Monthly Archives: October 2011

C.C. in his own words….

C.C. News

C.C. News

by Matt S.

CC Sabathia announced Monday that he has agreed to a contract extension to stay with the Yankees.

The news comes as a major surprise, as most expected him to opt out of the remaining four years and $92 million left on his contract and hit free agency. No word yet on exact terms, but the new contract figures to surpass Cliff Lee for the highest average annual value ($24 million) for a pitcher. Stay tuned.


Teixeira, Cano & Gardner finalists for Gold Glove Award

Teixeira, Cano & Gardner finalists for Gold Glove Award

By Delia E. 

Tomorrow night, the Golden Glove Awards show goes primetime on ESPN 2 and they had announced the finalists for each spot in the Golden Glove awards! The Yankees this year have 3 finalists for the award and all three were nominated last year.

First Base

Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Casey Kotchman, Tampa Bay Rays

Second Base

Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers

Left Field

Alex Gordon, Royals
Brett Gardner, New York Yankees
Sam Fuld, Tampa Bay Rays

While Russell Martin had a good year behind the plate, he wasn’t nominated for one. Derek Jeter also wasn’t nominated this year for the award and has received more criticism than praise for winning the honor during years when he didn’t deserve the award. Also to give a heads up, former Yankee Austin Jackson was nominated for the Gold Glove in CF. The 1 hour awards show will air at 10:00pm ET only on ESPN 2.

Hot Stove Targetting: Matt Cain

The San Francisco Giants were able to win the 2010 World Series largely because of their tremendous starting pitching. They had a young group of electric starters, including Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. With their 2010 victory, the Giants looked well poised to make another run at it this year. However, the team declined greatly in the second half of 2011, and San Francisco didn’t even make the playoffs. One of their problems, is that they are offensively deprived. Because of this, GM Brian Sabean may be open to trading some of their plentiful starting pitching for offensive production. The name that pops out, besides Lincecum (who is untouchable), is Matt Cain.


Since 2007, Matt Cain has been one of the top pitchers in the National League. Cain has averaged roughly 211 innings pitched, each year, since his first full year of 2006. When looking at his stats, one thing that immediately jumps out is consistency. Since 2007, Cain has either maintained or improved his BB/9, K/9, HR/9, and H/9 every single year, with only a few minor exceptions.

BB/9 K/9 HR/9 H/9
2007 3.56 7.34 0.63 7.8
2008 3.76 7.69 0.79 8.5
2009 3.02 7.07 0.91 7.6
2010 2.46 7.13 0.89 7.3
2011 2.56 7.27 0.37 7.2

Throughout Cain’s career he has kept his platoon splits very much the same. Right-handed batters have hit Cain for .228 AVG / .295 OBP / .365 SLG, while left-handed hitters are similarly hitting .227 AVG / .301 OBP / .359 SLG. One thing we’re looking for is the ability to get lefties out just as easily as right-handed batters. We all know what a short porch right field is at Yankee Stadium, so a right-hander who struggles against lefties is of little desire. Matt Cain is not that way, as evidenced by his platoon splits. And, although he has been pitching in a very pitcher-friendly ballpark, his numbers on the road are still pretty darn good: .236 AVG / .307 OBP / .376 SLG. Another great quality of Cain’s is his consistency throughout the season.

March/April 3.38 1.23 1.83
May 3.71 1.26 2.00
June 3.44 1.23 2.39
July 3.05 1.2 2.10
August 3.01 1.16 2.92
September/October 3.53 1.12 2.5

Unlike certain pitchers the Yankees have, cough-cough-A.J.-cough, Cain seems to pitch well in every single month of the season. There are no Burnett-Augusts, etc. Consistency goes a long-way in stabilizing a rotation.

As far as Cain’s repertoire goes, he has three above-average pitches: a low-nineties fastball (90-94mph), a mid-eighties slider, and an excellent change-up of about the same speed. He also features a curveball, but it is an overall lesser pitch.

Usage 63.9 12.7 11.9 11.3
Mph 92.4 85.8 85.5 77.9
+/- 14.6 2.5 4.2 -1.

A huge factor of the Yankees’ search for starting pitching, postseason pitching. Although the sample size isn’t too big, Matt Cain has started 3 games in the postseason, all in 2010, and pitched tremendously well. He did not pitch less than 6 innings in one start, and didn’t even allow an earned run. Cain certainly came in the clutch for San Francisco in the playoffs, and that is exactly what the Yanks are looking for.


If you were to only read the positives from above, Cain would be the perfect pitcher for the Yankees to acquire. However, unfortunately, Matt Cain is not a perfect fit for the Yanks. Earlier, I mentioned how he has been pitching in an extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark. Cain is a pitcher that would be classified as a moderate strike-out, fly-ball pitcher. Although by a slim margin, he gave up more ground-balls than fly-balls this past season, in other years, Cain has been a decisively fly-ball pitcher.

2007 0.89 39.4 44.5
2008 0.76 33.2 44
2009 0.92 38.9 42.4
2010 0.78 36.2 46.6
2011 1.07 41.7 38.9

Because Yankee Stadium is an undoubtedly hitters-ballpark, fly-ball pitchers typically don’t fare too well. However, there is such thing as pitching-to-the-score, or in this case, pitching-to-the-field. One of the reasons Cain has such a high fly-ball rate, is that he knows he can get away with giving up fly-balls. If he were traded to the Yankees, Cain would absolutely have to make adjustments.
One last disadvantage of trading for Matt Cain, is that he will be a free agent after this coming 2012 season. That means, if a trade was made, you would be giving up prospects for 1 year of Cain. You could, however, give the “Cliff Lee Argument”, that by letting him get a year’s taste of New York, you increase your chances of re-signing him in the 2012-2013 off-season.

A Fit for the Yanks?

In my honest opinion, despite the negatives I brought up above, Matt Cain would be an excellent fit for the Yankees needs. Although he may give up more home-runs, the really good pitchers adjust their game, and I believe Cain could do that. He would bring stability and consistency to the Yankees’ #2 spot. These are qualities you simply aren’t assured by other potential free agent / trade targets out there.

From the Giants’ Perspective

Matt Cain is in line to make $15MM this next year. There have been indications that the Giants will not be in the running for big-time offensive free agents like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. However, that could change, as the Giants will need improved offense if they want a shot at winning next year. They might possible trade Cain and his $15MM contract to someone, to clear up room to spend on Pujols or Fielder, to improve over Aubrey Huff. It makes even more sense for the Giants to trade Cain, considering his contract his up after next season.

Cost for Yanks?

The Yankees would likely have to give up a considerable amount of talent for Cain. Think somewhere in line with Cleveland’s deal for Ubaldo Jimenez. I really do not want to trade Montero unless it is for someone who is a clear #1, like King Felix, or Cliff Lee, for that matter. One possible route would be to pick up Nick Swisher’s option and include him in a trade for Cain. Carlos Beltran is a free agent, and the Giants will have to replace him. They have a very good prospect in Brandon Belt who played a good amount of left-field for them last year, so Swisher could complete their outfield along with center-fielder Andres Torres. San Francisco did lose their top pitching prospect, Zach Wheeler, trading for Beltran, so throw in Dellin Betances and you’re certainly getting somewhere. The only players I would hesitate to put in a deal for Cain would be Montero and Banuelos.

Overall, I would love for the Yankees to trade for Matt Cain, for the right price. If San Francisco asks for Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, or a combination of both, then I’d hang up right there. Remember, you’d only be getting a guaranteed one year of Cain. Although there are distinct disadvantages to Cain (i.e. his GB/FB rate), in my opinion he is just the reliable #2 the Yankees need.

Morning Bits: Sabathia, More Sabathia, Cashman

Hello all.  I hope you all on the northeast are doing well.  I was without power for awhile but now have it back.  I still have no phone/cable/internet and can now only update at work till that comes back on.  We begin a new week and the Hot Stove will soon heat up.  C.C. can opt out of his contract tonight at 11:59PM.


— Yankees make offer to Sabathia.  He will most likely decline it though.

C.C. is the priority as Yankees balance needs.

—  Yankees wait for GM to sign his deal.

Enjoy the day everyone.

CC Sabathia to opt out of contract

CC Sabathia to opt out of contract

By Delia E

It’s official. CC Sabathia plans to opt out of his contract before the Monday Night deadline which will make him a free agent. Sabathia had 92 Million left on his contract but the Yankees aren’t worried. They had already prepared a deal for CC as soon as he opts out. The issue would be if CC decided to take another teams option.

The Yankees remain a favorite to sign CC Sabathia but there are other teams that are a big threat and also shopping around such as the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays.

Not the offseason for change

The Yankees concluded their 2011 season in a way that is all too familiar to us. Unfortunately, we have to deal with the sting of yet another brutal first round exit from the playoffs.  This one hurts a lot because it was all lined up so perfectly. We had Mariano Rivera and David Robertson available for two innings each, and we were coming home with momentum.  All we needed was one big hit and we could not get it. That is the main difference between the Yankees dynasty of the 90s and the last decade. Those teams had players like Bernie, Brosius, Tino, O’Neill, and Jeter who raised their game from the regular season to the playoffs. The teams of the last decade have had better regular seasons than postseasons.  However, another disappointing playoff series does not mean that this team should make radical changes this off-season.

Brian Cashman has always said you cannot make decisions based solely on the postseason. He is absolutely correct. The sample size is way too small to be considered worth more than the regular season. Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez obviously were the main goats of this postseason and. The only one of those three you could do anything with is Swisher.  Let’s say hypothetically, you do not pick up Swisher’s option, and you replace him with Michael Cuddyer.  You cannot guarantee me Cuddyer, or any other replacement, would hit in the playoffs. There is no possible way of knowing. However, I do know that Swisher will produce better in the regular season based on a larger sample size. Plus his 10 million dollar option is cheap and you can go out and find somebody else next year.  As for Teixeira and Rodriguez you have to hope they dedicate themselves this off-season to get better.  Teixiera needs to improve his mechanics from the left side as his line of .218/.327/.462/.788 suggests. Rodriguez needs to develop an exercise routine that can help him stay on the field.  Signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder to big bucks is not the answer with all money they have tied into Teixiera and Rodriguez. Texeira and Rodriguez improving is the only option.

This is also not the off-season for radical change because of the big free agent class next year.  Matt Kemp is an elite outfielder who could potentially replace Swisher. He is a five tool player and is only 27. He makes much more sense than Pujols or Fielder would.  Stud pitchers also will be available like Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Grienke, John Danks, Shaun Marcum, and potentially Dan Haren and James Shields. Some of these guys may also be available at next year’s trade deadline. This is why the Yankees should not blow their money on C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish this off-season. Sure they will need to sign or trade for a pitcher or two, but it does not have to be for major money. It is also why the Yankees do not have to go completely all out to extend CC Sabathia. I say 6 years at 150 million is a good meeting point. If Sabathia is dead set on 7 years letting him walk is probably the better option. The long term risk of a man who is close to 300 pounds is scary. All those innings will have to take its toll at some point right? Th St.Louis Cardinals are proved you do not need outstanding starting pitch to win a championship. You can win with clutch hitting and an outstanding bullpen. The Texas Rangers also got to the World Series without great starting pitching. So I would defiantly try to extend Sabathia, but it is not a necessity.

This Yankee team needs fine tuning this off-season and not a major overhaul. Winning 97 games in the AL East this year was a major accomplishment and should not be taken lightly. That is the sample size that you should trust more. The postseason is a complete crap shoot that can never be predicted.  However, if next year we have similar results in the postseason, we can consider more major moves because there will be elite players out there.  The outlook for the Yankees next year is bright and winning the World Series should be within our reach.

Morning Bits: Swisher, Cano, Sabathia, Awards

good morning all. Here are some Yankee links to start your day.

—  Yankees pick up option on Swisher and Cano.

— Yankees unlikely to beat Sabathia deadline.

—- Yankees nominated for an MLB best 17 GIBBYs.

enjoy the day everyone.

Swisher & Cano News

Swisher & Cano News…

by Matt S.

Yankees exercised OF Nick Swisher’s $10.25 million option for 2012.

Swisher, 30, batted .260/.374/.449 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI in 635 plate appearances this season for the American League East champion Yankees. The decision to exercise the option comes as no surprise.

Yankees exercised 2B Robinson Cano’s $14 million option for 2012.

A no-brainer move. Cano, 29, batted .302/.349/.533 with 28 home runs and 118 RBI in 681 plate appearances this season before raking in the ALDS against the Tigers. He’s a bargain at $14 million and will be a bargain at $15 million in 2013. The Yankees also exercised Nick Swisher’s club option for 2012, worth $10.25 million.

Chris Dickerson News…

Chris Dickerson News…

by Matt S.

Chris Dickerson will not qualify for Super Two status despite being on the active roster for 91 games in 2011.

It’s a veiled blessing for Dickerson who will earn close to the league minimum in 2012 before three years of arbitration. Had he qualified as a Super Two the Yankees would have non-tendered him rather than pay him a low-seven figures salary. The 29-year-old journeyman batted .321/.367/.393 in 41 games this season.

Source: YES Network

Grading 2011 and Looking Ahead: Bullpen

Mariano - The Greatest just keeps on going

The last part of the team we’ll look at is the bullpen. This was the strongest unit on the team as the pen led the American League with a 3.12 ERA, and was 2nd in OPS against (.677) and K/9 (8.46).

Mariano Rivera

He just keeps rolling along. Another year with a sub-2.00 ERA, his 4th in a row and 8th time in last 9 years.  Mo was consistent all season and finished with 44 saves in 49 chances to break the All-Time record for most career saves with 603.  The Sandman had a 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and a ridiculous 7.5 strikeout to walk ratio.  While he doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he was 27, his velocity was actually his highest since 2008 averaging 92.3 on his FB and 91.6 on his Cutter.   Grade:  A

2012 Outlook:  He is signed for one more yr @ $15M and will turn 42 in a month.  We all know he has to fade at some point but until he does he’s welcome as my closer for as long as he wants to pitch.

David Robertson

Maximum extension & follow through is how a 5'11, 180 pounder can blow Fastballs by MLB's best hiters

Robertson began the yr as the man Girardi used in the middle innings to get out of jams.  He did so well in that role he was the natural guy to take the 8th inning role after injuries to Joba & Soriano.  DRob flourished in that role the way he did in every situation Girardi used him in.  He led A.L. relievers in ERA (1.08) & K/9 (13.5) as he used his sneaky Fastball and knee-buckling Curveball to get big outs whenever he needed them.  His only blemish is he still walks a lot of hitters (4.7 BB/9) but makes up for it by getting strikeouts whenever he needs them and inducing a lot of groundballs.  He saw a big 7% increase in his GB rate and his velocity was up 1.2 mph to an average FB of 93.1 MPH.  Robertson showed a filthy Changeup and Cutter at times but his FB/Curve combo is so dominant he rarely needs his 3rd and 4th pitches.  Grade: A+

2012 Outlook: Robertson was one of the best bargains in baseball at $462,450 in 2011.  He’ll see a raise to around $1.5-2M in his first yr of arbitration in 2012.  He’ll have to be in the 8th inning role again and heir to the closers role if Mo ever retires.  With his 4 nasty pitches one can’t help to imagine DRob throwing 200+ IP as a starter but with his max effort delivery and small frame he may be best suited as a 1-2 inning guy.

Rafael Soriano

Didn’t look right in beginning of yr and soon went down with arm injury.  After nearly 3 months on the DL was much better when he returned in August. Finished with 4.12 ERA in just 39.1 ip.  His K rate (8.2) was the same as his dominating 2010 yr in Tampa but his Walk rate more than doubled to 4.1.  Grade: C-

2012 Outlook:  He has an opt-out he won’t exercise so will be back for $11M to pitch the 7th Inning.  Hopefully he will get comfortable in the role as the highest paid middle reliever in MLB. He has the stuff and track record to give the Yanks a shutdown 7th thru 9th inning unit.

Boone Logan

Logan was off to a lousy start through April & May then he lowered his arm angle a little and things turned around for him. After striking out just 7 in his first 13 innings he K’d 39 in his final 28 innings to finish the yr 5-3, 3.46 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9.  He was fairly good against lefties but was prone to HRs vs them with a 1.32 HR/9 vs them and 0 HRs vs Righties.  Grade: B

2012 Outlook:  In his 3nd yr of Arbitration he’ll get a small raise on his $1.2M salary and be back in his lefty relief role.

Luis Ayala

Ayala was  a nice find and had a surprising season although he pitched to a lot of luck.  He had a tidy 2.09 ERA but a 4.19 FiP.  He’s not a strikeout pitcher (6.2 k/9) but induced a lot of grounders (50% GB rate) and gave the team 56 quality IP.  for $650,00.  Grade:  B

2012 Outlook:  He was solid but I doubt he’ll be back as the Yanks are loaded with bullpen arms and could insert a younger guy with a higher upside.

Cory Wade

Wade is a feather in the cap of Billy Eppler’s pro scouting department as he was plucked off of Tampa’s Triple A team in late June and was brilliant in New York.  He finished 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA & 1.03 WHIP. While he dominated righties (.541 OPS against) his ChangeUp & Curve were also effective vs Lefties as he held them to a .730 OPS.  Grade:  A-

2012 Outlook:  Wade will definitely be back in the bullpen mix in 2012

Others:  Joba Chamberlain was pitching well with a 2.83 ERA/1.04 WHIP til he blew his elbow out.  His surgery will likely keep him from being effective until around June or later.  Hector Noesi showed some promise while riding the Scranton to NY shuttle and being moved back and forth from starter to reliever.  He may be in the mix as a #5 starter or long man in 2012.  Late inning call-ups George Kontos and Andrew Brackman will be candidates to make the pen in ST as both showed good stuff in Sept.  Cashman will look to bring in a second lefty in the Winter but other than that the bullpen appears set with almost everyone coming back and a lot of young guys looking to make the team.

Mariano Rivera 1 2 1.91 44 61.1 0.897 6.9 0.4 1.2 8.8 7.50
David Robertson 4 0 1.08 1 66.2 1.125 5.4 0.1 4.7 13.5 2.86
Luis Ayala 2 2 2.09 0 56.0 1.268 8.2 0.8 3.2 6.3 1.95
Boone Logan* 5 3 3.46 0 41.2 1.344 9.3 0.9 2.8 9.9 3.54
Rafael Soriano 2 3 4.12 2 39.1 1.297 7.6 0.9 4.1 8.2 2.00
Hector Noesi 2 2 4.47 0 56.1 1.509 10.1 1.0 3.5 7.2 2.05
Cory Wade 6 1 2.04 0 39.2 1.034 7.5 1.1 1.8 6.8 3.75
Joba Chamberlain 2 0 2.83 0 28.2 1.047 7.2 0.9 2.2 7.5 3.43
Scott Proctor 0 3 9.00 0 11.0 2.818 15.5 4.9 9.8 9.0 0.92
George Kontos 0 0 3.00 0 6.0 1.167 6.0 1.5 4.5 9.0 2.00
Provided by

Swisher and Sabathia News

Swisher and Sabathia News

by Matt S.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are waiting for Nick Swisher to submit his no-trade list before picking up his $10.25 million option for 2012.

Swisher has a limited no-trade clause which allows him to block deals to six clubs. Most expect the Yankees will exercise the option, but they naturally want to get a look at the list first so that they can explore all potential avenues to improve the roster.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York, the Yankees and the agent for CC Sabathia will hold contract negotiations this weekend.

Most have assumed that Sabathia will opt out of the remaining four years and $92 million left on his contract and hit free agency next week, but Marchand hears that both sides are “highly motivated” to get a deal done. While it’s not clear what it will take to keep him in the fold, Marchand estimates that Sabathia will want a six-year deal in the $150 million range. Such a deal would surpass Cliff Lee for the highest average annual value ($24 million) for a pitcher.

Morning Bits: Yankees Radio, Sabathia, Cashman

Well the Cardinals have done it.  The World Series is over and the “Hot Stove” season begins. Here are some important dates for the next few days:

— 12:01am ET Sunday morning/Saturday night: Players can file for free agency.

— 11:59pm ET Monday night: All option decisions are due.

— 12:01am ET Thursday morning/Wednesday night: Free Agents can talk to new teams.

And here are some Yankee links…

— The Yankees are to sign a one year extension with WCBS AM. John & Suzyn will most likely be back as well.

—  Yankees and C.C.’s reps are talking about a new deal.

— ESPN’s Andrew Marchand looks at the first 5 things Cashman should do in the off-season.

World Series Game 7 (Open Thread)

Could it be Albert's last game with the Cardinals?


— As you know, Brian Cashman and the Yankees have agreed to a new contract, for 3 years.

— According to Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News, Nick Swisher will most likely be returning to the team next year. His option will definitely (as in 99%) be picked up. However, the Yanks could potentially trade Swisher for a #2 starter. This basically eliminates the Yankees from the Carlos Beltran-sweepstakes.

World Series

Well what is best for the MLB is happening tonight – Game 7. All the spotlight will be on this game.  Enjoy the game, and enjoy the weekend.

Texas at St. Louis 8:05 PM FOX Harrison vs Carpenter

Yankees, Cashman reach extension agreement

Yankees, Cashman reach extension agreement

by Mike D.

Via Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, the Yankees and GM Brian Cashman have agreed to a new contract, but will not be officially announcing it until the conclusion of the World Series. The deal is reportedly for three years, but that is the extent of the details. I suspect the announcement will come very shortly after the World Series, as the front office will assuredly be shifting their focus to negotiations with C.C. Sabathia.

Grading 2011 and Looking Ahead: Rotation

True Aces don't grow on trees....Yanks must keep C.C.

This is Part 3 of 4 in our season wrap-up of the 2011 team.  The Yankees pitching staff was a major concern coming into the year but performed well as a whole finishing 4th in the A.L. with a 3.72 ERA.  They were unable to find the ever elusive #2 starter to take pressure off of C.C. the way Andy Pettitte used to.   Freddy Garcia and rookie Ivan Nova did their best to fill that role but neither is quite equipped at the moment to be that 2nd horse on the staff.

C.C. Sabathia

CC had off-season knee surgery but came into ST in good shape, even 25 pounds slimmer than usual.  He got off to a decent start and got stronger as the season went on.  There was a stretch from late June to early August where he went 7+ IP & allowed 2 R or less in 8 consecutive starts, upping his record to 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA.  He was right there with Verlander in the Cy Young discussion but that is when things changed.  Girardi started going to a 6-man rotation and CC began to have some problems.  Overall, he had a 2.68 ERA, 1.13 WHIP & .600 OPS against in  137 ip on regular 4 days rest.  With 5 days or more rest, he had a 3.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP & .757 OPS against in 100 IP.

All told, CC had another great yr going 19-8, 3.00.  By all indicators it was actually his best season in pinstripes as his K/9 (8.7), BB/9 (2.3), HR/9 (0.64) & FIP (2.88) were all his best since 08′.  Sabathia continued to be a workhorse as a Yankee with his 3rd straight season with at least 230 IP, 19 W’s & an ERA < 3.37.  Grade:  A

2012 Outlook:  Everyone knows CC can opt-out of the remaining 4 yrs – $92M left on his deal.  The Big Man has been a smashing success in his 3 years going 59-23 and being a true ace.  He must be brought back and hopefully Cashman will be proactive to give CC a raise with some added yrs to get this thing done before he hits the open market.  To me, 6 yrs @ $150 seems logical.

Freddy Garcia

Garcia was everything the Yanks could have hoped for, pitching consistently start after start.  He never posted an ERA over 3.96 in any one month from April through August, posting an impressive 11-7 record and 3.09 ERA.  However after missing 3 weeks in August with a sliced finger, he got roughed up in 3 straight Sept starts to finish the season 12-8, 3.62 ERA/ 4.12 FIP/4.36xFIP.

He didn’t miss many bats (5.9 K/9) and allowed a lot of baserunners (1.34 WHIP) but he had a knack for pitching out of trouble and getting key strikeouts when he needed them. With a fastball that averaged 87.2 MPH, he was successful by mixing his pitches and getting outs with 3 quality off-speed pitches – Splitter, Change Up & Curveball. Often these pitches wound up in the dirt where they were smothered by Russell Martin.  I believe Martin’s presence was a big factor in Garcia having his best season since 2005.  Grade: B+

2012 Outlook:  Garcia is a Free Agent and will attract some attention after his success.  The team is definitely looking to get a strong workhorse to pair with CC at the top of the rotation but if things don’t work out, Garcia could be in play.  However, I think he’ll likely be overpaid based on his 2011 #s and he’ll likely regress some so he wouldn’t be a priority for me.

Ivan Nova

Nova was 12-0 to finish the season

Nova got off to a rough start in his rookie campaign going 4-3 with a 4.59 ERA & 1.59 WHIP in April & May.  He looked ordinary and was dead last among MLB starters with a 4.2% Swing and Miss rate.  However, starting with his June 10th start vs CLE, things began to click.  He started to throw his Slider and saw a slight velocity increase on his Fastball.  These improvements led him to finish the season a perfect 12-0 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP & .665 OPS against.

By the end of the year, he was the team’s #2 starter finishing 16-4, 3.70 ERA/4.01 FIP/4.16xFIP.  Despite just a 5.3 K/9, he was successful by limiting HRs (7th in AL with 0.71 HR/9) and inducing plenty of ground balls.  Nova was 5th among AL starters with a 52.7% Ground Ball rate.  Grade:  B+

2012 Outlook: Nova finished very strong until he had forearm issues in the playoffs.  Assuming he is healthy he will definitely be a part of the rotation at the bargain basement price of about $400,000.  Hopefully, he can continue to progress and improve and not take a step back like Phil Hughes did after his 2010 breakthrough.

Bartolo Colon

Colon was the surprise of the Spring training.  His Fastball seemed to get stronger every outing and he earned a spot in the bullpen to start the season.  By the end of April he was in the starting rotation baffling hitters with his nasty 93-95 MPH moving fastball.  Through July 30th, Bartolo was 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA.  However, he started to lose a little giddy up on his FB and teams were getting used to his 2-pitch arsenal.  As expected from an overweight, 38-yr old who hadn’t pitched a full-season since 2005, he ran out of gas and went 0-4, 5.84 over his final 8 starts.

Overall, the team had to be happy what they got out of him on a minor-lg contract.  He finished 8-10, 4.00 ERA/3.83 FiP/ 3.57 xFip with 7.4 K/9 & 2.2 BB/9.   Grade: B-

2012 Outlook:  Bartolo was a true success story and a big contributor.  However, at 39 yrs old and having faded down the stretch I don’t see a role for Colon on the 2012 team.

A.J. Burnett

AJ got off to another good start, going 4-1 3.96 in April and was still a respectable 8-7, 4.19 through mid-July. But as we have seen too many times, he went through a stretch of 11 terrible starts with a 2-4 record, 7.65 ERA and an obscene .963 OPS against.  So basically, he turned every hitter into Albert Pujols!  He did show some signs of life at the end finishing the regular season with 7.2 strong IP in a win vs BOS and victory against DET in the ALDS.

Burnett has been consistently inconsistent during his 3 years in NY.  Overall, he was 11-11 with a 3rd worst in MLB, 5.15 ERA.  However, his FiP (4.77) and xFiP (3.86) point to a pitcher that had some bad luck.  He had a strong 8.2 K/9 and respectable 49% GB rate which was his best since 2007.  His biggest problem was his league leading 25 Wild pitches and sky-high 1.47 HR/9 (2nd worst in Majors).  And as anyone who watches him pitch can attest to, he seems to always fold up like a cheap suit at the first sign of trouble and tends to give up back-breaking HRs at the worst times.   Grade: D

2012 Outlook:  AJ still has 2 yrs and $33 Million left on his contract.  In order to get someone to take him, the Yanks would likely need to eat $20+M and/or take on another bad contract like Carlos Zambrano, Barry Zito, Derek Lowe, Jason Bay, Chone Figgins, etc.  IMO, I would eat any amount of money to get AJ off the team.  Overall, he has been a detriment for the last 2 seasons pitching to a 5.20 ERA and losing more games than he wins.  Any money another team could assume would be a bonus as the true value of the deal would be to replace him in the rotation with a better pitcher.  Unfortunately he’ll likely be back so hopefully Rothschild can get him to throw the way he did the final 2 starts of the yr which he is capable of.

Phil Hughes

Hughes, AJ, Garcia & Nova...who comes back in 2012?

Coming off a strong 2010, expectations were high for Hughes in 2011.  However, he showed up to ST overweight and looked terrible in 3 April starts.  He had no arm strength and complained of mysterious pain in his arm that the team’s doctors could find no reason for.  After 2+ months on the DL, he returned in July and was mediocre. He regained some velocity in Sept averaging in the 93-94 range when shifted back to the pen. Overall he finished at 5-5, 5.79 ERA with a poor 5.7 K/9.

Hughes has been an enigma in his MLB career with his velocity changing all the time.  Since early 2009, his velocity has fluctuated from the upper 80’s to the mid 90’s. His velo has been the highest when pitching out of the bullpen and that may be the role he is best suited if he cannot maintain a 92-93 MPH average FB that he needs to succeed as a starter.  Grade: D

2012 Outlook:  What to do with Hughes? He is in his 2nd yr of Arbitration so will be getting around $3M next yr.  He was great in the pen in 09 and great in the rotation in the 1st half of 2010.  But since then he’s been mediocre at best.  Hughes seems to hold his velocity best in the pen, however the Yankees pen is loaded with arms.  I’d like to trade Hughes but his value is down so I would likely give him another shot as a starter next yr.  If he looks good, he can be dealt next yr and if he struggles he can always be moved back to relief.

CC Sabathia* 19 8 3.00 33 237.1 230 1.226 8.7 0.6 2.3 8.7
A.J. Burnett 11 11 5.15 32 190.1 173 1.434 9.0 1.5 3.9 8.2
Ivan Nova 16 4 3.70 27 165.1 98 1.331 8.9 0.7 3.1 5.3
Bartolo Colon 8 10 4.00 26 164.1 135 1.290 9.4 1.2 2.2 7.4
Freddy Garcia 12 8 3.62 25 146.2 96 1.343 9.3 1.0 2.8 5.9
Phil Hughes 5 5 5.79 14 74.2 47 1.487 10.1 1.1 3.3 5.7

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