The Yankees, like most teams in baseball, are in the hunt for prime pitching this offseason. Though their rotation was decent in 2011, it has to be improved with both talent and youth in order to succeed in both the immediate and long-term futures.
One of the earliest signs of management life this winter was the alleged move to trade for then-Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez. It sounded like a good idea, as Sanchez went 13-9 in 2010, with the lowest hits-per-inning rate in the National League (6.6).
Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has since made it known that these trade rumors were false, which is frankly a good thing. Sanchez ended up being traded to the Kansas City Royals for New York-favorite Melky Cabrera, who is no way worth a front-line starter swap.
The Yankees may begin to look across the bay to Oakland, a team always rich with pitching talent, underpaid and looking to make big money. Topping their pitching pile is lefty Gio Gonzalez, a 26-year-old star waiting to show the world exactly how good he is.
His career started off slow, going 7-11 with an inflated ERA in 2008-09. His last two seasons have been nothing to look over, going 15-9, 3.23 ERA in 2010 and 16-12 with an even smaller 3.12 ERA in 2011, throwing 200 innings in both years.
The Yankees have said they will pay for Gonzalez, as he is not arbitration eligible until 2013. This would be a welcome sight in New York, and a fresh change of pace from a decade of pitching signings. The team has been (and still is) weighed down by 30-plus year-old pitchers who have shown promise elsewhere, but flounder once the city’s lights turn on them.
Names like Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, and A.J. Burnett are haunting the Yankees’ past, and what could have been with the money spent on those pitchers. Well here is the team’s chance to start anew, attacking a young free agent market, taking chances on pitchers who can have that successful promise with them, not another team.
With Sabathia leading charge and an emerging Ivan Nova asserting his position in the rotation, Gonzalez would make the starting staff solid, giving the Yankees a good chance at succeeding in both the regular season and the playoffs.