Winning the battle to get traded

Spring Training Game Thread: Let's play two's Draft Reports

New York Yankees’ Sergio Mitre delivers a warm up pitch in the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, in Port Charlotte, Fla., Friday, March 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

On a spring-like Friday, Joel Sherman dropped the not-so-breaking news that the Yankees will probably trade either Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin before Spring Training is out. Both of these vets have bounced around the league, and neither figures to be too high up on the Yanks’ depth charts. The team can’t send either to AAA, and instead of wasting roster spots, the Yankees will try to turn their surplus into something at all.

But who will go? In writing about it here yesterday, Mike voiced the prevalent opinion that Gaudin will stay. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has a better career track record than Mitre and has posted league-average numbers in the American League over 463 innings. Mitre, meanwhile, is 29 and with no real record of success. He wasn’t a highly-touted prospect while with the Cubs, and he hasn’t been very effective at getting outs as a Major Leaguer.

Yet the allure of Spring Training stats is strong with this one. Last night, in the Yanks’ 6-2 loss to the Rays, Mitre started and was stellar. Facing Major Leaguers who will make up most of Tampa’s Opening Day lineup, he threw 5 innings and gave up two runs on a pair of hits and a walk. He struck out seven. Gaudin relieved him and wasn’t effective. In 2.1 innings, Chad allowed three earned runs on seven hits and three walks. He struck out just one and walked away with his third loss on the spring. The appearance effectively ended Gaudin’s hopes of landing the fifth starting spot.

On the spring, these two pitchers spot opposite numbers. Mitre has been the Yanks’ best starter. In 14 innings, he has allowed five runs on nine hits. He has walked three while striking out 14. Gaudin, meanwhile, has thrown 9.1 innings and has given up nine earned runs on 16 hits and five walks. He has struck out just five. Despite Mitre’s tradeability due to his lower salary, one might be tempted to say it is a no-brainer.

But the real question concerns Mitre. With a career K/9 IP of 5.5, he’s never been a strike out pitcher, and he’s having a Spring Training that makes one think of a flash in the pan. It’s true he’s another winter of strengthening away from Tommy John surgery, but nothing in his pre-surgical record suggests he will keep up this pitching success. Gaudin, at least, can rest on his AL laurels.

In the end, the Yanks don’t need to make a decision yet. They don’t need a fifth starter until late April and could juggle the rotation to keep both around until the right offer comes. When it’s time to trade one of them, though, I’d be far less sad to see Mitre vanish into the ether of the NL. He may be the Yanks’ Grapefruit League Cy Young, but history is littered with those pitchers who are Spring Training All Stars and revert to form come the regular season.

Spring Training Game Thread: Let's play two's Draft Reports
  • Tom Zig

    What could the Yankees expect in return for either of these two? Just a prospect on the level of say someone like Wordekemper?

    • Jack

      Eh, Wordekemper’s just filler. If they can’t get more than him for Mitre, they might as well just cut him.

      • Zack

        Why? Might as well get something, maybe you strike lighting in a bottle, better than nothing.

  • Salty Buggah

    Although Mitre outperformed Gaudin as a Yankee in 2009 in terms of more advanced stats, I’d also keep Gaudin since he can miss bats.

    Also, I think Mitre is slightly more valuable at this point if ST stats are taken seriously and since he is cheaper and has another year of arbitration eligibility.

    • Salty Buggah

      Then again, I am somewhat a big believer in Mitre and rather keep him since Gaudin is more expensive.

    • Ed

      Also, I think Mitre is slightly more valuable at this point if ST stats are taken seriously and since he is cheaper and has another year of arbitration eligibility.

      I think they both have another year of arbitration. Gaudin’s listed at 4.164 years of service time according to Cots. He was during spring training last year and spent the first few weeks of the season in AAA, which I believe was enough to set him back a year.

      I don’t think there’s any allowance for almost but not quite 6 years of service time becoming a free agent. Isn’t that the point of why Tampa had Longoria spend a week in AAA back in ’08 ?

  • Drew

    All you Mitre haters, call him what you want(Meat tray?).

    He’s going to have a good year this year, whether it’s with us or not. I’ve been saying this since last season and I still honestly believe it. Results haven’t been on his side since his 21st start in 2007. The pitches have been there though. That sinker is no joke and neither is the slider.

    • Accent Shallow

      Well, what’s a “good year”? Around 6 IP per start, ERA+ around 100? In other words, a poor man’s Chien-Ming Wang? I’d say that’s his upside. Now, that’s a valuable guy to have in your rotation, but that’s not irreplaceable. Shouldn’t we expect Joba/Hughes to be able to put up similar numbers?

    • Hey ZZ

      I agree.

      On June 15th of 2007 his ERA was 1.59
      On July 24th it was 2.82
      On August 20th 3.82

      For the majority of 07 he was a good to great pitcher.

      • Pasqua

        Gotta be honest…I don’t see how referencing three arbitrary ERA watermarks (successively worse ERA’s, mind you) helps to prove that he was a “good to great” pitcher in 2007.

  • Jimmy

    They are better off with the two of them heading into the season. With the cold weather, injury-prone starters and early season mechanics issues (remember C.C.’s first few starts in 2009?), they need the extra help. Some long relief outings will give them both an opportunity to audition with real competition.

    Unless there’s an urgent need for the Yankees to clear a roster spot, the value they’ll get in return for trading one of the Gaudin/Mitre pair is minimal. The real value in trading one of them would be to allow one of the young guys to come up (Melancon, Logan, etc.)

    • Joebrah

      I kind of agree with this. Except, they have three long relievers competing for two spots. I think the two spots of Aceves and Mitre/Gaudin will be able to eat up enough bullpen innings in the first month or so. Would Mitre have to clear waivers if sent to AAA? I kind of assumed that with where the two pitchers were towards the end of last season, Mitre would be sent down and Gaudin would stay in that second long relief spot.

      But I definitely think the Yankees are going to use a lot of their long relievers in the first month or so. They’ll also be looking to bring up Melancon at some point this season. And depending upon how the bullpen does against lefties, Logan, too.

      These are what we call good choices. Not enough spots for the talent. There aren’t many teams who have decisions like this.

  • cr1

    I’d think in such a close decision the call would depend partly on the market for the two — which one attracts a trading partner that has something to offer that NYY actually wants or needs.

  • Hangoverologist

    I actually disagree with the notion that Mitre will get traded. At least right now. If the Yanks keep him until the deadline and he has a good year, they can flip him to some other team and they can get a C or maybe B prospect.

    • Steve H

      But what do you do to keep him on the roster?

      • Hangoverologist

        I think it depends on who loses the fifth starter battle. If Phil or Joba is sent to AAA to build innings, Mitre could take that open spot in the pen.

        • Steve H

          I can see that argument, but unfortunately I don’t see Hughes getting sent down (and yes, I’m assuming Joba’s getting the 5th spot).

    • Zack

      I dont get that argumentt; if I’m a GM and Mitre has a good 30 innings as the long man out of the bullpen, that’s going to make me give up anything but a fringe prospect for him to be my long man?

  • Stryker

    i’m not a mitre hater, but i tend to think his strong spring is more of a flash in the pan moment. i’m not sure we’ll see this kind of repeated success from him – in a yankees uniform, at least. gaudin has a very strong record of being at least league-average in the american league, and has more of a propensity to miss bats.

    sure, gaudin is “expensive” (only in the sense that he’s being paid millions compared to mitre’s 850k), but i’d rather keep around whoever is more of a sure thing.

  • JoeyH

    I happen to really like Mitre. I wish they could put him in the rotation without retarding the growth of Hughes who’s the evident 5th Starter. Ahhh, the golden problem, having too much starting pitching. Gotta live it. Just remember how fast it can dry up though.

  • Davey55

    If I am not mistaken, Mitre is now into his second year from Tommy John surgery. Isn’t that typically the break out year for pitchers? I say keep him unless the offer is for someone who can help the team more than a level C prospect. If he pitches well he could easily be this year’s or even next year’s number 5 pitcher. Remember the young stud experiment of two years ago. I am not sure either Hughes or Chamberlain are true starters.

    • Zack

      You think Mitre has a brighter future as a starter than Hughes or Joba? Really??

  • Cecala

    I feel Mitre has more upside than Gauden. Sure Mitre sucked last year but if they can keep him for a few more weeks after spring training, I feel like they Yankees can get more worth from him.

    • Zack

      Well, keeping Gaudin and Mitre past ST would mean you have to send Joba, Hughes, DRob or Ace down to AAA.

      And you have to keep him for more than a few weeks, no one is trading guys in April/May. And really, if you’re another GM what are you giving up for Mitre? A few weeks as a long man is going to make another GM give up something better for him?

  • Stryker

    i love how the majority of this site wanted mitre cut from the team last year now everyone thinks he can be a viable starting pitcher?! 362.1 IP with a 78 ERA+, most of those innings in the national league. no thanks.

  • CS Yankee

    I’d be ok if they could move them both along as it brought them a better rated prospect. They can use Hughes & Ace as long reliefers and carry that second lefty in the pen.

    If you can’t get much with either one in a trade, throw Hughes down to AAA and keep him stretched in case a starter goes down in the first couple of months. If they stay “‘o8 rays” healthy….promote Hughes later, whereas he gets in 150-175 total innings this year and is set for 2011.

  • B-Rando

    If we are not going to get much of anything for Mitre or Gaudin what does the “trade value” of either one of them matter? It should be a complete baseball decision based on which one will provide more to the team.