Felix Hernandez and the price of pitching

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

(Stephen Dunn/Getty)

After a slight elbow-related speed bump, Felix Hernandez and the Mariners finalized their landmark seven-year, $175M contract extension earlier this week. It is the largest pitching contract in history, both in terms of total value — surpassing CC Sabathia‘s $161M commitment — and average annual value. Felix is young, durable, elite, and certainly worthy of the largest pitching contract the world has ever seen, but don’t expect that record to last very long.

At some point in the next nine months or so, the Cardinals will likely sign Adam Wainwright to a long-term contract extension to make sure he doesn’t become a free agent after the season. Wainwright is excellent but don’t count on him surpassing Felix’s contract — he’s several years older with a major arm injury (Tommy John surgery) in the not-too-distant past. Then, at some point in the next 21 months or so, the Tigers and Dodgers will — I’m comfortable leaving out the “likely” here — sign Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw, respectively, to mammoth contract extensions. Those two, particularly Kershaw, have a very real chance of getting a larger deal than Hernandez.

The number of ace-caliber pitchers hitting the open market continues to dwindle — the last legitimate, inarguable ace to be a true free agent was Cliff Lee three winters ago — as teams become more progressive and sign their players to extensions early in their careers. That wasn’t always possible because of market sizes, but fat new television contracts — both local and national — and revenue sharing and all sorts of other stuff are giving clubs a means to keep their stars. Baseball has intentionally leveled the playing field, at least somewhat.

That’s a problem for the Yankees. Their advantage has always been the ability to outspend literally every other team, but that ability is dwindling in two directions — other teams have more money to spend and the Yankees are scaling back payroll. Not only are fewer ace-caliber pitchers hitting the market in general, but the competition to sign them is much greater. The days of a signing like Mike Mussina, who New York landed with little competition during the 2000-2001 offseason, are a thing of the past.

The Yankees are not oblivious to this, which is why they made the Michael Pineda trade last winter. Pineda, who turned 23 a week after the trade, was far from an established ace, but he had an above-average big league season under his belt and the tools — specifically a mid-90s fastball and a wipeout slider, both of which missed bats — to be an ace down the line. Signing an ace is becoming harder to do and the Yankees have had no success growing their own ace, so they traded for someone else’s developing ace. That trade, obviously, has been an unmitigated disaster thus far. That doesn’t mean the idea was wrong (I preferred keeping Jesus Montero, for what it’s worth).

If there is an ace coming in New York’s farm system, a) I don’t see him, and b) he’s not coming anytime soon. With Verlander, Wainwright, and Kershaw bound to get locked up in the near future, the only two ace-caliber pitchers scheduled to hit free agency in the next two offseasons are Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson, both of whom carry significant question marks (poor performance and injury, respectively) right now and will be free agents next winter. David Price will be a free agent following the 2015 season, but of course he could will get traded before then and his new team might lock him up long-term before he hits the market.

The Yankees have done a pretty swell job of filling out their rotation with veteran stopgaps on one-year contracts, and that looks like something they’ll have to continue doing for the next few years. It will be harder to do with payroll coming down, but Pineda or Ivan Nova or David Phelps or even Brett Marshall could step forward to seize one rotation spot and make life a little easier. Baseball is flush with cash these days and fewer top pitchers are becoming available, which is a big problem for New York going forward. They either have to start developing their own above-average pitchers or develop enough prospects to trade for pitching and hope they work out better than Pineda has.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Cris Pengiucci says:

    Pineda & Banuelos will be the next Yankee aces, becoming top tier pitchers before CC declines, which will be the end of his contract.

    In all honesty, I see the Yankees falling into a slight period of decline (possibly beginning in ’14, definintely by ’15) for a couple of years, forcing the current ownership to either:

    1) sell the team (unlikely, due to the revenue the Yankee empire generates)
    2) reinvest and rebuild a championship-caliber team (I’m hoping for this outcome)
    3) continue on in mediocrity due to the financial restructuring MLB puts in place, making it less financially beneficial to build a perenial winner, until they decide to sell.

    Certainly hope the outcome is 2 and not 3.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      If Pineda and Banuelos are top tier pitchers before CC declines, I don’t see how you could possible foresee trouble in the Yankees future.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        First, those are big if’s (and I stated that in jest). Second, they still need to either re-sign Cano (investment) or find a replacement. Granderson falls into that category as well. We’ll see what becomes of A-Rod. They could need someone at 3B as early as the ’14 season too. After the ’14 season, they need to fill SS and another OF spot. Hopefully the OF spots can come from within the minor league system, but who knows?

        These aren’t insurmountable issues, but none are a lock to be filled with top talent either. Things could be just fine or they could be horrible. I suspect they’ll be somewhere in between, allowing the Yankees to compete (an over .500 team), but still miss the playoffs for a few seasons.

        • Jim Is Bored says:

          Didn’t sense the jest at all, so I guess that’s my bad.

          I was just saying, if pineda and banuelos are top tier in the next 3 years, that implies cost control, and would mean the Yanks have a lot of money to spend on the lineup(Cano, etc).

          But otherwise, it’s possible we’ll decline, yes. I suspect though, that when push comes to shove, the Steinbrenners will open the checkbook for the right guy.

          • Cris Pengiucci says:

            I certainly hope that’s the case. I can’t yet read the “new” ownership. Yes, the Yankees can compete with a $189M budget, but with A-Rod’s contract on the books and Teixera not producing at a level near his contract value (still could turn it around), Cano about to require a huge contract, Granderson, and on and on, the team needs to either have some big impacts from cost controlled players or decide against the $189M budget plan.

            • Cris Pengiucci says:

              And BTW, I will never make a prediction with absolute certainty. When I do, it is in jest. We can’t know the future, and with the 2 of them coming off injuries, it is certainly a leap of faith to think they’ll both become aces. We just can’t predict how these young guys (and others) will perform going forward.

    • trr says:

      Re Pineda & Banuelos, that is taking an optimistic view to say the least…while arm trouble at a young age does not preclude later success, your statement is huge leap of faith with very little evidence to support it

  2. Pat D says:

    It just seems to me that the new CBA is somehow rendering the era of free agency a thing of the past.

    • Manny's Banwagon says:

      Yep. The way FA is going these days, it’s almost turning into develop your own stars or do without especially front line pitchers. You could fill in some holes but more and more it seems your core needs to be home grown or come from trades.

      • mike says:

        and unfortunately, I have absolutely no confidence that the Yankees can develop those pitcher

        • jjyank says:

          It’s been quite some time since they have, but part of that is a lack of opportunity. The Yankees don’t get to draft guys like Strasburg or Price. They’ll develop an ace at some point. Luck plays a big role there as well, and at some point they’re going to run into some luck with developing pitchers.

          • mike says:

            but that completely ignores the international market – nevermind Cuba and Japan – where the Yanks had only themselves to blame for not signing a FA ( whetrehr budget, flawed valuation, poor scouting projections etc)that could develop into a big pitcher for the Yanks.

            we really have to go far back to find a solid contributor to the Yanks staff ( as i mentioned, if CMW and Hughes are that guy) – but besides them, the picture is pretty bleak

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              Outside of Felix, who’s the biggest name ace to come from an international FA signing?

            • jjyank says:

              How many surefire aces did they miss out on in the IFA market though? Most of those guys are huge unknowns that have the cost of a proven veteran. Cespedes looks good now, but that’s a lot of cash for a guy that was largely an unknown quantity. Hell, Soler was 19 years old, even more of an unknown, got NINE years.

              We also don’t know how Pineda will bounce back. Another factor is the lack of a need to develop an ace for awhile. When the Yankees had guys like a young Pettitte, Clemens, Mussina, Sabathia, etc. there was a lesser need to focus on it. I just want the Yankees to have an ace. I don’t really care if he came from the farm system, another team’s farm system, or free agency. It’s an arbitrary condition and I don’t really understand why it matters so much as long as this ace fits into the budget.

              You may have no confidence, but I think that’s foolish personally. An ace will come. The Yankees have some pretty good prospects that can either become one or be traded for one.

          • TomH says:

            The Yankees don’t get to draft guys like Strasburg or Price.

            That may be coming to an end.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              For real, let’s make a bet. If the Yankees don’t get a natural top 10 draft pick in the next two years, you change your handle to “Insufferable pessmist.”

              If they do, I’ll change mine to “TomH is always right, I will never argue with him.”

            • LK says:

              Strasburg and Price were #1 overall picks. There’s no reasonable way to make the case that the Yankees will have the worst record in all of baseball in the near future.

            • jjyank says:

              So you think the Yankees are going to have the worst record in baseball within a couple years? Wow.

            • Havok9120 says:

              See, this would be hilarious if some people said it. With you, there’s too high a chance you actually believe it.

  3. BeanTooth says:

    Well that was a fun post. I do think a lot of medium-term hopes will be pinned to Pineda and Banuelos, but they could just as easily completely flame-out. The market has changed and the Yanks need to adapt. Hopefully they can start with this year’s draft, although the only chance for drafting a true future ace may come from a couple years of seriously sucking.

    • mike says:

      also- look at the Arod contract and how a long term deal debilittes an organization.

      if its fair to assume that these teams will spend almost 25% of their payroll on one player, and that they do not have the revenue to compete with the biggest markets over time (NY,LA etc), they likely will suffer through the same issues at the tail end of these monster deals as the Yanks do today.

      the issue really is the Yanks inability to develop a really good starting pitcher in more than a decade ( maybe CMW or Hughes if you want to stretch “good”…..), despite unlimited resources, no cap on international FA signings and an organizational focus on the issue

  4. Jim Is Bored says:

    I’m sorry, the trade doesn’t look amazing, but Noesi and Montero were not amazing next year. It might end up being an unmitigated disaster, but it’s not right now. Not even remotely.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Last* year. Last year.

    • thenamestsam says:

      Agreed. It’s basically the definition of a MITIGATED disaster as I see it. Disaster is definitely a fair word to use, but unmitigated is totally incorrect. It’s mitigated by the fact that neither of the players they sent out has provided anything of value so far. Noesi looks like he’s going to be a complete 0, and Montero didn’t hit a lick while seemingly cementing that he’s not a catcher long term. If those aren’t mitigating circumstances, what would be?

    • Manny's Banwagon says:

      Well it is a disaster so far.

      The fact that and Noesi didn’t have great years is pretty irrelevant. At the time of the trade, that package had some tremendous trade value, similar to what landed the Nats Gio Gonzalez and the Reds Matt Latos.

      All it landed the Yankees so far was a pitcher trying to come back from a major shoulder injury and another who missed almost the whole year with an elbow injury.

      If you wanna say the book on this trade is far, far from finished, I’d agree but so far it’s been a total disaster.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        We all must have incredible different definitions of disaster, I guess.

        • Manny's Banwagon says:

          You can argue semantics all you want but 1 year in, that trade has turned out to be awful, terrible, pick whichever synonym you’d like.

          Sure it could change but Mike was commenting on what it has been “thus far”.

          • Jim Is Bored says:

            But it’s been awful, terrible for both sides. It’s, as namestam argued, a mitigated disaster. Not unmitigated.

          • Jim Is Bored says:

            Basically, if you could have the choice to go back in time, and undo the trade, is it a slam dunk that you would do so?

            I’d say I’m probably 70/30 to take it back, but for it to be a complete disaster I shouldn’t have to think about it.

            • Cris Pengiucci says:

              But if you do take it back, where does Montero fit in? Is he your everyday DH? What if he doesn’t produce against RHPs? What do you do with A-Rod when he returns? He’ll need a lot of time at DH and I don’t expect him to hit righties well either.

              As of now, the deal hasn’t worked out for either team. I’d consider it a wash, not any kind of disaster for either team.

              • Jim Is Bored says:

                Well if you could go back in time with current knowledge, you’d probably add a bit more to the trade offers for halladay or lee, and go from there. Although do you really want their aging salaries with the pending 189 crisis?

      • thenamestsam says:

        Right, but the same argument works for the Mariners side right? I mean they gave up a package of tremendous value also, and what did it land them?

        Noesi: 2-12, 106.2 innings, 5.82 ERA, 5.53 FIP, 5.08 xFIP, -.7 fWAR

        Montero: .260/.298/.386, 90 wRC+, -4.9 UZR, -.2 fWAR

        • Manny's Banwagon says:

          Young HEALTHY players with upside, especially Montero.

          I was in favor of the trade too, for the record and I still think there’s a good chance Pineda comes back close to what he was

          • jjyank says:

            Agreed. I was also in favor of the trade (begrudgingly, but still in favor). I don’t like the use of the word “unmitigated”, but I also won’t argue that the Yankees have come out ahead just because Noesi and Montero combined for a negative WAR.

            In my opinion, judging the trade either way can’t really be done properly yet. We need to see how many games Montero can catch and if he can bounce back next year. We need to see if Noesi can improve. We need to see how Pineda comes back from surgery and Campos from injury. There are far too many unknowns, and all four of those players have some upside.

          • thenamestsam says:

            Don’t think it’s worth arguing about much more since this has been rehashed a thousand times. I’m just saying both teams gave up a lot of value. So far neither team has really gotten any value in return. The Mariners have a better chance of getting value than we do, but the simple fact that they haven’t gotten any yet seems like a pretty significant fact in discussing the trade today.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              This is all I was saying.

            • The Big City of Dreams says:

              So far neither team has really gotten any value in return.


              They got two players that aren’t hurt. Of course that can change but at least Jesus and Nova were on the field this past season yr

              • Jim Is Bored says:

                And you know what is better than 2 players who aren’t hurt and provide -WAR? A player who doesn’t provide any.

                Of course it’s more complicated than that, but that’s my point. Getting players who aren’t hurt is not the only factor in evaluating a trade.

          • Herby says:

            Aww, c’mon it’s so much fun to bury a 22 year old player around here…he wasn’t Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson all rolled into one in his first year, so he’s got to be a piece of garbage.
            I do think not every team is going to be able to sign their top pitchers, how many of these big contracts will even the top teams be able to dish out, there will still be great pitchers coming on the market, there just aren’t going to be as many. A lot of teams will just look at the Yankees and see what an inflexible payroll can do to a team, especially with one that doesn’t have the finances the Yankees do.

            • thenamestsam says:

              “Aww, c’mon it’s so much fun to bury a 22 year old player around here…he wasn’t Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson all rolled into one in his first year, so he’s got to be a piece of garbage.”

              You know who else he wasn’t? Chris Stewart (.5 fWAR last year) or Francisco Cervelli (.5 fWAR in 2011, last time he played in the bigs).

              I mean Pineda getting hurt was a disaster for the Yankees. We don’t need to skirt around that. But we also don’t need to pretend Montero’s season was something other than a huge, huge disappointment. He was expected to contend for rookie of the year, he was given a full time gig, and he was below replacement level. He’s 22 and time is on his side, but if he had that season for the Yankees fans would be lining up around the block to talk about how the Yankees overrate all their prospects and how we should have dealt him when we had the chance.

      • Cool Lester Smooth (Formerly YanksFanInBeantown) says:

        That package was literally nothing close to what Gonzalez and Latos cost. They traded a top DH and a reliever/spot starter for an elite young arm and a lottery ticket.

        The Nats traded a Campos in AJ Cole, a legitimate catcher in Derek Norris, Tommy Milone, who is better than Noesi, and a mid-rotation starter in Brad Peacock for Gio.

        The Reds traded a mid-rotation starter in Edinson Volquez along with an elite catching prospect, Yasmani Grandal, the top 1B prospect, Yonder Alonso, and a Mark Montgomery type reliever in Brad Boxberger for Latos.

        And seeing as how Pineda and Campos outproduced Montero and Noesi at the major league level, even not accounting for Montero’s horrid pitch framing, it’s hard to call it a total disaster.

        • Cool Lester Smooth (Formerly YanksFanInBeantown) says:

          With pitch framing (from Matt Carruth’s data) he loses another win (-10.3 runs). So the Mariners lost either one or two wins last year by making that trade.

    • jjyank says:

      I agree. The trade hasn’t worked out (so far), but I feel like “unmitigated disaster” is a bit harsh. In a year from now, Montero is an all-star and Pineda’s shoulder is never the same again, we can say that. I think it’s too early to make that judgement.

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      Jesus Montero was enough to get a Cliff Lee. He was valued across the league. Cashman wouldn’t even give anything more than Montero for freaking Roy Halladay. If Cahsman thought he had that much value then the return in a trade better be great. How Montero and Noesi does is largely irrelevant.

      • Jim Is Bored says:

        You could say literally the exact thing about Pineda.

        What Cashman would have given up for Roy Halladay doesn’t mean anything to me. Alone, he was not enough to get a Cliff Lee. I’m not sure where you saw that trade offer, because I didn’t.

        How Montero and Noesi do are a reflection of their talent and value, both huge parts of trade evaluation. I’m sorry, I can’t ignore how they play when I’m analyzing the trade in hindsight. Otherwise you have to ignore how Pineda does too.

        • JobaWockeeZ says:

          I can say the same thing about Pineda. It doesn’t change that our one and best shot for another ace so far didn’t work. It was a risk at the time and it’s still a risk now.

          And I don’t care that you don’t care but Cashman was only willing to give up Montero for Roy Halladay. We all know that they’re not equals but that obviously means he holds Montero in a high regard. He was able to attract proven aces and that’s what we really need.

          Of course we really can’t negate what Montero does but if Pineda does well then whatever Montero does is likely irrelevant because it’s a win either way. On the flip side if Pineda fails then we wasted a chip even if Montero busts or hits 500 home runs.

      • Laz says:

        Yea, but it was only buying like 1 season of team control. There was no guarantee Lee would still be here.

    • LK says:

      The fact that Montero and Noesi sucked last year does mitigate things somewhat, but I think you’re presenting a false dichotomy here. Because those two were so bad, the trade as it turned out is approximately as good as if the Yankees hadn’t made a trade. But, they also had the option to make a different trade. Considering the package they gave up had signficant value *at the time*, the fact that they’ve gotten no value in return still makes the trade bad in my opinion. It’s just been bad for Mariners as well.

    • But the thing is how much better would Montero have been with protection and the short porch in right field? It might be a stretch but he would have been a 25-30 HR guy last year for NYY

  5. JohnC says:

    The next Yankee ace pitcher will be Ty Hensely. Yanks must also continue to be very agressive in the draft (those 3 early picks are very crucial). Also becuase of the spending limits in the International market where Yanks have the necessary budget to spend on the top tier talent. Scouting going forward is going to be very important, uncovering some hidden gems with the finacnes available

  6. Nate says:

    My prediction: the next Yankee ace pitcher will be Campos.

  7. thenamestsam says:

    I think Mike is pretty much right on here. If the Yankees are, in fact, going to treat the $189 as a hard cap going forward, then while they will still be near the head of the payroll pack, that pack is going to be a lot tighter on their heels. As revenues in the game increase all the teams that aren’t close to that $189 cap are going to be increasing their payroll and consequently hanging on to their good players. Free agency is going to be a smaller weapon than it has been historically, whether that’s for pitching or hitting.

    As for what they can do about it, not much that I can see. Trading Montero doesn’t seem like a great example of a reaction to this. They traded a cost-controlled bat for a cost-controlled arm. I don’t see much evidence that teams are more apt to lock up their young stud pitchers than their young stud hitters. All they can do is focus on developing players, but they’ve already been doing that. They just have to do better, but that’s not a change in tactics.

  8. Manny's Banwagon says:

    I gotta say I’d be more than a little worried signing Felix to that contract considering he has some problem with his elbow not to mention the fact that he’s been losing about 1mph off his FB for each of the last several years, down from 96+ to 92.4 last year.

    He also has a ton of innings on his arm at a young age

    • thenamestsam says:

      Not criticizing your comment at all, but I think saying “He also has a ton of inning on his arm at a young age” just shows how inevitably scary pitching contracts are. If a guy gets hurt, like Wainwright, you have Mike saying we should be wary because “he has an arm injury in his recent past”, and if he doesn’t get hurt, it’s you saying we should be wary because he has a lot of innings. Basically no one knows which pitchers we should be wary about, except that it seems to be all of them, which I think is pretty much correct.

      • Manny's Banwagon says:

        The innings are the last of my concerns. The elbow issue and especially the big decline in velocity is much more concerning to me.

        He could turn out to be another Lincecum in a year or 2 and with that contract and the M’s would be pretty screwed.

        It’s always gonna be a risk with pitcher. I’m just saying to me, there would be some pretty good reasons to have concern.

        • thenamestsam says:

          Oh I’m definitely with you.

          Just pointing out that with nearly every pitcher you’re going to be able to find something to be concerned about. They’re so mysterious and so fragile that you can find a warning sign with almost every guy.

          Too many innings, too many injuries, inverted W, decreasing velocity, decreasing Ks, decreasing GBs, increasing walks, big innings jump, and on and on.

          Every big pitcher contract seems like a big risk because it is a big risk.

      • Laz says:

        I’m actually waiting for him to fall apart. He is 26 and already has 1600 innings under his belt, and 4 seasons in a row of 230+ innings. If I was Mariners I would have traded him while ahead. Also the fact that while the contract came out to $25M aav it is actually a $27.5M per year extension over 5, since it bought out 2 years already under team control. The guy has more innings under his belt than Kershaw, Verlander, Price, hell even Greinke.

  9. emac2 says:

    I think we should just fold the team. We’ll never win again without the money advantage.

    If you can’t cheat, quit

    crying and whining works too I see.

  10. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Just to give my $0.02 on some of what’s been discussed above:

    1) I hope Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi become multiple time All-Stars and get into the HOF. Why? Because I agree that what they do is relevant to the Yankees only in that they have to face them. Michael Pineda is the guy in pinstripes. I care about how Michael Pineda does. So far, all we have to show is shoulder surgery so, yes, that’s not good at all. From here on out, though, we have to hope the recovery is a good one and that the time lost is shadowed by the time he’s able to contribute.

    We care way too much about “winning” and “losing” rades sometimes. This is no longer Buhner for Phelps or McGee for Sykes.

    2) If we can again broaden our lens into the future and ignore the hyperbole that will continue to make its way on here, the Yankees will continue to strive to develop better from within as well as using the FA market when they need to. There’s no guarantee that any approach will work out. We’d all be billionaires if our results matched our intentions all the time.

    3) This will be all be for naught when Manny Banuelos is shoving changeups up MLB’s ass in 2014.

    4) I missed the part where CC Sabathia fell off a cliff. I expect him to be a damn fine pitcher for this team for several more years, and to make the adjustments he needs to make when age-related challenges occur. He didn’t get to where he was because he’s some sort of brute. There’s more Mike Mussina between those ears than there is AJ Burnett.

    5) I think a lot of intelligent fans foresaw a transitional period towards the middle of this decade. Here we are. I’m sorry this is hard for some of you. It builds character. I promise. I am a better person because I sat through Tim Leary starts in ’91……and this isn’t even on the same planet as that.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Re: 5

      Not that it’s on the same scale, but the 9 year WS drought from 00-09 made 09 a lot sweeter to experience, IMO. So I’m right on board with you there.

      • Cool Lester Smooth (Formerly YanksFanInBeantown) says:

        I actually love that we consider 9 years a drought for the Yankees. It just says so much about how successful the Yankees have been over the last 20 years.

        • Laz says:

          Right. Annoys me all these people crying all the time since they have not won the WS since 2009. You know how many teams have not won the WS since 2009? 27 of the 29 other teams. Even if you only win once a decade, that is still way ahead of the rest of the league. Also, was easier many years ago when you didn’t have 30 teams.

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Hell, they made the playoffs (and even the WS a couple of times) within those 9 years, just didn’t win it all. That’s no drought in my book.

          • Jim Is Bored says:

            Eh, it’d a “drought” because we didn’t get to celebrate.

            I could have used a different word, but couldn’t really think of one. Anyway, winning the first in 10 years is much sweeter emotionally than winning the 3rd in 3.

    • Nefarious says:

      I remember watching Andy Hawkins No Hitter.

      This season could be down but it’s not the early 90′s

    • TomH says:

      On this character-building issue. My character benefited from 1952- 64. It seriously went sour 1965-75.

    • Cuso says:

      That $0.02 was Canadian, wasn’t it?


    • RetroRob says:

      Yeah, the whole winning/losing a trade is code for “I want the player my team traded away to suck, and the player my team acquired to have a HOF career.” Make no mistake about it. Many Yankee fans want Jesus Montero to baseball so they personally can feel better about the trade. The same group doesn’t care that Curtis Granderson has delivered what the Yankees wanted. A left-handed hitting, 40-HR CFer. They’re okay with that, but they’re upset that the players traded away had the nerve to be good players. They’d feel much better if they were pumping gas around the corner.

    • LK says:

      For #4, I agree CC will continue to be solid. But, just to use your Mussina example, I recall after we signed CC in ’09 everyone was celebrating finally having a real ace…after we just had Moose for the past 8 years. He doesn’t have to fall off a cliff to stop being an ace (not that you absolutely have to have an ace to win).

    • Herby says:

      All sounds pretty good to me…having sat through a couple transitional periods I know another one was probably one the way. They can be hard, but it always makes the next series of winning years all that much more fun.
      Despite his recent arm troubles I have a lot of confidence in Campos and Banuelos. I will be curious to see how Pineda comes back. I do think he can be a valuable pitcher for the team. It’s pretty much a mixed bag of success with how pitchers return from this surgery, we’ll just have to wait and see, but there have been some pretty good ones.
      CC I always saw as one of these guys who will throw for a long time, make the adjustments he needs, have some minor surgery along the way, but never really need major work. I think he’ll be a good starter for the Yankees throughout his contract.

  11. steves says:

    I agree with Mike when he says if there’s an ace coming from the Yanks farm system, I don’t see him. I disagree with the notion that such an ace is not coming soon. How often is an “ace” recognized before they have actually turned into one? Was Andy ever thought of as an ace or was Mo ever thought of as a premier closer while they were still in the farm system (or Cano a superstar)? I trust, given the opportunity, there already are one or two pitchers in the system that will have excellent careers ahead of them; the fact that it is hard to predict exactly who they are is part of the charm of being a fan and why we all love the DOTF stuff.

    • jjyank says:

      I agree with this. Judging and projecting prospects is far from an exact science. I’m sure that out of the group of prospects we have, some will bust, some will meet our expectations, and some will come out of nowhere and make us all go “holy shit, remember when this guy never cracked our top 10 prospects?”.

      • LK says:

        Prospecting is inexact, but an impact player who never made the top 10 team prospect list is pretty rare.

        • jjyank says:

          Semantics. I could have used any number, I was just trying to make a point.

          • LK says:

            Fair enough, but if you follow the farm system at all, I don’t think any impact players are going to sneak up on you these days. Some players will exceed expectations for sure, but it’s not like the Yanks are going to end up with an ace out of nowhere.

            • Jim Is Bored says:

              Robby Cano.

              • LK says:

                If you followed the farm system, you knew Cano had a very high ceiling.

                • Jim Is Bored says:

                  High ceiling != highly regarded prospect.

                  Every reputable source I saw thought he wouldn’t stick at 2B, and that his bat might not play up to 3rd. No one saw him becoming an MVP candidate.

                  • LK says:

                    I never said prospects won’t exceed expectations. I was just saying if there’s an ace on the Yankee farm, it’s a guy we know has considerable potential.

                • jjyank says:

                  My following of the farm system was very casual back then, but I don’t think any ever thought Cano would end up being the best second baseman in the game.

                  As far as the ace thing goes, no, I don’t think an ace will come from nowhere. But I think it’s possible, probable even, that a guy ranked outside of the top 5 or top 10 can put it all together one day and become a frontline pitcher. This statement is now me speaking generally for all teams, not specific Yankee prospects. It happens, as one could expect from an inexact science.

                  • LK says:

                    There’s definitely tons of uncertainty in evaluating prospects. However, there’s so much coverage these days that it’s pretty hard to find true sleepers. There will be some guys who surprise us on the Yankee farm, but I don’t think you can count on an ace coming from that.

                    However, I don’t necessarily agree with Mike that it’s impossible to see an ace coming. There are some very high ceiling pitchers in the system.

                    • jjyank says:

                      I’m not trying to say that a non-prospect can become an elite talent. Prospects are prospects because they all have some potential. Just glancing over Mike’s own top 30 list, we have Betances, Warren, Mitchell, Marshall, Jose Ramirez, and Nik Turley all outside of the top 10. I’m not saying any one of them can become an ace, but there is a chance, however small.

                      Yes, we know that all those guys have some potential, so in that sense they won’t “sneak up” on us. That was never really my point though.

        • entonces says:

          I think Posada’s highest ranking was #9 or 10. Could be wrong, but I don’t think Mo was a Top 10. Had pretty much fallen off the rada after surgery. I remember seeing him in a AAA game circa 1994 or 95 and being surprised he was till around. A lesser example of a guy who never made prospect lists but turned out to be pretty decent major leaguer awas Leyritz. Plenty of guys ouperform.

          • RetroRob says:

            Producing players who can contribute on the MLB level, or exceed their prospect rankings, is a different discussion than producing an ace. I mean, I’ve been around long enough to remember the Yankees turning a hard-throwing lefty reliever named Ron Guidry into an ace, but the fact I’m reaching back to the late 1970s for this is not a good sign. It’s rare.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      How often is an “ace” recognized before they have actually turned into one?

      All the time. The only real ace-caliber pitcher right now who didn’t project to be one in the minors is Cliff Lee. Aces stick out like sore thumbs. You can see them a mile away.

    • RetroRob says:

      I think this comes down to a person’s individual definition for an “ace.” Andy has been a fine pitcher. I would not say he was an ace, living instead as a #2 to #3 starter. Nobody would have predicted Pettitte’s career for good reason. It’s not a career that should be predicted for anyone because it’s kind of rare.

      Could Banuelos and Pineda be front-end pitchers? Yes. Ace? Don’t see it. Hensley is way too early.

      I’d be happy if the Yankees could develop several #2 and 3 level pitchers. They can live without an ace if there’s enough quality below the ace level.

  12. John D says:

    one word … Joba

  13. RetroRob says:


    It’s “easy” to sign a player to a big contract. It’s more difficult to absorb the down years at the end and continue to invest and build a winner. That’s been a Yankee stregth. Time will tell how an organizaation liket he Mariners handles this.

    Things will change again.

  14. Uncle Mike says:

    Can someone explain to me why Hernandez is worth all that money? Is it all the postseason games he’s won? Is it all the Pennants he’s helped his team win? Is it all those pressure-packed games he’s been a part of in the regular season?

    He’s never SEEN a pressure-packed game except on television. He hasn’t proven himself worthy of a big contract.

    He’s won the Cy Young Award? So have Dean Chance, Mike McCormick, John Denny, Lamar Hoyt and Pat Hentgen. If you saw any of those days and said, “Who?” well, my point exactly.

    • jjyank says:

      He’s one of the best pitchers on the planet. So he get’s paid more than any other pitcher. It’s as simple as that.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      No pressure in a perfect game at all.

      • Uncle Mike says:

        No, there isn’t. A perfect game only counts for one win. And some pretty ordinary pitchers have thrown them: Charlie Robertson, Len Barker, Mike Witt, Dallas Braden, Philip Humber, and, of course, Don Larsen. Not to mention the tainted one by Armando Galarraga.

        Walter Johnson won 416 (or 414, or 417) games, Christy Mathewson and Grover Cleveland Alexander each won 373, and Warren Spahn won 363. Whitey Ford won more games than any Yankee pitcher, and more World Series games than any pitcher. Bob Gibson leads all National League pitchers in that category. Andy Pettitte has the most postseason wins. None of them ever pitched a perfect game. Some of them never even threw a no-hitter.

        • Jim Is Bored says:


          If you think there’s no pressure in the 9th inning of a perfect game, I really, really don’t know what to tell you.

    • Bo Knows says:

      Because he’s young, durable and without a doubt one of the five best pitchers in the MLB. Also he’s made the every strong team including the entirety of the AL East his bitches practically from the moment he made it to The Show

    • LK says:

      If you’re only willing to sign players who have proven themselves in the playoffs, you’re basically limiting yourself to under half the total population of players. I really can’t think of a more destructive strategy for building a team.

      • JAG says:

        It also means the Mariners, Astros, Royals, Pirates, Twins, Rockies, Marlins, and Cubs can’t give extensions to anyone for a long time.

      • Uncle Mike says:

        So we should sign players who have proven nothing? That is the truly destructive strategy. Give me a pitcher who has won pennant race games, faced the pressure of getting his team into October or not, and I’ll take that pitcher over Felix Hernandez any day of the week. Just like I’ll take Phil Hughes over Johan Santana, as he’s done more for his team(s).

  15. Paco Dooley says:

    I suppose the new CBA will likely be good for the game, but bad for the Yankees way of life. They will struggle to retain their dominance under this system (and it has already clearly declined).

    They need to leverage the Yankees brand to attract international talent and use other subtle ways to gain an advantage. They did this with the qualifying offers this year – two more high draft picks because they risked the payouts to players. They should make offers to Cano, Granderson and perhaps even Hughes next year to continue this leverage.

    • TomH says:

      They need to leverage the Yankees brand to attract international talent and use other subtle ways to gain an advantage.

      You’re right about this, but IF the Yankees do enter–as they probably will–a period of decline, the selling of the “brand” will become harder with each season of unsuccess. Its luster will dim, will become associated with the Past (which for more and more people is a form of negative branding!).

      When Notre Dame’s star set, after Lou Holtz left, it didn’t take long–nor many mediocre seasons–for that once-glittering brand to dim. Rockne? Leahy? Parseghian? Who the hell were they? Things have picked up lately, but it requires Ascent, not decline.

      I asked, yesterday, in the International thread, how these anti-Yankee “leveling” regulations come into force. Are they negotiated? (By whom? With whom?) Are they decreed?

      • Jim Is Bored says:


        This is my new method of dealing with you, even when you make legitimate points.

        Because the Yankees history of success >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Notre Dame’s.

        And the Yankees brand, internationally, >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Notre Dame’s.

        And more to the point, it took literally ONE good year of Notre Dame football to bring all the fans back out. One. All it would take for the Yankees is a winning first-half.

        I seriously can’t tell whether you actually believe this stuff or whether you’re just a really dedicated fire-starter.

        • TomH says:

          …to bring all the fans back out.

          Who was talking about fans?

          I was talking about the possible difficulty of signing players in an age of parity, when the NYY are unable to make use of their old $$ advantage and have, instead, to rely upon their “brand” as an attractant.

          That is, my remark needed to be read by reference to Paco Dooley’s post. The point is simple: if the Yankees go into a period of extended decline under such conditions (parity), mere brand will begin to lose its value.

          On this: “This is my new method of dealing with you, even when you make legitimate points“–are you someone to whom I’m supposed to pay some special attention?

          Occasionally you do write something interesting, but before I began trembling over your attitude towards what I write, you’ll have to improve your reading skills.

          You see, if you had read the comment–as you should have–by reference to the Paco post, you would realize I was talking about players: it was players who became difficult for the post-Holtz Irish to sign (especially D players).

          But you were hasty (the royal road to poor reading) and projected onto my comment what you thought it likely I meant and thus bungled your attempt at wit.

          Understood that way, the analogy made more sense than you realized because the Yankees’ rise to prominence coincided with that of ND (in the 20s) and continued tracking that of the Yankees until the mid-50s. Later, under Parseghian, Devine and Holtz it again tracked Yankee success. In fact, the Yankees’ sometimes (as in the mid-60s to early 70s) sank below ND. Given all that, my point about dimming of a brand makes perhaps more sense, analogically speaking, than you were willing to credit.

          I think you may be light on 20th century sports history.

    • LK says:

      I disagree that the CBA will be good for the game. Limiting the money paid to amateurs will decrease the talent pool for baseball, and I don’t think there’s any demonstrable link between parity and popularity, despite what the NFLers would have you believe.

  16. Kevin Ocala, Fl says:

    I know this much, to a certainty. The Mariners will weep bitter tears one day. They should have traded him for a boatload of young, elite, talent. Not only is the length/value of the contract absurd, but they’re throwing at a young guy who’s likely has 2-4 years left as a number one. As Branch Rickey used to say, “better trad a player a year early, than a year late……” He knew baseball better than the person typing these words, it’s readers, and any authors on any site. Never forget your history……

    • RetroRob says:

      I agree. This deal will not end well for the Mariners. His average velocity is down 4 mph from 2007, and six mph from peak velocity. He’s two years removed from his peak. He has something going on in his elbow. I’d feel more comfortable being in the Tigers situation and signing Verlander than I would the Mariners with King Felix.

  17. Cuso says:

    So….does this mean I should lower my confidence rating for future of the team.

    • TomH says:


      Of course, it depends on how you rated it.

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        Or maybe not, if you either don’t believe the issues/concerns mentioned above or if you are very confident there will be a lot of production from Pineda and the minor league guys or if you think the Yankees will abandon the $189M payrol limitiation they’ve put in place or some other option.

        It’s all up to what you believe. With all their warts, I think it’s one or 2 down years, then, somehow, back to their winning ways. At least that’s what I’m hoping for (maybe better).

  18. Jonathan says:


    Is Greinke an oversight or do you not consider him an ace?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      I don’t. We get too caught up with the peripherals at times and ignore how many runs guys allow. 3.83 ERA over the last three years is no ace.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        Also, my standards are ridiculously high. A pitcher can have one ace-caliber year — i.e. Esteban Loaiza — but that doesn’t mean they’re an ace. To me an ace is high-end performance and a ton of innings year after year. Sabathia, Verlander, Felix, Halladay, etc. Excellence and durability.

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