Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pettitte's Return, and the Rotation

The return of Andy Pettitte is pretty exciting if you're a Yankee fan. Since I started watching baseball Andy has won more postseason games than any other pitcher ever. Obviously that stat doesn't mean a lot in terms of comparing him to other players. Andy has been on a lot of good postseason teams in an era with an expanded postseason. However, to a 23 year old Yankee fan, what that record means is having watched him take the mound and get the W 19 times in the playoffs. Andy has an extremely special place in the hearts of Yankee fans. He is right up there with Jeter, Rivera and Posada.

It is simply impossible to be unhappy with Andy's return. It was only a year ago that we were watching the Yankee news expecting him to resign any day, and hoping that we wouldn't get stuck with fat Bartolo and geriatric Freddy in the rotation. Brian Cashman gave an interview on the YES network during the broadcast of the game right after he signed. His version of the story basically goes like this:

This past winter Pettitte heard Cashman doing an interview in which he was asked whether he had contacted Andy about a return. Cashman said no, he felt Andy could still pitch but didn't want to bother him. Pettitte then contacted Cashman to say that he was toying with the idea of a return and had started working out. Cashman supposedly offered him 10-12 million on the spot but Andy said he couldn't commit, and that he understood that Cashman might have to use that money to sign other players. So Andy worked out for a few weeks while Cash went about trading for Pineda and signing Kuroda. Cashman then told Pettite that the money was no longer available and he stopped working out. That is until Andy visited Spring Training as a guest instructor and realized that he wanted to play so bad that he would do so for a 2.5 million dollar minor league contract. So basically Pettite left 10 million dollars on the table because he couldn't commit 6 weeks earlier than he did, which sucks for him. I guess when you already have a ton of money and you live in bumble fuck Deer Park, Texas its probably not such a big deal though.

I don't buy the cliche that can never have too much pitching. I think that's stupid, because the Yankees clearly do at the moment. Obviously things can change quickly. If some guys get hurt or are ineffective the Yankees will be glad that they had too much pitching. However, its going to suck if come May the Yankees move an effective young starter to the bullpen in order to fit Andy into the rotation. I would far prefer to see them option one of Hughes, Nova or Pineda to AAA where they can continue to start every 5 days. I seem to remember Nova going to AAA last year and developing a knockout slider, that was his most effective pitch upon his return to the big leagues. Eventually injuries or ineffectiveness will open up a spot in the rotation, and whichever pitcher went to AAA can return. For Hughes or Pineda, a trip to AAA would allow them to work on their Changeup, which could wind up being constructive.

Moving Nova or Pineda to the bullpen would be really stupid. Those young pitchers need innings to develop into the legit big league rotation stalwarts that we hope they can be. If Hughes sucks and there is a need, it would make sense to move him to the bullpen. However, should the Yankees decide to move Hughes to the bullpen it would be for good. He is only 2 seasons away from free agency and the Yankees are likely to have several pitching prospects that are ready for the majors come 2013. It might appear on the surface that the best value that a player can provide to the big league club is as always as a member of the 25 man roster but that isn't always true. It is important that the Yankees view Nova and Pineda as assets to be developed in the best possible manner. They can then provide value to the team in a number of ways including as trade pieces. Good starters are much more valuable assets than good relievers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Breaking News: Andy Pettitte Returns

Via Jack Curry Andy Pettitte has signed a 1 year 2.5 million dollar deal. Details to come. Wow.

Update: Pettite expected to spend the rest of the spring getting in shape, and not to be ready for the start of the season. April is a big month for Phil Hughes.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Freddy Garcia's Hand, and the Rotation Competition

So most people reading this probably all know that Freddy Garcia was hit by a comebacker in his pitching hand. The Yankees have said that the X-rays are negative, but there was swelling. Hard to say how long Freddy will be out for.

Girardi is still going on about the rotation battle. He has even discussed the fact that Hughes, Nova and Pineda still have minor league options and could be sent to AAA. I don't believe him. I already wrote about the rotation "battle":
4 Guys, 3 Rotation Spots

The idea of sending Pineda or Nova to AAA is absurd. Nova was the Yankees second best pitcher last year, and deserves a shot to continue the improvement that he showed in his excellent first full season. It is also extremely unlikely that the Yankees will send the player that they traded Jay Buhner Jesus Montero for to the minors. The only one that I could reasonably be sent to AAA is Hughes, but that would really only make sense if it was for a particular reason, like working on the change up.

The idea of sending a guy with much higher upside (all 3) to the minors to accommodate Freddy Garcia really doesn't make sense. Should Nova or Hughes or even Pineda fail as starters or get hurt Freddy can always come back to the rotation at a later date. It probably wouldn't take that long to get Garcia's repertoire of slow-slower-slowest stretched out mid-season. Why not give the younger, higher upside guys a chance to show that they belong in the rotation.

I hope that this is just Girardi thinking that he is motivating his young starters to do their best. He should be less vocal about it though, because we don't want Michael Pineda hurting himself trying to throw 98 in his third spring start to make Kevin Kernan and the boys at the New York Post happy. Let's all hope that the Yankees won't really judge them by tiny sample size spring performances.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sorry Johnny, He's Just Not That Into You

According to Johnny Damon he essentially reached out to Brian Cashman and the Yankees and offered to play in New York. He wanted to be a Yankee again so bad that he was willing to accept "whatever [the Yankees] want to pay him."

Brian Cashman supposedly gave him some pretty thin answers about Ibanez being a better fit. That's kind of bullshit because Ibanez sucks at least as much as Damon, and probably more.

I can, however, understand the idea of not wanting to bring Damon back. After all if Ibanez sucks until July the Yankees can always go out and acquire a slugging left handed DH via trade. It's easy enough to cut Ibanez. He isn't getting paid very much and the fans and players have no particular attachment to him. However, cutting Damon mid-season would be much more painful for an organization and a fan base that remembers him playing his heart out for the Yankees and winning a world series here. Even if he did happen to throw like a little girl.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pineda's Second Start!

Michael Pineda is slated to make his second start in pinstripes today! Obviously the results don't matter. It would be nice to see him throwing gas and fading change ups, but this is the second start of spring training so we all need keep expectations in check. I won't be the least bit surprised if he is sitting at 89-91 mph and has shaky command. Of course that will no doubt spark a fresh series of NY Post articles about how he is fat and lazy. Don't buy it:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Low Hopes for Raul Ibanez

In what I can only imagine was an effort to make Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez not feel so old the Yankees went out and acquired the baseball geriatric Raul Ibanez over the offseason. My initial reaction to this acquisition was that it was stupid. After taking some time to absorb it, and to do a little bit of research, I still think it was pretty stupid.

I am a fan first, so let me make it clear that I am rooting for Ibanez to play great as a Yankee. I'd rather he have a great 2012 season and make me look like a dick than I be right. Unfortunately I don't see it happening.

Here are Ibanez's triple slash and HR numbers for the last three seasons. 

Season triple slash stats:


He has declined considerably in his late 30s. Ibanez's production also appears to have fallen off a cliff in 2011. Perhaps this is due in some part to drawing his lowest percentage of walks in this millenium (5.7%). Maybe its harder to draw walks when you are old.

Of course as a Yankee he is expected to serve as the Left handed portion of a DH platoon. So his numbers from that side of the plate must be much better, right?

 Left Handed triple slash stats:


Eh, maybe a little, but not by much. If he repeats 2011 in 2012 that would be pretty shitty for a DH. It would definitely be worse than Jorge Posada's .269/.348/.466 as a Left handed hitter in 2011. But at least Ibanez can provide the Yankees with genuinely terrible outfield defense as a 40 year old, should the need arise.

*All stats courtesy of fangraphs

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Robertson's Injures Foot

David Robertson injured his foot last night moving boxes in his home. Today he was in a walking boot but X-rays were negative. He is scheduled to have an MRI. That blows, but the key here has to be for the best Yankee reliever not named Mo Rivera to rest and heal completely and not rush back. Opening day is exciting but with a 162 game schedule ahead, being back for game 1 is really not that important. It sucks when injuries happen off the field but least he wasn't doing something stupid like punching his locker or playing pick up hoops, or as in Carl Pavano's case driving a car while retarded. 3/8 Update: Diagnosed with a bone bruise. Could be back by opening day. Thats awesome, best possible outcome.