Yankees discussing left-handed starters, mostly mediocre ones

Report: Cano hires Scott Boras
Ex-Gov. Paterson forks over $62K World Series fine

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees have “kicked around” the idea of pursuing a left-handed starter in the wake of Andy Pettitte‘s retirement. On the supposed list of targets: Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Wake LeBlanc, Clayton Richard, and Gio Gonzalez. My quick analysis is no, no, no, okay, and meh. Joe already looked at Kazmir, but a few of the other guys will be covered over the weekend.

You know who’s a half-decent left-handed starter? Jeff Francis. Too bad he signed with the Royals for half of what the Yankees are playing Pedro Feliciano in 2011. In fairness, Francis did say he chose Kansas City because of the opportunity they provide, but the back of New York’s rotation isn’t exactly tough to crack these days.

Report: Cano hires Scott Boras
Ex-Gov. Paterson forks over $62K World Series fine
  • crawdaddy

    Why do you think Jeff Francis is half decent starter?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      3.88 FIP in 100+ IP last year.

      • UncleArgyle

        *National League West

        • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

          **Coors Field

  • It’sATarp

    Gio gonzalez 3.72 FIP 4.18 xFIP 3.7 WAR…he’d be a 2nd starter in out rotation…26 and a groundball lefty? aside from the walks i’d take him in heartbeat over anyone else we have in our rotation minus CC. ALso clayton richard ain’t bad either.

    • Ted Nelson

      He’s 25 and that’s his career WAR coupled with his 2010 FIP and xFIP. His 2010 WAR was 3.2.

      It’s not a fact that he’ll repeat 2010. He certainly might have developed since he’s young, but his career numbers are 4.43 ERA and 4.32 FIP. He was at or above that FIP in AAA in both 2009 and 2010. You better be really sure he’s improved and didn’t just have a career season.

      It’s also not only would you take him over the other starters, but would you take him over the prospects it would take.

      I’m not sure if Richard is good or it’s just that he pitched in Petco and against the NL West a lot. His road numbers and White Sox numbers are both a lot worse.

      • Ted Nelson

        Also, from 2004-9 AJ Burnett averaged 3.8 WAR… So he could very easily be better than Gio’s 3.2 WAR from 2010.

        • It’sATarp

          Well that isn’t shocking since gio reminds me of a left handed AJ burnett. Except Gio will be in his prime which AJ is on the fence. If he’s available i’d make the trade.

          • Ted Nelson

            “If he’s available i’d make the trade.”

            There’s the whole giving something to get something part of a trade…

            Gio is a quality lefty who hasn’t even hit arbitration yet. On a cheap team that intends to compete. He can’t be a free agent until 2016. The As have him cost controlled for 5 more seasons. What do you think that’s going to cost you in prospects?

            Make the trade no matter what it costs? For Gio Gonzalez who was worse in AAA in 2009 and 2010 than in the bigs in 2011… His track record of major league success is one season long.

            • Ted Nelson

              “who was worse in AAA in 2009 and 2010 than in the bigs in 2011”

              2008 and 2009 than in the bigs in 2010…

        • NJYankeeFan

          After the way he pitched last year, it will take a Duncanesque performance by Rothchild to get anywhere near 3.8 WAR from Burnett.

          • Ted Nelson

            Or just a bounce back year by AJ… I don’t expect 3.8, necessarily, but I expect him to bounce back a bit. 2010 is an outlier for him. Maybe he’s done, but if he’s healthy I think he’ll bounce back.

            • NJYankeeFan

              From your lips to gods ears. They desperately need a good year out of him now.

    • mike c

      I agree, he’d be a nice addition. I don’t get the fascination with Jeff Francis, when Gonzalez could be an option

      • mike c

        I thought he was a free agent this year but I was wrong… I don’t know what would be a reasonable trade. Better wait this one out

        • Ted Nelson

          Francis is no better than these options… it’s just that he would have cost nothing in prospects to acquire.

          At the same time, it’s not really clear any of these guys are better than Francis. But they’ll still cost prospects (besides maybe Kazmir, who will just cost a boatload of cash).

          Gio was basically worse in AAA in 2009 and 2010 than he was for the As last season. Maybe it all clicked for him at 24, but I would expect a step back more than a step forward in 2011. So, you’re buying high from a cheap team that’s trying to compete on a quality lefty starter who had yet to reach arbitration… The bidding may well start at Jesus Montero. For me, that’s a pass.

          • It’sATarp

            Actually his K:BB was better in 2009 than 2010. But had an really hit BABIP in the MLB in 2009 and his AAA fip in 2009 was 3.76. I think he’s a good solid number 2 or 3 at worst. It’ll depend on the prospects we have to give up for him but i don.t blame the team for inquiring b/c he seems a decent option.

            • Ted Nelson

              “Actually his K:BB was better in 2009 than 2010. But had an really hit BABIP in the MLB in 2009”

              K:BB is not a complete measure of pitching prowess. The BABIP is not all luck. He gave up twice as many HR/9 in 2009 too. That probably means he got hit harder, unless batters consistently getting the barrel of the bat on the ball and driving it out of the park is luck these days. Maybe he’s gotten better, but maybe he can’t keep the ball in the park that well going forward.

              “his AAA fip in 2009 was 3.76”

              And his major league FIP for 2010 was 3.78… That’s the same thing, I mean 0.02… You don’t see how he’s a candidate to regress after pitching as well in the majors as he has in the minors the previous 2 seasons? At 25 he’s also a candidate to continue improving, but you can’t just take a one season sample and determine that the guy is definitely going to be this good going forward.

              “I think he’s a good solid number 2 or 3 at worst.”

              #2 is a stretch unless he keeps improving (which is possible).

              “It’ll depend on the prospects we have to give up for him”

              Again: The As are cheap and a playoff contender. Gio is a quality lefty who is cost controlled until 2016. Hasn’t even gotten to arbitration yet. What motivation do they have to trade him in they’re not getting a great prospect haul? Could be worth it to the Yankees (especially if, say, the As like some of their prospects that they don’t even like), sure, and I agree they should inquire. I just don’t see him coming cheap.

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

        Gio costs prospects. Francis would have only cost money. Other than that I prefer Gio.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      He gets chewed up by good lineups though. They just wait him out and let him walk himself into trouble. The Yankees did it to him a few times last year. He’s good, but I’m not sure he could maintain that pace in the AL East in a smaller park.

      • It’sATarp

        that’s true but looking at his splits his Away are suprisingly better than his home stats. ( Away: 3.67 FIP/3.90 xFIP vs home: 3.89 FIP/4.46 xFIP) He’s also done decent vs the AL east outside the yankees.

    • Captain Bawls

      I agree. From a purely abstract point of view, Gio would be an awesome addition. But given what it would cost to trade for him, it’s probably prohibitive

  • dan l

    Freddie Garcia if you take out his 6 losses he pitched to a 3.37 ERA over 139 innings in the other 22 starts. The White Sox won 18 of the 28 starts he made. Freddie Garcia should be good enough to start the season.

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

      Citing how he pitched when he won doesn’t really mean much to me, doesn’t every starter have decent averages if you remove the worst games?

      • Ted Nelson

        You would absolutely have to look at how this compares to other pitchers, but even without context it means something to me. I haven’t looked into it, but someone said that he had a higher % quality starts last season than Phil Hughes. *If* the Yankees #4 starter makes 28 starts and the Yankees win 65% of them… who wouldn’t take that? (Yanks would have had to win all 8 of AJ’s no decisions last season to reach that mark since he got an L in 45% of his starts). Yankees offense was better than the White Sox by 100 runs last season (0.6 runs/game).

        I think people are underselling what a good value getting Garcia on a minor league deal is because they’re unhappy with the overall rotation.

        • NJYankeeFan

          My question is if the Yanks are fortunate enough to make the playoffs, who slots in behind CC and Hughes? At this point, I certainly don’t think you can trust AJ or Nova and Garcia-Mitre-Colon just aren’t good enough to start a playoff game so at this point as far as I’m concerned, the Yankees have 2 holes in the starting rotation they need to fill with playoff caliber pitchers by October.

          • Mike HC

            I would hope that one person in that group can fill the fourth playoff starter. Meaning there is really only one hole. It is not optimal, but that would at least put us on par with most of the other playoff teams rotation wise.

            • Ted Nelson

              4th starter might only get 1 or 2 playoff starts anyway, and if he bounces back AJ Burnett is more than an optimal #4 starter. He’s an optimal #3 starter easily.

          • Ted Nelson

            “if the Yanks are fortunate enough to make the playoffs” … “At this point, I certainly don’t think you can trust”

            Do you trust Phil Hughes in a playoff start? His playoff ERA is 5.86. How did CC’s game 1 start go against Texas?

            You don’t have to set your playoff rotation in February as far as I know. So, there’s an inherent contradiction between being fortunate enough to make the playoffs and deciding on a playoff rotation at “this point.”

            If AJ bounces back, maybe you trust him. Ahead of Hughes even. Through 5 innings of his 2010 playoff start he’d only given up 2 runs. He still left that game down only 5-3. His ERA in that series was 4 runs below Hughes’.

            A trade is a possibility, but we’re not going to know everyone who will be available this summer in February.

            I’m not sure what the point is in this context, anyway… Do you trust Jeff Francis to even pitch a whole season? Any of the above mentioned trade targets in a playoff start?

            This is sort of my point, though. The value of signing Garcia is independent of the other 4 rotation spots, yet people link them.

            “the Yankees have 2 holes in the starting rotation they need to fill with playoff caliber pitchers by October.”

            Again… AJ Burnett averaged 3.8 WAR from 2004-9. He is a playoff caliber pitcher.

            Yankees also won the WS with a 3 man rotation in 2009, so they don’t NEED 4 starters. You can also win a series with a bad start or two from your #4 as well. One of the 2 games they won against Texas was after an awful start against Texas.

            • NJYankeeFan

              Did you see AJ last year? He didn’t struggle, he was dismal and no one on the yanks had any clue how to help him. Sometimes a player just falls off a cliff and maybe he’s one of them. You seem pretty confident he’s gonna bounce back but there remains a very strong possibility he won’t. As for Hughes, if the yanks can’t count on him to take a step forward then all bets are off because this season would be lost. What’s Cashman gonna do, go get an entire rotation in July?
              As for a 3 man rotation, it’s the exception rather than the rule to get through 3 rounds of playoffs with only 3 starters. When Girardi went to his 4 th starter last year it cost him.

            • James

              “If the Yankees are fortunate enough to make the playoffs”… then the starting pitching situation will have ironed itself out. No one makes the playoffs with one stud, one solid middle of the rotation guy, a 4 and two 5s. Meaning, if they win 95 games someone in the middle of the rotation will have to have had a halfway decent year… unless Sabathia goes 30-2.

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

          I’m a fan of the deal. There’s zero risk involved. But let’s not make him out to be something he’s not.

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t think I am. According to WAR he’s been as good or better than last season’s 4th best starter (AJ Burnett) the past two seasons. I’m not saying that’s good, I’m saying it’s been proven that it can* be adequate on a 95 win playoff team. (*Maybe this season it’s harder to get into the playoffs… we’ll see.)

            Certainly it’s possible, but it seems like everyone has already decided that every Yankee starter besides CC and Hughes will fail to meet expectations. (And even then I haven’t seen much talk about how CC could bounce back from a poor 2010.) Some of these guys could meet expectations this season. 6 WAR from CC, 5 combined from Hughes and Burnett, 1 from Garcia, 1 from Nova/etc., and replacement level from #6+… That would be a 2.4 WAR improvement on last season’s rotation and I don’t even this those projections are that optimistic. 5 from CC, 4 combined from Hughes and Burnett, 0.7 each from #4 and #5 would also put us right on with 2010’s rotation WAR. There you could even say we’re going to get -0.3 from a Garcia/Nova for 1/2 a season then acquire a 2 WAR pitcher for 1/2 a season. So, I really don’t think projecting the 2011 rotation to be as good as 2010 is that aggressive. Certainly not a given, but not particularly optimistic. Perhaps Russell Martin’d defense (and even Cervelli maybe bouncing back in that department) will help save a few runs (though if he gets up maybe Montero gives them right back…).

  • mike

    I also tend to believe the rotation will be fine with Garcia/Colon/Nova at the back end.

    The season will ride on the #2-3 starters and how well they pitch -having a Pettitte or Hammels or Lackey is a luxury few teams have that deep in the rotation. The Yanks offense, CC and deep pen will make them a contender either way, and if Hughes and Burnett pitch well they will be in the playoffs irrespective of the back end of the rotation.

    • Pasqua

      I agree that a back-end duo of something like Garcia and Nova is no big deal…but only if the #1-3 starters are “locks.” Unfortunately, #2 and #3 are question marks. With no guarantee that Hughes will improve to the level of a traditional #2, and CERTAINLY no guarantee that Burnett will even be passable, it exposes the #4 and 5 starters that much more. I’d hate to go through a season in which everybody flips out whenever CC doesn’t post a win.

      • NJYankeeFan

        I agree. If CC, Hughes and Burnett are solid 1-3, you can get by with Nova/Garcia at 4/5. I have confidence in Hughes to continue to progress to the next level. As for AJ, after last year I felt anything you get from him should be considered a bonus but now a bounce back has become a necessity.

  • steve (different one)

    May I ask what Feliciano has to do with Francis? The yankees obviously have plenty of money left in their budget (and Francis signed before Soriano, so Cash was thinking he had even MORE) so it’s not like they had to choose one or the other. They could have had Francis if they really wanted, and still signed Feliciano. It’s a red herring.

  • http://slidingintohome.blogspot.com Domenic

    The Yankees would have to buy high on Gio Gonzalez, but he’s the sort of pitcher that could conceivably thrive in Yankee Stadium – lefty, solid groundball and strike out rates, manageable walk rates, and so forth. He’s also young enough to hope that 2010 was his hitting his stride, particularly when considering his pedigree.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Joe Saunders is the epitome of average, but I wouldn’t mind him. He can throw around 200 innings with an ERA somewhere in the 4s. He’s basically a cheaper John Lackey. For the right price, I’d take him.

    • Accent Shallow

      Strongly, strongly disagree.

      • FIPster Doofus

        With what? Saunders is a league-average innings eater. The Yankees could do worse.

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

      Too many walks, not enough Ks. He’d get lit up.

      • FIPster Doofus

        A career BB/9 of 2.88 translates to too many walks? He strikes out 5.14 per nine. Not good, but by comparison, Fausto Carmona – whom many here have talked about acquiring – is at 5.50.

  • Mike

    I think teaching Mitre to throw left handed would be a better option than what is being listed. I kid, but none of them are very appealing.

  • ND Mike

    Remember folks were talking about a 4th or 5th starter. They have to be able to pitch 150+ innings and basically make it through the 5th inning with the game in reach. Mediocre is kinda acceptable.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Yep, which is why I’m not averse to acquiring Saunders.

  • felixbanuelos

    Does anyone think the Yankees should go for Wakefield? Even though it’s a rival trade I don’t think the sox would care

  • IB6 UB9

    Agreed on the cattiness over Feliciano. He is not blocking any current moves – the Yankees just don’t like the fringe players you do.

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

    Based on what it takes to get the pitcher and how good they should be, I would think Kazmir could be had for nothing, considering how bad he was. Then again I’m not sure he’s gonna be any better. That being said, I wouldn’t mind Richard if it didn’t take a haul to get him (Adams?)

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

      Also, he may be a righty, but Tim Stauffer (NYS native) would be interesting. He’ll be 29 in June so he’s hardly young, and I believe he will be arb-eligible after the season.


    I think we could get Kazmir on the cheap and he would be an upgrade over what we currently have.


    I also agree with a post above me Freddy garcia had a fairly good year with a mediocre team. Imagine what he could do with the yankees may be 14-16 wins that would be good. And dont forget that he pitched in the AL and held his own.

  • Crispy

    If Clayton Richard could develop some kind of a breaking pitch he could be pretty nasty. Big lefty that hits 97 pretty consistently but has a low k/9. I think he could have a lot of potential but then again he’s been mildly successful in the NL West AND in Petco so who knows… I’ve seen him pitch and I just think there’s a lot of potential there with his velocity. Gio could wind up being real good as well as long as he can repeat his walk rate from last year which wasn’t even that good. I’d take either of these guys over just about any other realistic guy on the market right now.

  • Crispy

    What would anyone say to a Swisher for Gio trade? It’s buying very high, but just wondering…