Tuesday, June 17, 2014
WHERE THE YANKEES NEED TO BE LOOKING...
As the Yankees approach the All-Star break, it is probably time to look at the team and take a healthy, objective view of the state of the team. Last week, Joe Girardi made a statement that the starting rotation is not going to change before the break. We know that CC Sabathia is at least a month away and that Michael Pineda is not coming back before August. With the team less than 5 games over .500, it is time to make a move.
Vidal Nuno and David Phelps have done their best, and maybe they might become premier starters someday. However, it is clear that they are not going to get it done for us this season. While I am not saying that we should give up on them, we need to look at more experienced people. We here at BYB have made recommendations, but maybe it is time for a fresh look.
We like Jason Hammel. As a successful starter in the Chicago Cubs organization, there are strong rumors that he is on the market. He is 31 years old, and he is having a great season with the Cubs. He has an ERA of 2.81 and a WHIP of 0.984, while getting six wins in 13 starts. With more support, his record would probably be much better. His HR/9 over the season so far is 0.6, which would make him a very appealing option for the Yankees.
The rumor mill has had Kyle Kendrick’s name in lights all season, and maybe with good reason. Despite having an ERA of 4.09, he is the owner of a 2-6 record. Still, he his two wins in his last three starts, so momentum is positive for him right now. His 8 years’ of successful experience in the majors may be exactly what the Yankees need right now. Nevertheless, the Yankees would have to pick up his big contract, which comes with its own risks. Maybe the motivation of playing for a winning team might turn him around and make him a successful pitcher again.
Justin Masterson is a guy that should be available for the right price. The Cleveland Indians know that this is his contract year, and they may be ready to make a move. While he has success in his career, he has hit a rough patch lately. He is averaging just under 6 innings per start, and his ERA just peaked over 5. His K/9 is 8.1, which is still very good for a major league starter and a clear sign that he is still a strikeout pitcher. His HR/9 of 0.5 is well below league average, which makes him an appealing trade target for someone who may be pitching in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. There is more downside on him in that he still gives up lots of base runners (WHIP of 1.524 this season). He is still 29 years old, and perhaps a little motivation may get his productivity moving in the right direction.
Bronson Arroyo’s name has gotten attention as a possible addition to the rotation. Honestly, it did not look very promising after a dreadful April and now he's on the DL for the first time in his career, read HERE. Nevertheless, in his eight starts since then, he has a 5-2 record with one no-decision and a combined ERA of 2.70. Opponents’ batting average over that stretch is .246, and their OPS is a paltry .664. He also has some endurance, having failed to come out for the seventh inning only once during that stretch, which may provide some rest for the bullpen. The Diamondbacks are having a terrible season, currently fighting it out with the Padres for last place. Could they be convinced that they are better off trading their 37-year old, 2-year, $23.5M pitcher for some young, future talent? The Yankees certainly have some advantage here, and they should consider it.
Whatever the Yankees do, they need to do something. Phelps and Nuno are not going to make this team competitive, at least not in the near-term. While the farm may have some developing talent, they are exactly that – still developing. This is the 20th anniversary of the last time the Yankees failed to reach the playoffs in consecutive years. Something tells me that they are not going to be giving out commemorative cups for that milestone. Unless they want that streak to end this year, they need to realize that a course-correction is overdue.