There is a lot of attention these days around the Yankees' pitching staff, and attention usually means trouble. It's hard to look at recent performances, in which the Yankees gave up 9 runs or more three times this week, and not think that the sky is falling. It's given rise to a bunch of rumors, the most popular one being about Johnny Cueto. Everyone knows the Reds are going to be unloading Cueto, everyone sees the instability of the Yankees rotation, and well ... you can do the math.
So here's the problem with the Cueto scenario. There are some players that do well with the Yankees, and some that do not do well. It's tragic when we sign a pitcher that is not "Yankees-friendly". He has some amazing numbers to prove that he is a good pitcher, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot see Cueto in that Yankees-friendly category. He is the stereotypical guy who I expect to be unprepared for the pressures of playing baseball in New York. He has only pitched for the Reds his entire career. Pitchers who pitch on low revenue, small market teams tend not to do as well under the bright lights and high pressure of Yankee Stadium. The fact that his career ERA is almost two-thirds of a point higher on the road than at home is something to notice too.
There are plenty of great pitchers who just could not hack it here. A.J. Burnett is a great, recent example. I loved what he did for us in 2009, but if you even include that year, his ERA's prior to joining the Yankees (3.82) and after he left the Yankees (3.59) were almost and more than a full point lower than his combined ERA in his 3 years as a Yankee (4.79), respectively. Looking at his HRs per season (12 before joining the Yankees, 27 as a Yankee, and 13 after the Yankees) gives you even more proof that he was not Yankees-friendly. He is not the only one.
Decisions made under pressure, without the luxury of breathing room to make objective evaluations and rational decisions, tend to go badly. This is especially true when you feel an urgent need to make a quick fix to an immediate problem. This is where I get worried. Honestly, Cueto does not look like a fit. I get that he is a 20-game winner and came in 2nd in the Cy Young voting last year. Randy Johnson came in second in the Cy Young and threw a perfect game the year before joining the Yankees. Kenny Rogers was 4th in the league with wins (17) and a perfect game winner the year before when he joined the Yankees. The list of pitchers who pitched well where they were before joining the Yankees is longer than you might think. Let's not add to it.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row
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