Jul
21

Pondering Wang’s — and the Yanks’ — future

By

A couple of hours before the Yanks and Orioles squared off last night, the Yankees announced a setback for Chien-Ming Wang. Their erstwhile ace, on the DL since July 4 with a strained right shoulder, had experienced some bicep pain during a throwing session, and the Yanks no longer sound certain they will get any contribution from Wang this season.

“It’s not exactly the news that I wanted,” Joe Girardi said to reporters. “We were hoping two weeks’ rest would be enough for him to get on a throwing program. Does it mean he won’t pitch this year? No, I’m not saying that. But obviously, it’s not going to be as soon as we thought.”

During the pre-game news conference, Girardi hinted that Wang’s rotator cuff may be suffering as part of this amorphous shoulder strain. “I think anytime you’re dealing with cuff issues or shoulder tendinitis or whatever you want to describe it as, there is concern,” Girardi said. “Whatever he is able to do, we would love to have. But I think anytime someone is injured and you’re not sure when they’re exactly going to be back, you can’t count on them.”

For the Yankees, these apparent injuries justify what had been a controversial off-season tactic. For the last few seasons, the Yankees have opted not to sign Wang to a long-term contract. Rather, they have gone year-to-year with the arbitration-eligible pitcher. They did so because Wang’s peripherals did not necessarily predict future success and because the pitcher, as we’ve seen, is volatile. If Wang is out for the rest of the year, he will have gone 1-6 with a 9.34 ERA over just 42 innings since June 15, 2008.

Meanwhile, the Yanks have some other pitching questions to resolve. In writing about Wang today in The Times, Tyler Kepner explores how the Yanks’ rotation depth is suffering with Wang out:

Wang had pitched decently in his last few starts, and Girardi acknowledged that the latest setback was another reason to be concerned about rotation depth. After Mitre, the Yankees’ next option in the minors is Kei Igawa, who has repeatedly failed in the majors.

Relievers Phil Hughes and Alfredo Aceves are natural starters, but Hughes has become so entrenched in short relief that Girardi said he could throw no more than 40 pitches now. Adding 15 pitches an outing, it would take Hughes four appearances before he could throw 100 pitches.

That is not an easy or appealing option, especially because Hughes has been invaluable in the bullpen. Entering Monday, he had a streak of 19 scoreless innings, the longest by a Yankee since Mariano Rivera’s 23-inning streak in 2005, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

It’s far too early to write off Sergio Mitre. He hasn’t even thrown a pitch as a member of the New York Yankees, but my expectations aren’t high. Beyond Mitre, Kepner’s mention of Igawa is enough to make me want to curl up in a corner in the fetal position.

The answer though is staring the Yanks in the face. Sure, Phil Hughes’ 19 scoreless innings of the pen is an impressive number, but good pitchers make for great relievers. If the Yanks truly expect nothing from Chien-Ming Wang right now, the team would be far better off moving Hughes into the rotation. He may be on a pitch count, but it’s easy to stretch him.

First, the Yanks can have him duplicate what he did on Friday. That evening, he threw 40 pitches out of the pen. The Yanks could then have him make a 65-pitch start as they were willing to do with Alfredo Aceves prior to the All Star break. The 80-pitch outing leaves the bullpen in limbo, but with Brett Tomko still on the active roster and Mark Melancon ready to hop on the Scranton shuttle, the Yankees have some flexibility. That would do it.

As for the late-inning relief efforts, the Yankees still have Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves ready, willing, and able to get the job done. It’s very tempting to keep Hughes in the late innings as a band-aid, but the Yankees need starters. Maybe Sergio Mitre can cut it, but Phil Hughes is the future while Mitre is a place-holder for Wang.

If Wang is out, if the Yanks are truly short in the rotation, it’s time to stretch out Hughes. He has the experience and the confidence. Now, all he needs is the work and the innings.

Categories : Pitching

192 Comments»

  1. Moshe Mandel says:

    Agree- if Wang is out long term, they probably should move Hughes to the rotation. That being said, the Yankees do not seem inclined to do so, and I think Hughes work out of the bullpen makes this a very difficult decision.

    • and I think Hughes work out of the bullpen makes this a very difficult decision.

      Which is dumb. You may be right, but Phil Hughes’ excellence in a limited, bench role (because that’s what the bullpen is equivalent to, the bench) should not influence the Yankees so much that they preclude themselves from hurting their bench to improve their starting lineup. That’s dumb.

      • Chris says:

        While that is generally the case, it may not be true in this instance. It’s possible that Hughes’ marginal value over his replacement in the bullpen would be greater than his marginal value over his replacement in the rotation. If Mitre (or whoever the 5th starter would be) can hold an ERA less than 5, then it’s likely that Hughes will save more runs for the Yankees by pitching out of the pen than in the rotation – despite pitching far fewer innings.

        • Mac says:

          >It’s possible that Hughes’ marginal value over his replacement in the bullpen would be greater than his marginal value over his replacement in the rotation.<

          Well said.

        • It’s possible that Hughes’ marginal value over his replacement in the bullpen would be greater than his marginal value over his replacement in the rotation.

          It is possible. It would be like the first time in recorded human history, but technically, yes, it is possible. It’s highly f#$%ing implausible, but yes, it is technically theoretically philosophically possible.

          If Mitre (or whoever the 5th starter would be) can hold an ERA less than 5, then it’s likely that Hughes will save more runs for the Yankees by pitching out of the pen than in the rotation – despite pitching far fewer innings.

          Not remotely. The fifth starter probably needs to hold an ERA of less than 3 in order to justify not moving Hughes into the rotation.

          • Moshe Mandel says:

            Don’t be so disdainful of a reasonable argument, TSJC. While Hughes could possibly be better as a starter, he could also be about what he was before he went to the bullpen. According to fangraphs, Hughes was 2.1 RAR as a starter in 34 innings, and is 7.4 RAR as a reliever in 21 innings. While those numbers would likely get closer as Hughes piles up more starting innings, it seems pretty clear that this is not a slam dunk decision.

            • AndrewYF says:

              Also, it’s possible and reasonable that a guy like Mitre can duplicate what Hughes has done or will do in the rotation. It’s not really reasonable to think that someone will duplicate what Hughes has done and will continue to do in the bullpen.

          • AndrewYF says:

            “Not remotely. The fifth starter probably needs to hold an ERA of less than 3 in order to justify not moving Hughes into the rotation.”

            This is a joke, right? Hughes had about a 5 ERA in the rotation, and it’s not remotely correct or fair to expect better than that.

            Hughes, unlike Joba, has never had sustained success in the rotation at the major league level. Hughes, also unlike Joba, has 2 above-average pitches. (Maybe. His fastball is truly an above-average pitch, at least when he can let it loose. His curveball has not really been impressing. He’s been mowing down batters with his fastball.) Not 4.

            It may well be possible that, right now, Hughes is more valuable in the bullpen holding late leads and keeping the team in the game, than struggling in the rotation with an expected ERA of 5.

            • This is a joke, right? Hughes had about a 5 ERA in the rotation, and it’s not remotely correct or fair to expect better than that.

              Yes it is. He had bad outings initially. But when we moved him to the bullpen, people were complaining at caterwauling, and rightly so, because he was a dominant starter and looked WAY, WAY better not only than CMW, the man he was bumped for, but looked better than Joba and Andy as well. When we moved Hughes to the bullpen in June, he was our third best starting pitcher and one of the best starters in the game.

              • AndrewYF says:

                Let’s stop with the “Hughes was pitching great” argument. He wasn’t. He had one good start against Texas, and then had a crappy start against Cleveland. He went above 5 innings twice this year, once in Detroit and that Texas start.

          • Chris says:

            The fifth starter probably needs to hold an ERA of less than 3 in order to justify not moving Hughes into the rotation.

            If we assume the following performance for Hughes for the rest of the year:

            as reliever: 2.0ERA in 30 innings
            as starter: 4.5ERA in 60 innings

            If you replace his innings as a starter with someone with an ERA of 5, then Hughes would have saved about 3 runs the rest of the season. If you replace him as a reliever with someone with an ERA of 3, then Hughes would have saved the same 3 runs.

            Considering that his ERA as a starter is 5.45, his ERA as a reliever is 0.84 and you’re not likely to find someone to replace him that can hold down an ERA of 3.0, I don’t think it’s a far-fetched scenario to consider that he would be more valuable in the pen for the rest of the season.

            • Phil Hughes’s first four starts this year:
              7.56 ERA, 23 H, 12 BB, 10 K, 4 HR, 15 R in 16.2 IP, .333/.435/.594 against

              Phil Hughes’s last three starts this year:
              3.50 ERA, 14 H, 3 BB, 21 K, 2 HR, 7 R in 18.0 IP, .215/.274/.415 against

              Stop acting like Phil Hughes is a crappy starting pitcher. He struggled and then righted himself. The dominance you see in the bullpen now is an extrapolation of the dominance he showed as a starting pitcher, this year.

              You’re not going to find a fifth starter who can outperform a 3.50 ERA and a 21/3 K/BB ratio. Not without drastically overpaying.

              • Moshe Mandel says:

                Point is, he has been 3 times as valuable in the bullpen than the rotation in fewer innings. This is just not a slam dunk.

                • Point is, he has been 3 times as valuable in the bullpen than the rotation in fewer innings. This is just not a slam dunk.

                  Likely because it’s easier to be dominant as a reliever vs. a starter because you’re less exposed. You face fewer hitters and only face them once a game. The degree of difficulty is far lessened.

                  Again, though, he hasn’t been three times as valuable. He’s been three times as dominant. There’s a massive difference. Phil Hughes has been lights out as a reliever in a very, very small role. We’d be better served with him being merely fairly good in a much larger role.

                • Chris says:

                  Actually he has been 3 times more valuable. Per Moshe’s earlier comment:

                  According to fangraphs, Hughes was 2.1 RAR as a starter in 34 innings, and is 7.4 RAR as a reliever in 21 innings.

                • Runs above replacement is not a direct correlation to value. That would be wins above replacement.

                  Phil Hughes, even despite his gaudy relief RAR, has a WAR of 0.9. Joba Chamberlain and Andy Pettitte have WAR’s of 1.0 and 1.2 respectively.

                  Dominance and value are not the same thing. Fairly good Phil Hughes the starter helps this team win more than super-dominant Phil Hughes the 8th Inning Lockdown Guy.

                • Moshe Mandel says:

                  I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure fangraphs counts RAR in the rotation and in the pen equally, and then translates that to WAR. More innings may help if you are pitching well, but Hughes vaue thus far is still skewed towards him relief work, heavily.

                • Chris says:

                  To go from RAR to WAR, you basically divide by 10. So for Hughes, it’s (2.1+7.4)/10 which is where the 0.9 WAR comes from.

                  Here are the top 5 most valuable pitchers on the Yankees:

                  CC Sabathia – 3.0 WAR
                  Mariano River – 1.3 WAR
                  AJ Burnett – 1.3 WAR
                  Andy Pettitte – 1.2 WAR
                  Joba Chamberlain – 1.0 WAR

                  It’s good to see that all 5 of them are starting pitchers.

                  As for Hughes, he spent 49 days in the rotation (from first start to last) and 50 days in the pen (since his last start). In the same time in both roles, he’s been 3 times more valuable as a reliever. I doubt that dig a difference will remain going forward, but it’s also certainly not a sure thing that he will immediately become more valuable as a starter than a reliever.

                • Chris says:

                  Also, don’t get me wrong. I think the Yankees should stretch him out and move him to the rotation as the 5th starter. Long term he should be a starter, as he is very likely to improve his performance as a starter, but not likely to improve on the 0.0 ERA he has in his last 13 appearances in relief.

                  Ultimately, I think it’s a wash as far as his value to the team this year. His development would likely be helped by starting, but there is also probably a slightly greater risk of injury by trying to stretch him out. The Yankees have committed to him being a starter long term, and I won’t get too worked up about how they handle him the rest of this year.

                • Also, don’t get me wrong. I think the Yankees should stretch him out and move him to the rotation as the 5th starter. Long term he should be a starter, as he is very likely to improve his performance as a starter, but not likely to improve on the 0.0 ERA he has in his last 13 appearances in relief.
                  Ultimately, I think it’s a wash as far as his value to the team this year. His development would likely be helped by starting, but there is also probably a slightly greater risk of injury by trying to stretch him out. The Yankees have committed to him being a starter long term, and I won’t get too worked up about how they handle him the rest of this year.

                  And to me, that point (the personal benefit to Hughes’ development by him being a starter again) and one more point (the fact that we’ll only have CC, AJ, and Andy as playoff starter options since Joba has an impending innings cap) should be the tiebreakers pushing Hughes to the bullpen.

                  I get that Hughes in the bullpen makes the bullpen better. But not only would a good Phil Hughes the starter solidify the 5th starter role, but our current 3rd and 4th starters are Joba and Andy, and they’re far from locks to pitch well, and one or both of them could be unavailable for October. There’s a gigantic likelihood that we’ll need Hughes to be a playoff starter. Might as well get him ready now.

                • rbizzler says:

                  Per the Joba innings cap, do we know if that pertains to the postseason? My recollection was that Cash stated that innings limits did not apply once the playoffs started.

                  Could be that I misinterpreted, but I couldn’t find a link in support.

                • Chris says:

                  At this point, the Yankees may let Joba continue pitching and just skip him a couple starts in September, then leave him in the rotation in the post-season. Considering the 4th starter would only make 3 starts at most in the post season, I think they could accomodate this within his innings limit.

                  I’m guessing that the biggest thing holding the Yankees back from moving Hughes to the rotation right now (assuming they’re not already planning it) was Joba’s shoulder injury last year and not Hughes’ projected value in each role. If they’re at all concerned about an injury, then I think that would trump all other considerations, since I think we can all agree that an injured Phil Hughes is the least valuable option of all.

              • Chris says:

                Talk about small sample size. You’re basically basing his future performance as a starter this year off his one excellent start in Texas? Of his last 3 starts, 2 were ok (7 runs in 10 innings) and one was great (0 runs in 8 innings).

                Maybe you’re right, and he will pitch that well going forward, but that’s certainly not the obvious conclusion.

                If we redo my analysis above assuming that he really turned a corner and assume the following performance:

                as reliever: 0.5ERA in 30 innings
                as starter: 3.5ERA in 60 innings

                Then replacing him as a starter with someone with a 5.0 ERA would have the same value as replacing him as a reliever with someone with a 3.5 ERA. Again, his replacement as a starter doesn’t need to be better than him, just closer to his performance than his replacement as a reliever.

              • Klemy says:

                “The dominance you see in the bullpen now is an extrapolation of the dominance he showed as a starting pitcher, this year.”

                I’m in agreement with this statement. He was coming on to what he’s doing now before they moved him to the bullpen.

        • Mike bk says:

          even if you can argue that he would save more runs for the yanks out of the pen it is still the short sided view that hurts Hughes development by limiting his innings. I dont see Mitre being more than a 5 inning pitcher so now you are either wasting Ace for 2 days or we are into the Tomko, Robertson section of the pen because Girardi is not going to leave Hughes in the pen to pitch 6 and 7 behind Mitre.

          i would rather Hughes-Aceves-Mo than Mitre-Robertson-Aceves-Hughes-Mo as far as starter to pen in a game.

  2. Andy Stankiewicz says:

    Where is Shawn Chacon when you need him?
    I can see Cashman trading for a 5th starter before the trade deadline.

  3. Brian Cashman is Watching says:

    With Damaso Marte returning, if he shows he is healthy and can pitch well, combined with Coke and Aceves, that may take pressure off the bullpen and allow Hughes to move to the rotation. Melancon could make the transition easier by pitching well (same for Bruney), but for now Marte may be the key to the starting rotation.

    • As Joe noted yesterday, Marte is due to arrive at AAA today. Marte could be back by the end of this week or early next week.

      • With CC and AJ pitching well, plus Joba and Pettitte now pitching well again, plus Hughes presumably pitching well in the rotation (since that’s what he was doing when we took him out of the rotation and what he’s done in tiny doses in the bullpen), we have the ability to throw a good starter out there every day.

        Having 5 good starters makes every bullpen better. With our rotation, a pen of Mo-Aceves-Coke-Bruney-Marte-Robertson-Tomko is plenty. That 12-man staff is championship caliber.

        • BklynJT says:

          plus Joba and Pettitte now pitching well again

          It was one game by Joba and Pettitte, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I wanna see a lot more consistency from those 2 here on out.

          • Sam P. says:

            +1 times infinity.

            I’m not ready to say Pettitte is back, nor the same for Joba. Encouraged? Absolutely on both fronts. But let’s see two or three consecutive starts where they look good and then call them back to normal.

            • Klemy says:

              Same. I don’t expect Andy to pitch like that every time out. It’s great when it happens, but I don’t expect it.

  4. Greg says:

    My only problem with moving Hughes back to the rotation is the concern of how it would impact its health. He went from starter to reliever and going back to starter on relatively short notice could cause problems for a pitcher who has already had his fair share of injuries. If the Yankees don’t think this is will be a problem, I’m all for it.

  5. Nady Nation says:

    Assuming Mitre does a serviceable job as the 5th starter and the Yanks continue to keep Hughes as their lockdown setup man in the pen, when Joba nears his innings limit in early September, do you flip-flop him and Hughes? I just can’t see them shutting down Joba in the thick of the pennant race, especially with their mentality so far this year (how could Cashman tell Mariano that he’s shutting down of the team’s best young pitchers with a month to go?)

    • Joba’s right now on pace for just 167 regular season innings, and the Yankees have never announced Joba’s innings cap. I wouldn’t worry too much about it quite yet.

      • The Lodge says:

        I was wondering whether the Yanks are pondering this exact same course of action (as laid out so eloquently by Mr. Nation). It wouldn’t be all that bad (my second choice after Hughes back to the rotation, I guess).

        If you had to guess, Ben, Where would you put the over/under on Joba’s innings limit – considering the blossoming pennant race and Ca$hman’s willingness to take risks (or lack thereof) with the young guns?

      • TLVP says:

        I estimate that there are 26 or 27 strats left which AJ, CC or Andy won’t start (more if course if one of them goes down…)

        If Joba takes half of those starts and pitches 6 innings he’d end up around 175 innings even before th post season – if he only pitches 5 innings we’re down at a more acceptable 160 innings. However if he pitches well will the Yankees really pull him after 5-6 innings? I fear someone will need to fill the last 2-3 of those starts as Joba moves to the penn

        Assuming Joba makes 10 more starts that leaves 17 starts from other starters. Mitre might work for some of them but honestly we need Wang back or we need to move Hughes to the rotation. Using Mitre for 4-5 starts and stretch Hughes out in the meantime to 80-100 pitches, seems like the best course of action to me. Then Mitre would be available to take over the last few of Joba’s starts

    • TLVP says:

      you’re spot on – the question becomes even more pertinent if we reach the post season, if Wang is out and Joba has reached his limit who’d be our 4th starter in the postseason? I think we’re not going to go with CC on short rest…

      Hughes as a starter and Joba as the set up man during the post season becomes a possibility if we take our chance on Mitre for 4-5 starts

      • Wang is out and Joba has reached his limit who’d be our 4th starter in the postseason? I think we’re not going to go with CC on short rest…

        Plan A was for our four-man playoff rotation to be CC-AJ-Wang-Pettitte (since both Joba and Hughes figured to be out of innings for the playoffs.)

        Now, the plan should be CC-AJ-Pettitte-Hughes.

        • TLVP says:

          Which means we nned to stretch him at some point

          • Yup. No time like the present.

            Seriously, for the people who want Hughes in the bullpen for all of 2009, with Joba due to get shut down and Wang up in the air, who do you really want starting that game 4 of the playoffs?

            Do you really want a playoff foursome of CC-AJ-Andy Pettitte-Sergio Mitre? You’re willing to give not just a July start against the Orioles but an October start against the Red Sox, Tigers, or Angels to Sergio Mitre?

            Because our 5th starter right now is going to have to become our 4th starter in October.

            Let me say that again:

            Our 5th starter right now is going to have to become our 4th starter in October.

            • TLVP says:

              we keep agreeing with each other but i’d just point out that our 5th starter is likely to become our 4th starter already in mid September…

              If Hughes is in the penn and Joba has reached his limit we could look at Igawa…

              • The Lodge says:

                I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

              • Colombo says:

                when I saw mention of Igawa’s name, I heard a faint sound in the distance…it was like a combination of babies crying, dogs barking, and nails on a chalkboard…i asked myself, what could that sound be, then, I heard off in the distance, “that sound you hear is the sound of chaos…”

                Kei Igawa making a start for the Yankees this year = armaggedon, apocalypse, the end of days, and the rapture all rolled into one…

  6. Little Bill says:

    I think Hughes should be starting, but it’s clear the Yankees will not move him out of the bullpen this year. He is staying there. If Mitre fails tomorrow, they start to look at trade options.

    I keep arguing Hughes should be a starter and I think everyone agrees he should be long term, but it just seems this argument is irrelevant because the Yankees are going to keep him in the bullpen for the rest of this year.

  7. Todd says:

    “As for the late-inning relief efforts, the Yankees still have Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves ready, willing and able to get the job done.”

    This is highly debateable. And even if they can serve as the bridge to Mo, then who pitches the sixth and seventh in close games? Taking Hughes out of high pressure 8th innings changes everybody’s role. The Angel’s series showed just how important Ace is in his current role. The Yanks started winning when the bullpen became a strength. I will be highly disappointed if the Yanks messed with this.

    • Little Bill says:

      And I think Bruney’s failure when he returned from injury solidified that Hughes isn’t going to be moved out of the bullpen. They really only have confidence in 4 relievers- Mo, Hughes, Aceves, Coke. I just don’t see them messing with Hughes-Mo at the end of games this year. The train has already left the station.

    • Chris says:

      The Angels series showed how important quality starting pitching is. The first two games, our starters didn’t make it through the 5th inning. When that happens you’re going to have a tough time winning regardless of who is in the bullpen.

      • Todd says:

        Go back and look at the box scores. While what you are saying is true, the offense scored runs. There was a trickle down effect because Ace was unavailable to stop the bleeding. And, the offense scored enough runs to overcome in those games. And the bottom line is that both team’s starters were knocked out early, but their bullpen out pitched our bullpen.

        Again, no scenerio is perfect. But the Yanks stumbled onto a winning formula. And even if the 5th starter situation is challenged, I think a lot of teams, including the Sox, are having similar problems.

        • Mike bk says:

          you can use the Ace argument for 1 game not all 3. he wouldnt have pitched multiple innings every day so the fact that none of our starters stepped up would have ruined the series anyway.

        • Chris says:

          I did look at the box scores. The problem wasn’t missing Aceves. The problem was that the bullpen had to throw 12 innings in 3 days. Aceves could have pitched what, 3 of those? It certainly would have helped, but Melancon and Robertson (who gave up the bulk of the bullpen runs that weekend) would still have had to pitch because the starters didn’t go deep enough into the games.

  8. Have Mitre start tonight and pitch Hughes for 40 pitches in relief of him. Do the same on Sunday, with Hughes throwing 65 pitches in relief (maybe coming in in the 5th inning or so). Give Hughes the start on the 31st and move Mitre to the bullpen.

    If we’re concerned about overtaxing the bullpen, we may want to demote Brett Gardner for two weeks while we make the transition so that we can promote both Albaladejo and Melancon at the same time, carrying 13 pitchers. With Damon-Melky-Swisher-Hinske all healthy and none of them atrociously poor defenders or poor hitters, we can survive with the four of them alone in the OF mix for two weeks.

    Keep monitoring the trade market for a good bullpen option to replace Hughes. Qualls, Rauch, Capps, Grabow, Wuertz, Ziegler, Breslow, Rhodes, Weathers, Baez, Betancourt, etc.

    Even if we find nothing to our liking, though, a Mo-Coke-Aceves-Bruney-Marte-Robertson-Mitre-Tomko-Albaladejo-Melancon-Edwar-Claggett pool will be sufficient to find a quality seven-some of relievers.

    ——-

    In terms of Wang, Pettitte, Joba, Hughes, and what to do for 2010, I’d like to see us kick the tires on Ben Sheets and Tim Hudson as Wang insurance, maybe starting them on rehab assignments like what the Sox did with Smoltz this year.

    Opening day rotation of CC, AJ, Joba, Hughes, and Wang/Sheets/Hudson/IPK duke it out for the 5th starter spot in March.

    • Mike bk says:

      why would u demote gardner over dfa ransom under this idea. then when you would bring gardner back you just call up ransom instead. hinskie isnt that much worse than ransom at 3b for the 1 or 2 games he would be there for a-rod.

      • A.D. says:

        If you DFA Ransom you have no back-up middle infielder, you want one of those.

        • Mike bk says:

          you only really need one if there is an injury because Jete and Cano dont take days off otherwise. his scenario was for 2 weeks not the rest of the year as well. not to mention if mitre is staying in the pen while hughes flips the other way there is no need for tomko so he could be dfa’ed.

          • What A.D. said.

            We currently have 5 infielders (for 4 starting spots) and 5 outfielders (for three starting spots). We can get by for 2 weeks with only one reserve outfielder instead of two. We can’t go two weeks with no utility infielder, that’s crazy.

          • not to mention if mitre is staying in the pen while hughes flips the other way there is no need for tomko so he could be dfa’ed.

            I was specifically mentioning demoting Gardner to be able to carry an extra (13th) pitcher so that we can make Hughes’s transition to the rotation less taxing by having a deeper bullpen. DFA’ing Tomko defeats that purpose.

            • Mike bk says:

              you still have an extra pitcher as Mitre is stretched to pitch much longer than Tomko and Albie fills Tomko’s role.

              • Okay. If you want to talk about DFA’ing Tomko so that you can bring Albie back up, sure, whatevs. That’s a separate convo.

                All I was saying was, demote Gardner, tag-team Hughes and Mitre in a 5th starter timeshare of some sort, and carry 13 pitchers so that we still have a 7 man bullpen not counting Hughes or Mitre.

                Who those 7 men not named Hughes or Mitre are is ancillary at this point. Whether it’s Tomko, Robertson, Albie, Melancon, Marte, same diff, it’s the back end of the pen. Once Hughes is up to speed, Mitre moves into that back end of the pen conversation (as long as he pitched well, that is) and the extra pitcher gets demoted /DFA’d as necessary so that Gardner can come back up.

                • Mike bk says:

                  and all im saying is if u think albie is that important mitre makes tomko redundant so there is no need to send gardner down at all.

                • [ facepalm ]

                  That’s the point. I WANT THE REDUNDANCY. I specifically said to demote Gardner so that we’d have TOO MANY PITCHERS in the bullpen so that we’d never have an overtaxed bullpen while we make the transition to Hughes in the rotation.

                  It’s a temporary, deliberate, intentional redundancy to serve a very specific purpose.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  yes. there is. youre not listening. you need to send gardner down so you have 13 pithcers because if you are oding a mitre/hughes flip flop[ they count as one starter leaving you 1 short in the pen until their 3 or 4 comnbiined start meaning you need to send gardner down and bring up albie. then, when the conversion si complete you dfa tmoko and bring up gardner and mitre replaces tomko

                • jsbrendog says:

                  wow. me = epic EPIC type fail

      • UWS says:

        You can’t call up Ransom once he’s DFAed unless he clears waivers.

  9. DSFC says:

    Even if Marte can’t make it back, trading for a reliever is a much easier deal to swing than dealing for even a back of the rotation starter. It has to be Hughes.

  10. Mike bk says:

    the only way they really move hughes back to the rotation this year is if bruney steps back up and shows he can take the spot but it is very difficult for him to do that when girardi doesnt trust him enough to ever pitch him.

    i wish they believed in Ace, Coke and Marte enough to move Hughes back into the rotation but if they did then Ace wouldnt have been the one with the spot start in Minnesota and Phil would already be stretched out to 80 pitches for today.

  11. Jake H says:

    I think they need to have Hughes throw 40 pitches out of the pen then bump him up to start the next time teamed with Tomko. Now I don’t like Tomko at all but he can give innings and really that is what the Yanks will need with Hughes only going 4 innings to 5 innings. This works with Marte coming back. Plus the Yanks could add some BP help or get Melancon right.

  12. DSFC says:

    I also think people have written Robertson off way too quickly.

    • Jake H says:

      The guy needs to throw more strikes. He K’s a ton but he walks a lot of guys too.

    • Zach says:

      not really. 6.4 BB9 in the bigs this year, 4.5 BB9 last year, 3.7 BB/9 in AAA this year, 4.4 BB9 in AAA last year. You cant continue to be successful when you away that many free base runners- especially if you come in with people already on base. I’m not saying he’s trash, I like him, but he needs to improve on that part of his game before I want him in 1 run games in the 7-8th

  13. Tank Foster says:

    It’s hard to decide what to do when we have only part of the story on Wang.

    I don’t like the idea of switching Hughes back and forth from starter to reliever multiple times during a season. For a young arm, I think that is a risky thing to do, no less risky than having him have a huge jump in innings next season.

    So if we’re talking about a 2 week setback with Wang, I say just leave Hughes alone.

    If they decide to shut Wang down completely, then I think you can argue that you start stretching Hughes out, but with the caveat that you don’t return him to high stress bullpen pitching later in the year. Another thing that hasn’t been suggested is relegating Wang to the bullpen when he returns, where he likely could be reasonably effective.

    • Mike bk says:

      thats what the apologists said of not moving hughes in the first place…its only a month and would only be 3 or 4 starts. if wang is not throwing at all again until friday he wont be back on this roster or at least he shouldnt be for at least another 4 weeks which puts us probably around the end of August. At that point let Wang work out of the pen until Joba hits his innings cap in Early September.

  14. Mike Axisa says:

    I would hate for Brian Cashman to have to tell Mariano Rivera that he’s taking Phil Hughes out of his bullpen.

    /yesterday’d

  15. Reggie C. says:

    Working from the premise that Wang is done for the rest of the season, I think the Yankees have to proceed with replacing not only Pettitte’s spot on the rotation, but also with the realization that Wang is not going to reclaim his prior form.

    I’m not saying Wang should be DFA’d. Cashman should keep Wang on the roster, but realize that he’s the 5th starter. Cash can’t ignore the injuries, but Wang should be afforded a shot at keeping his spot.

    • I think the Yankees have to proceed with replacing not only Pettitte’s spot on the rotation, but also…

      Andy Pettitte is not gonna get taken out of the rotation unless Joba and Hughes are both in it and pitching lights out and CMW comes back strong like ox pitching like an ace again.

      Not gonna happen. CC, AJ, and Pettitte are making every single turn through the rotation going forward. Write it in stone.

      • Mike bk says:

        i think he might have been referring to next year not the rest of this one since he was assuming wang is done for this year.

      • Chris says:

        CC, AJ, and Pettitte are making every single turn through the rotation going forward. Write it in stone.

        I have no where near that level of confidence that all three will remain healthy enough to make all of their remaining starts.

      • Reggie C. says:

        I can see how you drew your comment from my post. I meant to time these moves or non-moves in 2010.

        Yep…the context of time wasn’t too clear.

  16. Kiersten says:

    I still think we should take a chance on Mulder, if he’s healthy. I know we all think Hughes should start, but he is in the pen for the rest of the season, so this argument is moot. Take a chance on Mulder, not expecting him to be the no. 1-2 starter he was 5 years ago, but to be exactly what we need, a no. 5. And if he fails, well then we’re no worse off than we are now.

  17. CountryClub says:

    I’m all for Hughes being a starter and I was never happy about him going to the pen to begin with, but at this point they should leave him there.

    We’re talking about the 5th starter. It’d be different if the Yanks were looking for a 3rd starter. Mitre could surprise us. Or cash could pick up a solid back rotation guy in a trade.

    I just dont think it’s worth the injury risk of stretching him back out when he’s just going right back to the pen for the playoffs.

    • 5th starters >>>>>>>> any single bullpen pitcher (even the closer)

      • AndrewYF says:

        Not 5th starters who put up ERAs in the 5 range.

        • Good thing Phil Hughes was putting up an ERA in the 3.50 range when we demoted him to the bullpen.

          • Chris says:

            SSS FTW!

            • Phil Hughes’s bad outings as a starter in 2009: a small sample size
              Phil Hughes’s good outings as a starter in 2009: a small sample size
              Phil Hughes’s good relief appearances in 2009: a small sample size

              I like how people arguing that I’m playing with small sample sizes when I say that we shouldn’t let the 21 innings Phil Hughes threw in the bullpen in 2009 count for more than the thousand or so innings Phil Hughes has thrown as a starter in his life.

              We need a 5th starter more than we need an 8th inning guy. That’s a universal baseball truth. Every team needs a good 5th starter more than they need a great 8th inning guy. Phil Hughes has been both a good starter and a great bullpen guy.

              Put him where he helps us the most.

              • Chris says:

                Put him where he helps us the most.

                According to the stats, that would be the bullpen.

                • Chip says:

                  No, according to common sense that would be in the rotation. Have you been paying attention to the Joba fiasco? Joba this year has been much more valuable than Hughes even though Joba has struggled as a starter and Hughes has been one of the best relievers in the league

                • Chris says:

                  Joba has been worth 1.0 wins this year (10.8 Runs). Hughes has been worth 0.9 wins (9.5 runs). Also consider that Hughes has spent the same amount of time (50 days) in the rotation as in the pen, but 3/4 of his value comes as a reliever.

                  Yes, in the long run both are more valuable in the rotation, but for this year only, there is evidence that suggests Hughes will be more valuable out of the pen.

              • thurdonpaul says:

                what about the chances of hurting his arm ?

                • It’s an unfortunate but necessary risk. Exercise extreme caution and don’t push him until he’s ready.

                • “what about the chances of hurting his arm ?”

                  I want Hughes in the rotation, but THIS scares the shit out of me and is the only thing that really gives me pause when considering this issue. I haven’t brought it up myself before now because I’m no expert in this area, but now that the cat’s out of the bag… Yeah, I really don’t like the idea of moving a prized young arm from the rotation to the bullpen and then back again in a matter of a month or two – which is really why he never should have been sent to the bullpen in the first place, but that’s a moot point now. This whole exercise (Hughes in the ‘pen) never made any sense and I get pissed off just thinking about that decision.

                • This whole exercise (Hughes in the ‘pen) never made any sense and I get pissed off just thinking about that decision.

                  Exactly. Hughes was our 6th starter. He was our safety net in case something went wrong with one of our top five starters, like, oh, say, Joba having an innings cap and needing to be shut down, or Andy starting to suck and ceasing to be a reliable option, or Wang utterly imploding and missing most of the year with injuries. You know, stuff like that.

                  It’s ironic to me that many of the same people who constantly praise the Red Sox shrewd moves of signing Smoltz and Penny even though they already had Buccholz wanted one of our starters to go to the pen (when it was Hughes v. Wang) and now don’t want Hughes to leave the pen.

                  Teams need starting pitchers. It’s a fact. You always want to have more than you need, even if it means some of them twiddle their thumbs in AAA.

          • Nady Nation says:

            Wasn’t his ERA as a starter 5.35?

      • CountryClub says:

        My point is that they can probably find a guy to fill the 5th starter’s role without having to risk stretching Hughes back out.

      • BklynJT says:

        Looking through the numbers, a 5th starter is obviously more valuable than a bullpen pitcher mainly because of the large difference in innings, but I’d rather have a great closer than a good 5th starter any day. A bad 5th starter can lose you 1 game out of every 5, a bad closer can lose you 3 games out of every 5.

        There is a thing to say about the importance of the innings pitched when taking into account pitcher value (WAR or other), which I am not sure is considered in the formulas.

        My personal feeling is that if Mitre can be serviceable 5th starter (6 innings 3 runs, which is the most we can EXPECT of Hughes), there is no value in moving Hughes to the rotation to take Mitre’s spot, since Hughes is having such a huge impact on the bullpen. Also, I’m not so quick to believe that the bullpen will be able to duplicate it’s success without Hughes in their.

        Let’s just say, there is a lot of “hoping things work out right” when you change things, proactively, when things are going so well.

        • Let’s just say, there is a lot of “hoping things work out right” when you change things, proactively, when things are going so well.

          Frankly, if things were going so well, we wouldn’t have Sergio Mitre starting a game for us.

          • BklynJT says:

            I should of been more clear, I meant things going so well with the bullpen at this point. When I said “Hoping things work out right”, I was referring to the bullpen staying good without Hughes and Hughes bringing this success to the rotation.

            Notice, that when the bullpen is going well, we dont see the Melacon, Bruney, Albaladejo, Robertsons, and Tomko pitching. When our bullpen is giving up runs, it’s those same guys doing it. If we were going to transition Hughes to the rotation, you’d have to expect that the first couple of outings that these guys get into games (especially since they haven’t pitched since prior to all star break) they will be rusty and probably pitch poorly giving up runs and possibly blowing leads. We may end up losing a couple games there, like in the Angel’s series (I recon we could of won 2 of those games if we had Hughes and Aceves available). This all should be taken into consideration before any decision is made. ie. how many wins are we really gaining by making this move.

            Based on your reputation, a part of me feels that you knew what I meant but made that reply anyway =)

            • Things going well with the rotation >>>>>>>>>>> things going well with the bullpen

              • BklynJT says:

                TSJC, please address these 2 points

                1. Shouldn’t we see how Mitre does before we go making any decisions?

                2. If Mitre puts can provide “quality” starts, woudl you still move Hughes to the rotation?

                3. Is it realistic to expect more than “quality” starts from Hughes if moved back to the rotation? SSS or not, the only samples we have of Hughes as a starter in the majors points to a league average pitcher so far.

                4. If Mitre provides “quality starts” and Hughes also provides “quality starts” what is the value (for this year’s team) in moving Hughes to the rotation (weakening our bullpen to get similar results that Mitre provided)?

                • BklynJT says:

                  When I said 2, I really meant 4.

                • First of all, that was four points, not two. Which reminds me of this:

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0yq8MhilCk

                  But I digest.

                  1. Shouldn’t we see how Mitre does before we go making any decisions?

                  I say no. Because frankly, even if he pitches well, with Wang gone indefinitely, if we don’t move Hughes back we’re looking at a SP depth chart of CC-AJ-Pettitte-Joba-Mitre and then probably Igawa. With Joba due to hit an innings restriction of some sort that either moves him to the pen or shuts him down immediately, Hughes is needed to start games in September and October, even if Mitre pitches well.

                  If Mitre’s dominant, I’ve got no problem taking starts away from Andy Pettitte and rolling with a CC-AJ-Hughes-Mitre playoff rotation. If Mitre’s just mediocre, Andy gets the nod over him.

                  2. If Mitre puts can provide “quality” starts, woudl you still move Hughes to the rotation?

                  3. Is it realistic to expect more than “quality” starts from Hughes if moved back to the rotation? SSS or not, the only samples we have of Hughes as a starter in the majors points to a league average pitcher so far.

                  4. If Mitre provides “quality starts” and Hughes also provides “quality starts” what is the value (for this year’s team) in moving Hughes to the rotation (weakening our bullpen to get similar results that Mitre provided)?

                • Whoops, sorry, didn’t finish.

                  2) Yes, see above.

                  3) No, the only samples we have of Hughes thus far is wildly intermittent swings between poor, league average, and lights-out dominant. Yes, it’s a risk that he won’t be as good. But there’s lots of evidence he will be, and if he’s not, he’ll go back to the pen anyway, no harm, no foul.

                  4) See #1 and #2. We need SP depth more than we need BP depth at the moment. Doubly so in October.

                • BklynJT says:

                  1) I highly doubt that Girardi will flip out Pettitte in favor of Mitre or Hughes.

                  2) If Joba does approach his limits, we will definitely need Hughes in the rotation, and the transition to move him to there needs to take place several starts before Joba begins ramping down (probably a transition to the pen).

                  3) I’m just hoping that it is “no harm, no foul” cause it can easily turn out to be very harmful (bullpen implosion or worse injury to Hughes)

                  4) My personal feel is to wait as long as possible before having to move Hughes back to the rotation. Whichever occurs first between a. Mitre blows up, b. Someone else gets injured, c. Joba nearing limit and gets moved to bullpen. If Mitre can provide quality starts, I would hold off on moving Hughes back to the rotation until needed

      • Noah says:

        According to fangraphs, Mariano has been worth 13.0 runs above replacement as a closer, while Andy Pettitte has been worth 12.5 runs above replacement as a starting pitcher. The phrase “5th starters” certainly implies a season worse than Pettitte’s 2009 with a 4.62 ERA. This is even before factoring in leverage, which would arguably make Rivera’s runs saved worth 1.73 times as much as Pettitte’s (the ratio of their leverage indexes)

  18. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    I would think Nova would be next in line after Igawa. Actually, I think I may be above Igawa on the depth chart.

    I like the idea of stretching Hughes in the bullpen but, really, can we wait and see what Mitre does first? One of these non-Josh Johnson Marlin guys has to pan out, and we didn’t take a flyer on this guy for no reason. I’m curious as to what he can do.

    • Chris says:

      My guess is that Nova would get the call first, but that’s just a guess. Nova will almost definitely be added to the 40-man this offseason (to protect him from the Rule 5 draft), so adding him earlier so he could make a spot start wouldn’t be that big a deal. I can’t see them adding Igawa now, just to release him again this offseason so they can add Nova.

    • AndrewYF says:

      Nova is not in line for anything. He’s 22, and has, what, 4 AAA starts under his belt? The Yankees aren’t going to ruin him by rushing him to the majors.

      • CountryClub says:

        Normally I’d agree with you, but out of necessity, the Yanks have probably rushed all of their young pitchers in the past couple of years.

        • AndrewYF says:

          And look what good it did them.

          • BklynJT says:

            And do you really think they will learn from their mistakes?

            • AndrewYF says:

              They’re calling on Mitre instead of Nova, aren’t they? And, yeah, Igawa is next in line.

              If the Yankees have a playoff spot locked down by September, Nova will likely get a spot start or two, because he’ll be on the 40-man anyway. But he’s going to start next year in AAA, and hopefully will be ready for a callup then.

              He’s not ready now, and the Yankees aren’t going to ruin him.

              • CountryClub says:

                Just to clarify, I never said Nova was ready. I think Cash will make a trade for a back end rotation guy if Mitre doesnt work out.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  who? everyone keeps saying yeah cashman will find a 5th starter. where? and how much mroe than he is worth will he have to give up with philly, LA, and everyone and their mother looking for another starter? (brewers, rangers, everyone’s mother)

                • KG Sturnz0r says:

                  HUUUUUUUUGHES!!! Why trade for someone of worth (por lo menos it is a gift?) he had 40 pitches when he struck out 6, so stretch him to >=50 pitches while shadowing Mitre. I assume it would be safe to do so; he last pitched Sunday which was a day game

      • gxpanos says:

        Seriously. These people are nuts about Nova. He won’t even have half a season of AAA at the END of the year and it’s not like he’s been dominant in the minors until this year. Let the kid keep pitching his regular turn in Scranton and the Yanks will think about him next year.

  19. gxpanos says:

    OH MY GOD.

    I can’t believe that Cashman hasnt publicly said that they’d start stretching Hughes out yet. This is such an absolute non-problem that it makes my head spin. Aceves can fill the vaunted and sacred EIGHT INNING, he’s done it before. Then you try to let Bruney work his way back (these 2-1 games suck, because General Joe cant let Bruney pitch), and you try to get Marte’s feet wet in the 6th/7th until you’re sure he’s back, and BAM. You have an above-average bullpen and above-average 5th starter, which is more valuable then a dominant bp and below average 5th starter.

    Cashman should call me. I’d walk right up to may, kiss his hand, receive communion, and then look him in the eye and tell him Hughes is going to the rotation.

  20. Frank says:

    Moving Hughes to a starter depends in large part on who will fill his role as the set up to Mo. Bruney has been terrible of late, but at some point, Joe has to use him in a tight spot to get him back on track. Right now, it’s obvious to me he only trusts Ace, Hughes and Coke in a close game and quite honestly, I’m not all that enamored with Coke. Let’s face it, Coke benefited from great defense last night rather than quality pitching on his part. As for Marte, I saw little from him before he got hurt to convince me he’s a vialble option for the set up role. Bruney is the X factor- he needs to get his act together.

    • Kiersten says:

      Coke got a ground ball to first on one pitch. Granted, the wild pitch wasn’t pretty, but he only threw two pitches in the game, so I don’t think you can really judge Coke based on last night’s game. I’ll take a reliever with a WHIP of 1.01 all day, every day.

      • Frank says:

        Last night was a perfect example of how stats are misleading. Let’s take it one batter at a time- Markakis hits a rocket to first on a bad pitch (FB on inner side)that luckily was hit right at Tex, who throws to Molina, who makes a great play to save a run. The very next pitch was a wild pitch which, but not for another great play by Molina (and Coke), saved another run. Next inning, first pitch- HBP. Next batter, Huff, takes ball 1, swings and misses and then hits another poor pitch (FB over heart of the plate) on the screws that Melky makes a nice play on. So one looks at the boxscore and sees Coke got 3 outs, but if you watched the game, it’s obvious Coke was more lucky than good.

  21. Charlie says:

    agree with all of this, but the way the yankees are handling this situation makes me think there is a pretty slim chance they actually move hughes into the rotation. its pretty weird that girardi and cashman don’t understand that their SP problems can be solved this easily.

  22. Pinstripe Destiny says:

    “When we moved Hughes to the bullpen in June, he was our third best starting pitcher and one of the best starters in the game.”

    please tell me you’re kidding with that assinine, incompetent statement? What a clown.

  23. AJ says:

    You guys are being insane! No offense. Didn’t we learn a lesson from Joba’s move to the rotation? Phil Hughes is not just the “8th inning guy”, he’s the fireman in the bullpen that can come in anytime the game is seriously on the line. We need that now and we need that come playoff time. I have NO confidence in Marte, Tomko, Melancon, or the minor leaguers (edwar, claggett). Yanks should find a solution for the 5th spot, but it’s not Hughes. Hughes will be a great starter one day, but it shouldn’t happen now. If it’s not broke, go break something else.

    • If it’s not broke, go break something else.

      It’s broke. The fifth starter hole is way more important than having a great bullpen. Way more important.

      • Pinstripe Destiny says:

        “The fifth starter hole is way more important than having a great bullpen. Way more important.”

        Is that so? Why did the Phillies win it all last year? Why has Boston been dominating the AL East since the 03 postseason? Hmmmmm…another asSinine statement by Yours truly.

      • Todd says:

        Tommie. Please explain this. I just do not see it nor do I agree. You are obviously very passionate about this issue and as clearly you see it, I believe I see it just as clearly on the other side.

        I am sure that you will be able to pull together all of the fancy new wave stats to dispute my point. But during the Yankee dynasty (I know that may be a stretch) in the late 90′s, the Yankees had very good starting pitching and a dominant bullpen. In fact, who was the #5 starter for those teams? Whereas Nelson, Stanton, Mendoza, Rivera, even playoff hero David Weathers stick out in my mind. I think that it is what seperated the Yanks from the Braves during that era. So when discussing the value of a #5 starter compared to a very good bullpen, I simply prefer the bullpen.

        Also, I think the point also is that losing Hughes out of the pen causes a ripple effect throughout the unit. So it is not simply a bench guy vs a starter.

        • But during the Yankee dynasty (I know that may be a stretch) in the late 90’s, the Yankees had very good starting pitching and a dominant bullpen.

          Not really. During the dynasty we had dominant starting pitching and a good bullpen, not the other way around.

          Go back and look at those teams. Every year the front end of our rotation was multiple 120-125 ERA+ guys and the 4th and 5th starters were 100-105 ERA+ guys.

          You remember Nelson, Stanton, Mendoza, Rivera and Weathers because they’re lionized by the media who loves to write glorious narratives of late inning heroics. You forget that Cone, Pettitte, Clemens, Wells, El Duque, Key, Gooden, and even Kenny Rogers were giving us great starting pitching outings and that less heralded guys like Graeme Lloyd, Brian Boehringer, Darren Holmes, and Jason Grimsley also pitched high-leverage innings for us too.

          I think that it is what seperated the Yanks from the Braves during that era.

          What separated the Yanks from the Braves during that era was that they had to rely on guys like Eddie Perez and Walt Weiss on the offensive side. That, and probably luck.

          Also, I think the point also is that losing Hughes out of the pen causes a ripple effect throughout the unit.

          I don’t deny that. I’m saying, it’s worth it to potentially upset the apple cart in the bullpen because we need starting pitchers badly now.

          • PhukTheHeck says:

            To piggyback on his [TSJC] early point, the Yanks not only have to replace a 5th starter, they’ll be looking for a 4th come playoffs because Joba will hit his innings limit. That 4th starter will pitch in the playoffs, so why not stretch Hughes out now to be that future 4th starter rather than rely on a Mitre or Igawa (/vomit) or another fill in?

            Also, the yanks have done poorly in October the last few years due to horrible pitching performances. Of the 13 games they’ve played since ’055, they’ve received exactly 3 quality starts. In fact, 5 of the 13 games, the SP has thrown 3(!) or fewer innings. You can’t win playoff games if the teams SP goes <6 giving up 3+ runs.

  24. The IRI says:

    This might seem like a reach, but what are the chances the Yankees take a half-season flier on El Duque? I know he hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007, when he was pretty good (.206BAA, 2K/B ratio, 7.8 k/9). He has been good in about 12 AAA innings this year (very small sample, I know). I know he’s with the Rangers organization right now, but I’m pretty sure he can opt out of his deal since he wasn’t called up by this past Monday.

    He would come cheap and might be a decent replacement if they don’t want to transition Hughes back into the rotation this year.

    Another option could be Ben Sheets if he shows that he’s healthy. He has far more upside but chances are he isn’t ready yet.

    Thoughts?

    • Tony says:

      Mitre has been better in Triple A posting a 2.40 Era in 7 starts, so I’d rather have Mitre out there.

      • Yeah, Mitre >>>> El Duque.

        And Sheets isn’t going to be ready until 2010. I’m interested in him for next year, but he’s not ready now.

        • The IRI says:

          How do you figure? Mitre has never had success in the majors.

          Again, I’m not saying El Duque is any sort of RELIABLE option, but I think he is an option. He’s old as balls, I know. But that has never kept him from being good.

          • Tony says:

            Mitre is coming off Tommy John surgery this is the first time he’s pitched since 07 so you gotta give the guy a chance. As of 2009 Mitre has outperformed El Duque.

      • The IRI says:

        Oh I know, I’m all for giving Mitre a shot. However, Mitre’s best season doesn’t come anywhere close to the season El Duque had in 2007. And he was an old man already. I realize he’s older now and hasn’t pitched at the highest level in almost 2 years, but his track record can’t be denied. It’s not like we would have to pay him anything significant. If Wang is hurt as bad as he might be, they can place him on the 60 day DL to open up a spot for a FA.

        • Colombo says:

          El Duque wasn’t called up because he was supposedly throwing in the mid- to low-eighties with his fastball Have all the movement on it that you want, but that just won’t cut it in the AL East. There is probably something to it if the starved for pitching Rangers won’t call you up.

    • If the pitching-starved Rangers released El Duque because they didn’t feel he could help their team, I’m not really sure why the Yanks would bother. He’s 43 and hasn’t thrown a Big League game since 2007. Pass.

      • The IRI says:

        That’s a good argument. However what in Sergio Mitre’s career makes anyone think he’ll do anything halfway decent in The Bronx? He also hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007.

        He has **0** track record of being good. Not to mention he doesn’t strike anybody out.

        And for the record, El Duque is *listed* as being 39 ;)

    • Frank says:

      Paul Byrd is also out there. I think he would be a better option than Duque.

      • The IRI says:

        Don’t see how. They are about as old (listed anyway), and Byrd hasn’t posted a BAA under 270 since 2002. He isn’t even pitching in the minors right now. The only thing he has over Orlando is that he pitched in ’08. Poorly… or at least not anywhere near good.

  25. Chip says:

    Fun fact about Yankees fans, if Mitre pitches a solid game everybody arguing Hughes should be in the rotation (other than TSJC) will suddenly praise what a great move it is to keep him in the bullpen.

    I have to completely agree with TSJC on this one, there’s no reason Hughes should be sitting in the bullpen. Look, he’s got a great ERA and is dominating but he could have an appearance where he gives up a few bloop hits and it would triple his ERA. It’s a small sample size people. He’s not as bad as he was in the rotation and he’s not as good as he is in the bullpen.

    Hughes has proven that he can dominate major league hitters once through a lineup. Now, it’s time to stretch him out a bit and see him do it two or three times. I want to see if he can mix his fastball, curve and slider with the occasional changeup and/or cutter.

    My plan would simply be to start Hughes tomorrow (yeah I know it’s not going to happen). I’d still have Mitre up here obviously but I’d have Hughes start to get his pitches in and then relieve him with Mitre if he can’t get through 5 and Ace if he can get through 5 and the Yankees are in it. Then, you can send Mitre down and assume the Hughes/Ace combo can give you 100-110 pitches the next start and suddenly Hughes is stretched out.

    • Tony says:

      You gotta give Mitre a chance today and if he fails the team can figure shit out from there. Mitre at least needs a chance before you decide to stretch out Hughes.

      • Chip says:

        And that makes perfect sense. I’d just rather use Mitre for what he is, a temporary filler, while Hughes gets stretched out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pitches decently in one start and proceeds to be horrible which would set back Hughes getting stretched out (assuming they thought Mitre could be good and therefore waited to stretch Hughes out)

      • ChrisS says:

        You gotta give Mitre a chance today

        Not really. Mitre is a 29 year old journeyman pitcher/AAAA roster filler.

        Hughes is topflight prospect that’s shown he can get MLB hitters out and has demonstrated much much higher potential than Mitre.

        Hughes is much more integral to this team now and next season than Mitre ever will be.

    • jsbrendog says:

      Fun fact about Yankees fans, if Mitre pitches a solid game everybody arguing Hughes should be in the rotation (other than TSJC) will suddenly praise what a great move it is to keep him in the bullpen.

      false. no matter what happens wit serg ohil hughes should be in the rotation. mitre, a career journeyman ith less than stellar stats should be in the pen. that is what pens are for. failed starters.

  26. Dorian says:

    I think that some people who insist upon Phil Hughes being in the Rotation are becoming akin to b-jobbers. It’s not the worst thing in the world if he comes in late in games and locks it down. Is he more valuable as a 5th starter or as a Relief Ace who comes in and shuts the door.

    Another thing that definitely needs to be taken into consideration is Phil’s VORP. I’m not sure about Coke and Aceves handling big time innings with real high leverage. We all remember how the last Boston game ended (THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT IT WAS THEIR FAULT). They came in with inherited runners and neither had the stuff to get out of it with a pop up or a strikeout. Phil is the only guy we have right now besides Mo, who I have confidence in getting out of a tight jam with runners already on base. The inherited runners aren’t their’s but they hurt the team all the same.

    Is Phil so much better than Sergio Mitre right now that it’s just a “no brainer”? Relative to his experience in the Major Leagues, Phil was good in the Rotation this year, but was he so good that he just demanded starts. We must remember that although it wasn’t Phil’s fault that he was removed from the Rotation for Wang, it wasn’t as if Phil grab the 5th spot by the throat and forced Joe to make an awful decision.

    In the long run, yes Phil is a starter. I do not however, want to compromise the success of this season for one guy. I really think that Phil can be great but I also think that this team can be great. Having Phil in the bullpen doesn’t stunt his growth as much as you may think. I don’t need another Clay Buchholz dominating the minors with no idea if he can get Major Leaguers out. The innings will be a concern next year but at least we will know that we need to find him innings next year.

    • ChrisS says:

      I see what you did there.

      I do not however, want to compromise the success of this season for one guy.

      Hughes in the rotation increases the potential for this team to be successful. Not the other way around.

      I don’t need another Clay Buchholz dominating the minors with no idea if he can get Major Leaguers out

      Sergio Mitre =/= Clay Bucholz in any way, shape, or form.

  27. LG says:

    Now, I believe that Cashman, the coaching staff, and the scouts want the Yankees to succeed above anything else and have the best information on hand of Hughes development as well as all of the other pitchers available (with the organization or not).

    I agree with TSJC + others that from what I’ve seen, Hughes place is the rotation.

    I am starting to suspect two things. Either (a) that there is something of the “Hughes plan” that the general public doesn’t know about (perhaps keeping his trade value high, they’re guarding against possible soreness/tiredness, they may have their own developmental plan in the works now, etc) or (b) that there may be a great deal of disagreement within the orginzational powers of where his place is.

    • Todd says:

      You forgot about (c) They found a winning formula and want to continue winning.

      • And you forgot about (d) when CMW got hurt again, the circumstances changed and they needed to alter their strategy, even if it means tinkering with parts of the team that are doing well in the interests of the greater good.

        • LG says:

          I agree that it could be that too. Cashman and co. have to balance the short-term and long-term success of the team in their decision making (apart from that A-Rod contract, lol).

          I would have thought they’d start stretching Hughes out long before now though if they were going to do it at all. Why haven’t they?

      • LG says:

        Perhaps, but I doubt that it is (c).

        Why would the Yankees invest SO SO much in Phil Hughes and protect him so carefully and then abandon everything for him to end up as “a pretty good reliever” instead of “an elite starter”? Maybe it’s (d) that the coaches/scouts are finding that Hughes just doesn’t have the stuff as a pitcher to be as successful in the rotation. There’s just not enough sample size in the data to really give us a good picture on that.

        • LG says:

          just wanted to add that I don’t think or hope that (d) is the case either. but, we the public don’t see and evaluate him as acutely.

  28. ChrisS says:

    In any event, I can’t say that I’m surprised that CMW had a setback. The only setback that was destined was Nady when they decided that he’d come back without surgery and two weeks before he started his rehab assignment he wasn’t even throwing 90 feet.

  29. gio says:

    Imagine this: Wang comes back in two weeks, and is close to the CMW of 2007. Postseason rotation of CC, AJ, Wang, Andy. Bullpen of Mariano, Hughes, Joba, Aceves, Marte, Coke, and literally anyone else. That would be the best pitching staff this team has had since 2003. That’s why CMW’s success is so crucial to this team.

    • Imagine this: Pigs fly.

      That’s about as equally as likely as Wang coming back in two weeks considering he won’t throw again until Friday. That is, gio, a pipe dream. As the Yankees are doing, we should expect nothing from Wang this year and be pleasantly surprised if he gives us anything.

    • Nady Nation says:

      I think Bruney’s recent failures are going somewhat under the radar due to Wang’s injury. If Bruney was performing like he was at the beginning of the season, he’d be the no-question 8th inning guy and with Marte on the mend and due to return to the club soon, I bet the organization would have been much more likely to re-insert Hughes into the rotation. Bruney is screwing us almost as much as Wang is, IMO.

      • Jon G says:

        I agree on Bruney, and after watching this inconsistency for 3 years now (has it been that long that he’s shown sparks of greatness, followed by stretches of lots of walks and ineffectivenesss?), I’m ready to move on. Toss him into a trade for an eights inning guy.

        • KG Sturnz0r says:

          If Bruney had continued to pitch like he was before that long warmup period, Phil would be back in the rotation. My hopes are Marte, Bru and Melancon can push Phil back to the rotation along with the consistencies of Coke, Ace and D-Rob

  30. Jon G says:

    With all these heated comments, just watch Mitre come out today and pitch 6 innings of 3-5 hit, 1 er ball…

    • Jon G says:

      That said, if he does fail, my inclination is to move Hughes to the rotation and pick up an eighth inning guy before the deadline.

      Obviously, if Marte comes back throwing well and Melancon gets some innings in and starts to sharpen up at the MLB level, the problem can be solved internally, with Ace holding down the 8th as well.

      • The whole point is that they don’t need to pick up an 8th inning guy before the deadline. They have Coke and Aceves. They need to get Bruney back on track, and they have Damaso Marte rehabbing. Somehow, someway, they can put that all together for the 8th, and they can avoid overspending for an overvalued reliever.

  31. Bo says:

    Why mess with Hughes right now? Check the teams record since Hughes started in the pen. There is a reason it has been so good. The players would revolt if they moved him back to the rotation now and created a huge hole in the 8th.

    Let the guy continue doing what hes been doing. You’re telling me the Yankees cant find a back end starter on the market? Please. That’s a lot easier than finding a lock down set up guy right now. Unless you like trading Jackson for Chad Qualls.

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