Archive for Bartolo Colon
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
The latest from the infirmary…
- Derek Jeter‘s rehab from a calf strain was interrupted by rain and wet grounds both yesterday and today. He did manage to take full batting practice (30 swings), field a few ground balls, and begin a running program once the weather cooperated this morning/afternoon. “Everything’s good,” said the Cap’n. “Steps in the right direction.”
- Bartolo Colon threw 60 pitches in a simulated game against minor leaguers (including the injured Slade Heathcott), broken down into four “innings” of 15 pitches. It’s unclear if he’ll make a minor league rehab start to jump right back to the bigs and face the Mets this weekend.
- Pedro Feliciano made 15 minimum effort throws off a mound, the first time he’s done that.
- Eric Chavez also took batting practice and played long toss with Jeter.
- Mark Prior will throw off a mound tomorrow, the second time he’ll do that in the span of four days as he works his way back from the groin strain from hell.
The Yankees also confirmed that Phil Hughes‘ next rehab start will come with Double-A Trenton this Wednesday. After throwing 71 pitches last time out, I suspect he’ll be scheduled for 85-90 pitches. Trenton will be at home against New Hampshire, but it’s a day game (12:05pm ET start). You can get tickets here.
Pitching’s a crazy thing, isn’t it? Seems like we haven’t worried about anything besides it since day one aside from a few spots of sputtering offense. That, we know’ll improve. But this whole pitching thing has been crazy since forever. Good for writers. Bad for the team. And for fans. I wish we could have ace pitching and a crappy backup catcher to complain about. Wait….
Anyway, it’s looking like, for the first time in a while, the Yankees may eventually have more starters than they have rotation spots. This is a blissful change from the norm, where it usually seems like the question du jour is ‘who the hell is going to pitch tomorrow?’ On the bright side, it’s nice to have so many alternatives. On the downside, the decision isn’t an easy one. We’re not choosing between Justin Verlander and Aaron Cook here. To put it lightly, there’s going to be a pretty serious bottleneck if all the injured Yankees starters come back healthy. Which ones are more likely to stay in the rotation?
Phil Hughes – 90%
Since going down with mysterious arm weakness on April 16th, Hughes has been in and out of the public consciousness. While he’s basically guaranteed to scoop back up his rotation spot when he returns from the DL, the concern should be that both fans have the team have no idea what kind of Phil Hughes is going to come back. Remember that Hughes didn’t even start off the season right: his velocity never where it was supposed to be, even in Spring Training, and none of his three starts were passable. While It’s nice to see that his fastball is above 90 in his first two rehab starts, no one’s exactly sounded thrilled by what he’s showing so far. Throwing seventy pitches in 3 innings is closer to the kind of stuff he showed in late 2010, with an inability get guys out and each batter hitting approximately 203984039 foul balls – and that not the best pitcher Phil can be. My personal concern is not if he will get his spot back, because that seems obvious, but rather how long he can keep it, and what he can do to maximize his own effectiveness. Everyone knows that Hughes has all-star stuff, it’s just a matter of finding it again, and it’s impossible to say whether he will. If Hughes’ dead arm makes it hard for him to reacquire the stuff he had in early 2010, it’s hard to say where he’ll project long term. A 4/5 starter would be a possibility, or maybe even a disappointing move to the bullpen, continuing the Yankees’ general weirdness (in lieu of other words) with developing pitching.
Bartolo Colon – 85%
Who can say enough about Big Bad Bartolo? Fans (and probably the team) came into the year expecting absolutely nothing from Colon, who’d had a mysterious stem cell treatment on his arm during 2010 and hadn’t pitched all during the season. Here was a guy who the Indians wouldn’t sign due to his, err, quite obviously poor conditioning routine. Said routine (or lack thereof) has done absolutely nothing to hinder the fact that Colon was, up until his hamstring injury, the second-most effective pitcher on the staff and probably the one the Yankees were getting the most bang for their buck from. He was even good enough to get the steroid whispers started, which seems to be a compliment nowadays. It’s nice that the injury is in his leg and not his arm, and he seems to be on track for a relatively speedy return. His rehab has gone well and he’s scheduled to throw a simulated game on Monday, which would line up him to be back in the rotation over Brian Gordon if they use the off day (also Monday) to skip him. His injury wasn’t am related and he’s, uh, surprisingly agile on the mound, so here’s hoping we get the same Bartolo back that left. Because I don’t think I need to say this, but that Bartolo was really, really good. I blame that two-seamer. Am I allowed to say that pitch is sexy? If there was such thing as a sexy pitch, Bartolo Colon’s two-seamer would qualify.
Freddy Garcia – 50%
Here’s where it gets tricky. Out of the three rotation spots, the only one truly in question is the fifth starter, and it probably comes down the chief or the supernova. Personally, I would prefer to see Ivan Nova (I’ve always been a Nova supporter), but honestly, my gut is that it will be Freddy. Why? First of all, his stats appear a bit better (3.30 ERA/4.14 FIP, vs Nova’s 4.13 ERA/4.13 FIP), and second of all, the pitching plan has always seemed to be put the prospects in the bullpen first (Hughes, Noesi, Nova). While Freddy, like Colon, has exceeded most expectations of him, both his problem and his success can be very easily summarized: he is junkballing people to death. It’s certainly entertaining to watch batters be frustrated by his slow (87 MPH fastball), slower (80 MPH splitter), and slowest (70 MPH curveball) routine, but two utter takedowns by the Boston offense has shown that it’s not likely to work on a power team. That being said, Garcia’s proved he’s capable at least, and his veteran presence shoring up the back of the rotation may be the tipping point in the decision on the fifth starter.
Ivan Nova – 45%
Nova’s results this year have been, to say the least, interesting. What usually happens is that someone on the internet writes a scathing report of how bad he is and how he needs to be kicked out of the rotation, and then he goes out there and just tears up whatever team in question he’s facing. Nova’s biggest weakness is his inability to miss bats: his swinging strike percentage last year was 6.4%, with this year’s being a mere 4.8%, while he’s on pace for only only about 5 strikeouts per nine innings, just below his average from last year. While both years are a pretty small sample, the evidence is clear pretty clear that he’s no David Robertson. He makes up for this with decent ground ball rate (55%) that’s improved from last year’s few starts (51%). The reasons I think Nova should be in the rotation are as follows: first off, he’s young, and has showed improvement from last year to this year and continues to improve, even against high-powered offenses such as the Rangers and the Reds, and secondly, he clearly has the stuff to start in the bigs, and stashing him in the pen or demoting him won’t improve that stuff. The problem is, his stuff certainly would work better out of the pen than Garcia’s, given his slick little fastball-curveball combination and the jump we’d see in his speed if he was only throwing 20 pitches a night. Like I said earlier, though, putting young pitchers in the bullpen is an extremely frustrating part of this team: don’t do it to poor Nova.
Brian Gordon – 5%
Unless Brian Gordon goes out there and throws a perfect game, there’s little possibility that we’ll see him in the big league rotation after people start coming off the DL. While he was serviceable in his first start and has a really great story, there’s an obvious reason why he spent so much time being a minor leaguer. While Gordon is decent filler material while the Yankees deal with their injuries, he doesn’t appear to have the stuff he needs to keep his big league job with this team, at least. He’ll most likely be the first one to go – probably cut, given the excess of pitchers in Scranton and Trenton, but possibly demoted. Either way, Gordon’s been a placeholder for Colon until he gets back, and while he’s fine for a couple of spot starts, there’s really no way this guy is going to take a rotation spot over any of the options listed.
For the first time in what seems like a long time, the Yankees have too many pitchers fighting for a spot. What this comes down too, really, is Garcia vs. Nova, and it’s not an easy one to pick when you take all the factors into the debate. That being said, I personally think this is still a better problem to have than worrying about who the heck is gonna pitch tomorrow. Go Nova!