New York Yankees Make Mistake By Having AJ Burnett on the ALDS Roster

October 5, 2010

The New York Yankees post season roster is always highly debated, but this season the roster has a few extra spicy sidebars. We now know for sure what has been assumed for at least a few weeks: AJ Burnett will not get a post season start.

But if Burnett is not going to get a start, then he should not be on the post season roster in the ALDS at all. He is not going to get any late innings work, as those are reserved for Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Kerry Wood and David Robertson.

A.J. will only get long relief work, and that is if the Yankees are down by a few runs early or the games goes into a few extra innings.

In the first case, the reliever is in the game to “hold” the other team down and keep the game close. In the second example, the tight game takes on added pressure that a single bad pitch could cost a victory. 

One of the biggest needs to be a relief pitcher is to have control of the strike zone. I do not care if the reliever gives up hits, just do not walk anybody. Without a walk involved or back-to-back extra base hits, it usually takes three hits to score a run.

In either scenario, there are usually very few or no innings left and the team can not afford to put extra runners on base. If a reliever walks guys and gives up a few runs, the offense has fewer opportunities to get those runs back. While it is not OK for a starter to walk many guys, either, a team has far more chances to get early runs back if a starter gives up walks and runs early on.

It is imperative, and rule No. 1 for a relief pitcher, to throw strikes.

A.J. Burnett DOES NOT throw strikes consistently and can not be trusted to pitch in big spots, especially extra innings where his high walk rate (3.8 per 9 IP) would really hurt. He does not deserve a roster spot as he will not even get a chance to pitch.

But Burnett will pitch in the ALCS if the Yankees get that far. Probably in a Game 4, and for that reason, Burnett should also be off the ALDS roster.

It will allow him to go to Tampa to work out in Tampa and pitch during instructional league games against real hitters.

Forget the innings limit garbage and “saving the arm.” One of the keys for starting pitchers is to throw consistently against hitters, keep in rhythm and stay in pitching shape. If A.J. is in the bullpen for the ALDS, he is taken out of his consistent throwing.

I also believe Sabathia will have issues after not throwing for eight days between his last start and his first in the ALDS.

CC Sabathia will go his customary seven or eight innings win or lose, and I do not foresee him getting rocked early to where he has to be removed. So, no need for a long man in Game One. Andy Pettitte will go Game Two and will get at least five or six innings, maybe seven if he is cruising along.

And with Sabathia saving the bullpen in Game One, everybody is ready for Game Two. Phil Hughes has been pretty reliable all season. He has gone at least five innings in all but one start, and if not on an innings limit this year he probably would have gone five in that game, too. Expect Hughes to give his customary six innings in Game Three while allowing three or four runs, including at least one home run.

If those first three starts go as I anticipate, then the bullpen will need to get seven innings worth of outs. Joba, Wood, K-Rob and Rivera can do that with a little does of Boone Logan thrown in. There is no need for Burnett, unless one of the games goes extra innings.

And isn’t that what middle relievers are for?

Burnett was not great the last time he pitched in extra innings, allowing three hits, two earned runs and a walk, taking the loss. Granted he did throw that inning on two days rest (stop the presses!), but still was typical AJ Burnett.

Joe Girardi made a great choice in putting Sergio Mitre on the roster instead of Chad Gaudin. Mitre throws more strikes (2.7 BB/9 IP), has a lower ERA, WHIP and HR rate.

He also does very well against left-handed hitters (.226 BA/.261 OBP/.368 SLG) and in 13 relief appearances of more than one inning, Mitre has only allowed runs in four of those contests. Gaudin allowed runs in 10 of his 17 appearances of more than one inning. Mitre’s success against left-handed hitters (plus his ability to go multiple innings) likely cost Royce Ring a shot to get a roster spot as a second situational lefty.

And why is Dustin Moseley on the ALDS roster? He will not pitch unless the Yankees are getting killed, and they probably will end up losing by more if he enters a game. On the season, Moseley had an ERA just under 5.00, and the worst strike out rate, walk rate and home run rate of any Yankee pitcher. He is the worst possible candidate to be on a post season roster.

Girardi’s confidence in Moseley is baffling.

He has worse numbers than even Javier Vazquez, and has terrible number in relief roles. Meanwhile, Vazquez is 2-0, with a 2.70 ERA and limiting opponents to a .528 OPS in relief.

So instead of having both A.J. Burnett and Dustin Moseley on the ALDS roster, with both likely in the same role as Sergio Mitre as long man, Girardi should have been more versatile with his roster. I would have taken Vazquez over Burnett and taken an extra bench player such as Eduardo Nunez over Moseley. Burnett and Moseley are not going to pitch much, if at all, and it would be better for the Yankees to have that extra bench player.

With Golson in for Swisher for defense, the Yankees also lose their speed player in case they need to pinch run for someone. For example, Yanks are leading late and Golson is in for Swisher for defensive purposes but the Twins rally and tie the game.

Posada gets on base his next time up and you want to run for him. Run with Cervelli since he will replace Jorge? Good, but not great. It can’t be Ramiro Pena because he is your emergency infielder. If he runs for Posada, what happens if Alex pulls something? Who plays infield then?

That is where Nunez comes in to play. He can run and then provide added insurance as another infielder.

Roster management in a five game series should be much different. Teams don’t need that extra pitcher, and the Yankees have 11 arms on their ALDS roster. Extra position players would help a team more in various situations than an 11th pitcher.

The Yankees made a mistake carrying both Burnett and Moseley.

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Chad Gaudin Really Sucks As a Major League Pitcher – Please release him!

June 30, 2010

Don’t believe what you saw over the last couple of outings or that one really good night against the Philadelphia Phillies. After Bad AJ Burnett coughed up six runs in three plus innings, Chad Gaudin did his job by teaming with another terrible pitcher, Boone Logan, to shut down the opposition.

Gaudin threw three shutout innings, allowing no base runners while striking out three. He saved the Yankees from using their key bullpen arms prior to tonight’s series finale.

Don’t get too used to this Yankee fans, because…

Chad Gaudin sucks as a major league pitcher. He can not consistently throw strikes, can’t get out left handed hitters, and is a guy who is only on the roster because Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre are hurt and on the disabled list.

Depsite three socreless outing in a row, Gaudin will more easily put up appearances like thisthis, or this bomb here.

That last game is what got him released from the Oakland A’s.

Gaudin was also released by the New York Yankees in Spring Training mainly as a casualty of the enormous amount of starting/long relief arms they had at their disposal.

Many Yankee fans were not happy with Gaudin’s release.

I was.

They basically thought Gaudin was a fifth starter/long relief candidate, but while he was on the Yankees post season roster last year, he only pitched one inning. Not exactly a huge vote of confidence.

He is the Yankees 12th guy. He is the bullpen arm which should never be on the roster since these guys always are veteran retreads who stink, and never pitch unless the game is out of hand early or blown open late.

That roster spot should ALWAYS be used for another position player who would be more useful to win individual games, like a speedy, defensive outfielder or a big home run threat off the bench, like the future Yankee full-time DH, Jorge Vazquez.

But have no fear Yankee fans. Since Mitre will return soon, and Aceves reported no back pain the last time he threw in Tampa, Gaudin will be gone soon. This is a blessing for Yankee fans everywhere.

Now if we can only get Girardi to realize two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen is a bad idea when one of them is named Boone Logan.


With Phil Hughes, as Yogi Berra Would Say, It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

April 22, 2010

He is not the savior, and he was never a prodigy, but he was a talented right-handed pitcher who had a popping fastball and killer, knee-buckling curve.

The fact that Phil Hughes carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of last night’s game on the road, against an American League West opponent in his second start of the season, seemed familiar to Yankee fans.

That is because Hughes turned the same trick three seasons ago on May 1, 2007, as a 21-year-old in his second ever major league start at Texas. That game ended with Hughes allowing no hits but being removed from the game, as he popped his hamstring* making a pitch.

As Yogi would say, “It was deja vu all over again,” which is basically being repetitively redundant.

*The great image on SNY a few days ago of New York Mets reliever Ryota Igarashi’s hamstring popping and visible from underneath his pants was the same as Hughes’ hamstring issue in 2007 and Pedro Martinez’ in 2008.

Hughes did return that season, starting 13 games total.

Hs second start last night was just as dominating—probably more dominating. His fastball was great, and his curve induced many weakly hit balls, as there were not too many balls in play that were hit hard. The hardest-hit ball might have been Eric Chavez’ up the middle grounder that hit Hughes and bounced away, and Chavez made it to first base safely.

His final line last night was impressive: 7.1 IP, one H, one ER, two BB, and 10 K’s, with 70 strikes thrown in his 101 total pitches. He probably would have been able to finish the eighth inning, but Hughes walked Gabe Gross in a nine-pitch at-bat two batters after Chavez’ single.

Hughes pretty much threw fastballs, cutters, and curves all night, and when he needed to, he blew the ball by hitters for many of his 10 strikeouts. Interestingly, the pitch f/x summary indicated Hughes did not throw a single change-up, the same pitch he worked on throughout spring training.

Hughes’ command of that new pitch was the primary reason manager Joe Girardi and GM Brian Cashman gave Hughes the coveted fifth starter’s job.

The Yankees had too much invested in Hughes’ development as a former first round pick and projected savior. He is not a savior, but just a talented kid finally getting another chance at starting in the major leagues.

I am not complaining about Hughes getting that fifth starter’s job, as it was a foregone conclusion that he would “win” the job. It did not matter how well Alfredo Aceves or Sergio Mitre pitched. That is why the manager and GM came out with those change-up command reasons for keeping him in the rotation and sending Joba Chamberlain to the pen.  

I was against Joba in the pen (I believe Mark Melancon can be a dominant closer), as I feel he can still be a very effective starting pitcher, but it appears Cashman and Girardi’s plan of Hughes in the rotation and Joba in the pen has worked very well.

Everybody is happy with that.


Sergio Mitre to Start on Weekend

July 16, 2009

It hasn’t been determined which day he will go against the Detroit Tigers, but it appears that Sergio Mitre will get a start. The 28 year old Mitre, who was 3-1, 2.40 ERA in seven starts with AAA Scranton, was a former starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins in 2006 when Joe Girardi was the manager.

Mitre had Tommy John surgery in July 2008 and had been rehabbing in the minors. He also had served a 50 game ban for ingesting andro, a supplement made famous by Mark McGwire.

Mitre is 10-26 with a 5.36 ERA in 78 major league games with the Marlins and Chicago Cubs.

Since Mitre is not on the Yankees 40-man roster, the Yankees would have to release somebody. The Yankees love to stockpile pitchers on their 40 man and I don’t see any pitcher, even Brett Tomko, getting let go.

So, with the emergence of Francisco Cervelli, and a plethora of young signal callers coming up through the Yankee ranks such as Jesus Montero, Austin Romine, Chase Weems and Kyle Higashioka, the released player will likely be AAA catcher Kevin Cash. 

The Yankees use the catcher position like a wild card. They have at least three catchers at each level and move them around like chess pieces. Although it is a position where an extra veteran is always good, extra catchers like Cash are expendable, especially when the Yankees still have veteran Chris Stewart at AAA.

The 40 man change situation is probably why Alfredo Aceves started the one game in Minnesota last week. Not having Mitre start there gave the Yankees more time to decide who they would release from the 40 man roster.

The thing to look out for on Mitre is that he is a strike thrower, or as they say now, “he pounds the zone.” In his 45 AAA innings, he allowed only five walks whiles triking out 35. His peripheral numbers were a .241 BAA, K:BB of 7:1 and GO/FO ratio of 2.96.

Look for Mitre to go Sunday against the Tigers and Justin Verlander. If Mitre struggles, I hope that the Yankees do not pull starts away from Mtre. The Yankees need some stability in the rotation and Mitre is just as good, if not better, than anybodythey have available right now.