Mickey Mitre (M-I-C, K-E-Y…)

mitre2_120_081109.jpgI was immensely frustrated by last night’s game, first because Sergio Mitre started it, second because after the Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the fourth Mitre was allowed to pitch the fifth so he could un-tie it again, third because Joe Girardi spun the game as a good start but for a wayward defensive play, and fourth because of a conversation with Brian Cashman that Michael Kay related during the game.

Let me take the last one first. Kay quoted Cashman as saying (I paraphrase, as I don’t have a transcript handy) in defense of Mitre that if you look around the league, who has a fifth starter that’s better than Mitre anyway? This may very well be true — few teams go four deep in good starters, let alone five — but it should not be an excuse to stop trying to find something better, particularly when, in Chad Gaudin, you have someone who has been demonstrably better in his career.

Even if one is willing to grant that Mitre had a good start — I’m not, but you may, Girardi may, Cashman may — that is but one start in a career in which the pitcher has allowed nearly six runs per nine innings pitched. In 57 games started, he’s made just 20 quality starts, or 35 percent, when the league average is closer to 50. And while it is positive that he’s walking just two batters per nine when he used to walk three or four, there are other aspects to pitching. Further, six strikeouts in five innings is nice, but the Jays weren’t playing John Olerud, Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor. Getting Rod Barajas and Jose Bautista to swing and miss is not exactly unusual. Further, note that Mitre got three strikeouts in the first, then two more in the second, and one leading off the third. After that, he failed to K his last 14 batters. The Jays weren’t fooled anymore.

Gaudin isn’t a great pitcher, but he’s made 69 starts in his career, and at 26 has more time to work things out than the 28-year-old Mitre. Gaudin has made a quality start 42 percent of the time, below average but better than Mitre by a reasonable amount — given the same number of starts, Mitre would make 24 quality starts to Gaudin’s 29. That little edge is something worth shooting for. As I said yesterday, just because the Yankees’ place in the postseason is assured doesn’t mean that it can be taken for granted.

? Tough blow for the Nationals losing Jordan Zimmerman to TJ surgery. Nothing derails a building program faster (and more predictably) than pitcher injuries.

? Keith Law made a very good point at ESPN.com — that even if the Jays got Kenny Williams to take Alex Rios on a waiver claim, the very fact that they gave him away for nothing underscores the magnitude of the misjudgment by J.P. Ricciardi by issuing the contract in the first place.

? Ryan Franklin of the Cardinals demonstrates why many closers are overvalued, as is the closer’s role itself. The man has allowed six runs all year. Where is it written that he is a closer, or that he should have even been considered? P.S. Mariano Rivera is not overrated. He’s sui generis.

? Geovany Soto hit a home run last night, but he’s still looking like the new Rick Wilkins. And Jacoby Ellsbury is the new Dave Collins, who Bill James called, “A leadoff man who doesn’t score runs.” Good enough for me.

? Kevin Goldstein’s most recent article at BP is about how good middle infield prospects aren’t making their way into the Minors. What this says to me is that Derek Jeter’s replacement will be long in coming. Sadly, Troy Tulowitzki (hit for the cycle last night) and Hanley Ramirez are tied up forever.


I talk about the years of Phil Rizzuto’s MVP, when shortstops out-hit first basemen, at Baseball Prospectus. Also, a reminder that I’ll be chatting live at BP Thursday at 1 p.m. EST. As always, if you can’t make it to the event itself, you can put your questions in the queue at the link above and I’ll look ’em over when we start up.


  1. vtbh5049@verizon.net

    On top of being (at best) a mediocre pitcher, the man can’t field his position. His error last night was at least his second one on a throw to second. There has GOT to be a better option. Is Ed Whitson available?

  2. 4everbronx

    The Yankees place in the postseason is not assured. The fastest way for the Yanks to miss the postseason is to develope a sense of entitlement and an air of arrogance. It is the managers job to keep the hunger alive. Look @ Pinella’s Mariners, the Yanks in 01-04. Let us not get complacent!

  3. bobmerc

    It just so have we have Russ Ortiz here at the AAA level in Scranton-Wilkes Barre…he is 2-0 in his 2 starts and hasn’t allowed a run in 13 innings pitched. I would look for Mitre to be sent back down & Ortiz up in fairly short order…and YES…it’s THAT Russ Ortiz! GO YANKS!!!! Both here and in the Bronx!!!

  4. hateslibs

    Steve, you hit the nail on the head about Mitre, the only reason he gets to pitch is the Joe likes him now and when he was with the Marlins. Joe needs to get over it and do what’s best to win. I dis-agree that the Yanks are assured of the play-offs. Hope you’re right. How could Gaudin or Ortiz be any worse than Mitre???????

  5. yomomma139

    2 comments: Sergio Valenti Mitri Box is hardly an answer, as a matter of fact, he is a problem. Guys who remind you of the the ‘effort’ we obtained from the Wanger this year are no solution.

    I am fed up with Clueless Joe and his favorites. I don’t give a crap he had Mitre Box with the Marlins, we’re trying to win here. From his phoney ‘competitions’ in spring training to a guy who is recovering from major surgery, I say ‘ENOUGH!’ Every game that goes by I understand what the Dodgers have that we no longer do – someone who knows how to get a team thru a season and into the playoffs.

  6. yankee7777

    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.

  7. movienewsnow@aol.com

    I am not going to pretend that I agree with every word Steve has to say. But he often hits the nail right on the head with his blogs. This current situation with Sergio Mitre is driving me crazy. I can NOT see how a organization such as the Yankees can not see that this is not working. I would also argue that the better teams in AL all have better 5th starters than the Yankees… I mean the Red Soc released John Smoltz… I will say that again they released a Hall Of Famer in waiting Joh Smoltz because of 8 bad outings. And Smoltz was only allowing around a run more per nine innings and did I mention he is JOHN SMOLTZ! If the Yankees were to have an injury to their rotation right now the season would be over! I really can not understand why the Yankees can not go out and get John Garland who if anyone has ever checked has outstanding post season numbers and has won a World Series. He had pitched basically his whole career in the AL and if nothing else is a work horse who throws 200 innings nearly every year. To me that is a good back of the rotation guy. He doesn’t cost much money, and D-Backs are going no where. I would take a chance on Arroyo or Harang (if the Reds eat some of their contracts). I would be willing to give a solid prospect up for Brian Bannister of the Royals. Maybe someone like a Zack McCallister. Heck I would even take a chance on John Smoltz than put Mitre out there one more day. Lets see what Gaudin can do and if it is not good enough we still have a couple weeks to make a move… but oddly Brian Cashman is not concerned at all. He rather put a spin on how “good” Mitre is pitching. I pray to the baseball Gods that somehow the Mitre will leave the rotation. Perhaps an injury can help make that happen. Nothing major… I mean I dont hate the guy personally or anything… perhaps just a blister on one of his pitching fingers. 🙂

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