What else to do with Freddy?

Tigers land Fielder with nine-year deal
Diana Munson at Jorge Posada's Retirement Press Conference

If the Yankees don’t use Freddy Garcia as the fifth starter, what exactly can they do with him? As Mike mentioned in his earlier post, he’s quite inflexible. He doesn’t have significant bullpen experience, which rules out the most obvious alternative. Since the Yankees signed Garcia after the free agency filing period ended, they cannot assign his contract — i.e., trade him — until June 15th without his written permission. That leaves the Yanks in a bit of a bind.

The strongest point in favor of Garcia manning the fifth spot is his lack of baggage. He’s under contract, he’s capable, and there’s nothing to prove. While both Hughes and Burnett are under contract, their capability is ripe for debate, and it’s undeniable that both have plenty to prove. Garcia, then, is the simplest, most straight forward option for the rotation. At the same time, that works against him.

The Yankees probably want to see if they can squeeze a little more value out of the $82.5 million they’ll pay Burnett. At the same time, they probably want to see if they can actually get prolonged productivity over a pitcher who was once the No. 4 prospect in the game. Brian Cashman‘s words do make it appear as though they wish to trade either Burnett or Hughes, which could ease the situation a bit. But even if they do, that leaves Garcia in competition with the non-traded pitcher. The point about flexibility remains.

Whatever the case with the other two pitchers, the Yankees will likely stand pat with Garcia throughout spring training. Injuries happen, so Garcia acts as a bit of insurance for the Yanks. If they reach the end of spring training healthy and decided that they’d prefer Hughes or Burnett in the fifth spot, it is conceivable at that point that Garcia would consent to a trade. He might have enjoyed his experience with the Yankees, but he might also prefer a chance to start with another team, rather than play the role of long man in the Yankees’ bullpen.

The biggest problem with the above scenarios is that Garcia’s greatest value for the Yankees comes in the rotation. He clearly won’t be as valuable out of the bullpen, even if he pitches moderately well there. He probably won’t fetch much in a trade, unless a team suffers multiple injuries in their starting rotation and becomes hopelessly desperate for a living, breathing pitcher. If the Yankees don’t use him as the fifth starter, the $4 million they used to sign him will have basically become garbage. That’s not ideal for a team that has used the word “budget” frequently this off-season.

Since Garcia is not involved in trade talks, and since he’d provide quality innings pitching in the fifth rotation spot, it’s easy to envision him there to start the season. The Yankees don’t have many other realistic options. They could try to trade him, but probably wouldn’t get equal value. They could move him to the bullpen, but he’s never really pitched there. It will probably take them moving one of Hughes or Burnett to make it work, but it does appear that the best solution for Garcia is to have him pitch every five days.

Tigers land Fielder with nine-year deal
Diana Munson at Jorge Posada's Retirement Press Conference
  • Rainbow Connection

    Freddie at #5. Let Phil get back on track at AAA.

    • CJ

      Ruin phil’s career in AAA. Nice. Great vote of confidence in a man who won 18 games/season in majors. I’m sure he’ll understand and be willing to do anything to help the team.

      • jsbrendog

        how does this ruin his career? right, it doesn’t

        • CJ

          Yeah. He’ll be 26 he has nothing to prove in minors. Sending him to AAA is a blow to his confidence and ruins his trade value. Also, sends a threatening message to nova banuelos betances, NY is a pressure cooker as soon as you struggle you’re going back.

          • jsbrendog

            false. he has an option. the ML team has 7 starters. the other 2 guys with options have a much more successful trackr ecord.

            • Gonzo

              If they have a plan to make him better à la Roy Halladay, send him down.

            • CJ

              Last time Freddy won 18 games? 2001 last time he threw 170+ innings? 2006. Phil Hughes 2010.

            • CJ

              Because Hughes has an option? What save an 18 game winner in minors in case you need him later? There’s a show in cable called Hoarders about people with that thought process.

              • jsbrendog

                right. mmhmm

              • Ted Nelson

                Wins are a team stat, not an individual stat.

          • Ted Nelson

            Huh? Hughes has a ton to prove this season whether it’s in AAA or MLB. It’s totally false to pretend a AAA assignment necessarily ruins his career.

            As soon as you struggle? Hughes has struggled for a year and a half now. He’s struggled and been sent down before.
            The Yankees need to do what is best for Hughes and their team. Not worry about intangible messages their AAA pitchers may or may not take from Hughes joining their rotation. If they are scared by the thought that being absolutely horrible gets you sent back down… how are they ever going to deal with MLB mentally?

      • T.O. Chris

        You do realize how useless the 18 game winner argument is right?

      • MannyGeee

        You know who else got optioned to AAA 2 seasons after winning 18 games? (while suffering an injury in the interim)? Cliff Lee.


        • bpdelia

          Nice buddy nice. I was focusing so hard on how ridiculous a statement it was to suggest that a guy who has been given every opportunity is 26 and struggled for almost two years being sent down would “ruin” him that my brain frizzled and i ass unable to conjure that nearly IDENTICAL scenario.

          That surely ruined lee. This whole “confidence” narrative is always utter garbage. If a guy is God he’ll succeed if he loses confidence by being sent down after a year and a half of wet bed shifting he wasn’t gonna make it anyway.

          I like Hughes. Seems like a great guy, doesn’t make excuses and still has talent but the kid gloves treatment ended in may of this year. Now he is just another late 20s former prospect struggling to make it. He is entitled to nothing. If he wins that job great. If not going to Aaa will “ruin him far less than going to the pen.

  • viridiana

    Garcia would be perfect for long man in pen. Don’t see that lack of experience would be major hindrance.
    Of course, he may not like the idea but I really think Hughes — if he looks good this spring — needs to be top priority of the three.

    • descender

      This was the option they chose last season out of ST before Hughes died… I don’t understand why it was the first one dismissed.

  • KOFH

    Hasta AJ…

  • Cris Pengiucci

    the $4 million they used to sign him will have basically become garbage.

    This year’s version of the Marte or Feliciano signings (without the injury). If he’s relegated to the role of long man, there’s little of value here. In Cashman’s defense, he was signed at a time when other options had yet presented themselves.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      And I agree, based on all factors as we know them right now, Freddy appears to be the best option for the #5 starter.

    • Ted Nelson

      That’s a pretty huge qualification… Marte and Feliciano were signed for a certain role, and then got injured. Garcia was signed for a certain role that he now may or may not fill because better options may be on the roster. Not sure it’s a perfect comparison.

  • FIPster Doofus

    Freddy’s hands down the best option for No. 5. The other two can F off.

  • Dick Winters

    Freddy’s earned the #5 spot. He had a better year than Phil and AJ last season so he should get to start the year as starter. If he falters then you look elsewhere. They ruined Phil’s arm like they did Joba’s and now he’s better off as a reliever. Phil, Joba, Soriano, Drob, Mo is the best pen in the league. AJ Burnett shouldn’t even be on the roster.

    • jsbrendog

      They ruined Phil’s arm like they did Joba’s and now he’s better off as a reliever

      this doesn’t even make any goddamned sense. how did the yankees ruin phil hughes arm?

      • Dick Winters

        They put him in the pen for 09 and then overworked him the very next season. Phil was great in the 1st half of 2010 but then he clearly got tired and ended up getting destroyed in the ALCS. He pitched way too many innings and this season was the effect of that. I only hope he can still be a good reliever like Joba.

        • jsbrendog

          cause he has had arm trouble you’re right. oh wait, phil hasn;t had any elbow or shoulder issues has he?

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t know if they did or didn’t “ruin” his arm, but yeah he was injured last year.

        • Steve (different one)

          How do you explain the great start in the ALDS? I know it’s inconvenient to the narrative.

        • T.O. Chris

          This whole Phil was great in the first half argument doesn’t hold much water. He was actually great over the first 56.2 innings of 2010, he was actually very average for the other 119 innings.

          • Ted Nelson

            You are wrong. Check the game logs. His June numbers were dragged down by a terrible outing the last start of the month.

      • Gonzo

        They put his locker near the buffet. I keed, I keed!

  • jsbrendog

    doesn’t phil have an option? freddy 5, aj long man, hughes aaa for whe someone inevitably misses time in april/may

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Yeah, if Phil doesn’t come out in ST and show he’s clearly better than AJ & Freddy, that would seem like a viable option. However, if he looks like 1st half 2010 Phil, that could make things difficult for the Yankees.

      • T.O. Chris

        Do we really call 56 innings the first half? It’s more like if he looks like the first 1/3 2010 that could make things difficult. Since he actually struggled for the other 119 innings, which would classify as more than just a “half”.

        • Ted Nelson

          No. His June was going fine until he blew up the last start of the month. 82 IP into the 2010 season he had a 3.17 ERA (he had 78 Ks and 25 BBs. His season was 176 IP.

          Why would you throw that out there without actually looking at his game log?

  • CJ

    Freddy can be traded for salary relief no return. Hughes can be traded but you have to get a valuable piece in return. AJ will be impossible to trade without adding $25+ million to the deal.

    • Havok9120

      You assume someone will just take him off our hands for four million dollars. And that he would LET us sell him to the highest bidder before having a chance to prove himself.

      Not to mention that eating the hypothetical $25 million would actually save us more money than chucking Freddy’s $4 million contract.

  • SuperEd

    I like Freddy as the 5th starter, but you can’t deny AJ as an innings eater, i think he would be equally as good. I have pretty much given up on Hughes as a fan, but who knows what yankee brass thinks is the priority. Regardless, i think the yanks HAVE to make a trade and move AJ or Hughes. If there’s an injury you have the killer B’s in the minors waiting, you don’t need to have a $4m/$16m long man waiting in the wings

  • CUYanks

    They might not need a number five starter in the first few weeks of the season anyway? What’s the schedule look like?

    Also, Injuries have a surprising way of creating rotation spots. I’m sure we’ll see starts from Freddy, AJ, and Phil this year.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      They’ll need one the first time through the rotation, I know that much. Not sure about after that.

  • MidlandTX

    We should be so lucky as to have “Too many options as starters” as our worst problem on Opening Day.

    • Cris Pengiucci


    • Dick Winters

      The pitching staff is in good shape. The 5th starter isn’t even that big of a deal. Come playoff time it’ll be CC, Kuroda, Nova, Pineda.

  • Kevin G.

    Let’s go with the 7-man rotation. Or maybe even 8 if Banuelos impresses in Spring Training.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    My preference is, obviously, Hughes becoming the pitcher we know he can be, snatching that spot and never letting go.

    I’m also perfectly fine with giving Freddy another go. I’ve not once lost sight of his durability.

    I don’t see him as long man. I would rather the team just give him the opportunity to start somewhere else, then. I think he’d agree to a trade, were that to be the case, and that the team could basically find a long man under a rock if need be.

  • CJ

    Freddy will give his permission for a trade if asked. I thought a good team for him was Arizona before they signed Saunders.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think he would as well. While I think he was willing to take a long man job last year, I think he knows he could easily find a team that will fit him into the back of their rotation this year. I also think the Yankees should grant him the opportunity (DISCLAIMER: NOT THAT I THINK THEY OWE HIM ANYTHING. I WAS AROUND FOR THAT THREAD.)

  • Just Nod If You Can Hear Me

    If locking Garcia into a spot means Burnett gets the boot, sign me up.

  • CTRob

    Not Really Yanks related but La Russa to manage NL in All Star game. First to do it after leaving the game since John McGraw.

    • jsbrendog

      i hope colby rasmus makes it and hits the gw hr

  • Bean Tooth

    Freddy is the most expendable (AJ’s just not going anywhere). If Hughes shows up at ST in shape and dealing, there’s no doubt he’s the #5. Both Freddy and AJ represent short-term (one-two year) options for the Yanks. But Phil is still young and while no one expects him to become an ace, he could still turn into a sold mid-rotation guy for the foreseeable future. Let the three compete in ST, but with an eye to giving Hughes the spot if he’s looking solid, with AJ in the pen and Freddy odd-man-out. I’d rather the Yanks release him than force Phil into the pen if there’s a chance he can work out in the rotation.

    • CJ

      I’d rather see Hughes forced to the pen than sent to AAA.

      • Havok9120

        Depth, depth, depth.

        Confidence, confidence, confidence.

        Frankly, he’s got a lot to re-prove. And I think his commitment to show up in shape this year shows that he knows it. Much as I love the guy (hence me not wanting him traded) let him re-prove himself in AAA.

  • Dick Winters

    One thing they shouldn’t do again is the 6 man rotation. That was ridiculous and they don’t need to cater to that clown AJ Burnett anymore. All it did was make CC ineffective in the playoffs. We should have beat Verlander in game 3.

    • Steve (different one)

      We have no idea if t made him ineffective in the playoffs. He looked awesome in game 1, but it rained. Then he started game 3 on SHORT rest. That is just as likely to be the problem. You can’t say that CC needs his routine and then omit the fact that he had to go on short rest in game 3. They had no control over that, shit happens.

  • BobinBend

    Not worth sweating much at this point. By the end of spring training it would be a miracle if all seven starting pitchers are healthy or that they all stay healthy through the first month of the season. Then there is always the six man rotation that worked so well last season.

  • nsalem

    I would like to see Freddy Garcia as the 5th starter. I know many perceive Hughes to have this tremendous upside but up to now he has displayed neither the tools or consistency to be an effective starter. Even in that “great” 2010 18 win season that people refer to, Garcia not only had more quality starts then Phil but he had them by August 1. The last 2 years Garcia has done nothing but keep his team in games which is all an offensive minded club like the Yankees need to produce wins. Until he shows he can’t do it anymore (for the good of the team) he should not be replaced by someone who has never produced as a starter saved for a 10 game stretch. Talk all you want about Garcia’s low K rate his lack of velocity and his high FB rate. If and when his luck runs out (or if someone actually better than him comes along) he should be replaced. Until he stops producing good results people should at-least start considering the possiblity
    that he possess great skills rather than luck. Aftrer all he is on the team most of us are rooting for.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    Freddy has to be five.

  • Burbankbogey

    Let’s not assume that Kuroda and Pineda are going to improve on last year either. I hate to be a downer but there is a big adjustment for those two as well. Best case for me is that a 26 yr old Phil Hughes out right wins the a spot and is around for years. AJ and Freddie are not long term solutions anyway.

  • parmesan

    Garcia simply having never pitched out of the bullpen is a flimsy reason to doubt his mettle there at this advanced stage of his career. I see no reason why he couldn’t be a swingman. So what if he never pitched out of the bullpen before? It’s a matter of reajusting your regimen and the place you sit during games. Not a big deal for someone who already knows how to pitch in the Big Leagues. Hughes should be the #5 starter if his fastball is back becaused that’s what’s best for the organization both short and long term.

    How about analyzing the implications of Garcia pitching out of the bullpen instead of just declaring the proposition fruitless and moving on?

    • Jason

      Hughes’ fastball was pretty effective in the bullpen back in 2009: Fastball velocity is faster when pitching in relief…if he does poorly in ST maybe that’s an option.

  • bpdelia

    Just something no one hes mentioned. Why not trade Nova? He clearly now has the most value of the ml and Aaa arms ( non banuelos division) his previous codling was 4 or 5 starter. Maybe Heisenberg now an average 3 if all breaks right. It is extremely possible he is at the apex of his value. He is durable and the training wheels are off and at WORST a team is getting a healthy cost controlled innings eating groundballer with the possibility of being a good mid rotation starter.

    Is.Nova and heatcott for brown and a low level arm not a good deal? Nova is a hells good #5 for the phillies. Heathcott is a lottery ticket that could replace victorino in the unlikely event he puts it together. If brown works out swisher walks freeing up the needed canoe granduncle money and one of Phelps, Warren, Marshall, Mitchell, bettances, banuelos should be able to replace Nova without losing too much.

    Cologne me skeptically on Nova ever being better than last year. I think he can pitch around that level, but i think we just witnessed nova’s best case outcome

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      That would be sick. I’m not a big believer in Nova and I love Dom Brown. I’m not sure the Phils would go for that though.

  • bpdelia

    Fucking auto correct
    You can tell i post about physics slot as it turned he is into Heisenberg.

  • Tomm

    Freddy is a brilliant pitcher. With a weak arm, he is effective nonetheless. To me, he is almost like the late career Pettitte, moving the ball every which way, curves, changes, splitters — despite not ever cracking 90. A big presence on the mound, knowledgeable about every aspect of the profession (even if he is as inarticulate as hell in English) you have to love this guy. No wonder he is a legend in Venezuela. And of course he’s your number 5. Who else you gonna put there?


    Phil has 1 – 1.5 bad year and we give up on him for retread Fred? Phil was injured most of last year and we’re sending him to AAA, for retread Fred? Freddie could be a solid #5 – beating the A’s and KC with regularity, but Phil could still be an ACE! CMON !!!

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Log-jam fixer:

    Hughes + minor leaguer for Dominic Brown.

    AJ Burnett and some cash for Carlos Lee. Bite the financial bullet for two years. Lee comes off the books at end of 2012.

    Freddy #5, with Mitchell, Warren, etc. as backup.

    ManBan waiting in the wings.

    Jeter – SS
    Granderson – CF
    Cano – 2B
    Rodriguez – 3B
    Teixiera – 1B
    Lee – DH
    Swisher – RF
    Martin – C
    Gardner – LF

    Bench of: