Blast From The Past: Why The Yankees Are Counting On Garcia and Colon

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIFebruary 1, 2011

NEW YORK - AUGUST 30:  Freddy Garcia #43 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the New York Yankees during their game on August 30, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett are the only current locks in what looks to be a very shaky rotation for the Yankees in 2011.

Assuming that Andy Pettitte retires, the Yankees could be in for a long season in the Bronx.

The Yankees entered the New Year thinking that their rotation would be rounded out by the likes of Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre—far from a solid back of the rotation. It's difficult to gauge how Nova will pitch, as it'll be his first full season in the league and Sergio Mitre has never really been a productive starter.

To combat the shakiness of the rotation, the Yanks have signed both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. The team hopes that Colon and Garcia can regain some of their early to mid-2000's form, where each starter won his share of games.

Colon's first full season was in 1998 and he was a very consistent hurler up until the 2006 season. Through 2005, he had won 20 games in a season twice, 18 games four times, 15 games six times and had an ERA under 4.00 six times.

The two seasons since 1998 that he didn't win 15 games were in 1998 and 2001. 

Guess how many games he won in those campaigns: Fourteen.

Colon enjoyed his best season in 2005 with the Angels, when he pitched to a 21-8 record with a 3.48 ERA in 222.2 innings. He racked up 157 strikeouts. Colon won the American League Cy Young Award that season, beating out Mariano Rivera by a whopping 50 points.

To say there was a drop off after 2005 would be a significant understatement.

Since his award winning campaign, Colon has earned just 14 wins with an average annual ERA of 4.89; to go along with his 14 wins, he has compiled 21 losses.

His struggles in 2006 came after missing most of the season after right shoulder soreness and inflammation, resulting from a partially torn rotator cuff that he suffered in a playoff game against the Yankees in 2005.

In 2007, his last season with the Angels, Colon took a few trips to the disabled list and started just 18 games. In 2008 with the Red Sox, he started just seven games and was cut from the team after attending to "personal matters" in the Dominican Republic and deciding to stay. 

After starting 12 games for the White Sox in 2009, he sat out the entire 2010 season.

Freddy Garcia burst onto the scene in 1999, compiling a 17-8 record in his rookie season with the Seattle Mariners. He achieved varying levels of success through 2006, winning 14 or more games five times, pitching over 200 innings seven times and compiling an ERA under 4.00 four times.

Garcia, a pitcher who has been prone to giving up the longball throughout most of his career, has always had a reputation of being a pitcher who can win games while also giving up a moderate amount of runs.

His highest ERA, through 2006, was 4.53. Despite the high ERA, Garcia was successful; he won 17 games that season and pitched 216.1 innings.

After his strong showing throughout most of the decade, Garcia dropped off the face of the baseball world until last season. From 2007-2009, he won just five games in 23 starts. His average annual ERA during that stretch was 4.83.

He spent much of the 2007 season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury; he sat out the 2008 season until August and didn't receive a call to the bigs in 2009 until June.

Garcia essentially resurrected his career last season. He started 28 games for the Chicago White Sox and earned 12 wins with a respectable ERA of 4.64.

The Yankees hope to maximize production from the back end of the rotation, and having Colon and Garcia can't hurt. The signings are low-risk, high-reward and didn't cost the Bombers much money. 

If either of them should falter, the Yanks will have Nova and Mitre waiting in the wings. Plus, there is always a possibility that GM Brian Cashman pulls off a trade.

The Yankees are expecting more from Garcia this season, so anything received from Colon will be a huge bonus.

If Pettitte returns, then the Yankees rotation suddenly gets rather deep. Pettitte would slide into the third spot, then a healthy and effective A.J. Burnett would give the Yankees a deep front four. Any level of production from the fifth spot would then be a bonus. 

If such is the case, then the team would be thrilled if Garcia could match his 2010 level of production. 

We'll just have to wait and see though, and thankfully we won't have to wait too long.  Spring Training is just around the corner.