How are the offseason targets of the Yankees faring so far in 2010? Every offseason all big name and big money free agents are tied to the Yankees. Obviously this is often posturing by the agents to drive up the bidding elsewhere (if the Yankees truly have no interest). I’m going to look at a few of the players they likely had at least a passing interest in and how they are faring so far in 2010. It’s truly to early to judge any of these contracts any differently than I would have when they were first signed, but it’s interesting nonetheless to see how these players are faring so far. Last weekend I touched on the hitters, today I will address the pitchers.
Sheets missed all of 2009 with injury and was a big question mark heading into the offseason. Would he return to greatness or was he too big of an injury risk. Sheets ended up doing very well for himself getting a 1 year/$10 million contract from the A’s. While the A’s likely overpaid, it’s only for 1 year. If they are in contention and Sheets is pitching well it will look good, and if they aren’t in contention but Sheets is pitching well, he’s a prime trade candidate. Sheets has struggled so far (and been a little unlucky) as you can see, but has shown signs of life lately. There were reports that he was tipping his pitches and he was getting crushed early. After combining for just 16 strikeouts in his first 6 starts, Sheets has 16 in the past two over 12.1 innings. Sheets needs to cut down on the walks, as he walked just 2.1 batters per 9 innings in the NL and is more than double that so far this year. If it’s the beginning of his turnaround, and he stays healthy, Sheets should have a strong season going forward.
The Duke got off to a good start, but is already on the DL. While he is expected to come off this weekend and make a start, he would have been a risky signing to rely on in the rotation. He also missed all of 2009 and coming into 2010 had made just 27 starts in his career. He would have been a nice pickup for the pen in a long role similar to Aceves, but there was significant risk involved. He resigned with the A’s for 1 year/$2 million, which could end up being a bargain. If healthy, the Duke should provide a lot more value than that, and could also be trade bait at the deadline if the A’s are out of it. While his BABIP against of .274 is lower than the major league average, it is right in line with his career, so expect him to continue to outperform his FIP, though not as drastically as he is so far.
The Angels signed Pineiro to a 2 year/$16 million deal which isn’t bad from a long term perspective, but if they are expecting the 2009 Pineiro, I’m guessing they will be slightly disappointed. Pineiro could succeed with his repertoire in the NL, but at best will be a league average pitcher in the AL. If he can throw 200 innings at league average that provides value, but there isn’t a team in the AL that won’t be thrilled to see him take the bump in a playoff game if the Angels make it. He’s been a little unlucky on balls in play so far, which has helped lead to his league leading hits allowed total. Pineiro surprisingly is getting more strikeouts than normal (4.8/9 in 426.1 innings with St. Louis) and is keeping walks down. His strikeout rate will likely fall, but so will his BABIP against. Again, not a star, but Pineiro figures to provide some value for the Angels this year.
The best of the free agent pitchers available, Lackey got by far the highest contract of any free agent pitcher, more than doubling the next highest pitcher for total dollars. Lackey signed with the mid-market Red Sox for a 5 year/$82.5 million deal, very similar to the deal the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett to after the 2008 season. Lackey has struggled so far, but does have a long term track record of success in the AL. The move to the AL East is bound to hurt his stats though, and he’s not quite the innings eater he used to be as he has missed time with injuries in the past 2 seasons. So far Lackey has the lowest K rate of his career, and the highest BB rate. Not a good trend, and if he wasn’t 4-1, the Boston media would be all over him.
Chapman signed with the Reds for 6 years/$30.25 million. While probably a little steep, if that was the cost to the Yankees, I would have been on board with the signing of Chapman as a lottery ticket. The deal could be a steal if he lives up to his abilities, but he’s still a huge question mark. It made more sense for Chapman to sign with a team like the Reds, so for the Yankees to have signed him I’m sure the cost would have been higher. Chapman has pitched well so far in AAA, but there are certainly some red flags with the control. If he’s walking almost 5 batters per 9 in AAA, what’s he going to do at the major league level? In an admittedly very small sample size, Chapman is having a lot more success against left handed batters, with a 16.2 K/9 vs. 8.2 vs. RHB. That is something to watch going forward, as RHB have just a .246 BABIP against Chapman, so he is due for some regression there.
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