Rotation Options Dwindling

Joel Sherman still believes the Yankees are the favorite to land Cliff Lee, which as Cliff Corcoran notes, has become increasingly important:

Last Thursday I took a look at the available free agent starting pitchers not named Cliff Lee or Andy Pettitte and boiled it down to four viable alternatives for the Yankees in the event of Lee singing elsewhere and/or Pettitte retiring. Less than a week later, half of those pitchers have already signed with other teams. Worse yet, the two pitchers who signed were the top two in my ranking of the four. Hiroki Kuroda re-signed with the Dodgers for just one year and $12 million. Jake Westbrook re-signed with the Cardinals for two years and $16.5 million with an $8.5 million mutual option for 2013. Both deals are extremely reasonable, making the signings all the more painful for the other teams around the league looking for starting pitching help.

The Plan-B list now looks like this:

1. Jon Garland
2. Jorge De La Rosa

Neither option is interesting to me. Garland would get smacked around in the AL East, and the upper limit for him would be to provide a league average inning eating season. De La Rosa has plenty of talent, but has not actually pieced it all together. His high walk rates, ERA that has never been below 4, and type A status make him a poor fit as well.

Quite frankly, the Yankees need both Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte if they want to improve their rotation via free agency this offseason. Alternatively, they can pursue a trade, but the cost would likely be high for the sort of pitcher that would fill a slot at the top of the rotation. Unless the Yankees are ready to hand two rotation spots to players like Ivan Nova, they need to be proactive in terms of securing both left-handers for the 2011 season.

0 thoughts on “Rotation Options Dwindling

  1. We’ve been saying (in varying degrees) that the Yankees need Cliff Lee. I think this development hurts more in terms of replacing Pettitte if it comes to that. Right now, the Yankees just need to make sure they get Lee in pinstripes because that could honestly be the difference between competing for a World Series title and ending the season in September.

    I like Ivan Nova, but I don’t like him in the rotation. If Pettitte retires I would like to see the Yanks trade for a guy that they would feel comfortable with in the 3-5 slots. Granted, pitching is precious to everyone, but you would think the Yanks could pull off a deal for that type of pitcher without giving up any really significant names.

  2. Granted, pitching is precious to everyone, but you would think the Yanks could pull off a deal for that type of pitcher without giving up any really significant names.

    And why would you think another team would give the Yankees something as precious as soldi starting pitching without expecting “significant names” in return? Be realistic, please.

  3. I think the Yankees only need Lee to improve, not Lee and Pettite.

    CC should be around where he was this season.

    I think Hughes, with a full season under his belt and no innings limit, will be better.

    AJ can’t possibly be worse.

    Though I like reminding people that Javy was arguably the Yanks best starter for most of May, June and July, there is no question that his stat line at the end of the season was miserable. I don’t think Nova, Brackman, Noesi, etc would have trouble matching or improving on those numbers for less than a tenth the cost.

    That leaves one slot open – Pettite’s. Pettite had a fantastic season, which was then scuttled by injury. At his age, I doubt that Pettite would replicate those numbers, and question whether he would hold up over a whole season, but I have no question that Lee would probably be an improvement.

    So if we ONLY get Lee, I see us holding steady in 2 rotation spots (CC, Javy) and improving in the others (AJ, Hughes, Lee) – a net gain.

    If we get both Pettite and Lee, then you can slot Andy into Javy’s spot, which bumps a likely improvement in 4 of the 5 spots.

    I think most of us agree the Yanks would be in a questionable position if we didn’t sign either, and would have to rely on mediocre pitchers having a career year, or a kid from Scranton coming up big, in order to be a solid contender.

    The wild card would be signing Pettite without Lee. That would likely leave Nova (or another kid) in the mix at the 5 spot, but I think it would weaken us in the 2 or 3 spot, as, once again, I don’t see Andy replicating his 2010 numbers. However, since I still expect improvement from AJ and Phil, I don’t see this as much of a setback to the rotation as a whole.

  4. Doesn’t the pitching scarcity mean that Javy’s mkt value went up, making it safer to offer him arb?