During the game last night, we heard that the Yankees essentially “poached” pitcher Brian Gordon from the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the AAA affiliate for the Phillies, so that he could (most likely) start the game for the Bombers on Thursday that is vacated by Bartolo Colon. Gordon had a minor league opt out in his contract with Philadelphia and exercised it so he could pitch in the Majors.
Gordon is a converted outfielder who has a career .781 OPS in the minors. He started pitching full time in 2007 at the age of 2008 when he was 28. Since then, he’s pitched in 168 games, 22 of them starts. In 366.2 innings, he’s got a 3.09 ERA, 1.156 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9, and a 7.7 K/9. Those are pretty solid numbers, so we’ll have to see if they translate to the Majors for (at least) one game. In 2008, he pitched 4.0 innings for the Rangers, allowing 1 run on 4 hits with 0 walks and 1 strikeout.
After this announcement, there was a lot of unfortunate hand-wringing about the signing. I participated a little bit, commenting that Hector Noesi probably isn’t thrilled about this. Still, though, I think this is the smart move.
I want Noesi to get a start and it would be nice to see one of the Yankee prospects get a shot at starting in Colon’s absence, but I can see why the Yankees will probably go with Gordon on Thursday. Using him instead of one of the minor leaguers allows the Yankees to avoid dipping into the prospect well. Gordon is the definition of a DFA-able player, too, so if he does pitch poorly, he’ll probably be gone after that start, after which the Yankees can give Noesi a start, or call up David Phelps or D.J. Mitchell, or whichever other minor leaguer you’d prefer. This move is designed to preserve resources for at least a little while longer, and that’s a good thing. If the Yankees were to call up Phelps or someone and that pitcher got rocked or got hurt, the roster headache for the Yankees would continue (though it wouldn’t be that bad considering options and all that).
This move does not mean, as some people non-sarcastically suggested, that Brian Cashman and the Yankee organization hate their own prospects and don’t want to give them a chance. That’s absolutely ridiculous. If you thought that for more than five seconds and you meant it, you need to re-evaluate your own thinking. The logic behind this move is the same as the logic I argued when advocating for both Colon and Freddy Garcia starting 2011 in the starting rotation while stashing Ivan Nova in Scranton to start the year. Starting Gordon allows the Yankees to burn through a guy who’s likely got no future with the organization before turning to the pitchers who could be Yankees for more than a two-week stretch.
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