It was recently reported, by Wallace Mathews, that everybody’s favorite reclamation project, Bartolo Colon, has a good chance at wearing pinstripes again during the 2012 campaign.
Nobody could have realistically predicted that Colon, who had not successfully been able to stay healthy and pitch the whole season since 2005, would be able to have the stats that he produced this season, especially in the first half. It might have been partly due to his stem cell procedure, but he proved the type of pitcher that he is capable of being when not sidelined by injury.
However, as a result of his production during the 2011 season he will be asking for a pay raise, as a reported by Mathews. I am not really in favor of this because I am not sure the Yankees can count on him replicating last season or even improving.
If Colon is able to give the Yankees close to the same 4.00 ERA, 135 strikeouts, 40 walks, 26 starts and 164.1 innings that he gave them in 2011 then he would be worth bringing back, but I don’t think they can count on these stats again. He was an amazing, under the radar, cheap signing by General Manager, Brian Cashman, before Spring Training, but at his advanced age (38) he is not worth bringing back at anything more than 1 million.
The 2011 campaign was the first one that he made more than 18 starts since his dominating CY Young season, in 2005, where he made 33 starts, had 21 wins, pitched 222.2 innings, had 157 strikeouts and had a 1.15 WHIP for the Angels. Cashman should reward him with a very small raise (over his $900,000 from 2011) but not give into overspending for a pitcher that will be 39 in May and could breakdown at any moment.
Since the 2005 season, Colon has had numerous injuries that caused him to miss time including inflammation in his right shoulder, a hamstring injury, injured ligaments in his throwing elbow and shoulder and in 2009 he suffered an undisclosed injury after his 12th start. His 265 pound frame surely does not help him prevent injury.
In all regards, Colon had a successful campaign in 2011, was an instrumental piece of the Yankees’ success, deserves to be a starter or long reliever in 2012, but because of the above reasons he is not a pitcher worth gambling on. However, if they can sign him for 1 million as a long reliever/fifth starter I would do that.
(I realize that the Yankees are not a small market team, and can afford to spend more than 1 million on a 38 year-old pitcher, but there is no point in doing so on Colon if they can find a younger, more reliable/durable one for 3 million.)