Pitching proposals: Kawakami, Zito, Millwood

Open Thread: Andy Pettitte
Mailbag: Bernie, Cutters, Cashman, Jorge, More

Yesterday we spent our time remembering the 16-year career of Andy Pettitte, one of the most beloved members of the late 90s dynasty. While we were busy musing on Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, others took the opportunity to slip some trade targets by us. As expected, none of them sounds particularly attractive.

Kenshin Kawakami

(Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Not long after news of Pettitte’s pending retirement broke, Ken Rosenthal suggested the Yankees would consider trading for Braves’ RHP Kenshin Kawakami. The Braves outrighted Kawakami to AA in November, which means he’s not on the 40-man roster. But he is still owed $6.67 million in 2011 regardless of roster status. The Braves have reportedly been shopping him around this off-season, including to Japanese clubs.

After a quality debut season in 2009, a 3.86 ERA in 156.1 IP, Kawakami dropped off in 2010. He finished with similar peripherals, but his results were far worse, a 5.15 ER in 87.1 IP. The Braves clearly don’t like him, and it’s tough to justify taking a player like that. But if any team can take the gamble and take on some salary, it’s the Yankees. Since he’s not on the 40-man roster he’s just another noodle in the bowl.

Barry Zito

(Ben Margot/AP)

Someone, at some point, was going to make the case for the Yankees acquiring Barry Zito. Turns out it was Jonah Keri yesterday. He argues that the Yankees’ financial might can help them absorb some of the $64.5 million still owed Zito, and that he can add two wins to the team’s win total. While Jonah makes some good points, he also envisions something of a best case scenario. If something doesn’t break right and Zito tanks, the Yankees are still on the hook through 2013.

The Yankees might appear to have an endless budget, but there has to be a limit somewhere. If they want to lay out some cash to make a two-win upgrade, that’s usually fine. That is, if it doesn’t prevent them from making any other moves. Even if the Giants ate half of Zito’s remaining money, which they won’t, the contract will probably restrict the Yankees in some way. That’s the main reason I wouldn’t consider trading for Zito a worthy option.

Kevin Millwood

(Nick Wass/AP)

We have spent more words than I’d ever thought possible discussion the prospect of adding Kevin Millwood. These might be the last. His name surfaced shortly after the Pettitte news broke, but not in a positive way.

Buster Olney reported that Millwood is seeking $4 to $5 million, which explains why he remains a free agent. I can’t see any team making that kind of outlay. His price will come down later, but the Yankees have little reason to offer him a major league contract. Even then it might not work. Ken Davidoff quotes an AL exec on the matter: “Millwood is not a help. He’s just a name people know.” Let’s bury this one.

We’re going to see plenty of pitchers connected to the Yankees in the next few weeks, but don’t expect anything to happen. As Olney says, “The Yankees don’t feel like they need to be in a big rush to augment [their] rotation; they have two months to evaluate [their] own guys, look for a trade.” They already have seven guys to compete for those last two spots. They can stick with that for the time being and wait to see if an opportunity develops.

Open Thread: Andy Pettitte
Mailbag: Bernie, Cutters, Cashman, Jorge, More
  • Brian

    the thought of Barry Zito in pinstripes makes me sad

    • MikeD

      If Zito had only one year left on his contract, then the Yankees probably could work out some form of a deal, and if he’s a bust, he’s gone in one season. Three seasons? No way. Even if he managed a league-average season in 2011, he’d surely trend down again and the Yankees would be stuck. He’s the Giants problem.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Barry Zito? Sure. Just as long as the Giants throw in Buster Posey.

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      Yeah really. That’s about the only way I’d agree to take on Zito’s remaining $$

    • YankeesJunkie

      Hell, I would even throw in Montero in that deal.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Nah, we have some okay catchers. Wouldn’t mind Lincecum and Cain though.

      • FIPster Doofus

        I’d still want Posey, but whatever – obviously this is never going to happen anyway.

  • Granderslam

    Another name being brought up: Carmona.

    • Danimal

      Indians won’t trade him. Team friendly, still effective. Small market teams don’t trade guys like that unless they are getting major hauls.

      Is he worth it?

  • http://dosrevival.com Joe DiMaggio’s Ego-Ghost

    I’d love to pry away Scott Baker, but the likelihood of the Twins trading a starter is probably remote. They’ll throw Duensing in the ‘pen

    • ND Mike

      Wow, I live in “Twins Territory” and the “Twinkies” fans have a name for him; Scott Baker the HR maker. I’ll pass unless someone can show me stats that he might hold his own in the AL East.

  • mbonzo

    I wouldn’t mind the Yankees taking Zito if they worked out a contract where the paid 2011 and half of 2012 while the Giants paid for the rest. Yankees could afford giving him big money this year, and the free agent market for the Yankees will be pretty small too. I don’t see that kind of contract preventing them from doing anything.

    • Danimal

      Could manage to swing some ridiculous deal like the one A-Rod came with. Have the Giants still pay 1/3 of his salary, and maybe defer some long term.

      However, I don’t even want to think about that cause the idea of Zito in pinstripes made me throw up in my mouth a little.

      Insert Bronx cheer here.

      • mbonzo

        Zito could always rebound. His numbers -2008 would probably get him 15+ wins in NY. I’d take 3 years of it if all it costs is half the contract. The starting pitcher market is pretty crappy over the next 2 years.

        • Ted Nelson

          I’m not sure he’s any better than Ivan Nova.

          It doesn’t just prevent them from signing free agents, but from trading for a better option.

          • Ted Nelson

            That said. If the Giants are eating 50+% of his salary and asking for a non-prospect in return (and maybe also offering a non-prospect with Zito)… Wouldn’t rule it out. The Yankees have the leverage, though, and should get a great deal… not blow their leverage like they did with Soriano.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    I don’t know how the posting system works, but this as a good a time as any for Yu Darvish’s club to post him. However, I’m not fond of Darvish.

    Anyone but Zito and Mitre.

  • A-rod#1fan

    What about Josh johnson from the marlins…

    • A-rod#1fan

      Or Francisco liriano from twins

      • It’sATarp

        twins plan on…you know…competing…

        • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

          same thing with the Marlins. They aren’t a bad team, and Josh Johnson isn’t expensive.

        • ND Mike

          They can only “compete” because they’re in the Central. I think the Orioles would win that division by 5 games.

    • It’sATarp

      they have no reason to trade him

    • whozat
    • mbonzo

      I actually think Felix Hernandez could be available soon. Another bad season from the Marlins, they’ll be in rebuild mode. Felix’s salary will go from $10m to $18.5m next year, and with their good players getting old the Marlins will know that paying Felix all that money to deal while trying to rebuild with a non-competing team is a waste of resources. So I could see Felix being traded in 2012 or 2013, but don’t expect him to come cheap at all.

      • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

        I assume you mean Mariners.

        • mbonzo

          Yea thanks…brain fart.

          • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

            I do it all the time.

      • gargoyle

        I do too.

        These people who say Johnson or Hernandez will never be available blah blah blah… Things change overnight and a guy like Felix may wake up, one morning and say – “get me the fuck outta here.” Bottom line – if the Yankees keep their powder dry they are in prime position should an option like either one of the two I just mentioned suddenly open up.

  • kosmo

    Zito ?? putting the money aside for a minute if you look at his 09-10 seasons he pitched like a mid rotation SP.
    7-4 3.76 1st half
    2-10 4.70 2nd half

    5-9 5.01
    5-4 2.83

    His numbers are reminicent of Pettitte in 2008-2009.Zito in the course of his a career was never as well served by his offense as Pettitte happened to be.
    Zito tends to be a very streaky pitcher and his BB totals are relatively high per 9 innings.
    Obviously Zito´s best days are behind him and I´m not advocating trading for him but he would more than likely give NY around 200 innings .NY probably has better in house options and with the addition of Garcia NY will be fine.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Not mentioned: Massive home ballpark, league, division.

      • Josh S.

        Yeah, pitching in the NL West is almost like pitching against AAA hitters. Granted the Giants won the world series, but it definitely wasn’t because of their offense. And Zito wasn’t even on the postseason roster if I remember correctly.

  • JohnC

    Can you say Kei Igawa?

  • gargoyle

    There’s no rush to fill out the rotation right now and I’m convinced that some surprising names will become available as the we move toward June and July.

  • David

    If they are in a hurry, which they don’t need to be, Derek Lowe would work.

  • Another Bronx Dynasty

    This has been a horrible off season for Cashman. Not only did ne not land a front line pitcher in Lee, we now have Pettite retiring. He should have offered Andy 1 yr at 18M.

    Unless we land a stud during a trade considering the Yankees are in trouble. Heres is the way I see this season shaping up & I am being kind.

    My projection of the staff’s W’s for 2011 with one major assumption – Everyone stays Healthy:

    CC 19W -never hit 20W till last yr & hit 19 2×2009 & Cy Young yr at Cleveland

    Hughes 15W -was 2010 the real Phil Hughes. Alot more will be expected from Hughes so the pressure is on fo him to produce & be the #2 guy on the team.

    AJ 14W – At best. Can Rothschild return Aj to his 2008 form? Can be huge upside if he can.

    Mitre/Garcia/Colon 10W – I think the best out of this bunch could be Garcia if he continues to rebound from the arm injury. If so he could give us 15W & inning eater.

    Nova / Killler B’s 10W – This spot needs some time to develop & we may be 2 yrs away from some of the Baby Yankees to not only be added to the rotation but deliver the all the PR hype & results.

    Totals 68 Wins from this group. Add another 15W’s from games won by the pen & were at 83 wins. Looks like it’s 2008 all over again.

    • I Voted 4 Kodos

      Yes, your clearly scientific study shows that this team is doomed.

      If you want to be convinced that some win totals you made up arw proof while ignoring the potential for a trade, go ahead. This team iks nowhere near as bad as you think.

    • Jorge

      The RAB Nightwatchman must have been drinking last night.

    • Joey

      I think you’re selling the pen a bit short. Last year the non-starting 5 won 25 games. Last years starters only want 70 games. Even with your numbers I think we can win over 90 games which is enough for the wild card.

      • Joey

        edit: only *won* 70 games

      • Ted Nelson

        This is a key point. Last season’s starting rotation stunk about as badly as this one probably will. And they added no positive reinforcements last season besides Nova. Gaudin and Moseley were awful, Mitre started 3 games. It doesn’t even have to be a big-time deadline deal that bolsters/saves the Yankees rotation this season–though that could happen–it could just be catching lightning in a bottle with an Aaron Small or Shawn Chacon type import.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Why stop there? Now look at Boston:

      5 Aces + 22 wins each. Lester with 25.
      Wakefield out of the pen 12 wins
      Rest of the bullpen 37 wins and 60 saves.

      Add it all up 162 wins, New York finishes 79 games out of first.

      Now, Another Bronx Dynasty, you can just skip watching this season. Read a book, take a pottery class, enjoy the summer.

    • jsbrendog (returns)


    • Pasqua

      Yes, throwing shitloads of money at Lee didn’t work. Shame on Cashman. Oh, and I’m positive that had Cashman offered to (over)pay Pettitte for one more year he would have come back to pitch, since everything we hear about Pettitte tells us that he can be bought despite his principles. C’mon…

      • ND Mike

        I’m still amazed how it’s Cashman’s fault that player spurned one of the most lucrative pitching contract of ALL TIME to pitch somewhere he felt more comfortable playing for LESS money.

  • Sal

    Let’s sit tight fellas, no big rush, the key to the season is Burnett. Unfortunately somebody changed the lock on AJ in 2010, so Let’s hope Larry the locksmith can reopen Burnett’s 2008 door. I’d rather see what Cashman has developed on the farm then bring in Carmona for the same chips it would have taken to get Lee at the deadline. In the words of Rex Ryan, regurgitated of course, we’ve burned the ships, time to stand and fight, there’s no turning back now. In AJ we Trust. A scary thought no doubt

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      i like your moxie kid

    • David

      Great post. I couldn’t agree more. The only trade that would make sense would be a real blockbuster of a trade where we would give up a lot (Montero and more) but would get a young starter in return that would be a big Yankee factor for many years, like Josh Johnson or Madison Bumgarner. Failing that, they are better off using the stopgaps like Garcia and working in the young starters as they develop.

  • Anal Hershiser

    The names coming up are sooo depressing.

    I’d rather go with the kids trying to earn big money contracts – rather than old retreads trying to suck 4 million more for their nest eggs.

    Just my opinion.

  • MattG

    I’m not sure Millwood’s asking price is so outrageous. He had a miserable season last year, and still compiled 1.3 fwar, good for $5.1m in value (according to fangraphs). He had a nearly unprecedented spike in his home run rate, so if that was a fluke, and he pitches more like his 4.66 xFIP in 190 innings, he’ll easily be worth 1 year/$4 million in 2011.

    The secret is in the 1.42 HR/9 rate. Was that a fluke? Consider this: He is .98 for a career, and in 2010, he allowed 10 HR in 95 innings away from Camden yards (.95), and 20 HR in 95 innings at Camden yards (1.90). Is the spike more about Kevin Millwood, or Camden Yards?

    I would love to see a spray chart for Millwood, but I don’t know how to find one.

  • Eric

    Ken Rosenthal threw out Gio Gonzalez, would definitely rather have him more than the other names I’ve heard so far, probably wouldn’t come cheap in terms of prospects though.

    • Frank

      Rosenthal also mentioned Kazmir for whatever thats worth.

  • Josh S.

    Hate to say it, but it looks like Garcia and Nova will be the 4th and 5th starters (in whatever order) with Mitre or Colon as the 6th / long man out of the bullpen. At this point, the Yanks will probably just go into the season and hope that CC continues his dominance, AJ bounces back, and Hughes continues to develop. That, unless Cashman pulls some crazy trade, which is not entirely out of the question. What’s Mussina doing these days? 2 years into retirement and he’s still a better option than what’s out there. Though last time that I heard him in an interview, it didn’t seem like he missed playing at all.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    I expect garcia to make the team, with Nova as the 5th starter unless Colon has a great Spring. With alot of days off in April, a 5th starter is not needed very much early on. They;re hoping guys like Mitre, COlon or Nova can hold the fort down and buy some time to give kids like Noesi, Phelps and Warren a little more seasoning before they call on them to help. I don’t expect to see Banuelos or Betances this year. Brackman has a chance.

  • Ted Nelson

    Zito doesn’t add 2 wins to the team. He’s worth 2 wins total (in the NL West), but you’d have to assume Garcia (1.6 WAR 2009, 1.3 WAR 2010) and/or Nova (0.5 WAR in 42 innings) and every other option the Yankees have are worth 0 WAR. On a net basis he might add a win… Taking on even 1/2 his salary would make Soriano look like a total bargain.

    I wouldn’t totally rule it out if the Giants ate 50+% of the salary. Even at 50% his salary, though, he’d make Soriano look like a bargain.

  • ND Mike

    At what point will we see a professional athlete like Zito, say I sucked and I feel bad for wasting your millions of dollar Mr Team Owner. I am hear-by offering to cancel my contract and become a free agent. Feel free to resign me for fair market value or let me go to another team. I know they make more than the GNP of some small countries so they won’t ever do it, but how the hell do the sleep at night?

    Next time anyone decides to question Cashman not going after a free agent, just remember that Brian passed on Zito’s boat anchor of a contract. He might just know what he’s doing after all…

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    There is not a pitcher in the above article that is worth trading away, good young talent or acquiring through FA. Cashman knows these guys will be just a hindrance to spot starts to our best prospects. Some pitchers will come available at ST and July. Teams have prospects as we do who need spots on the big team for them especially in the cash challenged teams with veterans eating up some cash. So will do just fine.

    There are five guys who are the testament of home grown earning us 5 WS titles in 15 years. .333 Ba is still a great BA.

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