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Jeff Francis Looks Like Best Fit For Yanks

By Mike Silva ~ January 11th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Ideally you would like the Yankees to import a pitcher with experience. Andy Pettitte would be the perfect candidate, but that doesn’t appear to be a realistic option. Today there were reports the Yankees were looking at former Oakland starter/reliever Justin Duchscherer.

Duchscherer has both started and relieved, successfully, at the big league level. He’s been hampered by injuries to his elbow and hip, and also suffers from depression. Duchscherer’s nerves are an issue as you can see from this article in 2008.

Duchscherer’s call to the rotation is actually a very interesting story. The A’s had kept Justin in the ‘pen, thinking that his arthritic hip wouldn’t be able to stay healthy over a 150- 200-inning season. But Justin, who apparently has a slightly nervous/anxious personality, found that the uncertainty of a late-inning role aggravated his IBS–Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is an extremely common disease of the gastro-intestinal system; it causes bloating, cramping, gas, and diarrhea. It’s a twentieth-century problem, brought on by stress. And you can imagine that pitching the eighth inning for an MLB team would be kinda stressful. During the middle innings, Justin, sensing that he would have to take the mound, protect a lead, and not embarrass himself in front of a national audience, would have to leave the bench and run to the washroom.

Duchsherer’s “stuff” is average (high eighties fastball, curve slider), but he has good control and strikes out a decent number of batters (5.8) per nine innings. One thing to consider is Duchscherer has a great track record in Oakland (21-9, 2.65), a fantastic pitchers park. Regardless, his road numbers aren’t too shabby, but there are a lot of red flags attached to him.

The Yankees have been tied to Jeff Francis, Jeremy Bonderman, and now Duchscherer. I believe Francis has the best track record, and if healthy, his price tag (rumored to be between $3-5 million) is reasonable. What I like about Francis is he’s not an extreme fly ball or groundball pitcher, and has success in Colorado. If you look at his career splits, his ERA at Coors is a half a run better (4.56 to 4.98) than on the road. Regardless of the humidor, pitching well at Coors is an accomplishment with those spacious gaps. His career xFIP (4.46) is also very solid and outperforms his ERA.

If the Yankees have a finite budget, and sometimes you get the sense they do, I would spend the money on Jeff Francis.

Note: I have linked the term “xFIP” to an explanation for those readers who don’t know that advanced metric means. I will continue to do this when writing, since many of these statistics are just starting to become part of the mainstream dialogue. For the more advanced users, no need to click on it, carry on.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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