Now that Andy Pettitte has announced his retirement, it will be interesting to see how (and if) the recently signed 34-year-old, veteran RHP Freddy Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ChiefÃ¢â‚¬Â Garcia will fit into the Yankees starting pitcher rotation. Not only would he have to compete against recently signed 37-year-old, veteran RHP, Bartolo Colon for one of two remaining starting spots, but he would also have to compete against Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. With PettitteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s retiring, some fans question why GM Brian Cashman would choose to sign two aging pitchers who have put up respectable numbers, but have not put up outstanding numbers. Or, for that matter, neither has put up outstanding numbers in years.
Freddy Garcia made it clear his desire to play for the Yankees:
“My preference is to be with the New York Yankees, and it’s not unreasonable to have that in mind, because I’ve demonstrated that I can be useful,” Garcia said. “A team like New York would be ideal for my age, [as would] playing in a successful, media-heavy, demanding division. Without doubt it would be an inspiration.”
In GarciaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s case, the Yankees offered him a minor league contract worth up to $5.1 million. If Garcia earns a spot on the starting roster, he would receive a base salary of $1.5 million, plus additional performance-based incentives of up to $3.6 million based on the numbers of games he starts, which tops out at 30. However, if Garcia doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t earn a spot in the starting rotation, then he has until March 29th to opt out of his contract.
During his 2010 season with the Chicago White Sox, Garcia pitched his way to a 12-6 record with an ERA of 4.64 in 28 starts. Garcia is a two time All-Star and in the course of his 12 year career in the majors (Seattle, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago), Garcia has posted a record of 133-87.
Keeping these statistics in mind, what could the Yankees possibly want with Garcia? Well, since his last shoulder injury, Garcia has made adjustments in his pitching delivery. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t throw as hard as he used to, but he still has pretty exceptional control. Last season, Garcia only allowed 2.6 walks per inning. His xFIP of 4.59 outperformed his ERA.
More importantly, the Yankees interest in him might have to do with the numbers Garcia put up against heated rivals like the Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. Regarding the Red Sox, Garcia secured a 8-2 lifetime record with a 4.40 ERA. Against the Rays, his lifetime record is 8-2 record with a 3.56 ERA.
Against heated play-off rivals like the Los Angeles Angels, the Minnesota Twins, and the Texas Rangers, Garcia sports the following stats: a 15-3 lifetime record with a 2.42 ERA, a 10-7 lifetime record with a 4.04 ERA, and a 7-5 lifetime record with a 4.29 ERA. Taking these stats into consideration, GarciaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s contract appears to be relatively low-risk.
For his part, Bartolo Colon also was signed to a minor league deal worth $900,000 by the Yankees. However, like Garcia, he can also earn performance-based incentives. In this sense, for the Yankees, Colon represents another low-risk investment. And like Garcia, Colon has the option to terminate his contract with the Yankees by the start of this season. Since ColonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a low-risk proposition for the Yankees, they could use him as a starting pitcher or as a reliever. Again though, Colon can still opt out of his contract, if he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like what they have to offer him.
In his stints with the Angels, the Expos, the Indians, and the White Sox, Colon posted a 153-103 lifetime record and an ERA of 4.10.
However, unlike Garcia, Colon hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pitched in the major league since 2009. And further, Colon hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pitched a full season since 2005. This might cause concern for fans and presumably for some in the Yankees organization. Colon, like a number of other pitchers, has been plagued with injuries to his elbow and his shoulder. He used to throw a fastball that topped off in the low 90s, but recently it has topped off at 89.1 mph. Of course, this drop was excepted as Colon had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow.
Again fans might see Colon as another risky proposition, especially since the Yankees lost out to the Phillies with regard to ace pitcher, Cliff Lee and the loss of Andy Pettitte to retirement. To ColonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s benefit, however, Yankees GM Brian Cashman liked what he heard about ColonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s winter league under Yankee coach Tony Pena. During ColonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stint in the winter league, he posted a 2-1 record with an ERA of 1.93 in 7 starts over 37 1/3. Not too shabby. With those stats, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s seemingly clear as to why Cashman decided Colon was worth the effort to offer him a contract and an invitation to the Yankees spring training camp.
A couple of interesting facts about Bartolo Colon is that he ranks 233rd in all-time wins and is only four wins behind CC Sabathia and only one ahead of former Yankees starting pitcher, Javy Vasquez. Colon also ranks #140 in all-time strikeouts and only has 11 fewer strikeouts than AJ Burnett. Link to facts page
Given the ill-fated scramble by the Yankees to secure an ace pitcher during the off-season, it will be interesting to see whether Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon can stay healthy and post good (even better, great) numbers for the Yankees. And if these signings ultimately fail, then at least, the Yankees arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t out that much money. They can always re-tool their efforts and pick up some better talent by the trade deadline.