Mar 062010

Let me clear something up right off the bat. I have been squarely in the ‘Joba starts’ camp from day 1. I believe he has the body type, repertoire, and yes, makeup to be an outstanding starting pitcher. This choice doesn’t alter that view one bit, I still see both Joba and Hughes as starters long term. Some fans worry about him (and Hughes) not getting enough innings if they don’t start this year. I can understand worrying about exceeding innings at a young age, but not going below them. The innings limits many teams follow are up to the age 25 season. Both pitchers will be 25 in 2011, and therefore can be full fledged starters next year without any added health related concerns. I’m not even sure there are any concerns now, the Joba Rules have already been lifted and (as pitching coach Dave Eiland has noted) Phil Hughes has pitched full seasons in the minors, so his limits are minimal. But what I don’t buy into is the notion that if he (or Phil Hughes) doesn’t start this year, it will be bad for his development and/or preclude him from starting down the road. Working out of the bullpen will give both pitchers valuable experience facing MLB hitters, working out of jams and much-needed confidence, especially in Hughes’ case. From a development standpoint, they have as much (if not more) to learn by facing tough MLB hitters as they do by blowing away minor leaguers. Even with Ace as the #5, I still see both of them as starters for the 2011 season, taking 2 of the spots of Vasquez, Aceves, or Pettitte. I simply believe that on this team, this year, Ace as the #5 is the best use of your roster.

Check out the scouting reports of all 5 candidates (h/t NYBD):

Alfredo Aceves:

PITCHES: Throws fastball 90-92mph (47% of all pitches), cutter 87-90 (14%), curveball 77-82 (20%), changeup 80-85 (19%). FB is most effective, cutter least effective. 1,232 total pitches (62% in the strike zone). Threw 199 of 318 first pitches for strikes (63%).

Strengths: Great command of CB. Great command of CH. Great command of cutter. Great overall dominance with 4.31 K/BB. Induces pop-ups often. Rarely walks batters – 0.19 BB/IP (0.39 is avg).

Joba Chamberlain

PITCHES: Throws fastball 91-94mph (64% of all pitches), slider 83-87 (19%), curveball 76-82 (12%), changeup 81-84 (5%). FB is most effective, changeup least effective. 2,619 total pitches (55% in the strike zone). Threw 370 of 662 first pitches for strikes (56%).

STRENGTHS: Plus command of slider.

WEAKNESSES: One of the walk leaders with 76.

HABITS: 3-0 ALWAYS throws FB to lefties 100% (86% is avg). 3-2 throws slider to righties 58% (16% is avg). 3-2 throws slider to lefties 50% (14% is avg). Throws sliders 60% more frequently from the stretch (24% vs 15% of all pitches).

Chad Gaudin

PITCHES: Throws fastball 89-92mph (58% of all pitches), slider 77-82 (30%), changeup 83-87 (9%), curveball 76-82 (2%). Slider is most effective, changeup is least effective. 5,040 total pitches (59% in the strike zone). Threw 108 of 186 first pitches for strikes (58%). Threw 265 of 453 first pitches for strikes (58%).

STRENGTHS: Deceptive curveball causes 29% of swings to miss. Plus command of changeup.

WEAKNESSES: Poor command of CB. Changeup velocity is not deceptively slower than FB – only 4.2 mph.

HABITS: 3-0 ALWAYS throws FB to righties 100% (86% is avg). Locates CB 3? down from the stretch. Lean body. Likes to make pickoff attempts. Gets little spin on FB (21% below MLB avg.) His slider is one of the slowest at 79.7 and “slurvy”. Gets good spin on slider (67% above MLB avg.)

Phil Hughes

PITCHES: Throws fastball 92-95mph (64% of all pitches), cutter 87-91 (8%), curveball 75-79 (21%), slider 87-89 (6%), changeup 82-86 (1%). Curveball is most effective, fastball is least effective. 1,456 total pitches (60% in the strike zone). Threw 208 of 338 first pitches for strikes (62%).

NOTES: Injury a concern – was on the DL 135 days over the past 3 seasons. Likes to make pickoff attempts.

STRENGTHS: Plus command of slider. Well above avg overall dominance with 3.42 K/BB. Entered 13 games with runners on base and allowed 67% fewer to score than the average reliever in the same situations. Strikes out batters often – 1.11 K/IP (0.77 is avg). Consistently came in to 33 “late and close” games and pitched effectively.

HABITS: 88% of swings make contact off his slider. Throws FB outside to righties. His FB is on the faster side at 93.5. Deceptive FB causes 15% of swings to miss. Gets good spin on CB (33% above MLB avg.). He throws a hard SL that averages 87.8.

Sergio Mitre

PITCHES: Throws fastball 90-92mph (31% of all pitches), sinker 89-92 (38%), changeup 82-85 (17%), curveball 78-80 (9%), slider 77-80 (6%). 793 total pitches (61% in the strike zone). Threw 131 of 210 first pitches for strikes (62%).

NOTES: Injury a concern – was on the DL 90 days over the past 3 seasons.

STRENGTHS: Plus command of slider. Changeup has a big tailing action.

WEAKNESSES: Not a deceptive slider: 94% of swings make contact. Has a high ERA of 6.79. Rarely induces pop-ups.

HABITS: 1-2 throws CH to lefties 50% (14% is avg). 2-0 does not throw FB to righties often – 30% (72% is avg). 2-0 does not throw FB to lefties often – 13% (74% is avg). 2-2 throws CH to lefties 45% (15% is avg). Infrequently throws inside twice in a row 21% of the time (29% is avg). Slider release point comes towards 1B 1.7? from the stretch. Throws sinkers 22% more frequently from the stretch (42% vs 34% of all pitches). FB has a big tailing and sinking action. Has 11-5 CB break angle (-17 deg). Throws slider high to lefties. His “slurvy” slider is one of the slowest at 78.5.

What jumps out at me is that Ace is the clearly the most mature and polished of the above candidates. Joba and Hughes may have far more upside, but have yet to reach it as starting pitchers on the big league level. Ace is the safe choice, the one who you know will give you innings and consistency, which allows you to use your relievers in a much more orderly fashion. Bullpens tend to get into trouble when they get overworked, and managers are forced to push relievers into situations that they aren’t suited for. We know AJ Burnett will have the occasional clunker, and we’ve seen that Joba the starter can often fall into the same category. While I’m sure Girardi will split them up, I value the reliability I think Ace will give me. The innings he can give helps you optimize the rest of your resources.

On to the roster and bullpen alignment. You have Chad Gaudin to take Ace’s place as the long man and spot starter. Both of them being in the bullpen is a complete waste, two long men just means one of them never pitches, especially on a team loaded with 200+IP guys. In case of injury to one of your starters, Gaudin simply moves into the rotation and you can call up an innings eater like Jon Albaladejo from AAA to do mop-up work. In case of injury/ineffectiveness of one of your relievers, you can call on a high-upside arm such as Mark Melancon, which is attractive both now and for future considerations. That means you can smooth MM’s transition to the bigs in low leverage situations, which is preferable to throwing him into the fire right away. Melancon’s uncharacteristic lack of control last year at the MLB level leads me to believe that he was a bit overwhelmed as a rookie.

Finally, on to performance. Aceves has a full, if unspectacular repertoire. He’s well suited to start, and give different looks to hitters facing them multiple times. His stuff plays the same in a relief role as it does out of the bullpen, it’s not like he gains some extra MPH on the fastball the way power pitchers like Hughes and Joba do.  On the other hand, both Hughes and Joba have been ungodly as relievers, yet mundane as starting pitchers. Both gain velocity in the bullpen, both are able to go with their 2 best pitches and not risk getting beat on a lesser pitch. Both have put up numbers in the bullpen that are unrealistic to expect them to repeat in the rotation. I’d rather get outstanding performances from both of those two than get more innings and less results from one, while Aceves sits in the bullpen.

If the Yanks serious about this “open competition” stuff (which strikes me as silly since were talking about Spring Training) then Ace would be my choice. Not based on how he performs this spring, but on maximizing the assets I have to work with. That would leave the Yanks with Joba AND Hughes in the pen, one of the scariest bullpens ever assembled. You would have not one, not two, but three ‘relief aces’ who can come in at almost any time of the game to put out a fire against the heart of an order.  That means at least 2 of the 3 are available to you every day, and you are still well covered in case of injury. Both pitchers will still be eligible, without restrictions, to be starters next season. Or possibly even this season in case of a major injury. I just want reliable innings out of my #5, and the prospect of having a bullpen for the ages, even for just one season, is the best use of your resources in 2010.

18 Responses to “My #5 choice-Alfredo Aceves”

  1. If you keep limiting the innings of Phil Hughes it will definitely hurt his ability to be a starter going forward. It also limit his ability to develop his secondary pitches. And Hughes has more upside in the role. It would be a huge mistake to put both Hughes and Joba in the pen. I mistake of massive proportions.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I would argue working out of jams and pitching from the stretch against MLB hitters is much more valuable experience than mixing up your pitches a bit against AAA hitters. You can get away with stuff in the minors that you can’t get away with here.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    DaveinMD Reply:

    They’ve both learned all they are going to learn pitching out of the pen. There is nothing more to prove. They need innings as starting pitchers and they need them now. Have some patience with them give one of them the number 5 slot. Putting Aceves in that role would not be smart at all.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    But they haven’t learned all they’re ever going to learn in AAA? After 3 seasons in the bigs?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    DaveinMD Reply:

    You put one one them in AAA to keep that guy ready to start if there is injury to keep their secondary pitches sharp. If they are in the pen, the secondary pitches don’t get used at all. That guy can come up to be used in the pen in the second half of the season if necessary. The pen is fine as is for now and the 5th starter would be a reliever in the postseason anyhow. This fascination with the bullpen is out of control.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Is facing MLB hitters out of the bullpen really going to make them better? Both Joba and Hughes have shown that they can blow MLB hitters away in that role. They need experience going through a lineup a few times.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  3. “What jumps out at me is that Ace is the clearly the most mature and polished of the above candidates. Joba and Hughes may have far more upside, but have yet to reach it as starting pitchers on the big league level.”

    Yeah, but how will they mature, if not by starting?

    Letting a pitcher mature near the bottom of the rotation is a luxury, because he doesn’t have to be great to hold his end up. We saw this with Joba last year. The Yankees have an incredible opportunity here; they can break in one pitcher at the bottom of the rotation this year (I’d prefer Joba, but either works), and if he improves enough that you can expect a middle/upper rotation performance in 2011, then you can slide the other into the low-pressure bottom slot.

    On the other hand, if Ace (or Gaudin or Mitre) is the 5th starter this year, you’ll be putting two promising but unproven starters into the rotation in the same year. Remember when they tried that with Hughes/Kennedy?  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. i like him better as a long man and in tie games.Classic vulture type.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  5. I wholeheartedly agree with you although I worry that both(Joba and Hughes); or perhaps one, would struggle to continue their development of secondary pitches. In the bullpen they both know that their two A pitches are more than enough to defeat a batter the first and only time they see him. It’s a problem the Yankees made for themselves by acquiring Javy Vazquez. I kind of think that eventually all three ( Joba, Hughes, and Aceves) will be the 3-4-5; and that very well may be the plan after this season.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  6. Aceves would be decent out of the five hole but both Joba and Hughes have a chance to be Cy Young good. I’ll take the upside out of my rotation spot with how good our top four are thank you.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  7. Steve, your prescription makes perfect sense to me. Use the bullpen as a springboard. Let them compete their way in. Ariball, what a blizzard of information.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  8. It should be one of Joba or Phil. One of the other three should only be considered if both fall on their faces. If we’re serious about developing pitchers, we can’t run out ‘safe bet’ veterans when we have young arms like these ready to go. Baseball is a game of patience. Especially with young pitchers.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  9. The thing is even if Aceves is the better pitcher, they should start one of Hughes or Chamberlain to begin the season simply because they have way higher upside than Aceves. Then, if the one selected fails, you try the other one, and if he fails, then you go to your lesser upside but safer candidates such as Aceves and Gaudin.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  10. This sounds logical, but I recall Aceves getting injured right after he started. It’s possible that he just doesn’t have the strength or stamina to pitch7 innings every 5 days.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Steve S. Reply:

    I don’t see that as a problem, he was a starter in the Mexican League and in the minors as a Yankee.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  11. I have to think that the Yankees and we as fans really want to see Hughes or Joba win this competition. If both have uninspiring springs, maybe they have to go with one of the others but whatever the official line is, I can’t really that all five candidates are starting with equal chances. I sure hope not. It’s not that i don’t think Ace or Gaudin (and possibly Mitre) could be acceptable as a #5, I just disagree that it wouldn’t set Hughes/Joba back in their development as starters. As lots have already said both need to work on secondary pitches and the art of working hitters multiple times through a lineup as well as building up arm strength through logging starter innings. I’d also point out this is the 4th season for both on the 40 man roster. We are running out of cost controlled years and it would be a mistake to waste another year of development. I don’t want to see both have their breakout years 2 years from now and then immediately hit free agency.

    I also disagree with the idea that 25 years of age is a magical threshold after which we don’t have to worry about excessive year over year jumps in IP. Verducci looked at pitchers aged 25 and under, but I’ve never read anything to indicate that there was any real science to the 25 age. I think it has more with to do with organizational patience and expectations from players over 25 than any reduced health risks. You should be approaching your prime years by that point and teams aren’t going to take a slower, more deliberate developmental path anymore. I agree that the time for patience would be up but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that there aren’t increased health risks.

    I would argue that if Hughes and Joba both fail to make the rotation, one of them should be traded. He’d have more value as a trade chip than a reliever and potential future starter with only two more cost controlled years. Both Hughes and Joba had and mostly still have tremendous value based on their upside, but it goes down as they grow older without proving themselves as starters and get closer to free agency. I know Cashman wants one to really win the spot, but I can’t really believe that if Ace is the best by a tiny margin over 1 month against a lot of minor leaguers that they will go with Ace. That doesn’t make much sense to me.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  12. So Far, Alfredo Aceves has shown he is ready to take the 5th spot, while Joba is still looking for the strike zone!  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  13. You trade Joba and I’d see him in the closer’s role pretty quick, like right now. You trade Phil and I’d have your head on a stick.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

Leave a Reply



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

© 2011 TYU Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha