Sherman: Yankees are “more upbeat” Kuroda will return for 2014

Magruder: Diamondbacks to name Mike Harkey pitching coach
Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread

Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are “more upbeat” that Hiroki Kuroda will return to pitch next season than they were earlier this offseason. A few weeks ago we heard the team believed the right-hander was leaning towards returning to Japan for 2014. As George King notes, the Dodgers are probably not a serious suitor anymore after signing Dan Haren.

Kuroda, 38, pitched to a 3.31 ERA and 3.56 FIP in 201.1 innings this past season, but he faded badly down the stretch for the second straight year. He turned down the team’s qualifying offer, so it stands to reason he’ll seek more than $14.1M when the time comes to discuss a contract. The Yankees paid him $15M this past season. I love Kuroda as much as anyone, but his age and the back-to-back second half fades are pretty significant red flags to me. He’s definitely worth bringing back, just not at all costs.

Magruder: Diamondbacks to name Mike Harkey pitching coach
Thanksgiving Weekend Open Thread
  • Matt DiBari

    I’m almost positive we went through the same pattern last year

  • http://Yankees Joe

    Offer 15 mil , have him start the season on June 1st. Maybe this would keep him more fresh, and prevent him fading down the stretch. The man can pitch, but is no spring chicken

    • Theonewhoknocks

      I had a similar thought. Having him start in June could do wonders for him and for us, but it has to be something he’s open to.

      • J

        I can see that, but 15 mil for half a year is a lot with there salary concerns

    • qwerty

      I’m sure Kuroda is looking for that extra 1 million when he turned down the qualifying offer.

      • Caballo Sin Nombre

        And Cano is looking for $300M. That’s the Supply curve. However, the price is set by the intersection of that with the Demand curve. In other words, just because Kuroda’s looking for $15M, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get it.

        • RetroRob

          Difference is Kuroda will get the money.

          $15M for a consistent 120 OPS+ pitcher is actually below market. Add in he only requires a one-year contract, he could even charge premium since it limits a team’s loss.

          What will limit him is the attached QO and the fact he’ll only sign for one year. Losing the draft pick on a one-year investment pretty much limits his bargaining position. He got $15M last season. No reason he’ll get less this year.

      • Steve (different one)

        Because its so different from last year?

    • RetroRob

      The team won’t want to pay him $15M if he’s going to sit out a third of the regular season.

      Better option is to do what is done regularly with good but ageing pitchers, which is to better manage the workload over the course of the season. He was pushed pretty hard at times, really out of necessity, but considering he was coming of a career high in innings pitched the year prior (and that’s not even including October baseball) and how he faded in 2012, what happened in 2013 is not surprise. He also was not going to maintain the pace he had heading into August when he was a Cy Young Award candidate. He was a man on a hot streak throwing a lot of pitches for his age.

      Look at his career MLB record and that is who he is. I’d argue in some ways he is the most consistent, season-to-season pitcher in the bigs right now. The only change was a slight decrease in K/9 rate a couple years back, and that was driven entirely by the league switch. You know what you’re getting, and it is quite good. Just pull back some on his overall innings and watch the consecutive game pitch counts, especially when he is laboring. That takes a lot out of a pitcher. Not all 100-pitch games are created equally when it comes to stress on the arm.

      • OldYanksFan

        Can we have him skip every 5th start, and pay him $15m for 80% of the season? 24 or 25 Starts?

        • RetroRob

          The think the best way is to just overall reduce innings and pitch counts.

          Pettitte long ago and far away once tossed 240 innings in a season. From 2005-2008, he averaged about 214 IP. Yet the load started to become too much as he pushed in toward 40, so he dropped down to the low 190s in 2009. He was having one of his best seasons in 2010 before being injured, yet even at that he was once again on pace for below 200 innings, in the 190s again. This year he pitched 185. Still effective, yet with a reduced workload. That’s what they need to do with Kuroda.

          Perhaps Kuroda will fade anyway. Pettitte used to strengthen as the year progressed, maybe Kuroda is the opposite. Yet he pitched great in the 2012 postseason. Overall he has been a lock for 120+ OPS season. Even if he ends on a sour note, he is still producing a 120+ OPS season and that’s worth quite a bit no matter how he gets there.

  • Theonewhoknocks

    I definitely prefer Kuroda on 1 year 15-17m over Garza, Feldman etc on their 4 year deals

    CC, Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova, Phelps/Pineda is a hell of a rotation

    • Pat D

      That’s a rotation loaded with question marks. Could be really good, but only stands to be average right now.

      • whozat

        There’s no way the Yankees are going to have a rotation that’s not full of question marks. They don’t have the players to trade for unquestionably good pitchers, and the only guys on the free agent market with no question marks are unquestionably #3 starters, but will need to be paid like they’re better than that.

        • Pat D


      • Kevin G.

        I’d probably take that rotation at this point, depending on what happens with the offense

    • Jonathan

      That’s the rotation I’m hoping for. With Warren and Nuno as depth and if we’re lucky ManBan in the second half. I’d also go for a semi-reclamation project. Depending on what they’d take I’d be interested in Feldman/Kazmir and then for the reclamation guys I’d take a look at Gavin Floyd/Marcum/James McDonald types.

    • qwerty

      That’s one hell of a rotation alright, a hell of a lot of question marks outside of Kuroda.

  • Dick M

    Bring him back and baby him a little. He can hold the fort till the reinforcements come (they are coming right?).

  • Farewell Mo

    If they resign Kuroda, they really need a definitive plan to limit his innings. In 2012, he was toast after about 175 innings and last year after 150.

    I think you would have to plan for 150-160 innings max from him but is that really reasonable and worth $15 million? They need him to pitch like a front of the rotation starter and at his age with his history of fading down the stretch, can he really give them what they need?

    • Jonathan

      I think the difference between 2012 and 2013 was probably the 16 high stress innings added on from the post season. If we end up with CC/Kuroda/Tanaka/Nova/Phelps/Pineda/Warren/Nuno/Marshall/ManBan? that’s a lot of depth to have guys spot start here or there or to have somebody step up to the point of being able to skip him once without having to worry about someone like Ponson taking his start. Definitely an imperfect option but besides hitting the lottery on a question mark he’s the best value considering what pitchers of his caliber are going to get on the market.

  • The Other Mister D

    I feel conflicted about this. One the one hand, April-August he’s been great for us for two seasons. On the other, there’s September. And $15 mil out of $189, and the 38 years makes me feel like he’s a grenade with the pin pulled.

    • Steve (different one)

      In 2012, he pitched pretty well in October…

  • Betty Lizard

    I love watching him pitch so I hope he’s back.

    Plus, my #HIROK t-shirt is barely broken in!

  • senor frog

    Yeah, the Yankees would have to sign him with “eyes wide open.” A plan to limit his innings would be mandatory and a decision of if he is worth the 15 million or not.

  • CashmanNinja

    I love Kuroda, but it’s 1 of those things where we may have gotten the best out of him and should just move on. I know we need pitching very badly, but there are 2 important questions:

    1.) Can Kuroda repeat his success of the last 2 years again while a year older?

    2.) Can Kuroda go 200 innings?

    He’s a good pitcher, but he’s now a year older. He started fading around the 160 innings mark. It’s 1 thing if he can coast to the end of the season and the 200 IP mark, but what about the playoffs? He was completely useless in the last month, but if we made the post season then his arm will be even more tired than it previously was. I don’t think he was holding anything back, yet he was still ineffective. There’s no looking past it…he’s good until August, but afterward is a question mark. It’s pretty much a given that he’ll fade, but now he’s a year older and we have to hope he can still be effective April-August now, too.

    • Havok9120

      As I recall, he looked shot at the end of 2012 and then picked it up for the playoffs.

      You gotta make it to the playoffs first, and I don’t think there’s anyone available who will be better over those first 150-170 innings. Certainly not for a price I’d be willing to pay.

  • Mouse

    $15 might be a bit of an overpay but what choice do they have at the moment? He is still the best option.

  • Kosmo

    Kuroda in 2012 started to fade on September 5th. 2013 it was August 17th when things started to get ugly. Up until those dates no one really had a clue. So pitch count limits and maybe he skips a start come August. In some cases 6 inning stints instead of 7.
    Last time I looked he´s still the best FA SP available.
    I f NY lands Tanaka it could be an additional incentive for Kuroda to re-sign.

    • Conor in China

      Agreed. Less good innings is better than more average innings. He’s both the best pitcher and a one year contract has less risk than a four year deal. Although I would probably skip a start in June, July and August rather than try to reduce innings during games. We will have at least one capable starter in AAA and one the 40-man roster who can throw a spot start.

    • OldYanksFan

      And it’s only a 1 yr contract, so it doesn’t hurt the future.
      The reality is, if the $189m is in place, we only have a small chance of being one of the 5 best teams in the AL.

      I am more concerned that we don’t do anything that might compromise 2015 and 2016. Such as 3 years for Beltran.

      As much as I don’t want ANOTHER boring October, at some point we need to face reality and act like a team that is rebuilding.

  • LarryM Fl

    Kuroda pitch the best he could for the Yankees in’12 and’13. He was consistent and faded both years in September. His track record at this age is clear. He hits the wall which is understandable. When the back of the baseball card indicates fatigue in Aug./Sept. IMHO move on to a younger alternative.

    From my observation Feldman could be the answer if your so high on kuroda. The winning % is basicaly the same. Feldman is younger. He may be less expensive.

    • OldYanksFan

      Feldman has a Career ERA+ of 96. In the last 2 years, our fading Kuroda was a 127 and 122 ERA+ guy. With better management, he might be a 120+ ERA in 2014, and certainly a 110+ ERA wouldn’t be too much to expect.

      In terms of overpaying…. he is an FA. 95% of the time, dipping into the FA pool means overpaying. There is no way around that.

      • Kosmo

        I might add Feldman has never pitched over 189 innings in a season. FWIW

      • RetroRob

        …and to add to that, is $15 or $16M overpaying for what Kuroda provides? Based on the market, no it’s not. Might even be a discount, especially on a one year deal.

        He is the best option out there.

        That said, I’d like to add Feldman, too.

  • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

    Fear of the Day (FotD)™: they’re out of tomatoes

    • Havok9120

      Well done.

    • MannyGeee

      Atta way to roll with the joke. Good on you.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yes! Yes! Yes!

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Also, the tomatoes are right over there.

      *points that way*

      • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

        I looked over there and now they’re gone! Pollyanna!

  • Bobby D.

    You cannot bring Kuroda back and expect to win a championship! I agree that his tremendous fade the last two years is concerning. Use the 15 million to get another starter like Jimenez or Garza or a closer like Balfour or Benoit plus. I would go heavy after Tanaka, if you don’t land him then maybe Feldman and Garza or Jimenez. The Yankees are going to have to get at least one of their minor league pitchers like Banuelos, Nuno, Dipaula, Ramirez,or Warren or Phelps to step up big time this year or forget about contending for a playoff spot!!

    • Betty Lizard

      Egads! Yet another Law of the Universe of which I was unaware.
      Must try to keep up.

      Happy Thanksgiving, peeps!
      And to turkeys everywhere: I come in peace.

    • CashmanNinja

      1.) Jimenez is going to cost a lot AND cost another draft pick. May as well go with Beltran because I think there’s much less risk with the latter.

      2.) Garza … eh, I loved him before he started getting hurt consistently. He didn’t do anything to help his value by pitching so poorly for Texas. He won’t cost a pick, but he’ll still get paid. I just don’t think he’s worth it. He reminds me of Carl Pavano.

      3.) The only closers of the bunch that I feel would be worth any of the money they’ll receive is Joe Nathan — and there’s a chance he wants multiple years which I’m a little wary about (2 years max is what he is worth at this point).

      4.) They will go all-in on Tanaka regardless of if they bring Kuroda back or not. This is one of the very few places they could actually use their #1 asset: cash. They can pony up the money and only a small percentage of it (Tanaka’s actual salary) will go against the cap which is great since he’ll probably be…max…$12 mil a year.

      5.) You expect those guys to step up THIS year? Uh…yeah, not going to happen. Man-Ban, DePaula, and Ramirez are not going to sniff the majors this year. You do realize that DePaula is very far away, right? And Man-Ban kind of has to…you know…recover from his injury. Out of the list the only guys with a chance are Nuno, Warren, and Phelps. Nuno may be a dark horse, but Warren most likely will be a middle-reliever/swing man. Phelps could anchor the rotation, but I still think he’s also best in the pen as well.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Actually, I think you’ve got a pretty decent shot of Banuelos and/or Ramirez sniffing the majors this season.

  • Hal’s Plan

    Why re-sign Kuroda? He doesn’t put people in the seats and he’s finished by September? So I’m supposed to believe they will drop $15M+ on him? When they have limited funds to stay under budget?

    • Havok9120

      I love that the current thinking is that Hal is both worried about star power AND refuses to go after stars.

  • Preston

    I think Kuroda’s fade last season is overblown. His ERA got high the last two months, but his FIP was fine. Sure at his age we should maybe handle him with a little more care, use a sixth starter occasionally throughout the season, maybe give him extra rest before and after the all-star break. But saying he can only pitch half a season or 150 innings seems to be an overreaction to what could legitimately be nothing more than BABIP bad luck.

    • Havok9120

      It might be overblown a bit, but he looked shot. I’d be way more worried if he hadn’t looked equally shot last year and then immediately turned it around to start the 2013 season.

      • Preston

        Again, in September/October his ERA was a slightly high 4.71 but his k/9 was actually up at 7.93, his bb/9 was a perfectly good 2.72 and he got a very healthy 49.1% GB rate for an FIP of 3.57. In both 2012 and 2013 his FIP has been lower in the 2nd half than the first. I’m not going to sit here and say he’s fading in the second half because of an ERA spike in one month. He got lucky in the first half of 2012 getting a .252 BABIP and then he got a littler unlucky in the 2nd half with a BABIP of .324. I don’t think there is a lot more to it than that. And as for “looking gassed” I think maybe he just looks a little more upset when he allows hits and gives up runs, maybe he needs a little Ivan Nova to rub off on him so he can say “I pitched well today” in the press conference after getting knocked around.

        • Midland TX

          Maybe the signings of McCann and Ryan showed him that the Yankees are serious about improving the defense behind him.

          As you point out, his FIP and peripherals suggest he might have better results if he weren’t throwing to the catcher with 1 fewer PB than the league leader, or dependent on the shit show that was the left side of the infield last year.

      • MannyGeee

        In fairness to Hiroki:

        1) He LITERALLY carried the team on his back in April & May (with an assist from Pronk and Vernon Wells… damn)

        2) The ENTIRE CLUB (aside from Reynolds and Ryan… again, damn) looked shot in October. Hard to pin it on him alone.

        • RetroRob

          Exactly. Without his great pitching up until mid-August the team is way out of it. It was the rest of the team that failed to step up when he couldn’t continue to pitch as Cy Young candidate for the full year.

          He also pitched great in the 2012 postseason, something that seems to be ignored since it doesn’t quite fit the narrative.

          He does need to be pulled back to some degree so that he holds up over the full season. Yet when I look at his career stats, I didn’t see any evidence of a pitcher fading. I see great consistency.

  • 42isNotMortal

    If re-signed, I wouldn’t be on board with Kuroda’s season starting in June. I’m not sure how you would handle that. Does he travel with the team or stay down in Tampa? Would he go to ST when P&C report or turn May into his March?

    I’m with the author here. With consideration for Kuroda’s clear need to skip starts and limit pitches when possible to combat fatigue, he may only be a worthy signing if the Yankees already have met certain conditions; Tanaka is posted and his services are secured is a given. Maybe nabbing a proven, consistent lock for 180+ IP 4th/5th starter type (we’ve seen Axisa likes Feldman) and making sure the 16 million Kuroda should command is not impeding an offensive shot in the arm like Beltran.

  • mikelf

    Kuroda did not fade in any appreciable way in 2012. I get a little tired of people who fancy themselves analysts repeat that nonsense.

    His ERA was high in September 2012, but actually look at the game logs:

    September 5 and 23 are the only starts where you can make the case he pitched poorly and even in those he made it to the 7th inning. Still better than Phil Hughes.

  • TWTR

    If they don’t rest him periodically and/or monitor his in innings load, no thanks.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Taking concerns into account, he’s still the best pitcher out there. I think you continue to work on rotation depth, both with the fifth starter and in AAA, and work on his innings as the season rolls on.

    • I’m a looser baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Yeah I wonder if maybe they pair him with a couple innings of Warren or whomever the long man is from time to time. Seems like the long man gets used so infrequently that it probably wouldn’t hurt. Still, I’d sure like to see the results for 200 innings better match the FIP as posted above!