Jul
19

A few fish on the Yanks’s radar

By

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.

70 Comments»

  1. B-Rando says:

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. Gonzo says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. Kyle says:

    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?

  6. Brooklyn Ed says:

    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.

  7. Brooklyn Ed says:

    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?

  8. A.D. says:

    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

  9. Chris says:

    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.

  10. Steve H says:

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

  11. Jorge says:

    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.

  12. bottom line says:

    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.

  13. JobaWockeeZ says:

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

  14. Grammar Nazi says:

    Considering that the marlins come as stingy dealers,

    Pointing out a grammatical error.

  15. Rose says:

    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.

  16. cranky says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

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

      • Steve H says:

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

      • JohnnyC says:

        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.

    • Steve H says:

      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 says:

        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.

      • steve (do) says:

        Yeah, but how did last year turn out?!

    • theyankeewarrior says:

      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.

  17. Annoying Grammer says:

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

  18. Kevin Ocala, Fl says:

    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’!

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