A quick no on Galarraga

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(Duane Burleson/AP)

You don’t often see a team agree to a $2.3 million contract with a player only to DFA him a day later. But that’s what happened with the Tigers and Armando Galarraga. They avoided arbitration by signing him to the contract, and then designated him for assignment to make room for the newly acquired Brad Penny. That gives the Tigers 10 days to work a trade, and GM Dave Dombrowski is confident that he can do so. While he’ll certainly ring up Brian Cashman, he hopefully will not find a match.

All winter we’ve been exploring options for the back end of the Yankees bullpen, which currently comprises Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Having Nova there can be a good thing. He gained big league experience last winter and he’s a decent prospect, so they might as well see what he can do. The issue is with Mitre, who, despite having played in the bigs for parts of seven seasons, has limited starting experience. In fact, we’re so desperate to get Mitre out of the picture that we’ve measured all external options by the BTM scale: Better Than Mitre. Unfortunately, Galarraga doesn’t necessarily fit that bill.

If Galarraga has one advantage over Mitre it’s experience. He has made 78 stats in his four big league seasons, while Mitre has made just 64. He has also pitched at least 143.2 innings in each of the last three years, while Mitre’s career high is 149 — and that came in 2007. That is the only reason I can see that Galarraga could potentially represent an upgrade. But in all other aspects the two are relative equals.

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
Galarraga 5.70 3.52 1.42 4.58 5.17
Mitre 5.38 2.96 1.10 5.27 4.72

Neither strikes out many batters, but at least Mitre mitigates that somewhat with a lower walk rate. Galarraga owns the better career ERA, due mostly to his flukey 2008 season. He’s clearly not that good, though he might not be quite as bad as his 2009 campaign. Mitre, on the other hand, has an ERA that far outpaces his FIP. Given the walks and the FIP I’d pick Mitre, but there is one more factor that has me certainly favoring him.

The most glaring number on the above table is home run rate. Galarraga’s 1.42 homers per nine rate is bad enough as is, but it looks much worse when you consider his home park. Comerica Park suppresses home runs, yet during the past three seasons only two pitchers have a worse homer rate. Now imagine him, a soft-tossing righty, facing David Ortiz at Yankee Stadium.

As the winter wears on and we pine for baseball, we’re going to explore any Yankees topic possible. A final starter is the foremost topic, and we’re going to explore every possible angle. (In fact, today or tomorrow we’ll have something on a name you haven’t yet heard.) But Armando Galarraga just doesn’t fit the Yankees needs. He’s a homer-prone soft-tossing righty who had one good season three years ago. Even then he greatly outperformed his horrible strikeout and home run rates. There is someone out there who can provide an upgrade to the rotation. Galarraga is not him.

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  • http://twitter.com/steveh_MandAura Steve H

    I saw the title on my twitter feed and I was seriously hoping it was just a one word post: No.

    If it wasn’t for one game, no one would be singing the “Cashman must trade for Galarraga!” tune. He’s terrible.

  • Big Apple

    Dear Armando:

    Just b/c you almost pitch a no hitter/perfect game doesn’t mean you’ll have a great career.

    Signed,

    Joe Cowley

  • bobmac

    Duchscherer.

    • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I’ve been right out in front with the calls for Duchscherer the last couple of years, and I haven’t been in on the conversations around here lately so forgive me if I missed all this already, but I keep seeing his name pop up in the comments and I’m wondering what role people expect him to play. I’ve always been a Duchscherer fan, but the guy’s got a seriously spotty health-history lately. I mean, as a guy you take a flyer on, who you maybe say ‘if he gives us MLB innings it’s gravy’ about? Yeah, of course. But I don’t know that anyone should be relying on him to be a part of the rotation for a significant chunk of the season.

      Yr Age G GS IP
      06 28 53 0 55.2
      07 29 17 0 16.1
      08 30 22 22 141.2
      09 31 0 0 0
      10 32 5 5 28.0

      There were plenty of people around here (myself included) who wanted Duchscherer last year, and then the guy went out and made 5 starts. Maybe I’m just overly wary because of that, but I think the guy’s health is a gigantic, blaring red-flag, no? On the BTM scale I’m afraid that if Duchscherer is the answer the result will be Mitre, all the same.

      If we go into the exercise understanding that you’re really just taking a flyer on a guy and not necessarily expecting him to provide many innings, then I’m all for it. I just think people need to realize this guy is probably not a viable answer to the question: “How do we keep Mitre out of the rotation?”

      • Preston

        On the “Better than Mitre” scale, Duchsherer is obviously better. Yes he’s an injury risk, but if he can pass the physical and is ready to go opening day he can give David Phelps or Hector Noesi time to get to mid season form and earn a call up. And even if he’s not a starter he has a history of success as a bullpen option so he could be the long-man if a young guy takes his rotation spot.

        • http://twitter.com/joero23 The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Never disagreed with any of this. Problem is he isn’t necessarily going to be healthy enough to be better than Mitre. If he’s on the mound, sure, he’s probably better than Mitre.

      • Granderslam

        The smart thing would maybe sign him as BP Long Man and then move Joba to rotation…but let’s not go there. Great comment btw. I think that Duchsherer is actually the best available option, but his significant injury history is a huge concern. And as for Galarraga…simply put: no.

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    Damn you! I have the same article going up at 11!

  • bottom line

    Nice post

  • Mickey Scheister

    Does not pass the BTM test, on to the next one. Penny would have been an intriguing choice, I’m surprised Cash and Co didn’t take a flyer or at least mention him as a potential target, oh well, he seemed to be BTM. I know he didn’t set the world on fire with his brief stint in the AL East, perhaps that played into the thought process. One potential salary dump I could see the Yanks taking on would be that of Zambrano of the Cubs, he’s got ace type stuff when he’s on. I really hope they don’t sign anyone that’s not got a number 3 starter ceiling otherwise I’d rather see them stand pat with what they’ve got and give the youngsters a shot if Mitres as bad as he’s been in the past. What’s the worst that could happen? The fifth starter will prob only get 3-4 starts in April and by then old AP might reconsider, if he doesn’t I’m sure by mid-May one of the youngsters will be ready for their opportunity. If they do well in a SSS they could, at the very least, build trade value.

    • Big Apple

      i never saw the yanks getting Penny for the sole fact that many of us Yank fans poked enormous fun at the Bosox for obtaining him two years ago.

      no offense, but i hate the term “taking a flyer”…it was so overused by the Sox when they signed Smoltz. And what was nuts is paying a guy $5MM plus incentives that match that is not “taking a flyer”.

      • Mickey Scheister

        Didn’t the Sox get him right after he had missed an entire year with arm issues? This time I thought he pulled a quad or an oblique or something un-arm related when he hit that grandslam, and he was actually good when he did pitch last year. 5 mil for a number 3-4 potential would be “taking a flyer” for the Yanks, IMO, as 5 mil would be peanuts for a starter based on the rest of the payroll. Maybe the verbage, “taking a flyer” is awful but you get my point.

        • Big Apple

          i’m pretty sure smoltz had missed that previous year.

          and don’t get me wrong…i see your point, but that phrase was used so much with both smoltz and penny…all i remember hearing from beantown was “you can never have too much pitching”. smoltz was terrible. i like him but loved seeing him suck there…and liked it even more when he pitched decently for the cards after the sox released him.

  • Yank the Frank

    Having Mitre’s name in the starting rotation is very disheartening. Anybody would seem to be better including Galarraga but looking at the numbers it appears “anybody” isn’t.
    I know Mitre will not be in the starting rotation come opening day, I just know it, but that little voice…
    I think that there should be a rule change that people with Mitre’s skill set should be allowed to take peds.

    • RL

      No, No, No to Galarraga!

      If the Yankees are going to trade for a 4-5 type starter, please let it be Wandy Rodriguez. Career averages of 7.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9 and 4.18 ERA. Each of the last three years he has performed better than his career average (HR/9 under 1, K/9 at 8.4 and BB/9 at about 2.9). While these are NL Central numbers, they’re still better than the other choices out there. AND he’s a LEFTY!!! I still haven’t seen anyone else worth trading for.

      • Mickey Scheister

        Wandy would be nice, he is BTM, right now I suspect they’d ask for too much in return. Mid way through the season his price would drop drastically. By then there might be better options presented as salary dumps.

      • Ted Nelson

        Not that I advocate picking up Galarraga, but he’s probably going to cost you a WHOLE LOT less in a trade than Rodriguez. You’re talking maybe a fringe prospect for Galarraga I’d guess, and a good package for Wandy. All else equal of course I’ll take Wandy. However, if Galarraga is being given away and Houston is looking for an Ace type package for Wandy… I might say neither or take a shot on Galarraga for depth.

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

          I’d rather pay the price for Wandy than settle for Galarraga. But, unfortunately, Ed Wade probably isn’t going to deal Wandy until June or July.

          • Ted Nelson

            I’d rather pay a reasonable price for Wandy, but I don’t know what the current price would be. Goes hand-in-hand with the June/July thing in that Houston would probably deal him today if the right package came along, that package would just probably be overpaying for Wandy.

            Until June/July I’d rather look at a Millwood, Garcia type option, but *maybe* if they’re really giving Galarraga away for a fringe prospect the Yankees have no use for I’d take a look.

        • RL

          While I certainly wouldn’t be in favor of giving up Montero for Wandy, I could understand giving up a package that included one of the Killer B’s, perhaps Joba (if the Yankees don’t plan on using him in a manner that best leverages him :-) ), and perhaps a lower-level, lower ceiling prospect.

          • Ted Nelson

            Even that’s tough for me to swallow… Looking back in just 2 or 3 years, the Yankees might have given up the 2 best pitchers in that deal.

            Wandy isn’t great, he’s 32 this season, and he’s a FA after the season. Either you’re buying a one year rental (which at least leaves you with a couple picks) or you’re signing off on a 4 or 5 year deal after 2011 taking a good but not great starter through his 36 or 37 year old season.

            Anything could happen, but I figure chances are between the Killer Bs maybe you end up with–in a sort of medium case scenario–one good starter, one decent starter, and one reliever. Moving one of them now, as they’re getting close to the cusp of the majors, reduces your odds of getting an impact starter of the three. I’m sure there’s a better way to explain that, but off the top of my head that’s what I got.

  • Mister Delaware

    “Here’s an idea … you guys keep Galarraga and trade us Verlander. Think about the cost savings!”

  • Ted Nelson

    Agreed. Guy is not that good.

    Not 100% on topic, but I have a bit of a problem with the FIP obsession. I understand that it’s trying to take luck and fielding out of the equation, but at the same time it completely ignores quality of contact. HRs maybe play into that, but only to a degree. BABIP is not entirely luck. If guys are smashing line-drives into the OF consistently off you, chances are you’ll give up a higher BABIP (and SLG%) than if you’re giving up a bunch of weak-ish ground balls. I suppose maybe the guys inducing weak contact also tend to lead in FIP, but it just seems very imperfect to ignore all contact that is not a HR.

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

      Dude, it’s not like we’re saying FIP is better than ERA. We’re saying that FIP is a tool that helps us put ERA in better perspective.

      • Ted Nelson

        For all I know it might be better than ERA–and I get the impression that a lot of people would say that it is–I just think it ignores a really important part of the game (ERA also ignores things like luck and fielding of course). Not that I’ve researched it, and for all I know there may be a strong relationship between the deception required for Ks and the deception required to induce weak contact.

        A lot of articles or comments seem to only use FIP as a summary of a pitcher’s performance, and if someone throws WHIP or only ERA out there to talk about a pitcher they get smashed for being an idiot.

        I’m not, by the way, advocating looking only at ERA or WHIP or any other stat, I’m just wondering if something better doesn’t already exist or won’t exist in the future. And it’s not entirely in response to this article, because I don’t think Galarraga is good.

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

          The thing is that when we get beyond FIP — that is, beyond the things over which the pitcher has the most direct control — we’re getting into the realm of scouting. Plenty of us have keen eyes for that type of stuff, and I welcome that kind of commentary. But there are naturally going to be varying opinions there. At least with FIP we’re measuring something. I think that’s why you see it used so often.

          • Mister Delaware

            Hit f/x is totally going to create a newer, more awesome stat.

  • MB

    I hope that name isnt Jamie Moyer haha.

  • KRM

    I would honestly have Mitre in the rotation. He’s how far removed from Tommy John surgery? I would like to see Joba/Dusch in there just as much as the next guy, but I also think Mitre can put up better numbers than the ones mentioned above.

  • Big Apple

    we can debate all day long about which one of these turds is better…Mitre, doosh, millwood, galaragga et al…but the bottom line is there isn’t much that separates any of them. at this point i would rather just go with mitre and not have to give up any talent or sign some crap turd has been for any dollars. at least with mitre we know he sucks and his bar is so low there may be a surprise in there.

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s impossible to know going into the season who will perform better/stay healthier, sure. However, for that very reason I think it’s essential to sign someone.

      I can’t tell you who it will be right now, but chances are very high that some of these guys will be more valuable in 2011 than others. Having at least two of these guys (Mitre + whoever) doubles your odds of having one of the guys whose decent/healthy in 2011. And if it’s a $2-4 mill contract, that means 1/2% of the Yankees major league budget…

  • bpdelia

    I gotta tell you I have a sinking feeling that this is gonna happen.

    It wouldn’t be the end of the world as I would assume he would be traded for a bunch of C or lower prospects.

    But even so I have very little confidence that a non groundball pitcher putting up those numbers in det is a good thing.

    There is a chance he outperforms Mitre but Galaraga is basically a AAAA pitcher.

    Still, again, I have this bad feeling that Galaraga will be yankee within the week.

  • http://aandecili@comcast.net Tono73

    if you have to make a deal & it involve’s some of our top prospect’s,i say go after Detroits “Danks”..

  • Pounder

    Kazimir, or Freddy Garcia…… God forbid!

  • Nino

    The Yankees need Pavano. That loser would fit right in with the losing skanks. Everyone hates the Stankees!! Boston rules, NY drools

    • bucky

      you guys look great on paper and are the strong favorites-but comeon man 2004 aside how long was it again?86 yrs lmao!!!!!!