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Value Signings Key to Strong Early Start

By Mike Silva ~ April 21st, 2011. Filed under: New York Yankees.

Who says the Yankees “struck out” on the free agent market? Despite losing out on Cliff Lee, the under the radar signings made by Brian Cashman has been very important to the Yankees first place start.

Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia all have played important roles through the first three weeks of the season.

Martin might be the steal of the offseason as he’s off to hot start, hitting .314 with 4 homers and 11 RBI. Cashman has even compared him to Thurman Munson. That might be a stretch, but you are getting better play behind the plate. From what I have heard the pitchers love throwing to him as well.

Right behind Martin in the value signings category is Bartolo Colon. I kept saying during spring training that I didn’t believe in Colon. He hadn’t been healthy since 2005, and it was over a year since he last pitched in the big leagues. So far he’s averaging a strikeout per nine innings, and pitched to a 3.50 ERA. I don’t know if he can keep it up, but I don’t see why he can’t get them to the halfway point of the season when they could swing a trade for a veteran arm.

Freddy Garcia has made only one start, but shut down Texas, one of the better hitting teams in baseball. I always liked this signing as Garcia’s 4.64 ERA last year was a bit deceptive. He had 18 quality starts, which was more than A.J. Burnett or Javier Vazquez. He might lack velocity, but the guy knows how to navigate a lineup, at least twice around the order. As long as you could live with the inevitable stinker he should stick for the entire year.

Finally, Eric Chavez provides the Yankees quality depth at a position they might need it. Alex Rodriguez seems to get banged up every year, and in the past Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez would be thrust into a starting role. Both have yet to show they can be league average hitters, but Chavez is a former All Star for his bat and defense. He’s won six Gold Gloves throughout his career. Thus far, he’s 7 for 18, showing a live bat throughout the year. He seems to fit the bench role that Eric Hinske played so well in 2009.

Where would the Yankees be without the contributions from the aforementioned? Especially Colon and Garcia. You could argue that Colon and Garcia will give the Yanks better backend of the rotation performance that Burnett or Vazquez did. The same duo that cost a combined $27.5 million dollars last year.

Value signings haven’t been the Yankees forte in recent years. That is not the case thus far in 2011. As a matter of fact it’s been a major key to their success.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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