The Yankees signed Bartolo Colon to a minor league deal yesterday. Like every minor league deal ever signed, I can’t find any faults with it. Yeah there were other options out there like Justin Duchscherer, but that Colon could be had on a minor league deal alleviates the Yankees of a good amount of risk. It’s damn near impossible to complain about a deal like this. It’s the definition of minimal risk, even if the possibility for reward isn’t all that great. But, that’s the point of minor league signings, right? Think of this signing–and the Mark Prior one–like you’re in a zombie apocalypse and you spot a kick-ass car that can get you out of serious trouble on an empty highway. Do you expect it to have any gas left in the tank? Probably not. But if it has enough to get you out of harm’s way for a bit, you’ll be pumped. We should expect nothing out of Colon and Mark Prior, but we should still be hopeful that they can give the team something.
The role that Bartolo will take is pretty obvious and we can safely assume that Colon will spend the season in Scranton but like we would after any signing of a pitcher capable of starting this offseason, we have to ask, “Is this guy better than Sergio Mitre?”
Colon last pitched major innings in 2005, when he threw 222.2 innings. In the years since, Colon has thrown just 345.9 innings across the majors and minors, including a big fat doughnut hole in 2010. From 2006-2010, Sergio Mitre has thrown 372.5 total innings, missing all of the 2008 season. So each guy has had his share of injury issues. Because of the small samples of innings they’ve thrown, it’s not very telling to look at their stats, but we could mine something out of there.
We know Sergio Mitre is a groundball machine, but he still gives up too many homers and doesn’t strike a lot of guys out. Even with the injury troubles, Colon has shown good control, with his 2009 BB/9 mark of 3.03 (in 62.1 innings) as the highest since a 3.61 mark in 2001 with the Indians. His strikeouts, though, have dipped and he’s always been a bit homer prone (1.11 career HR/9). His groundball rate is also “meh” at 41.0%.
I’m really stretching here–or at least vainly trying to–by merely suggesting Colon could maybe/possibly be better than Sergio Mitre. Chances are that he’d be (at best) equal to Mitre at the Major League level in 2010. They’re about a wash in terms of profiles, but Mitre has the big advantage in that he actually pitched last year.