CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Rou... (12/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article On the Beat: "Fixing" ... (12/14)
Next Column >>
Premium Article On the Beat: Maddon Ho... (12/21)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/16)

December 16, 2011

On the Beat

Checking in on Pinstriped Pitching

by John Perrotto

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

It was seemingly the Yankees' biggest need at this time last year. It was seemingly the Yankees' biggest need at the beginning of spring training in February. It was seemingly the Yankees' biggest need on the night they were eliminated by the Tigers in the American League Division Series in October.

And it is seemingly the Yankees' biggest need right now.

Yet manager Joe Girardi isn't so sure the Yankees' need for starting pitching is as acute as so many others seem to think. If the season started today, the Yankees would have the same rotation that finished last season—left-hander CC Sabathia (2.91 FIP in 2011) leading the way, followed in some order by A.J. Burnett (4.81), Freddy Garcia (4.15), Phil Hughes (4.61), and Ivan Nova (4.04).

While outside analysts and fans look at the rotation and see holes—especially Burnett—the Yankees look at their starters and see a group that helped them win an American League-best 97 games and finish third in the league in runs allowed with an average of 4.06 ERA a game. They also feel the prices for free agent starting pitchers are too inflated—even for a team with a payroll in excess of $200 million—which is why they never made an offer on left-hander C.J. Wilson before he signed with the Angels and have lukewarm interest in Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.

"Obviously you always look to improve your club, but sometimes the asking price is too much, whether it's a free agent signing or be it a trade," Girardi said. "If that's the case, I do feel good about our rotation. If we have any chance to improve it, I'm sure we'll do anything we can that makes sense for us, but it has to make sense for us, and we're not just looking for a one-year deal. We're looking long-term, as well. We feel we have some pretty good prospects in the minor leagues that are going to have the ability to help us (next season), and these are the guys that are talked about in trades all the time."

The only starting pitching move the Yankees have made this winter was to re-sign the 35-year-old Garcia to a one-year, $4-million contract.

"I liked what Freddy did for us," Girardi said. "Freddy is a totally different look than all our other pitchers when you look at the type of stuff that he has. I like the progress that Nova made, and I think he'll continue to get better. (Burnett) is a guy that we know has the capacity to throw very good games for us. We saw him throw a great game against the Tigers (in the ALDS). Last year was the year where he had really only month in the month of August, seemed to bounce back in September, had some good months early on. He is a guy that always takes the baseball every fifth day and gives us innings."

August was indeed the enigmatic Burnett's worst month by far in 2011, as he had an 11.91 ERA and 1.142 OPS allowed in five starts and 22 2/3 innings. However, it is not entirely accurate to imply the other five months were good; Burnett finished 40th in FIP among the 41 pitchers who qualified for the AL ERA title, ahead of only the Tigers' Brad Penny (5.05), his one-time teammate with the Marlins.

Girardi believes Hughes could be the Yankees' X factor after he was limited to 74 2/3 innings last season when he developed arm fatigue early. In Hughes' first full season as a major-league starter in 2010, though, he was selected to the All-Star Game but also had a ho-hum 4.22 FIP. Girardi, though, feels the 25-year-old still has upside.

"Phil Hughes, how does he bounce back?" Girardi asked rhetorically. "Is he able to be the guy that we had in 2010, and if he is that's almost like going out and making a move, because now you're acquiring a guy in a sense we didn't really have the Phil Hughes from 2010. He could be really important to our rotation. This is a guy that won 18 games in 2010, and that's not always easy to do, win 18 games. But he pitched well for us, and that's what we're asking him to do to give us a chance to win, keep us in the games like he did in 2010. I do consider him a big part of our rotation."

The two pitching prospect whom Girardi alluded to as continually being asked about in trade talks are left-hander Manny Banuelos and right-hander Dellin Betances. Banuelos, 21, had a combined 3.75 ERA in 27 starts and 129 2/3 innings for Double-A Scranton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and the 23-year-old Betances had a 3.70 ERA in 25 starts and 126 1/3 innings for the same two clubs before getting a September call-up to the Yankees. Girardi believes one or both could wind up in the Yankees' rotation at some point in 2012, and the Yankees feel right-handed prospects D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps, and Adam Warren are also close to helping at the major-league level.

"We called up a number of guys to our bullpen last year, signed a number of guys that really panned out," Girardi said. "If you have a feeling about a young guy that he can really help you, I'm not afraid to do that."

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

Related Content:  Yankees Prospects,  Phil Hughes

3 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Rou... (12/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article On the Beat: "Fixing" ... (12/14)
Next Column >>
Premium Article On the Beat: Maddon Ho... (12/21)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: ... (12/16)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article What You Need to Know: July 25, 2014
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Kendrys Redux
Premium Article Skewed Left: The Mismatched Incentives of Dr...
Premium Article Notes from the Field: What's Wrong With Appe...
Premium Article The Call-Up: Chris Taylor
Premium Article Raising Aces: Shelby Miller's Fall From Grac...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Bochy and Peavy, Back ...

MORE FROM DECEMBER 16, 2011
Premium Article Future Shock: Pirates Top 11 Prospects
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Cuddyer to Colorado
Premium Article Collateral Damage: Rounding Up the Usual Sus...
Baseball ProGUESTus: The Men Behind the Men ...
Premium Article Resident Fantasy Genius: Second-Tier Japanes...
Premium Article The Keeper Reaper: First, Third, and DH for ...
Premium Article Fantasy Beat: All-Free Agent Team

MORE BY JOHN PERROTTO
2011-12-30 - Premium Article On the Beat: Speak Softly and Carry a Lineup...
2011-12-23 - Premium Article On the Beat: Trial By Fire
2011-12-21 - Premium Article On the Beat: Maddon Hopes for More October P...
2011-12-16 - Premium Article On the Beat: Checking in on Pinstriped Pitch...
2011-12-14 - Premium Article On the Beat: "Fixing" the Phillies
2011-12-08 - Premium Article On the Beat: Bobby's Back
2011-12-02 - Premium Article On the Beat: Still Sabean After All These Ye...
More...

MORE ON THE BEAT
2011-12-30 - Premium Article On the Beat: Speak Softly and Carry a Lineup...
2011-12-23 - Premium Article On the Beat: Trial By Fire
2011-12-21 - Premium Article On the Beat: Maddon Hopes for More October P...
2011-12-16 - Premium Article On the Beat: Checking in on Pinstriped Pitch...
2011-12-14 - Premium Article On the Beat: "Fixing" the Phillies
2011-12-08 - Premium Article On the Beat: Bobby's Back
2011-12-02 - Premium Article On the Beat: Still Sabean After All These Ye...
More...