Archive for Bartolo Colon

Jul
10

Bartolo’s Indian Summer

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“None of us can predict what’s gonna happen” – Joe Girardi, March 22, 2011 on the decision to begin the season with Bartolo Colon in the bullpen

As weird as it seems now, Bartolo Colon began the season in the bullpen after losing the 5th starter battle to Freddy Garcia back in March. While Colon had out-pitched Garcia in Spring Training, and while his stuff looked fantastic, there were serious questions about his durability. This wasn’t exactly an unfounded concern – Colon is 38 years old, didn’t pitch at all in the majors last season, and last topped 100 innings back in 2005. “Eater” is a word that comes to mind when one thinks of Bartolo, but it’s in connection with food, not innings.

So thank goodness, in a sense, for Phil Hughes‘ dead arm. As it turned out, Hughes’ injury opened the door for Colon and allowed the Yankees to see what they really had in him. Despite a rough outing last time out, he has really come up in spades for the team. Aided by a shoulder rejuvenated by a controversial stem-cell procedure, Colon has been the second-best starter on the 2011 Yankees. As comeback stories go, this one is almost a bit too good to be true. Indeed, this veteran and two-time All Star is having the best season of his length career, even better than when he beat out Johan Santana for the Cy Young in 2005.

In 2005 Colon pitched 222.2 innings of 3.48 ERA ball for the Angels. His W-L record was sterling, 21-8, and was no doubt the driving force behind him winning the Cy Young. Colon’s K rate was 6.35/9, not exactly the highest strikeout rate of Cy Young winners, but he only handed out 1.74 walks per nine innings. His FIP on the year was 3.75, and his xFIP was 3.91. This year he’s doing even better. He’s struck out 7.90 batters per nine innings so far in 2011 while maintaining his typically low walk rate of 2.20/9. His BABIP is a touch lower than his career norm (and his last outing certainly helped bring it closer to average), but other than that there’s there’s no indication that Colon has benefited from anything unsustainable or odd. By all measures, this is a career year for Bartolo Colon, and he looks fantastic. His two-seam fastball is a jaw-dropper when it’s on. You can see it here at 0:54.

A lot of analysts have been expecting the Yankees to be in the market for front-line pitching. By all indications, they are. But a lot of the preseason speculation on the topic was predicated on the notion that either A.J. Burnett or Phil Hughes represented the Yankees #2 starter, and that Garcia/Colon/Nova were simply back-end guys designed to soak up innings to be moved out when the reinforcements arrived. No one expected Colon to become that #2 starter for the team. But that’s what he is, and it’s not a mirage. He has the 11th lowest SIERA of any AL pitcher, better than Jon Lester, CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett, albeit in fewer innings.

It’s hard to imagine that a story on the New York Yankees would go relatively underreported, but it seems as if that’s what’s happened with Bartolo. A fair amount of attention has been given to his surgery, but not enough has been given to the fact that he’s having a career season at the ripe old age of 38. There is concern about his durability – the last time he cracked even 100 innings was 2005 – and perhaps the Yankees would be wise to monitor his workload down the stretch. But the fact remains that as of today he represents a viable #2 starter behind CC Sabathia, giving the Yankees flexibility as they head into the trade deadline. These 90 innings from Bartolo and ~1.6 fWAR are no small reason the Yankees are tied with Boston in the loss column for first place in July.

The chapter on this season’s New York Yankees isn’t written yet. It’s barely halfway through. No matter what happens with this club – whether they miss the playoffs, get knocked out, or cruise down the Canyon of Heroes in November through a shower of praise and confetti – there’s no doubt that Bartolo Colon has contributed in a large way to the success of this team. Something Girardi said back in Spring Training now rings true, not only for Spring Training but also as an epitapth for the season at its midpoint: “Bartolo was the wild card in all of this”.

Categories : Pitching
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First things first, no I have no idea if the start of the game will be delayed, but Joel Sherman heard from the Mets that the rain will keep up until 2:30pm ET or so. So yeah, there figures to be some kind of delay at some point. The tarp has been on the field all morning and the players did all their pregame stuff indoors.

Secondly, Eduardo Nunez will not play today because his hamstring tightened up yesterday as he ran out his first double. Joe Girardi doesn’t believe it’s anything serious, especially since he continued to hit the snot out of the ball after first feeling it, and there are no tests scheduled. He just doesn’t want to play him on the wet grass, so Ramiro Pena will get the start at shortstop. There was a late report today, so Girardi’s still waiting to talk to everyone to make sure they’re okay before settling on a lineup. No reason to believe anyone besides Nunez is hurt, just standard operating procedure.

  • Bartolo Colon felt fine after yesterday’s start, so that’s good news. Day-after soreness is always the concern when a guy comes back from an injury. Bart told Girardi he could start today, but not tomorrow. Love him.
  • Girardi did not talk to Derek Jeter last night, but he heard everything went well in his first rehab game with Double-A Trenton. He’ll talk to him today to see how he feels. There’s no plan in place for Jeter should Trenton get rained out today, that’s something they’ll discuss if it comes to it. Girardi said he doesn’t expect to alter Derek’s rest schedule once he does come back, and he has no issue with him playing in the All-Star Game if he’s healthy.
  • There’s still no plan in place for the starting rotation beyond tomorrow’s game, which A.J. Burnett will definitely start. Phil Hughes lines up to pitch tomorrow, but they still haven’t decided if they’ll activate him or have him make one more rehab start. The All-Star break is a consideration in that if they activate him this week, he’ll have to sit for another ten days almost immediately, but Girardi said that’s not necessarily a bad thing because Hughes has been rehabbing pretty hard. They’re likely to get this allsorted out by the end of the day, but no promises.
  • Part of the reason why they’ve waited so long to make the decision is a) these things tend to take care of themselves (i.e. injury), and b) everyone is pitching well. Girardi feels there is no wrong decision to be made for that reason, everyone’s performing well, especially of late.
  • As for Jose Reyes, he is having his MRI this morning and Terry Collins did not have an update during his pregame press conference. They’ll have one soon, but for now Angel Pagan takes over as leadoff hitter. Reyes won’t play again until he’s 100% healthy though, hamstrings are tricky and the last thing they want him to do is re-aggravate the injury and kill his trade value miss more time.

Update: Lance Pendleton just walked into the clubhouse. His name and 25 others are listed on the roster sheet, so there’s a move coming. Also, same lineup as yesterday, just Pena in for Nunez.

Categories : News
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Two topics dominated Joe Girardi‘s postgame press conference: Eduardo Nunez and Bartolo Colon. The Yankees’ temporary shortstop went 3-for-4 with three extra base hits this afternoon (the one out was a rocket that Justin Turner caught on a dive), leading to questions about his role with the team after Derek Jeter comes off the disabled list on Monday. “Derek’s our shortstop,” said Girardi, who rattled off cliche after cliche about how Jeter’s done it for them before and he makes the team better when he does the things he can do, so on and so forth.

It’s clear Jeter will get back his job on Monday, leaving Nunez and limbo. Girardi acknowledged that he’s been impressive when pressed into everyday duty (.339/.369/.525 with four walks and four strikeouts in 65 plate appearances since taking over), and they’re going to look for ways to get him more at-bats in the second half. The skipper mentioned giving Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez a little more rest than usual, be it days off or half games at designated hitter. Basically whatever they have to do to keep him going. The July and August weather figures to be hot and they have some extended stretches with no days, plus they have a few doubleheaders to get through. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Jeter comes back and continues to hit poorly (.260/.324/.324 before the injury), because Nunez has certainly given everyone something to think about. This long-time nonbeliever included.

  • “[That's] as good as I’ve seen [Bartolo], and I’ve seen him really good.” That wasn’t Joe Girardi, that was Mets manager Terry Collins. Girardi called this afternoon’s performance “vintage Bart,” emphasizing the movement on his two-seamer that resulted in five called strike threes out of six total strikeouts. They’re going to see how he feels tomorrow, see if there’s soreness in the hamstring before deciding whether or not to give him an extra day off before his next start.
  • Still no word about what happens to the rotation when Phil Hughes is ready to be activated, though that ties into the previous bullet point. Girardi didn’t promise he’d have an answer tomorrow either.
  • Girardi credited Dillon Gee’s changeup for keeping the Yankees off balance for the first five innings, but that’s as obvious as it gets.
  • Since this was Game 81, the season is officially halfway over. The Yankees have won 50 games already and Girardi just repeated what he said before the game: he’s pleased with his team and likes the way they’ve rebounded after tough games and series.
  • As for Jose Reyes, his hamstring tightening up running out his first inning infield single, but he didn’t say anything until he came off the field between the top and bottom halves of the second inning. He’s going for an MRI tomorrow and they’ll know more about how serious the injury is then. Reyes has dealt with hamstring issues in the past, but apparently this is the other hamstring. Collins stressed that they took him out as a precaution, Reyes didn’t ask to be lifted.

The win guaranteed that the Yankees will go a perfect 6-0 in interleague series this year. They’re on one of those rolls when they look unstoppable, and right now they are. The offense is clicking, the starting pitching has been great, and the misfit relievers behind David Robertson and Mariano Rivera have been a pleasant surprise.

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Jul
02

Pregame Notes: All About Derek

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The hot topic during Joe Girardi‘s pregame press conference today was Derek Jeter, who will begin a two-game rehab assignment with Double-A Trenton tonight. The skipper isn’t sure how much he’ll play tonight (Mike Ashmore says it’ll likely be six innings), but in a perfect world Girardi would like to see the Cap’n get three at-bats and play six or seven innings in the field. He hopes they’re short innings too, he doesn’t want Jeter standing out there for a while. Craig Heyer is the scheduled starter for Trenton and he typically works quickly and pounds the zone, so that’s good.

Girardi will call Jeter after the game (Trenton plays at 7pm ET) just to see how he feels, then the team will figure out a plan of attack for the next week. Derek won’t play nine consecutive games before the All-Star break (two rehab games plus seven straight games with the big league team), so he’ll get a day off somewhere in there. Girardi said it would be nice for Jeter to get his 3,000th hit at home, but winning is priority number one. After three games in Cleveland, the Yankees will be home for four straight against Tampa. My guess is he plays Monday and Tuesday, sits Wednesday, then plays all four at home. Unless Jeter goes bananas in those first two games against the Indians, he’ll get the milestone hit in the Bronx.

  • Bartolo Colon told Girardi that he’ll pitch all nine innings today, but they’re going to limit him to 80-85 pitches after he threw 61 in Monday’s simulated game. Colon’s hamstring is healthy and they’re not concerned about his ability to field his position when the the Mets inevitably test him with bunts. They’re more concerned about the fatigue related with fielding the bunts and running the bases, not him re-injuring the hammy.
  • Girardi praised a) Russell Martin and Larry Rothschild for the job they’ve done learning a new pitching staff so quickly, and b) all the bullpen guys they’ve called up this year due to injury, specifically mentioning Cody Wade, Luis Ayala, and Hector Noesi. At the halfway point of the season (today is Game 81), Girardi is pleased with where his team is, particularly the way they “bounced back after some difficult losses and difficult series.”
  • Speaking of Noesi, he is still with the team. Brian Gordon was sent down to make room on the roster for Colon, in case you missed it. They were concerned that Gordon was rusty after not pitching in eleven days. Girardi said another roster move is coming soon, and I assume he was talking about Phil Hughes. No hint about what that move may be, but we heard they’re thinking about sending down Ivan Nova.
  • The Yankees haven’t figured out how they’ll address their sudden abundance of starters, but they’re going to discuss it soon. They’re not against using a six-man rotation, but they also don’t want to give CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett too much rest between starts. Since the All-Star break is a week away, I figure they could get away with a six-man rotation this time around then sort things out after the break.
  • “Robbie is deserving, I believe,” responded Girardi when asked if he felt David Robertson should go to the All-Star Game. After being in the position of picking the AL squad last season, he understands that it’s tough to get a guy like Robertson on the roster since the Yankees figure to have so many other All-Stars and the need for every team to be represented.
  • In case you were wondering, Nick Swisher was walking around the clubhouse just fine, so that foul ball off his foot last night doesn’t appear to be a problem. He’s in the lineup today, which you can see here. It’s the standard lineup.
Categories : News
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Jul
02

Gordon optioned down for Colon

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Surprise! It’s not Hector Noesi going down for Bartolo Colon, it’s Brian Gordon. Gordon will start for Triple-A Scranton, and Joe Girardi said during his pregame presser that they were concerned about him being rusty after not pitching for 11 days. I would have much rather seen Noesi go down so he could pitch regularly as a starter, but that’s just me.

Categories : Asides, Trade Deadline
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Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees will send Hector Noesi down to Triple-A Scranton tomorrow to make room on the roster for Bartolo Colon. Noesi will get stretched back out and work as a starter. Good.

Categories : Asides
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Mailbag time. Lots of questions this week so I tried to keep the answers short. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in any questions…

(Photo Credit: Flickr user surfneng via Creative Commons license)

Orciari asks: Heard Sox just DFA’d Cameron, any interest for NY?  Obviously it would mean removing Jones, who would you rather have?

Neither is great, and they’re basically the same player. Low average guys that will draw some walks and hit for power, mostly against lefties. Also solid defenders that were once great in center. Mike Cameron was cut because he’s been brutal this year, a .216 wOBA in 105 plate appearances including a .232 wOBA against southpaws, which is why they got rid of him in the first place. Yeah, Andruw Jones strikes out a bunch, but so does Cameron, and at least he’s still shown that he can be reasonably productive. It didn’t work for Cameron with one AL East team, I see no need to make the switch.

EJ asks: What percentage of chance do you think the Yankees have in signing Jeremy Rathjen? Who do you think will be the five toughest players to sign from the 2011 draft?

Very small, and in face Baseball America called Rathjen completely unsignable right before the draft. They’ve already taken care of one tough sign in 13th rounder Justin James, who came to terms a few days ago. The other difficult ones will be Jordan Cote (third round), Rookie Davis (14), Hayden Sharp (18), Dan Camarena (20), and Adam Ravenelle (44). I’m confident they’ll get Cote signed (they didn’t take him that high not to sign him), though the others will be tough. My guess today is that they land two of them, likely Davis and Sharp.

Sven asks: If Freddy Garcia is a type B free agent at the end of the year do the Yankees offer arbitration? What about Swisher? If he finishes with say 25 HRs and an .800 OPS do they buy him out and then offer arbitration as a type A free agent?

Garcia is just short of qualifying as a Type-B (as in ~1.5 points short), and I assume he’ll make the jump into Type-B territory if he continues to pitch the way he has. If he does that, he’ll earn all of his incentives, pushing his total 2011 salary to $5.1M. If the Yankees offered him arbitration and he accepted, Garcia would probably get a salary somewhere around $7-8M next season. Is that worth the risk for a sandwich pick? I think it’s a fair salary, but there’s a heightened risk give his age and recent injury history.

I don’t see why the Yankees wouldn’t pick up Nick Swisher‘s option at this point. If you can find me a better right field option for next year that will sign for less than (or equal to) one year and $9.25M (the net cost of Swisher’s option), then we’ll talk about buying him out. But for argument’s sake, if they did decline the option, I’m guessing they’d absolutely offer him arbitration. He’s comfortably a Type-A free agent, and worst case scenario he accepts and they’re stuck with him next year for $12-15M or so. Obviously the option is the cheaper way to go, assuming they want to keep him.

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Steve Paluch via Creative Common license)

Nick asks: Why don’t the Yankees focus on signing Prince Fielder this offseason? Prince is not a pitcher but would be a perfect fit for Yankee Stadium and he is about to hit his prime. Prince isn’t one of the free agents on the wrong side of his 30s when the Yankees signed him either.

Of course he’s a great fit for Yankee Stadium, pretty much every left-handed power bat is. Where is he going to play though? Are they going to give him a six or seven or eight year deal just to be the designated hitter? I can’t see why the Yankees would give Prince Fielder a deal like that when they’re going to need that DH spot for Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter in the not too distant future. Would he make the team better? Absolutely. But the cost is astronomical and it would destroy future roster flexibility.

bonestock94 asks: Are you beginning to doubt Montero’s ability to be a star in the majors? Am I just overreacting to a poor 2011 campaign?

It’s been 282 plate appearances, relax. The kid is 21 years old and in Triple-A, if he’s still struggling when he’s age appropriate for the level, then I’ll be worried. That’s at least two years away.

Steve asks: [What do you think about Brian Cashman saying there are no high-end starters available? Could they go after Jered Weaver?]

I had to shorten that question up, Steve got a little wordy. One of the many things I’ve learned in recent years is to never believe a word Cashman says. He never says anything that will tip his hand one way or the other, which is exactly what he should do. From here it doesn’t look like any ace-caliber pitchers will be available, but who knows. The trade deadline is a month away and things have a way of changing. I’m sure he and his staff are working diligently to find a high-end starter.

I have an irrational dislike of Weaver, so I might not be the guy to ask. He’s having a great year, but I can’t imagine the Angels would trade him away before at least attempting to re-sign him. I think they’d sooner trade Dan Haren to free up some money for Weaver.

CS Yank asks: At the start of the season, we were seeing 3-4 IP from ManBan and it seems like they either were going off a PC or pacing his IP. In seeing his [69.1] IP YTD, seems like it will likely be a two year build-up of innings (as AA is better than 50% done) as AA is typically over by Labor Day … so do you think his target was around 120 or will they have him go 6-7 from here on out to bring him up to around 150 IP this year? I’m guessing the ship has sailed (with the DL time, BB issue, etc) on any realistic chance to see him in the bigs in 2011.

The short starts early in the year had to do with with Spring Training and his blister. Remember he didn’t have a normal camp because he was with the big league team, so he was throwing 2-3 innings at a time rather than being stretched out normally. Once he got going with Trenton, he had to be shut down with the blister. He (and Dellin Betances) are on 90-100 pitch counts, but because of their control issues that usually means just five innings. They’ll go six innings if possible.

Banuelos only threw 64.2 IP last year because of the appendectomy and he’s already over that, but he did throw 109 IP in 2009. I’m guessing they’d like to get up around 120-130 IP, though remember that they can send him to a winter league (Arizona Fall League again, most likely) to get even more innings. Plus there’s Instructional League, all sorts of ways to get those innings in. But yeah, 120-130 IP this year seems like a reasonable target, then 150-160 next year.

This is what Matt Moore looks like from the third base line. (Photo Credit: Flickr user tedkerwin via Creative Commons license)

Reggie asks: Would you be in favor of a prospect trade : Jesus Montero to the Rays, Matt Moore to the Yankees.

I think it’s fair value and it fills a need for both teams. Tampa could use another big bat to pair with Evan Longoria, and they could stick Montero at first long-term. The Yankees could always use a young, hard-throwing left-handed starter, so it’s easy to see why they’d want more. Fair and logical is one thing, but I think it goes without saying that neither team will ever make the trade. Every team loves their prospects more than everyone else’s, plus there’s the whole intra-division thing. That sure would be fun though, prospect-for-prospect trades don’t happen too often.

Would I do it? Yeah I would. Free agent hitters are safer bets, so it’s better to grow your own arms rather than throw money away. The more pitching prospects the merrier.

Kevin asks: What kind of a contract is Bartolo Colon looking at this offseason? Also, do the Yankees look to retain him or let him go and keep their lightning in a bottle from this year?

I have absolutely no idea. There’s no precedent for a situation like this, so anything I say is just guesswork. If he comes back from the hamstring injury and pitches like he did in April and May, can’t he go out on the market and say he wants $10M a year, maybe even for two years? I think in a perfect world, they’d re-sign him for one year and $5M with a bunch of incentives, assuming he continues to pitch as well as he has. At the end of the day, he’s still 38 years old with a bum shoulder. Who know how the stem cells will hold up.

Categories : Mailbag
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Jun
30

Colon to start Saturday

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Joe Girardi announced after this afternoon’s game that Bartolo Colon will indeed start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Mets. Apparently he came through whatever drills they put him through well  enough to pitch. Brian Gordon will presumably shift into a long relief role, and hopefully this means Hector Noesi will go back to Triple-A to work as a starter. Hooray for having Bart back.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Jun
29

Saturday’s Starter: TBA

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Via Marc Carig, the starter for Saturday’s game at the Mets is currently listed as TBA. Brian Gordon lines up for that game, but so does Bartolo Colon. Carig says Bartolo will participate in some drills before he can officially be announced as the starter, but presumably he feels fine after Monday’s 60-pitch simulated game. If everything checks out and he’s not at risk of reaggravating the hamstring, I say start him. No sense in wasting those bullets in a simulated game, even if he can only give them 80 pitches Saturday.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
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Time for your daily dose of injury news, courtesy of George King and Joe Auriemma

  • Derek Jeter ran the bases today for the first time since suffering his calf strain. He went from home to first (four times), first to second (three times), and first to third (once). “Running is probably the most important,” said the Cap’n. “It feels good. I’m sure we will pick it up in the next couple of days. It’s a step in the right direction.” Jeter also fielding about three dozen ground balls and took 50 or so swings in batting practice. There’s no set timetable for his return.
  • Bartolo Colon did some sprints and agility drills following Monday’s 60-pitch simulated game, but the most interesting news from Tampa is that he practiced some bunting. Colon lines up to pitch the same day as Brian Gordon, and the bunting could mean that they’re ready to give Bartolo that start against the Mets in CitiField. He is on his way to New York for “evaluation.”
  • Rafael Soriano is throwing long toss and so far everything feels good.
  • Mark Prior threw a bullpen session, his second in four days. If he feels fine tomorrow, there’s a chance he’ll throw to live hitters in batting practice later this week.
Categories : Injuries
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