Mailbag: George Sherrill


Joe recapped some of the more notable non-tenders yesterday, but there’s one player he didn’t touch on that’s probably worth exploring. Given the Yankees search for a second left-handed reliever, we might as well cover every base.

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Ryan asks: An interesting non-tender is George Sherill. I know his 2010 was brutal but he has been murder on lefties his whole career (including 2010). What are the chances the Yankees take a flier on him?

You’re right, Sherrill was brutal in 2010. For the low low price of $4.5M, the Dodgers received a 6.69 ERA (5.20 FIP, 5.61 xFIP) and -0.5 fWAR in just 36.1 innings. He struck out just one more batter than he walked (26 K, 25 BB) and right-handers absolutely annihilated him (.482 wOBA against). The former independent leaguer (four different indy teams too) also missed two weeks with a sore back and his velocity was erratic but generally down. No matter how you look at it, Sherrill was a disaster for Team Torre in 2010.

Digging a little deeper though, there are enough reasons to believe that not all hope is lost for the 33 year old (34 in April). Sherrill still handled left-handed batters well (.272 wOBA against) this year, just not as well as he did from 2007-2009 (.220 wOBA against). The one homer he surrendered to a lefty in 2010 was a majestic blast that Yankee fans will remember fondly. A .352 batting average on balls in play (compared to .292 career) certainly didn’t help matters, and it’s probably not a coincidence that his worst stretch of the season came right before he hit the disabled list.

There are very real concerns though, don’t be mistaken. Sherill’s never been a control freak, unintentionally walking 3.8 batters per nine innings (3.4 BB/9 vs. LHB) over the last three seasons. He’s also a fly ball pitcher (47.4% career), though he has improved his ground ball rate for three straight seasons. Fly balls mean homeruns, a less than desirable trait for any pitcher, especially a late game reliever.

At this point, Sherrill should be limited to lefty specialist work and nothing more. His days of being effective against right-handers are behind him, but the fastball-slider combo work fine against same-side hitters. The Dodgers understandably non-tendered him and the overall bad year should help keep Sherrill’s price down this winter. In fact, there has at least been speculation that he might have to settle for a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training to prove himself worthy of a roster spot.

Considering the cost vs. expected production, I’d much prefer Sherrill to someone like Pedro Feliciano. I’m comfortable with his track record against southpaws, and I also like that he spent some time in the AL East and knows how tough life can be there. As long as his exposure to righties is limited, Sherrill should be quite the weapon. A one-year, low base money deal is fine by me, and if he takes a minor league contract than great. He’s absolutely worth a flier.


  1. YankeesJunkie says:

    Considering the other options out there if they can get Sherill on the cheap or better yet on MILB deal then he is certainly worth the risk.

  2. KofH says:

    What does low cost mean–1, 2MM?

  3. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Man, I really hope Andy Sisco pans out. Screw it, snag Andrew Miller too. Corner the market on left-handed Andy’s.

  4. Matt DiBari says:

    I’m going to have to have the liquor cabinet well stocked next year as I prepare for the fun of having two lefties for six months.

    Nothing is going to be more fun than watching us pull the starter in the sixth so George Sherrill can walk a lefty and we can MIX AND MATCH (tm Michael Kay) for the rest of the game, completely ignoring the possibility that this here one run game could possibly go to extra innings and with all the good relievers having pitched a third of an inning earlier.

    Yeah, I have doubts about Girardi’s ability to manage a bullpen with two lefties. I may have mentioned that before.

    • ROBTEN says:

      Even if this were true — and I think that it is more hyperbole than reality — given that there’s a chance that 3/5 starters are left-handed next year, it still seems like this would be a fairly rare occurrence.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      It would be nice if one of the lefties you know…could get righties out. But alas.

      • whozat says:

        Problem is lefties who can get righties out get shots at rotation spots for yeeeeeears, or are late-inning relievers that get too many years and dollars when they become available.

    • bexarama says:

      This is mostly hypothetical and if things work out the way most of us would like/are predicting, we have three very good lefty starters next year.

    • Mike HC says:

      I just get annoyed with all the mix and match because it kills the continuity of the game. Mound visits, commercials, warming up etc … it is really unnecessary from a fans perspective.

    • miked says:

      well its funny that last year was the best manager at using a bullpen and now everyone thinks hes the worst and sherril has one bad year and hes a bumb

  5. Jerome S says:

    Boone Logan is a tank, will remain a tank, and has the greatest baseball name of 2010.
    With that in mind, is it at all possible that he pitches >80% of all LOOGY innings next year, much like he did this year?

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Hopefully, Logan has been nothing but money throughout his career against lefties. He has struck out nearly 10 per 9 versus lefties while it is almost half that against righties. Also his 3.5 xFIP against lefties is two runs higher against righties. Logan is strictly a LOOGY and if you feel risky you let him pitch to righty between two lefties if it is a 2 or 3 run lead with no one base.

  6. MattG says:

    Sherrill is no doubt a great bounce-back candidate, they type that 22-24 teams can nab and hope for a boon.

    The Yankees aren’t one of those teams. This is one of those situations in which the Yankees, as a team with resources, should pass. No matter how high your payroll, the roster can’t hold more than 40, and I would rather find a better bet or two than George Sherrill.

    That’s not to say the Yankees can’t take fliers, but there should be better options for those fliers than George Sherrill. If he can be had on a minor league contract, absolutely, but unless better plans fall through, let someone else dream on his bounce.

  7. dan says:

    yanks should sign russell martin

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Well, they could have had him even up for Cervelli and they declined, so they must not have liked his medicals, as a healthy Martin is certainly an upgrade over Frankie.

      • Sweet Dick Willie says:

        Oops. My bad for replying to an off-topic post.

      • 28 this year says:

        well if they got him for cervelli, they would have had to offer him arbitration and Martin was making $5MM so he would have gotten a modest raise. Thats a lot to pay a backup catcher. Thats probably why the Yankees balked. martin is better than cervelli but 6MM better, i don’t know.

  8. miked says:

    your all acting like we signed martin and whats wrong with cervelli yeah he cant hit homers but thats why hes backup i like cervelli especially with that big ass batting helmet

  9. cranky says:

    Any deal with Sherrill needs to have a conditioning clause. He’s a beefy guy with some history of back issues. I think he needs to lighten up now that he’s turning 34.
    Sherrill was a fine reliever just two seasons ago. I wouldn’t give up on him. Torre misused him last year. He can still be effective against lefties. The Yanks need another lefty, at least, so he might be worth the ‘ol “incentive-laden” deal. He’s certainly no less worthy of a shot than is Steve Garrison.

  10. Sal says:

    good point on Martin and the arbitration factor, but he’s a FA now, kick the tires, unless they already did and they came up flat. Kick Sherrill’s tires also, the guy kills LHB (.192 BA) even in a bad yr

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