Jul
18

Should the Yankees consider adding a starting pitcher at the trade deadline?

By

The Yankees started 2013 with four of their five best hitters on the DL, so the plan was to ride out the storm on the shoulders of an experienced and deep pitching staff. That worked well for a while, but the injured guys have yet to return — or, in some cases, they returned only to get re-injured — and there’s only so long you can be a pitching and defense team in a small ballpark in the AL East.

The starting staff has held up reasonably well this year, though there have been some individual ups and downs. That inevitable over the course of the season. Here’s what the rotation has done month-to-month this season:

IP/Start K/BB BABIP ERA FIP
April 6.0 3.27 0.311 3.77 3.70
May 5.2 2.86 0.272 3.81 4.05
June 6.1 2.87 0.297 4.71 3.92
July 6.2 3.48 0.269 3.16 3.96
Overall 6.0 3.05 0.292 3.96 3.90

June and July kinda cancel each other out in terms of ERA, but otherwise the rotation has been pretty steady overall. It’s not an elite rotation though — a 3.96 ERA and 3.90 FIP place them 16th and 19th in baseball, respectively. Firmly middle of the pack.

A middle of the pack rotation and a bottom four offense (85 wRC+) is not a combination that lends itself to playoff contention. The Yankees have remained in the hunt — five back in the division, three back of a wildcard spot in the loss column — because a good bullpen (with an elite eighth/ninth inning combo) and good timing have helped them to a 16-9 record in one-run games. That’s the kind of good fortune you don’t want to have to rely on to contend.

Adding a bat(s) will be the top priority leading up to the trade deadline, but would it make sense for the Yankees to seek out a rotation upgrade as well? Hiroki Kuroda (2.65 ERA and 3.62 FIP) has emerged as the team’s ace, but he’s their only starter to make at least ten start with a sub-4.00 ERA. CC Sabathia (4.07/4.05) is trending downward and Andy Pettitte (4.39/4.75) has been very sketchy since returning from the DL. Ivan Nova (3.63/3.00) has pitched well of late, but two starts doesn’t mean much of anything. Phil Hughes (4.57/4.48) and the injured David Phelps (and Vidal Nuno) are back-end fodder. Michael Pineda is a complete unknown.

The Yankees have rotation depth, but it’s all back of the rotation depth. There is only so much lineup help they can reasonably add in the coming weeks, so maybe another way to improve the club is to replace one of those back-end types (Nova, Hughes, Phelps, etc.) with a better starting pitcher Strengthen the team’s strength, basically. Besides, it’s not like the team won’t need a starter or two next year either; adding an arm they could control would be a nifty pickup.

Norris. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

Norris. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The issue with adding a quality starter is that there aren’t a ton of them on the market. With Ricky Nolasco already moved to the Dodgers, Matt Garza is top pitcher on the trade market. He’s an impending free agent and while he would certainly help New York in the second half, he wouldn’t do them any good next year. Yovani Gallardo is owed a bunch of money and comes with major red flags, ditto Jake Peavy. The surely available Joe Saunders, Joe Blanton, and Mike Pelfrey don’t help and are probably downgrades at this point.

If the Yankees were to add a starting pitcher, the best target might be Astros right-hander Bud Norris. The 28-year-old has a 3.63 ERA and 3.55 FIP this year, though his strikeout rate (6.39 K/9 and 16.7 K%) has dropped now that he’s no longer facing the opposing pitcher three times a game. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild has a history of improving strikeout rates, so maybe hethat would help. Norris has spent his entire career in a hitter’s park and will earn just $3M this year, plus he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2015. That’s the kind of guy the Yankees could add at the deadline to improve their rotation both in the second half and into the future.

I don’t expect the Bombers to seriously pursue a rotation upgrade prior to the non-waiver deadline in 13 days. They need to focus on finding some help for the offense. That should be their very top priority. I don’t think they should rule out adding another starter though, especially considering Sabathia’s decline and Pettitte’s recent shakiness. There is definitely room for improvement in that rotation. Having a bunch of back-end types in reserve only helps so much.

68 Comments»

  1. Andrew says:

    The easiest solution, of course, is Carlos Ruiz, Michael Young and Cliff Lee for the prospect pu pu platter. Done and done, right guys?

    • Robert says:

      It would be tough to take on Lee’s salary.

      • I'm One says:

        The only thing stopping them is ownerships self-imposed budget. If they decide to spend, the organization has plenty-deep pockets to take on Lee’s salary. It won’t break them.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

          Plenty of money since Tex isn’t coming back, and who knows what these other guys will do…plus next year is the important year for luxury tax limits anyway.

          • I'm One says:

            My point was that the organization has plenty of money if ownership chooses to spend it and disregard the potential savings by staying under the luxury tax limit. Taking on Lee’s salary and paying the luxury tax will not break them financially.

            • Preston says:

              I don’t think you know that. Current payroll is at an all time high. An extra 25 million, plus the luxury tax is a lot. It might very well make the Yankees unprofitable for the next season or two. Probably not, but I don’t think any of us can pretend to know exactly what there current profit margin is.

              • I'm One says:

                True, I don’t know with certainty that the Yankees baseball team wouldn’t lose money for a season or 2 if they took on Lee’s salary. However, I’m pretty confident that the Yankee Global Enterprises could absorb it. Not saying they would, but if they wanted to win it this season, they seem to have the financial might.

      • Adam T says:

        Agree on Lee. He still has 3 good years left

    • Shittyshittybangbang says:

      Did you get a wiff of Lee’s stink face during the all star game ? He seems to still be holding a huge grudge against anything N.Y. – fuck’em ! And he might have a no trade clause, or team specific no trade.

    • Adam T says:

      Michael Young would be okay, mostly as a 1B-3B guy. He’s always been a good hitter for average. I would take him.

  2. Eddard says:

    The article should have been titled Why haven’t the Yankees traded a starting pitcher yet? They don’t need starting pitching. They need offense. If you have an abundance of starters, which they do, you should look to upgrade your weaknesses. With Pineda they’d have 7 MLB starters and Nuno/Warren as spot guys. One can go and that’s Phil Hughes for a bat.

    • emac2 says:

      Exactly!

      Bud Norris? Another 5th starter? Zero reason to do that.

      A DH upgrade is also nuts. Arod and Jeter will be able to fill that role.

      SS, 3B or OF.

      Otherwise sell.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

        Norris>>5th starter
        But I still wouldn’t do it, unless he came unexpectedly cheaply.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          This.

        • emac2 says:

          maybe one >

          I would never consider him a playoff starter.

          The fact that he has a half season in the AL after playing in the NL West means we have no idea how he would perform in Yankee stadium and all numbers point to poorly.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

            Yeah, I wouldn’t bank on him be more than a #4 with the Yankees. They have plenty of decent back of the rotation options now. No need to give up assets for another one. If they could get a legit top of the rotation, long-term option I’d be interested, but that isn’t going to happen.

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              I’d be willing to roll the dice on his being more than that if the price was right, and I’m pretty sure the price isn’t right. You don’t further destabilize your already-rebuilding team by trading anyway a potential mainstay for it unless the return foreseeably pays huge dividends. I’d say it takes closer to a premium package than you’d think to get him.

      • Adam T says:

        Norris is worse than Phelps and Nova. 5th or 6th starter quality. I would argue they need another controllable starter since Kuroda, Pettitte, and Hughes are all free agents. If they can swing a good deal, get a starter.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting) says:

      Ash or Maple?

    • Preston says:

      Pineda, Phelps, Nova, Nuno, Warren and Jose Ramirez are all necessary to the team next season given the starters we’ll be losing. CC’s contract is untradable, Hiroki has a full NTC, I also believe Andy has a full NTC and they’ve been shopping Hughes. So that is that.

  3. hogsmog says:

    Lincecum has surprisingly solid peripherals and seems partially up for grabs, but I’m not sure how the two teams actually match up…

  4. Bavarian Yankee says:

    if they’re buyers then they have to add bats, bats and then some more bats.

  5. Robert says:

    At this point in the season I think you have to ride or die with the pitching you have and hope it either improves or stays the same.

    I would even say that trading a player like Hughes or Joba (it is not likely we can get anything in return for him anyway) for a bat must be done if it is possible, especially with the replacements available (Phelps, Warren, Pineda, etc.).

  6. Jacob the OG says:

    Well bats are the priority go for the bat we need the bat badly! But in that case I should also note do not think it would be a bad idea to explore the possibility of a SP, but only after (if) we acquire a bat.

  7. jim p says:

    What do we have to offer in trade? It seems whatever we do have (and it’s not a big pool) would have to go to bats, which is most definitely the real need.

    If middle-of-the-pack pitching keeps us near the playoffs so far, it seems adding offense might be enough to tip things our way.

    As to future years, we’ll need pitching but we’ll also need offense. Do we have that coming up with our prospects? If so, we’d have to hold as many of them as we can.

  8. Gonzo says:

    I would never support a decision that would bring back someone named Bud. Can’t do it. Was he named after a beer?

  9. Cuso says:

    Getting a starting pitcher should be last on the priority list. If they’re not going to score more than 2 runs/game there’s no reason to trade anything of future value away to acquire a pitcher. They won’t be able to win with that run support anyways.

  10. Joe says:

    I really don’t want the Yanks to make a trade. Just live or die with what you got. Unless they are trading for a hitter with upside like a Stanton, I don’t see it being worth it. If they miss the playoffs, they miss the playoffs, but at least they’ll get a higher draft pick. I don’t want other team’s trash even if it’s better than what they got currently. But in the draft they need to continue to look for hitters who use the whole field and excels at fouling off pitches with 2 strikes and fighting it off the other way rather than whiff. They need draft delicately and not just anyone, someone that you look at and say yeah he’s definitely the type of star you won’t ever find in free agency even though he’s not labeled as a superstar like a Miguel Cabrera.

    • Jonathan says:

      I love this. A bunch of slap hitting guys like Ichiro that don’t K sure are working out for us and zero teams in the last 25 years. You do realize Stanton isn’t an upside play and is already ELITE…AND he K’s a TON. You should write the Yankees. I’m sure they haven’t thought of finding stars in the draft. We need patience and power and if they gave up a bag of balls for a slap hitter they really would need you working in the FO.

      • Joe says:

        I never said trade for him directly, Stanton was just a name I was throwing out there. I’m talking about Matt Carpenter and Jean Segura type hitters, if they can’t get a hitter like that through a trade then to me it’s not worth making a trade in my eyes. A hitter like that with medium range power, but most importantly has a high baseball IQ at the plate and sees the ball and hits the ball rather than swing harder hoping for a homerun with contact instead of being willing to take what is given by a pitcher. How about instead of hitters on this team getting called out on strikes on a pitch on the black, how about take a single the other way instead of swinging harder?

        And don’t sit here and tell me you need a lot of power to be successful offensively. The Yanks have hit 6 more homers than St. Louis, yet the Cardinals are still 1st in the NL in runs scored and 3rd overall in baseball. You’re completely wrong if you think this team needs a lot of power to win.
        And of course slap hitters are not working for the Yanks, the Yanks have BAD slap hitters. We don’t need slap hitters, we need average power slap hitters who use the whole field hitting about 20 homers.

  11. mitch says:

    Norris is better than the 4s and 5s on the team right now, but i doubt that marginal upgrade would even be worth a win over the last few months. I’d much rather target position players where the upgrade(s) over the existing sub-replacement guys could be 2-3 wins.

  12. Samuel says:

    “Norris has spent his entire career in a hitter’s park and will earn just $3M this year, plus he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2015. That’s the kind of guy the Yankees could add at the deadline to improve their rotation both in the second half and into the future.”

    If that is the case, then why wouldn’t the Astros keep Norris for rest of this season and next?

    Unless it is a major impact type arm, I say no to trading for a starting pitcher now.

    Let Nova continue to throw every five days. He has great stuff and needs the innings to help him keep his command improving. Need to keep Phelps pitching regularly, too. No way you can build a good, young “cost-controlled” staff if you don’t allow the kids to pitch.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      The Astros are still in a place where, if they could get multiple solid pieces for one guy, they should consider it, even if it means sacrificing one potential long-term cog. That’s the fun part about rebuilding. It’s not all the rainbows, water slides, and bottomless redheads the fans who think the Yanks should do it tomorrow make it out to be.

  13. Theonewhoknocks says:

    I’m not confident that Norris is an upgrade over phelps/nova/Hughes so I don’t think he’s really worth pursuing. Sure we could use him next season, but there are a lot of options, lets worry about next season next season.

    • jsbrendog says:

      bud norris is most certainly an upgrade over everyone in the yankee rotation this yr except cc and kuroda. he is having a better season than pettitte, hughes, nova, and phelps (based on WAR and era+ but his peripherals aren’t quite as good as pettittes.) does that mean it will continue? who knows? this is so far is his best season to date and he is only 28. I could see it. But I could also not.

      however one cannot say, right now, that he isn’t an upgrade.

      http://www.baseball-reference......bu01.shtml
      http://www.fangraphs.com/stats.....position=P

      • jsbrendog says:

        that being said, he probably costs too much in prospects and isn’t worth it cause overall in a vacuum he isn’t really that great

      • Greg says:

        If you assume that he’ll sustain his HR/FB rate anywhere, let alone in Yankee Stadium, then sure, but there’s no chance in hell that that will happen.

        And yeah if he represents any upgrade at all, which I seriously doubt, that upgrade will be incredibly mild and not worth nearly what it will cost.

  14. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Not opposed in the least to adding pitching depth. There’s more than one question mark in this rotation. However, like with everything else, I’m not breaking the bank for it.

    Norris probably costs WAY more than I’m willing to give up. I’m talking more someone who, in case things get thin, stops the team from leaning on Pineda too much when Pineda’s focus should be continuing to build his arm strength and making sure he’s in the rotation to stay in 2014.

  15. LarryM Fl says:

    Hitting , Hitting and more hitting should be the objective. When your talking back end of the rotation, the Yankees cup is full. I do not see any appreciable gain from getting Norris.

    We need hitting, hitting and more hitting. Amen!

  16. Pseudoyanks says:

    I said sell in the last thread. Is this a trick question? OK, I’ll play, the Yanks should acquire a starting pitcher if it’s a building block for the future by trading away a pending FA (Kuroda, Grandy, Hughes….or in a package for Cano.)

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      See, I’d totally be down for a cheap rental as support for the guys already there. I’m fine with kicking the ball down the field into the offseason on larger rotation pieces unless, again, someone thinks what’s between them and facing us in the WS :) is Phil Hughes.

  17. FIPster Doofus says:

    No. Any assets the Yankees trade should be dedicated to improving the offense. The Yanks are toward the top of the league in most significant pitching categories. Pitching is not a problem.

  18. Shittyshittybangbang says:

    Ah, add pitching ay ?! Good, we lose 1 nil, in lieu of 2 or 3 nil ! Isn’t starting pitching the most valuable baseball commodity ? i.e., they don’t come cheap. You’d have to deplete the farm for anything resembling quality. Perhaps dealing should be done from a strength, versus a weakness.

  19. entonces says:

    Usually reliable stats here but as best I can tell Yankee staff is FAR better than depicted. Link below shows it to be third best by ERA in the AL. You can never have too much pitching, Gabe Paul said. But Yanks pitching is not the problem. The problem is why the Yanks can’t seem to turn one of their own pretty good hurlers into a bat or two. Hate to be paranoid but it really does seem sometimes that other teams are determined not to help Yanks (sorry if I opened a can of worms there).

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/team/_/stat/pitching

    • jsbrendog says:

      that is factoring the bullpen. the starting rotation is a mess.

      there are much better stats than era but if you want to use it

      cc: 4.07
      hughes: 4.57
      Phelps: 5.01
      Nova: 3.63
      Kuroda: 2.65 (thank god for this effin guy)
      Pettitte: 4.39

      those are pretty crappy overall other than Kuroda. Plus you have to think Nova can keep this up, which….is a middle sized jump based on his career so far.

      They don’t desperately need a starter with pineda hopefully coming back but it wouldn’t be the worst thing to replace phelps and/or hughes, plus pettitte has shown he can’t stay healthy over the long haul and has been kinda crappy recently.

      • entonces says:

        Though no stat is perfect, ERA is an excellent stat.
        Hughes can (and IMO should) be traded as he has pitched better than his overall ERA away from NYS. Phelps ERA distorted by two ultra-bad performances — one where he was left into absorb 9 run licking. Other than those two, he’s been quite good. And while it be like the Yankees to swap out a cheap and promising young player for an older vet, I’m not for it. Pettitte, I believe, will improve. Starters could be better, sure. But this has been a good staff overall. But you are right abut the pen — it’s been magnificent.

        • jsbrendog says:

          Though no stat is perfect, ERA is an excellent stat.

          no. it isn’t. it is a serviceable stat that tells one (flawed) part of a player’s entire game. your era can go up if you aren’t even in the game or on the mound based on the shittiness of the reliever coming in after you put men on base. it can go up or down based on how quick/slow your fielders are getting to balls, or how good your catcher is at throwin out runners.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        It is rather shocking to me that so many folks are making the argument that the team has “enough” or “too much” starting pitching with the number of question marks surrounding just about every guy not named Hiroki Kuroda. It’d be funny if someone did a comparison of people who BOTH said this and endlessly complain about CC during game threads. Maybe Athenian can do a study.

        • jsbrendog says:

          this.

          this team has starting pitching in theory and while offense should be a priority there is nothing wrong with also adding pitching.

    • Carl says:

      Funny! Perhaps we should look at the Yankees pitching within the context of a league with a DH and not the whole major leaques especially when the first 6 teams with the lowest ERA are in the NL? If you take away the pitcher factor then you have a barometor to gauge the Yankee pitching and it is really quite good! Every team is going to give up a stinker but if you look at each game you will notice that the pitching staff pitched to win in most games the offense did not hit and hence we are in fourth place! Could you imagine if the Yanks had middle of road lineup how many games they would have won so far. Also, assuming Pineda is ready the Yankees will have an upgrade in the rotation without losing anything. Trade for hitting and do it soon!

  20. entonces says:

    Yanks third in staff ERA — and within one hundredth point of second. All stats in isolation are limited but ERA remains a very good one.

  21. jay destro says:

    pitching would be nice as a forward thinking change, i wouldn’t add to just bolster staff now. my changes would have to improve the rotation until at least 2015.

  22. Vern Sneaker says:

    We are a team without anyone of playoff calibre at C, 1B, SS, 3B, LF, RF, and DH. A-Rod, Jeter, Texeira, and Granderson are not the future. We’ve lost 6 games in the standings in the last 6 weeks and are trending downward. Why tinker with marginal upgrades that will not bring us a championship? Let’s rebuild with major, even shocking moves, such as trades of Cano and CC (and others) for solid established guys and “A” prospects that are nearly major league ready. It’s time to face the music for real, IMO.

  23. Tim B says:

    Sp what wil next years rotation look like assuming everyone is healthy?
    Cc , Kuroda, Pettitte/Pineda, Nova, Nuno/Phelps? Or could they add another starter? What happens to Phelps & Nuno if they dont win spots? Have 3 LR’s on the roster? I can see Nuno replacing Logan and pitching an inning every night, but he would be better in a starting role. I’d like to see Phelps as a middle relief guy but that might not be possible with Claiborne & Shawn Kelley. He could take Joba’s spot but are there any prospects that can win a spot like Betances?

    • Tim B says:

      Now that i think of it, Kuroda will get a raise which the yanks might not afford. But if Kuroda isn’t resigned than you have CC, Pineda/Pettitte, Nova, Phelps, Nuno. I forgot Mo is retiring. Anyhow they will need a LHRP, RPx2 for Joba & Mo.

  24. Mikey says:

    The whole premise and conclusion of this article is just ridiculous. Talk about fodder. The rotation is a strength whether you like their combined ERA or not. This is not a matter of interest really, as you conclude.

    Sabathia, Kuroda & Pettitte are a very formidable 1 to 3 for the 2nd half. Nova has been lights out lately looking like he’s finally blossoming. A potential battle between Phelps, Hughes & Pineda with Nuno also available for the 5th spot is well beyond ideal.

    You say all the depth is back end fodder? Well, what, exactly, do you expect for rotation depth, a #1 Ace sitting on his ass in Scranton? And yet you say Pineda is a complete unknown in the sentence prior. The irony is rich.

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