The Office of Commissioner of Baseball released details that Oakland Atheltics pitcher Bartolo Colon received a 50 game suspension without pay after he tested positive for Testosterone, with him becoming the second former Yankee in a week to get suspended. Colon’s suspension is effective immediately.
Here is the statement that Colon released following his suspension: “I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A’s. I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program.”
The much maligned 2011 New York Yankees starting rotation exceeded all expectations. It was the reason most prognosticators picked the Boston Red Sox to win the AL East. However, nobody expected a rookie of the year campaign for Ivan Nova, or renaissance years from Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. The Yankees finished a very respectable 4th in the AL in team ERA, with a 3.73 team ERA. The starting rotation also pitched well in October, with the notable exception of CC Sabathia, and once again was not the reason the Yankees went home early. Yet, Brian Cashman has gone into this offseason, like last offseason, looking to improve the starting rotation.
In my opinion, I think we can expect a pretty similar rotation to last year’s. This year’s crop of free agents is extremely weak. The Yankees already got their main job done by extending CC Sabathia’s contract. Sabathia did the Yankees a favor by not going to free agency, and potentially getting a 7 year offer that Cashman would have been hesitant to match. Sabathia vowed to come to spring training in better shape, so he does not falter down the stretch again. Ivan Nova stepped up and proved to be a capable number two starter. Nova had a sparkling rookie year going 16-4, with a 3.70 ERA, and a 1.33 WHIP. The development of Nova’s slider as a put away pitch catapulted him down the stretch. However, in a perfect world, the Yankees would find a starter to slide in between Sabathia and Nova. That pitcher is not a free agent right now, unless the Yankees see Japanese star Yu Darvish as that guy. However, that guy may be available at the trade deadline, or in next year’s free agency class. Cole Hamels and Matt Cain are ideal candidates. Dan Haren and James Shields would also make great candidates if their team options are not picked up.
Now that we have dealt with the top of the rotation we will move onto the bottom. This is where you will probably see the Yankees add a starting pitcher. The Yankees have been linked to Edwin Jackson, Mark Buehrle, and Hiroki Kuroda already, but it is was too early to get a sense of what Cashman will do. The Yankees and Freddy Garcia also seem to have a mutual interest in putting a deal together to resign Garcia for next year. I would have no issue with Garcia returning as a back of the rotation pitcher. Garcia can get by on his smarts and guile alone, especially against young and free swinging teams. It is when he faces the patient teams that will make him throw strikes, is when you are worried. If Garcia could repeat his year of 12-8, with a 3.62 ERA, and a 1.34 WHIP the Yankees would love it. Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are two Yankees who can help the rotation if they can pitch to their capabilities. Hughes will have to earn his spot in spring training, especially since the Yankees will probably bring in at least one pitcher via free agency or trade, other than Freddy Garcia. Hughes struggled with injuries, fastball velocity, and putting hitters away in 2011. However, he did have his best stuff in the playoffs. so perhaps that can carry over. Like it or not, A.J. Burnett will more than likely have a spot in next year’s rotation based on his contract. Burnett’s last two years have been brutal, posting ERA’s over 5.00 in each of them, and walking what seems like a village per start. Burnett does have two shining moments in his Yankees career. He did pitch the biggest game in the 2009 World Series by getting the Yankees a split at home. If he stinks up the joint there, the Yankees are probably still searching for their first title since 2000. Also, Burnett came through big time by extending the Yankees’ season in game 4 of the ALDS last year. One can only hope that will give him some confidence going into next year, but unfortunately that is probably wishful thinking.
Again, I do not see any huge changes with the Yankees starting staff heading into the year. I see Sabathia and Nova as obvious locks and Burnett is pretty close to one. Another spot I see going to a new pitcher, and the last one going to Hughes, or a resigned Freddy Garcia. I would also expect the Yankees to add that number two starter to place in between Sabathia and Nova at the trade deadline, or next year in free agency. If the starting rotation can repeat what they did last year the Yankees would almost surely sign for it. They boast the one of the league’s top offenses and one of the top bullpens to help take the burden off the rotation. The Yankees will rely on the continued growth of their rotation to have success in the 2012 season.
True Aces don't grow on trees....Yanks must keep C.C.
This is Part 3 of 4 in our season wrap-up of the 2011 team. The Yankees pitching staff was a major concern coming into the year but performed well as a whole finishing 4th in the A.L. with a 3.72 ERA. They were unable to find the ever elusive #2 starter to take pressure off of C.C. the way Andy Pettitte used to. Freddy Garcia and rookie Ivan Nova did their best to fill that role but neither is quite equipped at the moment to be that 2nd horse on the staff.
CC had off-season knee surgery but came into ST in good shape, even 25 pounds slimmer than usual. He got off to a decent start and got stronger as the season went on. There was a stretch from late June to early August where he went 7+ IP & allowed 2 R or less in 8 consecutive starts, upping his record to 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. He was right there with Verlander in the Cy Young discussion but that is when things changed. Girardi started going to a 6-man rotation and CC began to have some problems. Overall, he had a 2.68 ERA, 1.13 WHIP & .600 OPS against in 137 ip on regular 4 days rest. With 5 days or more rest, he had a 3.46 ERA, 1.37 WHIP & .757 OPS against in 100 IP.
All told, CC had another great yr going 19-8, 3.00. By all indicators it was actually his best season in pinstripes as his K/9 (8.7), BB/9 (2.3), HR/9 (0.64) & FIP (2.88) were all his best since 08′. Sabathia continued to be a workhorse as a Yankee with his 3rd straight season with at least 230 IP, 19 W’s & an ERA < 3.37. Grade: A
2012 Outlook: Everyone knows CC can opt-out of the remaining 4 yrs – $92M left on his deal. The Big Man has been a smashing success in his 3 years going 59-23 and being a true ace. He must be brought back and hopefully Cashman will be proactive to give CC a raise with some added yrs to get this thing done before he hits the open market. To me, 6 yrs @ $150 seems logical.
Garcia was everything the Yanks could have hoped for, pitching consistently start after start. He never posted an ERA over 3.96 in any one month from April through August, posting an impressive 11-7 record and 3.09 ERA. However after missing 3 weeks in August with a sliced finger, he got roughed up in 3 straight Sept starts to finish the season 12-8, 3.62 ERA/ 4.12 FIP/4.36xFIP.
He didn’t miss many bats (5.9 K/9) and allowed a lot of baserunners (1.34 WHIP) but he had a knack for pitching out of trouble and getting key strikeouts when he needed them. With a fastball that averaged 87.2 MPH, he was successful by mixing his pitches and getting outs with 3 quality off-speed pitches – Splitter, Change Up & Curveball. Often these pitches wound up in the dirt where they were smothered by Russell Martin. I believe Martin’s presence was a big factor in Garcia having his best season since 2005. Grade: B+
2012 Outlook: Garcia is a Free Agent and will attract some attention after his success. The team is definitely looking to get a strong workhorse to pair with CC at the top of the rotation but if things don’t work out, Garcia could be in play. However, I think he’ll likely be overpaid based on his 2011 #s and he’ll likely regress some so he wouldn’t be a priority for me.
Nova was 12-0 to finish the season
Nova got off to a rough start in his rookie campaign going 4-3 with a 4.59 ERA & 1.59 WHIP in April & May. He looked ordinary and was dead last among MLB starters with a 4.2% Swing and Miss rate. However, starting with his June 10th start vs CLE, things began to click. He started to throw his Slider and saw a slight velocity increase on his Fastball. These improvements led him to finish the season a perfect 12-0 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.18 WHIP & .665 OPS against.
By the end of the year, he was the team’s #2 starter finishing 16-4, 3.70 ERA/4.01 FIP/4.16xFIP. Despite just a 5.3 K/9, he was successful by limiting HRs (7th in AL with 0.71 HR/9) and inducing plenty of ground balls. Nova was 5th among AL starters with a 52.7% Ground Ball rate. Grade: B+
2012 Outlook: Nova finished very strong until he had forearm issues in the playoffs. Assuming he is healthy he will definitely be a part of the rotation at the bargain basement price of about $400,000. Hopefully, he can continue to progress and improve and not take a step back like Phil Hughes did after his 2010 breakthrough.
Colon was the surprise of the Spring training. His Fastball seemed to get stronger every outing and he earned a spot in the bullpen to start the season. By the end of April he was in the starting rotation baffling hitters with his nasty 93-95 MPH moving fastball. Through July 30th, Bartolo was 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA. However, he started to lose a little giddy up on his FB and teams were getting used to his 2-pitch arsenal. As expected from an overweight, 38-yr old who hadn’t pitched a full-season since 2005, he ran out of gas and went 0-4, 5.84 over his final 8 starts.
Overall, the team had to be happy what they got out of him on a minor-lg contract. He finished 8-10, 4.00 ERA/3.83 FiP/ 3.57 xFip with 7.4 K/9 & 2.2 BB/9. Grade: B-
2012 Outlook: Bartolo was a true success story and a big contributor. However, at 39 yrs old and having faded down the stretch I don’t see a role for Colon on the 2012 team.
AJ got off to another good start, going 4-1 3.96 in April and was still a respectable 8-7, 4.19 through mid-July. But as we have seen too many times, he went through a stretch of 11 terrible starts with a 2-4 record, 7.65 ERA and an obscene .963 OPS against. So basically, he turned every hitter into Albert Pujols! He did show some signs of life at the end finishing the regular season with 7.2 strong IP in a win vs BOS and victory against DET in the ALDS.
Burnett has been consistently inconsistent during his 3 years in NY. Overall, he was 11-11 with a 3rd worst in MLB, 5.15 ERA. However, his FiP (4.77) and xFiP (3.86) point to a pitcher that had some bad luck. He had a strong 8.2 K/9 and respectable 49% GB rate which was his best since 2007. His biggest problem was his league leading 25 Wild pitches and sky-high 1.47 HR/9 (2nd worst in Majors). And as anyone who watches him pitch can attest to, he seems to always fold up like a cheap suit at the first sign of trouble and tends to give up back-breaking HRs at the worst times. Grade: D
2012 Outlook: AJ still has 2 yrs and $33 Million left on his contract. In order to get someone to take him, the Yanks would likely need to eat $20+M and/or take on another bad contract like Carlos Zambrano, Barry Zito, Derek Lowe, Jason Bay, Chone Figgins, etc. IMO, I would eat any amount of money to get AJ off the team. Overall, he has been a detriment for the last 2 seasons pitching to a 5.20 ERA and losing more games than he wins. Any money another team could assume would be a bonus as the true value of the deal would be to replace him in the rotation with a better pitcher. Unfortunately he’ll likely be back so hopefully Rothschild can get him to throw the way he did the final 2 starts of the yr which he is capable of.
Hughes, AJ, Garcia & Nova...who comes back in 2012?
Coming off a strong 2010, expectations were high for Hughes in 2011. However, he showed up to ST overweight and looked terrible in 3 April starts. He had no arm strength and complained of mysterious pain in his arm that the team’s doctors could find no reason for. After 2+ months on the DL, he returned in July and was mediocre. He regained some velocity in Sept averaging in the 93-94 range when shifted back to the pen. Overall he finished at 5-5, 5.79 ERA with a poor 5.7 K/9.
Hughes has been an enigma in his MLB career with his velocity changing all the time. Since early 2009, his velocity has fluctuated from the upper 80′s to the mid 90′s. His velo has been the highest when pitching out of the bullpen and that may be the role he is best suited if he cannot maintain a 92-93 MPH average FB that he needs to succeed as a starter. Grade: D
2012 Outlook: What to do with Hughes? He is in his 2nd yr of Arbitration so will be getting around $3M next yr. He was great in the pen in 09 and great in the rotation in the 1st half of 2010. But since then he’s been mediocre at best. Hughes seems to hold his velocity best in the pen, however the Yankees pen is loaded with arms. I’d like to trade Hughes but his value is down so I would likely give him another shot as a starter next yr. If he looks good, he can be dealt next yr and if he struggles he can always be moved back to relief.
NEW YORK — On the 22nd day of September, the New York Yankees rested. After clinching the American League East title in their 21st game in as many days, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano were given the night off Thursday, and the Yankees who did take the field weren’t much more useful.
But while New York’s 15-8 loss to Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium wasn’t cause for concern in and of itself, starter Bartolo Colon’s second consecutive poor outing might give manager Joe Girardi pause before using him as a starter during the playoffs. Colon gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in just three innings of work.
Since the All-Star break, Colon is now 2-6 with a 5.09 ERA in 13 starts. Of equal concern, Colon has lost noticeable velocity on his fastball, perhaps the result of throwing more Major League innings in 2011 than he had from 2008-2010 combined.
Starting tonight, the rest of the regular season games don't really matter too much. However, the Yanks would like Colon to get on the right track, after his poor last start. It looks like Colon will factor to be the Yankees' postseason #3 or #4 starter, so they need him to be pitching like he did in the first half.
Derek Jeter SS
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Mark Teixeira DH
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones LF
Jesus Montero C
Jorge Posada 1B
Brandon Laird 3B
Greg Golson CF
Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.81) vs. Matt Moore (0-0, 6.23)
— Jack Curry says that Manny Banuelos, David Phelps, and Adam Warren will join the team tomorrow, but they will not be activated.
Enjoy the game.
UPDATE, 6:40pm: If you any comments/questions about the upcoming Yankees-Boston series, please leave them in the comments section. Ricky will address them in a special series preview podcast, and he needs them by later tonight!
TORONTO — As far as personal satisfaction goes, the Yankees’ 7-6 win over the Blue Jays did a number. Alex Rodriguez proved he can hit for power with an ailing thumb and a new bat grip, Curtis Granderson reached 40 home runs for the first time in his career and, most prominently, Mariano Rivera notched his 601st save, tying him with Trevor Hoffman for the all-time lead.
But the Yankees were just happy to get out of Rogers Centre on Saturday with a victory. With the Red Sox’s 4-3 loss to the Rays on Saturday, the Yanks’ magic number to clinch a postseason berth is four, and their magic number to clinch the American League East title is eight.
“Mo’s great,” A-Rod said. “Today was a big save, but also a big ‘W’ that we needed.”
The Yankees overcame a rough start by Bartolo Colon and a baserunning blunder that could’ve been a difference-maker with a three-run homer by A-Rod and a two-run shot by Granderson.
Yankees-Mariners recap | when the Yankees will lock everything up | pitching matchups | CC’s 2nd crack at 20 wins | Cecil: best of times worst of times | Colon and Garcia’s struggles up north | Alvarez – another unknown, but efficient | McGowan’s long return back | Jose Bautista HR prediction | Rasmus is back, but keep an eye on another CF | A-Rod is back (Hopefully) | Twins-Yankees Monday matchup | and the prediction.
And here is the game recap from MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
ANAHEIM — Maicer Izturis’ game-winning drive landed in Curtis Granderson’s glove, too deep in center field to attempt a throw, and all Derek Jeter thought about was the toss he should have made.
Izturis connected for a bases-loaded sacrifice fly facing Luis Ayala in the ninth inning on Friday night, lifting the Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Yankees that made Jeter’s hurried fifth-inning throwing error loom even larger.
“It boils down to giving them extra outs,” Jeter said. “I gave them an extra out throwing that ball away.”
More importantly, Jeter added, the Yankees couldn’t afford to cough up runs facing a stellar Jered Weaver, who limited the Bombers to just Jesus Montero’s homer over eight innings, striking out 11.
Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72) vs. Jered Weaver (16-7, 2.49)
Colon’s Last 3 Starts: 0-2, 4.87, 16 K in 20.1 IP
Weaver’s Last 3 Starts: 2-1, 6.50, 18 K in 18.0 IP
Sat., 9/10/11, 9:05PM EST
C.C. Sabathia (19-7, 2.97) vs. Dan Haren (14-8, 3.20)
Sabathia’s Last 3 Starts: 2-0, 3.05, 27 K in 20.2 IP
Haren’s Last 3 Starts: 1-2, 5.50, 13 K in 18.0 IP
Sun., 9/11/11, 3:35PM EST
Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.50) vs. Ervin Santana (11-10, 3.18)
Garcia’s Last 3 Starts: 1-0, 5.93, 6 K in 13.2 IP
Santana’s Last 3 Starts: 2-0, 3.20, 11 K in 19.2 IP
The Angels do have something going for them in this series: success at home. They are 21-10 against the Yankees at home (in the last 31 Yankees @ Angels games). In addition, the Angels have won 10 out of their last 12 home games.