Cashman hints at another rehab start for Wang

Everybody hurts
Alan Horne's latest ailment

On the Brian Cashman Ambiguity Meter, this one rates just a 3. It’s pretty clear that Chien-Ming Wang will make at least one more rehab start in Scranton based on this quote (courtesy of the inimitable Chad Jennings):

“I think everybody should assume that we’ll keep going down here unless we decide otherwise,” Cashman said. “So if you want to look for an assumption, that’s the way to go.”

The way the Yanks are going right now, they could sure use a healthy Chien-Ming Wang as a stabilizing force in the rotation. The keyword is healthy, though, and it appears the Yanks are not convinced of that after Wang’s first start in Scranton.

The erstwhile Yanks ace pitched well by all accounts and statistics. As we learned in Down on the Farm, he tossed six innings, 82 pitches, of three-hit ball, striking out six and walking three, while providing a Wangian 7-4 GB/FB ratio. This is the kind of contest I wish I could have watched in condensed format. I wonder how many of those fly ball outs were dinky shots that Wang has induced since coming up with the Yanks in 2005. It’s the skill which separates him from most groundball pitchers: not only do guys beat the ball into the ground, but they generally make poor contact even when they get some lift on it.

Here’s Cashman on the outing:

“He got his work in and I don’t think he was challenged all that much,” Cashman said. “I think he feels real good about the direction he’s heading, and I was glad to be able to say that I do too… He’s definitely heading in the right direction. He’s much better. He had great mound presence, showed some great tempo. Threw strikes. I thought his slider was terrific. He did a great job. I was concerned when he got hit by that line drive on the meat of the calf. I know he took a pretty good shot there, but I was able to talk to our staff in-game. I came out of the stands and we just watched him inning-by-inning after that. As long as his mechanics were good and it wasn’t going to affect him we were going to keep going with him. He got his work in, which was great. Today was a good day.”

Yes, Wang did get drilled in the calf by a liner, but no one thought it a big deal afterward. That includes pitching coach Scott Aldred, who was also impressed by Wang’s slider. As the league has seen more and more of Chien-Ming, his slider has become an important part of his arsenal. Just imagine the damage he could do if he could pull the string once in a while. Mid-90s 4-seamer, low 90s sinker, slider, changeup? Nasty.

The Yanks will likely keep Wang on normal rest, therefore pitching him again on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Yankees do not have much room to maneuver right now. Their next off-day comes on May 28, so the starters will be going in turn until then. That creates an issue, because Wang and Phil Hughes, the man he’d likely replace, are two days apart. If Wang starts on Sunday he won’t be available again until Friday the 22nd. Hughes has starts lining up on the 15th, the 20th, and the 25th. So how would the Yanks work this?

It’s not easy to say, but they could go like this, if they were so inclined (and this is just a for-fun thing):

13th Tor: Pettitte
14th Tor: Sabathia
15th MIN: Hughes
16th MIN: Joba
17th MIN: Burnett (Wang’s AAA start)
18th MIN: Pettitte
19th BAL: Sabathia
20th BAL: Hughes
21st BAL: Joba
22nd PHI: Wang
23rd PHI: Burnett
24th PHI: Pettitte
25th Tex: Sabathia
26th Tex: Joba
27th Tex: Wang
28th Off day
29th Cle: Burnett
30th Cle: Pettitte
31st Cle: Sabathia
1st Cle: Wang

It’s not ideal, in that Burnett will be going on five days’ rest two starts in a row. Perhaps flipping Wang and Burnett on the 22nd and 23rd would alleviate that issue. Feel free to tinker. Any way they shake it out, this should allow the Yanks to put some more space between Joba’s starts, keeping his innings under more control the rest of the way.

So it looks like we’ll see good ol’ CMW against Philadelphia on Memorial Day weekend. Sounds like a plan to me. Hopefully the rotation can stabilize itself a bit by then, and Wang can become the last piece of the pitching puzzle. By that point the team should have a healthy Bruney and Marte, solidifying the bullpen. If Tex and A-Rod are hitting at that point…well, we could be forgetting about the team’s early-season woes.

Everybody hurts
Alan Horne's latest ailment
  • A.D.

    Any particular reason Wang didn’t pitch the 7th and thus only threw 82 pitches?

    • Cor Shep

      building up strength

  • jsbrendog

    If Tex and A-Rod are hitting at that point…well, we could be forgetting about the team’s early-season woes.

    how long before we are officially allowed to worry about tex hitting under 200? like, i know hes a slow starter but this is the middle now and im fucking worried kind of worry

    • Matt-Pitt

      What worries me with Tex is the type of contact he is making and the type of hits he is getting when he does get hits. Everything has been either a strikeout, pop up, or slow roller to the right side of the infield. Nothing lately, including outs, look like it has been hit with any authority. I see no more line drives, no usual shot to the warning track. I see a pressing hitter, who is trying way to hard to do too much and dropping the back elbow. However, I am very pleased to see us facing a lefty today because his right handed swing has looked 100x better than his left handed swing. I’m hoping tonight can turn him around, on a confidence level, because they really do need that man to start hitting. He needs to start having an oppo approach. I don’t think I’ve seen him drive a ball with any authority all season (except his first homerun in Baltimore to left center and double off Sherill to right center) to the opposite field.

      • JP

        I’m as pessimistic as anyone, but for some reason Texiera doesnt’ really bother me. As bad as he’s been, he’s hit homeruns, and is drawing walks. It’s a slump, and he’ll come out of it, and he’s done a pretty good job of remaining ‘useful’ in the depths of the slump. We don’t know how much the wrist is bothering him. If he’s pulling a Jeter and soldiering on when he should be resting and healing, then I think the team should consider benching him. Things can’t really get much worse, can they?

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

      Eh, it’s Mark frickin’ Teixeira, he deserves every bit of the benefit of the doubt.

    • Chris

      Certainly no need to worry yet. Tex is always a slow starter, and always finishes off well:

      Tex’s line this year through 5/11: .198/.338/.434/.772
      Tex’s line last year through 5/14: .254/.350/.423/.772
      Tex’s 2007 line through 5/4: .257/.362/.404/.766
      Tex’s 2006 line through 5/12: .264/.355/.431/.786

      If he’s still struggling in June, then maybe you can get worried.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        http://riveraveblues.com/2009/05/halladay-dominates-weak-yanks-lineup-jays-beat-yanks-11643/#comment-380757

        Mark Teixeira year by year splits:

        2003 April-May 15th – .236/.337/.371 (.707)
        2003 May 15th-season end – .264/.330/.502 (.832)

        2004 April-May 15th – .213/.352/.440 (.792)
        2004 May 15th-season end – .291/.373/.579 (.951)

        2005 April-May 15th – .259/.320/.456 (.775)
        2005 May 15th-season end – 315/.398/.613 (1.011)

        2006 April-May 15th – .270/.359/.432 (.791)
        2006 May 15th-season end – .285/.375/.540 (.915)

        2007 April-May 15th – .279/.361/.469 (.831)
        2007 May 15th-season end – .317/.416/.602 (1.018)

        2008 April-May 15th – .247/.341/.411 (.752)
        2008 May 15th-season end – .329/.432/.600 (1.033)

        2009 April-May 15th – .191/.328/.418 (.747)
        2009 May 15th-season end – ???

  • JP

    I promise this comment is not an emotional, pessimistic reaction to the current state of the team, but am I the only person who thinks Wang’s best days are over?

    Anyone else believe in the “too few strikeouts” theory, which predict he will just gradually become less and less effective over time?

    I just don’t see this guy as anything more than a back end starter, an average guy at best, who declines, or, if lucky, plateaus at mediocrity for a few seasons.

    I am not a baseball person and don’t know squat, but if I had to make a decision on Wang, as soon as he had a couple of decent MLB outings and his stock looked high, I’d get rid of him the first chance I had. I’d take my chances with prospects.

    Maybe that’s stupid….tell me what you think

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

      He was dominant to start the 2008 season. Sorry, but low K rates or not, a starting pitcher as successful as Chien-Ming Wang has been just doesn’t fall into a black hole of suck like he did this season sans unusual and unforeseen circumstances (i.e. health related).

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

      No way. He’s way too young and had a devastating injury. Only way his best days are over is if he can’t find a way back to his original delivery.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Derek Lowe is a good sinkerball pitcher. Granted he still gets K’s he is still effective. Wang isn’t going to suck based on 3 really bad appearances when apparently he isn’t 100 percent. And we’re ALREADY trying prospects. We have Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves up here in the bigs. The only other pitching “ready” would be IPK who just got injured.
      You’re not giving Wang much credit.

      • JP

        I meant taking my chances on trading Wang for additional prospects. Position players or pitchers.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Oh sorry. But right now we need Wang. When our pitchers like Brackman, IPK, or even Betances get hot then we are in a position when we can safely let Wang go.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’m also willing to trade Wang for prospects once his stock goes back up.

          But that’s more closely tied to my expectations that Joba and Hughes will join CC and AJ asa dynamite 1-2-3-4 and we can fill the 5th spot with somebody from the IPK/Z-Mac/Brackman/Betances group. And, it all depends on what return we’d really get for Wang.

          My guess is, though, he pitches out the duration of his arb years and we let him walk and take two draft picks and call it a day. With his low K rates and perception that he’s not a real “ace”, I wonder if we really could get a better package than two top-50 draft choices. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, though.

          • jsbrendog

            in a trade deadline deal theres always a team out there willing to overpay for a mediocre starter. you know like the yanke….wait….

            if wang re-established himself then the yanks will be ab;e to get a great return in eason next yr

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              I hope so.

              I’ve got my fingers crossed that he comes back like gangbusters and Torre falls back in love with him and we flip him to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp.

              /pipedream

    • E-ROC

      I’m encouraged by his improving K rate. I still think he can be a Derek Lowe or at least somewhat close to it.

      • JP

        Lowe’s career totals (he’s 36, and in decline mode):

        ERA + 121
        WHIP 1.270
        K/9 5.9

        Wang’s, and he’s under 30, and in his best years, theoretically:

        ERA + 109
        WHIP 1.327
        K/9 4

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

      Too early to say that.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Allow me to translate Cashman’s quote.

    “I think we’re going to keep doing things like how we’re doing them until we stop doing them that way. So, until I say something, I’m going to continue not saying something.”

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    “Yes, Wang did get drilled in the calf by a liner, but no one thought it a big deal afterward. That includes pitching coach Scott Aldred…”

    It still feels weird to hear “pitching coach Scott Aldred”. All I can think of is this:

    http://www.checkoutmycards.com/CardImages/Cards/069/254/08F.jpg

    Next you’re going to tell me that Hensley Meulens was the batting coach of the Netherlands WBC team. Pshaw!

  • neil

    I think a roster shakeup is in order:

    SP C.C.
    SP Burnett
    SP Pettite
    SP Joba
    SP Hughes (Wang eventually)

    CP Rivera
    SU Coke
    SU Robertson
    MRP Rameriz (On a VERY short leash)
    MRP Abaladejo
    LRP Aceves (If the game’s still clase)
    LRP Tomko (For Blowouts)

    Veras needs to be released.

    Bruney and Marte can eventually replace Tomko and Albaladejo. Melancoln can eventuaally replace Rameriz.

    Same Starting 9: SS Jeter, LF Damon, 1B Tex, 3B A-Rod, 2B Cano, RF Swisher, DH Matsui, -C Pena, CF Melky

    Brayan Pena should be aquired ffrom KC for a spare part or two.

    Bench:
    -C Cash
    SS Pena
    1B Miranda
    CF Gardner

    Mirana is a better option than Berroa.
    Gardner is better than Linden or Rodriguez.
    Cervilla should be in AA, he needs to devolop.

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

      Gardner is better than Linden or Rodriguez.

      Brett Gardner might be the worst player in MLB right now.

      • neil

        Look at Gardner’s # in AAA last year. Now compare them to Linden’s or Rodriguez’s. There’s no guarentee that either one of them can be a productive bench player.

      • Chris

        Alexi Ramirez and his .200/.241/.260 line says hi.

        Or Felix Pie. And too bad Alexi Casilla (.433 OPS) was sent down, or he would have a lock on that one.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Allow me to make a retort on Ben’s behalf.

          If you had Brett Gardner, Felix Pie, Alexi Ramirez and Alexi Casilla as your four man bench, Gardner would still be your last option of the four to pinch hit, be a defensive substitute, or get the occasional spot start.

          As bad as those other 3 guys have been, most teams would still take them over Gardner right now.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Brayan Peña, career: .231/.254/.328
      Meh, I’ll take my chances with Cervelli and Cash.

      Cervilla should be in AA, he needs to devolop.

      No, Cervelli is not a long term solution, so I don’t know what “developing” in AA is really going to help him. I’d rather use him in the bigs now as needed cannon fodder, which is basically what he is anyway.

  • JP

    Ok, more thinking out of the box (or, idiot baseball fan ranting, take your pick…):

    When Wang is ready:

    Return him to the team, make him a relief pitcher.

    Stick with Hughes and let him develop, build arm strength, etc.

    Wang in the bullpen can throw a bit harder, which will help him, and as a ground ball guy can be very helpful in men on base situations.

    Gotta be better than the current bullpen situation.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      No starter should be in the bullpen. It’s really a waste of a good pitcher and making him do mop up duty. When our starters go through 6 or 7 innings our bullpen isn’t really all that bad lately. Hughes should go to AAA for innings. Next year let Pettite work and make Hughes be pitcher number 5.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      No. Wang and Hughes are both starters, and should remain starters.

      If Wang is effective, Hughes goes back down and waits patiently. Don’t worry, the bullpen will get better without needing to convert a starter; it’s already showing green shoots and Bruney and Marte aren’t even back yet.

    • Brooklyn Ed

      You just don’t know baseball.

      • JP

        Oh. Do you know baseball? What do you think will happen with Wang?

    • E-ROC

      Making Wang a reliever would diminish his trade value, one route in which advocated in an earlier post. Hughes can continue to develop in AAA and get his innings, and be up next year when Dandy Andy moves on. Or he could return if the Yanks do decide to trade Wang, which I doubt.

      • Axl

        Wouldn’t we want to see some consistency before we brand Hughes as an everyday starter in our rotation for next year?? The guy is made of glass…he’ll have one brilliant outing a year…and then get thromped around 4-5 starts and come down with an injury aferwards.

    • A.D.

      Hughes can build arm strength in AAA, if every start was the same as Detroit, maybe the Yankees think hard on this one, but he’s thrown up 2 stinkers.

      Plus its about returning Wang’s value if they’re going to keep him, its as the damn good innings eating starter he’s been, if they’re not, they’re going to trade him with the value placed on a damn good innings eating starter that can win 19 games. Either way that means Wang is starting.

  • Evan

    I think the thing that is more important than the Starters are the teams they are facing. In the next 3 weeks, they play 2 teams above .500 and those teams are Texas and the Phillies. I hope we can win at least 13 games in that stretch. Let us go 13-7, that is something certainly do-able.

  • Ace

    How can Joba possibly make 30 starts and maintain his innings limit? Shouldn’t he be skipped a few times?

  • KDK

    If CMW pitches in Philly, I hope that Girardi tells him, “when you bat, swing at the first three pitches (even if they hit you) and get back to the dugout, there is no way you are running the bases”

    • Brooklyn Ed

      the Phillies are coming in.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The Philly game is a home game at YS3. There will be a DH.

  • Axl

    Do we even care anymore? Throw literally anybody out there and we’ll get the same result…

    Either a absolute beating…or we’ll hit a bunch of solo home runs and maybe win the game by the skin of our teeth…

    At this point Hughes is about as bad as Wang is…well bad enough to get an automatic loss…the amount of runs in the loss is irrelevant.

    • jsbrendog

      oaktag.

      deep breath’s man. you were doing so well. woo sah

      • Axl

        Yes, I know…but I’m incredibly frustrated with this team. I know we all are…but I’m not looking for excuses…I’m looking for reasons…and you just can’t really seem to find them…which makes it even more frustrating!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside
  • JP

    The reason I say you keep starting Hughes is that I’ve had enough of waiting around for these guys to “develop.” Why can’t he develop at the MLB level? Hasn’t Hughes proven he can win in the minors? What is the point of continuing to use him there, while some other mediocre hack gives up 10 runs for the Yankees? I say, keep putting him out there. Tough love. Let him figure out how to PITCH and forget the stupid Dave Eiland mechanic-sturbations and figure out how to string some innings and outings together. Send him down for what? So we can have additional “options” with superstars like Brett Tomko?

    Somebody said I don’t know baseball. Maybe I don’t. But how long can you sit there and keep doing the same things over and over and expect to get different results. Three years we’ve done this major league/minor league do-si-do with pitching prospects. Enough is enough. Let’s find out, now, what they’re made of. Let them earn their way in. Let Hughes share with Joba. If they are the babies, and they have to limit their innings, then let them share starts…Joba goes 4-5 innings and 90 pitches, and then Hughes finishes the game.

    Something…anything.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      He can work his pitches on AAA too. The level of batters is not relevant. His control could use some work like with his curveball. Right now he should get as much innings as possible wherever it may be. Keeping him in the MLB hardly pitching would hurt his development when Wang comes back. He needs to be in AAA.

      • JP

        Oy veh this is the kind of stuff I can’t stand hearing. Look, I know what you say is the party line in MLB, and maybe it’s the right thing to do.

        But see, I’m like Axl. I’m fed up. Why is it that OTHER teams can send these 23 year old pitchers up against the Yankees, with 6.30 ERAs, and the Yankees get 2 runs on solo homers in 6 innings and lose the game? Phil Hughes was rated the best minor league baseball player, or highest touted prospect, or something, a few years ago. He’s not only proven he can win on the minor league level, he’s proven what he’s capable of on the MLB level, too. He can pitch, and win, and dominate, in the majors.

        At some point, you have to snap the log and commit to the guy. How many games have their been this season where the starting pitcher is gone by the 4th or 5th inning? How many times has Hughes or Chamberlain reached their allotment of pitches after only 4 or 5 innings? Is there really any doubt that he’d be able to get his 90-100 pitches in every 5-6 days on the Yankees?

        But, to quote Belushi, but nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! We have to slavishly adhere to the “5 starters, 7-8 relievers” formula. Even though 7 of the 8 relievers are journeyman pitchers who are league replacement level or worse. We MUST keep those guys in their baseball-man approved roles, and keep our best pitching prospect in the Bus Leagues.

        What is wrong with keeping Hughes on the roster? When someone gets shelled, which happens about every 3rd game or so, he comes in and gets his pitches and innings, and maybe keeps us in the game. When Burnett’s groin gets tweaked, or CC gets a toe blister, or Andy’s back acts up, Phil steps in and starts. When Joba gives up three homers in the first two innings, instead of just one or two in the first inning, we can bring in Phil to finish the start.

        People used to think Tony LaRussa was crazy, now everybody uses pitchers his way, maybe even over doing it.

        There is no logical reason why Phil Hughes can’t stay on the roster, even with Wang there.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          At some point, you have to snap the log and commit to the guy.

          We’re going to do that. Next year, when Andy Pettitte doesn’t come back.

          What is wrong with keeping Hughes on the roster? When someone gets shelled, which happens about every 3rd game or so, he comes in and gets his pitches and innings, and maybe keeps us in the game. When Burnett’s groin gets tweaked, or CC gets a toe blister, or Andy’s back acts up, Phil steps in and starts. When Joba gives up three homers in the first two innings, instead of just one or two in the first inning, we can bring in Phil to finish the start.

          There’s nothing wrong with this plan. It’s just less likely to get him as many innings as sending him down and letting him have a regular turn in the rotation does. It’s also more likely to increase injury, since he’d be off a rotational rhythm and be warming up and pitching more frequently.

          You have a point. The cost-benefit analysis just says sending him back down is the smarter option.

          There is no logical reason why Phil Hughes can’t stay on the roster, even with Wang there.

          There is. Sending Hughes back down is probably the best thing for his long term development.

    • A.D.

      What is the point of continuing to use him there, while some other mediocre hack gives up 10 runs for the Yankees?

      When has this happened?

      When Wang is healthy the Yankees can roll out 5 starters who give them a better chance to win now than Hughes does. Why have Hughes pitch out of the pen, not build up innings, and thus hurt his ability to start going forward so that he can be in the major leagues sooner when he doesn’t need to be.

      If you put Hughes in the pen, you stunt his growth as a starter. If you keep Hughes in the rotation when everyone is healthy, you hurt the ability for the Yankees to win this year. Thus he goes to AAA, builds innings, and continues to start.

      • JP

        Go back and read what I wrote. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Hughes could get the same number of pitches/innings with the Yankees now as he could in AAA. The Yankees haven’t strung together 3 straight pitching starts of 6+ innings all season, have they? Have they had 2 consecutive 6+ inning starts?

        You keep Hughes in the ‘pen as a special reliever. He’s sort of a “second” starter. He pitches every 5-6 days, when there is the need for an extended relief appearance. You do it when another pitcher is done by the 4th inning, which if you’ve been watching, happens very frequently.

        I’m not suggesting making him a “mop up” pitcher. I’m saying, if there is a chance for a start, from injury or whatever, you start him. If not, you put him in when you think he can get the innings he needs.

        • Joe R

          But you’re assuming that all the pitchers who are capable of throwing 7-9innings per start are going to get no better for the rest of the season. Once they turn the corner, as CC seemed to and the rest follow, Hughes will be getting little to no time as a “second starter”. It’s better to keep him on a normal schedule in AAA and work on his pitches. He’ll be here next year. No reason to push the issue.

          • JP

            But you’re assuming that all the pitchers who are capable of throwing 7-9innings per start are going to get no better for the rest of the season.

            In recent years, the sighting of Yankee pitchers going 7-9 innings is vanishingly rare. Sabathia, maybe. Burnett and Pettitte have long histories of missing time and innings due to injury. Some analysis on Sabathia before the Yankees got him was that most pitchers used at his level during their 20s will have a breakdown at some point and miss a significant number of innings.

            I’d say my assumption is more likely than assuming we’re going to have even 3 solid, inning-eating starters for any protracted length of the season this year.

            I think “a/k/a Ridiculous Upside” is correct in summarizing the Yankees’ rationale on Hughes – that it’s better for him to build arm strength and get 180 innings in AAA this season (planning for next year), than to put him under “stress” in an irregular role with the MLB team this year.

            Maybe so. But I know that ain’t what I want to see. We don’t know what’s around the corner for this team. What if Pettitte has a second half like last season? I guess because he’s Andy, we just keep sending him out there?

            Baseball is paint by numbers today, I guess. Everyone has a role, there’s a plan for everything, and you play the percentages and stick to the plan.

            I’m not suggesting we do something stupid and burn out Hughes, but I just think there are times when you need to forget the numbers and the forumlas and throw someone into the fire and make them prove themselves.

            You don’t always know what someone can do until you ask them to. I’m just concerned that if we keep up this cookbook minor league innings forumula crap, the guy will never be anything more than a minor league ace. In any event, I’m tired of waiting around.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              I think “a/k/a Ridiculous Upside” is correct in summarizing the Yankees’ rationale on Hughes – that it’s better for him to build arm strength and get 180 innings in AAA this season (planning for next year), than to put him under “stress” in an irregular role with the MLB team this year.
              Maybe so. But I know that ain’t what I want to see. We don’t know what’s around the corner for this team.

              I agree, it’s a little frustrating to see a good pitcher be “wasted” in AAA just because you have a numbers crunch. But we always have to pick a well-reasoned balance of short-term and long-term planning and adherence to dispassionate decision-making over rash, sudden moves or emotional “gut” reactions that cloud our judgement and make us end up choosing immediate fixes that undermine our overarching strategy.

              I mentioned the concept of “sunk cost” the other day, and someone linked to the Wiki article on sunk cost. I’d like to excerpt part of that for this discussion, specifically the difference between traditional microeconomic theory and behavioral economics.

              In traditional microeconomic theory, only variable costs are relevant to a decision. Traditional economics proposes that an economic actor does not let sunk costs influence one’s decisions, because doing so would not be rationally assessing a decision exclusively on its own merits. The decision-maker may make rational decisions according to their own incentives; these incentives may dictate different decisions than would be dictated by efficiency or profitability, and this is considered an incentive problem and distinct from a sunk cost problem.

              Behavioral economics proposes the opposite: that sunk costs greatly affect actors’ decisions, because humans are inherently loss aversive and thus normally act irrationally when making economic decisions. While sunk costs should not affect the rational decision maker’s best choice, the sinking of a cost can. Until you commit your resources, the sunk cost becomes known as an avoidable fixed cost, and should be included in any decision making processes.[1] If the cost is large enough, it could potentially alter your next best choice, or opportunity cost.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_cost

              • JP

                So you’re saying the current team’s woes, the problems with the pitching that have already occured this season, are the so called “sunk costs,” and that to change the utilization of Hughes in reaction to that is a mistake. Is that fair?

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                  More or less.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          You keep Hughes in the ‘pen as a special reliever. He’s sort of a “second” starter. He pitches every 5-6 days, when there is the need for an extended relief appearance. You do it when another pitcher is done by the 4th inning, which if you’ve been watching, happens very frequently.
          I’m not suggesting making him a “mop up” pitcher. I’m saying, if there is a chance for a start, from injury or whatever, you start him. If not, you put him in when you think he can get the innings he needs.

          If you can show me a pitcher who’s been used in this fashion and thrown 180 innings in a season, I’ll buy it.

          The closest thing I can remember was Ramiro Mendoza, who was in our pen and pitched multiple innings in relief of the starters with utterly irregular rest and then went from the bullpen straight into a spot-starting role and then right back to the pen. But Mendoza had a rubber arm and I think was a singular talent; nothing in Phil Hughes has shown me he can do what Mendoza did.

          And Ramiro Mendoza’s career high in IP was 133 innings. I just don’t see how we make Hughes a hybrid longman/spot-starter/situational reliever and make it to our innings goal of 180. We want to hand a 2010 starting rotation spot to Hughes and let him throw 200 innings next year. I like your idea in the abstract but I think if we used your idea, Hughes wouldn’t make it to 180 innings and we’d be hamstrung again next year.

          If we have Wang healthy, we don’t need Hughes here because we have 5 good starters. So, if we don’t have a need for Hughes, we’re best served “wasting” his talents in AAA to accomplish the bigger goal of getting him to 180 innings so that when we do need Hughes next year, we can have him uncapped.

        • A.D.

          This doesn’t necessarily happen this frequently, especially when Hughes isn’t in the rotation. Plus if he’s mopping up when a guy goes 4 innings, that means he’s only getting 5 innings per 5-6 days which isn’t what you want, you want him going 6+

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The reason I say you keep starting Hughes is that I’ve had enough of waiting around for these guys to “develop.” Why can’t he develop at the MLB level?

      He can. There’s just not room for him to do so this year, if Wang comes back and is effective. It’s one of those “good problems to have”. He’ll be back next year.

      Hasn’t Hughes proven he can win in the minors? What is the point of continuing to use him there, while some other mediocre hack gives up 10 runs for the Yankees?

      He has proven he can win in the minors. That’s not the point here. The point here is that if Wang is pitching well, Hughes is our 6th best starter, so he’s the one who gets bumped from the rotation. Hughes goals this year were fourfold, in order: 1) Stay healthy. 2) Build up your total innings limit. 3) Be available to spotstart in the majors. 4) Build your repertoire and continue making success

      There’s no “point” in continuing to use him in the minors, it’s just a numbers crunch and he’s the youngest and the one with available minor league options and hence, gets the short end of the stick. But believe me, if Wang comes back up and starts giving up 10 runs again, he’ll go back down and Hughes will come back up.

      I say, keep putting him out there. Tough love. Let him figure out how to PITCH and forget the stupid Dave Eiland mechanic-sturbations and figure out how to string some innings and outings together. Send him down for what?

      Send him down for one reason and one reason only:

      Because we have 6 men for 5 slots.

      (3… 2… 1…)

    • rbizzler

      While JP may be overstating things just a bit, the basic premise of his post has some merit. There is only so much refinement Hughes can achieve in AAA at this point. If you have concerns about his stuff or mechanics, then send him back to SWB when Wang is queued up and ready to go. If you think that he is ready to compete on a major league level, you find, or create, a role for him.

      RAB favorite KLaw has consistently stated, and recently restated, that he thinks that starters should be introduced to the big leagues as long relievers. That way you can keep their inning totals reasonable and let them learn how to get big leaguers out.

      I think this theory has some merit, but I understand the inherent dangers of taking an arm like Hughes off a regular schedule and giving him irregular work. The kid is going to take his lumps some time, why not now?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        RAB favorite KLaw has consistently stated, and recently restated, that he thinks that starters should be introduced to the big leagues as long relievers. That way you can keep their inning totals reasonable and let them learn how to get big leaguers out.

        KLaw is probably right.

        However, he would have been speaking about the way Joba first came up in 2007. He advocates for bringing young starters in as relievers to give them a taste and control their innings, and then moving them to the rotation. Permanently.

        In the case of Hughes, we’d be talking about 2007 when Hughes first came up, not now, 2009, when he’s already been “broken into” the bigs. Hughes already has his taste, now he needs to build up his innings.

        As a starter.

        • rbizzler

          Nope, i am pretty sure KLaw had a Hughes-type situation in mind when talking about this (no way to know without asking him – Axisa?!). One way to control innings and let a pitcher learn how to get MLB hitter is out is to use him as a swingman. Long relief, spot starts, skip Joba, etc. are ways to find innings for him.

          The problem with Hughes is not his control, it is gaining confidence against MLB hitters. He nibbles because he is scared to get hit around if he gets too much of the plate. More time at AAA is not going to do anything to solve this. He is more likely to learn how to pitch effectively in the strikezone against hitters with major league ability.

          • rbizzler

            Oh, and I agree with the notion that Hughes should be a starter permanently. I just view this plan as a way of getting Hughes to ‘trust his stuff’ against the highest level of competition.

            It also elimintaes the logjam in the roataion when Wang makes it back.

          • Joe R

            I dont see why he’d be scared at all. It’s not his first time around. He knows what to expect from the hitters. He pitched well against an offensive heavy Detroit team. He had poor control in his next starts and needs to stay consistant with his command otherwise he wont be any good.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Like I said above, if you can show me pitchers who have been used out of the pen with occasional spot-starts and made it to 180 innings, I’m down.

            If not, Hughes goes back to Scranton. For him this year, nothing is more important than building his arm strength and getting him to a 200+ innings plateau.

            • rbizzler

              Not challenging you on this, but what is Phil’s innings target this year? I was of the belief that he was slated for 150 this year after throwing 100 last year between the minors, MLB and the AFL.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                All I have for you is this NYDN article by Feinsand from last November.

                http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/2008/11/29/2008-11-29_phil_hughes_focusing_on_2009.html

                Having pitched 99-2/3 innings this year between the majors and the AFL, Hughes is hoping to get his total up to 150-175 next season, putting him in line to approach the 200-inning mark by 2010.

                I think the 150 innings mark is the FLOOR of his goal. I think the 180 mark is the CEILING of the goal. If he makes it to 180, the team should be pleased. If he only makes it to 150 (or worse, the 120 or so he’s likely to see as a hybrid relief man in the bigs), I think the team would be disappointed because he’d still be aggressively capped for 2010.

                Sorry that I can’t find a team statement about his specific innings goal, but I think 180 has to be the realistic goal. I think a goal of 150 is too low.

          • JP

            +1 Author! Author!

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            The problem with Hughes is not his control, it is gaining confidence against MLB hitters. He nibbles because he is scared to get hit around if he gets too much of the plate. More time at AAA is not going to do anything to solve this. He is more likely to learn how to pitch effectively in the strikezone against hitters with major league ability.

            Which is why we need to just put him in the majors, let him pitch, and let him learn to handle himself in the big leagues. And that’s precisely what we’ll do.

            … As a member of the starting rotation in 2010.

            • jsbrendog

              i agree with this 100% THE DUDE IS ONLY 23.

              come on. 23. or 24. whatever. he is young as hell. so he goes down to aaa, gets in some more innings and builds up more confidence. he’ll be the 5th starter next yr.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

                Shit, he doesn’t turn 23 until July.

                PHIL HUGHES WAS BORN IN 1986. Great googily moogily.

                • jsbrendog

                  jesus.

  • Mike

    I personally think that when wang is ready to go that the yankees should move joba back to the pen. I know a lot of you don’t like that idea but they are just a better team with him in the pen along with Mo and a healthy bruney. I think that hughes needs to stop being jerked between the majors and minors. The yankees should just keep hughes in the majors, give him some confidence and let him know that its his time now and he is no longer a minor leaguer. It worked when the mets did that with pelfrey last year and it could work with hughes.
    Heres what i think the team should be(with everyone healthy):
    Line-up: Bench:
    SS Jeter Melky/Gardner
    LF Damon Molina
    1B Tex Swisher/Nady
    3B A-rod Pena
    2B Cano
    C Posada
    DH Matsui
    RF Swisher/Nady
    CF Melky/Gardner

    Rotation: Bullpen:
    Sabathia Cl: Rivera
    Wang 8th inning SU: Joba
    Burnett 7th inning SU: Bruney
    Pettite MR: Coke
    Hughes MR: Marte
    MR: Melancon
    LR: Aceves

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Still batshit insane.

      If we don’t start giving Joba full, uninterrupted seasons as a starting pitcher, he’ll never be able to throw 200+ innings uncapped and be the frontline starter we need him to be for the next decade. No temporary (or even permanent) bullpen hole is ever, EVER worth derailing Joba’s progress towards being a frontline starter.

      I find it full of delicious irony that you think we need to “stop jerking Hughes around between the minors and majors” but continue to endorse jerking Joba around between the bullpen and rotation.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      Joba leads all Yankee starters in ERA, and he hasn’t scratched the surface of what he could be. By all means, stick him in the bullpen.

  • JP

    The idea of “replacing Mo” is a straw man. You’ll go the next 25 years in MLB and find one or 2 players who are even close to Mo, as durability and effectiveness go for relief pitchers.

    People get so excited over the performance of relief aces. Yes, Mo played a big part in the Yankees’ championships.

    But do we know that they wouldn’t have been better had Mo become a front line starting pitcher?

    Rivera is a great pitcher (tangent alert…), but when you really think about it, his value to the team has been quite debatable in recent years. I don’t mean to say he’s not been valuable, but I’m talking “bang for the buck.” He’s the team’s most effective pitcher, yet the REST of the team has been such that, in recent years, there have not been nearly as many game saving opportunities for Mo as there were in the Championship years. Had Mo been a starter, who knows, maybe the last 6 years would have been better than they were.

    Moving Joba to the bullpen is insane.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      +42

      • FL Yank

        ICWUDT

  • JP

    This is a great discussion, by the way, I’ve loved it.

    Let me ask one more question. The debate on Hughes has been “keep him up, to learn how to get MLB hitters out, or send him down, to get his innings in and be ready to handle the load of a front line starter in 2010.”

    Which would you rather have, next season, from Phil Hughes:

    1. 195 IP. 9 W, 12 L, 6.30 ERA, 1.41 WHIP.
    2. 157 IP. 8 W, 3 L, 3.13 ERA, 1.22 WHIP.

    I say, if you send him down this season “to get his work in,” you can expect something like line 1 from him.

    If – and this is a big if – you let him take his lumps with the big team this year, and presuming he benefits from it, but with a lighter work load, you’d possibly get the second line. In other words, he’d have to be more limited in his innings, but would be more effective.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Well, that’s a GIGANTIC DISCREPANCY between the two lines that you just POOYA’d, but I think I’ll still take my chances with the 190 IP. I hope he wouldn’t be that bad. But, the 40 innings difference is 40 fewer innings I have to give to the recovering-from-aneurysm Ian Kennedy.

      I think the swing may be smaller than you say, but we’re both just guessing here.

  • http://www.myspace.com/rbisportsradio Joey H.

    Starting CMW against a power hitting lefty team is a bad idea.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I’ve read through all these posts and now my head is spinning. I have two thoughts:

    1. I don’t see how a $200 million payroll keeps you from getting hurt. I do think that signing Posada was the best thing to do at the time. Do we overpay? Yeah, we do but everyone knows that and where you start stopping the ginormous paydays? The Mets were talking to Jorge and you know they wanted him. He came off a red hot season. Who knew all this?

    2. I like the idea of Phil as the long man when Wang comes back. I know it was talked to death above but I honestly never thought about it until I read that thread and I think it works for the team and for Phil.

  • fan

    why does people like phil hughes so much? i am a blue jay fan and the team has alot of young pitchers. (cecil and romero for example)they performed well in the big league. baseball is a sport, unlike basketball, in which athletic talent cannot garantee success. from what i am seeing, phil hughes just doesnt have the quality of a star. there are too many mlb prospects, who had great stuff, turned out to be a bust. why are people always talking about trading chien ming wang, who owned the blue jays in his first big league start, instead of hughes. in professional sports, players are expected to perform when they get a chance but hughes isnt doing that. letting wang go will be a huge lost to the yanks