Rumor du jour: Yanks interested in various agent starters


Via MLBTR, the Yankees have expressed interest in some free agent starters. Like a whole lot of them. John Lackey, Rich Harden, Joel Pineiro, and maybe even Randy Wolf too. Of course, their first priority is retaining Andy Pettitte, and surely they’re stay in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes until the bitter end. The point is, the Yankees are clearly on the prowl for someone to shore up the middle of the rotation.

I’m not a fan of Lackey given his recent elbow issues and presumed exorbitant contract demands, and both Pineiro and Wolf should be nothing more than last resort options for the Yanks given their complete inability to miss bats in recent years. Harden’s a fine candidate as long as he comes on a short (one or two year) contract. That said, I’d rather have Ben Sheets on a one or two year deal than any of them.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League


  1. crotch_jenkins says:

    What they should do is simple, although I doubt the union would allow it.

    Sign Sheets, Bedard & Harden at league minimum, with the following incentive plan:

    At the end of the season, divide each pitcher’s IP by their FIP. Whoever has the highest IP/FIP gets a bonus of $80K per IP. The others get nothing.

    This is a completely serious proposal.

  2. gxpanos says:

    Ugh. Why no Sheets or Duke on that list?

  3. iYankees says:

    I wouldn’t go near Harden. He’s been nursing a shoulder injury since 2007 yet has pitched through it. The Cubs let him go for a reason. Last year, he only threw fastballs and changeups in order to alleviate the stress on his arm.


    • TheLastClown says:

      Harden to the 8th?

      I think it was Steve @ TYU that piqued my attention on this, but Harden reinventing himself as an elite reliever might be just what the doctor ordered.

      • iYankees says:

        He reinvented himself out of necessity, though. And his fastball velocity was down for the second consecutive year. That’s not a guy you can count on in the rotation or in the bullpen.

        • The Artist says:

          He should add a few ticks in the pen, and the idea is to keep him healthy. When healthy, he can be a totally different pitcher than the one we saw down the stretch last year. That’s been a pattern with Harden, a few bad starts and/or drop in velocity followed by a DL stint.

          • iYankees says:

            I’m pretty sure Harden needs surgery. He opted for rehab instead of surgery prior to the start of the season and it allowed him to pitch through the year, however, the results were not very good. If he were healthy and then placed in the bullpen, then sure, I think his velocity would go up, but right now it looks like his arm might fall off if he doesn’t undergo surgery to clean up his shoulder.

          • steve (different one) says:

            what’s the point of adding him as a reliever? unless there are no other teams that think he can start, he won’t be cheap enough for the upside to be worth it.

            it’s not that i disagree it could work. it could. i just don’t think the economics will work.

      • The Artist says:

        Yeah, that was me. I don’t think he’s built to hold up as a starter. He’s generously listed at 6’1″ 180 pounds and I’ll bet the truth is 2″ shorter and 10 pounds lighter.

        The problem with it is that you’d have to convince harden to accept the role. Also, guys who had injuries pile up can sometimes have trouble getting loose, so you’d want to investigate that as well.

        But would I love to see it happen? Absolutely. I think Harden could be a much better conversion candidate than Kerry Wood, who’s made a 2nd career out of it.

  4. dch says:

    You know if we can get Wang back to where he was, we don’t need anyone if Pettite resigns. What is his prognosis right now?

  5. The Artist says:

    Picking up one of the high-upside starters makes all the sense in the world for the Yanks. It allows you some extra flexibility with Hughes and Joba, either one of which could end up in the bullpen (or AAA) if they don’t perform well as starters next year.

    A perfect fit would be a Chien Ming Wang type, who won’t be ready for the start of the season. That would allow you to go into the season with Joba and Hughes in the rotation, get a good long look at them and whoever struggles gets sent to the pen when Pitcher X is ready.

    Of course, you could also rely on someone getting hurt, as pitchers invariably will, but that’s where Gaudin, IPK, Mitre, Z-Mac and Nova come in. There are plenty of options for the occasional start that signing one of these high-upside guys wouldn’t make sense.

    Also, they’re going to want an assured role. They’re singing for their supper this year, so from a guy like Ben Sheets perspective it’s more important to get a chance to show you’re healthy than it is to be on a winner.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I want either Wang or Sheets.

      • The Artist says:

        Sheets, Wang or Harden for me. In that order.

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          I think Wang may actually have the higher upside, if we accept last season as a statistical outlier. His ERA is still slightly worse than Sheets but he’s younger and has pithed his whole career in the AL while Sheets has pitched in the NL.

          I’d be fine with both though.

          • steve (different one) says:

            not trying to sound like a dick, but in no way does Wang have a higher upside than Sheets.

            • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

              Why not? If Wang gets back to pitchng like he was before the injury his ERA is barely worse, and he’s pitched his whole career in the AL East, while Sheets has pitched for the NL Central. Not to mention Wang is younger.

              • All good points. And still:

                Sheets’s upside >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Wang’s upside

                This isn’t really that remotely close. Wang at his best is a good Cy Young runner-up.

                Sheets at his best is a landslide, unanimous Cy Young winner.

              • steve (different one) says:

                you said “upside” right? so we are comparing best case scenario to best case scenario, right?

                CMW has nothing in his past that comes close to Sheets’ 2004 or 2008.

                if that’s not the argument you were making, then ignore me, but that’s how i interpreted it.

                Sheets’ upside is top 5-10 starter in MLB. Wang’s upside is below that.

                • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

                  I think I was looking at the numbers wrong.

                  I looked at career numbers and didn’t check into the indivivual seasons. I didn’t realize that Sheets has had some absolutely awesome seasons with very low 3 to below 3 ERA’s that Wang will most probably never dream of having.

                  So, better pitcher over the course of several seasons-Debateable, but I’d say Wang if we assume that last season was a statistical outlier.

                  However, I do admit after looking at the individual seasons that higher upside for one season=Sheets, and in a landslide.

            • emac2 says:

              If you explain how you disagree then you don’t sound like a dick and have the explain that away.

        • jim p says:

          An aside: “Sheets, Wang and Harden” sounds like the elements of an off-color joke on the level “Wang” alone can’t bring.

  6. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    I’d rather just stick to CC/AJ/Pettitte/Joba/Hughes

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      … give Joba and Hughes a fucking chance already

      note: edit button needed! =)

      • The Artist says:

        OK, but what if they don’t work out? What if its June 15th and Joba or Phil has an ERA of 5.50? And Joba looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and is throwing the ball 89 MPH? Oh, and I forgot to mention Burnett spends 2 month on the DL with God knows what.

        I want to retain the option of sending either one of them either to AAA or the bullpen, but that requires depth.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          Joba and Hughes both start. If someone sucks or gets injured there’s still plenty of depth that the Yanks have and depth that the Yanks could get. Let’s say the Yanks get someone like Duscherer and inserts him in a swingman mode. They’ll have him, IPK, Guadin, and Aceves.

          Why can’t they both start?

        • I want to retain the option of sending either one of them either to AAA or the bullpen, but that requires depth.

          Me too.

          Catch-22: Depth won’t want to come here BEFORE they fail, only AFTER they fail. Depth won’t sign a minor league deal and wait patiently in Scranton for Joba or Hughes to fail (unless said depth is also a shitty pitcher just grateful for a minor league deal), Depth will sign with the Reds or Mariners or Nationals or someone else and start every day.

          If they fail, then we go get depth. Because then, it will be available.

          If Joba or Hughes fails, we make a midseason trade. It’s the only feasible option.

          • The Artist says:

            Actually, I think you have it completely backwards on this one. The depth is unquestionably available now, and is at best a maybe down the road. If you think we could use more depth, you get it now, not later when it may not exist.

            BTW-Mike posted a piece late last year about how the Yanks wanted to send Joba to AAA around August, but couldn’t. Hughes was in the pen and there weren’t any other good options. That alone shows you that they wished they had more depth last year, and may very well factor in to how they set themselves up for next season.

    • Charlie says:

      completely agree

  7. Yankees 2010 rotation:
    1.) CC
    2.) AJ
    3.) ________
    4.) Joba
    5.) Hughes


    My order of preference for that 3rd spot:

    1.) Andy Pettitte (durable, quality, will take a one year deal)
    (small gap)
    2.) Ben Sheets (explanation below)

    (huge gap)

    3.) Rich Harden (explanation below)
    (moderate sized gap)
    4.) One of Chad Gaudin, Ian Kennedy, Ivan Nova, Zack McAllister, and Sergio Mitre (Yup. Outside of those first three options, we’re probably best signing nobody and just going into the season a pitcher short of a full rotation and seeing if one the kids can handle it. This can be supplemented by some extra fringy guys, like J-Douche, Kelvim Escobar, Noah Lowry, etc. If they all fail, add someone midseason when prices are lower. It hurts, but… other things probably hurt more, long term.)

    (gargantuan, behemoth gap)

    5.) John Lackey (good, solid pitcher, but injury prone and will want way too much money, more than he’s worth for a non-need; he’s only this high because all the options below him are so much worse)
    (moderate sized gap)
    6.) Erik Bedard (explanation below)

    (huge gap)

    8.) All other FA options, i.e. Piñero, Wolf, etc. (they’re just not that good)

    (gap larger and more titanic than you can possibly imagine; possibly an infinitely large gap, if such a thing is metaphysically possible)

    9.) A trade for any starter under contract to another team, i.e. Roy Halladay, Edwin Jackson, Josh Johnson, etc. (Halladay is the shiznit and I’d love to have him, but trading prospects for him is flat-out dumb. Be patient. Don’t overcommit and throw away valuable resources in the fruitless pursuit of complete security; complete security is an unattainable myth.)


    Regarding Sheets, Harden, and Bedard, all three are similar: injury prone, high-upside quasi-aces who will probably take a 2 or 3 year deal, possibly even a one year deal, due to the injury concerns. I rank them where I rank them because Sheets has the least troubling injury history, Bedard has the greatest (two shoulder surgeries in the last two years; won’t be ready by opening day), and Harden’s in the middle but gets docked for being a 5-inning pitcher, in the NL.

    Sheets is the only one I really trust. I trust Bedard second most, but his injury risk is too great.


    • pat says:

      You forgot about Bedard’s well publicized desire to stay out of the limelight. No thanks to Bedard on all accounts. I want someone who wants to be here, not somebody who just came for the check and can’t take the heat of cameras and reporters up in his grill after every bad start.

      • pat says:

        But everything else I sign off on. Except maybe a trade for Halladay. For the right price I would, but we had that discussion yesterday I don’t wanna jack the thread.

        • For the right price I would, but we had that discussion yesterday I don’t wanna jack the thread.

          For “the right price” I would too, but “the right price” is a pipe dream. “The right price” is moot, because the Jays wouldn’t trade him for OUR “the right price”. They’d only trade him to us for “the WRONG price”.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I agree with all of this except that I’d love to sign Andy Pettite AND either Wang or Sheets, so that halfway through the year if one of the kids is struggling we can take him and either send him to the minors for a bit or to the bullpen (as annoying as that would be), and plug in one of the low cost, high upside starters.

      If one of the kids isn’t struggling, great! We got insurance.

      • I agree with all of this except that I’d love to sign Andy Pettite AND either Wang or Sheets,

        I don’t think signing both Andy and Sheets is really feasible.

        I doubt Sheets comes here unless Andy doesn’t. He’s not going to want to be part of a team with 6 legit MLB caliber starters; too risky, rotation wise. He’ll want a team that will guarantee him a spot in the rotation from April through September. If we have CC, AJ, Andy, Joba, and Hughes under contract, that’s not a guarantee, just a probability.

        It’s one or the other.

        (I left Wang out the discussion altogether because he’s merely a rehab candidate at this point, not a rotation candidate. He’s promised nothing, and not germane to the #3 starter discussion. He’s on the 2009 Sergio Mitre plan, if he’s here. I want him here, but he’s irrelevant to this conversation, for all intents and purposes.)

        • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

          So what do you think of Wang as a backup in case of midseason injury or suckiness?

        • radnom says:

          He’s not going to want to be part of a team with 6 legit MLB caliber starters; too risky, rotation wise.

          I don’t think that would be an issue.
          Any team he went to, healthy Sheets = guaranteed rotation spot, no debate. That would include the Yankees in this scenario.
          From the team’s side, it wouldn’t hurt to have Hughes as the 6th starter–everyone knows how much use they get, especially with such an injury prone rotation as they would have.

  8. Teix is the Man says:

    No Halladay + Sheets = me happy = )

  9. Free Mike Vick says:

    i would rather have my balls attacked by piranha than have Pineiro and/or Wolf on my ball club.

  10. The Artist says:

    One thing about Sheets. He isn’t exactly known for being a gym rat. When the Yanks interviewed him last year, it was reported that the impression they got was that his answer to the off field regimen question wasn’t what they wanted to hear. That could be an explanation for his inability to stay on the field.

    Elbow surgery generally doesn’t bother me, but you have to work hard to rehab it. If not, it’s very possible he won’t be the same, just from so much inactivity.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      Exactly. He has great ability, and if healthy and on, would be a better bet for a 2 slot, pushing AJ to 3 (scary-good), but I think I’d rather have Andy and his almost guaranteed 200 innings. You might really have strained the rotation and bullpen if you’re relying on Sheets and his questionable work eithic to throw 200 innings and expect AJ to pitch without injury.

      My wishlist: Andy, Dusch-hombre; Escobar and Wang on minor-league deals.

  11. dch says:

    The whole exercise starts with Pettite. They need to figure out his situation quickly.

    • JMK aka The Overshare says:

      Why is time such a critical element here? They’ll give Pettite an appropriate amount of time while offering a fair contract. He’ll either want more in guaranteed money and the Yankees will quickly re-negotiate and have it settled, or they’ll probably go in a new direction shortly thereafter. It’s not like the other options won’t be there, though there aren’t many great alternatives. However it goes down, I can’t see a scenario in which this is a situation that will be lingering by March. They’ll assess their options and get it done while the market still has other options to offer. Don’t worry so much.

      • The Artist says:

        Maybe Mike can help me out on this one, but is there some advantage to having a player sign as late as possible? Does it allow you to protect a guy for the Rule 5 draft who might get selected otherwise?

        • whozat says:

          it does, but then you have to expose him to waivers later. And there are no restrictions around keeping a guy in the bigs all year if you get him on waivers, so it’s potentially worse. But more teams have filled roster slots by signings, trades, and rule 5 pickups later in the offseason, so maybe you can get the guy through, so maybe it’s better.

          That said, if you can keep slots open for the Rule 5, YOU might be able to pick up someone that you like more than someone on your own 40-man.

    • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster) says:

      I find it hard to think Doc is at the top of the list with what it would take to get him.

      • JobaWockeeZ says:

        I find it hard that the three starters he mentioned are even on a list that the Yanks want.

        • Free Mike Vick says:

          i don’t…well Wolf i kinda do.

          But Doc is the best pitcher on the market via trade and Lackey is the best pitcher on the market via FA.

          so naturally the yankees would look at the best. Doesn’t mean they’ll get either..but they will undoubtedly be on the list.

        • Tom Zig says:

          If George or Hank were running the team, Halladay would be in pinstripes already and we would have made an offer to Lackey. Sportswriters are just assuming because that since the organization used to be run ridiculously inefficiently, that it still is being run inefficiently. The old Yankee way is not the current Yankee way, and for that I am thankful.

          Faith is what I have in Brian Cashman’s plan.

      • The Artist says:

        Don’t take everything Heyman says too seriously. He likes to include the Yanks on every FA/trade even though he admittedly has nothing to back that up with, and he calls that journalism. His columns are so vague that its just as likely he hasn’t heard anything from anyone, he could simply be inventing much of it. He’s barely a notch above being a complete and total hack. I was shocked when a legit sports news place like SI hired him.

        • They hired him ’cause he probably gets their site a good deal of attention. Yankee fans read because their team is mentioned, people who don’t like the Yankees read because they want to get pissed that the Yankees are gonna sign so many people.

  12. pat says:

    HAHAHAH that dude got pwned in the halftime Throw for the Dough competition. Cocky bastard.

  13. currambayankees says:

    I liked Sheets last year until we learned just how badly his injury was but I’m still a fan of Sheets and would love for the Yanks to try to bring him aboard like you said on a 1-2yr decent deal.

  14. Mike HC says:

    Guys like Lackey don’t just grow on trees. If we can get him, we should get him. You can wait for Felix, or Lee or some other guy, but I why wait when we can grab Lackey this year. The Yanks don’t need the best pitcher ever. We need a guy who can eat innings and is reliable in the playoffs. Lackey is perfect.

    Even a guy like Halladay has had some years with shoulder problems. So has AJ. So has a ton of other pitchers. it is part of the job. The fact that Lackey was so effective and productive even when coming off injuries in encouraging to me, not a negative. His build is just as big as Halladay, and his delivery just as smooth. He is not as good, but if we don’t trade for Halladay, there is a good chance we never get a shot at him.

  15. yankeewanabe says:

    ben sheets could be lighting in a bottle i or 2 yr deal relativley cheap and a possibillity to have a heathy top end of rotation pitcher you got to do that

  16. WayneD says:

    If the Yankees seriously consider signing Pineiro and Wolf, Cashman should be shot.

    Pineiro and Wolf are this year’s JC. Penny(ies). They’re strict good NL ptchers; that’s it. They’ll both pitch to a 5.50 ERA in the AL East.

    And forget about Wang rejoining the Yankees. If I’m reading between the lines correctly on the dozen or so stories I’ve read on Wang, the Yankees don’t believe Wang will be physically fit enough to be a real factor this year . . . so if they’re going to gamble on extra pitching help (assuming Andy comes back), then Sheets is the better gamble.

    I would say Wang will sign with the Dodgers. Torre likes him & he won’t cost the cash-strapped Dodgers much money.

    He only comes back to the Yankees if he absolutely positively wants to, to the exclusion of all other teams in MLB. That’s not likely. LA, for one, will give him more pitching opportunities in a division with a ton of AAA hitters, which will raise his market value immensely next season, assuming he signs a one year deal with LA, which is very likely, given their financial restraints.

  17. WayneD says:

    Everybody, including some of the paid pundits, seems to believe that the Jays will get a number of top prospects for Doc. Under the current conditions, that won’t happen, and here’s why.

    The Jays know that if they don’t trade Doc this off-season, they’ll get two picks next year when Doc is signed by one of the following four teams: the Yankees, BoSox, Phillies, or Angels. (The Rangers or Seattle would be outside chances if either team has the money & believes it is one pitcher away from a WS appearance.)

    You can rule the Angels out from the above list if they resign Lackey; Moreno won’t spend that much money on two pitchers.

    That leaves the Yankees, BoSox, and Phillies, which means the Jays will most likely receive no better than the 28th pick for Doc, plus a supplemental pick. Pretty crappy compensation for Doc, right?

    So, the Jays absoultely MUST trade Doc this off-season, which means the Jays are NOT dealing from strength here. They’ll be lucky to get one good pitching prospect (Joba/Hughes or Buchholz, plus one mediocre prospect. No way do they get A-Jax OR Montero or anybody similar from the BoSox . . . unless they can get the Yankees & BoSox in a bidding war . . . and both team are too smart to do that, I believe.

    Why? If the Yankees get Doc; Boston simply signs Lackey. If Boston gets Doc, the Yankees sign Lackey. Neither team will give up the farm for Doc, as long as Lackey’s out there.

    Lackey isn’t as good as Doc, but he’ll cost far less & he’ll cost zero current prospects. As long as Lackey’s out there, the Jays will get very little for Doc. I think they know that and, more importantly, I think Lackey’s people know that, and they know his value will jump after Doc is traded; so, unless a phenominal deal comes in from LAA or Seattle, Lackey won’t sign with anyone until Doc is moved.

    The second Doc is traded to the Yankees, Angels, or Boston, Lackey’s value jumps at least $10-15 million over 4-5 years.

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