May
27

Wang not comfortable with life in the pen

By

Chien-Ming Wang is a man without a role. After an indescribably bad start to the season, the Yanks placed Wang on the disabled list so he could continue his physical rehabilitation while pitching in live games without hurting the big league club. He seemed to be on the road back at this time last week, with perhaps his last AAA start coming last Friday. But then Joba Chamberlain got hit in the knee and plans changed. They burned long man Al Aceves by using him for 3.1 innings in relief of Chamberlain after he pitched two innings the previous day. Jon Albaladejo pitched an ineffective 2.1 innings, which not only made him unavailable for Friday, but made him a prime candidate for demotion, thereby opening up a slot for someone who could handle multiple innings.

The Yanks did get Wang into the game on Friday night after A.J. Burnett surrendered five runs in six innings. Wang didn’t look sharp, as he allowed two runs in three innings and had some trouble keeping his sinker down. Control was also somewhat of an issue, as Wang threw just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes. Worst of all, he allowed as many fly balls as ground balls, a sure sign that Wang wasn’t himself. The Yankees seemed to understand that and chose to not use Wang in relief of Joba Chamberlain last night, instead opting for their normal long man, Aceves.

Did the Yankees make a mistake by activating Wang while he still had plenty of time left on his rehab clock? Given the quotes PeteAbe got from Dave Eiland, it would seem so. The pitching coach notes that “it’s hard to get him a lot of innings” right now. This is because 1) there is currently no opening for him in the rotation, given Phil Hughes‘s stellar outing on Monday, and 2) because in close games the Yankees don’t want to risk handing the ball to Wang, who has yet to prove he can regain his old form. While getting Wang innings is important, winning games is even more so. If Phil Hughes were pitching like Wang, they could send him to AAA to get his innings. Not so with Wang, who is out of options. This leaves both him and the Yankees in a tough place, since Wang cannot improve without regular work.

Eiland then discusses another issue affecting Wang’s progress:

“You can’t do too much stuff on the side because you might need him in the game. It’s a tough spot but we’re working at it. If we go out and let him throw 35 pitches in the afternoon, he could only go one inning that night.”

This might even be counterproductive, since a bullpen session is vastly different than game action. While Wang would benefit from even one inning out of the pen, he would benefit even more from throwing all 50 of those pitches (presuming 15 per inning) in a live game, rather than throwing the first 35 on the side. But if he doesn’t throw those pitches on the side and then isn’t used in the game, he suffers that much more.

The Yanks will have to get Chien-Ming Wang into games, and regularly at that, if they want him to recover and again become the No. 2 starter he’s been for the past three years. If this is, as both the Yanks and Wang attest, a mechanical issue, then that’s something they can surely work on in the side. It would be nice if he could work out the issue in live game situations with Scranton, since that wouldn’t harm the big league club. But the Yankees made their decision, and now they’ll have to live with it.

What can the Yankees do to dig themselves out of the hole they created by activating Wang? Hopefully it involves more than just waiting out the situation. While patience is the best path in many situations, this does not appear to be one of them. Patience means Wang stays on the shelf while remaining on the active roster. It means him whittling away in the bullpen while he could have been getting live action in the minors. The Yanks will have to do a little more — something, anything in order to get Wang regular work while not harming the big league club. As my parents used to tell me: you made your bed, now lie in it.

Categories : Pitching

94 Comments»

  1. With each passing day, this move looks worse and worse.

    • Will (the other one) says:

      Agreed, and it also looks less and less logical. Who in the organization could have thought this was somehow a good idea, and for what reason?

  2. mko says:

    The only possibility I see is putting him back on the DL…

  3. UWS says:

    Mmmmyes, Los Jankees really screwed the pooch on this one.

  4. jsbrendog says:

    is there any way they can say, oops! still not healthy, hips still weak, and we know they dont lie, to send his ass back to the dl?? please god….

    wtf possessed them to do this. i am a staunch cashman supporter but in this instance cashman = epic epic epic fail

  5. Whizzo The Wize says:

    Whizzo thinks it will be difficult for anyone to defend the panicked roster moves of last week.

    If Hughes and Joba continue to pitch well, the only possibility may be to trade Wang.

    Whizzo knows this is a radical move, especially given the low value Wang has right now. But given his track record (in the AL East remember), age, and expense, Whizzo thinks the Yankees might get a decent prospect haul, say a legitimate AA/AAA outfield prospect and a couple of throw in parts.

    Does that equal the value of the #2 starter Wang is/can be? Whizzo scoffs at his own question. Trading Wang would also kill the Yankees pitching depth, and Whizzo ain’t banking on healthy seasons from our rotation.

    But even given all of that, it may be the best move on a list of bad moves. Otherwise, the Yankees are burning two roster spots on useless players (Berroa being the other).

  6. You know what really bugs me? The mechanics issue.

    Pete Abe wrote this:

    Specifically, Wang is releasing his sinking fastball 6-8 inches lower than in the past, which leaves the pitch flatter – and higher – in the strike zone. The error is caused by poor balance, which is in turn caused by poor footwork.

    That release point issue is something I’ve been pushing for weeks, and it’s not a new issue. His release point was down last year before his foot injury. The Yankees have a problem here, and I’d like to see the coaching staff fix it. I’m not optimistic.

    • OH CRAP YOU SAID IT NOW WE GOTTA FIRE EILAND

    • pat says:

      The part that should really bug you is that he probably ripped that info off RAB and is now trying to pass it off like he knows what the hell he’s talking about.

    • Arman Tamzarian says:

      Agreed, to me, this is where a coaching staff is judged. Not on Hughes adjustment to the major leagues, but in isolating problems with their veteran pitchers and fixing them. So far they haven’t done that.

    • matthaggs says:

      Weird.

      If you read Cashman’s quotes after Wang’s last Scranton outing on May 17th, he wasn’t exactly overflowing with praise:

      http://yankees.lhblogs.com/200.....nd-bruney/

      And yet Wang arrived here a few days later.

      Eiland is saying there’s still some work to do it sounds like, and Girardi clearly doesn’t know what the hell to do with him, so who the heck made this decision? Hank? Let’s blame him.

    • Rich M says:

      Sam Borden got this info from Eiland last week when he took over for Pete Abe.

      Eiland said that yes, there’s clearly a difference in Wang’s release point from when his sinker was consistently good to right now. What they are working with Wang on, Eiland said, is “staying over the rubber” longer. As you all know, Wang has a very deliberate wind-up – he raises his leg incredibly slowly and does a little “tap-tap” with the ball before throwing. The problem, according to Eiland, is that the “tap-tap” is coming a little later and Wang’s lower body has already started to push forward toward the plate. That means he’s forced to release the point at a higher point and thus, there’s no bite on the sinker and it hangs up.

      If Wang is able to stay over the rubber long, Eiland said, the “tap-tap” will take place with his body still in one location – as opposed to the lower half having already started forward – and his release point will be lower again. That’s what they’re focusing on now.

  7. Tom Zig says:

    How about he throw batting practice and we keep bunting the ball so it hits him. Hard enough to cause a “bruise” but not hard enough to hurt him at all. Bingo bango he is on the DL.

    OR

    We tell everyone he is suffering from anxiety attacks because he is terrified that he is disappointing his homeland.

  8. Bob Michaels says:

    The only Solution is to see if Wang would clear waviers.If he is claimed and the Yanks can`t arrange a deal he can be pulled back.One time only. BTW we have some true baseball geniuses in charge, from the GM to MGR to the Troast like characters.

    Bring back Big George, put a MAN back in charge instead of these PYGMIES, no offense to any pygmies.

  9. Drew says:

    I feel bad for the Wanger. He can really anchor the middle of our rotation when he is right. With guys like AJ not being able to grab a win in over a month, it goes to show you how tough it is to win 19 games, even on the Yankees. I wish he was treated a little better and given either another start or two in Scranton, or a start here. Throwing him in the pen is great if you need “confidence,” but Wang just needs his consistent sinker that we grew to know and love, with that will come the confidence. This is so counter-productive because we all saw (when he was healthy) that he didn’t do so well on an extra days rest. Extra rest caused him to be too strong and his sinker was ramped up and often elevated.
    We really botched this one.

  10. Chip says:

    If you’re going to waste this roster spot, why not send him to EST once in awhile? I mean if you’re not going to trust him in a game where we’re even close to the lead, then you might as well just throw him down to Tampa once a week and let Swisher pitch in the blowouts

  11. Reggie C. says:

    If arm strength was an issue at the start of the season that went away after a couple Scranton starts, what’s to say that this prolongued stay in purgatory won’t cause Wang to lose it once more.

    Do you damn the results and make Wang pitch tonight? IF AJ Burnett is compiling another high pitch count through 5 innings, then fu*ck it. Bring Wang in to spell AJ and see where Wang is at with his pitches.

    Get Wang in a game tonight, or risk seeing this story blow up nationally and given a contentious angle.

    • Drew says:

      Who cares about the story blowing up?
      I just want to see him get some innings.

    • jsbrendog says:

      as much as idont want to i agree. there is NOTHING that can be done other than throw him to the wolves and see what happens or send him back to the dl…..maybe they put him out there and tell him to go down in the 3rd round…er 5th inning while covering first? or a line drive off the thigh that never hurt nobody, myeah see?

  12. pat says:

    With a revamped offense and defense, as well as 2 big name free agent pitchers to share some of the spotlight, I was really pulling for Wang as a dark horse Cy Young candidate.

    This is pretty much the opposite of that.

  13. Frank says:

    It seems the only other option not mentioned is a 6 man rotation.

    • And then you’re reducing the number of starts from your good pitchers who need regular work and are better. See, for example, Joba last night for what happens off regular work. A four-man rotation is not a good use of talent.

      • tim randle says:

        you dont think that was more knee bruise/stiffness related? he really just didnt look like he was pushing off properly.

        want was a great example in 07…any extra rest and he sucked.

      • Mattingly's Love Child says:

        A four man rotation is a great idea! Put Joba in the 7th, and CC in the 8th. Starting rotation of Burnett, Wang, Hughes and Pettite. Save the best pitchers for the end of the game!11!!!!

    • tim randle says:

      4 man rotation>6 man rotation

      (unless you put CC at the FRONT and BACK of the six man)

    • whozat says:

      That’s because taking starts away from CC and the guys who are pitching WELL in order to get Wang some starts makes no sense.

  14. A.D. says:

    They could just officially eat the roster spot (since right now they’re pretty much just pretending to) and send him down to Extended Spring for some more starts.

  15. LiveFromNewYork says:

    Time for Gator-Aid

    CMW worked well with Guidry…maybe he can help. LL has said he will do anything for the Yanks if called upon. CALL UPON HIM.

    Let Eiland continue to mentor and work with the youngsters. That’s going well.

  16. Wang not comfortable with life in the pen

    Sounds like an episode of “Oz”.

  17. OmgZombies says:

    I never had a problem of deciding where my Wang belonged

  18. Lanny says:

    Wang brought this upon himself. He has been horrid all season. You don’t think the coaching staff and scouts know about his arm slot??? Some pitchers just lose it even after a couple good seasons. You don’t force feed him out there to keep getting shelled. Put him on the DL and let him throw in Scranton til hes needed here.

  19. Pasqua says:

    What I find bizarre is the fact that the fanbase is actually serving as the voice of reason in the Wang debate. We seem to have more confidence that he can right his ship than the organization. The world’s gone topsy-turvy.

  20. Ibis says:

    Is Angel Boroa married to Tony Pena’s daughter? I thought I had heard that back when he was still in KC.

  21. [...] to a comfortable lead, allowing Chien-Ming Wang to get some garbage time work out of the pen. As mentioned before, it’s not going to be easy getting him innings, making the Yanks’ decision to activate [...]

  22. ledavidisrael says:

    BADNEWSS, THATS WHAT THIS IS. JOBA TO AAA. Dude needs to throw more pitchers per outing. hes avging like 80 something not gonna cut it…

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