Mailbag: Can the 2011 starting rotation be better than 2010’s?

Mailbag: Chris Capuano
Levine: "Cash is doing the right thing"
Dumping Javy is a bigger help than you may realize. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tarik asks: Assuming Pettitte returns, and doing nothing else, couldn’t the Yankees rotation be better than it was last year? I mean, AJ couldn’t possibly be as bad as he was and Nova could very likely turn in a performance better than Vazquez.

I think it’s a long shot that Pettitte will return, probably something like 75-25 in favor of retirement, but for the sake of argument let’s assume that he will in fact return for the 2011 season. That would make the Opening Day rotation CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Ivan Nova. Order isn’t important in this exercise.

Sabathia will again be the ace and there’s very little reason to expect him to not be awesome. Sure, he had minor knee surgery, but he’s also losing weight to alleviate some of the negative impact. Last season’s peripheral stats (7.46 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, 0.76 HR/9) were actually his worst since 2005, when he posted a 3.69 FIP (3.54 in 2010). He did make up for it with a 50.7% ground ball rate, and hopefully new pitching coach Larry Rothschild will help bump his strikeout rate up a notch. CC was a 5.1 fWAR pitcher in 2010, and I would expect him to be a five win guy again next year.

Unlike Sabathia, Hughes is (theoretically) on the upswing of his career and it’s reasonable to expect improvement. The two parts of his game he needs to improve the most are his homer rate and overall efficiency. As Joe explained last month, the vast majority of the homer issues came during an eight game stretch in the middle of the season; 48% of the homers he allowed came in just 27% of his starts. Furthermore, 80% of them came at home. That’s not to say Hughes will all of a sudden stop surrendering homers, but there’s reason to expect some improvement.

As for the efficiency thing, his 4.12 pitchers per batter faced in 2010 was tied for the most in baseball with Max Scherzer. It’s impossible to say what becoming more pitch efficient will do for a Hughes’ overall performance, but it could just as easily be bad as it could be good. For our purposes, let’s assume it does nothing. After a 2.4 fWAR season in 2010, Hughes should be able to best that by even a small margin going forward. The one thing that could derail him is injury after a career high workload, so let’s be conservative and call Phil a two win pitcher next year.

Burnett’s a complete enigma, but he was so bad last year (1.3 fWAR) that he almost can’t help get better. His 4.83 FIP was a career worst by a considerable margin, but I would be shocked if he pitches to his 3.93 career FIP next year. Let’s split the difference and call it a 4.38 FIP in 2011, which is still worse than his 2009 effort. That FIP spread across 180 innings will give you 2.4 fWAR according to Sky Kalkman’s WAR calculator, but again let’s be conservative and call it an even two wins.

Things get tricky with Pettitte because he’s older and therefore injury prone, as we saw in 2010. Although he was pretty awesome most of the year, his 3.85 FIP was right in line with what he did in both 2007 and 2008, so it wasn’t an out-of-this-world good performance. Let’s say he tails off a bit and pitches to a 4.15 FIP like he did in 2009, and makes it to the hill for 120 innings. That works out to 1.9 fWAR, but let’s give him the benefit of doubt and again call it an even two wins. Someone will have to fill while Pettitte is on the theoretical disabled list, but let’s just say that whoever takes his spot ends up being is exactly replacement level and adds zero wins to the tally.

We don’t know what to expect out of Nova next year because he’s so young and these guys can be so unpredictable, but I can’t imagine he’ll repeat Javy Vazquez‘s -0.2 fWAR performance. If he does pitch that poorly, the Yanks will simply send him back to the minors and call up Hector Noesi or David Phelps or whoever. Let’s say Nova or the other fifth starter dreck pitches to a 5.00 FIP in 180 innings, or 1.2 fWAR.

Check out the table to the right for the final tally. Surprisingly, the 2011 rotation ain’t half bad compared to the 2010 outfit based on my admittedly half-assed projections. Basically all of the improvement is tied to getting Javy out of there and replacing him with even a below average starter, but a slight rebound from Burnett helps as well. If the Yankees fill in Pettitte’s missing innings with someone better than a replacement level starter, the 2011 staff will only get better.

Now this is where I explain that this is an extremely simplistic and incredibly unscientific look at things, so don’t take it to heart. I repeat, this is an extremely simplistic and incredibly unscientific look at things, so don’t take it to heart. I just did it for fun more than anything because I thought the mailbag question was interesting. I obviously didn’t account for the starts that Sergio Mitre (0.0 fWAR) or Dustin Moseley (-0.4 fWAR) made in 2010, and we can’t ignore that there’s a decent chance of getting less than 120 innings from Andy and also Hughes as well. The Yankees should absolutely go out an get some kind of starter between now and the start of Spring Training, but maybe the concerns about their rotation are being overblown. Crazy, I know.

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Mailbag: Chris Capuano
Levine: "Cash is doing the right thing"
  • Scott

    You are being conservative on Hughes by .5-1.0 WAR. He was skipped some last year due to innings limits, so unless you are projecting injury, 2.0 seems crazy low.

    To look at your projections another way, you are projecting AJ and Phil to be of equal value? That seems … wrong. At least I hope it is wrong.

    • Chris

      I’d like to believe that it’s not too optimistic to think that Hughes can’t improve into a 3-3.5 WAR pitcher this year but I think Mike was just trying to err on the conservative side.

    • Andy In Sunny Daytona

      Are you hoping for AJ to suck?

  • Chris

    I’d like to hope that if Pettite opts for retirement, Cashman would at least offer him a Clemens type option where he comes back for a half season after the All-star break to help down the stretch and hopefully into the playoffs. At his age, that may be the better option rather than trying to squeeze 180+ innings and a post season out of him.

    • OldYanksFan

      I’ve mentioned this before. I’m surprised that a 4 month contract (Jun-Sept) for $10m isn’t already on the table.

  • David

    Assuming that he is good physically, it doesn’t make sense to me that Andy is going to retire. First, he is nearly as good as ever. Second, he has a chance to make the Hall of Fame. Third, we have plenty of money to use to induce him to return. I see him returning for something like 15M.

    • Doug

      “it doesn’t make sense to me that Andy is going to retire”

      i’ll assume you don’t have kids

      • Gonzo

        That cuts both ways.

        • KofH

          Haha! I think people with kids understand that better!

      • Guest

        This.

  • Reggie C.

    I’m hoping Pettitte does the brave thing and retire with whatever degree of skill he’s got left in the tank. If Pettitte just doesn’t have the heart to put himself through the grind of another full season, i’d like Cashman to keep the door open for a possible mid-season return (hat tip to CHRIS).

    With Pettitte appearing to be out the picture, the “HOW MUCH WORSE IS THE 2011 starting rotation than 2010s” thread isn’t that far off.

    • Chris

      I’m selfishly praying Pettite hangs around for one more year because I have this recurring nightmare of Sergio Mitre getting pulled from the 3rd inning of a game in Fenway with the Yankees down 9-1.

      • Mike HC

        I’m with you. It is probably best for Pettitte if he retires now and starts his post baseball life, but selfishly, I want him back.

      • hogsmog

        I keep having this nightmare that the Yankees get swept by the Mets in the series…

        *shiver*

        But I think 2011 will be just fine.

  • jsbrendog

    The Yankees should absolutely go out an get some kind of starter between now and the start of Spring Training, but maybe the concerns about their rotation are being overblown. Crazy, I know

    repeated for emphasis

    The Yankees should absolutely go out an get some kind of starter between now and the start of Spring Training, but maybe the concerns about their rotation are being overblown. Crazy, I know

    twice

    • Mike HC

      Is it really that overblown though. Our rotation is pretty mediocre being completely objective. When people claim it “sucks,” it is in comparison to the top 5-10 teams or so. Not necessary in comparison to the entire league. And I think it is fair to compare the Yanks only to the best.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      The Yankee pitching staff finished in the bottom third of FIP last year, they needed to improve it by quite a bit anyways. fWAR is a dumb way to evaluate pitchers and staffs, especially one with AJ Burnett, I think that it has great predictaive value but when it comes to who contributed the most in terms of raw wins I think bWAR is much better. AJ has always pitched below his FIP, so since fWAR uses non park adjusted FIP to calculate wins it will slightly overrate AJ. Last year AJ was basically replacement level (by RA) and that’s with a lucky April and May. There’s the possibility that he doesn’t have that lucky April and May and doesn’t get back his curveball. I don’t think the rotation concerns are overblown at all. While most fans would be pretty excited about this team, fielding a team that most fans would be happy with was never, and should never, be the goal for the Yankees. They are a team that has a serious, and attainable, goal of winning a Worls Series every year. Not “Hope for the Wild Card and pray for a streak of luck.”

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

        The Yankee pitching staff finished in the bottom third of FIP last year, they needed to improve it by quite a bit anyways. fWAR is a dumb way to evaluate pitchers and staffs…

        Huh?

        Also, Javy Vazquez’s awful FIP was a major part of that 2010 team.

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        If you’re ranking pitching staffs by team FIP then the Blue Jays were the best out of any of the AL East teams. If fWAR is a dumb way to evaluate staffs then FIP doesn’t seem to be much better. In fact, 6 of the top 10 FIP pitching teams didn’t make the playoffs. The Yankees and Rangers were both in the bottom of the league in team FIP, and one of those teams made the World Series. It doesn’t seem to be as big a factor as you seem to think it is.

        And why was AJ’s April and May lucky? In April his BABIP was .288, in May it was .321. Yet in July his BABIP was .291 and in September it was .321. Why was he lucky in April/May but not in July/September?

        They need to improve their pitching staff, yes, but the situation isn’t as drastic as you’re making it out to be.

        • Mike HC

          He made it out to be that the rotation is probably good enough to make the playoffs, but will need some luck beyond that. That seems pretty realistic to me.

          • Mike HC

            Or I should say “be competitive” for a playoff spot. Which is accurate in my view.

          • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

            If guys perform up to their abilities they’ll be fine. When is luck not a factor in the playoffs?

            • Mike HC

              Always, but clearly teams with less talent need more luck than teams with more talent.

              • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

                If you can quantify what invovles “more luck” and “less luck” you’d be the first to do so. Not to be condescending but I always looked at luck as something you either have or you don’t.

                • Mike HC

                  If a guy with a career 4.00 era pitches to a 2 era in the playoffs, it is “more lucky” than if a guy with a 3 era pitches to a 2 era in the playoffs.

                  Not sure if that helps, but it is the best I can do.

                  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

                    I get what you’re saying but…

                    Cliff Lee’s career era is 3.85… you’re saying he’s been more lucky in the playoffs than a guy like CC who’s career ERA is 3.57?

                    I don’t buy it. They’re both great pitchers who have been great in the playoffs.

                    • Mike HC

                      I used career era just as a benchmark for current ability. I think you know what I’m trying to say though.

                      Agreed that CC and Lee are about the same level.

                      To simplify, a worse pitcher needs more luck to pitch great in the playoffs than a better pitcher.

              • Poopy Pants

                The 2009 Yanks needed luck (terrible ump calls) to win it all.

                • Mike HC

                  But the Twins would have needed even more luck.

                  ha. This conversation is quickly deteriorating if it has not already.

  • nsalem

    No pitcher who has won 240 games or more besides Mussina has retired after an up season such as the one Andy had. I believe Mussina is of another mindset than all the other great ones, sort of “a bird of a different feather” (pun intended). If Andy was going to retire he probably would have announced it already. History shows us that almost no great athletes leave on top when they are in relatively good health. Look at the numbers of the last few years of any HOF pitcher.
    It is possible he retires, but the facts say it is certainly not probable.

    • Doug

      “If Andy was going to retire he probably would have announced it already.”

      or, if Andy was going to return he probably would have announced it already.

      • Thomas

        Original Message

        Dear Roger,

        This is the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen:
        “If Andy was going to retire he probably would have announced it already.”
        or, if Andy was going to return he probably would have announced it already.

        Yours truly
        Brett

        Reply

        Brett,

        Yeah that comment is completely idiotic. LOL!

        Roger

        PS Please stop attaching that nude picture of yourself.

      • nsalem

        That is quite false. For the past several years Andy has taken quite awhile to announce his return.

        • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

          Actually, that’s false too.

          After 2006, Andy re-signed on December 9th for 1/16

          After 2007, Andy declined option on November 5th, accepted arbitration on Dec 7th, officially signed Dec 12th

          After 2008 was a bit hazy, he made it clear in december he wanted to come back but there was a lengthy negotiation and he eventually signed the incentive deal on January 26th

          After 2009 he re-signed on December 9th

          So with the exception of 2008, he had made it clear he wanted to come back and had already re-signed weeks ago by now. Just saying.

    • Mike HC

      I straight up hope that Pettitte is addicted to baseball. He may say he is done and wants to move on, but when pitchers and catchers are set to report, I hope that triggers the addiction and he has no choice but to return.

      And yes, I have watched far too much celebrity rehab in the past couple of weeks.

  • Mike HC

    Hughes needs to take the next step this year to a low ace or high 2. The Yanks need him this year more than ever. Although we needed him 2007 and 2008 too but it was a bit too early to count on him like that. Now is his time to really come into his own.

  • David

    If Andy was going to retire, he would have already announced it. Why would he wait to say that? What would it accomplish other than making him look like a guy like Brett Favre?

    If Andy was going to return, he absolutely would not have announced it already, because that would take away his negotiating leverage.

    I believe the criticisms of Cashman have been nonsense. However, looking at the entire Yankee situation, if they are trying to lowball Andy and that is what the delay is about, then he should be severely criticized.

    • Mike HC

      I get the feeling Pettitte is truly unsure if he wants to return or not. I could obviously be wrong though.

      And Favre constantly did the back and forth when he was under contract. Pettitte has not been under contract and takes one year deals because he knows he is year to year. That is more than acceptable behavior which is not what Favre does.

      • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

        I think he’s really just unsure. He wouldn’t leave the Yankees hanging like this is he already knew he was going to retire.

        • Mike HC

          I don’t think he gives a shit about leaving the Yanks hanging, but I’m with you in general.

    • Doug

      you sound like a yankee fan who really, really, really wants pettitte to come back and is trying to justify his delay in announcing his intentions.

      maybe, like Mike HC said, he’s just not sure. the baseball player in him and his competitive nature is telling him to come back, while spending more time with his family and enduring the daily grind at age 39 is telling him to hang ‘em up.

      • nsalem

        No he is just a fan of logic. look at the last seasons of Carlton,Seaver,Palmer,Gibson,Ryan,Wynn,Marichal,Spahn and Roberts.
        They didn’t retire, they were all shown the exit door, they were finished and no one wanted them back. Carlton and Palmer were in particular very awful. Though Andy may retire,
        logic and human nature dictates he will be back.

        • Mike HC

          It could really go either way. I will wait to write the narrative after he makes the decision. It is easier that way, ha.

        • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

          Carlton,Seaver,Palmer,Gibson,Ryan,Wynn,Marichal,Spahn and Roberts.

          These guys have nothing to do with what Andy Pettitte wants to do in 2011. Nothing.

          • whozat

            They’re examples of excellent pitchers who had to have the uniform torn off their back. The only guy I can think of who walked away while he could probably still have tossed some league average innings is Moose.

            The point is that the majority of guys like Pettitte don’t walk away, just like the majority of free agents follow the money. Sure, there are exceptions (Moose in the first case, Lee/Wood in the second), but in general…

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              But Andy is still mutually exclusive of all of them. Just because they may have been similar pitchers, it has nothing to do with what Andy wants to do in 2011.

              • whozat

                That’s just not true. If a prohibitive majority of subjects in a sample behave one way, it implies that others who share characteristics with members of that sample will behave similarly. It is absolutely possible that Pettitte will choose to retire, as every person is different, and there are examples of subject bucking the trend. However, given that most other people in his situation have chosen NOT to retire…how can you say this information has no predictive value?

                • Plank

                  This!!!!11!

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  However, given that most other people in his situation have chosen NOT to retire

                  His situation involves a hell of a lot more than just how many career wins he has. See my response below. If you find me anyone even similar to that (even though I still can’t look into anyone’s mind’s to find out what they are thinking), then I will use that person (or people) to help me determine in some way, shape or form what I think Andy will do.

                  • Plank

                    You are framing it in terms of what you think he will do. He is using what other baseball players from the past did to determine what he will do. His method has more validity.

                    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                      Nope. I’m have yet to give my opinion on what I think he will do.

                    • Plank

                      Steve H: So it’s okay to knock down others opinions based on a ridiculous line of reasoning?

                      I’ll be waiting with bated breath for you to give YOUR OPINION.

          • nsalem

            Patently not true. They are all examples of what great aging athletes
            do when confronted with the choice of leaving on top or continuing on for further glory. If you really believe your statement (which I have doubts about), please name some baseball greats besides Mussina who walked away from the game before failure or injury.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              If you can find me a guy from Texas, pitching in NY with an outside shot at the Hall of Fame that has several children and a wife that he wants to spend time with, that is left handed, that might be caught up in a trial regarding PED’s and a former great friend of his, and already has multiple rings then maybe I will consider Pettitte’s case for or against retirement in relation to that person. Otherwise, simply saying Andy Pettitte has 240 wins so he won’t retire coming off a good season because most guys don’t, is just flat out wrong.

              • Mike HC

                You left out the fact that he has already told the Yanks he is leaning toward retirement.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  That is rather important as well.

                  • Plank

                    Ah, the rare, extended “This.”

                    • Mike HC

                      haha

              • Plank

                Every apple I have thrown off the roof has fallen down. Even though everyone knows this, I have a feeling this next apple, which was picked in Mexico by Cesar Vasquez on the 15th of October between the hours of 3pm and 4pm will not fall to the ground. If you can find an apple with these attributes, we can talk otherwise you are just speculating. This apple is different.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  You are making the decision to throw the apple, not the apple itself. If Andy Pettitte was the apple, the Yankees would make his decision for him.

                  • Plank

                    Do players in their mid to late 30’s decide to play worse than they did in their late 20’s? You can look at a what a population does and make educated guesses as to what others in that population will do. I’m sorry you can’t see that. Usually it is done in terms of performance, but why can’t it be applied to a decision to retire?

                  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

                    Why is Andy Pettitte getting thrown off a roof I do not like this metaphor :( :( :( :( :(

                    • JAG

                      I enjoyed the fact that that is what stood out to you about their discussion.

                • Mike HC

                  Gravity is the most important similarity there and overrules all the differences.

                  In Pettitte’s case, the fact that he has told the Yanks he is leaning toward retirement seems to be far more of a predictive, specific piece of information than listing past pitchers who continued to pitch until they sucked.

                  • Plank

                    If you think Pettitte will retire because he has said that’s what he’s leaning toward, that’s fine.

                    But the above poster is saying that based on the near unanimity of a sports star playing at a competitive level deciding not to retire, Pettitte won’t retire.

                    Steve H is saying the decision of every other baseball player in the history of the game carries no weight. That’s flawed.

                    • Mike HC

                      I can’t speak (write) for Steve, but I believe he is saying that Pettitte’s specific circumstances hold more predictive value of his decision than a list of great pitchers who only retired until they sucked.

                      If we knew absolutely nothing but Pettitte’s age and performance, then your thought process would probably be correct. But we know so much more that a generic list of past players seems just that, generic.

                      Saying all this, I have no idea what he is going to do. I don’t think he knows yet. And I don’t think your line of reasoning is all that crazy. It is rare for a player to retire when they are performing at Pettitte’s level. No doubt.

                    • Plank

                      Ok, but the list of players who are doing what some are saying Pettitte will do and retire now, is Mike Mussina and Sandy Koufax.

                      Every other pitcher in the past hundred years has retired due to ineffectiveness, injury, or extraordinary personal circumstances. Having a family isn’t an extraordinary personal circumstance.

                    • Mike HC

                      I really hope you are right and his love of baseball and ability to still play at a high level, wins out, like it usually does.

              • nsalem

                Just like most would agree that the sky is blue,it’s a given that everybody has different circumstance, so I don’t know why you bothered with such a response. If you read my posts correctly you would realize
                I never said Andy won’t retire, I said Andy probably
                won’t retire and cited historical fact to back up my opinion.
                Carlton,Seaver,Palmer,Gibson,Ryan,Wynn,Marichal,Spahn and Roberts. The fact is that they and most great athletes do not retire until it is obvious they have lost their skills. This is my opinion and the only point I am trying to make. Perhaps you think it is merely a coincidence that this is how great athletes usually end their careers. That may be your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it.

                • Mike HC

                  It would be rare for a player pitching at Andy’s level to retire. But considering the specific circumstances, there is a far greater chance of him retiring on top than of the pitchers you mentioned.

                  • nsalem

                    How can you say that if you don’t know the specific circumstances of the other pitchers mentioned. Like Andy I don’t think any of them were coming back for the paycheck. I don’t put much credence in Andy saying he wants to retire, I cite Clemens, and Carlton who repeatedly
                    claimed they wanted to retire and just kept on coming back until they were shells of their former selves. I know of star players who left on top such as Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Mussina who simply announced their retirement at the end of a season. I just imagine that this is a career that would be hard to give up and what most of these athletes have in common is it is they love the game and it isonly occupation they know. Hall of Fame pitcher Ted Lyons attempted to return after 4 years of inactivity at age 46 and Iron Joe McGinty pitched in the minor leagues for 15 years after leaving the major leagues. All we are doing is speculating what Andy will do
                    and all of our opinions are valid.

                    • Mike HC

                      Quite true.

                    • nsalem

                      Plank: Koufax had no choice. He retired due to injury and was in danger of losing the use of his arm if he continued. The only other pitcher you can group with Mussina is Al Spalding who retired after the 1877 at age 27 (47-12 record ERA+ 140) to start a sporting goods
                      company which is still in existence today.

                    • Plank

                      Thanks for the clarification. I never knew that about Koufax. I wonder if TJ could have fixed it and he would have attempted a comeback if he pitched today.

                      What was the sporting goods store Spalding started? ;)

                    • Plank

                      Brad Radke was injured but he still probably could have pitched if he wanted to, also.

                    • Plank

                      Dave Nilsson was a guy who retired before he needed to. It seems like he really wanted to go home though.

  • David

    I think that he is coming back, if a contract can be worked out. Another obvious reason is that they haven’t added another starter, despite having gobs of extra $ and a depth of prospects that could be traded.

    • Mike HC

      So not only do you think Pettitte is coming back, but you also think that the Yanks know it too?

      You may be right, but there is just not that much concrete evidence supporting that. They tried to get Lee and failed. Looked into Grienke and they wanted our best prospect since Jeter plus our top pitchers. And everything else out there is simply not even necessarily good enough to guarantee success in the Yanks rotation.

      • Mike HC

        I will change that to best prospect since Soriano. He seems to be a forgotten man around these parts.

        • CS Yankee

          Fail twice…our best prospect since Joba or Hughes, i believe.

          I guess it is how most scouts viewed them to name a few, since Soriano…
          1) Cano (not highly rated in the system though)
          2) Hughes (highly rated in the system)
          3) Joba (rated high, not as high as Hughes by most though)
          4) Grit (not highly rated in the system though)

          Soriano was fun until it came time to hit a breaking ball, however we have developed a number of studs since the days of Soriano.

          • Mike HC

            I meant hitting prospect.

            • Mike HC

              And not based on how they turned out, but based on their value while in the minors.

              • OldYanksFan

                Jesus is the studliest!

  • Miller Time

    I have no statistical information to back this up, however, I do believe the longer Pettitte takes to announce his decision, the better the chances are he’s coming back. He does not have a grudge or anything with the Yankees, therefore he’s not going to handicap them by 1) not coming back and 2) making them wait.

    • JohnnyC

      I tend to agree with you but, bear in mind, Andy felt that the Yankees “low-balled” him 2 years ago with a $5.5 million contract (although meeting certain incentives did net him almost double that much).

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

      Isn’t he kind of already making them wait?

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com bexarama

        Though I should add, worst case scenario going into the season if he doesn’t come back is that Nova and Mitre fill up the back end of the rotation (which don’t get me wrong, is a pretty bad worst case scenario). Best case scenario, they get another really good starter via trade. If Andy decides to come back in like January or what have you, they can just put the fifth starter in the bullpen, be it Nova or Mitre. I dunno about options but maybe they could even send Nova back down to the minors to be a 6th starter.

        Basically what I mean is that if Pettitte suddenly decides to come back, it doesn’t put any sort of cramp into the Yankees’ 2011 plans.

  • http://www.retire21.com first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

    I find last year’s rotation shallow and pedantic.

  • CS Yankee

    No time to panic, yes having two #1’s was a great plan (hats off to Philly for playing smart and aggressive).

    No really stud pitcher is available for a few years (minimum). Would we really want the Lackey signing last year? Giving away the farm for a talented head-case would be foolish, we have that in AJ and his investment was almost all cash (lower 3rd/4th draft lost, i believe).

    We need a solid proven pitcher to be our #4 starter for 2011 as Nova/AAA arm should take care of the #5 spot. We get spoiled saying it has to be a #2 (or better) because we are the Yankees, but in reality a Francis/Penny type of player could do wonders until July.

    Once July comes around, a team (perhaps Brewers, ChiSox, whatevs) will likely need to contain costs due to being 10+ out with a declining revenue base…

    enter Ninja.

  • Yanko

    This post is extremely simplistic and incredibly unscientific.

  • OldYanksFan

    OK… you heard it here first:
    1) Andy RETURNS!
    2) AJ with a sub 4.0 ERA
    3) ARod, Teix, CC and Jeter are better in 2011 then 2010.

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      If that happens, then the Yankees could easily win 100 games.

      The problem is, that’s a big if. I would be satisfied if AJ had around a 4.2 ERA, and CC was so good last year I’d be okay if he was a little worse.

      Jeter has to be better or he won’t play everyday, and A-Rod is certainly going to be better.

      The biggest IF: Andy. Not only would he have to come back, he’d have to be good – which at his age, is no certainty.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    Assuming no Pettitte, what teams have better rotations than the Yankees?

    Phillies
    Red Sox
    Blue Jays(ish)
    Brewers
    Twins
    Dodgers(ish)
    Athletics
    Giants
    Rangers(ish)
    Padres
    Cardinals(ish)

    So it’s reasonable to say that – at the current time, without a game being played – the Yankees have the 10th/12th best rotation in baseball. With a great offense, that’s ok, I guess.

    But before we jump to conclusions like I just did, remember:

    Not one pitch has yet been thrown.

    Thank you.

    • FIPster Doofus

      I don’t agree at all about the Twins, Rangers or Padres. Anyway…

      Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, A’s, Angels, White Sox, Phillies, Braves, Cardinals, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers.

  • Tarik

    Thanks for posting the question.

  • Tarheel Yankee

    Could Mike Hampton be a person that could help the Yankees this year? Would we even be interested?