Monday, January 30, 2012

Repeating 2011 Run Prevention

"The Yankees lost in the ALDS last season due to lack of run production, not to lack of run prevention"

That line has been spoken by many that were upset with the Pineda/Montero trade, and while that's a true statement, it's not something that could be said again in 2012. Which is why I've always been happy with the trade, as I believe this team has more than enough offense to go all the way.

Now, I've already pointed out how good the offense was last season, and that they should be able to repeat that performance again this coming season. What I want to look at is whether that run prevention we saw in 2011 could be repeated.

Before moving on, I know that defense plays a part in run prevention. But I think pitching plays a much larger role, so that's what I'm going to concentrate on.

So... I'm going to run down the list of starters from last season, and try and figure out whether they could have done it again. Meaning we could still have Jesus Montero, the subject every Yankee prospect hugger's wet dreams.

I'm not going to get too far into CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. But keep in mind that CC had his lowest ERA in his three seasons with New York (3.00, with a 3.18 average ERA with the Yankees), so I'm not expecting anything more from the big guy. If anything, I think he'll regress a bit (notice the italics). And I don't think Nova can replicate that sub-4.00 ERA either. Not with a strikeout rate of 5.3 per 9 innings. Guys that don't strike out many hitters normally don't do well in the AL East. I'm not saying Nova is going to pull a "Burnett", but I think asking him to be the team's #2 pitcher in 2012 is a bit much.

That leaves us with Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and AJ Burnett.

Well I think it's safe to say that neither Phil Hughes nor AJ Burnett was the reason for good run prevention last season. Having ERAs of 5.79 and 5.15 is not awe-inspiring. So it really comes down to whether or not Freddy Garcia could have repeated that 3.62 ERA for the team, or if they should have brought back Bartolo Colon and get another 164 innings of 4.00 ERA pitching.

Let me start off by saying that the chances of Freddy having another season with an ERA of 3.62 are slim and none, and I'm leaning more towards "none". Garcia hadn't had an ERA that good since he finished 3rd in Cy Young voting back in 2001 for the Mariners. And that was 6 years before Garcia had shoulder surgery, which led to him only throwing 58 MLB innings in 2007, 15 MLB innings in 2008 due to still feeling stiffness in that shoulder, 31 innings in the Minors before being shut down for the entire 2009 season, and finally having a full season of 157 innings with an ERA of 4.64 for the White Sox in 2010 (while suffering from some lower back stiffness later in the season). Now the kitchen accident leading to the laceration of his fingers was a freak thing, so I'll given him a pass on that (I'm feeling generous, lol). But I don't feel good about his health just yet. He will be 35 entering this year, so it's not like he's a spring chicken. But looking at his Ratio Pitching I have to say that nothing stands out, telling me he shouldn't pitch well in 2012. I'm just not going to hang my hat on another sub-4.00 ERA, along with even 140 innings.

When it comes to Bartolo Colon there's really only one thing I need to say... Bartolo only threw 257 innings in the previous 4 seasons in MLB. Arm issues led to him missing 81 days ofthe 2007 season, trunk and lower back issues led to him missing 118 days of the 2008 season, elbow and knee issues made him miss 99 days of the 2009 season, and then Colon missed the entire 2010 season with shoulder pain due to ligament, tendon, and rotator cuff issues. On top of all of that Bartolo Colon will be 39 years old in May. So even if a conceded to the idea that Bartolo could repeat the 4.00 ERA he put up last season, there's no way anybody could convince me that he'd be a sure-thing for another 160+ innings. No way.

So the next time somebody tries to tell you that the Yankees didn't need to improve the pitching from last season I want you to first laugh at them, and then link them to this article. And if you're feeling up to it, slap that person for me as well.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)