Gaudin to the rescue?

Here’s the upside to acquiring Chad Gaudin: He’s been a somewhat reliable starting pitcher in his career. Though as a starter his ERA is just 4.85 in 378.2 innings, he’s kept the ball in the park and pitched well enough, often enough, to post a quality start in 42 percent of his attempts. That’s a below-average figure, but as compared to the work of the other pitchers the Yankees have tried in the fifth starter’s slot it is the work of a Cy Young. This year, Gaudin has made nine quality starts in 19 attempts, or 47 percent, which is actually about average. Add up Phil Hughes, Chien-Ming Wang, Sergio Mitre, and Alfredo Aceves and you get two quality starts in 21 tries. Look at it this way:

GS W-L IP H BB SO HR ERA
Wang, Mitre, Hughes 21 5-8 90 125 38 64 15 8.20
Gaudin 19 4-10 103 104 55 102 7 5.23

Gaudin has a low 90s fastball and a very good slider, hence the high strikeout rate. The walks have been a career-long problem, which is why he’s ill-suited for the bullpen. Yet, that’s where Brian Cashman said he’s headed for now — Mitre will get another chance.

In the bullpen, though, Gaudin is just another Brett Tomko. He lacks good control, walking 4.3 batters per nine innings in his career and 4.8 per nine this year. Those walks are de-emphasized in an extended appearance, but bring a pitcher with poor control into the seventh inning of a one-run game and the free passes can kill you.

One other worry: Gaudin somehow put up an 8.10 RA in San Diego’s PETCO Park, the friendliest park for pitchers in the biz. That number has all the marks of a fluke occurrence — he had a more reasonable 4.55 RA on the road — but it’s something to be aware of. If a pitcher can get bombed in PETCO, he’s not safe anywhere, especially your friendly neighborhood Yankee Stadium II, where left-handed hitters get to take cheap shots at the right field wall. Lefties have hit .292/.388/.431against Gaudin in his career.

Despite this, the value of players is relative, and on paper Gaudin is an upgrade on what the Yankees have been trying. Why send him to the bullpen when there’s a more urgent an obvious need? One wonders if Mitre gets a break because Joe Girardi is vouching for him based on the good old days with the Marlins — which weren’t that good.

POSADA WEARS NO. 15/THURMAN THROWS
Posada wearing a No. 15 decal on his mask in honor of Thurman Munson was a classy gesture from one great Yankees catcher to another. Posada was not quite eight years old when Munson died, so the act was based as much or more on their mutual standing in that lineage than any real memory of Munson the player. It’s a more profound statement than any based on personal association, as it requires an appreciation and respect for history, and says that Munson remains a powerful enough figure in even death that he was able to touch Posada without Posada having had direct contact with him.

Something about Posada’s tribute reminded me of an aspect of Munson’s career that doesn’t get a lot of comment given the focus on his hitting, his leadership, and his gruff personality: He was great at throwing out runners. Consider:

YEAR
MUNSON CS%
LEAGUE CS%
1970 52 39
1971 61(!) 39
1972 48 39
1973 48 38
1974 35 38
1975 50 38
1976 35 34
1977 40 39
1978 45 38
1979 46 36

Munson won only three Gold Gloves, those coming in 1973-1975. In his first three seasons the award went to Ray Fosse (1970-1971) and Carlton Fisk (the only one Fisk ever got); from 1976 on the award was dominated by Jim Sundberg, who took six straight awards. Sundberg was also very good at controlling the running game. The Gold Gloves don’t prove much — one of Munson’s awards came in 1974, a year in which a sore arm cut his success rate and led to 22 errors; he made 23 the next season and somehow won again. The errors probably caused the voters to discard Munson for Sundberg so quickly as much as Sundberg’s own defensive excellence; the latter was only in the league for two years when he picked up his first award.

QUICK NOTES ON THURSDAY’S ACTION AND OTHER STUFF
? I’m grieved by John Hughes’ passing. His movies were often skin deep, but at their best there was something touching about them, something wistful about youth and its passing in films like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Some Kind of Wonderful”  — which is not to forget that these were basically teen comedies and often very funny. Of the films that took place outside of his suburban Illinois universe, there are bits of “Vacation” (the first one, not the countless sequels) that can still make me laugh, and I have a soft spot for “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” one of the few films that used John Candy to truly good effect. Hughes’ peak was long ago and far away, the 1980s (and by this I mean to exclude the huge 1990 hit “Home Alone” from the canon), but if you were a teenager then, his work was inescapable, alternatively patronizing and uplifting, and for many people, defining. Seeing him go is a bit like waving goodbye to a piece of the landscape of my youth. It’s saddening, even if the sadness isn’t really about him. I will now spin the Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” from “The Breakfast Club” in his honor.

? I really nailed that analysis of John Smoltz yesterday, didn’t I? Some days you’d be better off staying in bed. As important a win as it was for the Yankees, it was still painful watching a great pitcher brought low. Lefties are now hitting .440 off of Smoltz as he struggles to get his fastball by them on the inside. Righties have had a harder time of it, so perhaps Smoltz might still have some value out of the bullpen if he’s willing to go that route to stay in the game.

? Yesterday did nothing to dissuade me from the idea that the Yankees’ Joba Conservation Plan might cost him his command at a time when he and the team need and most, when he was about to turn the corner and show consistency for the first time all year.

? The Twins acquired Carl Pavano today from a player to be named. Good luck with that, Twinkies.

? Nick Johnson gets traded from the Nats, who can’t win a game, to the Marlins, who then get swept by the Nats. Life can be comically unfair.

? The A’s seem to have done a Soviet-style redaction off Jason Giambi’s place on the team. “No, nothing today,” Geren said. “I haven’t seen him today.”

Turns out the A’s released Giambi on Friday.

MORE TO COME
Since this is the <b>Series of the Year</b> I’ll be posting updates throughout the weekend. Hope you check in. 

6 Comments

In Gaudin’s slight favor are a FIP that’s decent and the fact that for a “journeyman” he’s only 26.

That game last night wasn’t beautiful baseball, but it was beautiful to see. Boston can’t come out of the weekend leading the AL East, let’s hope they just fall further back. Joba wasn’t pitching great early, but 1 run HR was a cheapy, then an infield single and a real HR lead to his early runs. After that he had to sit for 3 hours while the Yankees scored 8 runs, so I will not let this poor start get me too upset.

Poor Nick Johnson is now 1-14 in his last 15 Washington-Florida contests!

http://nationalsreview.wordpress.com/

Steve, are you basing the caught stealings on Munson’s assists? If so, that is erroneous as Munson for a while used to drop third strikes so as to get assists (by throwing to the first baseman). I think he supposedly did this because he was po’ed at all the assists and attention Fisk was getting.

The 61 percent in particular seems out of whack.

Steve you gotta do a post about last night’s/this morning’s game. You have to.

What a game. Classic.

Great weekend for all Yankee fans, just have 1 problem with Mr Girardi, ok you bring in Phil Coke to start the 8th inning last night, he gets Ellsbury out great job , lefty vs lefty, now my question, why leave him in to pitch to Pedria, then a swith hitting power hitter like Martinez, im still stunned by that move, if not for Damon, and MR TEX late inning homers this could of been a devastating loss, going from 6 games in first to 4 games, please someone tell me tyhe motive for this move, Hughes was there for the taking!!!!

So now the Yankees continue the ruination of Joba. To limit his innings for a year to a number that was picked out of the air is insanity. There is No scientific or medical reason to support this. To paraphrase what Tim McCarver said last Saturday ?show me the doctor that confirms this idea.?
Maybe some of the fans new to baseball think this is a sound idea. Well check the history of baseball and this is a very new idea. But it is an idea with no positive results. Arm injuries have not been eliminated. In fact the number seems to have increased. And pitchers for their careers have not been helped by this? extra care?.
A muscle must be worked harder to get stronger. And the arm is made of muscles. This is not an 11 year old kid we are talking about but a grown man. My father tells of Bob Feller coming to the big leagues at 17 years old and he had a long and great career. And he threw at least as hard as Joba.
Chamberlain has been abused since he came up. Let me see any other pitcher on the Yankees be given all this extra rest as has been reported as the plan for Joba and let me see how effective they will be. No one can pitch every 8 or 9 days and not be less effective. Insanity.

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