Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sometimes Waiting Is Not The Right Thing

This was my Pinch Hitter post for the LoHud Yankees blog, which was posted this morning.

Our next Pinch Hitter is Bryan Van Dusen, who was born in upstate New York a little past midnight on the night the Yankees won the 1977 World Series. “I’m sure my father resents me to some degree for missing the game due to my mother being in labor,” he wrote. Bryan now lives in Columbus, Ohio and says he gets “disgusted” looks when he wears his Yankees gear around town. He recently co-founded a Yankees blog called The Greedy Pinstripes.

For his guest post, Bryan looked back at his feelings at the beginning of this offseason, then he wrote about why he’s glad the Yankees didn’t settle on the strategy he initially wanted.

When C.J. Wilson was signed by the Angels, that was okay with me. When I found out how much Texas paid to negotiate with Yu Darvish, I was happy the Yankees weren’t as aggressive. I would have liked Mark Buehrle in pinstripes, but four years is a bit long for a guy about to enter his age 33 season, so again, no problem. As for trading for guys like Gio Gonzalez or Mat Latos? The Yankees could win in 2012 without them, so why deal away good/great prospects?

You see, I wanted the Yankees to be in position to go after one of the many good/great pitchers that could be free agents after the 2012 season; starters such as Cole Hamels, Matt Cain and Zack Greinke.

But there was, and is, a major problem with that thinking: Hamels, Cain, and Greinke may not be available to the Yankees, or anybody else, after the season.

Cain is about to enter his age 27 season, so it’s not like the Giants should be concerned about giving him an extension due to age. I could see Milwaukee wanting to bring back either Greinke or Shaun Marcum – or both — to go along with Yovani Gallardo. Although I don’t buy into all the talk that Hamels will eventually sign an extension, it’s certainly not because he isn’t worth it. The Marlins might also want to extend Anibal Sanchez, and guys like Gavin Floyd, Dan Haren, Tim Hudson, and James Shields all have club options for 2013 that will likely be picked up.

Overall, there’s a decent chance that not one good/great pitcher will reach free agency after the 2012 season. For all those people pointing at CC Sabathia and saying, “we spent money on CC instead of trading for him, let’s do that again,” we’re in a different era, and we may not have that choice. Trading for somebody could very well be the best route to take, and doing so now may not be a bad idea at all.

Which brings us to January 13th, a day Yankees fans may never forget.

Jesus Montero could very well be a stud in the big leagues. In 61 MLB at bats last season he put up a triple-slash of .368/.406/.590, and it was all but certain he would be the team’s regular DH for 2012, and I was okay with that. But it’s not ideal to have a 22-year-old, full-time DH on a team that might need that spot for A-Rod, Jeter and possibly Teixeira sometime down the road. They say that when it comes to a talent like Montero, you find a spot for the guy, and the Yankees were doing exactly that. But it doesn’t mean it was a good spot, so if there was a way to improve the situation … go for it.

That’s exactly what Brian Cashman did.

Michael Pineda had an ERA last season of 3.74, which was 22nd among all qualified American League starters. His FIP of 3.42 was tied with James Shields for 11th. His K/9 of 9.11 was 2nd. Pineda could easily be a team’s No. 1 starter. Pair him with a guy named CC, and outside of Philadelphia I don’t think you’ll find a better 1-2 punch in all of baseball. Oh, and I should point out that Michael is only 23, and is under team control for another 5 years.

Can the offense survive without Montero? Yeah, something tells me they’ll be okay there. After all, they scored the second most runs in all of MLB last year, and did most of that without Montero, not to mention that A-Rod only played in 99 games and Teixiera had his worst offensive season since his rookie year.

So I’m happy about the trade. I’m also happy about signing Hiroki Kuroda for only one year at $10 million. I won’t get that much into why I’m pleased with the Kuroda signing, let’s just say that according to Fangraphs, Hiroki has been worth $13.225 million per season since he joined MLB. I believe his numbers will get a bit worse in the AL, but $10 million for only one season as the team’s No. 3 starter sounds just fine.

Waiting for next year’s free agent market might have seemed like a good strategy, but free agency is no sure thing, and the Yankees were right to strike when they had the opportunity.

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