What Went Wrong: Pedro Feliciano


Nope. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Yankees have been searching for a quality left-handed reliever since letting Mike Stanton walk after the 2002 season, and that search led them to Pedro Feliciano last offseason. They inked the former Met to a two-year contract worth $8M in mid-December, in part because he a bonafide relief workhorse. He’d proven to be very effective against lefties and unusable against righties, making him the quintessential lefty specialist.

Feliciano, now 35, struck out six batters in his four Spring Training innings, and that was it. We never saw him again. On March 18th, we got word that he was dealing with a dead arm and the team was giving him extra rest as a precaution. Less than two weeks later the dead arm had turned into some kind of triceps problem, a problem that would cause him to open the season on the disabled list. Two days later it was being described as “soreness in a muscle behind his left shoulder,” and the team shut him down for ten days.

The ten days came and went, and doctors had to push Feliciano’s time table back about a week because he wasn’t ready yet. On April 12th, when he finally did get on a mound to start throwing, the southpaw suffered a setback and was sent for an MRI. “He was abused,” said Brian Cashman shortly thereafter, referring to Feliciano’s league leading games pitched totals with the Mets from 2008-2010. The MRI revealed a torn shoulder capsule, the same injury Chien-Ming Wang suffered in mid-2009, but surgery was put off after Dr. James Andrews advised a conservative treatment program that consisted of six-week shoulder strengthening routine. Feliciano was also undergoing platelet-rich plasma treatment as well.

Six weeks after Dr. Andrews’ recommendation, he was ready to start a throwing program on June 1st. Feliciano made 30 soft tosses on that date, and he continued building up to the point where he was ready to being throwing to hitters in early-August. A few weeks later, on August 25th, he made his first rehab appearance, striking out one in one perfect inning for the Rookie Level GCL Yankees. He never made another one. Exactly two weeks after the rehab outing, Feliciano underwent surgery to repair damage to his rotator cuff, a serious procedure that will likely keep him on the shelf for all of 2012.

Between Feliciano, Damaso Marte, and Kei Igawa, the Yankees had three $4M-a-year left-handers on their payroll that were completely unusable in 2011. The reason the Yankees went out and signed Feliciano in the first place was because Marte was recovering from his own shoulder surgery, so they ended up right back where they started, just with less money in their pocket. Cashman’s comments about Feliciano being abused came off as whiny more than anything, because anyone with internet access could go to Baseball-Reference.com and look up how much the guy had pitched the last few years.

The Yankees knew the risk involved with signing an older, heavily worked relief pitcher to a multi-year contract, but they took the chance anyway and got burned again. Early reports from this offseason indicate that the team is again looking to add a reliable left-handed reliever to their bullpen, this time to replace the injured Feliciano who was replacing the injured Marte who was replacing the awful Billy Traber. It’s highly unlikely that Feliciano will ever throw a pitch in pinstripes, rendering him a completely sunk cost.

Categories : Players


  1. BK2ATL says:

    What went wrong….we signed him to a contract….


  2. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I see that the platelet rich treatment doesn’t work for everyone. The Yankees could have signed Scott Downs instead and thought that 4mil was too much. They waited too long and what was left was Feliciano and they had to pay the 4 mil anyway. I believe though, that Downs was asking for 3yrs. Am I right?

    • Ted Nelson says:


    • Ted Nelson says:


    • steve (different one) says:

      Downs was a type A free agent. Sure, they eventually squandered their first round pick on Soriano, but Cashman had no intention of doing that at the time Downs signed. Apples and oranges.

    • Gonzo says:

      I agree that it in hindsight, Downs was probably the better play. He might have killed two birds with one stone (avoiding Feliciano & Soriano). $15mm vs. $43mm over 3 years.

      Downs signed a 3/$15mm deal on 12/10/10 and Soriano signed 1/14/11. Timing was all off. Don’t think Cash wanted to be in the 3 year deals for type A’s market in the beginning of December. Levine changed that.

      That said, Downs is no spring chicken and Soriano can outperform him by a lot in the next two years.

      • steve (different one) says:

        I agree with this assessment. If Cashman knew what would happen with Soriano, he might have been more amenable to signing Downs.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

      My reply to this was going to be “and someone will suggest, on this thread, that the team continue to throw money at middle relievers.” It happened in the second reply.

  3. Monteroisdinero says:

    I saw Feliciano pitch in ST. He really whips the ball across his body and it looks like a mechanical disaster.

    Guess it was/is.

  4. BK2ATL says:

    Well, add John Lackey to the list of TJS folks. AJ Burnett looks like Roy Halladay compared to that calamity. Overpaid, clubhouse cancer, ineffective, now just damaged.

  5. bpd says:

    To be a bit nit-picky: that’s not what “sunk cost” means. It’s not a synonym for a wasted investment. It means that you’ve paid the costs already, and so they shouldn’t factor into your decision making going forward, since you can’t get the money back whatever you do. Feliciano’s contract was a sunk cost the moment it was signed: no matter what happened, the money was gone. It’d still be a sunk cost if he’d been lights out.

    The best example of a sunk cost is a guy like AJ. They keep running him out there in part because they’ve made a big investment in him. But the money is gone. If he’s not the best option every fifth day, he shouldn’t pitch. The contract is irrelevant, now.

  6. Grover says:

    Is the rule that Feliciano cannot be traded at all or are there times during the offseason where he can be packaged with say a Burnett for Zambrano?

    • S says:

      Zambrano is worse than every other option. There is a reason why Cash wouldn’t take him, even though the Cubs tried their hardest to give that psychotic, cancer away.

  7. Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

    I’d rather him go wrong this way than have actually pitched badly. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Ah, Billy Traber. At least you were better than Wayne Franklin.

  8. Fernando says:

    Nothing much on free agent front. I’d stay away from Grabow and the injured Mike Gonzalez. Javier Lopez is solid, but he’s a guy that has pitched lots of games and has a “rubber arm” which was the same things that Feliciano can claim. He wasn’t used as much, but no sense in going that route again.

    George Sherrill is an interesting name. His performance vs lefties last year was mediocre (.256BA), but he sports a superb career .180BA against lefties. He’s pitched less games and would seem a good risk as a bounce-back candidate.

    On the trade front, I do like Randy Choate, Sean Burnett and Jose Mijares.

    • Tom says:

      Are folks ditching Logan, or are people drinking the “I need 2 LOOGY’s for the 5th and 6th inning” Girardi koolaid?

      7 relievers…. approximately 450-470innings needed from the pen each year and 2 of these guys are going to be specialists (who might get 30-40 innings?) So you are looking to get maybe as much as 400 innings out of the other 5 guys?

      One LOOGY is all you need. Wade, So, Ro, Mo are also capable of getting lefties out from time to time. Come postseason there is a use for a 2nd LOOGY but in the reg season all you are doing is straining then pen. If they can find a lefty who’s not simply a specialist then sure… but those guys are generally hard to come by.

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge) says:

      Anything worth more than an org player (fine, I’ll risk them turning into John Axford, since that’s more likely not to happen) and no dice, as far as I’m concerned.

  9. These LHRP ccontracts are starting to feel like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.

  10. These LHRP ccontracts are starting to feel like the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.
    (posting via an iPhone is next to impossible…sonofa…)

  11. Virginia says:

    I never wanted this guy and I knew this was going to happen. If I knew it, why didn’t Cashman? Just a risk gone wrong. Take risks on younger players like Darvish instead of old abused veterans. Darvish has still got a lot left.

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