Save the Big Three! We still say it today, though not with as much fervor as we did last winter. Clearly, one is safe. Another is relatively safe. The last is the subject of many chat queue trade proposals and character slams. Still, even Ian Kennedy could prove to be a valuable asset to the Yankees following a year in which he not only pitched horribly at the major league level, but alienated some fans with his over-confidence following a shelling. Kat O’Brien catches up with the young hurlers, but most importantly she catches up with Brian Cashman and Dave Eiland to shed some light on two controversial Yankees.
First up is Cashman, who says exactly what he needs to say:
“In terms of what they can be, they haven’t dropped in our opinion,” Cashman said.
Fine wording by Cashman. He implicitly acknowledges their poor 2008 campaigns while still noting that it doesn’t categorize them as busts. They’re still young and have time to prove their worth to the team, even if their worth amounts to currency in a trade.
As for the pitchers themselves, you might have heard that Hughes showed up to camp a bit heavier. The line, for now, is that he added 10 pounds of muscle. That brings him well above his weight for last season, which O’Brien notes was “his lowest weight since the middle of high school.” We’ll see if that extra off-season work can help him stay healthy throughout 2009. He could easily get a dozen starts in the Bronx if he does.
Kennedy seems his regular confident self after a winter of dominating the Puerto Rican winter league. He went down there to work on his curveball and his command, and in doing so managed a 1.56 ERA in 34.2 innings. He’ll face stiffer competition this season, but that can be good for him as he continues his development. “I feel better now than I ever have as a pitcher,” said Kennedy. “I just feel more complete than I ever did before.”
Neither pitcher is likely to open the season in the rotation. Yet, as Eiland tells it, they’re both ready for whatever the Yanks throw at them. “In their minds, they need to feel like they’re competing for a spot,” said Eiland. “We still have very high expectations for those two. We still look at them as we always have, that they’re going to play a major role in this organization – if not today, not too far off.”