Mar
29

My Fifth Starter Mini-Rant

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Over the weekend, the Yankees announced that Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia will be their fourth and fifth starters when the season opens while Bartolo Colon shifts to the bullpen and does the long man routine. I don’t think anyone has an issue with Nova being in the rotation, he showed enough in his cameo late last year and continued to impress in camp. Given the alternatives, there was no reason not to give him one of the open spots. That last spot is a little more up for debate.

The decision was made with heavy influence from the 157 innings Garcia mustered for the White Sox last year. That part is pretty clear. They weren’t the best innings (4.77 FIP), but hey, a typical fifth starter is 14% worse than league average and Garcia wasn’t all that far off from that mark last year (16.9%). Colon didn’t pitch at all last season and has managed just 101.1 IP in the bigs since 2007. The Yankees need reliability at the back of the rotation and their decision reflects that based on each guy’s recent history.

However, my thinking about the fifth starter’s spot is a little different. We know that both Garcia and Colon have battled some major, major shoulder issues in the last few years, and I think we all expect both guys to break down at some point this season. Ironically enough, we consider them band-aids for the rotation. At some point, we’ll just rip them off and throw them away. So anyway, my thinking is that when you have two guys this close to the end of the line, two guys that slip right off the cliff at any moment, their recent histories don’t mean all that much. At some point you have to look at what you have in the here and now and ignore what happened last year or over the last three years or whatever.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Colon, by any measure, beat out Garcia (and really Nova too, for that matter) for a rotation spot in camp. We know that Spring Training stats mean nothing, but if you’re the kind of person that puts value in them, then you probably know that Colon’s 17 strikeouts leads Yankees pitchers this spring, and he walked just one batter in 15 IP (four runs). Garcia, on the other hand, had another ugly spring in a career full of them, allowing nine runs in 13.2 IP. He did strike out a dozen and walked just two, but he gave up a hit per inning. At a time when he had to pitch well, he was underwhelming.

Just looking at the stuff, and it was painfully obvious that Colon was better. He’s not the guy he was in his prime, when 96+ mph fastballs were the norm, but he was consistently at 92 and touching 94 on occasion with his four-seamer while his sinker sat just below that. His offspeed offering – whether you want to call it a changeup or splitter or forkball or junkball is unimportant – did the job of keeping hitters off balance. Garcia’s kitchen sink approach featured a lot of fastballs in the 80′s and various breaking balls just off the plate. The kind of breaking balls that get hammered if they aren’t located properly. Based on what we saw in camp (an albeit limited sample), Colon has much more margin for error right now. That isn’t to say he has a lot, but it’s more than Garcia.

Chances are I’m making too much of nothing, but I would have started the season with Colon in the rotation to get as much out of him as humanly possible before his arm explodes. He’s throwing the ball better than Garcia is right now, and I would have milked it for all it’s worth. Then again, it’s not my neck on the line, and we are talking about two guys brought in to be placeholders. The Yankees will eventually find someone better and move on, and we’ll all look back at this fifth starter/long man debate and laugh. But for now, I would have done things differently.

Categories : Pitching, Rants

84 Comments»

  1. jsbrendog says:

    colon got hosed and i am genuinely upset.

    • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

      Couldn’t get hosed when the Yanks didn’t give him a chance.

      • jsbrendog says:

        uhhh what? they did give him a chance. they signed him and had him pitch a good amount of spring training innings in which he (compared to hsi competition) impressed. he should bein the rotation based on performance. that is what a competition is. and he got hosed by being sent to the bullpen.

        this was meant to be here

        • Sayid J. says:

          I’m not really quite sure what you’re differentiating between. Yes, he got a chance to make the roster, but when people say the Yankees didn’t give him a chance, they mean that he didn’t have a real shot at winning a SP job. Clearly he was given a chance to pitch in spring training.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          It’s spring training… Luis Ayala and Mark Prior also got signed to contracts and beat out Joba and Robertson in ST… should those guys be sent down for Ayala and Prior? Should Tex be cut for Vazquez? If your contention is that spring training is where you prove who should start, these are logic conclusions. If these are not logical conclusions, then it follows spring training should not be the only factor in deciding who gets what job on the team.

          • jsbrendog says:

            your analogy is false. comparing jo0ba and robertson, well above average mb [plaers last yr have nothign to do with two wahsouts competing. two washouts competing is completely different

            • Ted Nelson says:

              It’s an extreme example of the same thing. You just don’t base your decisions 100% on ST, especially based on the incomplete information Mike presents.

              It’s not completely different. Joba and Robertson have had more recent MLB success, just as Garcia has had more than Colon.

              I’m not saying we ignore ST, I’m saying we look at the whole picture. Mike, on the other hand, is saying we ignore the picture and just focus on ST.

              • jsbrendog says:

                colon: been pitching well for months cause he played in winter ball. his pitches have better movement, beter velocity, better everything. garcia is throwing for the first month or two and throwing up 85 mph meatballs. both are washed up and clinging to mlb. basing it on past track record is dumb. go with the guy who is in a groove because theyre both shitty anyway

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Garcia was as good as Burnett and Nova last season… he may be clinging to MLB but so is 60% of their rotation. So is Derek Jeter.

                  “his pitches have better movement, beter velocity, better everything.”

                  Romulo Sanchez also has better movement and velocity than Garcia.

                  You are basing this on 15 and 13.2 inning samples. That’s just not a sample you can project based on.

                  “go with the guy who is in a groove because theyre both shitty anyway”

                  This to me is too short-term of thinking. Again, why aren’t we giving Vazquez or Chavez Tex’s early season at bats? Vazquez is hotter right now and Tex is a historically poor starter…

                  And again, Garcia wasn’t that shitty last season.

                • jaremy says:

                  Based on that logic, why not go with Colon while he is still potentially “ahead” of hitters and switch to Garcia when he starts getting lit up and Garcia settles in? Just sayin.

        • The Real JobaWockeeZ says:

          Come on. The outcome was predetermined. They did tis last year and they didn’t again. It’s no surprise really but I’d rather have the hot hand going and then going to Freddy.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Colon got Joba’d

  2. Bryan V says:

    Umm, this is the same site where I constantly see “Small Sample Size” or “SSS” as reasons not to look too deeply at a player’s stats, right? Because this post is all about Colon’s spring, which is pretty darn small. I mean… you’re taking 15 innings to determine which pitcher is better fitted for the rotation?

    If the Yankees did that, then this post may be about them using that “SSS” to make a decision.

    I understand that questioning team decisions is part of being a fan, but in this case I think you’re a bit off.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Oh I couldn’t care less about the stats, I based this on how each guy looks right now, and Colon looks way better.

      • Big Apple says:

        agree…i don’t care about garcia’s history as a slow starter in spring training. Colon has been pitching on a regular basis for a few months now and he really looked good in the spring. And he wasn’t pitching against crap opponents either.

      • Bryan V says:

        If you couldn’t care less about their spring training stats, why did you follow up the line “Colon, by any measure, beat out Garcia” with some of their stats in spring training? And although it may not technically be a stat, you followed all that up with what the guys are throwing (velocity and “stuff” wise) right now… not what they’ve thrown on average over their last 100 innings or whatever.

    • Riddering says:

      I think this kind of judgment depends on the pitcher and his usage. If Mike was arguing for Colon to be the Opening Day starter because he looked better than Sabathia, I would definitely wonder about his love affair with a SSS.

    • MannyGeee says:

      or, Colon out pitched Garcia all spring, and small sample size or not that is why we play the games in March.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        No, it’s not why they play the games in March. They play the games in March to warm up for the real season. Vazquez crushed Tex in March, that doesn’t mean he beat him out for a job.

  3. jsbrendog says:

    uhhh what? they did give him a chance. they signed him and had him pitch a good amount of spring training innings in which he (compared to hsi competition) impressed. he should bein the rotation based on performance. that is what a competition is. and he got hosed by being sent to the bullpen.

  4. Adam says:

    All very fair points Mike, and I didn’t see much of Colon this spring so I can’t speak to how good he looked this spring, but I think for now this arrangement is the best arrangement because it lets up keep Garcia and Colon on the roster in case one falters. I may be mistaken, but I believe Garcia had an out in his contract if he didn’t make roster and had we let him walk and give Colon have the spot I think you’re leaving us open to greater risk of having potentially no one to fill that spot if and when Colon breaks down (yeah I know we signed Millwood but come on the dude was horrible last year). I think this way Colon will make some starts at some point and possibly take the spot over from Garcia, but we’ve at least got some contingency plans now.

    • Sayid J. says:

      True, but Garcia could’ve made the roster as a long man and Colon as the starter. They’d still have both, and then Garcia could start if Colon falters. Same logic, but gets the seemingly more effective pitcher in there for more innings.

  5. Riddering says:

    Agreed muchly.

    Especially if we end up seeing Colon come out in long relief of Garcia, this move seems backward. There is value in clean-up innings but considering that we still don’t have a clear picture of what is going to happen with Garcia come Game 9 or 10 or what have you I’d feel more comfortable going with the guy who has shown better results right now. The Yankees don’t need to worry about these guys like they do Sabathia or Hughes, depending on an ace or properly handling a young guy’s development. It’s much more wham-bam. And I prefer Colon’s bam.

  6. Manimal says:

    Who is to say that the yankees won’t put Colon in the fifth starter spot after 2-4 crappy starts by Garcia? The fact of the matter is we have BOTH, its not like we chose one over the other. And I’m pretty sure no one is upset with seeing Mitre leave.

  7. Monteroisdinero says:

    Colon looked great this spring. Garcia had many good innings and a few bad ones. I think these guys collectively will be adequate but, if they both are awful and/or break down, Manny B is waiting in the wings.
    If he has to come up a bit earlier than the “master plan” dictates, so be it.

    • Brandon W says:

      Banuelos won’t be the first one called up if a starter is needed. You might see Phelps or Noesi if they’re pitching decently, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brackman get a shot if the back end of the rotation falls apart.

      Not that I think Banuelos couldn’t handle being the fifth starter, but he really should have one more year of good, controlled development. He needs innings and he needs some consistency to his offspeed stuff still.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Good point. Millwood will probably be the first guy given a chance. After Colon maybe, or maybe not. Then Phelps/Noesi/Brackman probably. Manny also runs into a problem in that by the time (in his best case season) he’s first in line later on he may be nearing his inning limit… so I could easily see him coming out of the pen if he makes the bigs in 2011.

        • Jimmy says:

          I don’t think Millwood is a lock for the seventh starter. By the time (hopefully) they need someone from AAA, guys like Phelps, Noesi or Brackman could be red hot and deserve the call more than Millwood. At this point he is just depth.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Could be, but Millwood could easily deserve the call before them too. Especially if it’s early in the season.

            And that’s basically what I was doing… Right now Millwood would get a chance first in all likelihood. Of course things can change once the actual season starts.

            “At this point he is just depth.”

            So are the other guys… I don’t see why he’s just depth and those guys are destined to be good MLB starters in 2011.

  8. Bryan V says:

    Manny B is not going to be the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd minor leaguer to be given a chance should the Yankees need a replacement in the rotation.

    I don’t understand people saying Colon got hosed. He, himself, pointed out that not having pitched last year made it a long-shot to even make the team. So a spot in the bullpen as the long relief guy is far from an insult.

  9. Poopy Pants says:

    I agree.

  10. CS Yankee says:

    Great rant.

    Colon might of screwed himself when he said that he would take a middle-relief role if it meant he could make the team. His ego cost him in Boston and I think he gets how lucky it is to play this game.

    Garcia hasn’t had that experience and by him not saying he would take any role and knowing that he could walk if not a starter might of been the leverage that dictated the outcome. He played it better than Mauer does to that weirdo playing video games. His incentives are set-up nicely and hopefully he plays above expectations or totally blows up.

    I’m concerned about a mid-6ish from Garcia and Joe giving him a few months to adjust whereas Colon is primed now and this might be his best window in getting us quality innings. Joe was bragging about his heat with a better changeup than he ever had…old tools rust quicker, and take longer to warm up.

    Nova being a SP this year was likely always the plan and I have no issue with that plan, but they seem to have been played a bit by the reality that several teams would let Garcia start for them on day 4.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “Garcia hasn’t had that experience”

      He was cut by the Mets out of ST in 2009, and struggled to get a chance until he made it back in August of that season.

      He also pitched fairly well last season in the AL, though. He may have signed the Yankees offer over a bunch of other offers, whereas Colon may have only had the Yankees offer… who knows? His agent might know that other teams are interested if he doesn’t make the Yankees.

      “they seem to have been played a bit by the reality that several teams would let Garcia start for them on day 4.”

      Why would several teams do that? Because he’s proven he can over the past 1.25 seasons.

  11. Bryan V says:

    With all the questions regarding the team this season, it’s funny as hell that people are upset over Bartolo Colon.

    And I don’t mean to say writing about him was pointless. This is a fine topic to discuss. But to get worked up to the point of actually being upset is leaning towards the ridiculous side.

  12. Bryan V says:

    Sorry, I keep thinking of other things after I post.

    How many innings at a time has Colon been throwing in Spring Training? Maybe he’s not good for 5-6 innings at a time, but could be looked at for 2-3 innings as a long relief guy in the bullpen.

  13. Rey22 says:

    You have to think if Garcia starts 2 or 3 games and completely bombs, they’ll switch him with Colon and give him a few starts. No big deal.

  14. Wil Nieves Number 1 Fan says:

    I agree 100%, Mike. Considering this is practically a “no right answer” situation, I’d much rather take a risk trying to milk X-amount of innings out of Colon than Garcia. By the end of the season I’m predicting Garcia will end up being this year’s Chad Gaudin, so clearly I’d much rather have the guy who can hit 94 mph and locate his two-seamer than the guy who threw 150 (shitty) innings a year ago.

  15. parmesan says:

    Agreed. Not only did Colon pitch better, but his stuff was considerably better as well. If you’re locating well at 90-93 you can be successful just by varying the fastball and moving it around, which coupled with the occasional offspeed pitch was basically Colon’s approach. I’ll take that mix from the 5 guy over whateverthehell Freddy was throwing this Spring every day of the week.

  16. tripp says:

    Wasn’t there some reports that Colon was 91-94 through the first 2 innings and then 86-89 in the next few?

    I thought that’s what Girardi was also relying on as well as other things. I’d rather see Garcia off the team all together in my opinion. He will get hammered, but I don’t make decisions for the Yankees so I’ll root for him.

  17. John C says:

    I feel the same way about the Colon/Garcia decision. While watching spring training games it appeared Colon consistently had better stuff (velocity, break, location) than Garcia…at least when viewed from 1500 miles away while I sat on my keester.

    But–and I know this is beating a dead horse–what really irked and continues to irk me is 0 consideration given to Chamberlain for the slot. It’s been two years since he injured his shoulder and with the exception of a minor injury hiccup during ST, he has been throwing very well. It seems such a waste to confine his talent to a middle bullpen role.

  18. Rey22 says:

    Thank god opening day is around the corner.

  19. Monteroisdinero says:

    Colon had an excellent 6 inning outing (in terms of going more than 3 innings) that I watched in ST. Almost all strikes, low pitch count, very effective against lefties, fastball located beautifully and changeups in hitter’s counts. Basically Joe and the brain trust put more stock into the last few seasons than what they saw with their own eyes the last 4 weeks.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      You saw it happen one time… that’s not a sample size that you can predict anything off of.

      Garcia went at least 6 innings 20 times last season… do you propose the Yankees just act like that never happened? They should trust only what they see in ST as the gospel on which they make all their personnel decisions? Jorge Vazquez, Golson, Ayala, and Prior should all get $100 mill contracts?

      “Basically Joe and the brain trust put more stock into the last few seasons than what they saw with their own eyes the last 4 weeks.”

      Which is what you should do…

      • Monteroisdinero says:

        You can’t predict anything from ST. I was just stating a fact of what Colon did vs Garcia these last 4-5 weeks. I would love for Montero to have hit .400 and come north now but that didn’t happen. Would he have come North with an awesome ST? Maybe not. Each situation is different. As for: “Which is what you should do”, I can do without the personal attack thank you very much.

  20. Camilo Gerardo says:

    Am i the only one tired of all the analysis? let’s play some baseball and hope the yankee staff makes changes as they become necessary, no? WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!!11

  21. kosmo says:

    It´s pretty obvious isn´t it? Garcia has to perform early on or be shown the door .If the roles were reversed it is possible Garcia would have a more difficult time getting a feel for his pitches coming out of the bullpen.Colon still owns a decent fastball and always had good command .Hopefully Noesi ,Warren,Phelps and Brackman will get some AAA innings under their respective belts so by mid season at least 1 or 2 might be MLB ready if called upon.

  22. Ray R says:

    Look, if Garcia pitches to a 6 ERA in April, does anyone here really think he and Colon won’t switch spots? As Mike pointed out, these guys are both so far over the hill that any production is a pleasant surprise. Right now, the hope is for 9-10 innings per week from them where they don’t implode. If they can manage that through June, I’ll be happy.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “these guys are both so far over the hill that any production is a pleasant surprise.”

      Disagree. Why would you be surprised to get production from a guy who has been producing for 1.25 seasons?

  23. CS Yankee says:

    In order for ManBan or Dealin Dellin to get promoted at all this year;
    A) They have to tear up the minors like Doc Gooden did.
    B) The old signees have to have their arms fall off.
    C) The 5 decent starters in AAA would have to have below average years.
    D) Cashman would have to fail in the trade market numerous times and the deadline would have past.
    E) Other reclaims from waivers would likely have been tried.
    F) It would have to take time for the first four items to play out…so August would likely be the earliest.

  24. Ted Nelson says:

    Colon will probably get his chance to start at some point.
    We also don’t know how much rope Garcia has. He may even only be keeping a spot warm for Millwood through the early season where you yourself have pointed out the 5th start can be skipped a bunch.

    “The decision was made with heavy influence from the 157 innings Garcia mustered for the White Sox last year.”

    And the 56 innings across 9 starts from August 2009 where he had a 3.35 FIP.

    I don’t know why you guys refuse to mention this. It wasn’t just 2010. He got cut by the Mets out of camp in 2009, but from the time he made it onto the White Sox in August he’s been healthy and fairly productive. It’s not like his 56 2009 innings came throughout the season or at the beginning of the season… they all came at the end.

    “I think we all expect both guys to break down at some point this season.”

    I really don’t feel comfortable with anyone putting odds on this with no medical background or knowledge about their specific situations. Garcia in particular has stayed healthy for a couple of years now.

    “At some point you have to look at what you have in the here and now and ignore what happened last year or over the last three years or whatever.”

    I don’t follow your logic on ignoring historical performance in this situation at all. Why are we ignoring it here and not other places?

    “Colon, by any measure, beat out Garcia (and really Nova too, for that matter) for a rotation spot in camp.”

    He also came into camp ahead of the other guys having pitched in the DWL and taken 2010 off.

    And, of course, by “any measure” the only measures you’re talking about are Ks and BBs. He did not beat out Nova in terms of ERA or hits.

    “I would have started the season with Colon in the rotation to get as much out of him as humanly possible before his arm explodes.”

    Using him as a starter is not necessarily the approach where you get as much out of him as possible. He could give them more innings and have more impact out of the bullpen if there’s some reason to believe that role will be easier on his arm.

    • We also don’t know how much rope Garcia has. He may even only be keeping a spot warm for Millwood

      If Garcia’s only keeping a spot warm for Millwood then he’s worse than we thought! (this is a joke)

      And the 56 innings across 9 starts from August 2009 where he had a 3.35 FIP.

      I don’t know why you guys refuse to mention this. It wasn’t just 2010. He got cut by the Mets out of camp in 2009, but from the time he made it onto the White Sox in August he’s been healthy and fairly productive. It’s not like his 56 2009 innings came throughout the season or at the beginning of the season… they all came at the end.

      Sure, that’s basically what Mike was saying – Garcia was given the job because he has a more established track record than Colon does. Going back to 2009 doesn’t really change anything.

      I don’t follow your logic on ignoring historical performance in this situation at all. Why are we ignoring it here and not other places?

      It’s the hot hand logic. I’d rather have gone with the guy who was throwing better. Spring stats mean next to nothing but you can’t ignore how well Bart was throwing the ball, even if it was because he was in winterball and is in more of a mid-season form. And I mean, I doubt Bartolo or Garcia will be in the rotation come September, so as long as the Yankees do their best to get the most of both of them I’m fine with it.

      Using him as a starter is not necessarily the approach where you get as much out of him as possible. He could give them more innings and have more impact out of the bullpen if there’s some reason to believe that role will be easier on his arm.

      Certainly possible, and he also sounded more willing to be in the bullpen. Garcia hinted he would rather look for another team if he didn’t get in the rotation.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        With the Millwood thing it could be intentional (as in he has a short rope and is out of there if he has a couple bad starts) or it may just be an eventuality if Garcia does poorly.

        “Going back to 2009 doesn’t really change anything.”

        I guess it’s nitpicking, but it bugs me that none of the writers on this site seem to bother acknowledging Garcia’s true history (at least that I’ve seen). It’s always just: “he only managed 129 innings across 2007-9, and has only been healthy for one year.” The first part is true, though a bit deceiving: 58 of those innings came pre-injury and 56 came after August of 2009… it wasn’t a few innings then injury, and few innings then injury, repeat… which would be a lot less encouraging. The second part is a misrepresentation of the truth, because he was also effective late in 2009.
        So, it changes a bit for me.

        “It’s the hot hand logic. I’d rather have gone with the guy who was throwing better.”

        But my question is, if this is valid logic why are we only using it here? Why are we throwing away Garcia’s 2009 and 2010 seasons and Colon’s crappy 5 year track record, but not throwing away other guys’ pasts? Why can’t Jorge Vazquez beat out Tex since he’s the hot hand right now and is swinging the bat better? Why can’t Ayala and Prior beat out Joba and D-Rob? I would say it’s because this hot hand logic is not valid. Especially since it’s 90% based on Mike’s amateur Dr. opinion that they will both definitely break down no matter what because he says so. (We can look at their past history to predict injury with 100% certainty, but can’t use their past history to predict how they’ll pitch?)

        I’m not saying you ignore spring training completely and only go with past history. I’m saying you factor both in and make the best decision you can with the information you have. I don’t see why we just ignore past history in this one case.

  25. Chris says:

    a typical fifth starter is 14% worse than league average

    That’s not what the article says. An average 5th starter is actually 24% worse than league average. The break point between a 4th and 5th starter is 14% worse than league average. In other words, a pitcher that is 13% worse than league average would be considered a 4th starter and a pitcher that is 15% worse than league average would be a 5th starter. Since Garcia was 17% worse than league average that puts him comfortably in the 5th starter population – slightly better than the average 5th starter.

  26. Big Apple says:

    I would love to see the combo of Colon and Prior give the yanks 6-7 solid innings! Man, that would be sweet!…highly unlikely though

    • Jeffrey Dilson says:

      I wrote my my comment before reading yours, but said eassentially the same thing but with Joba doing the last 2 innings

  27. steve s says:

    This is clearly a case of 6 on one hand and a half a dozen on the other. There is going to be a short leash on both Garcia and Colon. Due to the many home games in the first third of the season and the unfavorable schedule for the last third of the season Yanks can’t afford to mess around with a slow start. If Garcia gets hit hard in his first 2 starts there will not be a start 3. If Colon stays sharp he’ll get his starts sooner rather than later (and maybe it’s in place of AJ rather than Garcia if Garcia is holding his own and AJ is floundering).

  28. Doug says:

    “The Yankees need reliability at the back of the rotation”

    reliability, yes. but it doesn’t need to come from one guy. you throw the better man out there (colon) there until his arm explodes, then you move on to the next guy (garcia), and then the next, and then the next.

    to name your 5th starter based on the fact that he may have a better chance to last the season and throw 175+ innings makes little sense, especially if he’s not the guy with the better chance of getting hitters out.

    • Big Apple says:

      agree..Vasquez was that man last year and he failed miserably.

      Very few teams have reliability at the back of the rotation.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      A. I don’t think you try to get guys arms to explode so that you can just try a slightly worse guy.

      B. You are basing Colon being the better guy entirely on 15 innings across 4 starts in spring training.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i hate that im about to say this, but, fuck it:

        do you even watch the games? ST stats mean nothing. but you can get a feel for pitchers especially based on the level and progression of their pitches coming in rom the offseason. colon has been pitching all winter and is in what one could term midseason form. his pitches had bite, movement, and were extremely well placed. he spots with movement and still throws 92-94. garcia’s pitches looked flat and lfieless.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          The reason small samples mean nothing is that they’re not necessarily representative of the underlying population. There’s too much variability. No matter how good someone looks for 15 innings you just can’t use that to predict the future. It can be an encouraging or discouraging sign, but there’s way too much variability to use them for predictive purposes. This is true not only of results, but also of the way stuff looks. That a pitcher threw a certain way for the last 15 innings does not mean he’ll repeat that level of throwing for the next 5, 15, 30, 50, 100 innings.

          We also don’t know anything that went on behind the scenes. Perhaps Colon constantly got gased as his bullpens wore on. Perhaps he managed 6 innings against the Rays, but then couldn’t walk or move his arm for 2 days afterwards and the Yankees just knew it wasn’t sustainable. Perhaps not.

          Perhaps Garcia was holding back and Girardi and Rothschild knew this. Whatever kind of crap Garcia was throwing last season worked as well as Burnett’s 93 MPH FB. Tons of righties have sat in the high 80s later in their careers and enjoyed success: Mussina, Pedro, Maddux (of course Garcia isn’t as good and never was… he just needs to be a #5 starters, though, and better than Colon in this case). I’m just not going to assume that the Yankees org knows less about baseball than the fans on this blog, and didn’t happen to notice how either Colon or Garcia pitched in ST. That doesn’t mean their decision was necessarily the right one, I just think they are smart enough to factor the things you point out into their decision.

    • Owen says:

      But what if you assume neither can pitch 175 innings? What if they both have only 75 innings left in the tank? Isn’t the reliever role potentially more important in that case since you can time them to be higher leverage?

  29. matthaggs says:

    God both of these guys are terrible, as is Millwood. It’s like choosing between a kick in the shin or a punch in the stomach. I fully expect to see Pettitte hit Garcia with a chair while he’s warming up for his first start and take the ball. Or maybe I’ve watched too much wrestling.

    Special thanks to the league for assigning the Yanks a game, one day off, then 9 straight games out of the gate, all in cold places.

    Even if they wanted to skip these mutts they couldn’t.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      “God both of these guys are terrible, as is Millwood.”

      So is Burnett… he was worse than Garcia last season. Hughes wasn’t that much better.

      As has been shown by others above, Garcia is actually a totally passable 5th starter. The Yankees problem is that they don’t have a good #2 starter going into this season (which of course could change either if a guy steps up or if they make a trade).

      “Even if they wanted to skip these mutts they couldn’t.”

      Not really the case… and since when did MLB teams get a bunch of days off anyway? Boston likewise has one day off through 12 games, and Tampa has one day off through its first 23 games.

      http://riveraveblues.com/2011/.....vor-41424/

      • matthaggs says:

        Hope I’m wrong about GarCoMill. But I’m not holding my breath.

        Last year, the Yanks opened on April 4, then were off on the 5th the 8th and the 12th. Maybe it was just last year, that’s all I checked, but I seem to recall multiple days off in the first week(s) of the season as a common occurence, esp when they were playing in cold weather locations.

        Good to know Boston has the same problem this year though.

  30. GF says:

    Sorry if someone already mentioned this, and I know the Yankees are not progressive enough to try it, but there is something to be said about not even having a fifth starter. There was a great essay about this in “Baseball Between the Numbers” a couple of years ago. A team could just roll out a rotation with four starters.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      A 4 man rotation isn’t really progressive… it’s actually quite retro. All rotations used to be 4 men.

      And why aren’t the Yankees progressive? Outside of the Brewers a few years ago, how many teams have rolled with a 4-man recently anyway?

      If they did go down to a 4-man rotation, Burnett could easily be the odd man out… Last season he would have been. Nova could be too. So I’d wait until a bit into the season when you know more about who your top 4 are before trying this anyway.

      Mike Axisa showed how they can effectively use a 4.5 man rotation for a the first couple of months of the season: http://riveraveblues.com/2011/.....vor-41424/

  31. RD says:

    Seems to me, the thought is that Colon would not have the stamina to pitch as many innings as being a starter would require and that he would last longer and be more effective by pitching a few innings at a time. As with many of the minor leaguers, you want to win now, but not at the expense of blowing up your future- like having Banuelos pitching 200 innings or having Colon try to pitch a large number of innings. Colon would seem to be a very good long man, someone who will come in, throw strikes, shut down the other team and give you a chance to come back. With Garcia, if he can throw 6 or 7 innings and give up 3-4 runs, that is a 4.5 to 5 era, but with the Yankee offense, you still have a shot at winning, especially if the bullpen shuts down the other team. You need starters to eat innings, and I don’t thing Colon is in shape to give a large number of innings.

  32. LeftyLarry says:

    I love what they did.

    Freddie Garcia managed to win 12 games last year throwing 85, now he’s hititng 90, he should be fine.
    Also with these old bums, if Brackman has a great start,which i expect, plug him right in.
    Yankee fans love the young pitchers except when they’re penciled in to actually pitch.

    If you go out and get a better #4 or number #5 and you commit to them the youngsters end up blocked or traded.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      This is a good point. The Yankees need flexibility in their rotation for the next couple of years. They need to be able to open space if prospects are ready, but they also need suitable pitchers if they’re not. They’ve managed to walk that line pretty well with Garcia, Colon, and Millwood.

  33. Bpdelia says:

    I gotta say I think people are being insanely unfair to garcia. he was effective last year. and if you poul outa few real bad starts he had a well above average year compared tof fifth starters. I fully expect garcia to have a fine year. i’m thinkin a 4.60ish era which means the yankees will win more than not when he pitches. not sure where the idea that garcia is useless comes from. clearly not from looking at what he has done since his shoulder healed in the last year and a half

  34. IguanaTruckr says:

    I totally agree with all the points you make. From the fan perspective, watching Colon all spring was simply ‘exciting’. It was like we’d found the prize in the cracker jack box. Would’ve been nice to see it all the way through to the rotation. I really do believe that we’ll see him start some games along the way, but without the momentum of a hot spring I don’t know if the energy will be quite the same.

  35. MattG says:

    First, I am of the ‘spring training means nothing’ persuasion, which extends beyond stats into how they look, too. In my many years of watching baseball, I have seen countless 180s once the season starts. There is no reason to expect a player to perform in the regular season as they do in the spring training.

    Second, even if you disregard #1, Mike argues that you should ride Colon while you can. I might argue that you should put your faith in the pitcher less likely to break down. It is likely, probable even, that in order to get the most out of Garcia you need to start him on day one. This is a guy with a slim margin for error, and that margin will be impacted by regular work. So why would you risk derailing a 150+ inning contributor for a guy you’d expect to be lost in May?

    • RD says:

      This and the last several posts make much more sense to me. Colon is not getting “screwed.” He has a major league job, which he has not had for several years. I think he and Prior are being much more sensible than Millwood, in that they are willing to work to prove themselves rather than thinking they are “owed” a major league job. I believe the Yanks got it right based on what we know now. Garcia is more likely to be durable and Colon seems like an ideal, strike throwing long man that could be injured by over use. Remember how valuable Aceves was in that role- they are not necessarily throw away innings.

  36. kosmo says:

    In 2010 Vasquez,Moseley,Mitre and Nova covering 45 starts in 244 innings were a combined 13-17 with an aggregate ERA well over 5.00.The team record in those starts was 23-22.Granted some of these starts were made because Pettitte missed something in the neigborhood of 12 starts.
    I tend to think barring injury the 5th SP in 2011 whether it´s a combination of 3,4 pitchers will easily surpass last seasons totals.Of course CC and company have to remain injury free and Burnett will have to earn his keep then NY is poised for at least another 95 win season.

  37. Between Nova and Garcia, someone will be ineffective/hurt before long, and Colon should get his chance.

  38. Jeffrey Dilson says:

    I would have started Colon but told him his maximum is 5 innings.So go all out for 5. Then if he starts 25 games he will still only be at maximum 125 innings. Then I’d have Joba be his follow up each time for 2 innings and let the rest of the bullpen carry it from there. On days Colon doesn’t make 5 if we are seriously behind I’d use Garcia instead of Joba.

  39. The Ed(itor) says:

    It was very clear to me and probably the whole world that Colon and Nova won the competition for starter but the brain “less” trust for the Yankees chose Garcia over Colon on some trumped up excuses.

    Now the same idiots are trying to tell us a washed up retread (Molina) is a better catching prospect than either Montero or Molina. Really smart putting this retread on the 40 man roster.

    No wonder Cashamn lost Lee with these brilliant decisions.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Eh… Pretty sure they did not say that Molina is a better C than Montero. What Girardi actually said was that they think it’s more valuable to have Montero playing every day in Scranton, because Martin is the starting C and will be playing just about every day.

      This Molina is not even a retread, so I don’t know where you got that either. He has 41 career MLB PAs… he’s a never was, not a has been. No one thinks he’s any good. Just a place holder who might get a couple starts, 5-10 PAs, and be a defensive replacement late in some games.

      I’m also pretty sure the Yankees FO and coaches watched spring training and noticed Colon looked better than Garcia. I’m sure they took that into consideration. Still, it was ST… get a grip.

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