Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Yankees' Inexplicable Dearth of Starting Pitching

Happy two days after Christmas!  I trust that by now, most everyone has returned to work with just a bit of that Yuletide glow still lingering...  

Anyhow, on to baseball!  I was scrolling through some recent baseball stories this morning, and read that the Yankees are probably not going to offer on free agent starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. I don't get it.  It is well-documented that the Yankees both (1) spend way more money than anyone else and (2) still have a seemingly endless supply of money rolling in.  Because of these factors, combined with their painfully shallow rotation (Sabathia plus...), I thought for certain that they would be acquiring at least one (if not all!) of the high level free agent pitchers available, by offering them a ludicrous amount of money.  But then Mark Buerhle signed with the Marlins and C.J. Wilson signed with the Angels.  At this point, I thought for certain that they were all in on Yu Darvish (see " 'If I Were General Manager...' Series: AL East).  But then it was announced that the Rangers had the winning bid, and the Blue Jays were likely a close second.  Now, admittedly, the Yankees may have simply been outbid.  But how often are the Yankees bested financially on something that they really want?  Then today, I read that they are probably not in on Kuroda, perhaps the top free agent name left.  So what's the plan?

If the season started today, the Yankee rotation would look like this:

1. C.C. Sabathia
2.  Ivan Nova
3. Phil Hughes
4. A.J. Burnett
5. Freddy Garcia

Sabathia is great, and Nova had a good year last year, and looks as if he could be a decent #2/#3 in the making. But what about the last three spots?  

  • Phil Hughes had a solid 2010 campaign, but last year he mixed the undesirable qualities of being (1) unhealthy and (2) horrible at pitching.  Hughes is still young, with upside, so I wouldn't toss him aside.  But I also wouldn't count on him the way that the Yankees seemingly are.  
  • A.J. Burnett is both expensive ($16.5 million for the next two seasons) and horrible, with an ERA over 5 for the last two seasons.  For any other team, he would be to expensive to write off, but the Yankees have never been shy about their ability to eat dead money salary.
  • 35 year old Freddy Garcia enjoyed something of a career renaissance last year, but that comes after five years of sub-mediocre pitching, and I'm willing to bet he comes back to the mean in 2012.  We no longer live in an era of baseball in which a 37 year old Barry Bonds suddenly hits 73 home runs.
All of that to say, I can't believe that the Yankees and their Thurston Howell III money haven't done anything to upgrade their rotation.  Maybe they are bluffing on Kuroda.  Maybe they are going all-in on Roy Oswalt, who is still hanging around.  Maybe nobody wants to pitch in their stupid launching pad of a stadium.  Or maybe they have dumped all of their starting pitching money into genetic research on cloning Rodger Clemens.  All we can do is wait and see.

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