Not the last dance for Chien-Ming Wang

Jane Heller book signing and trivia contest
Fan Confidence Poll: June 15th, 2009

During his last outing in Boston, Chien-Ming Wang couldn’t escape the third inning. He threw 29 pitches in the first inning, and while his fastball was up in the mid-90s, his sinker had no sink. Boston tattooed him, and the Yanks would go on to lose 6-5.

After the game, Joe Girardi didn’t commit to another start for the Yanks’ erstwhile ace. “I’m not ready to make that decision right now,” he said.

Less than 24 hours later, though, Girardi was ready to make that decision, and he did so in the form of an ultimatum. Wang would get one more start this week against the Nationals. If he falters against Washington, the Yankees will need to come up with a new plan, Girardi seemed to intimate. With Al Aceves and Phil Hughes both on the 25-man roster, the Yankees could easily find someone to take Wang’s place in short order.

Yesterday, following the Yanks’ victory over the Mets in the most lopsided Subway Series game in Interleague history, Brian Cashman sat down for a short state of the organization chat with Newsday’s Arthur Staple. While Staple and the Yanks’ GM chatted about the importance of Brian Bruney, Cashman’s need of Steinbrenner approval for any payroll increases and the vague state of the trade market, Cashman’s most pregnant words were reserved for Wang.

Staple wrote:

Cashman said Wang’s start Wednesday against the Nationals would be a big factor in determining what happens next.

“We need Chien-Ming Wang,” Cashman said. “This is an important step. We know what he’s capable of. The velocity and the sink are there. Maybe his confidence isn’t there.”

After Wang flamed out again in Boston on Wednesday, Cashman, Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland met to decide Wang’s future. They chose to give him one more chance at starting before demoting him and returning Phil Hughes to the rotation. Hughes pitched a scoreless ninth inning yesterday.

“Clearly, our bullpen and our team can’t continue to deal with this issue,” Cashman said, “especially when we have someone who can do the job better.”

That’s a very public way of dealing with an internal matter that would have short- and long-term ramifications. As the Yankees have evaluated their pitching prospects, Wang has always been a big part of their plans. He along with Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Al Aceves and Ian Kennedy made up the internal, cost-controlled pitchers who would complement the big free agents. With Wang lost, the Yanks’ plan relies very heavily on young talent.

Meanwhile, I don’t see the need to put so much emphasis on one start. Four days ago, I was ready to throw Chien-Ming Wang to the wolves. I couldn’t bear to watch the Yanks spot their opponents to four runs and have to rely on the bullpen to get 15 or 18 outs. Yet, after reading the comments on my game recap and having a few other discussions, I don’t believe the Yanks should be so easy to give up on Wang.

It is certainly important the Yankees field the top five guys who can best put them in a position to win right now. They’re two games out of the AL East and lead a hard-charging Tampa Bay Rays team (as well as the Angels and Blue Jays) by three games in the Wild Card. They need victories, and they can’t really afford to write off at least one out of every five games.

All things considered, though, if the Yankees believe that Wang’s problem is not physical and is only mechanical in such a way that confidence impacts his approach, they are doing themselves no favors in limiting their evaluation of him to one start. Chien-Ming Wang was 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA prior to this year. That isn’t talent readily available anywhere, and while I don’t believe the Yanks owe it to Chien-Ming Wang to let him pitch, they owe it to the team now and the team next year to straighten him out.

Removing him after one more sub-par start and exiling him to the bullpen or the scrap heap isn’t really a stellar solution. Finding the cause of the problem and fixing it is. That is, after all, why the team has a coaching staff.

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Jane Heller book signing and trivia contest
Fan Confidence Poll: June 15th, 2009
  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    I think the idea is that if he fails again, they need him too stop hurting the team and figure it out in the pen or in AAA after another “injury.”

    • Brian

      just send him to rookie ball

  • C

    This is why I honestly think the Yankees need to get rid of Eiland. He keeps saying that Wang’s bullpens have been great but that he’s not taking it into games…I don’t buy it. At this point the pitching coach should be able to figure out what’s wrong. Not to mention that Joba and AJ have had so many issues with their mechanics lately.

    • Jamal G.

      Dave Eiland has said what was wrong: it’s his inconsistent arm slot. I don’t understand what you would like Eiland to do. During the bullpen sessions, he and Wang have identified the problem and the latter has it corrected. However, he loses said correction while on the mound, what exactly more can Eiland do in this situation?

      • josh

        insist to girardi and cashman that wang must prove in the minor leagues that he can pitch 110 pitches or so while maintaining his mechanics. if the problem was found in spring training and he was given the proper rehab he probably would be full strength for a couple of weeks by now

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          How do you propose getting Chien-Ming Wang back to the minors? He’s out of options and is clearly not injured.

          • josh

            kind of feel it is too late to put him in the minors now. my response was to the question about eiland. i was saying what eiland should have done as the pitching coach as a response to jamal’s question which seems to give him a pass

        • Bill

          You can’t blame Cashman’s blunder on Eiland though. Wang never should’ve been brought up until the team was confident that he was past all this and was back to his normal self. I mean there were plenty of other options they could’ve called up to help the bullpen out. Bringing up Wang as a long reliever is where things really went wrong. If he wasn’t going to be a starter for us he should’ve never been brought up.

          Eiland is doing what he can, but if Wang can’t bring what they’re working on into game action that’s his problem not Eiland’s fault.

          If Wang struggles in this next start unfortunately we can’t send him down as we’ve stated publicly that he is healthy several times, so a DL trip is not an option. We may have to burn a roster spot and send him to Tampa to pitch in some simulated games and work with the coaches down there. Either that or he’ll just pitch out of the bullpen for a while until a spot in the rotation opens up. This is probably more likely.

        • Chris

          Just a couple of points on this:

          1. Wang was getting hit in his first 30 pitches against Boston, so I would be content if he could throw 30-50 pitches and get outs.

          2. Why would throwing 110 pitches make a difference? He has only thrown 110 pitches in 6 starts during his career. I don’t think he’s suddenly going to start doing that now.

          3. No matter what the Yankees did, Wang would be in the majors now. I don’t see how throwing pitches to inferior hitters would suddenly make him a better pitcher today.

          • josh

            but he never got stretched out properly. 110 meaning a full game. if the means 103 to wang so be it. my point is that he wasnt ready out of spring training so they oput him on the dl. as he was rehabbing they called him up and interrupted his progress for a week or so and then put him in for 69 pitches twice. he still basically has not finished getting completely ready. his velocity has seemed to return fully but now his command is lacking. i think he is almost there but the way they have handled the situation is really a joke. now theyb are making it worse by making this start so unbelievably important. they are not setting him up to suceed, that being said, i feel he will make a big step wed night

            • Chris

              When was his progress interrupted? All of his appearances this year were on 3, 4 or 5 days rest.

      • Simon B.

        Wang actually had a fairly consistent release point—though it’s possible Eiland is talking about inconsistent over time rather than within a single start.

        When Eiland says that, it makes me wonder if he knows anything at all about what he’s doing.

        • Rich

          When Eiland says that, it makes me wonder if he knows anything at all about what he’s doing.

          And when I read a fan on a board write something such as this I wonder if he knows anything at all about what he’s writing about.

          • Simon B.

            Check the data before giving me a snarky reply. His release point was quite consistent. There were like 2 pitches that were away from a very small area on the graph.

  • josh

    great piece of writing. now all you have to do is make the yankee organization read it 7 or 8 hundred times. maybe they will learn something.

  • josh

    what is phil hughes innings limit this year?

    • jim p

      Good question. I think, if I’m reading this right, with the injury he had only 70 last year between the major & minor leagues.

      http://web.minorleaguebaseball.....pid=461833

      Does the +20, 30 innings rule apply to him? 100 innings this year? He’s got, M/m 60 so far.

      Is that a factor in why they are trying Wang instead of leaving Hughes as a starter?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        He also threw another 30 or so at winter ball and has a career high in innings that far exceeds that. The Yankees have publicly said what Hughes’ innings limit is, but I’d think it’s around 150. Could be higher.

        • josh

          thanks

      • ChrisS

        Hughes’ high is 146 IP, I could see him hitting ~180 this year.

  • Mike HC

    I don’t mind the sense of urgency. If he still can’t pitch effectively against the Nats, there is no telling when he will able to figure it out. Which start would be the final chance? The one after this? Just have him pitch all year no matter what the results?

    I would move him out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen. He may very well get another chance to start if one of the top 5 gets hurt, or does not perform. Let Wang try to figure it out in two to three inning stints, rather than have him blow games every time he starts. This would not be giving up on him, but it would allow him to get comfortable by pitching in handpicked situations; when the Yanks have big leads, or when the starter gets pulled after four.

    Saying all this, I do believe Wang will pitch effectively against Nats. Wang was taken off the DL prematurely in a panic move, became a reliever for about a week, and then his first two starts were against Texas and Boston. It is not a surprise that he struggled in that situation. He should be far more comfortable against the Nats.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      If he still can’t pitch effectively against the Nats, there is no telling when he will able to figure it out.

      If repeated enough times, this still won’t be true. Take a look at the National League OPS leaderboard. Notice which team is fifth in the NL? Now take a look at the MLB OPS leaderboard vs. RHP. Notice which team is 11th and barely out of the top ten?

      It’s true the Nationals are not a very good team. They’re on pace to lose an historic number of games, but that’s not because of their lineup. It’s because they can’t pitch. If Wang beats the Nationals with Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and Nick Johnson anchoring the lineup, that would be a good sign. We shouldn’t be so quick to write off their offense.

      • Mike HC

        I agree and I did not mean to insinuate that the Nationals lineup was bad. They are still ranked only 11th though, whereas Texas and Boston rank 4 and 5 respectively on the MLB OPS leaderboard vs RHP. I can understand struggling against two top five offenses in your first two starts back. This will be his third start since coming off the DL/pitching in the minors and bullpen, his sixth start on the year, and will be against an above average, but not great offense. If he gets bombed again by the Nationals, I don’t think you can wait any longer. Who knows when he would figure it out?

        Tampa Bay ranks 3rd on the list; Boston 5; Baltimore 7; and Toronto 8. Every team in our division has had more success against RHP than the Nationals. The Nats line up is not bad, but Wang will have to pitch against much better.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Wang will have to pitch much better. That’s certainly true. I just hope fans don’t expect the Nationals’ hitters to roll over and die. They can handle the bat. THeir pitchers though are awful.

          • Charlie

            Has anyone factored in the fact that Wang will be going on extra days rest, and has struggled in the past with too much rest? That and the fact that he is facing a team that has a very underrated offense make for an interesting game.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

    Chien-Ming Wang was 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA prior to this year.

    However, this year he’s been historically crappy as a starter and pretty good out of the ‘pen.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Three appearances. Eight innings. Small sample size. Yadda yadda yadda.

      • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

        I’m just saying Hughes is the better option at this point in my opinion. Use CMW for 1 or 2 inn here-n-there (negating Tomko/Veras) to keep him sharp, and IF Hughes falters (which I don’t think he will) switch back.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Using Chien-Ming Wang for 1 or 2 innings here or there in some sort of glorified mop-up roll doesn’t address the problem. You’re pretty much just writing off one of the most successful starters from 2005-2008.

          • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

            Also one of the, if not THE, worst in 2009.

            • Evan

              In 5 starts, he has the worst ERA in MLB history. I think that goes well beyond the worst starter in 2009.

          • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

            Plus, in my opinion, putting Hughes in the rotation does address the problem. This is a “Yankee problem” more than a “CMW problem”.

            • Peter Lacock

              Steve Blass and Rick Ankiel are rare. Wang will get it back. All he needs is reps and a little support.

              • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

                What were the last 3 starts? Girardi gave him the opportunity to get reps, but he didn’t succeed.

                • jsbrendog

                  youre right, after not working out for 2 months i can just og right back and bench rpess 300 bs again. it wont take me months of smaller weights and reps. youre right, since he didnt do well i his First 2 or 3 sets of reps he is epic teh suck fail face

          • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

            Well then, I guess the choice comes down to writing off Wang’s season or writing off the Yankee season. He hasn’t given us a chance to win when he’s started, and the Yanks can’t keep pace with Boston when they have an automatic loss every 5th day.

            I understand the patience in April and May. But in June, its time for him to get his act together or we need to look elsewhere.

          • JP

            I could not disagree more. I think you’re creating a false choice, stating that if we stop using him as a starter we are “giving up” on him. Where are people getting this idea that a pitcher cannot work out problems as a relief pitcher on the major league roster?

            Listen to David Cone on the Yankee broadcasts. Talking about Phil Hughes, he points out that for a starting pitcher, pitching in relief for a few weeks does NOT pose a big problem in terms of returning back to the starting rotation. I believe he said yesterday “you can work your way from 30-40 pitches back to 100 in 2 or 3 starts.” His point was about Hughes, stating it was much better for his development to be helping the team and getting major league hitters out, than it was for him to be pitching at AAA.

            I don’t see why you can’t do the same thing with CMW. If he has another bad start against Washington, I see no reason why he couldn’t tackle his problems from the Yankees’ bullpen. Depending how he is used in the bullpen, you could accomplish, simultaneously, both the task of building up his effectiveness and confidence and stretching him out. The Yankees’ games have (sadly) ample opportunities for long relief appearances. Chamberlain, Pettitte, and Burnett pitch 6 or fewer innings more often than not. Wang can come in in these games and gradually stretch himself out.

            I don’t think it’s “giving up” on a pitcher; it’s just saying that you are not going to put someone out there who is going to pitch you out of every game by the 3rd inning. You have to try to win the games. Maybe it’s a bit more complicated to work things out in relief appearances and in the bullpen, but it might be the best choice for the team.

            • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

              Exactly. “Giving up” on him would be releasing him. I’m just saying put him in the ‘pen.

    • younguns

      Tell me who the hell instructed Wang not do any work in the off-season on his legs because of his lisfranc foot injury last year!?!

      Here’s a hint…

      It WASN’T Wang!!

      Read it here…

      http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....egs-12358/

      This year he’s been historically crappy?!?! Look up the fuckin definition of “historically,” & stop embarassing yourself with associating it with the term, “this year.”

      This article clearly identifies Cashman & the Yankees as the reason for fucking up Wang’s season. Instead of manning up to this, Cash & Co slams Wang & his agent Nero when they point out that patience is needed for Wang to return to form as a starter.

      For all those who see Wang as such a “liability,” then why not dump this “liability” off on the Mets for a couple of baseballs & bats?

      You can’t teach 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA over a 4-year span pitching in the AL East, or, in other words, the Yankees would have missed the playoffs since 2007 without Chien-Ming Wang.

      • John

        Cool down…he was unfortunately right though. Wang has the worst ERA in the history of baseball in the number of starts he’s made. Small sample size? Probably, but thats worst sample all-time for starts.

        • younguns

          You NEVER mentioned who was the culprit for why Wang is so bad this year, did you?

          The guy has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for for since arriving to the Yankees, someone who never complains, & just goes out & does his job.

          I repeat,

          If he is such a liability, dump him on the Mets.

          Afterall, would this help the Yankees & hurt the Mets at the same time?

      • JP

        This is unfair – blaming the Yankees/Cashman. You make the presumption that him not working his legs in the offseason is the cause for his problems this season. The problem with this line of thinking is that we don’t know what would have happened if he had worked his legs in the offseason. A Lisfranc injury is a rare, serious injury which has a propensity to mushroom into a chronic problem. Had Wang performed his usual lower body workouts this winter, he may have prevented his foot from healing, or perhaps even made the injury worse.

        As for the thought that they rushed him back off the disabled list this season, well I guess that’s something reasonable to debate. But since then, he has had time in the bullpen and two or three starts in the majors, which seems to me to be ample time to have completed his “rehab.” You can’t keep blaming this issue for his problem.

        He has a primary, basic, pitching problem. Whether it’s mental, or physical, or both, blaming his coaches or trainers for it is a a pretty flimsy excuse. The fact is, the guy can’t pitch, consistently, for more than an inning or two right now. It isn’t easy to watch, or to understand, but 95% of the problem is CMW’s, not anyone else’s.

        I believe the best thing the Yankees can do for him, given that he’s out of options and has to be on the MLB roster, is to use him in situations when he is most likely to succeed and build confidence. If that environment cannot be created starting games, then he needs to be a relief pitcher. He’s young, and if he’s salvagable as a starting pitcher for a long career, people have to forget about this immediate, short term situation and focus on the long term. We don’t want to get so caught up in this battle that we lose the war.

        • younguns

          Did you not bother to read the article at all?

          If clearly states that the Yankees admitted that they erred in instructing Wang to not engage in any off-season workouts on his legs.

          Wait, are you seriously when you say that the condition of a pitcher’s legs does not seriously affect his ability to pitch effectively?

          • JP

            I read the article. I don’t know who said they admitted to a “mistake,” but I stand by what I said. The “adductor weakness” issue was, as we know, a cover story anyway, to get him on the DL. Maybe the team needed someone to admit to a “mistake” to legitimize the alleged injury.

            Of course I know leg strength matters in pitching. So does having a healthy foot to land on. I think had he come back with chronic foot pain because of overusing his foot during off-season leg strengthening, there’d be alot of outrage, too.

      • http://www.twitter.com/TheManchine Bruno

        This year he’s been historically crappy?!?! Look up the fuckin definition of “historically,” & stop embarassing yourself with associating it with the term, “this year.”

        Do your own research. Wang has the worst ERA in the history of baseball after 5 starts.

  • josh

    wangs whole year has been a small sample size.

    CMW-last 15.1 ip – 11 er

    Johan Santana – last 16 ip – 17 er

    i guess johan should replace putz in the pen

    • jonathan

      That is a completely knee jerk statement, there is a big difference between to two. First off, its just a stupid comment I understand you are making a point about small sample size, but if Wang could last more than 3 innings per start than it wouldnt be a small sample size. You need to look at his performance and it has been that bad….bad enough in my opinion that he might need to take the year and get himself striaghtened out….we did similar with Mike Mussina. Putting him in the pen is not a bad thing, we are just pointing out the fact that he has not been putting the team in the position to win and that as of RIGHT NOW his stuff plays up better out of the pen. Secondly Johan had been great THIS YEAR up until recently which points to a slight adjustment needing to be made, Wang has been aweful…day in and day out since the start of the season…he needs alot of work.

      • josh

        the point is that what the yankees have done with wang all year is knee jerk. he wasnt ready in april so throw those stats out. since coming back he hasnt been handled the right way, give the guy a chance, he was our best pitcher fore about 3 years. holy shit where is the loyalty here. “day in and day out” he has pitched 15 innings since coming back

        • JP

          For cripes sake, the reason he’s only pitched 15 innings is because he is so ineffective he can’t get into the 4th inning of a game. Loyalty? The team is being patient and loyal, I guess…they don’t have a choice, really, because they can’t option him anywhere. But they haven’t given up and released him.

          Everyone knows he was a very good pitcher in ’06-’07. But that’s over with…he’s a different guy, with a new set of problems. It’s nice to talk about loyalty and sympathy, but that does nothing to address his problem, or help the team.

  • Drew

    Does anyone else think he’s possibly rattled with his wife having a baby soon, and perhaps he’s nervous/distracted right now? It could possibly be an explanation…

  • dr

    Yankees clearly messed up with injury evaluation – they messed up his rehab and brought him up unnecessarily (why couldn’t they have waited one more day to see the extent of the injury, his slot wasn’t on for 4 more days, and they could have held him back one day in AAA until they saw what was with Joba (or was it Petite?).
    If Wang is pitching as his old self in bullpen, and differently in games, there is not much coach can do. If a player won’t/can’t listen, coach can’t help him.

    During Mel’s and Torre’s years (and Guidry continued it) Yankee philosophy was to pitch to the contact, not give up free passes and try to get balls in play. Pounding the strike zone with movement trying to get weak contact. It seems to me that Eiland/Girardi are going for more strikeouts, even if it brings more walks. does anyone else has such an impression?

    • JP

      You can say all you want about “pounding the zone.” It’s easy to be an armchair (or dugout) pitcher. The ultimate responsibility is on the pitchers’ shoulders. Does anyone honestly think the Yankees coaching staff hasn’t conveyed to the pitchers that they are walking too many batters, and need to concentrate on attacking the strike zone? Of course they are doing that.

      The pitchers aren’t getting it done. It’s that simple. The main 4 starters on this team are power type pitchers. Pettitte least of all, but he’s not really a “finesse” pitcher in the mold of Maddux, he’s closer to a power guy. Power pitchers are in general (not always, but in general) more prone to walks, and who knows what’s in their heads right now? Right field? Being pissed off at Posada? Or maybe they are trying, but just can’t do it right now because of minor, nagging injuries, etc.

      Wang may have come back from the DL too soon, but it’s no longer reasonable to blame this for his current situation. He’s had plenty of chances on the MLB level to complete his rehab. If he were truly firing on all cylinders physically and mentally, given the amount of work he’s had, he should be doing fine now.

      The reality is, he has a serious pitching problem. If it were something simple to coach him out of, he’d be cured now. He needs to figure it out on the 4-inch playing field between his ears.

  • k42

    I think I’ve gone the other way since last week. I was for Wang making multiple starts, but now I’m leaning more towards if-this-doesn’t-work-then-bullpen thinking.

    He’s a starter, there’s no doubting that, and I don’t think his problems are stuff-related. If it is a confidence thing, and he really doesn’t have it on Wednesday, maybe shortening outings to 1-2 innings is what he needs. Locate pitches with three hitters, then six hitters, etc. I don’t think that it has to be only in mop up situations… the way they’ve used Hughes to this point has been a combination of need-based and mop-up work, I guess, and it’s probably more in line with what I’m thinking. Bullpen pitchers are out there to throw strikes and get outs on a batter-to-batter basis… maybe that’s what he should be doing, instead of worrying about getting a whole batting order out multiple times in one night.

    But hopefully it’ll be a moot point by late Wednesday night. When he’s on, he’s probably their second best starter, and they can’t lose that.

  • dkidd

    maybe my expectations were low. but i didn’t think he looked that bad in boston. swisher catches that ball, maybe he makes it through 5

    • Joebrah

      he had almost no control.

      he got extremely lucky during that boston game. he very easily could have had 7 or 8 earned runs against him then.

      what was his balls to strike ratio? like, 33 balls, 31 strikes?

      in 2 2/3?

      he’s obviously not the same pitcher that won 19 games. and it’s insane for the yankees to tell phil hughes, “you’re really coming around, fantastic game against texas. you’re a significant part of this organization…. but, you’re being demoted, for a rehab start”

      and i personally think unless he has some epiphany, he’s done. there doesn’t seem to be a physical problem, the guy just has zero confidence and his head isn’t in it anymore. that’s not something a few starts in scranton is going to help.

      it’s a tough spot for the yankees, no doubt, but keeping him on the mound when he clearly can’t mentally grasp pitching is not a solution.

      • Peter Lacock

        ‘obviously’ and ‘clearly’ to who?

      • JP

        “…and i personally think unless he has some epiphany, he’s done. there doesn’t seem to be a physical problem…”

        I wonder the same thing. As Ben pointed out in another one of these Wang threads, this problem didn’t begin, unfortunately, this season. He struggled alot last season, too. His 8-2 record was deceiving, as he had some very poor starts in April and May. He appeared to have been working it out in the 2-3 starts before and at the time of his injury, but we have to remember that we were worried about this guy last year, too. And it was, in a less dramatic way, the same issues: control, loss of sinking action, etc.

        When I wrote “he’s forgotten how to pitch” in another thread, someone wrote back that that statement is “ridiculous.” I can’t think of a better explanation. Yes, it’s sort of an empty, vague explanation, but when a guy is throwing the ball 95 and can make it sink for one inning, then gets lit up the next, you sort of wonder.

        I think the act of pitching a baseball is similar in many ways to a golf swing. It’s an intricate athletic move where you start from a complete stop, have total control over what you’re doing (as opposed to hitting, where you react to the ball), and have to be extremely precise. If the angle of the club face is a degree or two off, you slice it into the rough. In pitching, if your arm angle or your motion is just slightly off, you miss the corners, or leave the ball up, or change it’s movement/trajectory.

        That any pitcher can be consistently successful over years and years, considering the intricacy of the motion, and the chance for injury, etc., is truly remarkable. Mariano is an incredible athlete.

        Anyway, going on with the golf thing…there are lots of instances of golfers who simply lose it, for no good reason. The most recent, notable, player in this category is probably David Duval, who was #1 in the world and won the British Open, and now is a marginal tour player. Others have included great champions like Seve Ballesteros, and very good players like Ian Baker Finch, Corey Pavin, Bob Tway, and Chip Beck. There are baseball examples–Steve Blass, Dizzy Dean. Sometimes there’s a noticeable thing you can identify as a trigger to the problem (Dizzy Dean’s injury), but not always.

        There are lots of unknowns about Wang, but there’s one thing I’m relatively certain of: the longer this goes on, the less likely it is he’ll recover from it. I would say that if he doesn’t do it this season, he gets an audition in spring training next year. If he fails, you try to salvage him as a relief pitcher.

  • josh

    he is essentially rehabing at the major league level right now. he needs reps. earlier in the year he wasnt ready after the injury, then the team interupted his rehab, put him in the pen and then decided to start stretching him out. he looked ok vs texas but ran out of gas (understandable, they were strtching him out) and got beat by boston because of lack of command – something that takes time. when the organization called him up they should have realized that it would take time. the idea that this start is an audition for him is a contradiction in the actions of the team

  • Jobamania

    anyone that thinks we are better off without CMW really has no idea.

    We need CMW to succeed, without him our depth is completely depleted and i don’t even wanna know what will happen. He was our guy for many years now, the single person that would make you feel confident when you’d see him listed in the probable pitchers knowing he’d give u a chance to win.

    Sure we can easily insert hughes, i’m a huge fan of hughes. But then what? I’m more scared of Andy. Last year he was a HUGE disappointment in the second half and that seems to coming even earlier this season. I’m not going to bank on Andy giving us 200 innings, better yet, EFFECTIVE innings. Having him go out and battle through every start is hardly a recipe for success.

    Its still somewhat early in the season, if theres anytime to get Wang right, its now.

    • JP

      I’d amend it so say “anyone who thinks we are better off without the 2006-2007 version of CMW really has no idea.”

      In a way, your statement dodges the issue. Of course any team is going to be better with a dominant sinkerballer. The problem is, Wang isn’t even close to being that pitcher now, and it has been a dicey issue for over a year on him, including alot of the time early last season, before his injury.

      • younguns

        Don’t start talking shit about Wang not getting it done last year.

        Besides the 8-2 record in 2008, he was also in the process of incorporating the strikeout into his arsenal. Known mainly as a sinkerballer, Wang was developing the means to increase his ability to strike out batters last season with mixed results before the foot injury.

        Wang has done everything a Yankee fan could ever ask for & he has done it on the biggest stage & market in baseball.

        • JP

          I’m not “talking shit;” he started 2008 very well and then went through a very rough patch from May 8 until early June. I tried looking up the game by game stats but I couldn’t find them anywhere. But he had a month last season, before the injury, when he inexplicably lost effectiveness. He had a bunch of no decisions and a loss.

          It really doesn’t matter whether he did everything you or any fan could ask for. What matters is figuring out whether he can be an effective pitcher again, and how best to use him while we decide and attempt to rehabilitate him.

  • Peter Lacock

    I think people make too much of this calling Wang up early. His rehab assignment wasn’t forever. I don’t know how much time he had left but he pitched well in the minors and then out of the bullpen before he ever returned to the rotation. He likely would have had similar results if he would have had another few starts against inferior competition or not. It’s just a rationalization by finger pointers to place blame and those that blame one person are being simple minded as I’m certain the decision was made by Nardi Contreras, Scott Aldred, Cash, Eiland and Girardi, et al as a group. I happen to agree with their decision, even now, and I’m tired of hearing about it being brought up again and again. When was that? A month ago? Let it go. It’s useless to keep harping on it.
    What matters is what to do now and Ben and Cash are being rational. We need Wang this year and in the future and for various reasons there are only 2 possibilities, he either starts or relieves and only in NY. It’s freaking June so he should continue to start until he figures it out or gets worse. Any man (children are dumb and heal quick) that has ever had a significant injury, in any sport or even just in life, knows that it usually takes a year or two before you stop worrying and get your mind right again. He’s been taking baby steps. My vote is to keep it going and have Ace or Hughes and someone else rested and ready to pick him up and the other starters have to do their part to help this work.

    • JP

      I agree and have said the same thing. The carping about his offseason training and his early call up from AAA is a flimsy excuse for what’s going on now. None of it should be considered a credible explanation for a performance decline as dramatic as Wang’s.

  • ken

    Hey, Guys, Where are the coaches for Wang? Can Yankees’ afford a good coaching after spending so much money on FAs? Bring Gator back for Wang. I heard that Gator knew Wang’s problem and don’t want to say anything since he’s not in the coaching position.

  • DCR

    The Yankees aren’t evaluating Wang based on one start. They’re looking at his work ever since they put him back in the rotation. It hasn’t been pretty. Texas smacked him around and Boston smacked him around. At some point you have to see some results. You admitted in the entry that the Yankees aren’t in a position to give away games. With Wang pitching like garbage every fifth day, that’s exactly what they are doing.

    I want Wang to succeed. Hes one of my favorite Yankees and it sucks seeing him pitch this bad. At the same time, if the Yankees were willing to lift Mike Mussina out of the rotation for Ian Kennedy then they shouldn’t be afraid to life Wang for Hughes.

  • RustyJohn

    Wang has been one of my favorite Yankees of recent years, that being said, I’d be more than happy to see Cashman make some bonehead move like trading him out here to Seattle for Washburn or Bedard- at least I could look forward to a starting five of Felix, Wang, Morrow and Ryan Roland Smith next year.

  • Rick

    Hey Ben, wake up pal. This is a team with a $200 million + payroll, and Wang doesn’t deserve another shot to ‘get it together’. This isn’t some independent league team where it’s OK for someone to work out their problems on the mound, nor is it Spring Training. This is the big leagues, and if he can’t pitch like even a somewhat capable Major League pitcher, then he doesn’t belong on the mound. Follow your train of thought, and this clown will still be killing the team & bullpen come mid July, and then what? WAKE UP CLOWN. Wang = Done for this season.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Well I read up to the 200 million payroll thing and I knew you clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Rick: If you can’t comment in a respectful matter per our commenting guidelines, you won’t be allowed to comment. I appreciate your contributions, but tone it down a bit. There’s no need to be nasty with the name-calling. That’s a warning.

    • JP

      That’s a nice “tough” sounding post, Rick, but it’s riddled with cliches. Of course the Yankees are committed to winning. Even if you are right, and Wang is not going to be effective as a starter this season, you still have a problem concerning what to do with him. And this is precisely what the Yankees’ staff is struggling with. If you do give up on him, you have to have a solution for his starting pitching innings. Given the limitations on both Hughes and Chamberlain, deciding how to best approach a replacement isn’t easy. Also, even if he is “done for the season” as a starter, it may not be the best possible thing for him to shut him down. He can’t be optioned to the minors, so you have to figure out something for the guy that gives him a chance to recover, as well as helping the team in the process.

      Ben is right–there is nothing easy about this situation.

  • BronxBomber44

    Eiland can blame arm slots and whatever else, but the bottom line is – He needs to help get Wang his confidence and fix the rest of the staff, because overall he has been terrible. In my opinion that is. I mean Mel and Leo are available.

    • JP

      Confidence comes from within. Coaching is very important, but to imply that Eiland should be fired because Wang is a mental basket case is the overstatement of the year. If Eiland is so bad, why isn’t the rest of the staff drooling and suffering from crises of confidence?

      We don’t need Stuart Smalley and Daily Affirmation for our pitchers. We need Wang to dig down and figure out his problem. It’s really in his hands, nobody else’s.

  • BronxBomber44

    Name one asian pitcher that hasn’t significantly dropped after 3-4 good years. Nomo, Park, Dice-K?, Wang? … It’s scary.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      Yeah, dem Asians. There allllllll the same.

    • radnom

      Is it really fair to lump Wang in with a group of pitchers who came to the ML as established starters in NBP?

      • Zach

        but he’s asian so you have to lump them all together

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    “Meanwhile, I don’t see the need to put so much emphasis on one start.”

    But its not just one start. It’s five starts, he hasn’t given us a chance to win in any of them and it’s June and getting past the point where you can afford to let guys get themselves going.

    I suspect the guy who will be taken off the 40-man when Bruney comes back is Veras, instead of a younger guy (Roberston)because one has produced and the other hasn’t. Wang falls into the same category.

  • JeffG

    First the team has really screwed up his comeback. He should have never been brought up before he was right. Now we have a tough situation that we brought upon ourselves.

    I think his arm slot was off at the end of the game because he was trying to adjust to get the ball higher in the zone after walking guys on the pitches that were too low.
    I really think it was part of the Red Sox approach that did him in. When he gets swing happy teams he gets a lot of balls put in play or swinging misses on that ball way down in the zone. To do this with good teams going forward he needs to dip that pitch while keeping in in the lower part of the strike zone.
    Now that has 95 he should be able to mix in the slider and then really dip his sinker. The thing is I think he has to make sure he is attaching with strikes.

    • ArodMVP217 FTW!

      and the 4seam up-and-in and for strikes

  • LiveFromNewYork

    The fans seem impatient probably because of the off-season acquisition success. We landed the best free agents and there were high hopes for the team. Every single team experiences tough losses and days when no one on the team seems to have it. You have to weather a game where CC Sabathia grinds it out against our toughest opponents and the bullpen loses it for us. You have other days when a person like Nieves owns us and Andy’s back gives everyone trouble or Joba leaves early after taking one off the leg. Even with all of our acquisitions and payroll, it’s still baseball and you still have days when you have crappy luck, crappy umps, and terrible outings. I think that the fan base, for some reason, (again perhaps because of the acquisitions) is impatient with the team. It’s not like last year when we were trying to grow 3 young pitchers and a new manager. I think most of us understood and took the “no playoffs this year” situation rather well.

    All that being said, I am patient with the team, I’d never boo someone in pinstripes and I get the “stick with this guy” strategy. But when the losses mount, the fan base and the team get impatient with an automatic loss, as CMW’s outings seem to have become. They also can’t afford to have the bullpen rescue him in the 3rd over and over again. When the deficit gets really big, it’s tough for the offense to overcome and it wears out our already depleted and overworked bullpen. It taxes the entire team unnecessarily. It’s not just a matter of giving CMW more chances. It’s a matter of overworking the whole team when he’s on the mound. And like Cashman said, we have other people who can do the job. Why keep going down this rabbit hole?

    Perhaps they want to get the team into a rhythm and know that for 4 of the starters we get a chance to win when they are pitching. For CMW we seem to not have that chance. I think they want to stop giving everyone an automatic “wheels come off” game. It’s frustrating to watch and taxes the rest of the team. With all the unpredictability of baseball, losses are going to happen, but minimizing the predictability of an almost-guaranteed loss is one thing that needs to change for a team.

    I like CMW. I feel sorry for the guy. I’d love to advocate more patience and keeping him in the rotation until he gets it right but at the same time I understand the decision not to do that.

    And it’s tough to “throw away” a person who has been great for the team and was once our “ace.” I don’t like that either but I just don’t think that giving him game after game after game to “get it right” is really the solution either. There’s more to this picture than one pitcher.

  • http://R RAYSAM

    IT IS WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY. CMW MUST GO HE HAS LOST IT.

    RAB Note: Please review Number 7 on the Commenting Guidelines. The next time this happens, your comment will be deleted.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I’d love to see him go 7 innings of 3 run ball so you people can have your mouth filled with CMW’s foot.

      • JohnC

        Even if he does, they’d just attribute it to doing it against the worst team in baseball.

        • jsbrendog

          and then they’d be even stupider and show their lack of knowledge because for the zillionth time, the nats offense is very very good. esp against rhp. they are better than 20 other mlb teams offensively going by ops

      • ChrisS

        I’d love to to see it, too, but only because I want the Yankees to win.

        I don’t take random posters on the internets personally.

        Wang has been terrible and they can’t keep running him out there when there’s a much better option in the bullpen.

        Since May 15: 28.2 IP, 31K:9BB, 3.77 ERA.

        “Meanwhile, I don’t see the need to put so much emphasis on one start.”

        If it was only one start where CMW hasn’t met expectations, I’d agree, but he’s been throwing meatballs since the beginning of the regular season, and he wasn’t particularly good in spring training either.

    • thebusiness

      …………….

  • Doug

    “Finding the cause of the problem and fixing it is.”

    Absolutely it is. But, optimally, this should be done outside of the Yankee rotation. And therein lies the problem since he can’t be sent down.

    • SM

      Agreed. This is the point. No one (or most) should say that he it not valuable anymore, he clearly is. The point is what is the opitmal solution to get him right.

  • Nady Nation

    I understand everyone’s frustration with CMW right now, but I think it’s really crucial for the Yanks to get him back on track. For everyone that wants Hughes to be thrown back into the rotation for Wang immediately, consider the fact that this would mean in all likelihood, that Hughes and Joba will hit their innings limits by September. This would then leave us with 2 holes in the starting rotation for the stretch run of the season and the playoffs, with 2 of our 3 remaining starters being the up-and-down Pettitte and Burnett. Inserting Wang back into the rotation in September and hopefully having him regain his form then is an even scarier proposition than having him work out the kinks in June. If Wang rights himself, that means Hughes can be sent back down to get regular work at Scranton, and then come up again once another starter hits the DL, or Joba reaches his innings limit. This would make the team’s pitching MUCH deeper for September/October, and also provide the Yanks with a solid 1-4 staff for the playoffs. In summation, we need Wang.

    • ChrisS

      We don’t know what Hughes’s innings limit, but by a rough calculation, he’s thrown 146 IP in a season before, add 30, and he’s at 176. +/- and he can get to 185. Right now he’s at 59. He can average 7 IP (unlikely) per start from here to the end of September and still be under that limit. If they skip Joba a few times in the rotation, he’ll be at 150 in October and could be used out of the ‘pen.

      I can’t speak for the man, but I’m sure that Cashman and the army of consultants that inhabit the offices of YSIII have a plan in place for Hughes and Joba. They aren’t sitting there worrying about IP limits being reached in early August and having to shut down two of their 4 best pitchers and put them on the shelf for the playoffs.

      “Yes, Tyler, your question.”

      “Brian, it’s mid-September, your team is now three games back of Boston, tied in the wildcard. You said that Joba and Phil can’t pitch anymore because of innings limits. They have a 3.40 and 3.65 era respectively and have pitched great to this point. Who are you replacing them with in the rotation?”

      “Brett Tomko and Sergio Mitre.”

      • BklynJT

        Let’s not pretend that we know how the yankee front office intends on dealing with the inning limits issue regarding Hughes and Joba. We’ve seen how they’ve been babying the kids so far, and it would be improbable that they would diverge from that course when ChamberHughes reach their limits.

        • ChrisS

          Which is why I included this sentence in there: “but I’m sure that Cashman and the army of consultants that inhabit the offices of YSIII have a plan in place for Hughes and Joba.”

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        heh…we all know that’s a fruitless hypothetical, cause Brett Tomko won’t BE HERE in mid-September.

        My apologies and best wishes to Mrs. Tomko…

    • BklynJT

      Excellent points

      It just goes to show how much of marathon the baseball season is and all the big long term decisions that a front office/coach staff need to make. And on top of that, they have to deal with the constant knee jerk reactions of the fans and media.

  • SM

    Of course exiling him to the bullpen would not be a stellar but it sure seems like it is the best available option. It comes down to what is the best time for the coaches to workout his problem. I think the ability to try things bullpen sessions and non leverage game situations would be better than as the SP 1 every 5 days. Really it seems as it is the only viable option.

  • Bo

    Sometimes good pitchers just lose it. It happens. Bringing up his 19 win seasons is great but you can’t keep throwing this guy out there based on results from years ago. Some pitchers lose it. This guy was never a dominating pitcher. Hes a one pitch pitcher and if that pitch isn’t working he’s meat.

    • BklynJT

      Yeah, and sometimes good pitchers who lose it, get it right back. The Yankees should evaluate CMW situation and make any decisions because “sometimes good pitchers just lose it”.

      You can pretty much use that same excuse to give up on anything in life.

    • JP

      I think you’re overstating it a little, Bo. I agree that pitchers can lose it…I said it in one of my novels above. No question about it. But he was a dominating pitcher for 2 seasons. Not dominating on the level of Halladay or a guy like Beckett at his best, but he did have an ERA significantly below the league average for 2 years, and he was a groundball pitcher on a team with average to below average defense in the infield, so that says alot about his degree of proficiency.

      But I agree it looks bleak. I don’t give up yet, but the longer it goes on, the less chance I give him to regain any sort of good form.

  • yankee in virginia

    I wrote here and on other blogs last winter that the yankees needed to sign Burnett or Lowe because there was, to me, terrible uncertainty about CMW returning from that injury.

    There is no requirement to rehabilitate Wang – physical and mental in the starting rotation – the Yankees thankfully signed Burnette as protection — unfortunately they want to believe they have the workhorse – ace according to Michael Kay – he was a workhorse but he was never a #1 0r #2 on skills. Many on this bog were amazed and continually scrutiinzed his ability to generate outs, while worring about the low k rates. Theanalysts here and elswhere determined is was the “heavy” and late sink that made Wang “unique” — but still patient teams worked him into bad counts, he was poor from the stretch, carpet dfeated his gb/fb ratio — and he did not fre well in must games.

    None of that will change if he returns to the 2007 versionn of CMW — that is not good enough to hopld up the development of Hughes who — argued here in the do not trade for Santana analysis — has a legiimate shot at a #1 role; or even the development — now injured –IPK or the up and coming Brackman

    Let CMW learn another pitch in the pen and in long relief — put him in situations where the gb out puts the “fire” out and develop Hughes and Chamberlin.

    We may find in September that the 1 -2 -3 we need for the short series domination is Sabbathia Burnett and Hughes

    — Joba’s periodic loss of the strike zone may make the starter pen decision on its own and if CMW finds himself allow that September change to occur.

    • JP

      “…Joba’s periodic loss of the strike zone may make the starter pen decision on its own…”

      Do you mean that his lack of control would mandate putting him in the bullpen? If he’s being used in the so-called “leveraged” situations as a relief pitcher, I think the lack of control is even more of a problem than it is as a starter. At least as a starter, he starts with bases empty and has time to work out of his jams.

      Thread/topic hijack: Not making excuses, because Joba’s control problem is his problem, but Jorge makes it worse by arguing with him.

  • RAB poster

    I doubt Wang will be confined to the scrap heap after this start, but we can’t let him keep starting and doing terrible. Big game for Wang, what do you say?

  • jsbrendog

    carlos delgado was prob the worst offensive regular during the first half last yr. then he finished with arguably mvp type numbers. people can look finished and thne just put it together. and from wangs last 2 starts he does nto look finished. bad, yes. finished and gassed? no. hell, if all else fails teach him a knuckleball and he can opitch til he’s 60 like charlie hough

    • JP

      I really wish more pitching coaches could teach this pitch. I wonder how many “bad” knuckleball pitchers there have been in baseball history?

      My memory is that most knuckleballers are above average to very good pitchers, with the added bonus of being able to pitch lots of innings.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    ok, so he can’t be optioned (he doesnt have any).
    he can’t be Dl’d (he’s STILL not hurt…well, Dontrellitis aside that is).
    he won’t be released (most of us agree that’s a waste, and Cashman is included–for now it seems–as part of the definition of ‘most’)
    he won’t be DFA’d (somebody would pick him up–Natinls anyone? how funny would that be? i know i know, can’t be done in time)

    so that pretty much leaves what? the yankee bullpen or a spot on the 25 man and him in tampa.

    i could go for the latter, cause we’re wasting a spot on Berroa, so its not like we hold much value in those 25 slots, but i dont think thats realistic for more than a week or two.

    so its to the pen for the boy–good luck with your kid, take as much time as the MLB rules will let you have (Mo i hope its enough we can put somebody in his spot for 10 days), good luck on your next start, and when the bambino has 20 appropriate digits, work on getting your shit together and get your head back in it!!!