Park Signing Gives Yankees Value and Depth

Let’s start with this: Chan Ho Park isn’t a particularly good pitcher.  At the tail end of his time with the Dodgers, Park was an above average starter, but as soon as he signed with the Rangers as a free agent his career was marred with injury and ineffectiveness.  However, in the past 2 seasons, Park has reinvented himself as a useful 5th starter/setup man with good results.  In 2008, he pitched 95 innings for the Dodgers and compiled a 123 ERA+.  Last season, with the Phillies, Park compiled an 96 ERA+ over 83 innings.  Great numbers?  Well, not really, but enough to show that 2008 was not a fluke.

Park still features a decent fastball, which, when pitching out of the bullpen, he is able to dial up to the mid 90s.  Park’s K-Rate last year was 7.9 per 9 innings, so he can get a strikeout.  He also posted the lowest HR per 9 innings of his career, at 0.5, while pitching in the Phillies’ homer-happy home park.  If he can continue that trend, he should be a serviceable reliever for any team.

The real question here is what role Park will have on the Yankees and whether or not they really need him.  At first glance, you’d be inclined to think he slots in behind Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and Alfredo Aceves for the long man role, because, like I said, Park isn’t a great pitcher.  But if you look at the numbers for Gaudin and Mitre in particular, they are no great shakes themselves.  In fact, neither has ever had a season where they posted an ERA+ of 100 or above.  Brian Cashman claims that this is a signing about depth and that when it comes to pitching, “the more the merrier.”  Mitre had Tommy John Surgery recently and Gaudin is not, at this point, a proven commodity.  Remember: for as great as the Yankees were in 2009, by the time the playoffs rolled around, they didn’t really have a 4th starter.  Cashman always like to say he “throws things against the wall and sees what sticks” and this is another classic example of that.  It’s a long season, and the Yankees are wise to stock up on as many low-cost pitching options as possible.  When it comes to relievers especially, you never know who could get hot and put together a good season.  At the same time though, considering the Yankees new financial restraints, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see them trade either Gaudin or Mitre if they end up with a need elsewhere.

Park also helps ensure that the likes of David Robertson and Mark Melancon won’t be thrown to the wolves immediately, as the Yankees know it’s dangerous to rely too much on young pitchers.  If nothing else, Park will be a veteran arm to soak up some innings.

Buster Olney tweeted that the Phillies offered Park $3.25 million earlier in the offseason.  Perhaps the most compelling reason for the Yankees to sign Park is simply that he’s good value.  The bottom line is that Park would be the 5th starter or primary setup man on a good number of teams in baseball and the Yankees signed him for $1.25 million with some small incentives.  He should be worth more than that, even if he ends up as nothing more than a veteran arm at the back of the bullpen.

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7 Responses to Park Signing Gives Yankees Value and Depth

  1. Since the Yankees signed Marcus Thames I've wondered if the Yankees made a mistake dealing Bruney, but now that the Yankees have signed Park I'm feeling better about that. Park does provide veteran depth and I'd say he's even better than Bruney. I'm glad Cashman was smart enough to get him on such a good deal. I like it and I think even if he doesn't work out, he's certainly worth the risk and could really help the bullpen out.

  2. Chris Barrows says:

    As the article points out, the Yankees are getting him at a lot less than the Phillies offered. Ultimately, depth is something that you can never have enough of when it comes to the pen.

  3. Jeffrey says:

    The reason the Yankees got rid of Bruney is that he has a bad elbow that will very possibly need surgery. Remember that last year he was lights out for a couple of months, came back too soon, rested some more, came back again and couldn't get anybody out.

    Last year Robertson had a bad elbow in September, Aceves had a sore shoulder about the same time and Marte had a bad shoulder all year. After these injuries they all had periods of total ineffectiveness. These problems do not just go away with rehabilitation and rest. If they all go down you risk seeing Mitre out there and that is not a pretty sight.

    They needed Park, he isn't a luxury.

  4. In fairness to Park, Brian, his reliever splits in 2009 were pretty good–2-2, 2.52 ERA, 1.180 WHIP, 0 HR allowed in 50 innings of relief, .231 BAA. (Wait, did I just DEFEND Park? [Shaking head] I don't know what this world's coming to…)

    Also, the depth issue is relevant as everyone points out, and Jeffrey's reminder of the bullpen's periodic arm issues last season is quite a salient point. Park is low-risk, potentially high-reward, especially at that discounted price. However, while I won't reiterate all the misgivings I expressed about signing Park yesterday, Park had good stint as a reliever–last year. It's just one year. In '08, he coughed up 10 homers in 70 innings of relief. This echoes Brian's original, good point about Park–he's never been a very good pitcher, and his best years are long gone.

    I'll add that the Yankees do have some depth right now. Aceves was very good last year, and given the arm soreness he developed in late July that Jeffrey mentioned, maybe Ace is better suited for more but shorter stints instead of having almost 2/3 of his stints be more than an inning. If so, Gaudin could well be the long man/spot starter. With Mariano, Joba/Hughes, Marte, Robertson, Aceves, and two more among the cast of extras, they're in pretty good shape. I'd like to see Melancon develop, too, as Robertson did last season. Personally, I'd like to see younger players like Melancon and Albaladejo get cracks at it. The Yankees need to get younger, but also to allow younger players chances to develop at the highest level.

    If Park works out well, fine–pass me the crow and I'll gladly eat it. The depth is beneficial, as is his place as an expendable middle reliever if he doesn't cut it. The Yankees have built middle relief around interchangeable parts, with one taking another's place who doesn't do the job. Last year, Edwar, Veras, and Albaladejo all found their slots filled and then some by Hughes, Robertson, Coke, and Aceves. Right now, my gut tells me Park isn't in The Bronx the whole season.

  5. theboogiedown says:

    Not sure how well he pitches in 2010, but if that picture of him is any indication, he gonna be badasssssssss! '70's Tokyo vice squad thing going on there, slick!

  6. Brilliant comment on Park's picture, theboogiedown! Something out of a Woo flick.

  7. Ryan P says:

    I think Park has, maybe, learned how to pitch with his head instead of relying on stuff alone. Also, Carlos Ruiz is a smart catcher who knows how to call a game, that probably benefited Park in Philly. If Cervelli is catching he should do well, with Posada, it depends on the type of game he is having behind the plate. All in all, nice move.

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