Scouting The Trade Market: Tom Gorzelanny

Prospect Profile: Mark Montgomery
Bad ideas to move along the off-season

Late last night we learned that the Yankees aren’t having any “hi-level” trade talks about a starting pitcher at the moment, a vague little term that could mean lots of things. Are they not having serious discussions about any pitchers, or are they not having discussions about a high-end pitcher? Could be either depending on how you interpret the report.

Anyway, we all know the Yankees are indeed in the market for a starting pitcher and perhaps a lefty reliever as well, so let’s take a look at a player that could potentially fill either role: Tom Gorzelanny of the Nationals. Washington has surprising rotation depth, with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman fronting a group that also includes Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, Ross Detwiler, Brad Peacock, and Tom Milone. They’re also dipping their toe in the C.J. Wilson/Mark Buehrle end of the free agent pool, which would further push Gorzelanny out of the picture. Let’s break down the 29-year-old southpaw’s credentials…

The Pros

  • A four-pitch lefty, both of Gorzelanny’s fastballs (two- and four-seamer) sat right around 88-89 mph as a starter before jumping to 91-93 out of the bullpen in the second half. He also uses a changeup and slider — both in the low-80’s — pretty regularly.
  • Gorzelanny was pretty dynamite after moving to relief this summer, striking out one-third of the 27 left-handed batters he faced while surrendering just three singles and two walks. In a small sample (190 plate appearances), he’s held batters to a .283 wOBA with 20.5% strikeouts and 10.5% walks while coming out of the bullpen.
  • He’s done some fine work against same-side hitters throughout his career, holding them to a .294 wOBA with 24.6% strikeouts (9.11 K/9) and 7.9% walks (2.93 BB/9). This past season, Gorzelanny set career bests in strikeout rate (8.14 K/9 and 21.3% of batters faced) and walk rate (2.83 BB/9 and 7.4% of batters faced).
  • During his time with the Cubs (mid-2009 through 2010), Gorzelanny managed to provide 2.7 fWAR and 1.6 bWAR of value in 174.2 IP, the best stretch of his career since a strong 2007 campaign. His pitching coach in Chicago was current Yankees’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild, so there’s some familiarity there.

The Cons

  • Gorzelanny has been on the DL twice in his career, both times for elbow inflammation (26 days in 2011 and 31 days in 2006). He does have a knack for the fluke injury though; he’s dealt with six different hand/arm injuries as a result of being hit by batted balls since 2006. Six times! None required a DL trip, but sheesh, the guy is a magnet for comebackers.
  • He’s solid against lefties and as a reliever, but the numbers against right-handed batters and as a starter are not all that impressive. Opposite-hand batters have tagged him for a .354 wOBA with a 15.6% strikeout rate and a 10.4% walk rate during his career, and as a starter those numbers are .346, 17.1%, and 9.9%, respectively.
  • Gorzelanny is a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher, getting a ground ball just 36.2% of the time this past season and 41.1% of the time in his career. That number against lefties isn’t any better (43.9%), and he’s been rather homer prone as a big leaguer (exactly 1.0 HR/9).

Gorzelanny is a candidate to be non-tendered next month (deadline is December 12th), and MLBTR’s projections peg him for a $2.8M salary in 2012, his third time through arbitration before becoming a free agent after the season. He cleared waivers last August, indicating that no team (including the Yankees) thought he was worth the pro-rated portion of his $2.1M salary. Acquiring a player in the offseason is different than acquiring the player during the season though, only because there’s a bit more flexibility about how the available payroll space is distributed. Just because no team claimed Gorzelanny off waivers in August doesn’t mean a team wouldn’t be willing to trade for him now.

These non-tender/trade guys typically don’t bring much back in a trade; their teams are just trying to get anything back rather than nothing. Both Andrew Miller and Zach Duke were traded for fringy Triple-A relievers before being non-tendered last offseason, two fringy Triple-A relievers that have already been let go by the Marlins and Pirates, respectively. Gorzelanny is better than either Miller or Duke, so maybe the Triple-A reliever will have to be slightly less fringy, but I think you get the point. We’re not talking about a multiple prospect package here.

Ultimately, we’re likely looking at a lefty reliever, because I’m not sure Gorzelanny can make it work as a starter in the AL East. This situation is somewhat similar to what I wrote about Chris Volstad in the mailbag two weeks ago; Gorzelanny does make some sense for the Yankees as a lefty reliever/emergency starter, but the Yankees don’t make sense for Gorzelanny. If they don’t trade for him and he hits the free agent market as a non-tender, then chances are he’ll be able to find a starting job somewhere, or at least find a better opportunity to win a starting rotation spot. It’s a question of whether or not the Yankees will want to give up something to get him in a trade, then pay him close to $3M to work out of the bullpen exclusively for the first time in his life.

Prospect Profile: Mark Montgomery
Bad ideas to move along the off-season
  • Guns of the Navarone

    Tom Gorzelanny


  • Nick

    I will never forget that game in 2008 where he walked like 6 Yankees but only gave up 2-3 runs. Up there with the Moyer game in 2010 and the Doug Davis game this year for annoyance.

  • http://none Favrest

    Let’s hope that it doesn’t come down to a guy who wasn’t good enough to be the 5th starter in the Cub rotation. If that becomes our option, I’d bring up both Betances and Banuelos, and see what they can do.

    • murakami

      I don’t think Banuelos or Betances should be rushed, based on immediate need. Both are far too valuable to risk sabotaging their development, ala Joba Chamberlain. If they push their way into the spotlight, great, but otherwise, their progress shouldn’t be interrupted. Let them dot their i’s and cross their t’s, the better to help us later, which isn’t that far off.

    • pat

      I don’t think they’d be looking at him as a rotation candidate…

    • Ted Nelson

      I’d imagine it would be a depth move.

      • Zangief


        • Jesse

          Ok, this is getting ridiculous…

          • Joey from jersey

            Not to mention tiresome. Zangief and Plank the same person? I have never seen them together…

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    He may have upside as strictly a LOOGY. If the Yankees gave Feliciano 8M for 2 yrs then they can give this guy 3M a year say 2yrs. If he can get Ortiz, Gonzalez, Crawford and other prominent left handed batters in clutch situations he will earn his money. And he is just 29.

  • ADam

    Would not be a terrible LHRP/Long man… would serve two roles…

    • MattG

      And spot starter…three roles.

      Fly balling lefties in Yankee stadium (who are tough on lefties) are solid investments.

      • Tom

        Sorry but this is a terrible idea… if you want a LOOGY you want someone who’s available nearly every day. If he’s also serving as a long man, what happens when he pitches 2-3 innings and is unavailable for a few days?

        If the answer to this is “use Logan”… you figured out the riddle. You only need one damn LOOGY in the regular season… especially when Girardi has 1 inning guys for the 7/8/9th innings, has Joba back mid year and has another reliever (Wade) who does a decent job getting lefties out. The Yankes simply need another arm to throw low leverage innings not a 2nd specialist who’s going to not throw a ton of innings and tax your good arms that much more.

        And you are also going to have this guy occasionally coming in for a batter or two and then be magically stretched out to be a spot starter when you have a guy like Noesi and some other AAA depth for this?

        If Girardi and Cashman continue this absurdity of a 2nd lefty so robot Joe can go left-right-left in the 6th inning, at least just light 4mil on fire and don’t waste prospects (even lesser ones) to satisfy this ridiculousness.

    • thenamestsam

      This is an important point. If they’re really looking for a second lefty, and people seem to think that they are, it has to be someone who can do other things. It just doesn’t make any sense to carry two pure LOOGYs,and 4 one inning relievers in the same bullpen during the regular season. The 7th guy is going to get way to much work, or you end up having to use some of your big relievers in blowouts. But if the 2nd lefty can act as either a LOOGY or someone capable of ably munching some innings in a less tight game then it’s a lot more feasible.

      As a converted starter Gorzelanny would be ideal for that role. He could comfortably pitch 2 or 3 innings when the situation warranted while also coming in to get a tough lefty in a closer game. Not sure I like him specifically unless the price is next to nothing, but this is the type of guy I’d be looking for as a 2nd lefty (which I think they should forget about anyway).

      • Ted Nelson

        I’m not too worried about that since Girardi seems willing to go to Logan for a full inning or more. I count 20 times last season he pitched at least an inning.

        The last guys in their BP last season weren’t necessarily long-men. Ayala had 56 IP in 52 G. There were only 5 times last season that he pitched 2 full innings, and never more than that. Wade had 39.2 IP in 40 G. Noesi was the only real long-man until call-ups that I recall (though I could have forgotten someone).

        The bullpen can also respond to the Yankees’ needs as the season goes on. If someone is getting overworked they can make a change.

        I’m not saying to get a LOOGY for the sake of it, but the right guy might not be a bad move. Especially if he’s cheap and fungible should it not work out. And of course not all lefties are LOOGYs. A guy could be a good one inning reliever and improve the pen (granted he’s not really “needed”) without being a long-man type, in my opinion.

        • thenamestsam

          All good points. I’ll hit on a couple. It’s true that he used Logan for more than 1 a number of times. Logan also had an unusually strong year against righties so it might not be as good an idea next year, but if he can keep it up Logan’s development into a more well rounded pitcher definitely makes it more palatable to carry another specialist.

          You’re right that they didn’t carry a designated long man for most of last year, but in my mind that’s because they always had 2 or more guys capable of throwing multiple innings out there. I could be wrong about that (does anyone know if there’s a site where you can track the roster over the course of the season?) and please contradict me if I am. But my point is that last year they had 2 guys splitting that mopup/longman type role for most of the year. If you throw in another LOOGY type then 1 guy would have to pick up most of the innings pitched by that guy, or we’d see a lot more Logan in those types of spots, or more Wade.

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, I don’t know how effective Logan will be against RH next season. I just feel Girardi has demonstrated a willingness to go with him for a decent stretch if his bullpen is short. He also had twenty 1+ IP Gs in 2010, though had a lot more <1 IP Gs towards the end of the season.

            I haven't made a study of it either, but I sort of feel like Noesi was mostly that "designated long-man" (then later Proctor after Sept. 1 and Pendelton a bit, think that was after Sept. 1 too) while the other end of the BP guys like Wade and Ayala were primarily one inning guys.

  • thenamestsam

    There’s a lot of talk about a 2nd lefty reliever, but the bullpen is already looking a bit crowded. They have 3 guys who will be in there 100% if they’re healthy (Mo, DRob, Soriano). Two more who are close to locks in Wade and Logan. They need a long man, so figure either one of the starters who gets bumped by a new acquisition (Garcia probably) or else one of the AAA guys(Mitchell or Noesi or Warren). Joba will be coming back at some point. Kontos looks ready for the majors, and they could potentially carry two from the long man group (say they sign a starter– I could see Garcia and Noesi both being in the pen).

    You can never have too much pitching, but anyone they’d be adding would be essentially a pure depth move, and I’d be pretty surprised for them to do that in a trade. I expect them to keep grabbing scrap heap bullpen pitchers in the hopes that one of them can do a Wade impersonation if someone gets hurt, and otherwise stand pat.

    • Jesse

      Exactly, and Cashman said there’s not a huge need for a second lefty.


    • Ted Nelson

      “I expect them to keep grabbing scrap heap bullpen pitchers in the hopes that one of them can do a Wade impersonation if someone gets hurt, and otherwise stand pat.”

      There’s always a shot some bargain they can’t pass up comes along, but that’s what I expect too.

      • Ted Nelson

        I would guess there’s a lot of talk about it because it’s one of the few places on the team where a stand-out performer might be a big improvement (along with the LHP/LHH thing, the Red Sox having a lot of LHH talent, and Yankees fans mostly seeming to hate Logan in 2011… and it’s pretty easy to hate a guy who I believe hit the first batter he was brought in mid-inning to face more than once… could be wrong but I really feel that happened at least twice).

        • thenamestsam

          Yeah you’re right that it’s probably just a product of not having much to talk about with such a set roster.

  • cranky

    A good analysis of Gorzellany.
    All said, he’d make a fine addition to the Yanks’ bullpen.

    As I’ve posted on these boards before, I’d like to see the Yanks sign Dontrelle Willis for their bullpen
    (lefties’ career .BAA=.200..OBP=.274……..In 2011: .BAA=.127/.OBP=.169—and he’d cost nothing).

    But Gorzellany might still think he’s a good starter.

    Having a LH reliever as your one-out-guy AND a potential middle reliever would be a nice thing. Gorzellany would fit that role. Paul Maholm would fit that role, too. Neither is a good bet to be a good starter in the future, but both could be really good “role” pitchers.

  • Greg

    I think that last year after Gorzelanny manhandled the Phillies on a Sunday night, that I called in to a radio program wondering if the Yankees might make a trade for Gorzelanny to replace Pettitte. I dont know what will happen with him this year.

  • bankers hours

    Is this a joke or what, we’re the Yankees, why are we shopping at K Mart. These type of guys are useless in New York.