Cashman: ‘Assume’ another AAA start for Wang

Wang dominant in AAA rehab start
Fan Confidence Poll: May 17th, 2009

While the Yankees were busy walking off with a win against the Twins in the Bronx yesterday, their number two starter was two hours west in Scranton throwing a seven-inning complete game shutout. But as great as Wang looked, GM Brian Cashman said “everyone should assume” he’ll make another start in Triple-A.

However, the Yanks’ GM noted that Wang is not far off from returning to the big league club. The same holds true for Brian Bruney who could return this week against the Orioles. While it would be nice to have a healthy CMW in the rotation performing up to his capabilities, the most important thing is making sure he’s completely right and stretched out. Cash did mention that Wang’s velocity was down a touch, and you’d like to see him consistently in that 92-94 range before throwing him back to the AL East wolves.

Cash also provided updates on Bruney, Ian Kennedy and others, courtesy of Chad Jennings.

Ben’s Take: With Wang still working to build up arm strength at AAA, Phil Hughes will get to make his fifth start of the season for the Yanks on Wednesday against the Orioles. I know that many fans would rather see Al Aceves throw a start than sit through another Hughes outing, but I firmly believe Hughes needs this work.

Right now, he’s 22 and pitching serviceably in the Major Leagues. He’s still among the youngest starters in the game and has already shown that he can dominate AAA competition. At this point, he needs to work through his struggles and gain confidence to throw strikes at the big league level. The Yanks, competing in a four-way AL East race, can’t always afford to break in their youngsters via the trial by fire route. Not everyone, however, will be as dominant as early as Joba has been, and Phil needs the work. It’s for the good of the team’s future.

Wang dominant in AAA rehab start
Fan Confidence Poll: May 17th, 2009
  • Will (the other one)

    Glad to know everything seems to have gone routinely for IPK. Whatever happens with him from a pitching standpoint from here on out, here’s hoping he never has to go through another scare like this.

  • andrew

    The sooner the better. If the Nationals series weren’t a month away, I’d say we should start Wang there as his return to the bigs as sort of a AAAA rehab start. Not to say they aren’t a major league quality team, guys like Dukes, Dunn, Willingham, and Guzman certainly are, but it’s not exactly an AL east type matchup. That being said, I’m fairly confident Wang will be ready to go after one or two more rehab starts, so no point in waiting until the Nationals series.

    I know there was a big debate on an earlier post about this, but I think Hughes should then go back down to AAA. He’ll get another 75-90 innings or so down in AAA, and I’m sure he will be needed to make a few starts here or there if anyone ever hits the DL again. He’ll probably split his time fairly evenly between AAA and the Yanks this year skewed more towards the AAA end (assuming he gets another two starts or so before Wang comes back and then makes another 3 start cameo at some point). And then as a few people said, once he hits that 140-160 range, I’d advocate him becoming a stopper out of the pen for 2 months +playoffs. Giving him another 20 innings or so. He could possibly be that “fireman” that we want, with Bruney and Mo cleaning up in the 8th and 9th.

    • leokitty

      Or the Yankees could just keep letting Hughes start in AAA/MLB and use some of the actual relief prospects they have with very high ceilings try to help out the bullpen.

      I don’t think they have much to gain from shoving Hughes into the bullpen for a few months at the end of the year. What about him makes you think he’d come out and be great out of the bullpen? The command problems he’s been showing on the MLB level (mental or not) would be disastrous in a relief role.

      Hughes can clearly get batters out as a starter, and at some point the Yankees just have to keep throwing him out there until he gets his legs. If it doesn’t happen this year, it’ll have to happen next as I believe he will be out of options.

      • andrew

        Well, the time frame i was talking about means the AAA season is over, so it doesn’t really take away from his starter development because it’s either he pitches in the MLB bullpen or doesn’t pitch at all. And there aren’t really any “high ceiling” relief prospects besides Melancon. The Yankees can gain plenty from Hughes in the bullpen, as he will likely be more effective than Tomko, Edwar, or Albaladejo. We saw how dominant Joba was when he was moved to the bullpen to help reach his innings cap. I doubt Phil will be as good as Joba was, but there’s definitely reason to believe he’s an improvement over some of our current guys. His command issues will be minimized when he only has to focus on getting 3 guys out at a time without using his 3rd or 4th pitches.

        I’m all for Phil being a starter, this was merely once the AAA season ends, the Yankees are closing in on the postseason, and Hughes is still 20-30 innings short of his cap. I don’t see much risk in the move. The only negative that came out of Joba’s development in the pen was that we now have to deal with BJobbers 24/7.

        • leokitty

          But Hughes’ cap for the year is the 140-160 you first mentioned. I don’t see the concern that he won’t hit it unless he gets injured again (which hopefully will not happen).

  • al

    im not too concerned with bruney when the “mexican gangster” has been such a stud.. i would rather see him in the set up role than anyone..

    • jsbrendog

      brian bruney, the guy who struck out like 13 guys in a row before he went on the dl…you’d rather have al aceves than him? dude, come on

      • Bo

        Aceves has been good but he hasn’t passed Bruney yet. Next thing you know you will want him to start closing games because of 3 good innings.

  • barry

    Wang actually pitched in Moosic not Scranton.

    But who really cares, I’m just messin around.

  • Thomas A. Anderson

    Newsflash to everyone that is disappointed in Phil: this is what other teams go through that have young starting pitchers.

    Pitchers that dominate right away like Tim Lincecum and Fransisco Lirano ca. 2005 are rare.

    If you want young pitching, this is the process that it takes to help them become good.

    It’s just not that easy.

    • leokitty

      This is absolutely, 100% spot on.

    • Zack

      Lincecum had a 4.00 era in his first 150 innings, they should have moved him to the bullpen

    • Yankeegirl49

      Well put. People expect the young guys to come up and be Dwight Gooden, when that is the exception rather than the rule.

  • mustang

    ” It’s for the good of the team’s future.”

    I understand the point that you’re trying to make, but I have been hearing this song going on two years now. The plan was never to have Hughes up this early anyway Wang’s struggles force the issue. Lets put in the pitcher that can best get a win. As you pointed out Hughes is young let him work on his craft in AAA this year come up only if needed and next year he has the 5th spot all to himself. I don’t understand what is the obsession with having this kid up in the majors his time will come soon enough.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      Two years ago, he was the number one youngest pitcher in the game. If you can’t have more patience than two years for a right-hander who should just now be one year out of college, then you can’t expect the team to develop from within. Part of building a team is taking their lumps. Look at Mariano Rivera’s 1995 season or Andy Pettitte’s early years. It’s not called a process for nothing.

      • mustang

        I understand that, but he is going though the process and AAA is part of it. When Joba hits his pitch limit Hughes will get some MLB work in or is some gets hurt. Next year he has the 5th spot all to himself to take his lumps. They just finishing spending almost a half a billion dollars on three ball players this past off-season and are trying to fill a new ballpark. The future is now.

        • mustang

          … work in or if someone gets hurt….

        • leokitty

          Hughes is very clearly not going to spend the rest of the year in MLB so why rush him back down? What does the team have to gain from shoving Aceves into the rotation until Wang gets back?

          My only concern about Hughes vs Baltimore again is that they are a very tough lineup and can easily knock anyone around, and he is lined up against their only really good pitcher (Guthrie). There’s just not much you can do about that.

          Additionally, I think people are a little bedazzled by Aceves right now. He is probably an average starter but just as prone to explode as Hughes against a team like the Orioles.

          • mustang

            You just answer your own question.

            • leokitty

              So the team gains nothing from it, Hughes gains nothing from it, and they should do it anyway?

              • mustang

                “My only concern about Hughes vs Baltimore again is that they are a very tough lineup and can easily knock anyone around, and he is lined up against their only really good pitcher (Guthrie)”

                If hughes is your best option then by all means pitch him. But don’t it because “It’s for the good of the team’s future.” They did that in 2008 and then went out and got Andy, CC and AJ so they don’t have to do it again.

              • NHYankee62

                Hughes will be fine over the long run. People need to remember that just a few years ago he was rated ahead of Joba.

                The best approach is to pitch him up here on an as neeed basis. I would say that Hughes has a better shot of pitching well against the O’s than Aceves.

                When Wang comes back, you send Hughes down; which is what they would’ve done even if he was pitching great. If anyone gets hurt, you call him back up.

                Eventually he’ll completely adjust to the big leagues. I think he has a very good chance to become the dominant ace everyone expected him to be.

                Just imagine a future rotation led by 3 aces in CC, Joba, and Hughes… then fill in Wang as a very good #2!

                • mustang

                  TOTALLY AGREE

      • mustang

        To me the lack of patience comes from people wanting to see him in MLB no matter what it means to the team or the kid.

        • Infamous

          I dont see what more the kid has to prove at AAA. He has the pitches to pitch up here, especially after developing that cutter. He just needs to learn how to pitch up here and adjust, and the only way he does this is by pitching in the MLB.

          • mustang

            Well, maybe the yankees shouldn’t have sign Andy because if wang comes back there are no more spots.
            But they did sign Andy for a reason.

          • mustang

            “I dont see what more the kid has to prove at AAA.”

            I don’t think the yankees see that way no disrespect.

            • Johnson

              I think he has to prove that he can stay healthy is one thing. I think he needs to get his innings in, so you send him down to AAA when Wanger is ready. Then, once he’s near his innings limit, I’d be open to the idea of him being put in the bullpen.

      • mustang

        And BTW they are developing their young pitching that’s what they are doing with Joba in the 5th spot.

      • mustang

        “Andy Pettitte’s early years. It’s not called a process for nothing.

        Andy Pettitte
        1995 12-9 /4.17 era
        1996 21-8 / 3.87 era
        1997 18-7 / 2.88 era

        If Hughes wants to put up those numbers he can take is lumps right now.

        • thisisthedavid

          Hughes struck out double the people in minors and also gave up less hits and walked less ppl than Andy Pettitte.

          Yeah so we should take those lumps cause those highs are gonna be better

          • mustang

            I never said they weren’t, but they haven’t yet.

  • Jamal G.

    Mike, that “everyone should assume” quote was in regards to CMW’s first start a week ago:

    Last time Chien-Ming Wang pitched for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, general manager Brian Cashman more or less told us that Wang would make at least one more minor league appearance. He wouldn’t come right out and say it, but he said “everybody should assume” another Triple-A start.

    This time, Cashman was a little more vague, but he seemed to be leaning more toward New York.

    • mustang

      Good point.

  • ledavidisrael

    He only threw 75 pitches. Another start is fine just to play it safe.

    • Drew

      He threw 100. 25 more in the pen. The game was only seven innings long.

  • Joebrah

    what happens to hughes when wang comes back?

    is it possible they can/would move him to the pen?

    isn’t his opposing batting average significantly lower the first time through a lineup?

    • whozat

      Wait…seriously? This was debated not only in this very thread, but also in the LAST thread on this site.

  • Mike

    HUGHES IS NOT GOING TO THE PEN. the problem here is not if but when he goes down to AAA. The other problem is with the differential of 2 days in the pitching schedule hughes might make not 1 but 2 more starts before Wang could be slotted back in unless they plan on pitching him thursday on 3 days and then coming back the following monday on 3 days again to fit in the “slot”. The biggest reason for that problem is because you cant move Joba up and pitch him on 3 days and he is after hughes. My guess is Hughes gets 2 more starts depending on the Baltimore outing and Wang gets slotted back in end of the month after the off day.

  • DSFC

    The Yankees already know that Hughes can get AAA batters out. He’s not going to improve pitching to inferior hitters. While Wang is out, this is his best opportunity to learn and develop. HE’S GOING TO STRUGGLE SOMETIMES. Accept this, because it’s simply the way it is. I know people don’t want to hear it anymore, but he’s STILL one of the youngest pitchers in MLB. And yeah, Andy Pettite was good from his rookie year onward (although he was older than Hughes is right now at that point). There aren’t too many kids that can do it.

    What about Chris Carpenter? Highly touted prospect who can up and struggled quite a bit for several seasons before developing into a very good pitcher. Jose Rijo got brought up way too early because Steinbrenner wanted his own Doc Gooden, got hammered, got traded and injured and bombed for a few more seasons. He was worse than Hughes at about the same age, with more MLB experience….but he sure turned it around and became one of the NL’s best for years.

    • jsbrendog

      edinson volauez stats:

      2005 at 21 yrs old: 0-4 14.21 ERA in 12.2 innings (3 starts) ERA+ 33

      2006 at 22: 1-6 7.29 era in 33.1 innings (8 starts)
      ERA+ 63

      2007 at 23: 2-1 4.50 era in 34 innings (6 starts)
      ERA+ 100

      2008 at 24: 17-6 3.21 era in 196 innings (32 starts)

      and believe me, this kid is the real deal. eveyrone calm down, have patience. phil will start when they need him, because yuor best prospect is your best option when someone goes down.

      for comparison:

      Phil Hughes

      2007 at 21: 5-3 4.46 ERA in 72.7 innings (13 starts)
      ERA+ 100

      2008 at 22: 0-4 6.62 ERA in 34 innings (8 starts)
      ERA+ 67

      so, at age 22 the two years are looking pretty close

      volquez: 2006 at 22: 1-6 7.29 era in 33.1 innings (8 starts)
      ERA+ 63

      hughes: 2008 at 22: 0-4 6.62 ERA in 34 innings (8 starts)
      ERA+ 67

      • andrew

        Wait a second… are you trying to tell me that Hughes may improve beyond the age of 22?! Crazy.

  • deadrody

    The fact of the matter is that neither Columbus or the team Wang previously beat are all that good. Maybe if he could get a start against Pawtucket or Durham. His last start was against a team that is like 10 games under .500.

    I’m sure he will be fine, but starts against mediocre to bad AAA teams are only partly informative.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      AAA starts by CMW actually aren’t at all informative unless he isn’t getting outs. These players aren’t, for the most part, hitters at all. The Yanks are far more concerned with Wang’s velocity, mechanics and pitch movement than with the quality of opponent he’s facing. That isn’t the point of rehab.

      • Some Call Me…Nick.

        between the two Iraq wars, pilots and air defenders called southern Iraq the world’s largest live fire range…we used real ammo, but nobody was worried about getting hurt.

        AAA for Wang is the same–its just like physical therapy or practice, but instead of having a bat boy or a cardboard cutout, you actually have guys who look different, and swing the bat. Any hits are purely coincidental…

  • steve (different one)

    i think we are overlooking one equally as important factor: i think the yankees need Aceves in the bullpen right now. if that means Hughes gets one more start, so be it.

    frankly, i don’t think the yankees can shut Aceves down for the 3-4 games he’ll need to be ready to make a spot start, and then have him unavailable for the following 3-4 games.

    it’s one start. give it to Hughes, and keep Aceves available in the bullpen for those 6-7 games. he may be their most reliable non-Mo reliever right now…

    and no, this is not a Joba/bullpen argument. Aceves’ ceiling no where close to Joba’s.

  • JohnC

    Aceves could turn out to be quite a nice weapon out of the pen. He has been very impressive so far.

  • Bo

    Hughes needs starts and a full season at AAA cannot hurt him. He has been so good at the lower levels hes never learned how to pitch out of trouble. Which is something that he clearly needs to work on. Putting him in the bullpen now in NY, while improving the pen, will be a terrible waste.

    • thisisthedavid


  • YankeeScribe

    Alfredo Aceves = Ramiro Mendoza

    • Benjamin Kabak

      And you know what? That would make him very, very valuable to the Yanks right now.

      • YankeeScribe

        Yep. That’s my point. Mendoza was an extremely reliable long-reliver…

        • jsbrendog

          that is one of my prized possessions. when i went to spring training i got a yanks ball signe dby mo, soriano and mendoza…and some guy whos sig i cant read and couldntve bee that important.

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