Why it’s Duchscherer, Sheets, or stand pat with the pitching staff

Open Thread: Yankees All-Decade Team
The '...and left field' gap

For a team whose priorities this off-season are pitching, pitching, pitching, the Yankees haven’t made many moves in that department. Re-signing Andy Pettitte has been their only pitching transaction, and while that’s an important one it doesn’t bolster the staff for the 2010 season. With the offense seemingly set, they will likely focus on pitching for the rest of the winter. But we could even see them stand pat in that department, if they don’t land one of two free agents.

Of the remaining free agent starters, only two make any sense for the Yankees. They’re also the two we’ve talked about since the off-season began: Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer. Anyone else would just provide depth, like Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, and Al Aceves. That’s not a bad thing — the Yankees should look into acquiring as much pitching depth as they can afford. But Sheets and Duchscherer are the only two the Yankees should sign for the rotation.

Ben discussed the rotation situation last night, debunking an ESPN Radio report that claimed only one of Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain would be in the 2010 rotation. Brian Cashman cleared up the situation on Michael Kay’s radio show yesterday, and Steve from The Yankee Universe has the transcript, in which Cashman clarifies the misinterpretation of his words. ESPN, as it turns out, cherry picked a quote which, when put into the context of the question, doesn’t mean anything close to what they made it out to be.

Said Cashman on Kay’s show about the possibility of Hughes or Chamberlain starting the season in the bullpen:

If we went in with a starter that we actually like better, yeah. I have no problem with that. I mean we went into the playoffs with Hughes, Aceves and Chamberlain all in the bullpen. Why? Because we had guys we were giving the ball in the rotation , although it was a truncated rotation, we were giving the ball to guys we felt were more capable at that moment in time. So there’s no change in philosophy, as of right now, those guys are all starters. And if nothing changes, those guys are all starters. The question was ‘Well what if you get a starter?’ well, that means we have four, that means the remaining population competes for the final spot.

Who on the free agent market, other than Sheets or Duchscherer, could the Yankees possibly like better than the guys they already have? Chris from iYankees pointed to a GAKIII report mentioning Jarrod Washburn. Really? How can the Yankees possibly like Washburn more than the guys they have in house? Sure, he had a great first half, but he’s a fly ball pitcher who had the best outfield defense in the league behind him. His home run rate also dropped considerably, due mostly to a very low home run to fly ball ratio. Chances are he reverts to his career norms in 2010, which would not play well at all in Yankee Stadium.

Who else could they like more? Erik Bedard? He’s an injury case like Sheets and Duchscherer, and could provide as much upside, but his media aversion wouldn’t work well in New York. He remains perhaps the best possibility outside the aforementioned pair. Jon Garland? Same as Washburn, only he’s a righty, younger, and healthier. Doug Davis? Noah Lowry? Jason Marquis? Brett Myers? Joel Pineiro? I don’t see how any of them present the Yankees with better options. They’d just be fodder for depth, to be stashed away in the minors or in the bullpen. They’re not viable candidates to seriously compete for a rotation spot to start the season.

As it stands, the Yankees are fine with pitching. They’ll need to catch a few breaks, but they could go into the season with just a few tweaks and still have one of the league’s best teams. If they add a starter, it will probably one to demonstrably improve the rotation. For now, that appears to be Sheets and Duchscherer. Other options might work nice as depth, but as the British would say, they’d be redundancies.

Open Thread: Yankees All-Decade Team
The '...and left field' gap
  • We Need CHapman!

    I think it’s a really important thing that the Yankees don’t miss the chance to sign this guy… he will ONLY cost $$$$ and no draft picks! Either for the Pen come playoffs, or a rotation fill-in sometime during the season…
    Who’s with me?

    • Tom Zig

      Who? Chapman?

      • We Need CHapman!

        Yea I’d love to sign the guy! Just see ton of upside! but we shall see.

        • Tom Zig

          I don’t think anyone on here will disagree.

          • J

            I don’t think Chapman does much damage in the playoffs this year

            • Matt

              I dont think that Chapmen will be in the bigs for anyone, sign sheets and chapmen and put joba in the pen and hughes in the rotation

    • dudes

      Bullish on Chapman, I see.

    • sciorsci

      In 2010? That’s way too optimistic, IMO. Chapman would be a good get, but he’s raw. I think we’re looking at an ETA of 2012 at best.

    • pete

      if by sometime during the season you mean sometime during the 2011 season…right now Chapman has a very good to great fastball, very mediocre control, almost no command, and a pretty flat slider that he doesn’t locate at all. He will not be pitching in the major leagues this year, not even in a david price 2008 kinda way.

    • http://yankeespeak.com Jason Tabrys

      I disagree with the author when he lumps Jason Marquis in with the “depth” crowd that could wind up in the bullpen or minor leagues. Marquis has won 2 fewer games then Andy Pettitte since 2004 and they have a comparable career WHIP.

      Granted I’m not advocating Marquis for the Yankees starting rotation and I agree there really are only 2 remaining viable options in Sheets and Duchsherer though I’d favor Jon Garland as a steady 4 then gamble on both Chamberlain and Hughes. Regardless, Marquis deserves his due. He can be a solid 3,4 in the AL and a 2,3 in the NL, win 13-16 games with a low 4 ERA. Not nothing. Too many people discount NL success, there’s a falloff but its not the International League.

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

        Just don’t see it on Marquis. He had success this year because he significantly increased his groundball rate. Is that going to carry over to next year? If not, he’s no better than a 5 pitcher on an AL contender. The Yanks already have a few of them.

        • http://yankeespeak.com Jason Tabrys

          Marquis did raise his groundball ratio but keeping with the Pettitte comparison, Marquis rate over his career is 49.8, Pettitte’s 48.9. And while yes Marquis did put up a career high of 55.6, Pettitte put up a low 42.9 in 09′. At their respective ages Pettitte (37), Marquis (31) it seems more likely that Marquis will continue to perform at his career average levels while Pettitte slides.

          Don’t get me wrong, you can’t use a stat to quantify Pettitte’s value or his ability to find that extra something but while one is widely considered to be an adequate #3 starter, someone so similar in wins, ERA, WHIP, GB% over the last handfull of years can’t be viewed as no more then a #5.

  • sciorsci

    I think Brett Myers has the skills to be more than fodder for depth, but I’m probably in the minority on that one.

    • kenthadley

      no, I’m with you on this….like his versatility, and he should be a reasonable get…..of course, a lot of these guys should be reasonable gets until their agents convince them otherwise, like ole Johnny Damon……but I like Myers at the right price

  • http://www.i-yankees.com iYankees

    The GK3 report I pointed to never really looked at Washburn in-depth (to King’s credit). Just a name tossed in there that the Yankees could consider if his price is as low as it could be (given injury issues and what not). He’d be a weak addition and I would think that most fans would rather see Phil Hughes in their rotation, instead. Still, he’s probably a name the team tossed around at some point (much like Marquis and others).

  • Salty Buggah

    Just to add on to the Washburn stuff…

    2009 ERA w/ Seattle (in a pitchers park and great OF D): 2.64 ERA w/ 11 HR in 20 starts

    2009 ERA w/ Detroit (in a hitters park and worse OF D): 7.33 ERA w/ 12 HR in 8 starts

    Anyway, I agree with Cash there. Of course if we get a superior arm, you put him in the rotation and keep the person left out in the pen. Just more quality depth.

    • Salty Buggah

      Though to be fair, YSIII is a pitchers park (In fact, it’s immediately above Safeco on the park factors list) also and he is a LHP (Career .683 OPS against vs LHP). But I still think it’s not a good idea.

      • Salty Buggah

        dammit *vs LHB

      • http://www.i-yankees.com iYankees

        To his credit, he did have knee problems that plagued him in Detroit, which explains his poor numbers (to a degree). He had surgery earlier this winter to correct the problem. Again, not a good addition by any means (compared to Hughes or Joba), but he is a person the team will discuss internally, if they have not done so already (as they do with everyone).

        • Salty Buggah

          Didn’t know about the injury but agreed on everything else.

  • Monotonousblob

    While Sheets has more upside, Duchscherer makes sense on a few different levels. Importantly, he has proven capable of handling both starting and relieving, and has shown great numbers in the AL. With Duchscherer, Girardi could easily start him out of the pen if he wanted and convert him back to a starter if Hughes reaches his innings limit. Plus, he’ll most likely be cheaper than Sheets.

    I still have a feeling Yankees will make a move on Holliday next week, pry to the pun of “Happy Hollidays!”

    • Salty Buggah

      I dont get the idea of being able to start/relieve thing. I’m Sheets can relieve if needed. It’s not that hard. Though Duke might be cheaper, you also have to factor in his IBD and other mental problems.

      • Salty Buggah

        *I’m sure Sheets…

        • Monotonousblob

          You’re right, Sheets could probably be a great reliever, as most decent starters make excellent relievers. However, for the difference in price, the Yankees wouldn’t be paying Sheets to be a reliever.

      • sciorsci

        I like Duchscherer a lot, but I would worry about someone with a history of clinical depression handling the NY market and associated media. I can’t claim to understand what it is to live with the issues Duchscherer has dealt with, but I know that this situation can be difficult for players with no known mental/emotional problems, so I’d be concerned about Duchscherer – both for the team’s sake as well as his.

        • pete

          i really think playing on a baseball team that is constantly traveling for 162 games a year would be a much bigger contributer to depression than which city your home games are played in would.

          • sciorsci

            That’s probably a fair point, but for many players, their home games give them some respite: they can sleep in their own beds, drive themselves to the stadium, see their families, etc. But for a guy who has battled depression, if he struggles here, and is called to task by the fans and/or media as harshly as some players have been in the past, I think it could make for a very unfortunate scenario.

            I’d be rooting like hell that he would be able to push those issues into his past and keep them there, but it just doesn’t always work like that with depression. I’m all for bringing Duchscherer into the fold because I think the potential reward outweighs the risk, IMO, but I would still be concerned about it until proven otherwise.

  • radnom

    Ok. O jut finished finals an went out for an extereme night of drinking, so I probably won’t be able to make my point. BUT.

    I agree. ONLY these two pitchers, but for vastly different reasons.

    SHEETS – Straight up balla. That is it. He is better than Hughes or Joba if he is healthy. END OF DISCUSSION.

    Duchscherer – He can start as the swingman and provide decent starting pitching relief. he doesn’t have ridiculous upside, be he also doesn’t knock on of the guys from the rotation.

    • Evil Empire

      I was going to post my own ramble but this basically sums up my feelings.

      J-Douche is someone that, if acquired, I’d like to see be forced to compete for a starting role along with Hughes and Chamberlain. If he doesn’t win one of the two final rotation spots out of ST, he starts the season as one of the top 2 setup men. He’s only started 26 games in his career and is a year removed from his last season in the big leagues so I think that’s fair.

      Ben Sheets is obviously a far more proven commodity as a starter than J-Douche, Chamberlain, or Hughes, and has legitimate upside – you sign him and he becomes your #2 or #3 guy instantaneously. I personally feel he is the best acquisition the Yankees could get at this stage in the game, not considering Matt Holliday.

    • ecksodia

      Yeah, I don’t think anyone disagrees with the fact that Ben Sheets has proven himself to be quite the pitcher when healthy.

  • Charlie

    i kinda hope we dont sign a starter. i’d be excited to see hughes and jobber dealing on back to back days. also, i think they’re more than capable of being successful for a whole season in the rotation. this is the year to let em loose

    • radnom

      I know what you mean BUT – the average MLB team gets about 30 start from pitchers not in the 5 man rotation opening day.

      Considering that fact, and who is behind Hughes/Joba on the depth chart, I hope they sign some SP depth. Whoever is the sixth starter will get plenty of starts.

      • Salty Buggah


        The Yanks, despite having a championship team, had 23 starts from non-Opening Day starters. Although Wang was hurt, we got kinda lucky.

      • ecksodia

        Yes. You can never get enough pitching, and we need real starter depth, not John Smoltz or Brad Penny at the back of the rotation.

        Plus, I don’t think we can get away with going with a 3 man rotation in the playoffs if they revamp the schedule – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

    • the duke

      If there is anytime in history that a team can take two young pitchers and slide them in the four and five hole its now. both these pitchers have a great upside, let them go out and prove it. The offense with have their backs.

  • gargoyle

    They are not “fine” with pitching as the article states. They need to add another starter. How anyone can have confidence in Hughes or Chamberlain – let alone both of them, is beyond me.

    • Esteban

      How anyone can NOT have confidence in them is beyond me. YOu see that, I can say things without providing any evidence as to why it’s true.
      Joba’s stats were much worse after 110 IP, something he hadn’t done before. Given his lack of an innings limit this year, it’s likely that he’ll put up a 3.5 to 4.25 ERA, which is perfectly acceptable for a 4th starter. Hughes will likely be better than the 5th starters from 2009. Therefore it reasonable to have confidence as currently constructed. You see how that works?

      • J

        Why do you have to be a dick to him? He just made his feelings known. It’s fine to dispute them, but it’s not fine to be a dick in the process.

        • Abe


          • Gaug

            Third’d. Way too much of that here

    • Abe

      I understand that you are worried. But the Yankees definitely don’t “need to add another starter.” It would be nice to see them go out and get Sheets, but this is certainly not a deal that has to be done, IMO.
      Joba and Phil are going to at least give the Yankees average production out of the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation if they stay healthy. In fact, I’m quite confident that they will give the Yankees a lot more than average production out of the 4 and 5 spots (again, if they stay healthy).
      “How anyone can have confidence in Hughes or Chamberlain – let alone both of them, is beyond me”
      Relax. I’m really not sure why this is beyond you. First, Joba had a very good first half, and after a year in which he pitched 157.1 innings, there is a good chance he will have a more complete year. Phil was nasty out of the bullpen this past year and has earned this opportunity, IMO. Second, the Yankees as an organization clearly believe in these two. They have chosen not to trade the one of them or both for either Johan or Roy.
      You are in the minority here, and it’s not even close. Being in the minority does not make you wrong, but at some point, whether or not YOU are confident, these two deserve the opportunity to be in the rotation, and this year I will not be the least bit disappointed to see that happen.

      • Abe

        Format fail, sorry.

    • whizkid

      I do have confidence in Joba/Phil, and along those lines, what about Jason Marquis? I agree he isn`t Sheets or even Duch`s caliber, but he`s a proven healthy workhorse, good for 180/200 innings. Definitely more proven than Gaudin or Mitre, and if he agrees to a hometown discount, can be had with enough left over for Chapman. Sheets/Duchs are great IF they stay helathy, but it`s a big IF, and in a rotation with AJ, 38-yr old Andy, and 150-inning cap Hughes, needing 25-30 games out of the 6th starter is not a stretch… If Sheets demands 9-10 mil, I`d rather have both Marquis and Chapman @4-5 mil per.

      • sciorsci

        I don’t think Jason Marquis would be a good fit in Yankee Stadium – while he seems to have turned a corner in regards to his FB% and his HR/FB% over the past season or two, there’s an awful lot of data in his career statistics to suggest that he’d be mediocre as a result of the NL/AL transition and playing in YS. Of course, I thought he’d be a bad fit in Colorado for the same reasons (not the league transition, obviously), and yet he turned in the best season of his career.

        Either way though, I don’t think Marquis will be quite as cheap as you suggest.

        • whizkid

          Thanks, haven`t dissected the data but did see he had a winning record last year in Coors… YSII can`t be worse… And thought I read something about a hometown discount when he was being discussed for the Mets…Again, I`m only seeing him as an upgrade over Gaudin/Mitre, not Joba/Phil, and as a healthy innings eater.. Chapman&Marquis >> Sheets for 10mil.. If he starts demanding Wolf/Penny money, forget it…

  • The Scout

    The post limits itself to starting pitching on the free agent market. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But trades are also a possibility, and they open up a much broader discussion. If the Yankees were willing to consider a deal that included Montero and others for Halladay, they might be willing to do so for a promising/established younger starter under team control but looking soon for a payday that his current team cannot afford.

    • SamVa

      josh johnson? is that who you were alluding to?

      • The Scout

        He’s one possibility; there may be others. Cashman needs to be a vulture, circling a team facign serious losses or attendance issues in a down economy.

  • dalelama

    Bolster—Wilkipedia, “to brace, reinforce ,secure, or support.” I am surprised you don’t believe signing Andy Pettitte does that for Yank’s 2010 staff.

    • hakeem is a novice


      I’m surprised as well

      1.are the Yankees “secure” with pitching?

      2.Andy certainly reinforces pitching but he may not necessarily secure the team.

      If the answer to 1 is no and 2 holds true or is it the other way around? you see im confused again. arrrghhhh that cursed word bolst…

      semantics, i always used the word but never looked it up, i did just now and im still trying to understand how and when to use it.

      Very nice read, my thanks to you Joseph P.

      ps i think we should stay calm on the lineup for 2010, the most important thing really is the organization being in a flexible position come the end of 2010. Its going to be much harder this year to win the WS. If we can bolster, secure, reinforce….we may have a chance. The next 5 years are extremely crucial.

      • Januz

        Winning in 2010 will not be as hard as some people expect. Joba, Hughes and Gaudin will be here, and if necessary, there are still the possibility of trades (Aaron Harang in June or July comes to mind).

        • hakeem “single celled organism”

          You might be completely right. It’s just that knowing JD and Hideki aren’t going to be there makes one feel a bit nervous.

          • Januz

            JD and Hideki were never the core players on this team. Those guys are Jeter, Tex, CC, A-Rod, and of course, Mariano. If you take away any of those guys, without a decent replacement they are not winning the World Series (Three of those guys are FIRST-BALLOT Hall of Famers, and Tex and CC could one day join them). In fact, you can make a strong argument that Andy, and Jorge are more important than Damon and Matsui. This team can win without JD and Hideki trust me.

          • sciorsci

            It’s not like the Yankees picked up a pair of little leaguers to replace Damon and Matsui; Granderson and Johnson will provide adequate production, IMO, to keep the offense chugging along (perhaps even more efficiently than last year due to the improved OBP).

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Nostra-Artist

    Thanks for the link, Joe. Always appreciated.

  • Januz

    I really don’t think that Duchscherer is coming here. If you suffer from depression, going to a place where you would get booed after every bad performance is not going to help his condition improve. Sheets is a possibility if he is willing to take an incentive-laden contract, and try to win a ring.
    On another free-agent track, the biggest free-agent loser has to be Scott Boras. He reminds me of Mike Tyson, once “The baddest man on the planet”, who no longer scared his opponents, after being knocked out. Look at Manny Ramirez or Jason Veritek (Even with Mark Teixeira, he tried to get more money from Cashman, by saying he is going to Boston, and Cashman called his bluff, and 45 minutes he, called and said Tex will to go to the Yankees with NO opt-out clauses). This year, he is not getting Holliday, Beltre or Damon anything CLOSE to what was expected. Teams no longer want to deal with him, his demands, and his outlandish claims, and they are no longer afraid of him (Look the Nationals with Strasberg, they would not give him $50m, and were willing to lose the pick, rather than give in). His power has peaked, and the slow decline is beginning (Too bad for Johnny Damon, he did not see that in time).

    • Zack

      His depression had nothing to do with on-the-field performance, it was on a personal level with his wife and kid. Plus the fact that he’s getting treated for it is a good sign, if anything does come up he knows he has lines of help.

      • Januz

        I am not being nasty to the guy (It is a sad situation, and with God, family, and professional help, he can get better (You can never be “Cured” of this disease)). But there are certain places that are much more difficult and stressful than others: Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs come to mind. I think about Milton Bradley in Chicago. It was extremely stressful and he fell apart. Maybe being in a Monnesota might be better situation than The Nronx.

        • J

          I am a therapist, and you are absolutley dead wrong that you cannot be “cured” from this. First, it’s not a disease. It’s a mood disorder. Second, there are numerous types of depression, but the two most severe types are Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder. If his therapist cleared him to play, he isn’t dealing with MDD.

          I am not his therapist, but from what I have read, he struggled with his marriage ending, struggled with his son being in New Jersey, and struggled with having a severe injury. Often times, an injury alone can develop a bout of depression in a person. 220 million people world wide have depression, and that is just the diagnosed ones. I believe just the opposite of what you say; if he pitched closer to home and his son, he will reduce the risk of depression returning. Baseball players don’t get depressed over being booed. More likely, they would develop a social anxiety disorder, which is what Greinke has.

          • kenthadley

            thanks J for the analysis……seems like you know what you are talking about…..maybe JD can work here….certainly hope Cashman has similar input from his experts…..

  • Jake H

    I am fine standing pat on startin pitching. I also think that one of those guys probably won’t sign until late. Also there is PEDRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He could always come in mid season. HA

  • Rose

    You would think that if the Yankees were being so stern with Damon’s demands and wouldn’t give Matsui half of what he was making last year on account of his health…I would assume Sheets would be out of the question. He comes with a lot of health risks as well…and his demands are (rumored to be) extremely high for somebody with his history.

    Duchscherer is an injury risk as well…but would be significantly less, I’m guessing.

    Matsui wasn’t given half despite playing all last season…and well. Sheets hasn’t pitched since 2008 and will be demanding at least double what Matsui was asking. It may be apples in oranges to a certain extent and Matsui didn’t play the field, etc…but my point is if they’re sticking to this budget…like it seems they are…Sheets might be crossed off the list.

    • Januz

      Sheets should not be crossed off the list yet. The free agent list is long, and you will see more guys non-tendered, which means the laws of supply and demand will take effect (Supply is up, demand goes down). Even the elite players like Holliday and Bay are finding the sledding difficult. This is why Nick Johnson was smart, he saw an opportunity to go to a team that can win, so he took a few dollars less to do so, before that window closed. That opportunity still exists for Sheets to do just that.

    • sciorsci

      We don’t know how the Yankees project either player (Matsui or Sheets) for 2010, but with Matsui, there was the risk of injury, plus the risk of decline. So they may have felt that even if he stayed healthy, they’d still be dealing with the chance that his productivity wouldn’t be where they need it to be.

      As for Sheets, it’s a fair point that there’s some inconsistency in pursuing an injury risk (Sheets) while making it such a point to avoid one (Matsui), but the difference is, if Sheets is injured or ineffective, they’re no worse off than they are right now, and I think Cashman & Co. must be comfortable with that. If, however, Sheets is healthy and returns to form, he gives the Yankees another front of the rotation presence.

      In other words, both Matsui and Sheets (or Duchscherer) present some difficult choices because of injury history and other factors, but just based on the way the Yankees’ roster is presently constructed, they can more easily afford to take the chance on Sheets than they could on Matsui.

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I understand where you’re coming from, but I think you have a faulty assumption built into your argument. In order to make the argument that since Matsui played (and played well) in 2009, and Sheets and Duchscherer didn’t, that the latter two are just as much if not more of a health risk than Matsui in 2010 and thus wouldn’t be pursued by the Yanks since they didn’t pursue Matsui presumably over health concerns, you have to make the assumption that the fact that Matsui played in 2009 makes him more likely to stay healthy in 2010 than the other two, and I think that’s a mistake. Yes, Matsui played, but he played on two surgically repaired knees that had to be drained multiple times over the course of the season. He’s also older than Sheets/Duchscherer. Going into 2010, we don’t have any reason to believe that Matsui is a better bet to stay healthy than Sheets/Duchscherer. We might have reason to think that if we knew more about each of their conditions, but my point is that we definitely don’t have reason to think that just because Matsui played in 2009.

      Thus… The fact that the Yanks seemed disinterested in Matsui over health concerns (although keep in mind that for all we know they just always liked Johnson better for 2010, health concerns aside) doesn’t preclude them from pursuing and/or signing either Sheets or Duchscherer. If they think those guys have a good shot to stay healthy in 2010 and contribute to the team, that’s all that matters.

  • pete

    I’d really like to sign Ben Sheets, but i’d prefer not to have hughes pitching in the BP. I’d rather he start a little late in AAA on a monitored innings count and try to hone his changeup a little more, and be our first option as a 6th starter when someone gets hurt, which, considering the injury/age issues of guys in our rotation right now, has a very good shot to happen.

    Nonetheless, standing pat and letting somebody else fill in for hughes when he hits his innings limit at the end of the season (McAllister or Nova maybe? Or Gaudin/Mitre/Aceves/somebody who unexpectedly impresses) would definitely be an acceptable approach at this point. The yankees were fine last year with parts of the rotation always in flux, the reason being that they had a dominant ace and two reliable starters pretty much all season, and the offense was sick. This year, the offense should be about the same, the defense should be better (potential regression from jeter should be offset by likely improvements from a-rod, cano, tex, and swish alone, not to mention the whole LF/CF thing), and we have the same ace and two reliable cogs. And it’s the same people at the back end, only a year older. Joba was perfectly acceptable as a 4th starter last year until he hit his previous high in innings and started to tire down. If the same thing happens this year, we’ll get 140+ innings of a ~3.75 ERA from the 4th spot in our rotation before it starts to tumble at the end. That, plus the aforementioned awesomeness of every other aspect of this team, gives them the flexibility to let Hughes get to around 150 innings this year, and I think it’s reasonable to expect him to be capable of doing that with a sub-5.00 era.

    The last two options don’t seem attractive to the people who want a repeat of the ’03 rotation, but how many teams out there have an offense that will likely score over 900 runs again, a true ace at the top, two reliable vets in the middle, and league average defense, plus the payroll flexibility to add somebody at the deadline if necessary? Sure, a slew of injuries could knock us out of the playoffs, as could a couple of bad injuries to the wrong players. But the same is true for every team. Personally, if taking a few risks this year leads to AJ Burnett being our 4th starter in 2011 or 2012, I’m cool with it.

  • Mark from Chicago

    Joe – Does signing Duchscherer or Sheets come at the expense of Chapman? With all this talk about the 2010 payroll being “Set -in stone”, I wondered if this meant we would be passing on signing Chapman.

    • pete

      Chapman would probably go under the IFA budget, not the the 40-man/25-man budget. The yankees as an entire franchise, you have to understand, do not have a $200 mil budget. That’s just their budget for their ML roster. If you’re selling 3-4 million tickets a year, plus pulling in the insane profits from all of the overpriced amenities, you’re pulling in a lot more than that. But, factor in all non-playing employees, minor league affiliates, draft, and IFA, and that’s when you realize that you DO have to budget your major league roster. Thus the budget is not just some arbitrary figure set up by the yankees because they don’t want to look like assholes – as they’ve shown in the past, they are willing to go overbudget for the right player, but not because that room is there, but rather because they can make some moves elsewhere in the organization that would allow it to happen. It’s just a very complicated mess to do so, and the player really has to fit.

      My best guess, though, is that the yankees are trying to adhere to a lower budget ($200 mil vs. $205ish) than in the past because they do want to increase their IFA budget, or perhaps start the King Felix piggy bank.

      • Mark from Chicago

        Thanks…..never knew that, but makes a ton of sense!

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  • Todd

    I think the Yanks need a starter or a solid set-up guy. I am definitely uncomfortable standing pat. I know people scoff at the importance of a set-up or 8th inning guy, but I think that the Yanks need one more guy in the bullpen. Whether it is Joba, Hughes, or a guy like Capps–I have no preference.

    • Abe

      I think that too many Yankee fans are “uncomfortable standing pat,” I believe that the Yankees are set up right now and any other moves they pull off such as a Sheets, Capps, or Damon signing, are just gravy. It is possible these moves will come, but why are you “uncomfortable standing pat.” This team is built to compete as it stands right now.

      • Todd

        Good point and I guess I should clarify. Because as it stands, I think that the bullpen is sub par. We saw how unsettled the late innings were last year until Hughes solidified the 8th inning. I do not think that another quality arm in the bullpen for 2010 is gravy, but a necessity.

        • Abe

          I disagree that it is a necessity. The Yankees have a solid bullpen as it stands now for next year. Robertson is ready to step into the ‘all important’ 8th inning role. Aceves and Gaudin are very capable long men. Marte is the lefty specialist and if healthy, could serve as the 7th or maybe even 8th inning guy. Melancon and Dunn are there for support. That looks pretty good to me.
          All that being said, the bullpen is the most fickle component of a baseball team. The complexion of the bullpen can change rather drastically and quickly over the course of a given season. However, since that is the case, I feel that it is a waste of resources to spend on free-agent relievers (in most cases) when the Yankees have plenty of arms in the majors and minors to fill roles.

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

          People have said the bullpen is subpar for the past two seasons, but they’ve turned out fine. I’m perfectly happy with the way the team has gone about assembling the bullpen.

  • Steve H

    I’ve been saying all along it’s Sheets and only Sheets. If J-Duke is willing to pitch in the pen then I’m on board with him as well. I know he had stated preference in starting, and his upside isn’t enough to potentially suppress a year of development of Hughes.

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  • smoke em inside

    Why is every so quick to discount Pineiro? Yes, I know he’s traditionally been a disappointment, but he reinvented himself last year with the one-seam sinker; his WHIP was a microscopic 1.14, lowest BB/9 anywhere, best GO/AO in the majors, and he gave up about 1 HR per every Haley’s Comet. Yes, Dave Duncan doubtless helped him, but I don’t think he’s gonna forget what he learned… and with the guy in essence converting himself into a lesser version of Brandon Webb, he’s less likely to blow out his arm than the usual array of 98 mph power guys. He’s not a 1 or a 2, but as a 3 or a 4 the guy can win 14-15 games; he already knows most of the hitters… and he threw well over 200 innings last year.

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  • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

    Bullonly -Chapman is another gamble. One more hombre from a Banana republic who’ll get to the bigs on his rep, then blow up during his starts & party all night w/his first Yankees/Yankee dollar paycheck.

    So if somebody, say Cash Money, went to the cut bait Marlins & offered them a nice mixed assortment of 4 young, contract controllable, all ready MLB experienced players Josh Johnson couldn’t be shoehorned out of that gator pit? No, let them wait until they can play “monkey in the middle” with the Yanks v. Rat Sawks.

    Or maybe let Posada pitch. He seems to know what they need. . ..

    • Steve H

      Stereotype much?

  • Mustang

    I’m not as optimistic about the starting pitching as some here. With an injury prone AJ, Andy being a year older, and two kids (one of which is on a pitch count) at the back end of the rotation I think that there is more of a need for a starter. What happens when (like it does every year) one or two of the starting 5 goes to the DL? Are people really comfortable with the group of Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, and Al Aceves taking spots in the rotation for any lengthy period of time? I think not. I like what they done so far, but if they want to finish the job they need to get another serviceable starter.

  • http://jukeofurl.wordpress.com Juke Early

    @Steve H –

    …only so the shoes will fit. Stereotypes exist for a reason, just as clichés do. Chapman has all ready lied about his age. If that doesn’t kick start profiling, what should.

    I’d like nothing better than one of these guys to live up to their hype. I’d hardly be upset if he was a solid citizen in pinstripes and proved me wrong. AND 96mph ain’t 100+ either.

    • Mustang

      Orlando Hernández gave the Yankees what they paid for Jose Contreras didn’t, but he went on to do bigger and better things. Livan Hernandez has been a work horse most of his career. I don’t know what shoes you’re trying to fit, but the Cuban starters seem to be what they advertise.

    • Gaug

      How didn’t el duque or livan live up to it???

  • westcoastyanks

    Don’t sleep on Kelvim Escobar. He’s one of those high risk/high reward types, but he was productive when healthy and could start or relieve. He had a good workout last week and is apparently going to play winter ball. If the bidding for Sheets gets too high, they could bring in Escobar as a sixth starter and, if his stuff isn’t good enough for the rotation, move him to the pen.

  • smoke em inside

    And let’s not count out the Yankees’ statristically most effective pitcher last year… 0.00 ERA, 1K per inning Nick Swisher. Check the record; can Lincecum or Halladay lay claim to any such stats? :)

  • Gaug

    Easy. Sign sheets or jd n let joba battle Phil. Loser grabs set up role win win

  • Louie Flores

    I’m very happy with what the yankees are doing, i think with their pitching, they can use someone who throws sidearm in there bullpen,also to in there starting rotation to… i wish the yanks good luck the rest of the way…

  • mike

    I know a free agent who is better than all those mentioned, and I know he can succeed in New York. His name is Chien-Ming Wang. Why is his recovery more problematic than Sheets and Dushscherer?

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  • brandon

    as the old baseball adage goes, you can never have enough pitching. the most needed commodity in baseball. there will be competition for sheets. the oakland pitcher might look more apealing to cashman. unless there is some pitcher out there that might be available. who knows maybe roy oswalt though i doubt it.

  • Rick

    I can see Joba in the starting rotation, but to suggest Hughes once again??? Doesn’t anyone remember his 5+ ERA as a starter from last year? And he averaged 5 innings/start. He’s not a starter, I don’t care how many pitches he has. He’s not even good for more than two innings. He was lights out for one, and sometimes carried it over for two, but usually got lit up in the middle of his second inning of work. Championship teams don’t just “make do” with their rotations. Mitre and Gaudin are not good enough to be starters on the Yankees, pure and simple. Even with Joba, we need another starter. Sheets, Duscherer, Marquis, Garland. Any of them is better than trying Hughes again.

    As for Wang, I’m no doctor or specialist, but a leg injury can really affect a way a pitcher comes off the mound. Wang appears to have lost control of his devastating sinker. Without that, he’s just a batting practice pitcher throwing 90 mph as we saw last season. As it stands now, Wang looks to be joining the team of good pitchers that ended their career with one bad injury.

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

    “I can see Joba in the starting rotation, but to suggest Hughes once again??? Doesn’t anyone remember his 5+ ERA as a starter from last year? And he averaged 5 innings/start.”

    I forgot, pitchers can never improve.

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