Doug Fister was traded at the deadline. He came to Detroit with reliever David Pauley for a package of four young players. He came with a miserable 3-12 record, but he also came with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a contract that had not yet reached arbitration. With the Tigers, Fister was a difference maker, going 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA.
Should he have been with the Yankees?
It’s easy to look back and say, yes. Fister is still just 27 years old, and although he’s not an overpowering pitcher, he doesn’t walk many guys and he’s been a reliable starter for two and a half seasons now.
It’s also easy to look back and remember what the Yankees were on July 31. They were a team with too many middle-of-the-rotation starters as it was. They needed a clear upgrade, and although Fister looks like that today, back in July he was a guy with a 4.40 ERA on the road and a 3.42 at spacious Safeco Field. He was a nice pitcher, but not one who was clearly better than Ivan Nova or Freddy Garcia or the freshly healthy Phil Hughes or the still-pitching-well Bartolo Colon.
Ubaldo Jimenez looked like a real upgrade, but he went to Cleveland and pitched to a 5.10 ERA in the last two months. His worst starts were against — who else? — the Detroit Tigers. Edwin Jackson was a nice addition for the Cardinals, but he fits the Fister profile as a not-a-sure-thing addition for the Yankees. Hunter Pence helped balance the Phillies lineup, but the Yankees had no pressing need in the outfield. Francisco Rodriguez helped the Brewers advance, but the Yankees bullpen was a strength, not a weakness.
It’s easy to look back at Fister as a missed opportunity, but it’s also easy to look back at the Yankees situation in late July and believe Cashman when he says, “I don’t see there was any missed opportunity I could have done differently.”
Associated Press photo