Jennings on Yanks rotation depth


We know that the Yanks projected starting five in 2009 will be CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. Unless the Yankees have a Rays-esque run with luck, these aren’t the only five guys who will toe the rubber to start games this year. Chad Jennings lists the guys who are next in line for a call-up, and breaks down where they are now and what it will take to see some time in the Bronx.

This brings up an occasion to discuss the AAA and AA rotations. The question was raised in yesterday’s chat, and I couldn’t think quick enough on my toes to give a comprehensive answer. So, given what we know right now, on January 29, 2009, here’s how I see it:

Phil Hughes Eric Hacker
Ian Kennedy George Kontos
Alfredo Aceves Chris Garcia
Kei Igawa Zach McAllister
Alan Horne Ryan Pope

Of course, plenty could change. As Jennings notes, Horne could start in Tampa or extended spring training because of his injury. The Yanks might want to start McAllister and Pope in Tampa as well. They might assign Phil Coke to AAA as a starter. Jason Jones might find a return ticket to New York in his Twins locker. Chase Wright might clear waivers. This list can and will certainly change as we learn more about the above-mentioned pitchers.

Categories : Minors


  1. A.D. says:

    If there any way Horne is healthy & ready to start the season in AAA?

  2. MrJigginz says:

    Chad Jennings,IMO,does an excellent job of following the AAA club.Actually,he does a damn good job of following the Yankees,as a whole.Kudos to him.

    • 27 this year says:

      he does a pretty good job but he posts really infrequently. That is really my only problem.

    • Ryan S. says:

      He does a great job of following all the minor league affiliates and I trust his opinion as much as anyone else when it comes to SWB, but he himself has admitted he’s never been to an actual Yankees major league game, so I take what he has to say about the big league team with a grain of salt.

  3. A.D. says:

    Expand that out to A+ with:

    De La Rosa
    Jairo Heredia

    • steve (different one) says:


      • pat says:

        Let’s blow it out another level too. I like this game.
        My guess for A- rotation.
        bam bam banuelos
        arodys vizcaino
        dj mitchell
        nik turley
        brett marshall

        Turley and marshall might see some time in extended ST but I think they’ll be in charleston a majority of the year. I think the other three guys are pretty close to locks. Manny and arodys were both impressive in short season last yr and mitchell was a DES so he should be good to go for the long season.

    • MrJigginz says:

      Following the Yankees farm system this year should be a jolly good time…

  4. kane says:

    Question: Why did we get Kei Igawa in the first place? And how good is he doing at AAA? If possible we should give him to another country like we did to Rasner, he isn’t worth 4 mil.

    • Answer: We didn’t know he was this crappy when we were in the process of getting him; He’s doing fine in AAA, which makes sense, since he did fine in the NPB and the NBP is a good comp for AAA; We can’t “give” players to other countries, they have to be willing to go play for the NBP of their own free will; It doesn’t matter if he’s “worth” 4M, that’s what we’re contractually obliged to pay him.

      Did I miss anything?

      • jsbrendog says:

        yeah he is doing damn well at aaa since he was aaa pitcher of the year last year was he not?

        • A.D. says:

          “damn well” is strong. If you look at his AAA line its nice, but its not mind blowing

          • jsbrendog says:

            isnt that a confidence breaker for “real” prospects? that some castaway washout japanese player who nobody even wants for free is better than them in aaa? if hes the “pitcher of the year” and youre a highly touted prospect arent you sitting there going, what the fuck dude? how am i gonna make the show?

            • whozat says:

              Well, he’s not blocking any highly touted prospects. He’s blocking some kinda marginal guys, a bit.

              Also…who said no one wants him for free? No one wants him for 4MM per, maybe.

              • jsbrendog says:

                not saying in the yankee organization. in any organization at aaa, with kei igawa winning best pitcher of the year or whatever you, as a prospct have to be sitting there going, wtf, how will i ever make the bigs if this guy is pitcher of the year and he sucks ass

                • Ed says:

                  Igawa is already basically as good as he’s going to get. Prospects aren’t. Most of them know where they need to improve, and a lot of them are still growing or adding muscle. They know they’re going to get better than they are.

      • whozat says:

        We can’t “give” players to other countries, they have to be willing to go play for the NBP of their own free will; It doesn’t matter if he’s “worth” 4M, that’s what we’re contractually obliged to pay him.

        This post links to an article of Stark’s that I remember reading, but isn’t there anymore:


        Stark claimed that Igawa asked over the 2007-2008 offseason if there was any way he could go back to Japan, and the Yanks “explored their options” but didn’t get anywhere. Presumably, they could just cut him and he could do whatever he wants, but they weren’t (aren’t?) willing to do that. So, Igawa wanted to go at some point.

        • 27 this year says:

          Igawa wanted teh Yanks to cut him and pay the 20 mil and then send him to Japan to earn another paycheck that same year. Greedy bastard.

    • A.D. says:

      Why did we get Kei Igawa in the first place?

      The Sox had just gotten dice-K, and the Yankees saw the option of getting a lefty from the Japan that a few years earlier won their version of the Cy Young, and in theory would put up decent numbers. Basically they were hoping to Hiroki Kuroda type production, and that not what they got.

      Selling him back to Japan would probably make all parties happier.

      • toad says:

        Selling him back to Japan would probably make all parties happier.

        Except the buyer.

      • whozat says:

        The Sox had just gotten dice-K, and the Yankees saw the option of getting a lefty from the Japan that a few years earlier won their version of the Cy Young, and in theory would put up decent numbers. Basically they were hoping to Hiroki Kuroda type production, and that not what they got.

        Fixed that for you. I can’t imagine that the Sox’s acquisition played significantly into their thinking. In fact, Cashman SPECIFICALLY pointed out at the time that they did not see Igawa as a front-of-the-rotation guy. He was a back-end guy, and a bit of a project. Basically, they thought he’d be the Japanese version of Ted Lilly, but younger…a guy who’d be a decent MLB starter, but they’d have him on a much more team-friendly contract. They were very, very wrong, it turns out. The guy’s got OK stuff, he just throws it in the wrong places and won’t stop doing so.

    • jim says:

      “Why did we get Kei Igawa in the first place?”

      So he could come in out of the bullpen that one game with Boston when Torre’s job was on the line.


      If the Yankees had lost that game Torre was going to be fired.

      It was almost surreal at the time , “Kei Igawa saves Torre’s job”

  5. dan says:

    Chad mentions that Kontos should be in AAA but will probably be held back because of the depth already there. I was wondering this…. why can’t Igawa go to AA to clear space in the rotation? Does he NEED to be pitching in AAA? He’s creating even more negative value if he’s blocking prospects from pitching at higher levels.

  6. They might assign Phil Coke to AAA as a starter…

    Is Hungry Hungry Humberto going to start, or relieve? Sorry if that question was answered and I missed it.

    • whozat says:

      No one really knows. There hasn’t been anything official.

      Chad Jennings has speculated about the AAA rosters a bunch of times this winter; just page through his blog archives to see what he’s got to say. He’s got his finger on the pulse of that part of the organization better than anyone.

    • Troy says:

      I hope so…give him one more chance at starting before closing the book on that option. The pen is stacked as is right now…so they don’t need to convert Humberto right now.

  7. Troy says:

    Let’s not forget about Ivan Nova, either. If he is returned by the Padres (I believe he will…he’s simply not MLB-ready yet), he’ll probably be in the AA rotation next year.

    Hopefully my boy Chris Garcia can finally stay healthy :)

    • George says:

      Amen on Garcia. If he stays health and focussed on his craft the future for that kid and the Yankees will be interesting

  8. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    I saw this question on another site and it makes sense. Why isn’t Melancon starting? He has 4 plus pitches (2 seam and 4 seam), he throws strikes and he attacks hitters.

    • Mike Pop says:

      Umm, the 8th inning is more important.

    • Troy says:

      Relievers > Starters

      That seems to be the general consensus regarding the people who want Joba in the pen.

    • 27 this year says:

      i think it has more to do with what he has done over the past and the surgery.

    • Ed says:

      Stamina most likely. Some guys just don’t have it in them to throw 100 pitches in one game.

    • pete says:

      can we please stop with the “four plus pitches” stuff? please? Maybe 4 major-league caliber pitches, but not 4 plus pitches. Mussina in his absolute prime had 3 borderline plus pitches. No yankee prospect right now, Joba included, has four legit “plus” pitches. And to my understanding, Melancon was moved to the bullpen in college because he specifically didn’t have the stuff as a starter to go through a lineup multiple times, but as a reliever, his FB gains a few ticks, his breaking balls become a little sharper, and his already good control becomes much more effective. But lets be realistic here people. In all likelihood, Melancon will be an effective middle-reliever/solid setup man this year, and a dominant middle reliever/effective setup man/solid closer in the future. Which is fine, considering the plethora of solid or better (and versatile) arms in our bullpen now and for the future, because with a strong, deep rotation, and a strong, deep bullpen, the necessity for one year-in and year-out dominant reliever at the back end is hugely reduced. With the ‘pen the yankees have now and moving forward, there will always be at least one or two guys who are really hot and can play the “fire-stopper” role. The less urgent need of closer can be a competition between the three people who I think are most cut-out to take that role in the future: Melancon, Sanchez, and Coke. I wouldn’t mind, of course, giving sanchez and coke (especially coke) another shot at starting, but a bullpen with the three of those guys plus the likes of marte, ramirez, veras, bruney, and aceves, is mouth watering, while a rotation depending on them is not so enticing.

  9. KO says:

    Being lights out in AAA is a necessary condition for making it into the big leagues, but not a sufficient condition as the Yankees’ AAA pitchers have shown thus far. Its a big jump from AAA to the majors and, so far, Aceves is the only one who’s been able to do it – in too small a sample, of course. For this group, mediocre fastballs that get you out of trouble in AAA, get you in trouble against the big boys. I don’t have much confidence in any of these guys stepping up this year and filling in adequately, altho’ Aceves looks like he has the best shot right now. We’re all rooting for Hughes and Kennedy to step up their game, they’re still young.

  10. Manimal says:

    People always say you can’t have enough pitching but I seriously think the yankees do. We could get something valuable back for one of the bajillion 5th starter candidates.

  11. Yankee1010 says:

    The most recent post on FanGraphs – http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs...../#comments – also looks at the Yanks’ depth. It still lists Wright as an option, but the gist is still the same.

  12. andrew says:

    ahhh, if only phil hughes had finished his no hitter and bucholz had pulled his hammy… what a different world we’d live in…

  13. josh says:

    i feel like when they rated our system it was really based on last year. if you take into account hughes and kennedy in the minors instead of where they started last year i think this years farm system has improved. add in betances improvements from the end of last year and mccallister’s, jackson’s and montero’s grown age and experience i think the only negatives compared to last years system are cole and tabata(he looked like a minus for us last year anyway). i think this year we should have one of the top ten minor league systems – probably something like 7th or 8th best – when it is all said and done. i think the 15th ranking will probably be a ways off from how this organization performs this season. think of how the major league club improved without sacrificing the minors – well done cashman!!

    • Troy says:

      Not signing Cole really hurt last year’s draft. They brought in a solid haul overall, but bringing in Cole would’ve made their draft last year that much better.

      • I agree, but remember that we’re only speaking about the rankings, not the Yankees system. It remains to be seen whether not signing Cole negatively impacted the overall Yankees farm system, because not signing Cole only effectively means that our pick is moved back a year. Whomever we draft with pick 28A this year becomes what Cole would have been, and that player may turn out to be better, worse, or the same.

        • Troy says:

          True, true. But it’s also important to remember…a talent of Cole’s caliber usually does not fall that far in the draft. Perhaps a high-ceiling, signability issue pitcher is avaliable in that spot next year, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • I don’t think most minor league rating systems allow a prospect to “un-graduate”, meaning even if we acquire tons of vets and push Phil and Ian back down to AAA, they’re still considered big leaguers and not prospects since they already graduated once.

      • Troy says:

        yes. While you could make the argument that right now, the farm is stronger this year than it was last year with Hughes and Kennedy down in AAA, in the eyes of scouts and BA (among others), they’re no longer prospects. They’ve passed the 50 inning threshold.

  14. josh says:

    i realize it is a big “if”- but if things turn out like i think they will one year of no playoffs will be well worth what the immediate future brings

    • My Geass Makes You My Slave says:

      It made Cashman open his eyes on our starting pitching. I always said we needed Santana but no he went to the Mets. Now he didn’t stop and think about CC and AJ.

      I think our rotation is going to be set for a long time especially of Hughes and IPK rebounds

      • whozat says:

        It made Cashman open his eyes on our starting pitching.

        Mmm…revisionist history. When they signed CC, the big man himself said that one thing that really impressed him was Cash coming to him and telling him that they’d passed on Santana partially because CC was already on their radar. They could hold on to Hughes et al AND get a lefty ace for nothing but a bit more cash. They’re not paying CC that much more than they’d have had to have paid Santana. The contracts are the same length.

        So…actually, Cash’s eyes were plenty “open”; he just had a long-term plan that was aware that it made no sense to blow his load on Santana, because it would have screwed the development road map without putting the 2008 team over the top.

  15. josh says:

    not to mention brackman this year too

  16. KO says:

    So the story is that Cashman was willing to sacrifice 2008 on the chance that Sabathia would be around at season’s end and would opt for New York – interesting.

    • Sweet Dick Willie says:

      Yep. He planned – actually orchestrated – the injuries to Posada, Matsui, Wang, Joba, Hughes and A-Rod so he could implement his vision.

      So either you are saying that if Cash had dealt for Santana, those injuries wouldn’t have happened, or you’re saying that Santana by himself would have made up the 6 games that we missed the play-offs by.

      What part of your brain can’t grasp the fact that the 2008 Yankees wouldn’t have made the play-offs even if they had Santana, and that the 2009 Yankees are a MUCH better team with CC AND the prospects they would have had to trade for Johan, than they would be w/ Johan minus the prospects.

  17. Mother says:

    hey mikey d (LSU)
    gett off the computer and studdy!!!
    love you

  18. [...] Five + Five = Success for the Yankees  /  Jennings on Yanks rotation depth [...]

  19. ortforshort says:

    What part of the brain can’t get past excuses and rationalization?

  20. Mike Pop says:

    Those are funny.

  21. Yankee1010 says:

    Sick! Imma spread this

  22. Yankee1010 says:

    I didn’t post that comment. That link needs to be taken down. I clicked on it and now it’s posting under my name.

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