Apr
21

The Pitching Waves

By

Millwood's on his way. Uh ... yay? (Photo Credit: Mike Ashmore)

Sixteen games into the 2011 season, two things are very clear about the Yankees: they have a great offense, and boy does their starting pitching stink. They’re second in the majors with a .357 wOBA but first with a 126 wRC+, hitting at least six more homers than every other team. Just wait until their .260 BABIP (third lowest in baseball) starts to correct. At the same time, the Yankees’ rotation has the worst ERA (5.06) and third worst FIP (4.38) in the American League, and their average of 5.32 innings per start is the worst in baseball.

Obviously that has to change, we’ve known that since the last September. Even if the Yankees had landed Cliff Lee, they’d still be in need of starting pitching right now, that’s how bad it’s been. That’s another post for another time, I suppose. The offense and some timely bullpen work have helped the team overcome its starting pitching problems during the first 16 games of the season, but obviously this isn’t a sustainable approach to securing a playoff berth. Some pitching help is on the way though, just not the kind of help a contender wants to rely on.

At the moment, both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have done a bang up job of turning the clock back, at least temporarily. Who knows how long it’ll last. Kevin Millwood will make a second minor league start for Triple-A Scranton this weekend, and there’s ten days until his opt-out clause kicks in. The Yankees will have two more looks at him before deciding what do, though you’d have to imagine that if he shows anything that looks like it could get big league batters out, he’ll be called to join the team. Millwood represents the next wave of pitching help, as unappealing as it sounds.

Behind him lies Carlos Silva, who apparently showed up to Extended Spring Training slightly less fat than the Yankees expected. He isn’t doing anything more than conditioning drills last we heard, but you have to figure he’s not far off from climbing on a mound. He did pitch with the Cubs in camp just a few weeks ago. If he goes on the Millwood plan, meaning some starts in ExST and two or three appearances with the full season minor league affiliates, then we have to figure he’s about four weeks away, at the very least. Silva, as unspectacular as he is, is the second wave of pitching help.

By the time he comes up, if he does at all, we’re talking early-June or so, which is the start of trading season. The Yankees are surely mining the pitching market at the moment, but it’s not often that teams will commit to selling off valuable pieces this early in the season. If the Twins keep tanking, maybe Francisco Liriano becomes available sooner than expected. Maybe the struggling Astros make someone available, maybe MLB’s takeover of the Dodgers put someone on the market, who knows. A lot will change over the next few weeks and the Yankees are simply going to have to bide their time until it does. For all intents and purposes, the trade market is the third wave of pitching help.

Although Millwood and Silva are the obvious guys on the way, there is also one constant: the farm system. If the Yankees need to plug hole in-between some of these veteran scrap heapers, there’s always a Hector Noesi or an Adam Warren a phone call away. Best of all, those guys are already in game shape, there’s no need to wait. The first round of pitching help, essentially Garcia and Colon, has worked out well so far, but it’s just been one turn through the rotation for both of those guys. How long it will last is anyone’s guess. Millwood and Silva will offer some alternatives (not necessarily help, but at least alternatives) in the coming weeks before the trade market heats up, plus there’s always the farm system. Until the rotation gets settled, the offense is really going to have to carry to load, and it’s certainly good enough to do that.

Categories : Pitching

100 Comments»

  1. Will says:

    “but first with a 126 wRC+”

    Ok, obviously you just made that one up.

    (They’re also first in the East in wINS.)

  2. Gonzo says:

    CC’s agent just climaxed… again.

  3. Gonzo says:

    Mike, do you think Kuroda could be a part of the next wave? It makes sense that the Dodgers would try to save some $ before the trade deadline.

    • Hurling Darvish says:

      Yes, that would be the case if MLB did not step in and take over. I think they stepped in so the team doesn’t get firesaled by McCourt. The franchise has a decent and not too expensive core of players and are definitely a contending team in terms of proven talent in the field and on the mound.

      MLB doesn’t want to see it get gutted by a bad owner, the Dodgers are brand in the MLB portfolio that they don’t want to see get destroyed. MLB doesn’t need another club like the Pirates. MLB is not in on the Dodgers to score some cash; they are there to protect the brand, especially in an excellent baseball market.

      That being said, there still a chance some Dodger deals could get done, but not some lopsided salary dumps.

      • Chris says:

        MLB doesn’t need another club like the Pirates. Mets.

        The Dodgers would be worse than the Pirates because they’re in a major market.

        • Hurling Darvish says:

          Mets are a better example. But there was a day, way back when the Pirates were good, real good, but they are a smaller market for sure. I feel sorry for fans of those clubs; they deserve better.

          Take Detroit for example. Their market is shrinking fast, but they really do try to field a competitive team, spending more aggressively than the Pirates, Marlins and Rays of the world.

          The Rays on the other hand are too good for their non-existent fanbase, which simply doesn’t support the team. Sames goes for Jays, did you see all the empty seats the past couple of nights?

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Trading one expensive 36 year old starter on an expiring deal and having a fire-sale are not at all the same thing.

        The Dodgers finished 12 games out last season and are 9-10 right now. I would not say this is definitely a contending team. It could be, but it could not be. If they’re close as the deadline approaches, sure they may be buyers at the deadline. If they’re 10 games out, though, it would make a lot of sense to look to dump the veterans who don’t have a long-term future with the Dodgers.

        “That being said, there still a chance some Dodger deals could get done, but not some lopsided salary dumps.”

        No one said or even implied this… you jumped to that conclusion yourself. Given Kuroda’s age, impending free agency, and salary, though, he’s not going to fetch a huge return. That’s reality for anyone.

        • Hurling Darvish says:

          Yeah, you’re right about Kuroda he’s on his last year and he’s expensive. I was speaking more generally about the franchise not being in sell mode. They’re off to a bad start, but their divison is not loaded like the AL East. My point is that with their market, they may not have to save money; the team’s not hemmoragging cash, their owner is.

          Kuroda’s pretty good tough and he’s not too expensive to be priced out of range of most contenders, so demand will be high I think. I’m Japanese and I am definitely biased for Japanese players, so I would love for them to acquire him, he’s got real good GB rates.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            I agree that the Dodgers won’t have to sell off, but if they’re out of contention as the deadline approaches they have plenty of players about whose value they could inquire… Perhaps sell high on a guy having a career season (maybe Either if this continues or even Kemp…) or a veteran without a future on the team (Kuroda, Lilly, Furcal, Blake, etc.).

            I think Kuroda would definitely have to be a consideration for the Yankees if the Dodgers are out of it. There should be some demand if he continues to pitch well since he’s not signed long-term, but at the same time his age and free agency limits his present value. Plus moving to the AL could hurt him a bit.

            I like the idea of a Kuroda or Carpenter or Buerhle or whoever for the Yankees, since their short-term contribution could be high but their age should limit the price somewhat. The Yankees could upgrade their rotation in 2011 (and maybe 2012), without having to sacrifice too much in the future (at least theoretically compared to Jesus, Manny, etc… I mean they could trade Romine and Warren and those guys go on to have better MLB careers than Jesus and Manny of course…).

            • Hurling Darvish says:

              I wonder what it would cost in prospects for Kuroda, given he sustains his performance come July? I would prefer to still have Vizcaino and Melancon right now, for example, but I guess you can’t keep everybody and improve the big club.

              What would you give up for Kuroda or someone of his ilk?
              My personal inclinations are to be overly protective of our prospects, maybe beyond what is rational.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                Yeah, unfortunately neither Javy nor Lance worked out… If they both do well and the Yankees win the WS, I think those trades are a lot more palatable. As it stands the Yankees sacrificed the future without improving the present (past now). And not every prospect will have as much success after being traded as Arodys and Melancon…

                I’m not sure what it would take really… I guess a lot of it depends on how Kuroda and the prospects do from here till the theoretical trade, and also the demand for Kuroda as you mention earlier. The Dodgers may have to struggle for him to even be easily available, of course. Then it could come down to which other buyers at that point are looking for a starting P. If the Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Angels… big market teams are also interested it’s going to push up his price. If those teams rotations hold and/or the close contenders are poorer teams… the Yankees might be the bidding team most able to eat his contract (and maybe even throw in some $ too…) and get him pretty cheap.

                I would almost definitely not trade a top 5 Yankee prospect for Kuroda: Jesus, Manny, Sanchez, Betances, and Brackman. Brackman *maybe* if things broke in such a way that the Yankees were desperate for a SP, Kuroda was the best bang for the trade buck, and/or Brackman’s season goes poorly.
                Romine is where it starts to get interesting maybe, since the Dodgers could really use a C. I wouldn’t be particularly happy giving up Romine for a 1 year rental of a 36 year old guy who hasn’t pitched in the AL before, but realistically I guess that’s probably the upper-limit of what I’d do if things broke in such a way that the Yankees were desperate and Kuroda was a hot commodity.

                • JMK says:

                  Maybe we could trade Russell Martin to them if they’re looking for a good catcher.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Of course, hopefully thing will break in such a way that the rotation is decent, the Yanks have plenty of options, and someone like Kuroda can be had for less than Romine. I guess it’s also that once you get beyond Romine you’re no longer talking about consensus top 100 types and opinion diverges abit more.

  4. James says:

    Man-ny! Man-ny!

  5. dkidd says:

    so much depends on hughes and aj, but i’m praying we get through the season without dealing montero, sanchez, heathcott & any of the killer b’s

    if we miss the playoffs in the interest of long-term planning, i could live with it

    /prospect hugger’d

    • Jerome S. says:

      I would prefer to keep only Montero and Banuelos, unless literally only one of the following becomes available:
      Felix
      Halladay
      Johnson
      Pujols
      [one of these]ish

      The others are still far enough away from the majors or are low enough in probability that dealing them for a “merely” decent bat or arm makes sense.

  6. A.D. says:

    If the league only sees everyone once then they can’t adjust to them!

    Yanks strategy is every starter in the minors gets one MLB start during the year

  7. iloveyoubartolo says:

    Just wait until their .260 BABIP (third lowest in baseball) starts to correct.

    unfortunately, so will their 18.5% hr/fb.

    • Hurling Darvish says:

      Good points (both of them). It’ll be interesting to see if the runs per game goes up or down or stays the same as those numbers reach their larger sample levels.

      I think we are underachieving a bit in aggregate runs scored at 88 over 16 games, which is around 5.5 per game (maybe exactly).

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I think the offense can easily sustain 5.5. They were at 5.5 in 2009 and 5.3 in 2010. If they fall, it probably won’t be too far.

        I think the starting pitching ERs is the most unsustainable thing. Hughes starts were just so awful that it threw the whole thing out of whack. Some other blow-ups will happen, but anyone with a 13 ERA will be yanked quickly and I have to believe at least replaced with someone whose ERA will be about 1/2 that at worst.

  8. Gotta figure that a non-dead arm Phil Hughes counts as a wave of pitching help, as well. Not that we can assume that he’ll bounce back, of course.

    Between last year and this year, is it still too soon to call Ivan Nova’s 2nd to 3rd time through the rotation trouble a trend that will continue? They can’t keep throwing him out there; if they were willing to send Hughes down to AAA, you gotta figure the leash with Nova won’t be too much longer if he keeps struggling like he has been.

    • jsbrendog says:

      if millwood does anything and nova does nothing i could see that being a swap. could you imagine a rotation of burnett, cc, butthole colon, freddy garcia and kevin millwood? and we’d still be in first.

  9. Tank the Frank says:

    It would be nice if the Yankees got lucky. How great would it be if just one of the young arms (Nova, Warren, Phelps, Noesi, Brackman) came up and exceeded expectations and threw, say, 10 really good starts without incident…Aaron Small type stuff.

    They’re really going to need at least one front end guy and one back end guy from the farm step up and become reliable starters.

  10. gxpanos says:

    KLaw said on the ESPN Baseball pod the other day that he doesn’t believe that Man-Ban has much or any projectibility left, and that having him in the minors is just “wasting bullets.”

    I don’t believe that to be true, but it will certainly make me think hard about things when Bart and Freddy go south.

    • Sabermetrically Challenged says:

      he’s probably just down there to give him innings. He didn’t even break 100 innings last year.

      • Tank the Frank says:

        I agree. It’s much easier to monitor his innings in the minors.

        But I have a hard time believing that he’s got nothing left to learn by facing better hitters more consistently in AA/AAA. I know that’s not what he meant by “projectibility,” he’s not going to get any bigger or add any mph to his fastball, but I think the experience – albeit brief experience – in the upper minors can only help him.

        • Gonzo says:

          I tried to resist!

          KLaw’s not saying anything crazy. He just saying there isn’t much he needs to work on in the minors. Then he’s saying, he’s better than what’s on the major league team. Therefore, he is wasted in the minors.

          I could be wrong, but I also think he means, anything he can learn in AA/AAA, he can learn with the NYY. And in the process, he can help the big league club.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            It’s not crazy, but it’s extreme to promote a guy who just turned 20 and has pitched 23 innings above A-ball. 223 innings in the US.

            I also don’t think they’re losing much at the MLB level, and are probably actually better off without him in the rotation. There’s a very good chance he would not get by at the MLB level at 20… have an ERA of at least 6+ over the season. You haven’t really lost much by giving him a few starts and then demoting him (besides maybe the game Garcia won), but you also didn’t gain anything. Whether or not Manny himself were solid, he wouldn’t have been in the rotation instead of Hughes or Nova… the two real problems so far. He’d have been in there instead of Garcia or Colon… who have won a couple of games for the team so far. So, through 16 games I don’t think the Yankees record would be likely to be better with Banuelos in the rotation. Maybe with him in the bullpen… but that’s a whole nother conversation. (Even I’m not in favor of having him the bullpen to start 2011, by the way, and I’m the #1 cheerleader for it being ok to put starters in the pen… in 2012 or certainly 2013 I might be good with it.)

    • Hurling Darvish says:

      He’s 20 and has no projectability? The kid has about 140 innings allowable this year, and there is no value to him being the minors to get built up to be a legit starter? Wasting bullets? Really? He’s freaking 20! Is he wasting bullets to be used when, 15yrs from now?

      KLaw must think we’re the Pirates or something.

      • MikeD says:

        Klaw is saying two things here. First, it’s a compliment, basically saying that Banuelos is advanced beyond his time and years, and Law believes he’s ready to pitch in the majors now because he’s a lefty with a plus fastball, a breaking ball, and plus, plus change. There’s no need to project out what he might be. He is what he is, and what he is is good. The second has to do with his size and what that usually means to projectability. Normally, a 20-year-old pitcher who was bigger would be expected to put on weight and increase his strength, so scouts will project out and assume additional velocity will develop. In Baneulos’ case, since he’s a small guy (probably about 5’9″) and has a solid build, it’s unlikely he’ll develop wize and additional velocity, yet since he can hit 95+ already, that’s quite okay.

    • Chris says:

      I guess it depends on what he means by ‘projectability.’ Typically scouts talk about projectability mostly in regards to physical growth and raw improvement. For example, a player may grow a couple more inches or add muscle which leads to him adding a couple MPH to his fastball. In that regard, there’s probably not much projection left for Banuelos.

      There is, however, room for him to learn to pitch better. It’s the same improvements that most pitchers make as they get older and approach their peak even if they’re no longer ‘projectable.’

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      While ManBan does not have much projectibility left in his stuff he still needs to learn not only how to pitch, but how to pitch to MLB hitters. This has been learned from more than a handful of innings at or above AA. Also, ManBan needs to go an entire season where he throws 140 innings to go through the rigors of a full season.

    • Mike HC says:

      He may end up coming up this year at some point depending on how things go, but I think right now is definitely far too early. Let him get in the swing of the season in the minors while the Yanks run the veteran pitching options out there that Mike laid out in the post.

    • It'sATarp says:

      I don’t mind if we bring ManBan up sometimes this year. His potential is there and mostly it’s the innings and the need to stretch him out. If you look at Lincecum and Kershaw, you’d see that they got bumped up fairly quickly. While we did the same with Joba, we made the mistake of using him only as a pen guy and then there was that arm thing..

    • Ted Nelson says:

      It’s just one guy’s opinion. I respect KLaw, but he’s one guy. Other people would disagree with him. KLaw is also writing articles and not running a team.

      He might be more of a factors from the bullpen because of his inexperience and innings limit, but maybe he’ll get some starts. I’d almost rather he be in the pen, because that’s a sign that the starting rotation holds up. Mike Axisa keeps talking about how Manny’s not stretched out in these short starts, but a big part of it might also be keeping his innings and pitch count down so that he can potentially pitch more at the MLB level late in the season.

  11. It'sATarp says:

    Meh i don’t see any really good potential trade deadline targets worth the prospects. Banking the off season on Lee was a stupid idea, which made us skip over Haren and other options…also no considering Greinke for w/e “mental” reason was not smart imo.

    • Chris says:

      They didn’t skip over Haren. They tried to get him but failed. And he wasn’t available this offseason.

      As for trade targets, I expect Liriano and Carpenter to become available and they would both be good pickups.

      • Sabermetrically Challenged says:

        hopefully the braves fall out and give up on Hudson

        • jsbrendog says:

          i think the braves could win the east since the phils cant really hit and one of their aces if not 2 i feel will go down

      • It'sATarp says:

        i think it was this site that reported that the yankees actually rejected an offer of Nova + Joba as centerpieces plus some prospects for Haren.

        • It'sATarp says:

          http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....ren-32517/ So yeah Nova and joba kept us from Haren…smh

          • Chris says:

            Joba, Nova + two other prospects.

            Who were the two other prospects? People were reporting the Javy deal as Melky, Dunn and a prospect for Javy and Logan when in actuality the ‘prospect’ was the centerpiece of the deal.

            There was also the question of the salary.

            Any time you only get a few snipits of the story it’s hard to determine whether they made the right move or not. In particular, the Diamondbacks didn’t want a prospects only deal (which the Yankees wanted) and then took a deal that only included crappy major league talent. That doesn’t really make sense. There’s more to the deal failing than simply Joba and/or Nova.

            • It'sATarp says:

              honestly? The whole arizona front office at the time didn’t make any sense.

              • Gonzo says:

                They got a really good lefty with a ton of projectabilty in Skaggs. To be honest, I probably take Skaggs over Brackman or Betances.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  That. I think there’s good reason to believe that one of the prospects would have been Banuelos. Arizona got all LHSP for Haren. Joba could have replaced Saunders; Nova, Corbin and Rodriguez… but the only guy comparable to Skaggs the Yankees have is one Manny Banuelos.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Greinke didn’t come all that cheap. Alcides Escobar was one season removed from being a top prospect at the premier position… not far off in value from Montero in some people’s eyes. These also got a top 70 pitching prospect, an MLB ready starting OF, and a good relief prospect… we’re talking something like Brackman, Gardner, and Robertson/Joba in Yankee terms. Greinke’s mental issues hurt his perceived value, and his perceived value was not thought by the Yankees to be high enough to give up a huge package. If Greinke were being given away, I’m sure the Yankees would not have cared about the SAD.

      Likewise, Haren was not given away. Skaggs is a good lefty pitching prospect… In fact, Arizona got 3 lefties for Haren. Guess who the only LHSP trade chip the Yankees have is? Banuelos. That they didn’t want to trade for Haren could say as much about their opinion of Banuelos–who wasn’t held in as high regard at the time–as Haren.

  12. Mike HC says:

    I don’t think the Yanks rotation is really that bad compared to the rest of major league baseball. It is just pitching in the AL East in a homer happy Yankee stadium will almost definitely hurt your stats respective to the rest of the league. The rotation is not good, but I also don’t think it is one of the worst in baseball.

    • It'sATarp says:

      Well CC and Colon are putting up respectable numbers. So is garcia in one start. Our rotations stats are inflated by a terrible phil hughes and an equally terrible ivan nova (although he has a nice 4.03 FIP but a ghastly 5.31 xFIP). AJ has been “bad” in term of FIP at 4.72 BUT his xFIP is at a very respectable 3.92 which gives us hope that his “bad” luck is going to regress and he will improve.

      • YankeesJunkie says:

        The most important thing that I have seen from Burnett is K rate getting back to where it was before 2010. If he can give the Yankees 7.5 K/9 he should give the Yankees a fairly solid season in line with 2009.

      • Hurling Darvish says:

        Excluding Hughes, who is no longer part of the rotation, makes the numbers look way better. Phil has been awful, worse than Chien Ming Wang’s post foot injury comeback. 10.1 innings and 16ER! 4HR, 3K!

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          First three starts of Wang in 2009
          6 IP 23 ER

          Hughes is not even close.

        • toad says:

          Sure, but you can’t just exclude Hughes. Or if you think he’s an outlier, then maybe exclude Colon and Garcia as well, unless you think they’re going to keep it up. If you think that, then the pitching is in pretty good shape.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            Hughes is an outlier. He and anyone else in the rotation who does that poorly for a 3 game stretch will be replaced, and the ERA of the replacement would be expected to be less than 13… less than 1/2 that.

            So far Colon and Garcia have combined for 2 starts (12.5%) and Hughes and Nova for 6 (37.5% of the starts)… so it’s not really even close as far as good luck/bad luck.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Outside of Sabathia the Yankees don’t have have another consistent starter. AJ while he looks better is still the same AJ where he can do look like Cy Young and Rick Ankiel in the same game. Phil Hughes is a wild card right now and unless he gets his velocity back he will be useless to the Yankees. After that you have a few of random pieces like Colon and Garcia who will be lucky to be on the team throughout the season. If the Yankees plan on making a serious run in the playoffs it will be necessary to get a pitcher like Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, Carpenter, etc. to give them stability and another starter that can go out and give a few effective innings and give the game to a dominating bullpen.

      • jsbrendog says:

        Phil Hughes is a wild card right now and unless he gets his velocity back he will be useless to the Yankees

        false. he needs to locate his pitches and mix them up. then he would be ok. granted we all want his velocity to come back but it is not what is making him useless. look at freddy garcia.

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          Even if Hughes had the same command as he did last year with the diminished velocity he will still get destroyed. Hughes does not have the command at this point to pitch with a 90 mph fastball.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Glad you can predict the future… Sure, a reliable starter would be a good addition. Risk is not always a bad thing, though. Assuming that all your risks will turn out poorly is just pessimistic. The Yankees rotation was awful last season and they still won 95 games and made Game 6 of the ALCS. A *good* trade would help, but they don’t necessarily *need* to do anything.

  13. TonyO says:

    Is it me or is Jeter really bad at the plate?

    • Sabermetrically Challenged says:

      yes he’s terrible but were so flabbergasted by the state of the rotation that this doesn’t seem to matter

    • Mike Axisa says:

      This post has nothing to do with Derek Jeter, no idea why you brought it up.

      • TonyO says:

        It doesn’t your right. However your last sentence:

        “Until the rotation gets settled, the offense is really going to have to carry the load, and it’s certainly good enough to do that.”

        We have enough pieces in the lineup for sure, but our leadoff guy is horrible, and for someone that is going to get the most ABs in a game, don’t you think we need someone more productive? Swisher? Granderson? Sorry for going against what the post is really about, just a thought on my end.

  14. Hurling Darvish says:

    There’s nothing that we could have done about Lee, but it was much worse for Texas, who traded a bunch of prospects in their own division to rent Lee. It did get them maybe a once in a lifetime trip to the big dance. Just imagine how you’d feel if we traded Montero to get Lee, then go to the WS and lose, and then have him sign with Philly afterwards.

    The Haren situation is perplexing, but I agree with not going anywhere near Greinke. I heard he doesn’t even talk with his own teammates, much less the media. I think Zack’s brain would explode Scanners-style if came here. Besides he’s still hasn’t pitched an inning for the Brewskis yet.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      I still can’t believe that Arizona traded Haren for fucking Joe Saunders. Just a disgrace.

      • It'sATarp says:

        He knows how to win games!

        • YankeesJunkie says:

          (Screaming even louder)

          • Gonzo says:

            Again, Tyler Skaggs isn’t chopped liver.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              Yeah, but it’s pretty classic that fans will overrate their own prospects and underrate other teams’ prospects… Heck I do it all the time. I’m sure if you asked those two whether they’d trade Manny and Joba for Haren they’d say “no way.” Skaggs and Saunders was a fairly comparable package at the time of the Haren deal… Since both Joba and Banuelos’ stock has risen since that time, I think the non-move is very defensible. (Yankees were probably thinking it was a repeat of the Santana non-trade to just sign CC in the off-season at the time.) I would guess that the Yankees thought Arizona was underrating Manny and Joba, and were probably right.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Haren was traded for a top 100 LHSP prospect who was 18 years old at the time… we’re talking a guy who had similar value to Banuelos at that time.

      Saunders is also an ok MLB LHSP… so we’re talking about a Joba level pitcher.

      Not trading Joba and Banuelos for Haren might not have been the right move, but I think it’s hard to argue it was definitely the wrong move.

  15. the great balbinio says:

    Confused about BABIP, hopefully someone can help. Is this stat really indicative of just pitching ability? What I mean is does team defense come into play here at all? Clearly the left side of the infield is less than stellar with diminished range in both A-Rod and Jeets — and I’m probably being too kind using the word “diminished” as it implies their range was once impressive, but whatever. Cano has made some signature “lazy” Cano plays thus far and Tex, while good in my eyes, gets no love with the defensive metrics. Plus, Hughes’ performance thus far with his batting practice velocity and location has got to inflate the team stat — how does it look with Hughes out of the equation?

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Pitching BABIP is not nearly as indicative of BABIP as it is for hitters. However, it will normally be higher for GB pitchers than FB pitchers. The best way to find out how defense is affecting the pitching is ERA-FIP. Sadly, at this point the stat is not really helpful as it should be say in June.

    • Jerome S. says:

      See: Buccholz, Clay.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking, but as far as BABIP… It’s defense and it’s also luck. You could hit the exact same pitch to the exact same spot and Brett Gardner or whoever might make it an out while Marcus Thames or Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn lets it fall for a double. There’s the defense. You could also take a really, really similar cut at the same pitch and hit it a foot or two to the left or right or higher or lower… and sometimes that tiny, tiny difference in your swing is the difference between an out and a hit. Of course hitting is generally a skill, but it’s hard to call hitting the ball a couple of inches in one direction or another a repeatable skill… so that’s where the luck comes in.

      BABIP will generally tend towards the mean. If through a 10 game stretch a batter or pitcher has a BABIP (for or against) of .500, you can bet they had some “luck.” .100, some bad “luck.” It’s not always luck, though. You could be hitting everything on the head resulting in a lot of hard line-drives to the OF which are more likely to fall in for hits and extra-base hits. You could be hitting a lot of soft balls that are just not going to be hits very often. Even there, though, if it’s a small sample you generally expect a hitter to regress towards their natural level. Same for pitchers in the other direction… giving up hard contact or soft contact may be skill rather than luck, but at an extreme pace in a small sample that doesn’t mean it’s sustainable.

      Some fast hitters, contact hitters, and/or really good line-drive hitters might just have a higher BABIP throughout their career. Or a really crap hitter might just always have a low one. Same for pitchers.

  16. Ted Nelson says:

    Good analysis overall. Cashman and co. have done a good job of piecing together some make-shift back-up plans. I would add Nova to the first round, too. He hasn’t been good, but I think he’s been better than his ERA… or at least I expect his ERA to fall at least a bit.

    I think your analysis missed a huge factor, though. Take out Hughes’ numbers, and the rotation has been a lot more respectable. The IP/GS jumps to 6.5. He alone accounts for 1/3 of the ERs, and without him the ERA goes to 3.43. So, Yankee starters not named Phil Hughes are actually good for the 4th best ERA in the AL. Of course Garcia and Colon will give up some more runs, but the rotation as a whole could still be middle-of-the pack in the AL as currently constructed.

    Garcia has turned the clock all the way back to… 2010. Come on. The unrealistically low expectations for Garcia this offseason were ridiculous. Obviously he’s not going to throw a shutout every game. Even being above average is a very large stretch. He might not last all season… sure, who knows? When you objectively look at the 2010 season he had, though, and the 2009 season he had… concluding he was doomed to fail from day 1 was just silly.

    • YankeesJunkie says:

      Nova has been better than ERA suggests with FIP at 4 and his xFIP at 5. I thought it was completely irresponsible for Giradi to throw Nova in the 10th innings of Tuesday’s game especially with Noesi and Pendelton ready to go.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I don’t know that he’s been too much better, just that he’ll be better going forward or replaced with someone who is. His control has been awful and he’s been hit hard. FIP merely a proxy that tends to correlate with ERA. There’s no rule that every pitcher’s ERA and FIP will line-up. FIP entirely ignores contact in play, which is a big part of the game. If you’re giving up a lot of hard line-drives, yeah you’re BABIP is probably going to be high. Nova’s FIP is aided by not giving up a HR yet, but not hurt by all the hard hits he’s given up.
        Nova is giving tons of free passes and getting hit hard. That’s a recipe to under-perform.

        How was that irresponsible? It was on-rotation. It was the 4th day since he had pitched, and it’s another 5 days until he’s scheduled to pitch again. If Nova can’t pitch every 4 or 5 days, he’s not going to be much of an MLB starter.

    • Gonzo says:

      Just curious. What’s the IP/GS if you take out Hughes and CC?

      • Ted Nelson says:

        Well, they’ve made 44% of the starts combined and Nova has made 1/3 of the remaining starts… but it would be 5.4.

        CC = 4 GS 6.25 IP/GS
        AJ = 4 GS 5.55 IP/GS
        Nova = 3 GS 4.73 IP/GS
        Hughes = 3 GS 3.37 IP/GS
        Colon = 1 GS 6.66 IP/GS
        Garcia = 1 GS 6 IP/GS

        I know people will say Garcia and Colon can never, ever keep it up… but in 2010 Garcia was at 5.6, Millwood at 6.15, even Colon was at 5.2 in 2009… so there’s not really any reason to expect a massive fall-off. Hughes and Nova have been pretty bad in this regard, and I’d expect the Yankees to improve on them if it continues. Even 2010 Javy averaged 5.5 IP/GS and 5.65 IP/GS…

        Last season the AL average rotation (mean of 7th and 8th place teams in terms of IP/GS) got 6.07 IP/GS. The worst team, the Royals, got 5.8… Perhaps the Yankees will be historically bad, but I think they’ll figure a few things out to get at least in the 5.8 range. Worst compared to middle of the pack, we’re talking about 40 IP going to the bullpen… which is one reason the Yankees probably wanted to strengthen their pen this offseason.

        • Gonzo says:

          Good gravy, Hughes has been bad. I mean I knew he was bad, but 3.37 IP/GS is awful. I just blocked it from my memory.

        • Hurling Darvish says:

          Nice analysis. Hopefully the numbers improve as the season progresses, as they should. We have been conservative with workloads because it’s early and cold, and Nova has to improve or else he’s going to be replaced.

          The situation now, with low IP from starters does put pressure on the bullpen, and we’ll need to get more IP from the bullpen than the top 4 relievers plus Logan can realistically sustain. Not sure about Noesi and Pendelton, and neither is Girardi; we need another arm that Girardi is willing to use. Also, we haven’t had any low leverage innings for the younger guys to get to prove themselves. All the games are fairly close.

          Noesi hasn’t pitched at all, my only guess is that Girardi is saving him for a blown start where he comes in the fourth/fifth inning or before.

  17. MikeD says:

    The main reason to keep Banuelos in the minors is to monitor and control of innings, which is much easier to do down on the farm. His first two starts he pitched four innings each. The Yankees want to build up his innings and it’s easier to do that in the minors where they can pull him early from starts, skip starts, and shut him down entirely. Once he holds down one of the five big league rotation slots, he will be expected to be there until the end, all the way through October. Phil Hughes pitched 192 innings last year as the fifth starter, so if ManBan was on the Yankees today, he could go from 64 innings to 190 innings in one season, and that’s obviously the concern.

    Now Klaw dismisses this entirely, demanding someone produce a study that shows that a dramatic increase in innings one season to the next is harmful. I’ve been reading Klaw for a long time and was surpised by that, since it does run the opposite of things he’s said in the past, so I think it’s a bit disingenuous on his part.

    • Gonzo says:

      He’s against abusing pitchers. I think he would have a huge problem if the Yankees decided ManBan could go 190 ip this year and/or threw 120 pitches every game. He’s also saying that the innings that he can pitch this year could be very beneficial to the Yankees.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I mostly agree, but just because Phil Hughes pitched a certain number of innings and *started the season* as the #5 starter (he clearly became a top 3, as indicated by his presence in the top 3 of the playoff rotation)… doesn’t mean the Yankees would ever, ever ask Manny to do that. I think it’s pretty safe to assume the Joba/Hughes route would be taken with him and he’d be moved to the pen or sat as his limit approached… perhaps if he were succeeding in the bigs they’d try to stretch 20 IP out of him, but probably not 50. And with Hughes falling apart this season after a heavy workload they might “causate the correlation” and not push Manny at all.

      The great thing about journalism is that there are basically no repercussions… Give KLaw a GM job, and he’s probably a lot more cautious.

  18. Hurling Darvish says:

    I think we need to be patient, biding our time with in-house options young and old, until something worthwhile becomes available, meaning I agree with the gist of the post, although I think it has a “the sky is falling” tone to it, which isn’t really the case right now. one third of our losses are due to Phil and the another third are due to unlikely bullpen blowups (Soriano vs. Twins, Mariano vs. Jays).

  19. Tom says:

    Colon and Garcia have done a great job so far and you ride it as long as you can. You hope that come July you are in a playoff position. Guys like Milwood, Silva, Colon, and Garcia know how to pitch. Colon in all 4 apperences has looked good and throws strikes. He was once a top 5 pitcher in MLB and maybe they Yanks have caught lightning in a bottle again.

    Who will ever forget Aaron Small and Chone Chicon

  20. MannyGeee says:

    Behind him lies Carlos Silva, who apparently showed up to Extended Spring Training slightly less fat than the Yankees expected.

    no work, can’t eat…. welcome to the Depression…

  21. Mike HC says:

    Very well done post overall, by the way

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