Reviewing this Offseason, Part One

On the 17th, Tim of MLB Trade Rumors posted the off season in review for the Yankees. There, he obviously lists all the moves that Brian Cashman has made since the Yankees won their 27th championship in November. Since the roster is more or less set, and we’ve got little to do until the Spring Training opener, I thought it’d be nice for us to do a little review of some of the different moves. Today, we’ll talk about pitching

The Yankees made two moves in the rotation this year: they re-signed Andy Pettitte to a one year, $11.75MM deal and acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves–along with reliever Boone Logan–for Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, and Arodys Vizcaino. Both of these moves are good moves, and I think we all know why.

Pettitte may not be very flashy anymore, but he’s almost a lock to provide 180-200 innings of at least league average pitching. He’s had that type of season (at least 180 IP/100 or greater ERA+) in 11 of his 15 Major League seasons. Consistent performance like that is incredibly valuable, especially when it’s coming from the team’s third starter.

Consistency is also something they’ll get from Javy Vazquez, who’s pitched under 200 innings just three times in his career (172.1 in ’98, 154.2 in ’99, and 198 in ’04). Considering he’ll be lined up as the de-facto fourth starter, the Yankees are likely to get great value from Vazquez. The trade that brought him (back) to the Bronx was also a great deal.

While Melky Cabrera was useful, his being traded seems to signal that the Yankees don’t think he’s going to grow much more than he already has. While that’s one long term ramification of the deal–there is another one–in the short term, it’s a solid deal. I’d be willing to bet something of good value that Javier Vazquez will be more valuable in 2010 than Melky Cabrera will. The other piece the Yankees sent along, Arodys Vizcaino, definitely has high upside but he’s still untested in a full season league, so it’s more than doubtful that he’ll provide any value to Atlanta’s big club team in 2010.

Losing Vizcaino meant that the Yankees’ system took a big hit. However, like it’s been said, despite his undeniable talent, he’s very far away from being a big leaguer. It’s conceivable that, if they offer him arbitration and let Vazquez leave after this season, the Yankees could get a suitable replacement for Vizcaino in the 2011 draft.

Boone Logan was also brought in, and he’ll compete in Spring Training for a bullpen spot. If he makes it, it’ll be as the second lefty. Logan has a .702 OPS against lefties (.333/.398), so he could be a good second option. Is he a necessity? No. Could it hurt to give him an audition at some point in the season? Sure. Basically, Logan replaces Mike Dunn, who would’ve been the second lefty out of the bullpen after Phil Coke was traded to the Tigers.

Of course, the Yankees also lost some pitching in the offseason, though none if it is incredibly major. Aside from Vizcaino, the Yankees parted ways with Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy, Brian Bruney, Mike Dunn, Chien-Ming Wang and Josh Towers. Let’s break this down pitcher by pitcher:

Coke: The biggest loss of the pitchers, going solely by impact on the ’09 team, he was likely to be the second lefty after (a hopefully healthy) Damaso Marte. Coke was traded to the Tigers along with outfielder Austin Jackson for Curtis Granderson. Apparently, the Tigers may try him in the rotation, though manager Jim Leyland sees–and rightly so–as a bullpen guy.

Kennedy: He went in the same deal as Coke, but he headed to Arizona. I’m sad to see Kennedy go. I feel like he never got a fair shake in NY and it would’ve been nice to see him compete for a bullpen spot (an Al Aceves type role) for 2010. Instead, he’ll likely end up in the Diamondbacks’ rotation, where he could do alright, as long as he’s not as timid as he was in his 2008 rotation stint. Attack the zone, Ian! Anyway, losing Kennedy made the Yankees’ depth take a hit, but that was somewhat fixed by Vazquez’s addition. And, like the other players in the two major trades of this offseason, the players brought in will definitely be more valuable than the players that left.

Bruney: Bruney was traded to the Nationals for their pick in the Rule V draft, which turned into outfielder Jamie Hoffmann. Brian would’ve been struggling to make a spot and after a few years of inconsistency–and the beginning of a relatively expensive portion of his career–the Yankees were right to cut him loose.

Dunn: Not a big loss, Dunn still needs some seasoning in AAA. If he can harness his control, he could be a decent lefty option going forward for the Braves.

Towers: This means literally nothing but the loss of some AAA fodder.

Wang: We’re all sad to see Wang go, but the move makes sense. There doesn’t seem to be room for Wang going forward. He wouldn’t be a good fit in the rotation–there’s no room there and he wouldn’t be the fifth, or even sixth, best starter on the Yankees–and his pitch-to-contact-style is not desirable for a bullpen pitcher. For the Nationals, this move is a low risk, medium reward signing. I wish CMW luck in our nation’s capital and I appreciate his pitching of ’05-’08, but the Yankees will likely be better off without him.

Check back tomorrow for the hitting version of the offseason review.

3 thoughts on “Reviewing this Offseason, Part One

  1. -Leftylarry

    You greatly under value Mike Dunn, who has a chance to be a lights out lefty reliever in the very near future and might make the the Braves team this season.Left handers who throw 94-95 don’t come along every day and this converted OF’er hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he might become.
    Rose colored glasses are nice but Yankees hurt themselves from the port side by trading away two still young southpaws with good stuff. Leftys are notoriously late developers also.

  2. I’ll take your word about leftys development…you are a Lefty aren’t you?
    Dunn and Coke were two guys I hated to see go but, more so with Coke because he was much closer to being the 2nd lefty out of the BP.
    Everything I have read about Dunn was good being, he just started pitching a few years ago.

  3. Nice write-up, Matt. I’d say IPK got a fair shake at things, but unfortunately, he wasn’t what the team was hoping for, so they shipped him off to fill a bigger hole. Hard to disagree with that. He was given every opportunity to win in ’08 and we all know about last year. Just didn’t work out. I wish him luck in AZ.

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