Gaudin to the rescue?

… Because sometimes I just don’t understand the thinking that goes into certain decisions. Today, the (sadly) Boston-bound Pete Abraham reports that not only is Chad Gaudin now in the starting rotation in place of Sergio Mitre, but if he pitches well he has a shot to be in the postseason rotation ahead of Joba Chamberlain:

With Chamberlain not pitching well, Gaudin has emerged as a candidate should the Yankees need a No. 4 starter at some point in the playoffs. Manager Joe Girardi nodded enthusiastically when asked if Gaudin had that chance.

“He sure does,” Girardi said in the dugout Monday night before the Yankees played the Angels. “He’s obviously in the mix or he wouldn’t be starting for us. We went out and got Chad because we felt that he could help us down the stretch and in the postseason, and he has pitched pretty well. He has done a very good job.”

What I can’ t figure out is that if Gaudin was such an important acquisition for the Yankees, why has he done so much sitting around? I’m not trying to pretend that Gaudin is the next Walter Johnson, because we’re talking about a 26-year-old who has a 4.53 ERA in about 600 Major League innings and averages four walks per nine innings. Still, he was a more likely candidate for the fifth starter’s spot, and perhaps even the fourth, than the other fellows the Yankees insisted on using. Let’s review.

Chad Gaudin has pitched only 29.1 innings for the Yankees. He was acquired on August 6 and then didn’t pitch for six days. He didn’t start for almost two weeks, getting his first assignment on August 19 at Oakland. After pitching 4.1 one-hit innings in the game (albeit with five walks), he headed back to the bullpen, not starting again until September 3. He made his third start five days later, but eight days went by before he made his fourth start. Consider what the other Yankees starters have done in that time, and if there was perhaps a place for Gaudin to get a shot at starting:

CC Sabathia has made nine starts with an ERA of 1.79 in 65.1 innings. The team went 9-0 in those games. Hmm. You probably wouldn’t want to pull CC out of the rotation.

A.J. Burnett made nine starts with an ERA of 4.97 in 58 innings. The team went 4-5. This is something of a downer, but opponents have hit only .257/.335/.428 (everyone is Melky Cabrera), which isn’t quite the same as being bombed, plus he’s mixed some good starts in there. Let’s move on.

Andy Pettitte made eight starts, skipping one to rest his shoulder. His ERA was 3.60 in 50 innings, and opponents hit .214. The team went 6-2. No problems here, assuming all the parts are in place.

Joba Chamberlain, kneecapped by his Rules or mechanical problems, or some combination thereof, made eight starts and pitched 31 innings with an ERA of 8.42. Opponents hit .331/.396/.496, which means the average hitter against Joba in this period was Rod Carew. The team went 4-4 since they had turned Joba’s starts into bad relief appearances. This is the only reason you can’t say, “There’s no way the Yankees could have gotten a worse result short of shooting the pitcher themselves.”

Sergio Mitre joined the rotation on July 21 and was started religiously every five days through late August. At the time Gaudin was acquired, Mitre had made four starts and had posted an ERA of 7.50 in 18 innings. He had given up 32 hits and opponents were hitting like Ted Williams, batting .395/.432/.506. Despite the alternative provided by Gaudin, Mitre kept taking his turn in the pulpit. In his next six games before finally being pulled from the rotation, the greatest Yankee named Sergio (also the only Yankee named Sergio) improved his results, the averages against him dropping to a still-miserable .301/.343/.553. His ERA for 28 innings was 7.71. The team record in those games was 3-3. The Yankees actually went 5-4 in Mitre starts, which is (A) a bit lower than a team like the Yankees wants to perform and (B) a reflection of the quality of Mitre’s opponents, teams that let the Yankees back into some games they might have been out of had they been playing a playoff-level opponent.

The Yankees had ample proof that Mitre couldn’t pitch before they got Gaudin, and two appearances since (one starting, one relieving) notwithstanding, he hasn’t given them much argument to the contrary. They could also see Joba, the potential fourth starter in the playoffs, or even third starter if Pettitte’s shoulder continues to trouble him, disintegrating. Yet Gaudin has always been on hold for a rainy day that the Yankees never accepted was here, even though it poured baseballs every time Mitre pitched. Now, with a fraction of the season left and so many games wasted, the guy is supposed to ride to the rescue.

I would tell you what the decision tree that must have led to this point must have been if only I could perceive it myself.

melky286_092209.jpgJudging from the reaction to yesterday’s entry, I did a poor job of making myself clear. My intention was to be forward-looking. I was not suggesting that Cabrera’s performance was overly hindering the 2009 Yankees or was a reason they might fall out of the playoffs or fail to save the world when Galactus comes, or anything like that. The 2009 Yankees have their offense pretty much squared away, and while Melky’s 95 OPS+ isn’t a big part of that, it’s good enough under the circumstances. Despite the current rough stretch, I’m not encouraging panic about the team’s chances, though if they punt away home-field advantage, I might change my position on that.

My point was meant to pertain to next season. The Yankees are an old team. Jorge Posada has been great this year, but next year he’ll be 38 and you can’t keep expecting greatness. You can say the same thing about Derek Jeter and A-Rod and Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, assuming either or both of them come back. Heck, you could say it if they were in their 20s instead of their 30s, because life is unpredictable, but there would be less reason to worry about it. Because of the unsettled state of things, because it is hard to imagine next year’s offense being of the same quality as this year’s offense, the Yankees may need to get more out of center field. That is, they can’t just assume that other positions will make up for whatever sorta-decent to sub-decent things that Cabrera or Brett Gardner might do. As such, if there’s a “Don’t Look at This Until Spring” pile that Brian Cashman has, which one would assume includes Mark Teixeira and first base, Sabathia as No. 1 starter, etc, center field  should not be on it. It is reasonable to suggest that if other positions, within and without the outfield, are going to decline, center field may have to go up. If the Yankees are satisfied, viewing Melky in isolation, that won’t happen.

That was my major point. It had naught to do with 2009. No doubt the current Yankees would do better if Joe DiMaggio was available to play center, but he’s not strictly necessary at the moment.


  1. dailyskew

    Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Goldman writes articles just to get people riled up and get some traffic or if he really believes whatever ZIPS or BP tells him to think.

    Maybe Mr. Goldman is under pressure to write articles about *something* on a timely basis so he grabbed a lame Melky sucks article out of his butt.

    Seriously…he just comes off as such a “know-it-all” snob who has faith in statistical projections and likes to worry, worry, worry about NEXT year. He should be a Mets blogger.

    And he must forget all of the other mea culpas he has written in the past because I would think by now he would have been tired of repeating “I did a poor job of making myself clear.”

    But I guess it’s all part of the Goldman Persecution Complex and the fact that he believes he’s right and is surrounded by mutants such as myself that disagree with his opinions.

    Leave Melky alone.

  2. charlief

    Sometimes I wonder why readers waste their time writing comments about authors they don’t like, trying to sound so smart about how dumb the author is. There are plenty of sportswriters I don’t like, so I have have a little trick… I DON’T READ THEIR ARTICLES.

    As for the CF situation, I am worried that Melky is hitting at career highs right now. Gardner is fun and exciting but that doesn’t necessarily win anything. He may be passable as well, but nothing special. Also, I fear they’ll need to make up for drop in production from Damon and Matsui next year, even if they keep them both. So there will likely be less hitting from the rest of the team, which means in order to score more, CF needs to hit better.

    I’d love to see them try to get Ross – look how well Willingham hit once he left Florida. But other than that, I am not sure if there are many realistic options for next season other than what they’ve got.

  3. sadaharuo

    Hey dailyskew, what’s with the rudeness? Just don’t read the blog if the content bothers you so much. Why should Steven “leave Mekly alone?” Melky is a very mediocre player who has had the occasional hot streak. Steven (and I, and many other Yankee fans) would like more production out of center field. Why is this such a cardinal sin?

  4. dailyskew

    Selected comments from another thread regarding the article:

    -WTF do you want!?

    -jeez, what is this, Piss on the 95-Win Team Day?

    -Melky is what he is, but I think the Melky haters are also unfair when they fail to mention that Melky’s numbers look horrible because Girardi kept on playing him and playing him when he was clearly winded in August (when Gardner was injured).

    -Yes, he’s the weakest offensive contributor to this year’s team. If an upgrade presents itself, I think the Yankees should jump on it. But eight very good offensive players may make the other one look worse

    – is this as silly as it looks?

    -What the hell more do they want?

    -I suppose the pitchfork-and-torch crowd will not accept anything less than an 11-0 run to the WS. Go 11-1 and it will be deemed a failure, and the team not nearly as good at the 1998 version of the Yankees. If all these sportswriters in NYC were genuinely mounting the ledges in panic, I wish the hell they’d all jump off, so the world would be spared this kind of asinine “journalism.”

    -Milton Bradley should be available for the right price!

    -God forbid they should have a league average player at one position!

    -When Melky & Gardner were both available, competing against each other while also limiting the workload, the Yanks looked prettty good.

    -In the same day, we have two articles about rival CFs. One of them calls Melky a disappointment. The other gives props to Ellsbury. They have virtually the same numbers. What am I missing here?

    -Not that I had forgotten, but articles like this remind me just why I hate the Yankees.

    -didn’t read the article, but thanks for the laugh.


    This is a blog that discusses ways how the Yankees can improve their team. If you are the GM of a team with seemingly vast resources why not try and get the best or better 25th man than your competitor?
    This is not about fielding an All-Star at every position it’s about getting above average production at every position. For $250 million you can expect to get at least that for your investment.
    This has nothing to with anything else except a way to improve the Yankees. That’s why it has been fittingly titled “The Pinstriped Bible”. A discussion on what is great, what is not so great and what may be available in the free agent market or the farm system to improve on what is not so great.
    The reason why you sheep get all emotional about an article on a below average centerfielder in Melky Cabrera is beyond my comprehension. And yes he is below average and seems to be getting worse with age and he’s only 25.
    He doesn’t walk enough, Hits into way too many double plays, Has “Ok” range, doesn’t have consistent good at bats, and seems to be lazy at times. At least with Gardner when he gets on base(which he does more often than Melky btw) you have a legitimate threat. Melky might get picked off at first base.

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