Archive for Pedro Feliciano

Oct
25

What Went Wrong: Pedro Feliciano

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Nope. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Yankees have been searching for a quality left-handed reliever since letting Mike Stanton walk after the 2002 season, and that search led them to Pedro Feliciano last offseason. They inked the former Met to a two-year contract worth $8M in mid-December, in part because he a bonafide relief workhorse. He’d proven to be very effective against lefties and unusable against righties, making him the quintessential lefty specialist.

Feliciano, now 35, struck out six batters in his four Spring Training innings, and that was it. We never saw him again. On March 18th, we got word that he was dealing with a dead arm and the team was giving him extra rest as a precaution. Less than two weeks later the dead arm had turned into some kind of triceps problem, a problem that would cause him to open the season on the disabled list. Two days later it was being described as “soreness in a muscle behind his left shoulder,” and the team shut him down for ten days.

The ten days came and went, and doctors had to push Feliciano’s time table back about a week because he wasn’t ready yet. On April 12th, when he finally did get on a mound to start throwing, the southpaw suffered a setback and was sent for an MRI. “He was abused,” said Brian Cashman shortly thereafter, referring to Feliciano’s league leading games pitched totals with the Mets from 2008-2010. The MRI revealed a torn shoulder capsule, the same injury Chien-Ming Wang suffered in mid-2009, but surgery was put off after Dr. James Andrews advised a conservative treatment program that consisted of six-week shoulder strengthening routine. Feliciano was also undergoing platelet-rich plasma treatment as well.

Six weeks after Dr. Andrews’ recommendation, he was ready to start a throwing program on June 1st. Feliciano made 30 soft tosses on that date, and he continued building up to the point where he was ready to being throwing to hitters in early-August. A few weeks later, on August 25th, he made his first rehab appearance, striking out one in one perfect inning for the Rookie Level GCL Yankees. He never made another one. Exactly two weeks after the rehab outing, Feliciano underwent surgery to repair damage to his rotator cuff, a serious procedure that will likely keep him on the shelf for all of 2012.

Between Feliciano, Damaso Marte, and Kei Igawa, the Yankees had three $4M-a-year left-handers on their payroll that were completely unusable in 2011. The reason the Yankees went out and signed Feliciano in the first place was because Marte was recovering from his own shoulder surgery, so they ended up right back where they started, just with less money in their pocket. Cashman’s comments about Feliciano being abused came off as whiny more than anything, because anyone with internet access could go to Baseball-Reference.com and look up how much the guy had pitched the last few years.

The Yankees knew the risk involved with signing an older, heavily worked relief pitcher to a multi-year contract, but they took the chance anyway and got burned again. Early reports from this offseason indicate that the team is again looking to add a reliable left-handed reliever to their bullpen, this time to replace the injured Feliciano who was replacing the injured Marte who was replacing the awful Billy Traber. It’s highly unlikely that Feliciano will ever throw a pitch in pinstripes, rendering him a completely sunk cost.

Categories : Players
Comments (34)

Four questions this week, but three of the four answers are kinda long. The Submit A Tip box is your friend, assuming you need a friend that can help you send in questions for future mailbags.

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Chris asks: Do you think the Yankees would consider trying David Robertson out for the rotation? He seems to have good mechanics with his delivery and no obvious physical detriments that would inhibit his ability to start. Stuff-wise, I think few would doubt Robertson’s qualifications — especially now that he’s added a serviceable change-up to go along with his plus curveball and fastball. What do you think David Robertson’s ceiling as a starter would be? Is it high enough to justify a “Robertson-as-a-starter” experiment?

You know, I could have sworn Joe wrote a post about Robertson as a potential starter, but apparently he didn’t because I can’t find it in the archives anywhere. Oh well.

Stuff-wise, Robertson would be fine. He’d definitely lose some heat off the fastball, figure more 91-92 than the 94-95 he’s working with these days, but he’s got that great curveball and will show a changeup from time to time. He’s thrown that changeup just 1.7% of the time this year, so he’d have to be comfortable with using the pitch a lot more than he does now for it to work.

There’s two big hurdles here. First, Robertson hasn’t started a game since 2005, when he made three spot starts as a sophomore at Alabama. He also hasn’t thrown more than 61.1 IP in a season since 2008, when he topped out at a career high 84 IP (he threw 84.1 IP in 2007, so close enough). It’s not like they could just stick him in the rotation and expect 30 starts right out of the chute, it’ll take a year or two to get him safely stretched out. The second thing is his efficiency, or lack thereof. Because Robertson’s such a high-strikeout, high-walk guy, he ends up throwing a ton of pitches. In fact, his rate of 4.51 pitches per batter faced is the highest in baseball among relievers with at last 40 IP, and his 18.5 pitches per inning are the eleventh highest when you use that same criteria. He’d have to learn how to become more economical, which means pitching to contact a little more. If he can’t do that, he’d be a five and fly starter.

There’s also the element of the unknown here. We have no idea if Robertson can be successful the second and third time through the order. At least with Joba Chamberlain, you had his dominant college and (brief) minor league track record to fall back on. That’s not to say it can’t work (C.J. Wilson was very similar to Robertson when he was in the bullpen, and his transition was a smashing success), but that it won’t be easy. I can’t imagine the Yankees will entertain the thought of trying Robertson in the rotation, but it’s not a completely insane idea. Would take a lot of work on David’s part though, that’s for sure.

Brent asks: I was reading your article about Pedro Feliciano and got to wondering: How is the luxury tax, insurance payments, salaries effected by an injured player like this?  What $$ are the Yankees exactly on the hook for in this situation?

I can’t answer the insurance, we really don’t have any idea what kind of insurance teams have on their players. I imagine the extent of the coverage is a case-by-case thing, like every other insurance arrangement, and it’s basically impossible to find that info freely available somewhere. For all we know, the Yankees could have been reimbursed for every dime they paid Feliciano this year.

The luxury tax is a different story though. You can download the pdf of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement right here, then scroll down to Article XXIII for everything you need to know about the Competitive Balance Tax, the luxury tax’s fancy name. I’ll spare you the gory details, but in a nutshell, teams are taxed on their “Actual Club Payroll,” which is the average annual value of all the contracts on their 40-man roster. There’s almost some specifics about signing bonuses, benefits, etc., but a team is taxed for every player on the 40-man, and Feliciano has been on the 40-man all year. The Yankees will have to pay luxury tax on his contract even though he never pitched for them. Since they’re taxed the maximum 40%, that’s another $1.6M on top of his $4M average annual salary.

J.R. asks: If a player goes on the DL in the playoffs he is ineligible for the next round (ie Clemens in the ALDS). If the Yankees lost a player in the ALDS could they be off the roster for the ALCS but then put back on for the WS?

Yep, that’s exactly how it would work. The Braves lost Billy Wagner to injury in the NLDS last year, and replaced him on the roster with a new pitcher. Wagner was ineligible for the NLCS, but if Atlanta had made it to the World Series, he could have been re-added to the roster. If a player is replaced on the roster in the LCS, they’re off limits in the World Series, which kinda stinks.

Mike asks: Who are the minor leaguers who need to be added to the 40 man roster after the season to protect from the Rule 5 draft and who are the candidates to be cut from the 40 man to make room for them? I think you touched on this a couple of months ago but things have changed in Sept a little.

I trimmed Mike’s question down just for the sake of saving bandwidth, but you get the idea. I answered a question about who’s eligible for the Rule 5 Draft a few weeks ago, but you’re right, things have changed. Both George Kontos and Austin Romine were added to the 40-man roster and called up while Steve Garrison and Pants Lendleton lost their spots. Here’s a quick recap of the 40-man situation heading into the offseason…

On 60-day DL (7): Feliciano, Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, Sergio Mitre, Reegie Corona, Colin Curtis, Justin Maxwell

Scheduled to become free agents (8): Marte, Mitre, Luis Ayala, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, Jorge Posada

Non-tender/release candidates (4): Corona, Aaron Laffey, Scott Proctor, Raul Valdes

That’s eight spots definitely being opened up by departing free agents, but five of those spots will immediately be filled by 60-day DL guys (Marte and Mitre overlap). There’s no DL in the offseason, those guys have to be activated. Proctor’s as good as gone, so that’s another open spot. Pretty safe bet that Corona and at least one of Laffey/Valdes will go as well, so that’s two more spots. Right now, we’re at six open spots.

The outfield trio of Maxwell, Greg Golson, and Chris Dickerson will all be out of options next year, so something has to give. They could be released, traded for a marginal prospect (like what they did with Juan Miranda), or run through waivers just to see if they clear. All three could be gone next year, or all three could be back and off the 40-man roster. I have to imagine that at least one of those guys will be cut loose at some point, perhaps two. Either way, those are some flexible spots that can be dealt with as needed. The out-of-options thing really doesn’t become a problem until you actually want to send them to the minors, usually at the end of Spring Training.

With Romine and Kontos added to the 40-man, David Phelps is the only remaining lock to be added to the roster to prevent Rule 5 Draft exposure. David Adams and Pat Venditte are up in the air, as are a few others. Remember though, those open 40-man spots aren’t just for prospects. The Yankees have to replace Garcia and Colon in the rotation, add some bench players to replace Chavez and Andruw, and rebuild some bullpen depth. The 40-man roster can be a difficult thing to manage in the offseason, especially for a team like the Yankees, a team with so many players locked into long-term contracts.

Categories : Mailbag
Comments (32)

Fail. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Word came down yesterday that Pedro Feliciano had surgery to repair the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder earlier this month, and although no timetable for his return has been established, it’s a safe bet that he’ll miss most, if not all of next season. That’s usually how these rotator cuff surgeries go. Barring a miraculous rehab, the Yankees will have paid Feliciano $8M over the course of two seasons for exactly one inning of work. Best of all, that’s not even a big league inning, it was a rookie ball inning as he tried to rehab the shoulder.

Unfortunately, Feliciano’s flop isn’t an isolated incident. Teams have been getting burned by multi-year contracts for relievers since the dawn of free agency, and the Yankees are no different. There’s Kyle Farnsworth, Steve Karsay, Damaso Marte, and a quite a few more that failed to live up to their contracts not because they couldn’t handle New York or whatever, but because of the nature of the job. Trying to predict reliever performance is like trying to predict the lottery. You might get lucky and hit it big, but history says you won’t.

To make this Feliciano thing even more … perplexing (I guess that’s the best way to describe it) is that Brian Cashman came out and acknowledged that the lefty was abused during his time with the Mets. Anyone with a computer could have gone to Baseball-Reference.com and told you that three straight years of 86+ appearances (not to mention all the times he warmed up and didn’t come into the game) is bound to take its toll on a 35-year-old shoulder. I get that the Yankees a) had Cliff Lee money burning a hole in their pocket at the time of the signing, and b) can absorb the $8M payroll hit and not miss a beat, but that doesn’t forgive the mistake. Bad process, bad result.

I don’t want to harp on this Feliciano stuff too much because I’ve already tackled this whole mess. It’s one thing to make a good decision and have it not work out, but it’s another thing to make a bad decision in the first place. Cashman essentially blamed the injury on Feliciano’s prior workload, which is pretty weak in my book. It’s a lame excuse at best, and indicative of poor decision making. The overvaluation of lefty relievers has been a Yankees trademark for a few years now, and you’d be hard pressed to find a position on the team where more money was spend on zero (literally zero) return over the last half-decade or so. Feliciano is just the latest example of the team repeating a past mistake and giving a less than elite reliever a contract spanning more than one year.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
Comments (98)

Via Dan Barbarisi, Pedro Feliciano had surgery on his rotator cuff on September 8th, and he’s got a long rehab ahead of him. The lefty tried to rehab the injury at Dr. James Andrews’ recommendation, but it obviously didn’t work. There’s a legitimate chance that Feliciano will never throw a pitch for the Yankees, other than that one-inning rehab appearance in rookie ball a few weeks ago. Multi-year contracts for relievers, eh? Never a good idea. Maybe they’ll learn one of these days.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (23)

The latest from Tampa…

  • Alex Rodriguez continued to increase the intensity of his workouts today, taking 57 swings in a situational hitting batting practice session. There’s still no firm timetable for his return, but there’s a chance he’ll start a minor league rehab assignment this Friday and I have no reason to suspect that’s changed after today.
  • Pedro Feliciano, remember him? He has resumed throwing bullpens after his latest setback and might actually be able to throw batting practice sometime next week. I’ll believe it when I see it, even though I won’t see it and will have to instead rely on people that did see it to tell me it actually happened.
Categories : Injuries
Comments (11)

A few updates from the infirmary…

  • Rafael Soriano was not activated before today’s game, he likely will be before Friday’s game. He threw back-to-back rehab games on Sunday and Monday, so they’re just giving him the extra rest instead of rushing him right back out there. Tomorrow’s off day will give him three days off following the back-to-back.
  • Alex Rodriguez will do his early rehab work with the team in New York rather than in Tampa. The Yankees have a date in mind for when A-Rod will start taking batting practice and such, but his return to the lineup is still a few weeks off.
  • Pedro Feliciano is probably a non-option for the rest of the year. “I would think so, yeah,” said Joe Girardi before today’s game when asked if he’s ready to give up on having the lefty this season. “He’s not doing much.” Girardi said Feliciano is “trying” to play catch.
  • Damaso Marte, however, might be able to contribute something late in the season. He continues to throw bullpens in Tampa and is about nine months out from shoulder surgery. I still wouldn’t count on him returning this year, but it sounds like Marte has a better chance to do so than Feliciano.
Categories : Injuries
Comments (7)

Via the AP, Rafael Soriano threw 25 pitches to hitters in live batting practice today, his second live BP session. I can’t imagine a minor league rehab stint will be far behind, and that’s good news. Pedro Feliciano, meanwhile, resumed a throwing program after being shutdown for a week with soreness in his injured left shoulder. Damaso Marte continues to throw bullpen sessions as well. Good news all around, though the last two are still long shots to contribute this year.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (4)

Got some injury updates, courtesy of Chad Jennings. Pedro Feliciano has been shut down for a week with soreness in his throwing shoulder. He had been making light tosses off a mound as he rehabs from a torn shoulder capsule. Rafael Soriano is on his way back, throwing a bullpen yesterday and reporting no problems. He’ll throw another one tomorrow. Damaso Marte (remember him?) threw a bullpen today, though it’s unclear how long and with how much effort. Either way, good news for him and Soriano.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (12)

Via Bryan Hoch, both Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano threw off a mound in Tampa today. The former threw 32 pitches, the latter 30 soft tosses. I’m guessing that we’ll see Soriano throw a few more bullpens before facing batters in a simulated game, then he’ll head out on a rehab assignment. His rehab stint shouldn’t be all that long since he’s just a one inning reliever. Either way, Soriano’s not eligible to come off the disabled list until after the All-Star break, so he has time. Feliciano still was a long way to go.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (7)

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.

Categories : Injuries
Comments (21)