Handicapping the back-of-the-rotation battle

2011 Season Preview: Quality of the bench
The RAB Radio Show: March 21, 2011
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The regular season is now just ten sleeps away, but the Yankees have yet to announce who will serve as the their fourth and fifth starters at least at the outset of the season. I think we all expect the team to go out and get someone via trade at some point during the season, but for now, these guys will have to do. Given what we’ve seen in Spring Training, not necessarily in statistical performance but how they’ve looked on the mound, let’s slap some odds on each guy’s likelihood of breaking camp with the big boys cracking the rotation …

Ivan Nova (Odds: 3-2)
Nova’s case for a rotation spot started last September, when he was serviceable (4.50 ERA, 4.36 FIP) in seven starts and did no worse than earn himself a long look in camp. He’s toying with a new slider and stands out from the pack for no other reason than because he’s not some retread. Nova’s a homegrown guy and those are easy to like, but his limited exposure in the show will work against him. That and the fact that he has two minor league options remaining, since the team could safely stash him in Triple-A and then summon him at a moment’s notice. My guess is that he starts the season in the rotation, but who am I to say?

Freddy Garcia (Odds: 5-1)
The favorite for a job coming into a camp, Garcia is having one of his trademark awful springs at a time when he really can’t afford to. Ben chronicled the problem with Garcia last night, though he has one thing on just about all the other rotation candidates: a recent history of staying on the mound. He threw 157 innings with the White Sox last year, and although they weren’t high quality innings, they were innings nonetheless. Reliability counts, even in tiny little amounts.

Bartolo Colon (Odds: 10-1)
Perhaps the surprise of Spring Training so far as been Colon, who’s come out of the gate throwing 94 four-seamers and sinking his two-seamer against both lefties and righties. He’s also featured some kind of offspeed pitch, probably a splitter but more of a junkball, that has kept hitters off balance. Remember, Colon was pitching in winter ball just a few weeks before camp opened, so he’s (theoretically) ahead of the other guys and his stuff could just be a mirage. Once he steps on the mound in meaningful games against hitters with something more than tee-times on their minds, chances are this story will take a turn for the worst. Regardless, he hasn’t hurt his chances this month.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sergio Mitre (Odds: 100-1)
Beset by an oblique issue, albeit slightly, Mitre hasn’t really gotten into this competition all that much. He’s started just one game in camp with three other long-relief appearances, and part of that is a function of there being only so many starts to go around, but you’d have to think he’d be getting a longer look if he was a legit candidate (Nova, Colon, and Garcia have each thrown at least five more innings in actual games this spring). The Yankees know Sergio and what he’s capable of, so perhaps he isn’t as high priority as the other guys. Either way, he always seemed destined for that same long-reliever role he’s filled over the last year-and-a-half.

* * *

We’ve been playing the fourth and fifth starter guessing game pretty much all winter, so these not completely arbitrary odds are nothing more than a snapshot in time, a record of where the competition stands as of March 21st. Both Colon and Garcia have the ability to become free agents if they don’t make the team out of camp, and it would be surprising to see the Yankees squander assets like that so early in the season.

Given the propensity for injury (especially with two guys like that), it’s better to have more pitchers around anyway, even if they stick them in the bullpen for the time being. Plus the team will also get the first few weeks of the season to evaluate them a little bit further, against real big league hitters. Every little bit helps, even if these guys will (hopefully) be gone by July.

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2011 Season Preview: Quality of the bench
The RAB Radio Show: March 21, 2011
  • Beamish

    I am confused. You pick Nova as the odds-on favorite for a rotation spot, yet you clearly articulate why he will almost certainly start in AAA with Colon/Garcia in the rotation.

    I think if the argument were simply: Pick one, lose the other three then Nova is the obvious choice. But the moment you factor in his options is makes no sense unless you think Garcia/Colon has pitched so badly as to guaranteed one of them should not pitch in a game that counts. While they have not been stellar this spring, the have not been Scott Kazmir either.

    I would be happy to Nova in the rotation, but I fully expect to see him in Scranton in April.

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

      What I think is the right thing and what I think the team thinks is the right thing are two entirely different things.

      • JCK

        Sure, but did you base your odds on what you think or what you think the team thinks. (Or, I suppose those are technically both still what you think… heh.)

      • Beamish

        Understood – as much as the logic dictates Nova in AAA I also would much rather see him start throwing meaningful MLB innings in April. Neither Colon nor Garcia has really shown enough to make us think they are actually a better option.

        Besides, the option does not vanish. Nova can always be sent down for Brackman, or another pitcher, if he struggles. But I just don’t think he will struggle any more than Colon/Garcia at first, and I fully expect he will be better later.

    • NJYankeeFan

      I think sending Nova to AAA is a mistake since he’s probably the best and certainly has the most upside of the bunch.
      I appreciate the point that you want to hold onto your assets for as long as possible but losing one of the Colon/Garcia/Mitre group certainly isn’t going to make or break the season since none of them project to be much above replacement level anyway.
      I’m rooting for Nova as 4, Colon as 5 and Garcia as longman out of the pen with Mitre sent packing.

      • Gonzo

        I guess it might depend on if you think Nova has something to work on in the minors. The new pitch complicates things a little bit. I would say if not for the new pitch, he’s got nothing to work on and needs major league experience to continue his development.

      • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

        I am in the minority of people that think the Yankees should try to get 3 or 4 good starts out of Colon and Garcia and have Nova start in Scranton. The team is alot deeper this way. If you release Colon or Garcia and Nova struggles, your already turning to scranton for a guy like Brackman or Noesi. Novas already ready to go. Both of these guys are ticking time bombs. Just gotta be prepared for when it happens. Keep Nova in AAA till it does and Mitre as the longman. With Colon and Garcia in the backend of the rotation. Burnett and Hughes already know theyve gotta come up big this year.

  • VegasR

    While your baseball analysis is sound, the mathematics on the odds of breaking camp are not. From your comments it would seem that 3 out of the 4 will break camp with the team (2 in starting rotation and 1 in long relief) So the odds of braking camp of 3 to 2, 5 to 1, 10 to 1 and 100 to 1 are far too steep and if these were Vegas odds one could get rich betting on each man to make the team. Even if the odds were of making the starting rotation a bet on each would money at these odds.

  • ADam

    Still don’t really understand the Yankees loyalty to Mitre.. I just don’t get it. Why he was he even in the discussion to throw meaningful innings is shocking to me. Not sure why Cashman picked Meat – Tray over Mosley…

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

      Moseley’s awful. Mitre strikes out more batters, walks fewer batters, and gets more ground balls, both last year and over the course of their careers.

    • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

      Mitre has one thing going for him – he’s consistent. And despite what many fans believe, he’s really not that awful. If you need him, you can pretty much be sure he’ll give you 5 innings of 4- or 5-run ball.

      • NJYankeeFan

        5 innings of 4-5 run ball? That’s an ERA of 7.20 -9.00.
        I think my mailman can give you that.

        • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

          Yes i realize that translates to an ugly ERA, but you’re looking at it the wrong way. If, hypothetically, Mitre makes 7 starts this year and gives up 4 runs in 5 innings, that’s enough to keep the Yankees in the game with their offense and bullpen. As opposed to say, 2009 CMW or June 2010 AJ who completely take the Yankees out of the game by the 2nd inning.

          • Sayid J.

            Right, but chances are Mitre could do better than that. You are underselling Mitre here.

            • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

              Yeah, I guess. Basically what I meant is that you know what you’re getting from him and the chance of him imploding is a lot less than the other guys.

        • Ted Nelson

          Mitre’s a replacement level or better pitcher. I don’t think the Yankees necessarily like having him around, but they’d need someone better to have a reason to dump him. Apparently they haven’t felt they’ve had that recently. Perhaps now they do.

        • Guest

          Well, someone has to pitch during garbage time, and I wouldn’t want the Yankees to be wasting Robertson, Prior, etc. during those times.

  • Ray R

    My guess: all 4 start the year in the Bronx, with only 1 reserve IF’er. Having a spare long man in April is a nice luxury and you can stash Nunez in Scranton for the time being. By May 1, either Garcia or Colon will have pitched himself into either the Randy Winn DFA spot or the Nick Johnson 60 day DL spot, anyway.

    • NJYankeeFan

      No way you can go with Chavez as your only reserve infielder. There would be no one on the roster capable of playing SS or 2B if there was an injury.

  • Evan3457

    Assuming the quoted odds are odds against making the rotation, then

    Nova, 3-2 against, has a 40% chance.
    Garcia, 5-1 against, has a 16.7% chance.
    Colon, 10-1 against, has a 9.1% chance.
    Mitre, 100-1 against, has <1% chance.

    Ignoring the possibility the Yanks will either trade for a starter, sign Millwood, or someone other than these 4 will make the last two spots.

    The combined chance for the 4 is roughly 66%, which is impossible; it has to be 200%, since the 4th and 5th starters must be chosen from these four.

    Proportionately allocating that chance, the odds should be

    Nova gets a slot.

    For the other slot, Garcia is slightly less than 3 to 5 against, or 5 to 3 in favor, Colon is slightly less than 5 to 3 against, and Mitre is roughly 30 to 1 against.

    • Jimmy

      How would an exacta of Nova/Colon pay out?

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      math doesnt work that way…but I’m sure you could make a great joke about taxes, 10 guys, beer and the bill with that!

    • Chris

      Thank you! Love the blog, rarely read the comments, but seeing 4 guys estimated to all be statistically unlikely to win spots that 2 of them have to win annoyed me, and I was hoping somebody would point it out.

      • Chris

        Particularly on a blog that goes to bat for advanced stats so often that I can barely keep up!

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    Man-ny! Man-ny! Man-ny! Man-ny! Man-ny!

    Yes, 500 to 1, but Colon hasn’t started singing yet!

    • Guest

      Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah have been warming up for quite some time though…

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        They have nothing to do with the Yankees…

        Colon has his chance tonight. Hopefully he grabs his cup a few times and sings out of key while forgetting the words. I hope it’s a disaster of epic proportions. Garcia came through for me last time.

        • Guest

          So you’re hoping that Colon fails, yet you blasted Mike for hoping that Manny gets slammed around (which he never did BTW)? Pot, meet kettle.

          • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

            Ummm, cheering for Colon or Garcia is like rooting for my sister to get naked. It might be mildly stimulating but on reflection I’d much rather see something else. And she has the figure of Colon.

            Moreover, you should realize the difference between hoping retreads fail, with a $117M earned between them, versus hoping a 20 yo has his ass handed to him.

            Either you’re trolling or you’re not really a Yankee fan if this contrast is at all in doubt.

            • Guest

              I’m not really a Yankees fan? Who are you to judge? I’m the one who wants what’s best for the team and Manny (getting sent down to the Minors). And I’m not saying that Colon or Garcia will blow the world away. But I’m pretty sure Manny wouldn’t either- he’s pitched a whopping <20 innings in AA, and didn't look that good during them.

              • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                I’m not having this argument here. You tried to equate Colon/Garcia with Manny. Obviously there’s no basis for that comparison – not in how I treat them nor in how their judged.

                • Guest

                  Wanting Manny to improve in the minors is as bad as wanting someone to fail? I mean, I admit to wanting Cody Ransom to fail, but come on!

              • Ted Nelson

                Clearly James is a great Yankee fan because he is rooting for the team’s players to fail. Don’t you see how that works? All fans root for the players on their favorite team to fail.

                • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                  It’s not a matter if Garcia and Colon will fail. It’s a matter of when. I’d rather it be now when the games mean nothing than in May after four or six suckfests.

                  • Guest

                    Since you’re clearly a psychic, please tell me the winning lottery numbers.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                      When’s the last time either were both healthy and effective?

                    • Tom Zig

                      When was the last time a 20 year old skipped all of AA and AAA?

                      Even King Felix had 145 innings above A ball.

                      Hell even Tim Lincecum had more innings at AAA than Banuelos does at AA.

                      Just stop it already.

                    • hogsmog

                      To Ultimate:
                      When was the last time Manny was effective in the majors?

                    • Guest

                      Ultimate: Garcia was effective last year.

              • Gonzo

                Oh boy…

            • hogsmog

              So a Real Yankee Fan would root against multiple players on his own team, just because they are “retreads”?

              That is called being an idiot. If Pettitte came back at the All-Star break and forced a younger player out of the rotation, would you hope he gets hurt? Or is there a difference because Pettitte is a True Yankee?

              Did you also pump your fist in the air when Frankie broke his foot because you want to see Jesus play for two weeks at the cost of a year of team control?

              • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

                Year of team control isn’t that big a deal, they are the Yankees–they can afford it, and odds are if Jesus is as advertised, they would lock him up through arbitration years, Cano-style.

                The real cost is everyday playing time that Jesus would get in Scranton and not in New York, which is best for him at this point in his career.

  • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

    “Both Colon and Garcia have the ability to become free agents if they don’t make the team out of camp, and it would be surprising to see the Yankees squander assets like that so early in the season.”

    Wait, what? Since when have you become a devotee of Torrian logic? What next, Terrence Long for the outfield? Or Scott Erickson for the rotation?

  • Nogomo

    I am confused too, didn’t RAB just recently predict Colon would get in over Garcia?

    I think Colon and Nova make a fine 4 & 5. AJ is gonna be erratic again but let’s hope he can reverse last year’s record and win at least 15. If Hughes & CC just match last season and the 4 & 5 guys win just 10 each, that’s over 70 games.

    I like our chances. I really do.

    • Gonzo

      I get confused too. So many people are agruing what the Yankees should do and what they will do interchangeably. Not that RAB is doing this. I think the posters are confusing me.

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

        I change my opinion by the day, there’s just no clear cut solution here, it’s very fluid. It sucks, but so be it.

        • Gonzo

          I think every poster should have to clearly state what they want to happen and what they think the Yanks will do before commenting on the 4th/5th spots. It can get confusing.

        • Sayid J.

          Also, people should understand that just because RAB writes a post does not mean it represents the thoughts or hopes of all three writers (or the weekend writers). RAB is a collection of writers who express their own opinions, often they align, but sometimes they do not.

  • Guest

    You mean the same Torrian logic that won the Yankees four World Series? Colon and Garcia have both, IMO, shown enough to prove that they have enough in the tank to be very useful pitchers. If you look at their histories, when healthy, they have been pretty darn good. Assuming Nova gets the #4 spot (which I think will happen, for better or for worse), I’d let Garcia have the #5 spot and put Bartolo in the pen. Garcia has proven to be a little more durable than Bartolo.

    • Gonzo

      I can understand ignoring Garcia’s injury history since he proved healthy last year, but how can you ignore Colon’s last 5 years when evaluating him as a player?

      • Guest

        Colon hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2009. I like Colon, but that is a huge red flag to me. He could be good for a spot start here and there, but I wouldn’t want him in the 5 man rotation.

        • Gonzo

          Oh, gotcha. I misread that.

        • NJYankeeFan

          Colon hasn’t pitched as much as 100 innings in the big leagues since 2005. While I think he has better stuff than Garcia and could probably outperform him for a short period of time, I think if Colon was a regular part of the rotation, he’d be lucky to make it to the All Start break (around 80 innings max).
          If Colon is in the rotation, a viable backup plan like Garcia (if he’s kept as longman) needs to be ready to go as soon as Colon flames out.

          • whozat

            My understanding is that this is the entire purpose of Colon and Garcia: kick the can down the road a month or two while the guys in AAA fight it out and a couple options become available on the trade market. If Colon can pitch decently for two months and then flame out…ok, that’s two months of decent pitching in the bag. If he sucks out of the gate…fine, can him and go with the option you would have gone with if Colon never existed.

            • Ted Nelson

              I don’t think Colon has pitched “decently” for two months since 2005, either… which is sort of the point there. Perhaps he really regained lost health taking off last season, and hopefully the Yankees know more than we do. With no inside info, though, assuming Colon can give you two decent months is going out on a limb.

              “If he sucks out of the gate…fine, can him and go with the option you would have gone with if Colon never existed.”

              If you’ve just cut that option–Garcia–and he catches on with another MLB team… you no longer have that option. So, you have to also feel comfortable with a plan B or C or D of Mitre, Phelps, Brackman, Noesi, Mitchell, Banuelos, Millwood, etc. And the Yankees might be perfectly comfortable with those options, or they might not.

      • Ted Nelson

        I can’t understand ignoring Garcia’s injury history, but I also can’t understand just making it up.

        People constantly talk about how he managed only 129 innings for 3 seasons (2007-9), without acknowledging that 88% of those 129 innings came “pre-injury” in 2007 (he was injured but trying to play through it), or “post-injury” in 2009 when he finally made and stuck with the White Sox. Perhaps he wasn’t recovered yet, but not making the Mets in 2009 is hardly an indictment in and of itself considering this is the same team that gave Oliver Perez 3 years, $36 mill only a year before.

        • Gonzo

          Is someone making up an injury history? Sorry, I don’t follow.

          • Ted Nelson

            Making it up might not be the right way for me to have phrased it, but yeah… Ignoring the true nature of his injury history is pretty similar to just making up what happened.

    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

      Right, the same Torrian logic that kept useless retreads around for no other reason than their “experience”. You must not remember the Miguel Cairo Experience at 1B.

      If Freddy Garcia was named Jeff Karstens, there’s no chance he makes the team, not even with last year’s innings for a middling team.

      By the way, Phil Hughes has given up 4 homers in 15 spring innings. What happens when he implodes this year?

      • Ted Nelson

        Right, the no real logic (besides a tiny, meaningless ST sample) that assumes Garcia and Colon are “useless” and Nova is clearly better.

        “If Freddy Garcia was named Jeff Karstens, there’s no chance he makes the team, not even with last year’s innings for a middling team.”

        He had more quality starts last season than every Yankees not named CC Sabathia. So, yeah, I think whatever his name was he’d have a chance of making this rotation.

        “By the way, Phil Hughes has given up 4 homers in 15 spring innings. What happens when he implodes this year?”

        By the way, it’s spring training.

        • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

          “Right, the no real logic (besides a tiny, meaningless ST sample) that assumes Garcia and Colon are “useless” and Nova is clearly better.”

          No other team was clamoring to give them ML deals. That puts their usefulness – like Erickson and Ponson before them – clearly in question.

          “He had more quality starts last season than every Yankees not named CC Sabathia.”

          That’s an indictment of the Yankee pitching, not a factoid in support of Garcia.

          “By the way, it’s spring training.”

          By the way, he gave up 14 HRs in 75 innings after the break last year.

          • Guest

            “No other team was clamoring to give them ML deals”

            Pray tell, outside of the Orioles, Mets, and maybe the Pirates, who gives pitchers who are a huge injury risk ML deals? NOBODY. It’s stupid. Minor League deals make sense when you’re dealing with pitchers like Garcia and Colon, who are oft-injured.

            “That puts their usefulness…clearly in question”.

            Yes because nobody who has signed a minor league deal has EVER been effective.

            • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

              Right, because Colon and Garcia are making big money.

              “Yes because nobody who has signed a minor league deal has EVER been effective.”

              Name the last. Morover, it’s not like this is the 2005 Yankees. They have internal options so much so that they don’t have to roll the dice with retreads.

              • Guest

                OK, let’s see… just from last year:

                Will Ohman. Turned out to be a pretty darn good lefty specialist for the Orioles.

                Joaquin Benoit. He did alright for the Rays last year *sarcasm*.

                Pat Burrell (San Francisco Giants)

                Marcus Thames. Yes I think he was a useful player last year, as long as he wasn’t in the field.

                • AndrewYF

                  Guys, it’s time to start ignoring UYW. Once you spend the minimal amount of effort to refute his non-points, he just moves on to another easily defeated one.

                • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                  You do realize all of those guys are relief pitchers and backups, right?

                  Where’s the starters?

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Livan Hernandez, RA Dickey, Bruce Chen… that’s from 2010 alone. Why do you hurl around points that you have made zero effort to research?

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

            “No other team was clamoring to give them ML deals.”

            That’s your argument and you’re questioning other people’s logic?

            “That’s an indictment of the Yankee pitching, not a factoid in support of Garcia.”

            No it’s not. He was tied for 24 in the AL and 53 in MLB in QS last season. That means that on average every AL team had 1.6 starters with more QS and the average MLB team had 1.8 starters with more QS.
            QS is not a perfect stat, but it’s just a way to say that he wasn’t that bad last season and any guy who had 18 QS last season would be getting a chance on this team.

            “By the way, he gave up 14 HRs in 75 innings after the break last year.”

            Again, it’s spring training. Show me that there’s a correlation between ST stats and regular season stats.

            • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

              “That’s your argument and you’re questioning other people’s logic?”

              Glad to know you have nothing else to add.

              “That means that on average every AL team”

              How about you tell me how the Rays and Sox did in this department, since they’re the only ones that matter? Are their rotations three deep?

              “Again, it’s spring training.”

              Again, those are regular season stats.

              • Ted Nelson

                Honestly, I don’t feel like bickering with you.

                You are wrong that if Garcia had a different name and last season’s performance he would not get to compete with Nova and Bartolo Colon for a rotation spot. Dead wrong. Those guys are not that good, either.

                From July on the Yankees were 9-6 in Hughes’ 15 starts. I would hardly call that “imploding.” And if it happens they deal with it. What do you expect people to answer to that question? “They go back in a time machine and double their offer to Cliff Lee.”

                “How about you tell me how the Rays and Sox did in this department, since they’re the only ones that matter? Are their rotations three deep?”

                How about you take 2 seconds to do it yourself? The Red Sox had 3 guys with more than 18 QS: Lackey (21), Lester (20), and Bucholtz (19). The Rays had 1 guy with more than 19 QS: David Price (25). They traded the guy they had with 18, Garza.

                • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                  “Those guys are not that good, either.”

                  Wow, thanks for agreeing with me.

                  “From July on the Yankees were 9-6 in Hughes’ 15 starts. I would hardly call that “imploding.” ”

                  That has everything to do with run support.

                  “How about you take 2 seconds to do it yourself?”

                  Thanks! Sox are good. And who would you replace on the Rays with Garcia?

                  • Ted Nelson

                    “Wow, thanks for agreeing with me.”

                    I didn’t agree with you. You said “If Freddy Garcia was named Jeff Karstens, there’s no chance he makes the team.” I am specifically disagreeing with that point. You have changed your point for the sake of argument.

                    “That has everything to do with run support.”

                    And he’ll have the same offense this season.

                    “Thanks! Sox are good. And who would you replace on the Rays with Garcia?”

                    Again, you are changing your point. “Are their rotations three deep?” Yes, the 2010 Red Sox rotation was 3 deep. Beckett and Dice-K were pretty bad. Despite all the problems the Yankees had in their rotation last season, their rotation’s ERA was still only 0.18 more than Boston’s.

                    I wouldn’t particularly have a big problem replacing Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann with Garcia. Garcia’s fWAR was higher than Davis and Niemann last season. Or James Shields for the matter, who throws a lot of innings but not that well. Hellickson is very promising, but he may struggle a bit as a rookie. They have good depth 1-5 which is valuable, but their only front-line starter is Price unless/until Hellickson proves otherwise. I would call Garcia a worse option than all those guys, but it’s not a huge margin to me for 2011 outside of Price.

                    • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

                      You said:

                      “Those guys are not that good, either.”

                      Bingo!

                      “And he’ll have the same offense this season.”

                      Perhaps. How was Javy’s run support last year?

                      Sorry, but Becket is just as “bad” as Burnett. If you’re calling him bad, then the Yanks only run two deep, and one of those two gives up homers in bunches.

                      “I would call Garcia a worse option than all those guys, but it’s not a huge margin to me for 2011 outside of Price.”

                      Again, then you’re agreeing with me.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      What’s your point? That the Yankees are a hopelessly awful team with no chance of contending? That’s pretty much how you’re coming across.

                      “Bingo!”

                      Right, and who is better? The Yankees have the choices they have until prospects are ready and/or guys become available via trade. Your whole point is that a 20 year old who didn’t pitch well in AA last season is the solution to all their problems or what?

                      “Perhaps. How was Javy’s run support last year?”

                      Javy’s ERA on the season was 5.32… The final 3 months of 2010 Hughes’ ERA was half a run lower than that at 4.80. Again, what’s your point? The Yankees are awful and will lose?

                      “Sorry, but Becket is just as “bad” as Burnett. If you’re calling him bad, then the Yanks only run two deep”

                      Who cares? The Sox rotation was barely better than the Yankees last season overall, even with the Yankees getting some awful performances and Buchholtz having a freakishly lucky season.

                      “Again, then you’re agreeing with me.”

                      Again, I’m not. I’m saying that the Rays get by having good depth, but only two of their 5 starters actually outperformed Garcia in 2010.

                      “and one of those two gives up homers in bunches.”

                      You really can’t do any research to verify whether the points you make are actually correct? Hughes HR/9 last season was 1.29. Sheilds, Neimann, and Davis were at this rate or higher. Beckett was above that rate.
                      I don’t know why Hughes is going to “implode,” and all the young guys and question marks on the Sox and Rays are going to excel… that’s just pure speculation on your part.

                      I would highly recommend changing your handle, because you come across as a total troll and not at all as a Yankee fan.

          • AndrewYF

            “That’s an indictment of the Yankee pitching, not a factoid in support of Garcia.”

            And the Yankees have not improved their pitching since last year. So…

      • Brandon W

        By the way, Phil Hughes has given up 4 homers in 15 spring innings. What happens when he implodes this year?

        He goes at 4 days later and pitches. He’s their number three starter and has shown enough to not have a short leash. They aren’t going to pull him from the rotation in April if he has a couple bad starts. Try to watch how much stock you put in ST stats, too; it was only a year or two ago that Brett Gardner had like 4 ST HRs; it doesn’t mean anything.

        To the number 4/5 slots, I’m in favor of depth. Bring Garcia and Colon north, send Nova to AAA, and cut either Garcia or Colon when they prove ineffective in meaningful innings (say, by May) or get hurt. It isn’t like their salaries from making the team are going to break the bank.

      • Guest

        And if grandma had a dick, she’d be grandpa. Garcia has injury concerns, but the facts tell you that when he is healthy, he’s been solid. Colon’s proven that as well. Manny’s been impressive, but let’s be rational here. He still has a lot of stuff to work on. Send him down to the minors and let him get some experience.

        • YanksFan in MA

          if grandma had a dick my world would implode

      • NJYankeeFan

        If Phil Hughes implodes, kiss this season goodbye.
        With the uncertainly with back of the rotation and with Burnett, if Hughes and CC are anything but rock solid, there will be just too many holes in the rotation to reasonably expect to fill.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s possibly Hughes implodes (or at least regresses), but it’s not like Hughes was actually that good last season. It’s just as possible that Burnett, Garcia, Nova, or Colon matches Hughes 4.2 ERA across 176 innings. It’s very possible the Yankees trade for a starter who bests that by a good margin in fewer innings, or that a Brackman or Noesi comes up and posts a sub-4.5 era.

          • NJYankeeFan

            My definition of “implode” would be a 1 WAR season by Hughes. Given the uncertainties from the rest of the rotation besides CC, I think that would be a big blow against the Yanks
            My point is I think Hughes development is vital for the Yankees to make a run this year and with his success so far at a young age, for him to ultimately end up a 4/5 instead of a 2/3 type starter would terrible disappointment. I’m cautiously hoping for a 3-4 WAR season out of Hughes.

            • Ted Nelson

              Uncertainty doesn’t mean failure, though. It implies upside as well as downside. Theoretically, if Hughes has a 1.3 fWAR season and Burnett has a 2.2 fWAR season, they’re just flip-flopped. Last season the Yankees also got 38 starts at a combined -0.7 fWAR… About 25% (1/4) of their starts last season were sub-replacement level. So getting just a plus 0.3 WAR in those same 38 starts would add a WAR.

              Through trades Oswalt, Haren, Daniel Hudson, and Edwin Jackson all added 2.0 fWAR to their new teams last season, while Cliff Lee added 3.1 fWAR to the Rangers. Even Joe Saunders was good for 0.9 fWAR for the D-Backs. A mid-season trade could definitely help.

              Their offense was the best in the league last season, but you still have a lot of underachieving between Jeter, Tex, A-Rod… Those 3 on average returning to 2009 production would add 7 WAR right there… you could argue that’s improbable, but adding even 3 WAR would be nice.

              Basically, I think there are ways to make up for Hughes regressing.

              • Ted Nelson

                “Last season the Yankees also got 38 starts at a combined -0.7 fWAR… About 25% (1/4) of their starts last season were sub-replacement level.”

                Meaning all 38 games started by Javy, Moseley, and Mitre, not 38 random starts I picked out.

            • A.D.

              Though in theory if the Yanks just needed to get the same out of their rotation as last year Hughes can implode and by your definition match Burnett’s 2010 production (and out perform Vazquez), while if Burnett returns to 2009 form would basically match Hughes 2010. The if CC is CC leaves the Yanks with ~2 WAR to get out of 4 &5th starters to match Vazquez + Pettitte

              But figure if Hughes maintains his WAR then the 4th and 5th starters are pretty much all WAR bonus as far as the rotation goes (assuming the AJ bounce back)

        • AndrewYF

          And this is different from any other contending team not named the Phillies or Giants…how?

          • NJYankeeFan

            It’s not.
            I was responding to UYWs hypothetical question about what would happen if Hughes “implodes”.

      • hogsmog

        Um, I feel like the reason the Yankees are keeping around Colon and Garcia is because they can throw a baseball. Their age has nothing to do with it. Turns out, when shopping in a pitching-poor, inflated offseason with a dire need for innings eaters, the players you find aren’t that great. Who woulda thunkit.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Too bad there’s not a lefty in the mix-keep Crawford and Ellsbury etc. at first base for a few milliseconds longer before they try to steal and keep the ball away from the right field porch at YS…

    • Gonzo

      And the Andy watch is born!

    • Guest

      Jesse Orosco anyone?

    • NJYankeeFan

      How is Ollie Perez’ move to first?

      • Ultimate Yankee Warrior (James)

        Sign Him!

      • Josh S.

        Only if he were willing to give the Yankees $6 mil of the $12 mil that the Mets owe him…

  • RL

    I’ll start.

    What I want to happen:

    4. Nova
    5. Colon
    Long Relief: Garcia/Mitre (don’t have a strong opnion where I list 2 options)
    Gone: Mitre/Garcia

    What I think the Yankees will do:

    4. Garcia/Colon
    5. Colon/Garcia
    Long Relief: Mitre
    AAA: Nova

    • RL

      This was meant as a reply to Gonzo who wanted everyone’s opinion clearly stated. Either my system or the RAB flaked.

      • Gonzo

        Nice!
        I agree with you on what I think the Yanks will do. Switch out Colon for Garcia in what you want to happen, and that’s what I want to happen.

    • NJYankeeFan

      What I want:

      4.Nova
      5.Colon
      Long Relief: Garcia
      Gone: Mitre

      What I think will happen:

      4. Colon
      5. Garcia
      Long relief: Mitre
      AAA: Nova

    • Guest

      I’ll go next. What I want:

      4. Nova
      5. Garcia

      Long Relief: Colon

      Gone: Mitre.

      What I think the Yanks will do:
      4. Garcia
      5. Colon

      Long Relief: Mitre
      AAA: Nova.

      I’d be fine with that though. Bring up Nova once either Garcia or Colon get injured or stop pitching effectively. Delays the clock on Nova’s arbitration.

      • RL

        I’d be fine with that though. Bring up Nova once either Garcia or Colon get injured or stop pitching effectively. Delays the clock on Nova’s arbitration.

        +1

        • AndrewYF

          Anyone trying to base an argument around Nova’s arbitration clock isn’t even barking up the wrong tree, they’re barking up a cactus. And it’s not even the right one.

          • Guest

            He’s 24, so he’s still relatively young. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees squeezed whatever juice is left in Colon out of him and then brought up Nova.

    • Ted Nelson

      If I wanted to break camp with Nova in NY, I’d probably cut Mitre over the other two.

      I like the Garcia, Nova and Colon in relief alignment personally. I like Colon airing it out a little in long-relief and the occasional spot start more than as a regular starter.

      I have no idea what the Yankees will do. Even they might want to wait a little, and it’s hard to look at ST performance without knowing what a guy was working on. Certainly good is good, but even then it’s in a really small sample and against varying quality of opponents (both AAAA guys or even AA guys vs. regulars, and good teams vs. bad teams). If a guy gives up a 3R HR, though, perhaps he used a pitch he won’t use in that situation in the regular season… or used the pitch he would use but it isn’t there yet. And that one 3R HR would make a 2 run difference in ERA over a 14, 15 inning sample.

  • Januz

    I really hope it is Nova & Colon. Although they Yankees can’t win the Division in April they can lose it. I suspect we will be seeing Man Ban, and/or a trade by September 1st.
    Off topic: Mike what do you think of Big 10 Conference Hockey starting when the new Nitt ice hockey building opens in 2012-2013?

    • Ted Nelson

      Colon has 2 more wins since 2005 than Garcia had in 2010 alone, so I wouldn’t assume Colon gives you a better chance to win games than Garcia.

      • Januz

        I simply do not care for Garcia on any level. Mitre, Colon, Brackman or Millwood would be better. Almost anyone this side of Spongebob would be an improvement.

        • Ted Nelson

          Why?

        • Guest

          Garcia’s a good #4 or #5. He’ll give you 6-7 innings every time out. Just don’t expect it to be pretty. If Nova’s the #4 starter, I want Garcia as the #5.

          • Ted Nelson

            That actually hasn’t really been the case since he finally returned for good in August 2009. He’s been quite volatile, and not just given 6 lousy innings per start.

            Across 37 starts, he’s made 25 quality starts (6+ IP, 3- ERA). 68% of his starts were quality over that time, 78% in 2009 and 64% in 2010. Most of the other 12 starts have been really ugly, though: 5 ERs 4.1 IP, 7 ERs 6.1 IP, 7 ERs 3 IP, 7 ERs 2.1 IP, 5 ERs 1.1 IP, 6 ERs 2.1 IP, 5 ERs 5 IP.

            So, the past two seasons the Sox have mostly gotten “good Freddy” or “terribly awful Freddy.” Some “mediocre Freddy,” and very little “great Freddy.”

            • NJYankeeFan

              You’ve been bullish on Garcia since he was signed and I sure hope you’re right.
              I wouldn’t mind seeing Colon and Garcia as number 5 /long relief with Girardi going with the hot hand until reinforcement can be brought in.

  • J-Rod

    Edited by RAB: Incredibly off-topic. Stick it in the … wait for it … off-topic thread:

    http://riveraveblues.com/off-topic-10/

  • Ken

    Nova should be a lock, and I think Garcia is a better option than Bart. Any chance they snag Oliver Perez?