Conclusion to The Yankee Starting Pitcher Study

Due to technical problems, I couldn’t post the whole thing as one entry. Here’s the conclusion.
As you can see from the top of the list, the Yankees have been far from uniformly unsuccessful with acquiring established veteran starting pitchers, and they’ve struck gold a bunch of times both with top-of-the-line acquisitions and with reclamation projects. But then, if you have a ton of money and you go in the market every year, you are bound to look like a genius now and then. And despite having, in the main, good baseball people working for them throughout most of this period, the Yankees have had flop after flop throughout every stage of the Steinbrenner years, from Gullett and Messersmith to Burns and Alexander to Hawkins and LaPoint to Mulholland and Rogers to Weaver, Pavano, Wright and Igawa. The collective Yield of the group, excluding the foreign pitchers, is 74.6%. The waste of dollars, of young talent in trade, of innings and run support to struggling starters, is enormous.
There are a variety of causes for this, and we generalize at our peril, as the Yankees have sometimes succeeded with the very same types of pitchers they failed with. Some of it, as with any team, is the unpredictable nature of pitching. Some is that having too much money to burn makes you sloppy. But we can generalize that the Yankees have made the same mistakes repeatedly over the years: they have too often put their faith in pitchers with major injury red flags; they have overpaid for guys coming off one good year; they have brought in too many veteran low-strikeout groundball pitchers, who are less consistent, have less of a margin for error, and are more dependent on their defense; and when they have brought in high-end power pitchers, too often they’ve been so old Father Time was bound to catch up with them eventually.
What does this mean for this year’s crop? Sabathia looks like a good bet; he’s up there with Hunter, Mussina, Cone, Clemens and Johnson among the best pitchers they have acquired, he’s a power pitcher with a reasonably good health record and much younger than some of those guys. Burnett’s also a power pitcher, but riskier, more like some of the failures; he’s tended to get healthy only in his walk years. What is certain, it would seem, is that next year we’ll be asking the same question about the next crop.

One thought on “Conclusion to The Yankee Starting Pitcher Study”

  1. considering that their current rotation looks like Sabathia / Burnett / Wang / Joba / Pettite, 2 guys with insanely long contract, and 2 guys under team contract for quiet a while more. and a fairly large corp of guys waiting in line in the upper minors already. it is fairly possible that the Yankees don’t sign another big FA pitcher after 09. (the OF seem to be their biggest issue to address after 09)

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