With the loss of CC Sabathia until after the All-Star break and Andy Pettitte out for at least 6 weeks, the Yankees are left with a lot of question marks in their rotation. Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman has already come out and said that the Yankees would “prefer not to go outside (the organization)” While I agree going outside the organization is not preferred when you’re the Yankees and the expectation is the World Series or bust than you must explore all your options and I believe Matt Garza to be the best option.
Replacing Pettitte and Sabathia in the rotation will 24-year-old rookie righty Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia. Warren is a Triple-A contact pitcher and was never a highly touted prospect. Garcia pitched well in 2011 but has struggled as a starter in 2012. While Warren, according to staff writer Jimmy Kraft, could surprise and Garcia could round into form I don’t trust either pitcher for an extended period of time. Of all the starting pitchers being thrown around in potential trade scenarios I believe Matt Garza to be the Yankees best option for this year and beyond.
Pettitte came back in 2012 because he still wanted to pitch, not to rehab a broken ankle. That being said, Pettitte is the ultimate professional and I have no doubt he will take his rehab seriously but due to his advanced age I wonder how long his rehab will realistically take. Also, does an injury like this hurt the chances of him coming back in 2013? Pettitte will be reminded of the less glamorous side of baseball.
Sabathia I am much less worried about as his injury seems more precautionary than anything. As for the rest of the rotation: Ivan Nova is legitimate and considering the Yankees have control of him until 2017, I consider him a mainstay. Also, Michael Pineda will be coming back in 2013 and barring any setbacks should be another mainstay.
Phil Hughes is under control through 2013. However, I am not sold on Hughes and never have been. He is a flyball pitcher who gives up way too many home runs. Combine that with the fact he is pitching in Yankee Stadium and I don’t like him in the rotation. I think his greatest value might be as a reliever or as a starter in the NL, aside from that I see him as no more than a number 5 starter in the Yankee rotation.
Hiroki Kuroda and Freddy Garcia will both be free agents after this season. Garcia almost certainly will not be resigned and Kuroda, who has had success, will turn 38 in June of 2013. With injury concerns in the rotation for this year and the Yankees potentially losing three starters next year I like the idea of trading for Garza even more.
Garza has struggled in 2012 with a 4.06 ERA and 3-6 record. However, his peripheral stats point out that he has been victimized by the home run (14.8% HR/FB vs. his career average 9.5%). As a result, his xFIP is 3.54; 0.51 lower than his career average of 4.05. He also currently has a career low 6.7 BB% and an above average 23.0 K% (0.5 lower than his career best 23.5 in 2011). These numbers make me confident Garza has not lost what made him successful and can rebound.
The most intriguing part of adding Garza, in my opinion, is the fact that he has already shown he can pitch in the highly competitive AL East. In three starts at the new Yankee Stadium, Garza has a 3.18 ERA and modest .688 OPS. Also, looking at the chart provided, you can see that Garza has great numbers against all of the remaining AL East teams and a 3.21 ERA with a .657 OPS at Tropicana Field.
When Garza was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Chicago Cubs he not only improved his strikeout rate by 6%, he also changed his approach and further incorporated a two-seam fastball to his arsenal. He actually began throwing the two-seamer back in 2010 (10.8%) but increased that number in 2011, his first with the Cubs, to 15.5%. In 2011 he also began throwing his slider 10% more often.
Now in 2012 he is throwing his two-seamer 20.5% of the time and, according to Pitchf/x, it is the first time his two-seamer has been considered a plus pitch. Garza looks to have control over his two-seamer and it has resulted in a drastic increase in his GB%. His 2011 GB rate of 46.3% and 2012 rate of 45.3% are both well above his 41.3 career average. His ability to induce the groundball will undoubtedly help him in a potential move to Yankee Stadium.
Financially speaking, Garza is signed for 9.5 M in 2012 and will be in his 4th and final year of arbitration in 2013. Assuming the Yankees make this trade at the All-Star break they will be on the hook for approximately $4.75 M in 2012 and have control of him through 2013. He also has no history of serious injury and has average over 200 innings pitched the last three seasons.
Jayson Stark of ESPN has reported that the Cubs are looking for a deal similar to the one the Rockies received last summer for Ubaldo Jimenez. This means they are looking for two young, controllable players with upside. I appreciate the Yankees attempt to build through the farm system but I also do not want them to sit around hording talent and let the year in hand slip away. That being said, I would be open to dealing the struggling Dellin Betances and another mid-level prospect. Conversely, I would not deal Manny Banuelos or Gary Sanchez. Betances is still a promising prospect but by trading him and some mid-level prospect the Yankees may be able to get Garza, a legitimate 2-3 pitcher in the AL East, for at least the next year and a half.
Also, if the Yankees trade for Garza I would work to include Hughes in the trade. If the Cubs don’t want Hughes, then the Yankees could attempt to trade him to another team for a mid to low-level prospect(s). Both Garza and Hughes will be free agents in 2013 and there will be no room in the rotation if Garza is traded for.
A 2012 rotation of Sabathia, Nova, Garza, Kuroda, and Pettitte will help ensure the Yankees win the division. With the addition of the second wildcard it is even more important for teams to try and win the division and to stay out of the one-game playoff. Looking forward the top four of the 2013 rotation would consist of Sabathia, Pineda, Nova, and Garza. The last spot would be between Pettitte, Kuroda, or a young prospect like David Phelps.
Due to the Yankees position in the standing they do not need to be overly aggressive and overpay for Garza but they should stay in the mix and see they can work out a deal that does not give up Banuelos or Sanchez. If so then I think the Yankees should pull the trigger and bring Garza back to the AL East.
Topics: Adam Warren, AL East, Andy Pettitte, Brian Cashman, CC Sabathia, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Dellin Betance, ESPN, Freddy Garcia, Gary Sanchez, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Jayson Stark, Manny Banuelos, Matt Garza, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, Tampa Bay Rays, Ubaldo Jimenez, Yankees