Feb
04

The price of pitching just went up

By

Young pitching can be both a blessing and a burden. A blessing because they represent hope for the future. A burden because they oftentimes stumble early in their careers. Many teams, especially those with lower payrolls, gladly accept these foibles in exchange for potential ace production in the future. But for a team like the Yankees, with a huge payroll and a demanding fan base, growing pains are not as easy to stomach. We need look no further than Joba Chamberlain for proof.

Thankfully for the Yankees, they have the resources to sign top pitchers as free agents. This takes the pressure off them to develop their own arms, as they can pay top dollar for the best free agent arms. This isn’t always the best strategy, as we saw in the 2004-2005 off-season. But, when applied to top-flight pitchers the team has coveted for years, the payoff can be great. It might mean overpaying, but it also means more of a sure thing than a young, developing starter.

But what if the supply of young, top-flight starters dried up? What if more and more of the game’s top arms opt to sign extensions while they’re still under team control, rather than sign a series of one-year contracts until they reach free agency? That certainly changes the equation for the Yankees. When players sign extensions during their arbitration years they typically forgo at least a year, oftentimes more, of free agency in exchange for security. After all, they might blow out their arms at any time.

For the Yankees and other high budget teams, this means a shallower pool of free agent pitchers still in the primes of their careers. We’ve seen three of the games best young pitchers sign extensions this off-season: Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, and Justin Verlander. Hernandez, who will turn 24 in April, signed a five-year extension in January. It sounds insane, but he’ll 29 when he reaches free agency. That’s young enough that the Yankees still might target him, but not nearly as attractive as he would have been, at 26, had he not signed the extension.

Johnson, who finally bounced back after missing much of the previous two seasons with injuries, is just 26, and would have hit free agency at age 28 after the 2011 season. His contract is heavily backloaded, meaning he’ll likely be available after the 2011 season, but in a trade. At least in this instance the Yankees wouldn’t have to pay in both prospects and a long-term contract. In 2012 and 2013 Johnson will make a combined $27.5 million before hitting free agency at age 30.

Verlander, 27 later this month, would have hit free agency the same year as Felix. Yeterday, he reportedly reached an agreement with the Tigers for a five-year, $80 million contract. Had he gone year-to-year, he would have hit free agency at age 29. He’ll now hit free agency at age 32. Again, this hasn’t stopped the Yankees. They did, after all, sign A.J. Burnett at the same age. But it’s not nearly as attractive a proposition now that he’s locked up for the next five years.

Beyond the matter of losing prime-age years, these extensions also mean slimmer pickings in the coming years. The 2011 free agent class figured to feature Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, but Halladay signed an extension and probably won’t hit the market until he’s 38, and Greinke, who would have hit free agency as a 27-year-old, signed an extension that will keep him in Kansas City two years longer. In 2012 we would have seen Verlander, Johnson, and Hernandez, but now they’re locked up. Adam Wainwright would have been in this class, too, but the Cardinals have him locked up affordably through 2013. Matt Cain is all that remains. Even in 2013 Jon Lester would have been a free agent, but the Sox signed an extension to keep him around for two additional years. Chad Billingsley, John Danks, and Cole Hamels are scheduled to hit free agency, but as we can see that remains far from a certainty.

Over the next two years, just two top flight starters will hit free agency, Lee and Cain. There will be others — Brandon Webb and Josh Beckett come to mind for next off-season, but if the Sox don’t reach an extension with Beckett shouldn’t teams be a bit concerned? — but there figure to be very few Sabathia-type arms hitting free agency over the next three years. And, given the enthusiasm of teams to lock up their young starters, we could see this scarcity continue for years to come.

As a result, the Yankees have no other choice than to develop their own young starters if they want to maintain a top of the line rotation. It might hurt, and we might see a few of them turn in seasons like Joba’s 2009. But in future years, when a few of those starters pan out, the Yankees will reap the rewards — meaning they can sign their own young pitchers to long-term extensions, keeping them out of the prying claws of those greedy Yankees. Wait, what?

Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Categories : Pitching
  • A.D.

    The decision to not trade Joba and/or Hughes over the past few years is looking better and better, given that the Yanks cannot go out an buy these players, and what it would take to trade for a locked up, top-flight starter, is probably a Joba or Hughes centered package.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      It also makes the CC signing look all the savvier, even if we had to overpay to get him here. When said aces actually DO hit the market, you’ve got to go hard to wrap them up.

      Remember when people were all “Oh, if he doesn’t want to play in NYC, then screw him, we don’t need him!” Yeah… good times.

      • Steve H
        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          We have a synergy in our commenting. There’s some sort of Mystique and Aura to our unity of thought.

          /buildingthebrand’d

          • Steve H

            Mystique and Aura? Has a nice ring to it.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Pretty good… pretty, pretty good.

            • Rose

              “Mystique and Aura? Sounds like the couple of girls I cheated on my wife with in Vegas…” – Curt Schilling

              • Steve H

                “Mystique and Aura? Sounds like the couple of girls trannies I cheated on my wife with in Vegas…” – Curt Schilling

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  “Mystique and Aura? Sounds like the couple of girls trannies I cheated on my wife with in Vegas while my wife was suffering from cancer, Elizabeth Edwards-style…” – Curt Schilling

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

                  and he hit those trannies too

                  \anonymous friend rumor’d

      • Accent Shallow

        Well, the problem with that is CC does have an opt-out, which we have to think he’s certain to exercise. Sure, there’s a chance he decides he loves pitching for the Yankees and doesn’t want a raise, but . . . that has to be semi-unlikely, right?

        • Bo

          The opt out is a concern but again what team can pay him this amount?

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Completely agree. It’s nice we got CC and AJ in one year but it looks like the Yanks won’t get that opportunity in awhile. Joba and Hughes needs to be starters.

    And we need to show patience to the prospects like Brackman and Betances as well. Top starting pitching is expensive and hard to acquire which makes developing starters the best option.

    • Bo

      patience with those two? Your kids kids will still be waiting.

      Sometimes high ceiling guys don’t hit. It happens. Doesnt mean you stop trying.

  • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

    There will be others — Brandon Webb and Josh Beckett come to mind for next off-season, but if the Sox don’t reach an extension with Beckett shouldn’t teams be a bit concerned?

    Well, Joe, two things:
    1. No. The Red Sox aren’t some big-market team with deep pockets. They’re a scrappy, plucky bunch of underdogs, the David to the Yankees’ Goliath. If they let Beckett walk it will be because they can’t afford him any longer because the Yankees drove up the price of pitching on the FA market by signing Sabathia to a ridiculous, Evil Empire-style deal.
    /John Henry’d

    2. No. Josh Beckett is a cancer in the clubhouse. He’s mean to Dustin Pedroia. He kicked a baby. And he needs both Tommy John and labrum surgery. Also his knees are shoddy and he has an exceptionally weak core. The Red Sox were wise to pass on him.
    /Gammons’d

    • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

      Shit. That Gammons’d should say “Yes”. The point still stands!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Exactly. Even if the wording isn’t 100% accurate, the fact remains, the Sox are crippled by being in the 17th biggest media market. There’s just not enough fans of the Red Sox for them to generate sufficient revenue to compete on even footing with teams from large urban megalopolises like the New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and San Diego Padres. Those economic heavyweights throw their big media market dollars around, bullying the little guys like the Sox out of the picture. It’s just not fair.

        The only saving grace is the much larger cranial capacity and greater physical attractiveness of the members of the Boston braintrust to balance out the systemic inequities a bit.

        For Diamond Cutters, I’m Peter Gammons, ESPN.

        • ADam

          Thanks for the Analysis, Peter. Another saving grace in the braintrust that is Theo Epstien is the combined 22 million Dollars spent on Julio Lugo and Mike Lowell.. Boston is the Little Engine that could ant this proves it once again..

          Lets not forget that Adrian Beltre will forever change the way that baseball is played as we know it…. For The Mississippi Sex Addict Clinic, I’m Steve Phillips.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            For The Mississippi Sex Addict Clinic, I’m Steve Phillips.

            Well played.

            • ADam

              Tip of the Cap

        • adayoff

          “The (Red) Sox are crippled by being in the 17th biggest media market.”

          Maybe that’s true but their revenue from TV is not the 17th biggest. I was trying to find stats, but I would guess that it is in the top 8. My guess is that Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Atlanta, Dodgers, Anaheim, Cubs and White Sox top them. Does San Diego get more TV revenue than Boston?

          Here’s a quote from a January 2009 issue of the San Diego Times Union (in connection with the purchase of the Padres by Jeff Moorad): “The Padres’ local TV contract, which runs through 2011, returns considerably less money than the Diamondbacks enjoy through their TV deal and is less than what the low-revenue Kansas City Royals command.”

          It is not the market, it’s the motion.

    • Bo

      Kind of excited to see how the Boston media trashes Beckett on his way out.

      If they can do an all around nice guy like Bay there is no telling what they’ll do to circle the wagons on Beckett.

  • Steve H

    This is what made the CC signing so ridiculously important. He wasn’t just a top 5 pitcher, but a 28 year old top 5 pitcher who only cost money. As seen above, those guys simply don’t hit the market. The Yankees need to keep the young stable of arms going, and supplement them with a pickup or two every year, even though that guy will likely be on the wrong side of 30.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      That.

    • Bo

      I dont know who ever said they shouldnt sign front line starting pitchers.

      That myth is head scratching.

      They should always go after the in their prime players. That is the perk of being the most desired place to be, money, and winning.

      • Steve H

        Did you reply in the right place?

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Looks like CC is going to get even more money when he opts out.

    • Chip

      You know what, I was thinking about this the other day and I’m not so sure. I mean he’s making an extreme amount of money right now and I’m not sure that anybody else would give him a contract with a higher AAV. Sure, he might get another year or two so the overall dollars might be higher but in the long run it might be more wise to stay right where he is. It sure will be interesting to see what happens.

      • Not the Rays

        This. Unless he and his family hate NY/NJ, and he despised winning that championship, he’s going no where.

        My prediction is that he will not opt out, but will use the clause as leverage to tack 2 years at the same AAV to the back end of the contract.

        /What I would do’d

    • Bo

      What team can possibly offer him more money?

  • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

    The 2011 SP FA class is still pretty deep. Lee, Harang, Lilly, Vazquez, Webb, Sheets, Beckett, JDLR and the Duke. Nothing to sneeze at. I have to think Lee is going to be a big NYY target. He’d be a good sign, and a good hedge in case CC opts out and heads to SF.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        You’d prefer Sheets to Lee?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Depending on price and 2010 results, yeah, I might. I’m just saying, he still has enough of a pedigree to be considered the co-jewel of the 2010-2011 pitching market if he has a healthy year.

          IMO, it’s
          1. Lee
          (small gap)
          2. Sheets

          (gap)

          3. Beckett
          4. Webb

          (gap)

          5. Vazquez

          (large gap)

          6. DeLaRosa
          7. Lilly
          8. Duchscherer
          9. Harang

          • Not the Rays

            Webb >>> Beckett if healthy IMHO.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              The Beckett/Webb question is a virtual tossup at this point. 2010 will be the tiebreaker.

              • Steve H

                Heading into 2010 I’d give Beckett the edge, but simply because he’s done it in the AL East, though not as well as people would like to believe.

          • Chris

            I think the gap between Webb/Beckett and Vazquez is actually quite small. In terms of potential performance, they would rank Webb > Beckett > Vazquez, but the injury concerns go the other way with Vazquez > Beckett > Webb. It basically comes down to a teams decision on how to balance risk vs reward.

    • Chip

      He’ll be a big target but his price also skyrockets with some of these other guys signing extentions. The more scarce ace-type starting pitchers are, the more their price will go up. Of course, this will also have the effect of luring more guys to free agency instead of signing long-term before getting there but some of the big fish are definitely already gone.

      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        That’s true, but the more the price goes up, the more competitive advantage the Yankees have. We can outbid teams with tighter budgets. In a perverse way, Cliff Lee becoming more expensive due to positional scarcity means the Yankees have a better chance of acquiring him (assuming they’re interested).

    • Steve H

      I think they only way CC opts out is for more money. He’ll get the most money from NYY. I’d be stunned if he opts out and doesn’t stay, unless something drastic happens the next few years. Any real or imagined fears about him succeeding in New York (and the postseason) have obviously been subsided. And after getting a taste of winning it all, I’m sure he wants more, and he’s got the best chance to win in NY.

    • Bo

      This FO is in love with Lee.

      And for good reason. Lefty starters at the stadium are a premium.

  • Chip

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past few days. I think this makes Cashman look really smart with his draft strategy in the past few years.

    What has he used his top picks on? High-ceiling, low-floor starting pitching and possible impact bats at catcher. I mean in the first two rounds over the past few years they’ve picked Hughes, IPK, Joba, Cole, Brackman, Romine, Murphy that I can think of right off the top of my head. The only one I can think of recently that hasn’t fit that profile is either the reliever whose name I can’t think of that didn’t sign and a potential 5-tool center fielder in Slade.

    These are exactly the picks the Yankees need to make. It appears that corner outfielders, corner infielders and league-average inning eaters will always be available on the market but you can’t always go out and sign an ace. Cashmoney appears to have figured this out quite a few years ago.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Added:
      DJ Mitchell, Bryan Mitchell, Brett Marshall, Nik Turley, Brett Gerritse, Chad Thompson, David Phelps, and Sam Elam.

      And don’t forget guys like Chris Garcia, Alan Horne, and Tim Norton who had frontline-potential but couldn’t stay healthy.

      Oh, and IFAs like Vizcaino, ManBan, Ramirez, Heredia, etc.

      The FO is definitely trying to gamble on high-upside guys and smartly hedges the bet by gambling on LOTS of them.

      • Steve H

        The more lottery tickets you buy, the better chance you have of hitting.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          BoBaitFAIL.

          Should have said:

          “The more seeds I plant, the more weed I can eventually smoke. So, plant that seed!”

      • Chip

        O yeah, I was just thinking of the first few (and thus most valuable) picks in the draft. You can add catchers Sanchez, Higgy and Weems to that as well. They might not all pan out but there’s a chance one or two will which makes it all worth it.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          Weems definitely will NOT pan out.

  • pete

    Thus the exceptionally long-term contracts to AJ and CC – there may not be many other quality FA pitchers during their tenure. We absolutely made the right decision in shoring up 2 spots in the rotation for the next several years. This is also why I wouldn’t be opposed to going over-budget for cliff lee next year, giving him what will amount to a pretty absurd contract for a guy who may be surpassed by one or both of Joba and Hughes early in his contract.

    Young pitchers are getting smarter. I think the suddenly popular normalization curve principal applies to getting paid as a player (or for anybody, really), too. If you make $80 million over 5 years, which appears to be the standard for top-flight, young, pre-FA pitchers, that’s enough money to live more than comfortably off of for the rest of your life, and still have plenty left over for your kids and grandkids. The palpable difference between that and, say, $150 million, is much less than the difference between, say, $5 million and $50 million. In fact, it just puts extra pressure on you to perform, and can hurt your PR. That’s not to say it’s an undesirable situation, but IMO, any time anybody has a chance at an $80 million contract, they should take it, period.

    • Zack

      “any time anybody has a chance at an $80 million contract, they should take it, period”

      If you’re a few years away from FA then absolutely, if you’re a FA at the end of the season then it’s not as a choice as you think.

      • pete

        that’s true i should have qualified that statement with a “unless there is a more lucrative option present either currently or within the proximate future”

    • Not the Rays

      Very true. If anyone who doubts this, they should ask Juan Gonzalez about it.

      In economics, they would say that risk aversion coupled with the diminishing marginal utility of a dollar makes this a no brainer.

  • Will

    Neyer made this same point last night. I actually think a weaker FA talent pool would help the Yankees IF they are able to sign the occassional big fish who slips through the net, as they did with C.C. If the Yankees are able to win the top prize, and little else remains for the other teams, the weaker FA classes could leave teams like Boston out in the cold (or forced to spend $80mn on John Lackey, for example).

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      To wit: Joe Mauer not hitting free agency likely hurts the Red Sox more than it hurts the Yankees.

      • Will

        Especially with 3 of the Yankees better prospects being catchers.

      • Rose

        Agreed.

        Side question on catchers:
        Pablo Sandoval was “Catcher” eligible in my fantasy baseball league last year. Did he come up as a catcher? Any similarities between him and Montero?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Yes, and yes.

          • Chip

            MOVE JESUS TO THIRD!!!!!

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Kung Fu Messiah.

  • The Three Amigos

    Well this is another reason why this year (Joba the starter) and next (hughes the starter) are so important, since we need to know what to do. If Cliff Lee stays the course and pitches ace-like again… he is the only big fish for the foreseeable future. With Andy getting older and Vazquez up in the air, our immediate long term pitching future could be decided fairly quickly.

    It’s an important time for Yankee pitching.

    • Bo

      And trades are out of the question??

      FA isnt the only way to improve

      • The Three Amigos

        With the Yankees having limited trade chips besides the virtually non-tradeable Montero the front end of our rotation will be decided based on what happens in the near term.

  • Rose

    Don’t these new extensions to these great young pitchers give Sabathia more of a reason to opt out and get even more money? Because he’ll essentially be more attractive since all the rest of the great pitchers are locked up?

    • A.D.

      Perhaps, but even if there is less supply it doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be able to get more than 23M per year. There’s not that many teams that can even shell that much dough out to one player.

      CC already has a top market rate contract, and with the way contracts have been going, it may be hard to top

      • Rose

        True, but as we’ve been seeing…these baseball players (and their agents) aren’t exactly getting the grasp of fluctuation in the market just yet. As of last week, Johnny Damon was still holding out for more than $6M with absolutely nobody really needing his services.

        • Zack

          If the Yankees pass on Lee and neither Joba/Hughes develop into a top rotation guy; you think they wouldnt pay CC 25m a year?

          • Rose

            Sure…but you think if Hughes and Joba DO develop into top rotation guys and they maybe sign Lee…you think they’d still just let him walk away?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Meh, probably not.

              There’s still room for a CC-Lee-Burnett-Joba-Hughes rotation. You just let Pettitte retire and let Vazquez walk. Problem solved.

              • Bo

                Got to keep up the dream Eric. why not add brackman in there now as well??

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  I take it you didn’t get the memo.

    • Cecala

      It will be hard for a team to give him more than the Yankees are paying him already. If he opt out, he is most likely going to get more years from the Yankees.

  • CountryClub

    To me, this is another reason why the loser of the Hughes/Joba battle should go to AAA. I think most of us assume it will be Hughes, just because Joba is stretched out. And I would love to see Hughes pitch every 5th day in AAA for at least half the season. I understand that he’ll blow batters away in most instances, but I think the innings he’ll get are more important than facing MLB hitters for 60 innings in the pen.

    In a perfect world, he’ll spend half the year starting for AAA and the 2nd half of the year in the Yanks pen.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The roster permutation benefit of having Phil Hughes ready to pitch 180ish innings in the 2011 rotation >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> the marginal upgrade of Phil Hughes the 2010 bullpen pitcher over his opportunity cost replacements (i.e. Marte, Robertson, Aceves, etc.)

      • CountryClub

        Totally agree.

      • Chip

        Plus, couldn’t we save a year a team control by stashing him there for a few weeks? I heard somebody mention that it’s true with Joba but I’m not sure how it worked out with Hughes

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Icing on the icing™.

          © tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada, 2010. All rights reserved.

          • Rose

            Rainbow sprinkles on top of the icing™.

            © Richard Simmons, 2010. All rights reserved.

      • Accent Shallow

        If this were a video game, yes, I’d agree with you. However, Hughes spent the last four months of the ’09 season making MLB hitters look silly. He may take it the wrong way if he’s in AAA to start the year, especially if he has a good ST.

        Sure, you can explain to him that he’s more valuable as a starter than a reliever, but I’m not sure that’d do it.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          Hughes sees the extensions the young STARTING pitchers are signing, and also notices the lack of big contracts going to middle relievers.

          I’m pretty sure he gets it.

      • Bill

        I’d still put Hughes/Joba in the bullpen to start the year however I wouldn’t be having them pitch less than 2 innings in any appearance. Instead I’d use whoever it is as a long setup man. So starter leaves after the 5th or 6th, enter Joba/Hughes who would pitch 2-3 innings to get the ball to Mo and if Mo is not needed would close out the game. If the starter goes 6+ or if Joba/Hughes is unavailable you still have Marte, Robertson, and Aceves.

        However if the choice was between making one of them a short appearance/8th inning reliever type or sending them to AAA without question I send them to AAA because while its difficult/expensive to find a good starter in FA you can’t say the same thing about closers. And regardless of who replaces Mo we’re never going to find someone to truly replace his level of play and the best free agent that year might

        • Bill

          (forgot to finish last post) …the best free agent that year might be as good or better in the closer role than Joba or Hughes (example: Soria).

    • Bo

      No chance they move them to Scranton. They cant justify it to the team for one. And how would the fans react when Hughes is breezing thru AAA lineups and the bullpen gives up games?

      • Bill

        Yea I agree. Which is why I suggested the long setup man type of role. Both Joba and Hughes are clearly effective major league pitchers. Even if you have to make up more “rules” for how they’re used moving forward you can’t justify putting either of them in AAA. The team, fans, and media would basically riot.

        Still I’d hate to see either of them put in a short-relief/8th inning type role and take them out of the rotation picture for this year and probably beyond. Keep whoever it is stretched out and ready to go when a spot in the rotation does open up.

  • JohnC

    This does make the failure to sign Gerrit Cole sting a little more, since he would have mostlikely emerged as the top pitching prospect in the system, and it looks like he could be the top overall pick next year. Still I can’t blame Cashman on this one, as Cole stunned the Yanks by spurning their advances completely at the last minute.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      But to be fair, the Gerrit Cole situation begat Slade Heathcott.

      And while this post is about teams extending their young elite pitchers and keeping them off the market, teams are also locking up their young elite position players and keeping them off the market as well. Heathcott isn’t quite the prospect that Cole would be, but he still profiles as a starting-caliber CF, which is just as important to our organizational future.

      It’s not like we got NOTHING from the Gerrit Cole pick. He still became a valued top-10 org prospect, just in the form of a different person.

      • Chip

        It’s still fun to think of Cole mowing down AAA hitters at 20 year old. Plus, maybe with him around people could talk about putting him in the bullpen so Joba could start :)

      • Bo

        You’re comparing an 18 yr old athletic OF with some tools to maybe the best amateur pitching prospect in the game now??

        Ok…

        • Colombo

          Stephen Strasburg says howdy

    • http://iheartrerun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/rerun.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I’m definitely nervous about having that Mark Prior feeling again when we have to watch Cole tearing it up for some other team. I happened to live in Chicago at the time, so watching Prior kill it in 2003 for the Cubs was a bit frustrating. It’s unfortunate that we might be in the same position with Cole, but such is life. Like TSJC said… Go Heathcott.

  • Jay

    Greinke, who would have hit free agency as a 27-year-old, signed an extension that will keep him in Kansas City two years longer.

    Joseph, nice job with this article. One thing, though…Greinke suffers from depression and social anxiety disorder. He is a great pitcher, but I simply cannot imagine him performing in New York.

    FWIW, you guys run a good site. I wish you continued success.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The Grienke issue has been talked about ad nauseam. Ditto Justin Duchscherer.

      Both of them have treatment plans that have now enabled them to live normal lives largely symptom free. They’d both likely handle NYC just fine.

      • Jay

        Tommie: My apologies. I neglected to hit “Reply.” My response to you is probably at the bottom of this list.

      • Thomas

        Greinke has said, he would have no problem pitching in any city except NY. Make of that what you will, but it sounds like he doesn’t want to try it (at least at this time).

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....rs-as.html

        • Jay

          Thomas: Thanks for the link.

          “Now, maybe New York would bother me, but I don’t think anywhere else would bother me anymore. Even though I’m in Kansas City, I’ve gotten used to it a lot more. New York, I still might have trouble in New York. I probably would.”

          Those are telling quotes. It’s almost as though Greinke expects to have trouble in New York.

          As I mentioned, I like him immensely, but I think it would be unrealistic to see him in pinstripes.

      • Bo

        Big assumption there.

        Those two guys couldnt handle the games smallest markets.

        And they’d handle NY??

  • Mike HC

    When hasn’t there been a scarcity of CC – like arms? There can only be so many elite arms available, because if there were so many available every year, then, you know, they would not be considered elite anymore.

    • Chip

      Yeah but most of them hit free agency at least once in their careers. Problem is, if teams start locking guys like CC up, the Yankees can’t use their financial advantage to get them.

      • Mike HC

        I guess I just don’t see this as a problem really. It is not like the Yanks just always got the very best pitchers right before they hit their primes. Most of the big money free agent pitchers we signed in recent years were past 30 (cone, clemens, randy johnson, el duque, david wells) and Andy Pettitte we developed ourselves.

        • Mike HC

          throw CC and AJ onto that list as well.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Not exactly.

      There’s a bunch of elite NBA superstars all hitting the market this summer. Are they not elite just because there’s a bunch of them?

      • Mike HC

        Lebron and Wade are elite. Everyone else is somewhere under that in my opinion.

        • Steve H

          I’d throw Bosh and Johnson in there. It’s not really apples to apples obviously, but those two would be the best players on a large percentage of NBA teams. I’d consider them elite. They aren’t one Lebron/Wade’s level, but who really is? And, you could make an argument that Johnson, going forward is a much safer bet than Wade.

          • Mike HC

            Yea, I mean, I’m not really looking to argue over what we consider elite. I guess I just consider a smaller amount of players “elite” than you guys do. Just an argument over semantics at this point.

  • Jay

    Thanks for the response, Tommie. I’m aware that Greinke currently takes anti-anxiety medication. However, pitching in Kansas City is one thing; pitching in New York is an entirely different experience. After a game, Greinke probably deals with, at most, four or five media members in Kansas City. He easily would have to face three or four times as many during the regular season and much more so during the postseason.

    Greinke is an exceptional pitcher, but I would be stunned if he ever ended up in New York.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      I see your point, but I’d be more stunned that Grienke ever pitches in New York simply in that I doubt the Royals ever let him get away, or if they do, they’d trade him somewhere that would extend him, a la Roy Halladay.

      Greinke could be one of those guys who never hits the market. If he did hit it, though, we’d bid on him, I bet. Anxiety issues notwithstanding.

      • Rose

        Greinke doesn’t really have the build of a Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander…is he similar to Lincecum? I know people don’t really like Lincecum for his make up, delivery, etc. But just wondering…

        If you had to put the following in order…where would they go? Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes (2 Yankees just out of curiosity)

        • Rose

          * I asked the second part down below because I assume there will be a few responses? If not, oh well. But if so, answer down below to where it’s asked again so there’s more room for discussion.

    • Bo

      Who would be stunned if Greinke accepted a huge deal from the Yankees???

      Not like many havent followed the money before even at the expense of happiness.

  • Bo

    The union and the other players cant be too happy about these pitchers signing extensions. Because now teams use these deals to keep the other pitchers salaries down. They say things like “why should you get more than Verlander/Felix?” That is why the union wants every player to hit free agency. To get the best deal not only for them but also other players.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

      this is true from a business standpoint. for me though the union can go eff themselves if at age 22-27 i am being offered a guaranteed $75+ mill whether i end up blowing out my arm/leg/buttocks or not.

      sign. me. up.

      • Bo

        Buying out a yr or 2 of FA for security isnt wrong before you hit FA. But you would be screwing your fellow players if you took below market deals heading to FA.

        Because there is no doubt the owners and teams will use those against every other player.

        Sometimes you got to be strong.

        • Colombo

          Screw the other players. As a young pitcher, my responsibility is to myself and my family. If I am offered a large, large sum of guaranteed money at a smidge below market value at the cost of one or two years of free agency, as long as the numbers are right, you accept.

          As a young pitcher, a lot of the time:

          Long term financial security > possible huge payday one or two years earlier

          for the simple reason that, during that contract, if my arm blows up, I still get paid. There will be no non-tendering here.

  • Rose

    * If you had to put the following in order…where would they go? Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes (2 Yankees just out of curiosity)

    Note: I asked this above in a reply but thought there would be more room to make a list down here.

    • Thomas

      Just listing their value as of right now (ignoring contracts, but not age):
      1. Hernandez
      2. Greinke
      3. Lincecum
      4. Lester
      5. Johnson
      6. Verlander
      7. Cain
      8. Chamberlain
      9. Hughes

    • Nady Nation

      Felix
      Lincecum
      Greinke
      Lester
      Verlander
      Johnson
      Cain
      Joba
      Hughes

    • Bo

      Joba and Hughes dont belong anywhere near this convo. Yet.

      • Rose

        I know, I put in parentheses that I was just curious.

  • Rose

    Here’s something strange. “Sky Andrecheck” wrote a topic on the Best and Worst Starting Pitching Gambles of the Offseason

    Seattle was clearly #1 with Cliff Lee…the Yankees were #2 with Javy Vasquez…but check out #3??

    3. Jon Garland, Padres

    Age: 30
    Projected WAR: 2.3 Wins
    Contract: 1 year, $5.3 million

    While San Diego doesn’t look to be a contender in 2010, the Garland contract is a real steal. Garland posted a 4.01 ERA in 200 innings in 2009, a figure that was slightly better, but not totally out of line with the rest of his career numbers. The Bill James, CHONE, and Marcel projection systems put his likely 2010 ERA in the mid-to-low 4.00’s — a very respectable figure. Besides that, Garland is durable (at least 190 IP in each of the last 8 seasons), and he’s young (just 30 years old). All of that sounds like a guy who would be in the market for a big multi-year deal, especially considering the crop of starting pitchers wasn’t particularly strong this off-season. After all, he was pretty much the same pitcher in 2006 when he signed a three-year $29 million contract — a contract on which he largely paid dividends.

    How then, did new Padres GM Jed Hoyer manage to sign Garland for a one-year $5.3 million contract? That’s probably what a host of other teams would like to know as well. Last year, Garland had the misfortune of going to an extremely deep Dodgers team that didn’t really have space for him, which probably affected his perceived value. Garland’s not a Cy Young candidate, but he would provide significant value as a middle of the rotation starter to most teams. On the Padres, he probably provides even more value, as they’re not exactly teeming with quality starting pitchers. Critics may point out that the Padres aren’t likely to go anywhere with or without Garland, so why make the move (some of these critics may or may not be the same ones criticizing the Padres for not spending any money)? The fact is that even if the Padres aren’t going to the World Series, respectability matters to the fans and at the box office and these types of smart signings that can slowly improve the club are a path to a better future.

    The rest can be found here…
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c.....index.html

    • Bill

      I agree with their take. Jon Garland is an underrated pitcher in this league. He is never going to dominate, but the guy is exactly what you would want in a #3-5 starter. He pitches 200 innings every year and posts an ERA around in the mid 4 range every year. He is quality start machine too.

      He is always a guy I’ve thought would be a great back-end starter for the Yankees. He would easily win at least 12-15 games a year with us given his consistency and having a good offense to work with.

      I like Vazquez a lot more, but I do agree that the Pad’s got a great value with Garland.

  • Not the Rays

    This is TOTALLY on topic because Joba features prominently in the post. And we know this valuable young pitcher may never hit free agency. We also know he has a unique ability to pitch teh 8th, and teh 8th is a very different beast from the other innings. No? From Olney today, Verlanders inning by inning OPS against last year:

    “There is no better finisher than Verlander in the majors right now. The inning-to-inning OPS against him is as follows.

    1: .761
    2: .521
    3: .538
    4: .582
    5: .664
    6: .858
    7: .604
    8: .919
    9: .606

    Ah ha! Verlander can’t handle teh 8th!

    /epically b-jobbed with SSS icing

  • mryankee

    If the Yankees can get Brackman to pan out next year they could have CC Joba-AJ-Phil Hughes and Brackman in the rotation. I am is everyone produces as they should this would be a pretty solid relatively young rotation.

  • Snakes on the mother effin plane

    So the path of least resistance is:

    1) Pitch like an ace

    2) Sign a 5 year deal for +/- $80 million with your current team, buying out 3ish years of FA; that takes you to approx. 30 years of age

    3) Sign a 5 – 7 year deal with the Yankees for $20 – 25mm/AAV

    4) Sign a 2 – 3 year extension with the Yankees for $20 – $25mm/AAV

    5) Retire

    Me likey.

  • Kyle

    Basphemy! Who needs big FA when you can ruin your prospects arms in the pen!