Kuroda signing stabilizes Yankees’ winter

So far, the biggest theme of the Yankees’ offseason has been what they won’t be doing. Making multi-year offers to Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano. Signing Torii Hunter. Pursuing the top free agent starting pitchers on the market. Making very many multi-year offers of any kind, and so on. With the re-signing of Hiroki Kuroda, on the other hand,  the Yankees have provided some reassurances that they will, in fact, maintain a solid core of talent in 2013, even as austerity nibbles away at the margins of their roster.

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Somewhat amusingly, this is the second straight year in which the Yankees have re-signed a starting pitcher just prior to Thanksgiving, though I dare say Yankee fans are much happier to have Kuroda returning than they were at the prospect of another go-around with Freddy Garcia last year. Thanks to injuries, Kuroda emerged as the Yankees’ most durable, and perhaps most reliable starting pitcher, in 2012 silencing those who doubted his ability to pitch in the A.L. East while setting a career high in innings pitched. He also became something of a fan favorite, at least within my own circle of reference, and I get the sense that just about everyone was dreading the thought of him not returning for a second season in pinstripes, for reasons both on-field and off.

The upshot of this deal is that the Yankees have shored up their rotation picture with just one move. Without Kuroda and Andy Pettitte in the mix, the Yankees’ projected rotation looked pretty bleak, with Phil Hughes slotted in as the second starter and no clear fifth starter behind David Phelps and Ivan Nova. Between that reality and a thin market for starting pitching in which the Yankees weer total non-players for the top talents other than Kuroda, it’s not at all hard to see why they made re-signing their own star their top offseason priority, and with that squared away the picture going forward is dramatically different. Even without factoring Pettitte in, the Yankees’ rotation now projects as at least respectable, with Kuroda and Sabathia at the top with Hughes, Phelps, and Nova hopefully providing quality back-end caliber production behind them. Put Pettitte in to the mix as well, and you have a championship caliber rotation for day one, with an outside chance of having two of those three back-enders bumped if Michael Pineda can return and be effective.

So that’s where things stand today: with the lynchpin of the team’s winter plans under the belt. There’s still plenty to do, of course. Brian Cashman now needs to figure out who his starting catcher and right fielder will be when Opening Day rolls around, plus work out a contract with Mariano Rivera, but (at least assuming that the latter is a given on a certain level) retaining Kuroda was by far the most important task at hand this winter, and for as much as our focus has been on payroll cuts and all of the players the Yankees won’t be after anytime soon, for now they’re still able to get their #Hirok.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

21 thoughts on “Kuroda signing stabilizes Yankees’ winter

  1. Do you guys think this impacts Pettite’s decision in any way? I can’t imagine a scenario where he would be impacted but maybe he really liked/disliked Kuroda? Wanted to be the guy who came back to save the team this year? Is there any insight into the decision making for him and if this will impact that at all?

  2. I think what MOST impacts Andy is the Yankees chances of Winning,
    The better the team looks, the more he will want to play,
    So signing Hiroki is probably a move that favors Andy resigning

    • OldYanksFan, I like to think of one more reason that might entice Andy's return. Right now Andy has 245 career wins. In my opinion if he can get to 260 or more wins and with his postseason record he should have a better then 75% chance of getting into the HOF. That could be one heck of a lure to re-sign and play one more year.

      • Does not make sense. How does Kuroda's presence on the team affect Pettite's ability to win games? Kuroda's not hitting or relieving when Pettite starts.

        One could make the reverse argument: Kuroda's presence could HURT Pettite's chance at winning, Since the Yankees spent $15M on a pitcher instead of a hitter that could drive in runs when Pettite is on the mound. Also, Kuroda's games are expected to be close, so the Yanks would need to use Joba and Robertson more, making them less fresh for Pettite starts.

        Just saying. I don't think that this should affect Pettite's decision either way. But at least I can create an argument from that side. I can't construct a Kuroda-Pettite link.

        • Kuroda being around certainly increases Pettitte's chance of winning another ring. Just depends on what kind of 'winning' he's after.

        • I assume your reply was meant for "OldYanksFan". Since my comment was only meant to refer to Pettitte's chances of making the HOF should he come back for 1 more year and get to about 265 career wins.

  3. "Austerity" and the "Yankees" in the same sentence seems rather odd. They will still have one of, the highest salaried teams in all of Baseball so how does 'austerity' fit into this conversation? During the height of the depression, the Vanderbilts spent approximately $50,000 a week on their gardens, 'Yankees austerity' meant they only spent $40,00 per week…….

  4. Glad to see this happen. If we can get a solid rotation we've seen that there are some aging but relatively solid bats to be bought out there.

  5. Like I said on a different topic here. A Yankees rotation of: a healthy CC, Kuroda, a Pettitte that can give the Yankees about 150 innings, a rejuvenated Hughes and a little bounce back from Nova along with a few spot starts from Phelps has the ability as a starting rotation to account for 80 wins. Versus the 71 they accounted for last year.

  6. The key to this being a dominant rotation and just a good one is Phil Hughes. If he can show even modest improvement from last year, he would be an excellent number 4, if Pettitte returns and is as solid as he was last year. And Nova certainly has the talent to be the pitcher he was in 2011. This is good news. Now just get Martin under contract and tidy up the lineup a bit.

  7. I would like some of your thoughts on a "reclamation project" for a pitcher that might be of interest at least in my mind for the Yankees. As we all know you can never have enough pitching and that has been particularly true for the Yankees when it comes to injuries of late. Obviously they will NOT be in the market this year for a high priced/long term starter. So assuming the starting rotation is: CC, Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes and Nova with Phelps as the spot starter they will need a "reclamation project" cheap and very short term. How does the name Roberto Hernandez (previously known as: Fausto Carmona). He certainly would be cheap, probably very cheap and very short term. And if Pineda does come back around the All Star break the Yankees can release Hernandez with minimal to no cost. Any thoughts from anyone?

    • I like that a lot. I think maybe pitching with CC again and not having the pressure he felt after CC left would be good for him. Although if that got to him what would the NY media do for him? I think it’s worth a shot and wold welcome it. Is that a real possibility though? This is the first I’ve heard of that.

      • I just presented it as the idle thoughts of this Yankee fan. But since Cashman generally plays things close to the vest who really knows if it's a real possibility. What we do know is that Cashman will in all likelihood be in the market for a "reclamation project" and who's to say Hernandez won't be on the list.

        • Agree. Cashman has done well with recent reclamation projects like Garcia (the first year, at least….) and Colon. Even gong back to Chacon and Small (again, the first year, at least).

    • Cashman would have to make sure it's a bargain Fausto and not a Faustoian bargan. [ducks]

          • Yes, and the guy's name is (or at least was) "Fausto." It's a pun on "Faustian Bargain." If it's a Faustoian bargain, it means the rotation's going to hell. It's a joke, get it?

          • Not bad. Not good, but not bad. A faustoian bargain wood apply more if he was awesome but his hobby was torturing cats and stealing old ladies social security checks. The problem with the pitcher formally known as fausto is he sucks.

            The clear too reclamation projects are Haren and Soria on one year pillow deals. I want them both.

            Martin, Haren, Soria, Chavez, Scott Hairston are Good targets. Need to find the heavy side of the Hairston platoon though.