As it stands today, the Yankees' 2010 rotation is as follows:
|2009 FIP||2010 Projected FIP|
Obviously Hughes' FIP numbers are skewed as his 2009 total is primarily a function of his relief appearances, and Bill James appears to have projected Hughes as a reliever for 2010, because -- as much as I love Hughes -- there's no way Hughes the starter will post an FIP of 3.35 in 2010, which would be good for tops on this projected staff. James -- who as mentioned previously is notoriously generous in his rankings, but I don't have any other projection systems to go off of at this point in time -- has all five starters on this Yankee staff posting sub-4.00 FIPs, which would almost certainly make it the strongest rotation in baseball.
Of course, we really don't know what we'll get out of Chamberlain in his second full season as a starter (although it will almost certainly be better than a 4.82 FIP) or Hughes in what will hopefully be his first full season in the rotation. Still, if this is the rotation that the Yankees were to enter the 2010 season with, I'm on board with it.
However, this being the Yankees, along with Brian Cashman's desire to stockpile as much pitching as possible, it seems unlikely that the Yankees stand pat on the starting pitching front for the remainder of the offseason. Here are the five starters I've heard come up in connection to the Yanks most often so far this offseason:
|2009 FIP||2010 Projected FIP|
Note: Sheets' and Duchscherer's FIPs are from 2008. Bill James doesn't have a projection for Sheets for 2010.
Halladay is of course the top hypothetical prize of the winter, but he also costs the most by far, requiring both elite players/prospects and a probable $100 million extension. We know the Yankees will keep tabs on Halladay, and as Joe at RAB notes, if the price comes down from Montero and one of Joba/Hughes, the Yankees may still acquire Halladay, although it still seems unlikely. As previously noted here, however, adding Halladay to the current Yankee rotation (and likely subtracting Chamberlain or Hughes) would cement the best rotation and baseball and give the team two legitimate shut-down aces in Halladay and Sabathia -- something that could be too tempting for the Yankees to pass up as visions of a two-headed-ace-anchored 2010 playoff run en route to a successful defense of the title and 28th championship dance through their heads.
Moving on, we have John Lackey (who Mike covets), who will also be expensive but not require the ceding of prospects. The consensus on Lackey is that he's looking for Burnett money. While Lackey and Burnett's career numbers are actually fairly close, and one could probably make a case for Lackey even being slightly better than Burnett, I'm still not entirely sold on dropping $85 million for five years of Lackey.
I'd rather take a flier on one (or perhaps two, depending on what kind of contracts can be worked out) of the reclamation projects. Sheets, Harden and Duchscherer all have solid track records and have all at one time been very good Major League pitchers. Harden's primary concern is his perceived brittleness and inability to work deep into games. He is also a career 131 ERA+ pitcher. Sheets (career 115 ERA+) has also suffered his share of injuries over the years, but after not pitching for a year and a half I'd love to see what he can do while healthy. Duchscherer (career 138 ERA+) is someone who many at RAB were lobbying for pre-trade deadline back in July, and I wouldn't mind bringing a guy with his pedigree in. All three of these guys are the definition of low-risk, high-reward. I know the Sox tried to go this route a year ago, but an ancient John Smoltz and deteriorating Brad Penny are quite a different story than this troika of relatively young pitchers -- 2010 will be Sheets' age 31 season, Duchscherer's age 32
season and Harden's age 28 season.
"You can never have enough pitching" may be the most tired adage in the game of baseball, but it will also always be true, and potentially adding, say, Sheets and Harden or Duchscherer and Harden would give the Yankees unrivaled starting pitching depth. Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Joba, Hughes, and some combination of Sheets, Duchscherer or Harden would not only be the deepest staff in the league but would be far, far cheaper than trading for Halladay or signing Lackey.