The Yankees four-horse Steinbrenner Cup Derby for the remaining two spots in the Yankees starting rotation is galloping down the stretch and it looks like the colt Ivan Nova has a comfortable lead over the old plugs, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia. Sergio Mitre looks like the also-ran and has already been relegated to the stable, I mean bullpen.
If you listen to manager Joe Girardi call this Win, Place or Go race, you wouldn't know who is pulling up the rear.
Yesterday, it sounded like the skipper was singing the praises of Garcia. "I have a pretty good feel on what Freddy can do. It's work and just coming out healthy," he said.
And yesterday on Colon? Girardi said, "Bart didn't pitch last year so if you start talking innings, will there be a point where innings catch up to him during the course of a season."
Garcia will be at the Yankees minor league complex pitching in a minor league game today. Pitching coach, Larry Rothschild--and possibly Girardi--will be watching. Garcia has been miserable in his last two starts and has an ERA of 5.93 over four games. He has a lot to prove.
D-Day is March 29, when Garcia can opt out of his contract. His base salary is $1.5 million with an opportunity to make an additional $3.6 million in performance bonuses.
The 37 year-old Colon will earn $900,000 if he makes the roster.
Colon looked like a long shot to make the rotation when he came into camp 25 pounds overweight after sitting out 2009 due to injuries, but had that great game Monday along with 17 strikeouts 15 innings this spring. The 267 pound righthander has had his fastball clocked in the 90's.
The big concern with Colon, and it is a big as his girth, is whether or not he has the stamina to go a full season. The one-time workhorse threw 200 inning seasons in his sleep during his glory years, but only threw 257 innings since 2006. The 2010 lay-off will be a big concern of Girardi's.
Colon has out pitched both Garcia and Mitre this March and if picking the No. 5 starter was justified on statistics alone, Colon would be a shoo-in.
But the 34 year-old Garcia is a relative pony compared to former Cy Young winner Colon and hasn't sat on the shelf for the past five years. Garcia pitched 157 innings while winning 12 games last year for the White Sox. Garcia has been clocked mostly in the mid-80's this spring.
Does Girardi let a soft spring training for former All-Star Garcia influence his decision? The righthander made it perfectly clear he has nothing to prove nothing in Triple-A and would not go down. Colon has not made any such ultimatums.
"We're getting to the point where we have to sit down and have a long meeting," said Girardi. There's still some stuff we have to look at, but they've put up a pretty good body of work together, all of them. We have to sit down and find some time to have it."
At the beginning of spring training, Girardi said statistics would not be the most important factor in picking the No. 4 and 5 spots. Yesterday, he said he wouldn't base his decision on Garcia's minor league performance today.
I'm picking Mark Prior as the dark horse.
The Yankees have a only a few days left before that "long meeting."