Yankees should claim Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda of the LA Dodgers hit waivers yesterday, but New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is standing pat. He believes there is no pitcher on the market worth making a claim for, because he believes Dustin Moseley has pitched better than anyone available.

Before I get into Cashman’s opinions, I want to talk about Kuroda.

He is good. Real good. Now that I think about it, he may be the most underrated pitcher in baseball. Seriously- the dood is a very good pitcher and I NEVER he his name mentioned as being a great pitcher by the MSM. That is especially intriguing since he pitches in LA, but I digress.

Since his debut in 2008, Kuroda has had a sub-4 ERA, FIP, xFIP, and tERA. Whoa. His career line is 6.45 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9 with a 3.66 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, and 3.59 tERA. Talk about consistent across the board. He also has a career 51.2% GB rate and 30.5% FB rate. So besides keeping runners off the bases by not issuing walks, he limits fly balls which prevents home runs, and induces ground balls which is key considering he has a good, but not special K rate. His 2010 season has been right in line with his career to date. He has a 7.21 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9 with a 3.48 ERA and 3.41 FIP over 147 innings. His GB% is also at 52.6%, so Kuroda is still getting ground balls. Going forward, ZiPS believes Kuroda will maintain his production and finish with a 3.50 ERA and 3.48 FIP.

Hiroki Kuroda would be a great fit in NYS. While the jury is still out, especially with limited sample size, it looks as though NYS actually deflates a pitchers K numbers, just looking at the numbers of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Javy Vazquez. So Kuroda won’t be losing a weapon of his, since he is not a strikeout pitcher. Also, home runs are inflated at NYS, so the fact Kuroda really limits homers is crucial. As long as he keeps generating ground ball outs, the negatives of NYS will not effect him. Kuroda would also be a key member of the rotation down the stretch. Right now, the Yankees rotation as a whole is not World Series caliber. Yes, CC has been awesome as usual, but outside him there are several question marks. Vazquez was just relegated to the bullpen and was replaced by a rookie. Andy Pettitte’s injury is not healing and no one knows how will pitch when he returns, if he returns. AJ Burnett is Jekyll and Hyde. Phil Hughes has an innings limit and hasn’t been that great in the second half. Moselely is Moseley. Kuroda could step in and be our surefire number two and really bolster the rotation. CC/Kuroda/Pettitte/Burnett or Hughes sounds a lot better than CC/Pettitte/Burnett/Hughes.

So why is Brian Cashman saying the Yankees are content with what they currently have? Personally, I think it’s a bluff. In order to get Kuroda, no other team in baseball will have made a claim on him. So I believe Cashman is showing no interest on the outside no team tries to block him from the Yankees. At the same time, by “showing faith” in Moseley, Cashman is trying to bump Moseley’s value. Cashman is not a fool. Moseley was never good in the past, and hasn’t pitched that well in New York. He knows Kuroda is better. So he is probably trying to inflate Moseley’s worth and perceived value, while trying to make sure no one blocks Kuroda from New York.

Now what will it cost to get Kuroda? I cannot imagine it will be much. Including October, the number of starts he would make as a Yankee would be in the single digits, or just above ten. Despite that, the Yanks will still owe him a couple million dollars, which is offset by the fact he is a type B free agent (but I doubt New York would offer him arbitration). If the Yanks give up more than a C or D prospect, I would be disappointed. But it might just be worth it if New York wants to really strengthen its chances of beating Texas, Minnesota, or Tampa Bay in the postseason.

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