Freddy Garcia: “It doesn’t matter if you want another pitcher.”

July 20, 2011 | 53 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Fans clamoring for another starting pitcher. Cashman reportedly on the hunt for one. Sixty-five percent of NoMaas visitors said Freddy Garcia should be removed from the rotation if the Yankees make such a trade.

Well, who in the blue hell are we? On Wednesday night, Freddy Garcia dropped his ERA to 3.21 with 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball against Tampa. He struck out 7, walked zero, scattered 8 hits, and as usual, wiggled his way out of jams.

The Yankees don’t need a starting pitcher…

July 19, 2011 | 44 comments | in Featured | by Vizzini

…to make the playoffs, that is. Heading in Tuesday night’s game with Tampa, the Yankees had a 96% chance of heading to the postseason. Even if the pixie dust wears off for Colon and/or Garcia, the Bombers are very likely headed to October. Thus, trading for a starting pitcher really does nothing to affect the probability of a playoff berth. It would be a marginal upgrade at most. So why do it?

We can think of two main reasons.

1. The front office wants to set the foundation for the 2012 rotation without sacrificing quality for the current campaign. While Colon and Garcia worked out extremely well, the Yankees probably don’t want to again be scrambling to fill out a starting rotation with scrapheap pickups. Plus, Betances and Banuelos still have issues to work on, and likely won’t be ready for full-time big league action in 2012.

2. The front office wants a better 1-2 punch in the playoffs, where the importance of your top two starters is magnified. CC/AJ or CC/Bartolo in the playoffs…not exactly the most comforting combinations.

So, in typical NoMaas fashion, here are three pitchers we believe could meet one or both of those objectives.

Matt Garza, RHP, Cubs

The Cubs stink as usual and Garza is having an excellent year: 3.97 ERA / 2.91 FIP / 2.96 xFIP. His xFIP ranks 9th in MLB. He’s certainly benefited from his switch to the NL as he’s posting career-high 9.29 K/9. However, he’s significantly altered his pitch selection, which could be the reason he’s inducing a 50% groundball rate, well above his 40% career average. He’s throwing his fastball nearly 20% less than in his last season with Tampa, and more pitches are being allocated towards his offspeed offerings.

The Cubs gave up a ton for Garza and he’s still under team control, so the cost will likely be hefty. However, he would be a very nice addition to the rotation, he’s AL East tested, and satisfies both of the above objectives.

Ryan Dempster, RHP, Cubs

Over the last few seasons, Ryan Dempster has been one of the better pitchers in the National League. He’s been a model of consistency, posting xFIPs of 3.69, 3.76, and 3.74 from 2008-2010. After a slow start to 2011, he’s right back to his normal levels of production. While the ERA may be high at 4.68, his FIP/xFIP checks in an attractive 3.71/3.32. Keep in mind that the Cubs are a poor defensive team. Dempster also remains a solid strikeout pitcher, averaging 8.37 K/9 on the season.

Dempster is 34 years old and is making $13.5 this season. This should certainly drive down his cost in a trade. He does have a $14 million player option in 2012, so the Yankees could be on the hook for that if he exercises. But if he does, so what? Dempster is on track for his 4th straight 200+ inning season, and $14 million is fair value for someone with Dempster’s track record. And we like the idea of a CC/Dempster 1-2 in the playoffs, as opposed to CC/Electric or CC/Pixie Dust.

Erik Bedard, LHP, Mariners

When he’s healthy, he is fantastic. He’s had no arm issues this season, although he’s currently on the DL with a sprained knee. He’s been extremely impressive with an 3.00 ERA / 3.57 FIP / 3.27 xFIP. If the Yankees were to acquire him, they’d have two of the best pitchers in the AL leading their rotation. Think of the playoffs: Two elite left-handed starters in Yankee Stadium and two elite left-handed starters against the Red Sox — that is salivating.

Considering his injury history, the cost for him can’t be prohibitive. He’s also not signed beyond this season. From a risk/reward standpoint, this seems like the best option out of the three. Sabathia with a healthy Bedard is a sick 1-2 punch in the playoffs.

Do the Yankees want to rely on pixie dust during the playoffs?

Homegrown leads comeback over Rays

July 18, 2011 | 56 comments | in Featured | by SJK

Gardner: 1-3, 2 BB, 1 SB, RBI single that pulled the Yankees within one run, and then broke up a double-play sliding hard into second to tie the game at four.

Noesi: 1.2 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H, 0 ER

Robertson: 1 IP, 2 K, continues to strike out everybody

Minor League Players of the Week, v13

July 18, 2011 | 4 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

A short week in Scranton and Trenton (All-Star Break) has us looking at the lower levels…and there was serious competition on the hitting side.

Jose Quintana, 22, LHP, A+
7 IP, 9 K, 0 BB, 3 H, 0 HR, 0 ER
Notable: His 21st appearance on the year, only 4th as a starter

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Wins: None

Born in Columbia, the free-agent signing put in a stellar performance on July 15th in only his 4th start of the year. It’s only his 4th start because he’s been used primarily as reliever for the majority of the season. He’s made 17 appearances out of Tampa’s bullpen, and only made the switch to starter on July 1st. After posting a 39:12 K/BB in 34 innings as a reliever, Quintana’s thrown 20 innings as a SP, amassing 17 K and 6 BB while only allowing 12 hits — all good for an ERA of 0.90.

The lefty has also been effective against hitters on both sides of the plate. Here are his splits:

vs. LHB: 1.80 ERA, 15 IP, 24 K, 5 BB, 11 H, 1 HR, 4.67 Groundout/Airout, .196 BAA
vs. RHB: 1.38 ERA, 39 IP, 32 K, 13 BB, 24 H, 0 HR, 1.67 Groundout/Airout, .188 BAA

He’s definitely an interesting case to follow, especially since he throws with the magical left hand.

Jose Rosario, 19, RHB SS/2B, Rookie
.473/ .545 / .894 in 22 PAs
Notable: 2 HRs on the week

NoMaas Ranking – None

Previous 2011 MLPW Win – None

Signed in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic, 19-year old Jose Rosario had a monster week, going 10-23 with two homeruns, a triple, three walks, and a stolen base (he actually hit another HR on Monday, July 18th, but that will count towards next week’s MLPW tally). The middle infielder is having an impressive Gulf Coast season, boasting a line of .307/.358/.507. This is certainly in contrast to his introduction to the rookie league in 2010, hitting .245/.320/.355 in 125 PAs.

His .865 OPS should put him around the Top 10 in the league in that category, depending on the results compiled after this post. Rosario also reportedly has good speed and has stolen 5 bags.

Rosario’s splits at the plate have been rather drastic this season. He’s killed lefties to the tune of .391/.417/.826 in 24 PAs, while he’s struggled against righties, hitting .269/.333 /.365 in 56 PAs.

Honorable Mentions:
Mason Williams, 19, LHB CF, Short-Season
.545/.545/.772, 2 SBs in 22 PAs

2010 4th round pick murdering short-season ball, .360/.392/.523

Rob Segedin, 22, RHB 3B/OF, A+
.440/.461/.560 in 26 PAs

First big week since his promotion, hit his 1st HR in High-A ball

JR Murphy, 20, RHB C/3B, A+
.375/.375/.541 in 24 PAs

Also hit his first home run in High-A

Brett Marshall, 21, RHP, A+
5 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, 4 H, 0 ER

Having a steady season with a 3.60 FIP

Graham Stoneburner, 23, RHP, A+
6 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 HR

Working his way back from a neck injury, should be back in Trenton soon

Ryan Flannery, 25, RHP, A+
2 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 SV

1.30 ERA, 2.70 Groundout/Airout, 6th in FSL in saves with 14, and possibly the best player picture we’ve ever seen

Brett Gardner is really good

July 18, 2011 | 37 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

After his 3-hit performance, 2 stolen base performance on Sunday, Brett Gardner has accumulated 3.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) on the season. This is good for a Top 10 AL Ranking, according to Fangraphs.

Gardner ranks higher than notable names such as Kevin Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira.

VOTE: If the Yankees trade for a SP, who gets the boot?

July 17, 2011 | 22 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The trade deadline is two weeks away and Ubaldo rumors are rampant…

If the Yankees trade for a starting pitcher, that means a current pitcher will be booted from the rotation. The question is who. The starting rotation has been a pleasant surprise this season. Let’s look at everyone not named CC.

AJ Burnett – 4.15/4.55/3.86
Bartolo Colon – 3.40/3.77/3.37
Freddy Garcia – 3.38/3.94/4.21
Phil Hughes – Only pitched 21 innings this season

New-look Hughes salvages series with Toronto

July 17, 2011 | 20 comments | in Featured | by SJK

6 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, 4 H, 2 ER

Lots of talk heading into the game about Phil Hughes’ revamping his curveball to make it less loopy and add some velocity.

According to PitchFX, Phil’s curveball on Sunday averaged 75 mph with a max speed of 78. That’s certainly harder than the 73.7 mph he averaged in his four previous appearances this season. It is right in line with his curveball velocity of 2010 (75.8 mph), however.

And for those wondering about the fastball, it averaged 91.25 mph on the day, topping out at 92.8. In his four previous appearances this year, it averaged 89.9.

Phil threw his virgin curveball for the very first time.

Bullpen issues: Give the kids an actual shot

July 16, 2011 | 41 comments | in Quick Analytical Blurbs | by SJK

The Yankees bullpen is a mess. Here’s the first step on how to fix it.

The first person who should be called up ASAP is George Kontos. The 26-year old reliever is having a fantastic year in AAA: 55.2 IP, 9.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 3.47 K/BB, 6.7 Hits/9, 2.26 ERA. We brought up Kontos to Mark Newman in our interview at the end of the June and here’s what he said:

SJK: Last question, with Joba, Feliciano, and Soriano going down, are there any other arms we should be paying attention to? Maybe George Kontos?

MN: You hit the nail on the head on the guy. He’s healthy now and he’s throwing the ball better than ever. His fastball is 92-93. He’s got a swing-and-miss slider. If his strike rate with the fastball improves, he’ll certainly be an option for us. His slider is legit. It’s late, it’s quick. It’s 85-86. His strikeout rate is 9.5. His walk rate is as low as it’s ever been. He’s doing well. He’s putting himself on the map.

Working against Kontos though is a high HR rate. He’s allowed 8 home runs, resulting in a HR/9 of 1.3 (and 3.92 FIP). His groundball/flyball ratio is 0.60, so he doesn’t really keep the ball on the ground. He’s also benefiting from an extremely high Left on Base percentage of 93.9% and a very low BABIP of .239.

But still he’s striking out a career high 27.4% of batters he faces and has pitched well enough to get a shot. We’re not asking him to be the savior of the bullpen, but let the boy water your plants.

Also, don’t forget about Kevin Whelan. He’s been even better than Kontos (10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 5.33 K/BB, 1.0 HR/9, 1.86 ERA, 2.96 FIP). He just came off the DL after a 1.2 inning stint with the big club in the second week of June. We’re open to the fact that his walk rate could be fluky given his career average, but he deserves another shot too. But since he performed poorly in his quickie in the Bronx, he’ll either get the Hector Noesi treatment or never again see the banking executives who litter the front rows of the Stadium. Meet how the Yankees treat pitching prospects in 2011.

We still think the Yankees need a high-caliber reliever, especially after Joba going under the knife. Hopefully, Rafael Soriano can be that if he ever pitches again this year. But the Yankees can definitely improve at the fringes of the pen, and sometimes prospects can turn into productive components if you give them an actual chance.

Yankees lose first audition of second half

July 14, 2011 | 42 comments | in Featured | by SJK

0.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 8 R, 3 ER, 0 athleticism (and not helped by error-machine Eduardo Nunez)

VOTE: Grade Girardi’s 1st half

July 13, 2011 | 54 comments | in Featured | by SJK

This should be fun.

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