The multi-million-dollar rotation

As Penny signs, Dodgers and Rangers express interest in Pettitte
The unwanted Manny Ramirez

Now that the Yanks have invested millions of dollars in their pitching staff over the next few years, the biggest issues surrounding the rotation concern the health of their pitchers. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are coming off career high innings pitched. Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang and the two leading candidates for the final rotation spot — Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes — are coming off of injuries.

To that end, Dave Eiland, the Yanks’ pitching coach, has a plan. Pete Caldera offered some insight into the Yanks’ pitching approach as Spring Training nears:

Given the unprecedented career workload that Sabathia and Burnett faced in 2008, the Yankees intend to ease their prized new starters into form when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.

“We’re going to be careful with them and make sure they peak April 6, not March 20,” Eiland said, referring to opening day. “We’ve already got a plan in place.”

[snip]

Eiland has already spoken to Sabathia and Eiland about the gradual approach. “We’re not going to jump right in the fire of spring training,” Eiland said. “We’re not going to push them too early.”

But with Chien-Ming Wang, the idea is to get him in front of hitters as soon as possible.

In a rather telling quote, Eiland also noted the role Wang will play on the Yanks in 2009. “Wang’s as good a No. 3 as you’ll find as well,” he said to Caldera.

I’d be more inclined to see Wang as the Yanks’ number two. He has a better track record of success than Burnett and has certainly earned the designation for his work over the last few years. It is, however, mostly a matter of semantics.

In the end, the Yanks’ success will come down to pitching and health. As we’ve learned for too often over the last few years, a healthy pitching staff is something of a Holy Grail in baseball. But for now, the Yanks’ coaches are saying the right thing. Whether that can translate to on-field success is something we’ll find out in a few months.

A RAB hat tip to our own Mike Pop for sending in this article.

As Penny signs, Dodgers and Rangers express interest in Pettitte
The unwanted Manny Ramirez
  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    I’d start Wanger in the two spot, with AJ going third. In reality, rotation spot numbers are useless after two weeks, but it’s just a sign of respect and appreciation for what the guy has done in the past.

    • Manimal

      I sort of agree. Ill rephrase.

      Rotation spot numbers are only important in the playoffs.

      Who said AJ lasts until October.

      • Nickel

        Yeah, and even then there are other factors: injuries, who’s hot at the right time, and whether or not the team had to fight through a tight pennant race to get there. If the Yankees have to play a big final series in order to get themselves into the playoffs, Sabathia might not be available for that Game 1 of the ALDS.

        • Manimal

          Word.

          I hope with a 7 year contract the yanks dont put him on 3 day rest at the end of the year if we are in a similar position as the Brewers were this past season. It just messes everything up and could be dangerous.

    • Joey H

      Every time I see Wanger I read Wagner. Maybe its just me…

      • Dirt

        I do the same thing

      • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

        The human mind is able to decipher words no matter how badly they are misspelled. Someone can write an entire paragraph filled with misspelled words but you could easily, clearly read it like if there was nothing wrong. You probably see “Wagner” because that’s the more popular match in your mind.

        • Mike Pop

          Your a bigger Buzzkill than Buzz Killington

        • TheLastClown

          Awht? I notanc dear drows fi yeth rea bylad ismelpelds.

          Lajam G = arczy nam with arczy deias.

          • Hobs

            The fisrt and lsat lteters need to rmeian the smae I thnik.

  • Manimal

    In the end it’s Girardi’s decision. I’m not really a fan of Eiland anyways. He could be a great Bullpen coach but not a pitching coach, his success wasn’t really his. It was IPK’s, Joba’s and Hughes’ in the minors.

    Fun Fact: Dave Eiland is the only player to give up a home run on the first batter he faced AND hit a home run on the first plate appearance. Pretty cool.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Fun Fact: Dave Eiland is the only player to give up a home run on the first batter he faced AND hit a home run on the first plate appearance. Pretty cool.

      Now that is cool.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Just to play devil’s advocate, how do you know that about Eiland? He did a pretty decent job this past year with Mussina, no?

      • Manimal

        I just feel like he was responsible for Rasner’s collapse/deportation and IPK and Hughes unsuccessful year. Could just be me.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          Hughes was unsuccessful because he broke his rib and missed a whole bunch of time. Rasner collapses because he wasn’t that good to begin with and was pitching well above his head. There’s no reason for him to have been good in the first place.

          I’ll give you IPK. I don’t know if that was Eiland’s work or Girardi’s impatience, but that is a mark against him.

          • Mike Pop

            Ben or Mike, do you think the Rocket had a part in Hughes or Kennedy’s success towards the end of 07. I know it was a very small sample size, but do you think he played some kind of role ? Was it more Guidry and is Eiland part of the reason IPK struggled this year?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

              Who can say? I’d hardly give Guidry a rave review, but if you are going to lay Kennedy’s blame at Eiland’s feet, you have to give him some credit for Mussina too. Plus, Aceves had a decent end of the season too. You can’t credit that to Roger.

              • Joey H

                C’mon Ben you are over evaluating this whole situation. Not every pitchers success/failures can be attributed to their pitching coach. I think in the case of Mussina, it was all up to him, he was pitching for the end of his career and simply reinvented himself. I think Kennedy however was a problem that Eiland has to fix. He did oversee his growth in the minors where he apparently has been outstanding.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  So you’re content attributing failures to the pitching coach and success to a pitcher with a reputation for being overly stubborn for years on end? I think that’s a little simplistic, no offense.

                • Joey H

                  No but saying Eiland a guy who was pretty much brought in here to advance the ML development of Joba, Hughes and IPK turned Mike Mussina into a 20 game winner is insane

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  Insane? That’s some hyperbole you’re tossing around.

                • Joey H

                  Consider it what you will. His ERA drop by nearly two his WHIP drop of around .2 and his ERA+ gain of around 50 was clearly not due to Dave Eiland. And say it was, What irony is it that Mussina a 18 year veteran who was removed from the starting rotation a year prior and was told he had to battle for a spot in the rotation in spring training would out pitch two of our pitching prodigies under the watchful eye of their pitching coach.

            • Joey H

              Yeah after all didn’t Hughes have a sick September?

      • Joey H

        C’mon Mussina is a self made man. He himself studied batters swings on the mound and was extremely crafty with his pitch selection like dumping in first pitch curves to keep the hitters off balance.

        • Ryan S.

          Someone threatened to kill his family if he didn’t start throwing on the inside half of the plate. Mussina listened and everyone ended up happy, but he obviously decided to retire.

          • AndrewYF

            That was me.

  • Old Ranger

    Nice going Mike Pop…
    This is partly in reply a statement you made of your dad being mad about 1961.
    Your dad was no more disappointed then about 100m other Yankee fans, myself included…actually disappointed is sort of a mild way to put it. My reaction gravitated more to the ; tenuously close to suicide. Just kidding, it was a great race but, the shit Roger had to go through was bad news…everyone wanted Mickey to win it all that year. Good memories, good times. 27/09.

    • Manimal

      Hey, welcome to 2008. Have we met? =P

    • Mike Pop

      Old Ranger and me–Tight

      • Manimal

        So… why are you arguing over something 7 years ago

        • Mike Pop

          I dont understand anything your saying. 7 years ago ? Arguing? These 2 things have nothing to do with the convo we had earlier today

          • Manimal

            wow. Never mind. Ignore that I was here. =D

      • Old Ranger

        Right..Until the next time you rip me again! But that’s alright too, sometimes we (all of us) get so certain of our own opinions we need some holes poked in them.
        I hope your Dad comes up with some good stories of the great years of by gone days. Have him tell you of the day Mickey hit a HR in his tennis shoes. 27/09.

        • Mike Pop

          Ya I love reading/hearing bout the Mick but lets keep this post on topic, Ive already seen some deletions where “the boss” has shown his power. Trust me, you do not want to feel that wrath.

  • Mike Pop

    If I didnt get a hat tip I would of bad-mouthed this blog all the way back to mediocrity.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

      Get in line.

      • Mike Pop

        Lol

  • Ryan S.

    I’m pretty sure Wang is being referred to as a #3 because coming into ST, he’s on rehab assignment still. We ALL know Wang is the #2 in this rotation and if he’s the #3 when the season begins, its a formality. If Wang and Burnett both pitch as well as they’re both realistically expected to, Wang is the #2 by the start of the 2nd half of the season.

  • Mike Pop

    Our rotation should win around 70 or 80 games dont ya think ?

    • Joey H

      75ish is about right barring no injuries. Say CC gives us 20 wins, Wang 19, AJ 15, Joba 11 and whoever covers the last spot in the rotation can give us around 10 that will put us at 75

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        75 seems very optimistic. The Angels got 70 wins total out of Lackey, Santana, Saunders, Weaver and Garland last year, and they were the best team in baseball.

        The ’98 team got 79 wins out of Pettitte, Cone, Boomer, Irabu & El Duque, and that was the best team of the last 25-30 years.

        • Joey H

          Irabu!! Remember those good old days! lol. Damn am I glad they are long gone. But My belief is our starting 5 or at this point 4 are stronger than the Angels. Plus Everyone in their bullpen will be moving up a notch due to the departure of K-rod. So there will be a fair share of blown games.

        • Mike Pop

          I just hope Hughes wins 10 games or so. Im not too sure if I want him in the 5th spot just yet though. We have 3 guys that could suffer injuries with Joba, Phil, and AJ. CC could even get injured, you never know. KNOCK ON WOOD. It is risky but they could make a deal mid-season I guess if the rotation looked real bad. Or Pettitte could pull a CLemens

          • chriistopher

            i woul really like them sign smoltz. he may not be ready for the seasons end but having 2guys with 150IP limits, he wouls be a nice july addition. the sox have become famous for using pitchers during the season to totate certain guys for rest througghout the year.

            the guy is a big game pitcher and if they make the playoffs could become a shut down 7th, 8th inning guy.

            for as much as they have done for the staff, there are a lot of injury concerns (AJ, JOBA, Hughes) and others who have innings caps and will need starts to be skipped

            bottom line is they need insurance and smoltz is staring them right in the face

    • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

      nope 162

      • Mike Pop

        That is just insane man, that would never happen. Your crazy man your just crazy.

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o251/FX4RaNgEr02/YourCrazy.jpg

        • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

          yea cc is bound to lock up 162 himself 163 sounds reasonable right? damn wouldnt tht be great though undefeated. or winless is better like those damn lions. i am ashamed to be a lion fan

          • Mike Pop

            You really are a Lion fan ?

            • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

              heavens no, i would kill myself by now, im a jet fan (not much better as of today)

            • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

              heavens no i would have killed miself already, im a jet fan (although that aint much better right now)

              • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

                why the hell did i type tht 2 times?

                • Mike Pop

                  Its okay man, dont sweat the small stuff.

          • Old Ranger

            You and me both.

            • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

              no offense if u really are one

              • Old Ranger

                Yup, a fan for life! Damm it!

        • chriistopher

          why ia that crazy? addig a vteran pitcher who is better than pettite, has pitched better in th post-season and coming off an injury would be cheaper.

          this is the type of guy that you want on the yankees – think of what he coul teach the young guys?

          with the innings limits on hughes and joba and the posibility of injuries (AJ and Burnett), do you want IPK and Aceves pitching in big games in a pennant races?

          IPK has improved his trade value now and we may be able to get a good young hitting prospect.

  • Joey H

    Hey guys we should do a bullpen thread. Every day the topic comes up about aside from Marte and Mo who will be in the pen. Then we can see everyone’s whacky ideas.

    • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

      pitchers

      • chriistopher

        juan cruz coming off a dominant year

    • Joey H

      (sorry I’ll email it) Forgot this wasn’t the open thread.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

        I’ve got one coming tomorrow.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

          Err, later today.

        • Joey H

          K bud thanks.

      • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

        no forgiveness shall be given, you will be punished by death penalty. SEASON TICKETS TO THE REDSOX. tht was corny

        • Mike Pop

          Its okay man. Dont sweat the small stuff

    • Manimal

      Something tells me Marte will be traded next yea, I think he is one of those small town pitchers, he can’t handle NY. Pittsburg was fine for him. There is always a market for left handed relievers.

      8th inning man I think will start out as Marte until Melancon shows major league success and, as I said, Marte is traded.
      7th inning would be a tandem of Edwar, Bruney, and Veras.
      Obviously, Aceves is the long man, anywhere from the 1st to 6th inning is his.

      • Mike Pop

        Rather large assumption there. I do not agree with it one bit but I can see where you might be coming from.

      • whozat

        Yeah, Chicago is really an easygoing sports town.

        Marte pitched there from 2002-2005.

        It’s not like this information is hard to come by, folks.

  • Old Ranger

    We have the pitching staff to make it to the WS. Now, if they all stay healthy and pitch up to their projections, we should be in good shape.
    Whom ever they portray as #2 or #3 is no big deal, actually the top 4 (maybe #5 also) will be in a rhythm by the time the play-offs begin, IF Joba and Phil can keep up with the other three guys, I would venture to say we have a plethora of #2 and #3s. We know Joba has great stuff, by the time about 40/50 innings rolls around he should be the #1-#2, in quality outings. Phil can be very strong and tough to hit well, if so he could be a #2-#3, in quality also.
    As you can guess I am not in favor of getting another pitcher. Nor another hitter or OFer. 27/09.

    • chriistopher

      it is WS rotation, but it is a fragile one as wel. they need some backup. mentioned smoltz earlier, but you also have schilling possibly available or even pedro as a number 5.

      dont foget the traqde market – seattle and the giants are said to be intersted in matsui and /i think nady could bring back quite a nice return.

      and dont forget about dunn oon the offensive side if he goes into mid january unsigned

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

        “seattle and the giants are said to be intersted in matsui”

        They’re only said to be interested in Matsui by commenters on RAB.

        • Old Ranger

          True words, I’ve yet to find anything written about interest from other clubs…not that someone hasn’t expressed interest. We sure don’t know what Cash is doing until he does it.
          Why would we trade one of the better DHs in the AL, unless we were to get something very good for him? I understand this is his last contract year but, if one trades him…who bats DH better then he? Put Johnny in there and you make the team a weaker line-up but, stronger on defence with Swish, Brett, Nady. 27/09.

  • John

    we need another organization depth chart update

    but this time with sparklers and ponies, thank you very much

    • JeffG

      When is the top 35 prospect list going to be coming out? Really though RAB did a great job with that last year.

      • JeffG

        THOUGHT

  • Hobs

    Yesterday, the auto-shutoff on a gas pump stopped me at $27.09…

    • Old Ranger

      A very wise and discerning gas pump, don’t you think? 27/09.

    • JeffG

      That says something that you even picked up on that…
      I’ve been a little baseball insane lately as well. It’s like I have turrets disease. I’ll walk around with my girlfriend and for no reason spout out “Texiera” …couple of minutes later “CC.” Always with a big smile though so I guess its all good.

  • steve (different one)

    I’d be more inclined to see Wang as the Yanks’ number two.

    i am very surprised to read this type of thinking on this site and in the comments here.

    guys, during the regular season, “#2” and “#3” starter are just arbitrary titles. they don’t really mean anything at all after a few trips through the rotation.

    we can CALL Wang the “#2” or we can CALL Burnett the “#2”. what is the difference?

    you guys are confusing the terms “#2 starter”, i.e. the second best pitcher on the staff, and the POSITION of #2 starter, i.e. the guy who pitches on the second day of the season.

    the first term is meaningful, but you can’t really ASSIGN Wang or Burnett to that role. they will EARN it by being the one who pitches the best. the second term is just a silly title.

    i don’t see why it matter AT ALL if Wang follow Sabathia or Burnett follows Sabathia. at some point there will be a rainout or someone will get skipped with a minor injury, and everything will be mixed up anyway.

    strange argument.

  • Sam

    I like the prospect of wang pitching after AJ. Sabathia and Wang have a long history of going into games, giving the bullpen an easy night. Wang is less likely to blow up than AJ, so he’ll more often than not be safer bet to go longer into the game. With Joba, or Hughes, etc., pitchers not known for their length, coming after Wang, it will be good to know the bullpen is well rested.

  • Booch

    I like having Wang in the middle of those two guys. Throw the sinker baller in between the burners. Breaks it up a little. If you are looking at this soley as a respect thing, Wang deserves it. He is an elite pitcher and would have been last year if he didn’t have that freak accident. Not to mention he deserves some recognition for being home grown and the Yanks best pitcher for 3 years hands down