The New York Yankees have a huge mess on their hands when it comes to their pitching staff and although signing Masahiro Tanaka would make their rotation look much better, they still can use one more starter. Tanaka would make the front end of that staff look great but the back end is what scares me especially when you don’t know what to expect from Sabathia at the top.
I do not believe the Adam Warrens and the David Phelps of the world cut it as end of rotation starters although I am excited to see what Michael Pineda will bring to the table in 2014. Guys like Adam Warren and David Phelps aren’t terrible options and neither are a few other in-house players. However, the best choice for the Yankees when addressing the back end of the rotation is staring them in the face and his name is Paul Maholm.
I know some of you may think I am crazy or others would rather stay in-house but a Paul Maholm signing could turn into the best signing the Yankees make this off season even after the $300+ million they spent to revamp the lineup. First off, Paul Maholm would come very cheap. The most Paul Maholm has made so far in one season is $6.5 million which was last year. Based off his drop off from 2012 to 2013, his salary won’t exceed more than $5 million. The fact that he still has yet to sign and the fact that many believe that he might only be able to land a Minor League contract with an invite to spring training, his value should go down even more.
Paul Maholm had a rough season in 2013. He went 11-10 with an ERA of 4.41 which is not the greatest but isn’t terrible. The two seasons that Maholm had prior to 2013 is what stuck out to me. In 2011, although going 6-14 with the Pirates, his ERA was a respectable 3.66. The following season, Maholm split time between the Cubs and Braves. He went 13-11 with another modest ERA, this time 3.67.
Of course, when you are the Yankees looking for a starter, you always must remember the hitter friendly Yankee Stadium you play in. We have seen so many pitchers struggle because of the small size of the stadium, Phil Hughes being by far the worst. However, the size of the ballpark wouldn’t effect Paul Maholm at all and this is where he becomes the most attractive free agent pitcher on the market for the Yankees besides Tanaka of course.
When looking at pitchers for a park like Yankee Stadium, you want to look for a guy who will induce many ground balls. Not many pitchers did better than Maholm when it came to ground ball percentage. The top percentage in the league in 2013 was 58 percent by Justin Masterson. Paul Maholm tied for tenth in the league with a 51.3 ground ball percentage along with Edwin Jackson. This is much higher than other big name starters such as Ervin Santana (46.2%), Bronson Arroyo (44.4%), Ubaldo Jimenez (43.9%), or Matt Garza (38.6%). Santana, Arroyo, and Jimenez all have draft picks attached to them. Paul Maholm does not. Matt Garza does not either because he was traded mid-season but he holds the worst ground ball percentage of the bunch.
In the grand scheme of things, the Yankees should absolutely go after Paul Maholm. He hasn’t had many injury problems, he will come cheap, and he is someone who can deliver in a hitter’s ballpark. It seems like a no brainier.