New York Yankees: Lefty Greg Smith Signed for Pitching Depth

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IJune 14, 2011

HOUSTON - MAY 19:  Pitcher Greg Smith #27 of the Colorado Rockies throws in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 19, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Yankees starting rotation took a major hit this weekend when Bartolo Colon was placed on the disabled list.

Colon joins Phil Hughes as starters who are both on the disabled list for the Yankees.

Colon left Saturday's game against the Cleveland Indians with a strained hamstring when he was going to cover first base in the top of the seventh inning.

He also joins pitchers Damaso Marte, Pedro Feliciano, Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano who are also out for the Yankees and on the disabled list. It's possible that Hector Noesi could take Colon's spot in the starting rotation, but nothing has been decided yet by Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.

On Monday, the Yankees signed left-handed pitcher Greg Smith to a minor league deal and will assign him to AAA Scranton/Wilks-Barre.

Smith is only 27 years old and because the Yankees have one lefty in their rotation in CC Sabathia, could also have a chance to make the team.

Smith has some experience in the majors, pitching for the Oakland A's in 2008 and the Colorado Rockies in 2010.

Smith was originally part of the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system before being part of the trade that saw him, Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Chris Carter to Oakland for Dan Haren in 2008.

Smith was then part of another deal that saw him, Gonzalez and Huston Street sent to Colorado for Matt Holliday in 2009.

In 2008, Smith was 7-16 with a 4.16 ERA in 190.1 innings with 111 strikeouts in 32 starts during his rookie season with Oakland. In 2010 for Colorado, he was 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in just eight starts.

Smith was released by the Rockies in April of this year and was a free agent before being signed by the Yankees.

If Smith can have enough decent stuff to make it in the minors and get hitters out, there is a good possibility he could make the majors.

One thing he can definitely bring to the table for the Yankees is neutralizing the running game. Back in 2008, he led the major leagues with 15 pick-offs.

The Yankees used to have one of the best pitchers with a pick-off move in Andy Pettitte, who retired in the winter. So if Smith can ever make the Yankees roster, that is a benefit, well, aside from being a left-handed pitcher.

One thing is for certain, he's definitely a better option than Kei Igawa or Carlos Silva for the starting rotation.

Neither Igawa nor Silva should ever see a Yankees uniform and both players have one thing in common: They are on a list for some of the worst signed contracts ever.

Igawa got a five-year, $20 million dollar deal from the Yankees back in 2007 and has spent most of the five years in the minor leagues.

During his time in the majors, Igawa was 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 2007 and 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in 2008.

Silva got a four-year, $48 million dollar deal from the Seattle Mariners back in 2008.

He then posted a 4-15 record with a 6.46 ERA in 2008 and then a 1-3 record with a 8.60 ERA in 2009.

In so many words, both Igawa and Silva are wastes of money and should never see the big leagues for the Yankees, not even in September when the rosters expand to 40 players.

Another advantage Smith has is his age at 27. He's still fairly young and hasn't had much time in the majors, playing in just two seasons.

Maybe Colorado wasn't the best suited ballpark for him, but then again, what pitcher is best suited for Coors Field?

Right now, signing Smith is adding pitching depth and insurance.

Maybe Colon's injury is more serious than we thought. That was definitely the case with Joba Chamberlain. Maybe Hughes' velocity becomes an issue again or his location is terrible.

Or maybe Freddy Garcia starts to run out of gas and gets shelled consistently, kind of like he did against the Red Sox last week.

The only two pitchers who have been consistent enough and reliable without any injuries or setbacks so far for the Yankees have been CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.

People still feel like the Yankees will try to make a trade for a starter before the July 31 deadline, but Cashman has already said that there is not much available on the market for a starter right now.

So unless the Yankees do make a deal, the patchwork job of the Yankees starting rotation continues on in 2011.


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