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Scrapheap Pitching Options for the Yankees

By Mike Silva ~ December 26th, 2011. Filed under: New York Yankees.

The discussion about the Yankees acquiring a big name starting pitcher seems to be a waste of time. C.J. WilsonMark Buehrle, and Yu Darvish are off the board with Brian Cashman having feigned interest in all three. You have to wonder if the Yankees $17 million dollar bid for Darvish was to eliminate the scorn that would have come with a non-bid. I sounds like Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt are not in their price range as well.

We already went through why trading for a starter is a non-issue- Cashman is better off seeing if Jack Zduriencik relents and trades Hernandez for a rebuilding haul- so the only reinforcements the rotation could possibly import are of the scrapheap variety.

I took a look at the remaining free agents and think some of these individuals might be worth look at if they can be had for a minor league deal ala Bartolo Colon.

Bartolo Colon – let’s start with the name that saved the Yankees rotation a year ago. For as good as Colon was (26 starts, 8-10 W-L, 4.00 ERA), I suspect he is looking for a guaranteed deal so the odds of a reunion are slim. Still, his surgery was considered “controversial” so teams might not be willing to provide that type of security. I also think the Yankees feel a young kid like Hector Noesi could provide similar numbers this season. If he is still hanging around in late January why not bring him in on a minor league deal with heavy incentives? You have nothing to lose.

Brandon Webb - It’s amazing how Webb has fallen off the map. From 2005-2008 he was 70-37 with a 3.23 ERA. His ERA+ of 144 ranked him second (tied with Roy Halladay) in baseball only behind Johan Santana. Shoulder problems have destroyed his career and he underwent rotator cuff surgery in August. Webb would be great at Yankee Stadium as he is a sinkerball pitcher, but the shoulder injury he sustained makes this a “Hail Mary” type of scenario ala Mark Prior. I am afraid Webb’s best days are behind him, but you never know, so why not give him a look, help him rehab, and maybe you have a cheaper version of the Jon Lieber situation on your hands. Players tend to be loyal to teams that help through periods where they are unwanted. This would be a move looking more towards 2013 than next year.

Rich Harden - His medicals are rumored to be ugly, so I wonder if he will get a big league deal. He probably could only give you 15-20 starts, but I always wonder if he would remain healthier coming out of the bullpen. Lefties hit only .235 against him for his career, so a LOOGY role might not be out of the question. Sometimes warming up quickly is not realistic for someone with the injury history of Harden.

Brad Penny - Very ugly peripherals last year with Detroit despite the 11-11 record. He gave up 11 Hits/9, struck out less than 4/per 9, and posted a 5.30 ERA. He struggled with the Red Sox a couple of years ago so I don’t know if he can handle the heavy-hitting American League at this point in his career. He did have an oblique issue last year, which makes me think that had a lot to do with the lousy numbers. Again, how can a minor league deal hurt? He has a better recent track record than Colon did coming into 2011.

Armando Galarraga - He would make for great spring training stories about the non-perfect perfect game. Pitched lousy in Triple-A (9.26 ERA) and in the big leagues (5.91 ERA) with Arizona. He did make 24 starts for the Tigers in 2010 and pitched to a decent 4.49 ERA. Again, not someone to rely on, but you never know when you need an experienced arm.

Kevin Millwood - He was decent in Colorado (4-3, 3.98) last year after not getting the call from the Yankees or Red Sox. I realize it’s the NL West, but a spring invite can’t hurt. There is also the history of success in the American League.

Jon Garland - Oblique strain delayed the start to his season and a right-shoulder injury that required arthroscopic surgery ended it with him making just 9 starts for the Dodgers. If healthy, he is the prototypical 200 inning 15 win guy. He won’t wow you with his numbers or stuff, but he does just enough to win. He might be the most likely to rebound ala Colon, but shoulder issues worry me.

Aaron Cook - another National League groundball pitcher that struggled (3-10, 6.03). I am not sure he is ready to go the minor league deal route, but if a second-division club doesn’t offer him a 40-man spot, he is someone to take a look at. The high contact rate and low strikeout rate might not translate well to the AL, but if he keeps the ball down a pitcher that survived in Colorado, even with the humidor, could succeed in the AL East.

Zach Duke - Former Pirates top prospect started 9 games for the D-Backs in 2011. Still only 28, I wonder what Larry Rothschild could bring out of him. I am very intrigued, but this is another case of a pitcher that may get a roster spot from a club thin on pitching with available roster spots.

Ross Ohlendorf - Would the Yankees go with a second go-around with Ohlendorf? Was 1-11 in 2010, but pitched to a respectable 4.07 ERA. Was terrible last year, as he posted an 8.15 ERA in 9 starts. This is a guy that won 11 games and pitched 176 innings for the Pirates in 2009. If he could do that for a bad team, you never know what a good environment could bring out of him.

Rodrigo Lopez - It’s been 7 year since he won 14 games for the Orioles. Lopez did pitch 200 innings for Arizona in 2010, but made only 16 starts for the Cubs last year. Career 81-88, 4.82 and pitched in the AL East makes me think he might be worth a look on a minor league flyer.

Again, I am not suggesting any of these pitchers are a better option than young kids like David Phelps, Hector Noesi, D.J. Mitchell, or Adam Warren.

You do, however, need to give yourself some veteran depth. Minor league deals cost virtually nothing and won’t impact the kids’ development. You have to be careful about how many you bring in as there are only so many innings in spring training.

Personally, Jon Garland is the one individual that intrigues me, provided he’s healthy, and I would like to see the Yankees invite to spring training if he would accept a minor league deal.

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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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1 Response to Scrapheap Pitching Options for the Yankees

  1. Steve S.

    As bad as this list looks, I suppose we all said the same thing about Bartolo Colon last year. To me, bringing back Colon makes the most sense. Try to get half a year out of him and see what you have in AAA.

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