Talkin’ about Aaron Laffey

Yanks can't finish sweep as late rally falls short
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(Photo Credit: Flickr user BGSU86 via Creative Commons license)

Stop me if you’re heard this before, but the Yankees are looking for a veteran lefty reliever. I know, shocking, but that’s what Jayson Stark reported yesterday. The Yankees dumped J.C. Romero from their Triple-A squad last week (he’s since hooked on with the Rockies) and claimed Raul Valdes off waivers earlier in the week, but he’s a veteran in terms of age (33) only (just 64 IP in the bigs). Another veteran(-ish) southpaw hit the market yesterday when the Mariners cut ties with Aaron Laffey (a former Indian, hence the picture), so let’s see if he’s a guy that makes sense for the Bombers.

The Pros

  • Well, he’s left-handed, and that’s always a plus. Laffey’s got a classic LOOGY repertoire, which means a fastball in the high-80’s and a sweepy slider in the low-80’s that helps generate a ground ball 51.5% of the time. He’ll also mix in the occasional low-80’s changeup and high-70’s curveball, but very rarely.
  • Laffey came into the season with one minor league option remaining, and although he was sent to the minors on July 30th, he was recalled two days later due to an injury. Because it’s already August 18th, any team that acquires him could stick him in Triple-A until September 1st and not burn that option because he will not have spent the required 20 days in the minors. Long story short, he has an option for next year.
  • He’s under team control for three more years after this one, and won’t make much money in his first trip through the arbitration process this winter. Something in the high six-figures is the most likely salary for next year.

The Cons

  • He may be left-handed, but Laffey has never been all that good against same side batters in his big league career. Lefties have tagged him for a .250/.321/.431 batting line (10 K, 7 BB) in 81 PA this year and .271/.339/.388 (77 K, 37 BB) in 488 PA for his career.
  • Laffey’s peripheral stats are terrible. His career overall numbers are an eyesore (4.44 K/9 and 3.42 uIBB/9), and against lefties they’re merely mediocre: 6.15 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9 with a 47% ground ball rate. That hardly screams “valuable reliever in the AL East.”
  • Uh … well he’s not really that much of a veteran, which is what the Yankees are reportedly looking for.

By no means is Laffey great, but we have to remember what we’re talking about here: a potential second lefty reliever. Not the number one guy that will get the big outs in the seventh and eighth innings, just a spare arm for some miscellaneous matchup work. I do like Laffey for that role, or perhaps I should say I like him more than the current in-house options (Valdes and … Steve Garrison?). That’s a better way to put it. That fact the team will be able to send him the minors next year without a problem is great, just because it’s an added level of flexibility and bullpens thrive on that. I wouldn’t give up anything of value to acquire Laffey, I don’t like him that much, but there’s nothing wrong with making a waiver claim and rolling the dice on a young (26), cost-controlled, and optionable southpaw for the rest of the season and next.

Yanks can't finish sweep as late rally falls short
Series Preview: Minnesota Twins
  • Bill

    40.5% of the time the slider produces a square ball and 8% of the time a hexagonal ball.

    • 24fan

      Well played Mauer.

  • jsbrendog

    bring up venditte.

    • Accent Shallow

      You mean a guy with lesser stuff from the left side than Aaron Frickin’ Laffey?

      Pass, pass, a thousand times pass.

      • jsbrendog

        this was not serious

        • Accent Shallow

          You never know anymore.

          • jsbrendog

            unfortunately, i know (that you never know), ya know?

            • Jorge

              I just wish they’d bring up Montero already and make him the second lefty. The team clearly so does not know what they’re doing and are obviously holding him back.

  • Jeety

    Remember when Laffey was a big prospect? Dreaming on prospects sure is fun

    • Accent Shallow

      He was never ranked in BA’ top 100. I remember a little buzz, but not a whole lot.

      You know who was a big-time prospect? Derek F. Jeter. That seems to have worked out OK.

      (And for every Jeter, there’s a dozen Eric Duncans. So it goes.)

  • Eric Duncan


    • Jorge

      Say hi to Drew Henson for me.

  • Xstar7

    When you say the “Yankees” are looking for a veteran lefty reliever, do you mean Brian Cashman or the front office?

    • Professor Plum

      Is Brian Cashman left-handed?

  • bonestock94

    He seems fairly useless, although he is young and might improve with more work.

  • Scully

    Maybe we could get this guy: to come out of retirement. He’s only 50 :D and i remember him being murder on Paul O’Neill.

    • Nickel

      I just clicked the link thinking without really looking at it thinking, “It’d be funny if this were a link to Paul Assenmacher’s page.”

    • Nickel

      How about a another go for this guy? :-P

      • jsbrendog

        id bet he still pitches in a softball league somewhere or something haha

        • Nickel

          Actually, I was given tickets to last night’s Somerset Patriots game (although I live in Central New Jersey, only about a half-hour away, it was my first time there). I was suprised and amused that their active roster included Ron Villone and Bill Pulsipher.

  • MattG

    “there’s nothing wrong with making a waiver claim and rolling the dice”

    Well, the risk is he pitches well in a September audition, well enough to get a chance to face Hamilton in a big spot, and costs the Yankees a playoff game. I don’t like this guy’s numbers, and I’d rather have Soriano against Hamilton.

    • Jerome S.

      Except that anyone can spit the bit against Josh Hamilton. Seriously, this is the most senseless comment I’ve read in a long time. That includes the Melky conversation.

      • MattG

        Dude, the comment is I prefer to have a good righty instead of a mediocre LOOGY. Not senseless.

        • Jerome S.

          That’s not at all what you said.

          • MattG

            I embellished it with a scenario. Basically, bad pitcher has good, very short, audition and gets reps in place of a better pitcher thanks to his handedness. No thanks.

    • Accent Shallow

      I think it would be earlier in the game, so more like Ayala instead of Soriano. Anyway, Laffey kinda sucks and has poor stuff, so . . .pass.

      Being an LHP only gets you so far.

      • MattG

        In the regular season, yes. In the post-season, I would hope Soriano would be available from inning 6, if not 5, on. You have to be willing to extend these guys to 4, 5 outs in October.

        • Jim M

          I agree with this point. Think about it – If Hughes goes to the bullpen and is effective – you have Hughes-6/Soriano-7/Robertson-8/Rivera-9. That means Boone Logan/Corey Wade get you thorugh the 5th inning in the playoffs – or come in in extra innings. Second loogy is overblown – replacing ensuring you have a backup for Boone would be a more serious issue.

  • Jason

    Id rather give Banuelos a shot at it

    • MikeD

      Agreed, sort of. The weakest part of Banuelos’ game this year is fastball command, which is kind of important for a reliever. The Yankees are also going to look at his overall workload this year and weigh how often he can be used for the lefty-only role. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him come September or not.

  • Crime Dog

    I think we have enough Steve Garrisons on the 40 man (hint, its one)

  • Jorge

    I’d take a shot on every Andy Cisco/Logan Kensing/Aaron Laffey/CORY WADE (caps for emphasis) type on the right side of 30 I could. Worst that can happen is that you let him go in a couple of months if they don’t show they could be seen as an MLB contributor.

  • leftylarry

    I’d rather try Kramer Sneed.