Yankees shouldn’t stop at Kuroda & Pettitte


(Patrick McDermott/Getty)

After a little more than a month of waiting, the Yankees re-signed Andy Pettitte to a new one-year contract worth $12MM yesterday. He’ll join the recently re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and the incumbent CC Sabathia to give the club a strong, veteran top three while Phil Hughes fills in as the fourth starter and the fifth spot presumably goes to David Phelps or Ivan Nova. Michael Pineda might come back at midseason to help out further, so the Yankees appear to have a set starting staff. I don’t think they should act that way, though.

Pettitte, who will turn 41 at midseason, has not thrown more than 130 regular season innings since way back in 2009. Kuroda, who will turn 38 just before Spring Training, threw a career high 235.2 innings between the regular season and postseason in 2012. Sabathia, who will turn 33 at midseason, will be coming off offseason elbow surgery to clean out a bone spur. Add in the fact that Hughes has never made it through back-to-back seasons as a full-time starter and both Phelps and Nova are largely unknowns, it’s easy to see why the Yankees should continue to pursue rotation depth.

Joel Sherman recently reported the Yankees intend to “bottom-feed” for pitching depth later in the offseason, as in January and February, meaning they’ll seek a Freddy Garcia-type on (a minor league?) low-risk, prove-yourself contract. Dig through the list of free agent pitchers and you’ll see a ton of candidates for that kind of contract (Dallas Braden? Tim Stauffer? Dustin Moseley?), but I think the Yankees should pursue some more certainty when searching for pitching depth. Frankly they should pursue higher-quality pitchers as well.

Considering the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in a year, it’s easy to feel the team should go all-in this year, their final season of an “uncapped” payroll. It would be awesome to see them pursue someone like Brandon McCarthy or (my preference) Shaun Marcum on a one-year contract to fill out the back of the rotation, pushing one of Phelps and Nova into the long-man’s role and the other into Triple-A as added depth. Carlos Villanueva makes sense as well since he has experience both as a starter and as a swingman, but he’ll likely find multiple years and more opportunity somewhere this winter.

A front three of Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pettitte is as good and reliable as you’ll find in the American League, but all three do carry some risk at the moment. Sabathia is usually the rock you can pencil in for 230+ innings every year, but his elbow procedure and the fact the team is already discussing lightening his workload means they might have to treat him as a 200-inning guy going forward, not a 230-inning guy. Bringing Kuroda and Pettitte back was very important, but I don’t believe the team should stop there. If another proven starter on a 2014 payroll-friendly contract comes along, adding him to the stable of arms would be a wise move.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • BJ

    The guys we just signed are old and/or coming off injuries, so let’s sign.. another guy coming off an injury? I like Marcum, but I’m not sure that’s the soundest of logic.

    • Laz

      The healthy players will want big money for several years is the thinking. Royals are paying guthrie of all people 8.3M aav for 3 years. Can look into Haren/McCarthy/Marcum for about the same, but only a 1 year commitment.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      With a one year commitment and, say, Phelps/Nova as your 6th and 7th starters, that’s a chance worth taking.

    • jjyank

      Yeah, but there aren’t really any sure things out there that would sign up to be an insurance policy for 1 year.

  • kenthadley

    You can be sure one or two of these guys will go down with an injury over the course of the year. I vote for a quality addition, but more McCarthy than Marcum.

  • Laz

    Can definetely look into finding another starter. If they have to they will be fine going into ST with this rotation, but at same time if they can find a Haren/Marcum/McCarthy on a decent 1/2 year deal then they should jump at the opportunity.

  • CountryClub

    Pettitte getting hurt last yr probably works in his favor. If he had thrown 180 innings last yr I’d be worried about what his arm would be like in 2013. But throwing 80 was a nice warm up for this yr.

    • Drew

      I can get behind that sentiment. You have to think that taking the year off and all the rest contributed somewhat to his stellar season. I really think that Andy will be a solid 2-3 starter this season. Optimistic offseasonitis is at its worst for me.

  • Drew

    So what you’re saying is that if there is a good player that wants a reasonable contract that the Yankees should sign them? Gotcha.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      They can’t all be magic.

  • Bertin Lefkovic

    How is the market for Francisco Liriano shaping up? If it is as weak as I hope that it is and the Yankees can get him cheaply enough, I think that he is the kind of high risk/high reward pitcher who could rejuvenate his career in NYC.

    • hogsmog

      A 5.0 BB/9 over the last 300 innings just isn’t going to cut it no matter how I look at it.

  • mick taylor

    sign liriano and offer josh hamilton a one year 40 million contract

    • CountryClub

      The Yanks aren’t limited to the 189 cap this yr, but they do have a budget. They’re not going to suddenly increase payroll to 250 mil.

      • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

        fuuuuuck that budget crap. Offer Hamilton a 1 year $50M Contract, with another $50M in incentives if he hits 60 home runs!!!!!!!!! and another $50M if he wins the WS MVP!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Relapse comment in 3…2…

        • Darren

          They can’t offer him $50mm if hits 60 HRs, but they could offer him $50mm if he plays in 120 games, for example.

          The thing is, the only reason they want to stick to the $189mm in 2014 is to keep more money in their pockets — it’s not like it’s illegal to go over that number. So there’s no reason for them to want to go crazy this year either. Their number one goal is no longer to win a championship at almost any cost. Their goal now is to be competitive, while staying on budget.

          Fuckin’ assholes.

          • jjyank

            How do we know they won’t pour the savings back into the team in 2015 or 2016? They might, they might not. I blame the CBA more than I blame the Steinbrenner’s either way.

            • CountryClub

              Just wait until the NEXT CBA. Once the Dodgers blow by the Yanks in a yr or two and have a 250+ payroll, the rest of baseball is going to really drop the hammer.

        • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

          obviously I didnt lay on the sarcas-o-meter thick enough. Its a stupid idea, and Hamilton would never do it, and neither would the Yankees.

          • G

            The sarcasm was plenty thick for me, but just for fun I’m thinking about it. I think there’s a good chance Hamilton would take it if offered. He gets $50 million right off the bat with a long shot chance to make $150 million in one year. I think the potential to make as much as any team is likely offering him in one year, even if it’s unlikely, could sway him. Even if he couldn’t get either bonus, he’d make $50M in one year, and if he stays healthy, I doubt one year would be enough to drop his potential contract by a year and $50M.

            Of course this is all just for the fun of it, such a bonus is not even allowed anymore.

  • Andrew

    How great would it be if the Yankees just irrationally went all in this year with this $189 million cap looming?

    Offer Josh Hamilton a 1-year, $35 million deal. Offer Greinke a 1-year, $30 million dollar deal. Offer insane dollars on 1-year deals in hoping to assemble a ridiculous championship roster before the Steinbrenners drop the 2014 deuce on us.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      They’re not going to take them, though. Why risk NOT having the big multi-year deal next season?

      • mitch

        It’s unlikely, but i don’t think a 1 year deal for hamilton is completely ridiculous. What if his best offer is 5/110? You don’t think he’d consider taking 35 mil and a chance to increase his value playing 80 games at yankee stadium?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I’d still take the multi-year deal. He could get hit by a taxi on way to that wonderful new Guy Fieri restaurant in Times Square and never be the same again.

          • mitch

            or worse he could not get hit by the taxi and actually have to eat the food at Guy’s restaurant. According to the NYT article, that donkey sauce might put you out for a year.

            It’s definitely unlikely, but at some point the reward outweighs the risk.

        • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

          Except that everyone is aware that Josh Hamilton is a ticking time bomb. So while he may get 22M annually, his value to that team is more like 30M in year one and 12M in year 5.

          He will not see that same 5/110 next season. might have to strike while the iron is hot.

    • Ted Nelson

      At that point you’re likely better off just forgetting the 2014 budget. The point is to save money. Given the time value of money, blowing an extra $65+ million in 2013 likely negates the benefits of getting under $189 million. Spreading the money over several years is probably a better strategy that going all in for one year.

  • Darren

    What about Chien Mien Wang?
    Or is he gonna command more than a one year offer?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I think there’s sounder options out there, even though the heart does weep a bit at the sound of a Wang reunion.

      I do have an Axisa-level love for Marcum ever since he was in Toronto. Having Braden carry Alex’s bags all season would be so satisfying. I wouldn’t even say no to a Moseley reunion.

      You can never have enough pitching. I believe in Phelps and Nova oo, but I’d continue to welcome the problem of not having a place to (at first) put them.

      • Darren

        I don’t know, man. I get the feeling Marcum smells bad and would stick his boogers in Jeter’s green beans, just like Viking Lofgren in Bad Boys (the Sean Penn version, duh).

        I say go for Chien Mien, he’s bound to improve upon his 2.00 WHIP of 2012. I think his mistress/affair scandal from back in April affected his ability to pitch, although a shoulder made of angel hair pasta probably didn’t help either. He’s gonna be a workhorse this year, I tell ya! A freakin work horse like Sara Jessica Parker in Season 3.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          This was all sorts of win, Darren.

          I remember the highways in Miami being closed for days to film that OTHER version of “Bad Boys.”

          • Darren

            Yeah, the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence version wasn’t bad, especialyl because it featured Tea Leoni. Jesus H, she was so hot back then, AND she seemed genuinely cool, too. But it doesn’t hold a candle to Penn before he turned so douchy, Ally Sheedy as jailbait, Esai Morales, etc.. And of course the biggest movie blooper of all time:


  • Get Phelps Up

    Brandon McCarthy. They have Nova and Phelps and Pineda in June to step in if (when) he gets hurt.

    • jjyank

      I like the idea. Even if he gets hurt, which he probably will, he can be valuable until (or after) that point. If he pushes Phelps or Nova to AAA, they can ride McCarthy as long as they can and then have one of those guys come up and fill the spot they are already currently penciled in for.

  • LarryM., Fl.

    I can not disagree with the logic of your article. Indicating the factors on each pitcher you can see the possible negative issues during the season. The possibility of the injuries brings us to 2014 with all the 2013 one year deals gone. We’ll have CC and Hughes with three spots needing to be filled. Nova or Phelps will more than likely not receive enough innings or confidence building to be considered ready to go with another acquisition . This has been a huge problem with the Yankees, development on the upper level. Bottom feeding will not enhance this development.

    Can we expect guys to perform at the top level without some on the job training especially if they have shown no need to be in AAA. Both Nova and Phelps need to pitch at the big league level.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Six of one, half dozen of the other.

    • Mike K

      100% agree. One should be starting, the other in the swing-man role. If we don’t find out what these guys can do, then next year we’ll be in the same situation of “needing” proven vets to take rotation spots. But not having the budget to pay them.

      There will always be risk in the rotation. They could go out tomorrow sign Grienke and Sanchez, moving Nova and Phelps to AAA and Hughes to swing-man. And still be scrounging for starters come June. Or they could go with what they’ve got, and get 30+ starts out of their top 4, and 25+ out of Phelps/Nova with the other dozen or so starts coming from minor leaguers. Given that the Yankees need to develop cheap internal options, I’d rather roll the dice on the kids.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Like I said to Larry, you’re taking care of that problem, but also exposing yourself to having a much lesser pitchers making meaningful starts if the dominoes start to fall.

        Pineda aside, who do you have any sort of confidence right now in the minor leagues to step in and give some decent innings in 2013? Warren? Marshall? Nuno? That may happen, and maybe it should but, to me, those guys should be plan E, not plan C/borderline Plan B.

        • Mike K

          Warren and Marshall definitely. Later in the year Turley maybe. Getting some more depth at AAA I support. I even wouldn’t be completely opposed to getting a veteran to be the swing-man, as long as he understands that the loser of the Phelps/Nova battle (in AAA) will still be ahead of him for the rotation in case of injury. The kids have to pitch, and they have to pitcher regularly.

        • Sweet Dick Willie
  • JLC 776

    Screw certainty! For whatever reason, Cashman and Co. are downright prescient when it comes to reclamation projects. I expect them to once again get a guy who has all of us scratching our heads and ends up throwing together a +2 WAR season.

    Okay, I’m probably being foolishly optimistic, but the track record here is damn good. There are plenty of low risk, high reward busts, but empirically speaking it seems like the Yankees are more successful than average in this category.

    • jjyank

      I don’t have a good handle of how successful other teams are, but I definitely agree that they have really done an excellent job on scrap heap guys.

  • Grover

    Cots shows $158M+ with the signings of Kuroda and Pettite included. Mo is going to cost more than Pettite. If he signs for $13M and the arbitration raises are at or near the $18M+ that Mike predicts, that doesn’t leave much money to resign or replace Martin, Ichiro, Chavez, Ibanez, a right handed bat that can backup Texeira and possibly a cheap option in the pen or additional starter.

  • mitch

    Random thought…
    Could anything stop the yankees from dishing out front-loaded contracts in an effort to reduce payroll for 2014? For example, instead of giving russell martin 8/8/8, could they give him 12/6/6? If the total money is the same, i’m sure he would have no problem taking more up front.

    • MannyGeee – $189M ain’t gonna cut it

      The Luxury Tax is based on AAV of the contract.

      • mitch

        how do options/bonuses factor in?

        • Get Phelps Up

          Options are I believe treated like a one year contract.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          Bonuses are added to the luxury tax calculation for just the year they are paid.
          Team options are treated as separate one year deals, except that any buyout amount is prorated over the guaranteed years of the contract.
          Player options (and opt out years) are treated the same as regular guaranteed years, unless the buyout is more than half of the option value, in which case the player option would be treated the same as a team option.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      AAV, buddy.

  • Travis L.

    Dont rake me over the coals too much. I think Marcum could possibly get a multi-year deal (Possibly McCarthy too), so maybe they could go after Roberto Hernandez (aka Fausto Carmona) on a one-year deal? I’d think a David Aardsma like contract for Tim Stauffer or Mike Pelfrey would work? I know you guys dont like Pelfrey, but JLC 776 has a point with Yankees and reclamation projects. Maybe Pelfrey finds a one year miracle.

    As for Catcher…what about Olivo? Isnt he a free agent? Couldnt we get him on a one year contract and hope that Romine is suddenly the HEALTHY catcher we hoped he would be?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’d take Pelfrey on an MiLB. I’ll take anyone on an MiLB.

      Can’t knock the hustle, but I’d want some serious due diligence done on the identity theft guys before bringing them in.

  • Logan

    haren or bust

    • Knoxvillain

      He’ll probably cost too much. If they could get him for 1/8 and team option for a year after that at 12m then I’d be all for it.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Don’t really see the reason to. It’s a bridge year, they’ll still compete but they won’t spend every resource to win it this year.

    Bottom feeding is fine for 2013 until better options present themselves.

  • Ted Nelson

    I would say that the line between “bottom feeding” and “quality depth” is thinner than you make it out to be. I do not think you are exposing a different strategy than the Yankees. I think you are just assuming a different outcome.

    The point is to wait to see how the market plays out, and who is left without a chair. Who is going to be available at good value. That might be Marcum, McCarthy, Villanueva, Braden, Wang, Liriano… who knows?

    Taking one rumor that they’ll look for someone along the lines of a quality P you underrated at the time of acquisition to definitively determine who they are going after is odd.

    • Ted Nelson

      I also don’t think 2014 has much to do with it. You can argue as easily that they need to see what they have or give a chance to cost controlled 2014 guys like Nova and Phelps and Warren and Marshall and Betances. I don’t particularly agree with either argument, but that was is as strong as “going all in” for one year because of something that’s going to happen the next year.