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.

    • Nova is more suited to the starting rotation to me just because he will never be a closer in the pen so his value to the club is trippled as even just the 5th starter, I wouldn’t want to have to go into the season relying on Nova but if we get Lee and Andy hangs it up I’m more than comfortable with Nova taking over the 5 spot and then maybe have a Noesi or Brackman take over when he hits his innings limit late in the year.

      What’s wrong with Nova in the rotation? He throws really hard for a kid without many strikeouts and keeps the ball on the ground which is important in Yankee Stadium, yes last year he had a hard time when the lineups started turning over for the 3rd time but so do all young starters and he seemed to have the mental make up for New York because he is a strong willed kid.

  2. Scout

    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.

    • I think by “significant name” he means we wouldn’t have to trade a Montero or killer B but I could be wrong, either way however I disagree if we sign Lee we don’t need to trade for a starting pitcher but if we miss out on Lee then we will certainly be parting with some “signifigant names” because we need a number 2 pitcher.

      • T.O. is right. I meant none of The Catchers, Killer B’s or anyone like that. I’m not talking about a team forking over Josh Johnson or Brett Anderson for a weak package, but I imagine (I haven’t really looked at any names in particular) that they could find someone better suited than Nova for a decent price.

        As far as Nova goes, maybe I’m just being too harsh on him too early, but I would LOVE a guy who, at the very least, could bump A.J. Burnett to the No. 5 slot. Bumping Phil Hughes to the No. 4 slot would be icing on the cake, but I won’t be greedy.

        • AJ as a 4 is not bad and I don’t expect him to have as bad a year as he did this year.

          I don’t know if you are under rating Ivan Nova or if you are overrating the number 5 starter…. a lot of times you don’t even need a number 5 starter for the first turn or two through the rotation depending on how the off days setup and from a performance stand point if you have a 5 starter who can pitch 5 innings with 3-4 runs a game every start you would more than take it and Nova proved he could do at least that last year.

          We don’t need a stud in every spot of the rotation a guy like Nova who can touch 96-97 at times and keeps the ball on the ground can play huge even with that lazy loopy curve he has, when he mixes the change well and keeps the fastball low he seems fine. His troubles last year all seemed to come from either fatigue or lineups figuring him out the third time through and as a 5th starter it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have that problem.

          • I’m not putting any faith at all into A.J. after the miserable season he just had. All those things about the the fifth starter are true, but you’re still getting a good 30 starts from that slot. Even so, you’re probably right that Nova isn’t a terrible option for the fifth spot. I just don’t want to have to watch Burnett and a rookie holding down the back end of the rotation. Not to mention Phil Hughes in the No. 3 slot who, as you mentioned in another comment, could struggle as the league adjusts to him.

  3. misterd

    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.

    • I don’t understand why everyone is just assuming Hughes will be better in his second full year, there is an old saying it football that if you get a QB to perform as well in his sophomore year as he did his rookie year you did a great job. The point is the league makes adjustments and so I fully expect Hughes to struggle more in the first half than he did this year just because batters will be use to facing him, I think he will probably adjust and have a better second half than he did this year and end up with peripheral numbers about the same with maybe a few less wins.

      There are a lot of factors that can weaken a sophomore campaign including fatigue from the previous years work load, injury, batters adjustment, lack of velocity, higher BABIP al can play an effect.

      I wanna be clear I don’t think Hughes will have a bad year and he may end up having a better overall year but I don’t think it will be by much, I expect him to settle in somewhere a little better or a little worse than last year but good.

      • misterd

        I mostly agree, to the extent I expect an improvement by Hughes, I don’t expect it to be much. Mainly, I expect him to be more consistent, so a less spectacular first 2 months, but a better June-Sept. I did not mean to imply he would show a vast improvement (though it wouldn’t shock me either).

  4. Tom Swift

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

    • The money he would get in arbitration is more than on the streets so he would accept it no doubt.