A few fish on the Yanks’s radar

Replacing Andy Pettitte
The post-George still-Steinbrenner Era begins

The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline just gained some urgency for the Yanks. With Andy Pettitte gone for anywhere from two to five weeks, the Yanks could use some help in the rotation. That’s in addition to the help they already could have used on the bench and in the bullpen. The latter two are common needs for contenders at the deadline, but the former might present something of a problem. There just isn’t much good starting pitching left on the market. But could the Yanks turn to one team to fill all of their needs?

During the past few weeks we’ve seen the Yankees connected to a number of the reportedly available Florida Marlins. Earlier in the month we learned that the Yankees were in attendance to watch Ricky Nolasco pitch against Dan Haren. The Yanks, of course, could have been there for Haren, or they might have been there to scout other Marlins targets. Later in the month we saw the Yanks connected to Cody Ross and Leo Nunez, and just recently we saw that they had interest in Wes Helms. Clearly the Yanks won’t acquire all four of these players, but they certainly could turn to the Marlins for a couple of them.

While Brian Cashman has stated his preference for in-house options to replace the injured Pettitte, that might not be a realistic option. Mike went over the Pettitte replacement options earlier, and none of the in-house options seems all that attractive. Moving outside the organization, however, would bring the Yankees many benefits. First, it would give them an established starter to replace Pettitte temporarily, allowing the Yanks to play it conservative with the 38-year-old. Then, when Pettitte does return, the Yankees can use the extra starter to help more easily control Phil Hughes‘s innings. As long as they’re not committing big dollars for multiple years, a la Roy Oswalt, acquiring a pitcher will work in their favor.

Photo credit: Lynne Sladky/AP

Nolasco, 27, could fill that role in the rotation. For the second straight year he’s sporting a poor ERA, but also for the second straight year his component stats suggest that he’s actually a bit better than that. He has a career 3.98 FIP, including a 3.77 mark in 2008 and 3.35 last year. His xFIP also sits below 4.00 at 3.85 for his career. In the last three years that has been 3.75, 3.28, and finally 3.73 this year. His current strikeout rate, 7.91 per nine, matches his career total. We also know he’s capable of more, as he struck out 9.49 per nine last year.

Home runs have been Nolasco’s most concerning problem this year. He has allowed 20 in 116 IP, a high number for sure but one that might come down if he leaves Miami. Of those 20, 11 have come at home. That might not seem like a huge difference, but he has also pitched 13.1 fewer innings at home than on the road. In other words, a move away from whatever they’re calling the Marlins’ ballpark right now could be to his benefit.

Photo credit: Andres Leighton/AP

Starting pitching, according to Cashman, is a luxury at this point. Even with Pettitte’s injury he’s focusing on bench and bullpen. He might find solutions to both issues also on the Marlins. Leo Nunez has pitched very well this year, boasting a career-high strikeout rate to go with a very low walk rate and a nearly nonexistent home run rate. That last stat might seem ripe for regression, but as his 2.83 xFIP shows, that’s not the case. The reason: he’s posting a career high groundball rate, probably because he’s turning to the changeup more often than in the past. All of these attributes would make him not only an excellent candidate for the pen, but also one for Mariano’s primary setup man.

Cody Ross and Wes Helms would present options for the bench, though Ross could also serve as a platoon partner for Curtis Granderson should the Yankees decide to take that road later in the season. He has a .379 wOBA against lefties this season and a .398 mark for his career. This season hasn’t been that great from a power perspective, as he’s hitting the ball on the ground more often. Even so he’s a decent option for the Yanks against left-handed pitching. Helms, 34, can man the infield corners and little else. I’m not sure how interested the Yanks are in him; if you’ll remember back to the 2006-2007 off-season the Yanks actually had the highest bid for Helms, then a free agent. He ended up taking less from the Phillies, and has been decidedly mediocre ever since.

Florida currently sits 9.5 games out of first in the NL East and 6 games out of the NL Wild Card, so they could become aggressive sellers in the coming weeks. A notoriously cheap team, the Marlins have spent more money this year than they have since 2005, which could affect their desire to unload players. But considering all of these players will be under control next year (Nolasco and Nunez have two more years of arbitration), the team might not be so inclined to move them. Maybe they’ll provide a multi-player discount for taking the current and future salaries off the books, but I doubt it would be anything significant. The Marlins have proven to be a stingy bunch.

Acquiring any of these Marlins players would help the team this year, and if the Yanks can get more than one of them all the better. The question, as always, comes with the price. The Yanks don’t appear willing to include Jesus Montero in any future deal, nor should they. Austin Romine is probably off-limits, too. That doesn’t leave the team with a ton to trade, especially if it involves multiple players. Considering that the marlins come as stingy dealers, I doubt these two teams match up. It’s a shame, because a few of those players would fit right in (also because Joe Girardi managed a few of them in Florida). But with the presumed costs involved I wouldn’t count on anything imminent.

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Replacing Andy Pettitte
The post-George still-Steinbrenner Era begins
  • B-Rando

    I agree completely with this article. Both Nunez and Ross seem like solid options for the Yanks and a great fit. However, I think it would be tough to get the pieces right to make the deal happen.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Home runs have been Nolasco’s most concerning problem this year. He has allowed 20 in 116 IP, a high number for sure but one that might come down if he leaves Miami. Of those 20, 11 have come at home. That might not seem like a huge difference, but he has also pitched 13.1 fewer innings at home than on the road. In other words, a move away from whatever they’re calling the Marlins’ ballpark right now could be to his benefit.

    Isn’t JoeRobbieLandsharkProPlayerSunLife StadiumFieldParkArena a notorious pitcher’s park, though? It’s hard to homer in a football stadium. Florida’s home park consistently finishes in the bottom third in HR/year. Moving his home games from that cavernous arena to the Bronx probably won’t help his HR/FB rate, I’d say.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I looked at Nolasco’s home hit location on katron.org’s Ballpark Overlay tool.

      http://katron.org/projects/baseball/hit-location/

      It says moving Nolasco’s home park from Dolphin Stadium to YS3 changes nothing. All his homers would still be homers, all his flyouts would still be flyouts.

      FWIW.

  • Gonzo

    How about an article assessing our tradable pieces and what they could net. That would be commenting bonanza!

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Considering that the Marlins come as stingy dealers, I doubt these two teams match up.

    That. I refuse to get on a Leo Nuñez bandwagon, because I bet we’d have to pay a lot for that muffler, and the cost would be prohibitive.

  • Kyle

    Will Carrol mentioned earlier that the Marlins may have to take on payroll in any deal they make.

    http://twitter.com/injuryexper.....8928589551

    This means Igawa is a likely centerpiece… right?

    • A.D.

      Is there an actual reason on why they would have to, MLB breathing down their necks?

      That would also probably just make them even stinger dealers.

    • Brooklyn Ed

      Igawa would be god to them!!!

      /scarasm.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      That’s an interesting note, and something to remember: In years past, the Fish would have sold Nuñez/Ross/Nolasco/etc. simply to get out from under their arbitration years, but with Selig cracking down on them for being spendthrift, they’re less likely to make lateral moves like dealing Nuñez for a good pre-arb prospect and probably more likely to just hang onto their guys and pay them arb raises to stay on Selig’s good side.

      Meaning these deals are even less likely.

      • Brooklyn Ed

        Fun Fact: Back in Halloween 2008, Leo Nunez was traded from the Royals for none other than Mike Jacobs. And where’s Mike Jacobs now? hmm….

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          That Jacobs-Nuñez swap was shameful… on Kansas City’s part.

          • Brooklyn Ed

            Another shameful swap was Willingham/Olsen for Emilio Bonifacio and 2 minor leaguers from the Nats. Willingham been raking, Olsen is on the DL, and Bonifacio isn’t doing much with the Marlins,

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Yeah, that one was probably the one that broke the camel’s back as far as the “We must step in as a commissioner’s office and force Jeffrey Loria to stop dumping salary” transaction.

              Willingham and Olsen were both way better than Bonifacio, and everybody knew it. That was a straight “I’m not paying anyone a dime in arbitration that I don’t have to” move. They got back pennies on the dollar to avoid paying either pennies or dollars.

              • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                Yet the Yankees are bad for baseball.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  When you factor in the luxury tax payments and revenue sharing and whatnot, I wonder how much actual money Jeffrey Loria has put into his team over the past decade?

                  I’ll say it’s somewhere around negative 20M dollars.

                  • Chris

                    According to Forbes, the Marlins have turned a $40M profit each of the last 4 seasons (basically since the last CBA was put in place).

                    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                      That’s a little disgusting. I feel bad for baseball fans in South Florida.

    • zs190

      I know it’s a joke but Igawa would cost us more money to trade his salary away than sitting there rotting because of luxury tax implications, if I recall correctly.

      • Chris

        I believe it would only cost more if the Yankees pay most/all of his salary. If they actually find someone willing to pay his $4M salary, then the most the Yankees would have to pay is the luxury tax on his salary.

  • Brooklyn Ed

    I imagine Girardi and Harkey would love to have Nolasco and Ross back respectively. Harkey was Nolasco’s pitching coach, and he was decent since he was under his wings.

  • Brooklyn Ed

    Helms, 34, can man the infield corners and little else. I’m not sure how interested the Yanks are in him; if you’ll remember back to the 2006-2007 off-season the Yanks actually had the highest bid for Helms, then a free agent. He ended up taking less from the Phillies, and has been decidedly mediocre ever since.

    If I remember correctly, didn’t he claimed that he doesn’t want to play in NYC?

  • A.D.

    Problem with dealing with the Marlins is they aren’t idiots that trade away decent players for crap, like some of the teams out there. That and they generally look to move talent with payroll, so more likely the Yanks would have the best shot at Cantu

  • Chris

    I wonder if the fact that Nolasco and Nunez are making $4.8M and $2M respectively this season will make the Marlins more willing to trade them. Sure, they’re under team control for a couple more seasons, but paying $3M for a reliever and $5M+ for a mid to back end starter doesn’t seem to be a smart move for a small market team.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    Nolasco reminds me of Javy (and I mean this as a compliment).

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      I could see that.

      He’s Javy-lite, though.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Agreed.

  • Jorge

    My AL East bias makes me somewhat queasy on Nolasco as a “get in there and perform in a pennant race” kind of guy. I’d like to see what it would take to get him in the off-season as potential Pettitte replacement.

    Whatever on Leo Nunez. I’ve seen the middle reliever story before.

    I liked Cody Ross as a Dodger as well. He’d certainly be an improvement over the Huffmans and Curtises (as in Colin) of this world.

    Ross and Cantu intrigue me the most right now of the possibilities for sure.

  • bottom line

    I would think Yanks have lots of attractive tradeable pieces.

    These would include:

    Noesi, Phelps, Stoneburner, Warren, Joseph, perhaps Murphy. I’d probably want to keep one of Nova and Phelps for rotation help, if needed, this year.

    I certainly wouldn’t trade Montero or Romine. Not convinced on Nunez but I think we may have to keep him as injury replacemtnt option for Jeter. In same vein, would want to hold on to Laird. But these two could be available in right deal. Due to TJ recoveries and unexpectedly strong season from many, system is much much deeper than a year ago.

  • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

    Since the Yankees leaked out their plans to the public I fully expect the opposite and they will get a starter by the deadline.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Roger Clemens.

      • Brooklyn Ed

        what is this, 2007?

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Tanyon Sturtze.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Oh my goodness gracious!!!!

      • GermanYankee

        No, Pedro XD

      • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

        :: head explodes ::

        The last time the Yanks signed Roger mid-season, I was walking down 6th Avenue, and was apprised of the news by a group of 5 or 6 men on bicycles riding up 6th Avenue, chanting “Rog-er Clem-ens [insert imaginary clap-clap clap-clap-clap here]”.

        It was surreal.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I was walking down 6th Avenue, and was apprised of the news by a group of 5 or 6 men on bicycles riding up 6th Avenue, chanting “Rog-er Clem-ens [insert imaginary clap-clap clap-clap-clap here]“.

          Pics or it didn’t happen.

          • Rose

            All I have is this pic of me in the shower from 2007.

            Take it or leave it…

            • andrew

              I’ll take it

          • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

            :-)
            I was too awestruck to take a picture.

            And you wouldn’t have heard what they were chanting, in a picture.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        I might find it easier to root for Myers. At least Brett never played for the Sux.

  • Grammar Nazi

    Considering that the marlins come as stingy dealers,

    Pointing out a grammatical error.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      That’s what Ben, Mike, and Joe’s email addresses are for.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Did you use a sentence fragment on purpose to point out a grammatical error?

    • Pete

      that’s not a grammatical error, it’s a capitalization error

      /two can play at that game’d

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

      Fuck you.

      • Slugger27

        god this was hilarious

    • Grammar Nazi
  • Rose

    Nolasco + Vazquez would be the home run brothers.

    How wonder just how much we could get with Montero and Romine off limits compared to other teams in need.

  • cranky

    No way Cashman is going to sit on his hands while Pettitte heals and rehabs. Best case scenario has Pettite out until late Aug/early September.
    “In house options” don’t look good. Sergio Mitre? Serviceable as a middle reliever. As a starter, his track record is abysmal. Ivan Nova is a ML middle reliever, if he’s a major leaguer at all. The Yanks’ best MiL starting pitching is at AA and below. NONE are ready for the big leagues.
    I doubt that Rickey Nolasco would be much different than Sergio Mitre. Same with Brian Bannister. Ted Lilly would be the best of the bunch. Don’t understand the consternation about his “reduced velocity.” He throws as hard as Pettitte. He’s not a great starter, but he’s good enough to fill in. And he pitched well in NY years back. This year, he’s been good overall, a couple of real clunkers mixed in with a bunch of good to excellent starts. Gotta like the WHIP. For the right price he’d be a good pickup. But he’s not worth Romine and certainly not worth Montero. Not worth Banuelos, either. Fair price for Ted Lilly? Mark Melancon+David Phelps. That would be a decent deal for both teams.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Best case scenario has Pettite out until late Aug/early September.

      Where did you come by this information? Cash said 4-5 weeks, which would put his return at August 16-23.

    • Mister Delaware

      Lilly is working 3 full mph lower on his fastball than Pettitte this season.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        And velocity aside, Pettitte has always been a better pitcher than Lilly, while having more success in a tougher league.

      • JohnnyC

        Not that I’m not troubled by the loss of velocity, but Lilly was never a hard thrower anyway. He’s a lefty who changes speeds and locates his breaking pitches. It’s not a certainty that he’d get lit up back in the AL. That said, I wouldn’t trade anything remotely valuable for him.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Why wouldn’t he wait? Last year they got 24 starts out of a horribly ineffective Wang, Gaudin and Mitre. Last year turned out just fine, and most of those starts came when they weren’t already in 1st place. I think 5-6 starts by Mitre will be fine. He’ll be better than Wang was last year and likely better than he himself was last year. Cashman sat on his hands last year despite a much graver situation.

      • JohnnyC

        Cashman himself noted after the Cliff Lee episode that he didn’t have as deep a farm system to make deals with last season. With so many emerging, closer to the majors prospects this season, Cashman has some room to maneuver.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          But there is a big difference between Cliff Lee and Lilly.

          There is no need to overreact to Andy’s injury, and the 2009 is proof.

      • steve (do)

        Yeah, but how did last year turn out?!

    • theyankeewarrior

      Fair price for Ted Lilly?

      Whatever they decide to ask for. Do you think the Yankees are the only team offering a deal for his services? Just because you think Melancon+ will get it done, doesn’t mean it will.

      The Yankees don’t “need” to do anything right now. They have the best record in baseball, and Andy is coming back.

  • Annoying Grammer

    Shouldn’t it read Yanks’ not Yanks’s?

    • Pete

      dude seriously, they’ve got email addresses

    • JohnnyC

      Shouldn’t it read Grammar?

      • andrew

        IETC.

    • http://cid-e3a022289d65b5c0.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Assorted/foul.jpg Andy in NYC aka the Other Oofys

      Are you Kelsey’s brother?

  • Kevin Ocala, Fl

    Funny how stats can be used to turn horsehide to steak. 20 HR in 116 innings a concern? Really? Babe Ruth would have had a helluva time hitting 35-40 if he played in that, ahem, “park”. Nice K numbers, but it’s in the NL East, big deal. His numbers makes him sound like a guy with a live arm, poor control in the zone, painting himself into a hitters count. Boom! Wes Helms played against Rocky Colavito…. Does anyone else notice that Cashman NEVER goes for the deal that Gammons, et al, write that is imminent? What the hell, it is fun speculatin’!