An early look at the 2009 AAA rotation

Who cares about Hank
NLCS Game 3: Phillies @ Dodgers

Triple-A Scranton is going to have more pitching options than rotation spots next year, and Chad Jennings took a stab at sorting this mess out. I agree with just about everything Chad says, except that I can see the Yanks bringing Alan Horne back slowly from shoulder surgery, meaning he won’t be in the rotation at the start of the season. Ian Kennedy, Al Aceves and Phil Coke are locks for a rotation spot if they don’t break camp with the Bombers, and George Kontos is certainly deserving of a spot as well. I’d love to see Humberto Sanchez take one more crack at starting, and I’m sure he’ll at least be considered for a spot.

One thing’s for sure: it’s nice not having a bunch of journeyman retreads filling up the Triple-A rotation. Thank goodness those days are over.

Who cares about Hank
NLCS Game 3: Phillies @ Dodgers
  • Ivan

    Hey Do you think that there’s any chance that Phil Hughes start the season in AAA?

    • Mike A.

      Certainly, but they’ll give him every possible chance to earn a spot in ST like last year, and like last year I expect he’ll start the season in the Yanks’ rotation.

      • Ivan

        Im gonna assume there gonna be one spot to win in the rotation so hopefully he wins it.

  • Eric

    “One thing’s for sure: it’s nice not having a bunch of journeyman retreads filling up the Triple-A rotation. Thank goodness those days are over.”

    I feel like we said that last season too.

    • Steve

      I seem to remember we signed Victor Zambrano and Eric Milton this year.

      Are we SURE there wont be any veteran retreads?

      • Jack

        Retread? Zambrano was once traded for Scott Kazmir. If that’s not a stud, I don’t know what is.

        • Steve

          Thats OK, Peterson will have him fixed in 5 minutes.

  • Ivan

    I also feel that it would serve the yanks better if Phil Coke make the team as a set up lefty. His stuff is alot more electric in the BP than starting and he’s not really that young.

    I mean having a lefty in the BP with a power FB and very good breaking ball and can get righties out, can be a huge for the yanks BP.

    • cult of basebaal

      i’d rather keep marte for a year and give coke a chance to prove he might be able to start. lefties with above-average stuff should be given every chance to fail at starting, before they’re reduced to relieving …

  • Hitman

    Aceves should start out of ST so most likely AAA rotation thru mid season is

    Phil Hughes
    Ian Kennedy
    Eric Hacker
    Kei Igawa
    George Kontos

    I suspect guys like McAllister and De La Rosa may very well see time in AAA after the halfway point. I suspect Hughes to get a call up by that time and Hacker to be demoted to the bullpen to make room.

    • whozat

      Do you think Aceves should make the team out of ST because, unlike Hughes/Kennedy/etc he’s basically done developing? That I could agree with. I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained by pitching Aceves in the minors much more.

    • whozat

      Also…Mcallister has less than a year in high A ball and is 20. What makes you think he’d be in AAA by the halfway point? De La Rosa has been pitching for what, two years? He barely knows where the ball is going. He’s not, not, not ready to face more advanced hitters yet. He’ll either walk the park or have to give in and throw meatballs.

      • Mike Pop

        Ya and Dellin will be there tooo …………

      • Hitman

        McAllister has dominated no matter where he’s pitched. By all accounts he should have been in AA already if the yankees hadn’t wasted a year attempting to teach him to throw the curveball. The evidence suggests he’ll pitch well enough to be promoted midseason. As for De La Rosa maybe you have him confused with Betances. He doesn’t have control problems. The fact that he’s been so proficient despite the lack of experience shows he’s a natural besides he’s already 24 and I want him in the majors as soon as possible.

    • Accent Shallow

      I don’t think that Aceves should be in the big league rotation over Hughes, although we’ll see how everyone looks in ST.

      I’m unconvinced that Aceves is much more than the Mexican Darrell Rasner.

      • whozat

        I tend to agree, though I think an argument rooted in the point that Hughes could benefit from working his cutter and change more against AAA hitters has some validity. And, also, believing that Aceves could provide league-average back-end production for a couple months while Hughes does that work is pretty reasonable. There’s an argument to be made there, at least.

      • TheLastClown

        Really? Rasner doesn’t consistently throw 91-93

        Rasner didn’t have consistent control of either fastball or breaking ball

        And most important IMO is the fact that Rasner would seem like the walls were falling down on him when he got into trouble, and Aceves has that, well, “gangsta” mentality it seems like. He’ll give up a longball & just come right back after the next guy. THAT is invaluable. Mexican Gangsta Grit! :)

        • Mike Pop

          If we could include him in a deal we should while his value is still up.. Im not talking huge deal im talkin any kind of deal to help the team.. Alfredo I like but I dont think hes gonna be be honest not many teams will probably have interest in him …

        • pete

          no, only short, untalented white guys (kinda like rasner) are gritty. Unless they are on the redsox, in which case they only have to be white and have chin pubes.

  • Mike @ NYYU

    Cashman told Mike Francesa that Wang and Chamberlain are in the rotation and the other 3 spots would be filled by trade or free agency.

    That means Hughes and Kennedy are in AAA or another uniform.

    • Ivan

      There’s gonna be one spot open.

      Wang, Chamberlain, FA pitcher, Pettitte/Moose are your top 4 there.

      Besides he also said that Hughes and the other young pitchers will fight for a spot in the rotation like the 5th spot.

  • Mike Pop

    What bout dealing some of these guys for Prince ? Kennedy Alfredo Rasner Wright Horne and Miranda for Prince and Bill Hall we will take on their bad contract or something free them up some money… ha in my dreams

    • Ivan

      Yea you are dreaming. Besides, Prince is the type of guy I think the yanks shouldn’t go after. Yea he’s young with explosive power but he’s a bad defensive fielder and the type of hitter who won’t age well.

      • Mike Pop

        O I know but he could be a great DH and play 1st base 30 40 games a yr for us no prob.. I would look into it i just wouldnt give up Hughes so that would mean no Prince for us

  • E-ROC

    There won’t be any journeymen to start out the year, but you know Sidney Ponson will be lurky mid-season, if the Mets haven’t signed him yet. I’m sure some pitcher who is rehabbing from surgery will be signed by the Yanks, and run through the system with the possibility of helping the Yanks in August and Sep.

    • Mike A.

      Oh yeah, I forgot all about Eric Milton.

      • E-ROC

        And Vicky Zambrano.

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  • Tripp

    So are we under the assumption that Darrel Rasner will be cut or traded this year? Along with Dan Giese?

    • Mike A.

      Rasner was cut last year, but they resigned him to a minor league deal. I imagine they’ll at least attempt to do the same thing this year, just depends on him, whether he’s willing to take the MiL deal or not.

      I can’t see how they don’t bring Giese back. He was absolutely awesome all year in whatever role they used him. Bring him back, stick him in the pen and let him be Joba’s caddy while the watch the big guy’s pitch counts.

      • J.R.

        Absolutely agree, Giese was great the entire year and he would be a solid innings eater next year.

    • Steve H

      Rasner yes, don’t see why we wouldn’t want to keep Giese around though.

  • JeffG

    You guys have to stop smoking the “Big Three” crack.
    Hughes to start in AAA for sure. He needs to get better in a non-pressurized environment.
    Plus I do not feel like having to dig ourselves out of a massive hole all season because we put guys in the rotation before they were good enough to win.
    I really feel that last year Kennedy and Hughes affected other parts of the club. When you have to watch week after week of two kids getting bombed and leaving after a couple of innings it doesn’t bode well for the old confidence.

    • Steve H

      Hughes can’t get any better in a non-pressurized environment, he’s never failed in the minors. he won’t improve on that. he still needs to earn his spot, and if he doesn’t, send him down. but look at his #’s in the minors, dominant.

      • JeffG

        Look at his numbers in the majors. He needs to work on his stuff. If his stuff is good enough for the minors – I don’t care. What I care about is that his stuff wasn’t good enough for the majors and we lost a lot of games because of it.
        If his cutter improves over a couple of months and from pitching some innings he gets stronger and goes up a couple of ticks with his fastball then great bring him back up.
        Hate to bring up the rivals but I think they did a good job with Lester. He was allowed to get better and then they brought him up when he was ready. What is the problem with that?

        • Mike A.

          Lester took his lumps in the bigs: 4.76 ERA & 1.65 WHIP in 2006, 4.57 & 1.46 in 2007 before taking off this year. The Sox were still winning those games because their offense was awesome.

          There’s only so much you can learn in the minors. Hughes has shown he’s too good for that level of play, and he needs to get roughed up in the bigs so he learns how to deal with it. He didn’t face a single bases loaded situation until he got to the big leagues, so he had no idea what the hell to do in that spot.

          It might not be pretty, but it’s for the best.

          • Steve

            Thank you. The same argument can be made for IPK, but since he barely cracks 90 MPH nobody wants to hear it.

            The mistake we made was relying on both of them, and that was too much too soon. You can live with a 4+ ERA from your 5th starter very nicely, and as each of these guys (hopefully) develops, you can slot in the next one. Or make trades where you have an excess at a certain position to fill a need.

          • Steve H

            99% of major league pitchers take their lumps when they are young. halladay, maddux, glavine, smoltz. let’s not be shocked by hughes’ struggles, and let’s not give up on him for those struggles

            • JeffG

              Halladay – good example – they send him down to the minors and re-worked the whole way he pitched. All the better for it. I love that guy. Lets take the same approach with Phil. Why can’t we just be a little patient with the dude?

              • JeffG


          • JeffG

            How does the quoted ERA for Lester compare to what Hughes put up this year? “He needs to get roughed up” please dude spare me. I don’t think getting nocked out of the third inning time after time is a great learning experience. If anything that probably effected both he and Kennedy in the negative.
            Sure every pitcher needs to be tested. Joba was tested when he was moved mid season toward the starting role. The thing is he could manage the lumps. This year Hughes and Kennedy were getting stomped on except when Giardi had enough sense to pull them out.
            I’d like to see Hughes up and be the man you all rave about but wouldn’t it be better if he could come up once he improves on his stuff, which can be practiced at the minor leage level. Once his velocity and movment on the cutter increases he can have a bad start and come back with a good one. If he does what he did this year and he comes back five days later with the same garbage and gets creamed what is the point in that?

            • Ivan

              So every pitcher has to start off with a bang then to be considered successful? Please.

              Alot of pitchers have to endure some adversity before reaching that level of consistency and possibly greatness. Lester didn’t get off to the greatest start of his career but he learned from his mistakes and understand what it took to be a big league pitcher. Hopefully with Hughes he reaches that point of his career.

              It takes time, and the best way for a pitcher to learn is to put him in a position where he learns how to cope with failure and understand what and what not to do.

              Young pitchers have struggled since the birth of baseball, it’s the norm not the exception.

              • JeffG

                I didn’t say every pitcher has to start off with a “bang” to be considered successful. Please youself.
                I hope he learns to be successful. But I also hope we don’t have to go through another season like the one we just did to make that happen.
                When he is good enough to get win bring and keep him up. I just hope the new stadium is not a training facility.
                Let’s do what is good for the team… would that be something we could consider?

            • Hitman

              Precisely. Let Hughes work on his stuff and he should be ready by midseason. Relying on him to be in the rotation with his track record as well as injury history would be a huge mistake.

            • Old Ranger

              Some may have forgotten, Phil was injured last year…stress fracture of the ribs. Some could say; what about the games before the injury? That’s easy; A Stress fracture is accumulative, over a period of time one changes their motion to compensate…big no, no!
              Having pitched, I understand changes are made without even knowing you are doing it. Once this starts happening, everything goes down hill. One gets lost, as you have heard hitters “getting lost” at the plate. I really like Phils’ stuff, he must improve his other pitches (change/cutter) a bit more. He must also get command/control up to the point he needs with his FB and curve, the rest will come along.
              I would love to see a starting rotation of; CMW, Joba, CC/FA, Pavano, and Phil, with the likes of Aceves, Coke, Giese waiting in the wings. Also, I agree to let Coke win a starting job, if able. 27/09.

        • Count Zero

          I’d say it’s a borderline call, but I tend to agree with Steve H.

          Hughes’ MLB ERA+=86. So he’s below average so far, but not more so than others we have kept up at the big club. (Darrell Rasner=87). What’s more, Hughes has a lower whip than Rasner, is averaging 6.83K/9 and has only given up 107H in 106.2IP. His problem is 44BB — indicating a lack of command with good stuff.

          The problem with working on that in AAA is that he has shown over and over again that AAA hitters will swing and miss at pitches of his that MLB hitters won’t. Thus, he gets away with something in AAA that he can’t get away with in the bigs and gains a false sense of confidence.

          He doesn’t need a cutter — he needs to establish command of his FB and his curve at the MLB level. He has to have confidence he can throw them for strikes on the corners, where he wants to throw them. Additional pitches will make him a front-end starter, but if he can’t command 1 and 2, they won’t mean diddly.

          I think there is some benefit to him getting more innings in AAA, but not a lot. Glad it’s not my call to make…

    • JD

      There was never a “Big Three”! Am I the only one to realize that Joba and Hughes actually have the potential and Kennedy was just overhyped? Too bad we didn’t trade Kennedy when he had some value. BTW, Hughes will be given every chance to win the 5th spot in the rotation.

      2009 MLB rotation will consist of:

      1. Wang
      2. Joba
      3. FA pitcher or trade
      4. FA pitcher or trade
      5. Hughes, Aceves(or he will be used as a spot starter to keep Joba and Hughes IP lower)

      2009 AAA rotation:

      1. Hughes(if he doesn’t make the MLB rotation)
      2. Coke
      3. Kennedy(because he is banished from MLB club)
      4. probably Milton
      5. Chase Wright

  • pete

    am I the only one who’s actually pretty excited about phil coke? lefties who throw mid-90s strikes with conviction and feature a plus breaking ball can be very successful, and if coke could develop a good cutter, he could deffinitely be our answer to lester.
    as for hughes, I think the plan should be to give him the year in AAA from the outset, and maybe call him up in june/july iff he’s totally dominating and somebody in the bigs is not performing up to scale or if injury truly demands it.

    • Old Ranger

      Let Phil and Coke earn a spot in ST. There is an old saying; “Don’t judge a player in ST or Sept.” I think it applies to Coke, and Aceves…don’t you? 27/09.

    • Chip

      Thank you! I’m in the mind that Coke could be a very very successful number 2 starter. Like you said, good fastball, good location, good breaking ball, lefthanded and with a good track record so far in the majors.

      • 27 this year

        I think you guys are over hyping Coke. Sure, he was great in the big leagues so far. However, you do realize, this is the first year where he could actually be called a prospect. This is the first year he was really any good. And all of a sudden, he is a number 2 starter? You do realize that is about as good as Wang, Joba, Phil right? I love him but i think a #3 is the best he could be. Maybe a little like Pettite but he could become an innings eater with a 4.00 ERA, better than league average but even ending up as a good reliever is better than what anyone expected.

      • Old Ranger

        There is an old saying; “Don’t judge a player in ST or Sept.” I think it applies to Coke, and Aceves…don’t you? (I posted that above).

        Most of us thought both Coke and Aceves were good in sept. Coke impressed me with his stuff and command/control, the big question is; can he do it all year in the big show and ST? Yanks hope this is not another Small (pitcher a few years ago) type aberration…I hope so too. It would be great to have a young Andy on the staff. 27/09.

  • Ivan

    No NLCS game thread tonight?

    • Mike A.

      Just posted it. Damn yo, you’re impatient.