c Cashman is Dombrowski’s bitch. i mean, he took Sheffield’s $13M contract from us and none of the prospects panned out.

    case. closed.

  • Chris

    Now who’s going to notify the fielders that the ball is, in fact, in the air?

    • Lucas A.


    • steve (different one)

      this was a tremendous comment.

      do you think he does that in his living room while he’s watching other games on TV??

      • Chris

        Only after he runs to the window.

    • Accent Shallow

      This drove me up the wall.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Hughes starting doing that himself. Those two must have been sitting in the bullpen, criticizing the starters for not helping their teammates out.

      Didn’t Coke get fined in kangaroo court for pointing at at ball that ended up being a home run?

  • Geg

    They should be happy coke becomes a lefty specialist

  • Spaceman.Spiff

    Honestly, I’ll miss all the Coke name jokes but I’ll find a way to live.

  • yoda

    april, 2010. phil coke is sitting in the comerica bullpen when out of nowhere, for no apparent reason, he points to the sky. asked about this later, he will have no explanation. a league investigation will reveal that at the very same moment, a yankee pitcher was inducing a pop fly in yankee stadium

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