Mailbag: Killer B’s, Logan, Hughes, Free Agency, etc…

This week’s mailbag will be broken into 2 parts with Part II being answered by Delia tomorrow. If you would like your question to be answered in the mailbag, email Mike at yankeesfansunited@gmail.com. Here we go:

@yankeesky asks: How many of the Killer Bees make the big club in 2012 ?

Which of the 3 will make the team in 2012?

Well if you are talking about Opening Day 2012, I would say zero – though all 3 should be up at various points during the season.  I would say the one with the best chance to make the team out of Spring Training is Andrew Brackman.  Not that he is the best of the 3 (quite the opposite IMO), but he’ll be 26 in December so he’s getting to the point where he needs to show some results.  And his move to the bullpen this year seems permanent which will increase his chances of making the Yankees.

Brackman’s season as a starter was a disaster as he totally lost the plate, walking 54 in 59.1 ip and allowing a .253 batting average against.  He walked 9 in his last 3 inning start on July 29th and was banished back to relieving. But something clicked in the pen as he walked only 6 in his last 20.1 ip with 17 k , a.155 batting avg against & 1.34 ERA.  So if he pitches that way in ST, he has a legitimate chance to make the team.

I expect the Yankees to go with 1 rookie starter in 2012 but the likely candidates to start the season are DJ Mitchell, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi or David Phelps.  All of these pitchers have more AAA experience than Betances & Banuelos and are further along in their development.  Betances & Banuelos both need to improve their command and overall consistency.  I expect 1 or both of them to pitch well in AAA and get called up to the Bronx some time around June or later depending on needs of the big club.

Personally, I love Banuelos.  His stuff is good enough to pitch in the AL East right now but his 4.95 BB/9 rate is far too high.  It puts unneccessary runners on base and prevents him from going deep into games.  It’s important to remember he is only 20 years old in AAA, so he is far ahead of schedule.

@djpostl asked: Is Joe Girardi functionally illiterate or does he ignore the statistics showing Boone Logan is better vs righties than lefties?

Many of Girardi’s moves leave me scratching my head and he is a hard manager to think along with at times.  In the case of Logan, I think it’s because Girardi and most teams tend to use multi-seasonal or career stats as well as in-season stats.  In-season stats can often be skewed due to small sample size and it often takes a larger view to judge trends.

This season Logan has been better vs righties but last year and for his career he is significantly better vs lefties.  His SO and Walk rates are still much better vs lefties but he has given up all 4 of his HRs this year against lefties which tilt the SLG/OPS in favor vs RHH.

Girardi has used Logan, Wade & Ayala to get the team through the middle innings til he goes to Soriano, Robertson & Mon in the 7th-9th.  Since Wade & Ayala are almost exactly neutral in their splits and Logan is a bit of an enigma, Joe would be best served just going with the hot hand rather than trying to match up lefty/righty.

Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 2011                  
vs RHB 60 7.4 3.4 0 2.2 .236 .300 .291 .591
vs LHB 102 11.8 2.3 4 5.2 .261 .317 .478 .795
Split PA K/9 BB/9 HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
 Career                  
vs RHB 447 5.4 4.6 13 1.2 .313 .388 .485 .873
vs LHB 482 10.2 3.3 11 3.1 .251 .321 .382 .702

@YourFaceIsThere asked: What do you think should happen with Phil Hughes in the long run?

I think the Yankees should look to trade Hughes this Winter.  I don’t see him ever being a top of the rotation starter and it seems he would be best served pitching in the bullpen.  If that’s the case he may bring more in a trade than he is worth to the team as a reliever who will make about $3M next yr in arbitration. Phil had a dominating season in 2009 out of the pen but when he starts he doesn’t bring the same velocity.

In his last few starts, he has come out very strong but loses his good fastball after the 1st or 2nd inning.  That is a big concern because when he doesn’t have his good fastball, he struggles to get by because he lacks a true swing and miss secondary pitch.   As a starter he sits 90-92, maxing 93-94, with an average curve, cutter and seldom used change.  He often gets 2 strikes but can’t finish hitters and his throwing motion prevents him from getting good downward action on his pitches so he is a flyball pitcher.

As a 1-2 inning reliever, he can sit 93-94, maxing 95-96 with a harder, sharper cutter and the average curve.  The extra 2-3 mphs on his FB & Cutter make the difference in getting strikeouts. So if he stays next yr, I’d rather see him in the pen.

@ehom87 asked: what free-agents will the Yankees go after? How would their rotation look next year?

The entire starting 8 position players will be back next year.  Posada is the only semi-regular who won’t be back but the DH spot should go to Jesus Montero with ARod & Jeter getting some time there to keep them fresh. So I don’t see the Yanks going for the big FA hitters like Pujols, Fielder or Jose Reyes.  What they do need is starting pitching.

FA LHP Mark Buehrle is a workhorse lefty in the Pettitte-mold

The starters that should interest the Yanks are CJ Wilson, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda and possibly Japanese League pitcher Yu Darvish.  They also need to re-up with CC and possibly retain Freddy Garcia or Colon.  No matter what, they need to come up with a strong starter to eat innings and complement CC.  Wilson and possibly Darvish are quality pitchers who could fill that role while Buehrle and Kuroda are veteran pitchers who could serve as stop-gaps until next yr when a lot of quality arms could be Free Agents. Matt Cain, Jon Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shawn Marcum, etc. could hit the market.  Buehrle is a tough, durable lefty in the Pettitte-mold but would require a sizable commitment. This year will be his 11th in a row with 200+ IP and 10+ wins.

If they get CJ, the rotation would be CC, CJ Wilson , Ivan Nova, AJ Burnett and either Hughes, Garcia, Colon or a young starter like Hector Noesi, DJ Mitchell, David Phelps or Adam Warren.

If I was in charge I would do what needed to be done to get rid of AJ.  Let’s face it, no one wants a pitcher with a 19-26 record and back to back 5.27 ERAs the last 2 seasons and $33M owed to him.  The only way to move him would be to eat a huge portion of the money or to deal him for another terrible contract. Carlos Zambrano, Jason Bay, Vernon Wells, Chone Figgins type contracts.

If they could clear AJ’s rotation spot, you could keep Hughes  as your #4 or preferably get creative and look to deal for a young pitcher that could develop into a future #1/#2.  I’d love to get Gio Gonzalez but he’d be hard to get.  I’d shop a package of Hughes along with 1 of the Noesi/Mitchell/Phelps/Warren group and other prospects to see the best pitcher I could get…preferably under 30 with strikeout stuff and low HR rates.  Maybe someone like that guy from Arizona, Ian Kennedy. Doh!

About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on September 10, 2011, in Yankee Mailbag and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Fish all great answers as always. I think Hughes becomes trade bait as well this winter.

  2. Fish…
    I still like your stuff, great to-day.
    I will differ with you on a point; I don’t think the Yankees will go after anyone they have to give up a draft pick for…with Cashman in charge. IPK is very good in the NL, in the AL East…not so much! His stuff is good but, he wouldn’t be as good in the AL…different demands for a pitcher. He could be a good #4-5 starter or long man out of the pen.
    What say you?
    Agree with you ; Phil to the BP, along with Brackman. Until Phil changes his short arm, he will never get the movement he could have but, he moer then likely can’t change now.

    • Whats up Ken?

      Do I think Kennedy would be 19-4 with a 2.90 era, 7.9 k/9 & 2.2 bb/9 in the AL East?

      No i don’t, but I do think he would be a solid #2/3 type. He’s never been overpowering but that’s not important. He has excellent command, changes speeds, uses 4 pitches and gets good movement. He’s added a cutter which has been key in a lot of pitchers developments.

      I watched the Yanks get shutout last night by a former Arizona pitcher that barely broke 90. I think Kennedy is a good comparison for Dan Haren who I’d like to have also.

      I don’t blame Cashman for trading Ian because I know why he did it. He came up at the same time as Joba & Hughes and he was always thought to be the 3rd best prospect behind those 2, As a result he was deemed expendable. Plus, he did bring Granderson in return so you can’t 2nd guess the trade. If Hughes & Joba had developed the way we thought, we’d have the #2 starter we covet.

      The thing about evaluating young pitchers that many forget to realize is they are not finished products. Most pitchers continue to evolve and change their arsenal in their early careers until they find the right mix. Its important to look for pitchers with good mechanics, command and work ethic so they have the base from which to develop. Kennedy has gained movement on his FB and added a cutter in the NL thus making him an All-Star. A guy like Nova who didn’t have an out pitch added a slider this yr and he’s a different pitcher.

      Hughes & Joba were big powerful kids with great velocity but neither have great mechanics and both have had their work ethics questioned in the pros. Their bad mechanics may have had something to do with each of their arm injuries. They both also came into ST overweight this yr. So hopefully the Yanks have learned from JOba, Hughes & Ian and can have better success with their new group of young arms.

  3. Hi Fishjam…
    My fault for not following IPK after he was traded. I was one of those that liked him (as I said above), but didn’t think he could stand up to the AL East. He had much better C&C and stuff then Phil or Joba but, without a fast ball in the low 90’s (90-92 minimum). I thought he would be another “Moose” or Garcia a #4-5 starter maybe a #3 at best.
    As you pointed out, all pitchers/players evolve, some for the better and some…not so much.
    I have written before about Phil and Jobas’ mechanics (here and there, a bit), I have never been one to get into the mechanics, as do you but, I know when I see an accident waiting to happen…and they were it. The sad part is, if Joba would take a lession from K-Rob…he could be a very very good pitcher. You know what I mean, use the body (the lower half) and reach out with his leg. Don’t use only his arm, use what God gave him…his whole body. Or as Seaver put it, “Drop and Drive”!

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