Nov
14

Looking for the extra 200 innings

By
Scott Feldman doesn't have anything to do with this post aside from being a free agent starter. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

Scott Feldman doesn’t have anything to do with this post aside from being a free agent starter. (Greg Fiume/Getty)

It’s no secret the Yankees have a lot of roster questions to answer this winter. Re-signing Robinson Cano is the biggest item on the agenda, but, in terms of the overall big picture, rebuilding the rotation is probably the most important. As of now, the starting staff includes CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and three big questions marks. Heck, both Sabathia and Nova are question marks following the seasons they just had. Fixing the starting staff is a huge priority for the coming weeks.

“We’ve got a lot [of needs],” said Brian Cashman to Andy McCullough at the GM Meetings earlier this week. “I don’t know if I can separate any of them. I think I need to import 400 innings for the rotation … We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

When he says “400 innings,” Cashman means they need to add two starters. They’re not going to sit down and literally count projected innings totals until they add up to 400 or anything like that. The club need two starters to replace Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte, that’s what he’s saying. They need to find some quality arms to replace those 400 innings (really 386.2!), but I don’t think they should stop there. The Yankees should look to add an extra 200 innings on top of that.

By saying they’re looking to add two starters, Cashman is implying the team can replace Phil Hughes with internal options. That’s possible, Hughes wasn’t exactly good last year, but the GM is showing an awful lot of faith in guys like Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Vidal Nuno. Guys who have never made it through even half-a-season as a starter in the big leagues. I suppose Cashman could be counting on Michael Pineda as well, but that would be beyond silly at this point. He’s smarter than that.

Overall, the Yankees’ rotation ranked 18th in baseball with a 4.08 ERA (3.88 FIP) in 2013, and that includes a generally excellent season from Kuroda. This isn’t a “if we can just replace what we had last year, we’ll be fine” rotation. This is a “oh crap we need to replace what we had last year and improve upon that” rotation. Perhaps some of that improvement will come in the form of a rebound from a Sabathia and a full, consistent season from Nova. That’s not as silly as expecting Pineda to contribute, but it’s not exactly something you can take to the bank either.

There’s a chance, maybe even a good one, that some combination of Phelps, Warren, and Nuno can replace Hughes and be an upgrade in 2014. That is very much up for debate though. I am a firm believer in expecting nothing from unproven kid starters and letting them be in a position to surprise rather than be relied upon. Catch my drift? I’m sure you do. The Yankees don’t have to go out and sign the three best free agent starters or anything (they’re welcome to do that!), but adding Chris Capuano to the PhelpsWarrenNuno mash-up (for example)? Would something like that be too much to ask? Maybe it is given the limited payroll space.

The Yankees have a lot on their plate this winter. They’ve got to fix their offense regardless of whether Cano re-signs and they’ve got to add a whole bunch of pitchers, starters and relievers. Asking for one more rotation option might be very Spoiled Yankee Fan™ of me, but I am so in favor of adding as many arms as possible. We saw the importance of depth this past summer. Adding two starters and relying on a bunch of kids in the fifth spot might be the best New York can do this winter, but that leaves them very vulnerable if injury (or continued ineffectiveness from Sabathia, continued unpredictability from Nova) strikes.

Categories : Hot Stove League

82 Comments»

  1. kenthadley says:

    Wouldn’t mind Kazmir.

    • Mike Myers says:

      Yea, but can you rely on him? he is a lotto ticket.

      I cant think of any players that were as skilled as him that fell off the map and made it back.

      • kenthadley says:

        Gooden, Tommy John, Robin Roberts, Jimmy Key, etc. You are correct that he’s a lotto ticket, but in 2014 every pitcher is….I just recall Kazmir being able to handle the Red Sox and having some balls on the mound. Just about any available pitcher is a lotto ticket.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Every pitcher has balls on the mound. Throwing paper airplanes would probably not have the same effect.

        • They’re not all lotto tickets at all. There’s a big difference in someone like Garza compared to someone like Kazmir.

          • kenthadley says:

            And a big difference in the contracts they’ll get. A lot more miles on Garza’s arm than on Kazmir’s. Garza has the better history, but it’s next year you are paying for, not last year. I think Kazmir on a short (2-3) contract is a better bet than Garza, who will probably get 5 if not more.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Even if I accept that any pitcher is a lotto ticket, some have better odds than others. Kazmir is not one of those. Could he anchor a staff? Sure. His record indicates he’s more likely to get hurt or be ineffective.

          If we’re using him as the “if we don’t sign 2 of Tanaka, Kuroda, and Garza” guy, I’m down for a one year deal if the price is right. If the price is David Aaradsma perfect, I’d sign on for two. Under no reasonable circumstances would I go three.

        • qwerty says:

          Yes, and the lottery includes pitchers in our own rotation as well.

  2. mick taylor says:

    cashman is an idiot. if he needs 200 innings from a pitcher, does he really think he can get them from kuroda. and would they be quality innings. better to try and sign jiminez or garza and tanaka

    • hogsmog says:

      Yeah, what kind of idiot would expect that someone who’s pitched at least 200 innings for the past three seasons would be able to pitch 200 innings?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I love it when you take things 1000% literally. Really shows off the ol’ smarts muscle.

      The ideal for the slot would be a pitcher durable enough to give you those innings. It also means having solid depth for when that doesn’t happen.

      Did you think Andy Pettitte was going to give you that? Did you want him off the team because he wasn’t?

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      You realize Kuroda was better than and threw more innings than Garza last year, right?
      Neither Garza nor Jiminez have thrown 200 innings in a season since 2010.

    • jjyank says:

      Erm. Kuroda has pitched 200+ innings every year since 2010, and even then, he threw 196.1 innings. Only an idiot can think they can get 200 innings out of a guy that’s done it three (almost four) straight seasons. The balls on that Cashman for thinking that!

      This isn’t even the point. 200 innings is a rather arbitrary number that’s just used as shorthand for “a full season of starting pitching”.

    • MannyGeee says:

      obvious troll is obvious

  3. Mike Myers says:

    So Tanaka or bust at this point?

    Mission 189 is really the worst thing. Especially compbined with the other yankee missions…

    Mission $12 crappy beer
    Mission $40 crappy seat
    Mission $180 decent seat
    Mission super mean stadium security
    Mission Hal and Hank horse farm

    missing any?

  4. Nick says:

    I like Jason Hammel….Not sure if it is a good fit…but he could be a good buy low candidate.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Yeah, I have irrational Hammel love too, probably because we’ve had many jokes at his expense on here versus Cole Hamels. He’s fifth starter fodder, to me, but worthwhile fifth starter fodder.

  5. Blake says:

    With the new posting rule I think some team (probably LA) will make an outlier bid to assure they get him….knowing they won’t have to pay the full amount.

    I don’t see Hal being that aggressive so I wouldn’t count on Tanaka

  6. PunkPitch says:

    Girardi would be wise to stock up on Rolaids, and keep a neck brace handy.

  7. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Easy to say “well, just get Tanaka” (that is, of course, when people aren’t saying they’ll never get him because short arms, deep pockets) when there’s so many balls in play and things that have to go right to get him under the posting system. Let’s just pretend, though.

    Yes, you need to replace Kuroda and Andy’s innings. Luckily, the best bet to replace Kuroda’s innings would probably be with Kuroda. I like Tanaka as the Pettitte replacement but, obviously, there needs to be a Plan B there, and Plan B doesn’t come cheap. I honestly think that’s Garza.

    I do think a fifth starter upgrade is a good idea, as least in the short-term, as I’d like to see Pineda/Nuno/Banuelos knock someone off that spot rather than be handed it. They’re depth for the time being, to me. I look at someone like Scotty Feldman there. I’m sure there are others, but that’s where I’m hanging my hat right now.

    200 versus 400 versus 600 is a red herring if that’s what they’re thinking about. They need to replace slots and quality. If durability is a concern, then they need to make sure the depth is solid.

    Can it be done? Of course it can. When Hal says the priority is putting a solid team out there versus luxury cap savings, well, he had better mean it and, more importantly, be comfortable with that now rather than later, as the road isn’t that easy with the cap in place.

    • I'm One says:

      The flaw in your plan is that it seems to be banking on Kuroda to return. If Garza is the “Plan B’ for Tanaka, who’s the “Plan B” for Kuroda, Jimenez? Not sure there are any solid plans to replace his production should he decide to retire/play in Japan next season.

      I am pretty comfortable that some combination of Phelps/Warren/Nuno/Pineda/Banuelos/add-in-random-AAA-arm-name here can provide better performance than Hughes did. Adding more depth to that group isn’t a bad idea (pitching depth = good), but I don’t see that as any type of priority. However, I am not comfortable that Kuroda is easliy replaced. Despite the poor finish, as a whole, he had a very strong year. His quality innings will be very difficult to replace unless CC is somewhat back to his old self and Nova provides a full year of consistent and very solid performance.

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        Well, the further down the alphabet you go, the shittier the plans get. Plan Z is Darrell Rasner and finding Sidney Ponson.

        I could do Tanaka/Garza. Not a Jimenez believer in the least. Yes, though, there’s quickly a place where this all goes to shit.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

        I think the flaw in his plan is more just an indication of the general class of available FA arms.

  8. TWTR says:

    If they are going to do more than tread water, kids have to become an increasing part of the equation, and in order for that to happen, they have to be willing to endure the inevitable growing pains.

  9. JerryJRC says:

    “Re-signing Robinson Cano is the biggest item on the agenda…”

    The longer it goes, the more remote he will sign with NYY.

    Look at this article:

    http://www.faketeams.com/2013/.....inson-cano

    • This article is basically irrelevant. It’s the opinion and speculation of a Dodgers fan.

      Also, the length that this has gone to this point hold no weight. There was never a chance in hell that he’d have signed by now. Winter Meetings haven’t even started yet.

    • jjyank says:

      I disagree. Free agency barely started. No star free agents sign this early. That Robbie has not signed somewhere yet is not indicative of anything.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I sincerely doubt that.

      Signing a player this early may mean overpaying on anyone’s part, as markets are beginning to develop. Just like with this whole $300 million nonsense which may, or may not have, happened, you’d be buying someone out of seeing what their market is worth.

      Multiple tea-leaf readers have predicted there’s not a large market for Cano. I tend to agree with them. That benefits the Yankees, to me.

      I know we all think the Dodgers are this great, big salary-eating boogeyman but, at some point, they’ve got all the huge deals they can handle as well. I wonder what they’ll be saying on the back-ends of THOSE deals on Dodger boards.

      • jjyank says:

        It’s gonna be victory lap city up in that bitch.

      • TWTR says:

        It probably depends on whether or not they are still competing at a high level, which could in turn depend on whether or not they are producing the kind of high-end young, cost-controlled talent that can help offset the dead money that often comes at the end of huge long-term contracts given to players over 30.

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          I’ve never heard that before.

          • TWTR says:

            Yeah, we, as Yankee fans, have lived it, but you were talking about Dodger boards, and they have seen some pretty sweet recent in-house development.

            So the issue isn’t whether or not you have heard it before, it is whether or not they have…

      • SchillingBloodySox says:

        Like NYY never waited and overpaid for a FA.

        Mark Texiera says hello (And Red Sox fans thank you for it!!!!)

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Spell his last name correctly next time.

          • SchillingBloodySox says:

            Whether his name is spelled correctly or not, he is still a 33 year old 1B, coming off a major injury and is owed $22.5M till 2016.

            Thanks for coming in and swooping him away from Red Sox!!!

            • Robinson Tilapia says:

              Have a nice rest of your day!

              • Iron. Horse says:

                Oh yeah, he was only the REAL MVP of the league in 2009….but jeez that was FIVE years ago…would you rather have the genial Adrain Gonzalez? Tex shows up to play, he cares, he is incomparable in the field…Yanks need him and C.C . to come back with strong seasons.
                I agree, replace Kuroda with…Kuroda if he wants to come back for another year, he is a fine back-end starter. Why pay more for for question marks like Kazmir or Garza and have to pay for multiple years?
                When I think Japanese pitchers, Igawa is all I see, which is not fair. As ridiculous as the posting fee business is, Tanaka is 25, he doesn’t have lots of miles on him….and Cashman hasn’t scouted him! He may well be worth the money and the gamble. Even if Yanks sign him, black holes abound on this roster.
                If it was my money, which of course it is not, and Hal is truly willing to spend it, I say spend it on Tanaka and let Rihanna…I mean Robbie go where the money is. If you are really looking long-term, signing Cano makes no sense because he is not the difference between being a contender or an also-ran. He is enormously gifted and incredibly under-motivated…letting him go is one of those moves that could look genius-like a year from now…or Yanks could be kicking themselves in the butt for the next 8 years.
                But, in my opinion, if Yanks are truly serious about rebuilding the team, these are the kind of decisions that must be made.
                One thing for certain, Cano ain’t signing with the Red Sox lols…

    • BFDeal says:

      Your first problem is putting stock in a SBNation speculation article. Secondly, well, nothing else needs to be said after your first problem.

  10. Darren says:

    Are there any Mexican League pitchers that might be poised to contribute? Would be great to find a new Aceves somewhere out there.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      There’s this guy who can go 200 innings and still pitch 98 in the ninth. Wears a mask when he pitches. El Verlandero. Curiously not available once every five days.

      • Darren says:

        You have to think that in all the decades of baseball, there has to have been at least one insanely talented MVP caliber player that never made it out of the indie leagus or minors for one stupid reason or another.

        Not that we’re gonna find that guy (or Senor Verlandero), but is it crazy to think we could find someone to stash in AAA for depth?

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Oh, I’m all for not leaving any stone unturned. I love having guys watch the Mexican league, the indie leagues, etc. There’s absolutely talent to be found there, although it is all pretty low probability stuff.

          There’s reclamation projects and never-were projects to be found for sure.

    • MannyGeee says:

      Don’t make Aceves stab a bitch

  11. Gonzo says:

    I’m torn about Kuroda. On the surface, his year looks great and in-line with his other years. His scorching first half did have signs that he was a little lucky. Combine that with hitting the wall, and I’m a little concerned.

    On the other hand, I feel* like that Girardi left him in for one inning too long at the end of the season. Maybe if he had a stronger bullpen at the end he wouldn’t have done that and Kuroda wouldn’t have struggled so much.

    *Sorry, I am too lazy to back this up with anything other than my eyes and gut.

    • I'm One says:

      My guess (really, no one knows for sure) is that he will put up a strong season, but not quite what he did in 2013 if he returns. Is a 3.50 ERA with 190 or so innings worth $15M/year? I’m not sure who else you get that could provide the type of season he’s capable of at a reasonable cost (and no loss of draft pick). I’d take him at $15 – $16M.

      Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever played on TV, a MLB GM.

    • Havok9120 says:

      I agree he was a bit lucky early, but all that means is that he “should have been” a number 2 instead of a number 1…which just happens to be exactly how things were drawn up at the start of the season.

      Would I want to give him a 2 year deal? No. But I’m willing to spin the wheel and give him a raise on a a one year deal when the other options are so bad.

      • Gonzo says:

        It’s a little murkier than that for me. For the first 22 starts of the season he had a 2.38 ERA. Let’s say he had a 3.00-3.50 ERA after those 22 starts, his season line would look much worse after his 5.40 ERA for the last 10 games of the season.

  12. qwerty says:

    Mike,

    You say that Cashman is smarter than to rely on Pineda for his extra 200 extra innings, but hasn’t he been quoted as saying that Pineda will compete for a rotation spot? LOL.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

      LOLOMFGBBQROFLZORZ.

    • Havok9120 says:

      …so?

      Compete for =/= will get one and therefore I only need two sign two starters.

      • qwerty says:

        Even a 5th starter needs to provide a certain amount of innings. A guy who only pitched 40 innings last season and has intermittent shoulder problems is the last person you want competing for any spot in a rotation other than at the minor league level. To suggest otherwise is the complete opposite of “smart.”

        • Havok9120 says:

          You’re assuming that no one else involved in the competition is planned to be part of the solution. You know, the other _five guys._

          • qwerty says:

            The fact that Cashman has left the door open for Pineda to actually win a spot is stupid in of itself. It doesn’t matter that there are other guys competing. Pineda shouldn’t even be part of any equation at this point.

        • Mac says:

          Besides Havok’s point that there are other guys (at least two good candidates who might be on equal footing with Pineda or better), what makes you call the shoulder problems “intermittent?” He had one major shoulder problem and is recovering from it. We have some info on how that is going, but I don’t see how you have much idea what to expect going forward. That you and I don’t know what to expect doesn’t mean the Yankees should just expect nothing. They have so much more info that we do. I don’t know what their expectations are, but I have to assume that they have some expectations. Might be that he has a 10% chance of contributing, might be 90%.

          • qwerty says:

            He was shut down for the rest of the season because of shoulder issues. Is that someone you want taking up a spot in your rotation in the most competitive division in baseball?

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      SO MANY OVERLY-LITERAL INTERPRETATIONZ

  13. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    I like the Kazmir idea. Lottery ticket, however that’s qualified/quantified ?, maybe. Kazmir is a lefty, with once electric stuff, that went through injuries, but seems to be “firmly” on the rebound. If guys like Kazmir where still on an ace plain, there’d be no real chance to acquire him. There’s reasonable, cautious optimism (imo) regarding Kazmir. Lefty, reasonably priced, dearth of pitching, budgets, etc…, = 2/3 year contract…, and don’t be surprised if its NYY. Com’on, they gave David Aardsma 2 years.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      The Aardsma situation couldn’t be any more different. It was pretty much the same gamble they took on Jon Leiber.

      • Eselquetodolosabe says:

        Really ? Injured, de-valued, lottery ticket, etc.., Kazmir’s regained some value based on recent results, which will increase his cost in years and money. Question for the group: Kazmir or Josh Johnson ?

        • Robinson Tilapia says:

          Do you understand why the Leiber and Aardsma signings happened? Are you old enough to even know who Jon Leiber is?

          These were injured pitchers who needed surgery but had very strong track records before. The team agreed to have them under contract, at a low figure, through the surgery and rehab that, figuring, best case scenario, they’d have a high-upside, low-cost veteran piece the second year. It worked with Leiber. It didn’t with Aardsma. The team knew, going into both signings, that there was mitigated risk involved.

          Scott Kazmir is not injured at this moment, and has a short recent track record of success. In a thin market, he’s going to get paid as if there’s a longer recent track record. It couldn’t be a more different scenario. I love the Jaret Wright reference above, although I wonder whether anyone will be THAT dumb.

        • qwerty says:

          Kazmir probably won’t cost more than 3 million. Johnson is going to want at least 10 million.

  14. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    Wow, a bit condescending are we ? I’ll ignore all of the superfluous “points” of your response. It’s simple: these are all de-valued pitchers that have/had inherent signing risks, who are recovering/continue to recover from injury. Wow, you ARE moody today. Chill out homey.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      So ignore the actual explanation as to the David Aardsma signing because it doesn’t fit your narrative. Gotcha.

      The internet. Gotta love it.

    • Havok9120 says:

      0_o

      You’re going to ignore all the evidence that points to the situation being different just so you can say they’re the same?

      wut?

  15. Mac says:

    “I suppose Cashman could be counting on Michael Pineda as well, but that would be beyond silly at this point. He’s smarter than that.”

    I would venture a guess that Cashman has infinitely more information on Pineda’s injury and recovery than you do. Thinking that you are qualified to diagnose Pineda’s recovery is REALLY silly.

    The fact is, though, that Cashman doesn’t have to count on any of the things you listed. He has to count on getting one of several to go right (or getting a combination to go right throughout the season, which brings in several prospects you didn’t mention headlined by Banuelos and Ramirez).

    I am extremely comfortable with Phelps, Pineda, and Warren competing for one open rotation spot. WIthout knowing much about Piineda’s recovery, I would bet you that the expected probability of getting one contributor from the 3 is sky high. I keep suggesting that you learn more about asset management if you want to write about it for a living, but you seem to have zero interest in getting better at what you do.

    “Asking for one more rotation option might be very Spoiled Yankee Fan™ of me”

    It is, and you are the ultimate spoiled Yankee fan, but at least you recognize it. Anything short of a perennial All-Star at every position and 5 proven starters and you write 10 articles freaking out about the unknown. In 2013 the unknown sucked, but that’s not always going to be the case.

    “adding Chris Capuano to the PhelpsWarrenNuno mash-up (for example)? Would something like that be too much to ask?”

    I’m sure they’ll bring in a veteran on a MiLB deal to compete, but someone having a longer track record doesn’t actually make him a better option.

    “This isn’t a “if we can just replace what we had last year, we’ll be fine” rotation. This is a “oh crap we need to replace what we had last year and improve upon that” rotation.”

    Every off-season you write these “analyses” that use the last season as the baseline. Do you know of any projection system for player performance that is based only on the most recent season? You are not looking at this in the right way. You have to project what they’re going to do next season, not build off an illogical foundation by only looking at last season. This is another instance of you getting off being the king of your crappy little kingdom and falling into the traps of MSM sports “analysts,” rather than actually trying to be good at what you do.

  16. Grover says:

    The “limited payroll space” link to Payroll Projections Part Three is very telling in regard to the importance of winning the Tanaka posting, resigning Cano and waiting for the Arod decision before going after a couple of studs. Math doesn’t lie.

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