Jun
10

Lessons learned from pitching prospects

By

Billy Beane put it best when he said, paraphrased, that you need three pitching prospects in order to get one major league starter. One will get hurt, one will backslide, and one will succeed. This is precisely why, in RAB’s halcyon days, we so strongly argued that the Yankees should keep Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain. If they traded the wrong one, they could end up with nothing to show for their top three prospects. Keeping all three, however, gave them a good chance at having a young, cost-controlled pitcher in the rotation, which allows the further benefit of spending money elsewhere.

With the Yankees’ big three, it didn’t quite work out the way Beane described it. There were successes, injuries, and backslides, but those results were scattered among the three. Both Chamberlain and Hughes have gotten hurt, and, to a degree, have backslid — though, before news of Joba’s season-ending elbow injury, it was more that he backslid and that Hughes got hurt. Ian Kennedy backslid in ways, got hurt, and then succeeded, albeit in an environment dramatically different than that of the Yankees. There are still chances for Hughes, and even Joba, to succeed, but it’s still pretty clear that these guys followed Beane’s axiom.

At this point, the development of these three is behind us. Kennedy is finding success elsewhere, and while Hughes and Joba could still succeed to degrees, I’m not sure it’s particularly likely at this point. This shouldn’t be surprising, since it is the nature of pitchers. There’s a reason for TINSTAPP — there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. There are only pitchers. They all develop at different paces, and they’re all susceptible to the same pitfalls. WIth so much attrition among pitchers, teams absolutely need a block of high-end prospects if they’re going to get even one from the group.

This is relevant to the Yankees now, just as it was four years ago. They have a new trio of top pitching prospects in Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman. Right away, it appears that they’re going to take a different tack with this new group than they did with the Big Three. Brian Cashman made that relatively clear yesterday, when he said there were no plans to bring them up as relievers to help patch a spotty bullpen. Chances are, they also won’t call upon them to help in the rotation, either. That is, unless they display a certain degree of readiness.

The situation the Yankees face now is somewhat similar to the 2007 season. They were a bit more pitching starved then, as was evident when they called up Chase Wright to take a few starts. Eventually, though, they went to Hughes, despite him having made just a couple of starts at AAA, and despite him having pitched a career high 146 innings in 2006, after just 86.1 in 2005. His injury appeared to be a freak one, but he was never quite the same after that. He had a few good appearances, including a season-saving one in relief during the ALDS, but in 2008 he completely lost it. There might not be a causal link here, but I’m sure that the experience has the Yankees preferring to err on the side of caution nonetheless — especially when you consider the other two.

Both Chamberlain and Kennedy came up in the 2007 season as well. Chamberlain was so completely dominant as a starter in A and AA ball that the Yankees thought he could help save their spotty bullpen. He was nearing his innings limit anyway, so rather than have him make a few more starts in the minors and pack it up in September, the Yankees decided to have him finish his workload in relief. Of course, we know that a starter’s workload is different from a reliever’s, and perhaps bringing him to his innings limit in high-leverage situations in the majors wasn’t the best idea. It did help them make the playoffs in 2007, though. It also excited a fanbase, inciting the starter-reliever debate that still hasn’t died. (And will be reignited as Joba rehabs from surgery.) Kennedy’s debut was less of a big deal, but his good, if lucky, September performances gave him a rotation spot out of the chute in 2008, an experience from which the Yankees have clearly learned.

This time around, the Yankees are going to let the prospects speak for themselves, rather than let team necessity dictate their development paths. I’m certain that if the Yankees brought Dellin Betances into Joba’s old role that he’d succeed. He throws gas and has shown a propensity to miss bats. He might have control troubles, but as David Robertson has shown, if you can strike guys out you can often mask those troubles. And yes, many starters have come up as relievers before breaking into the rotation. At the same time, we can’t just use a blanket statement like that to make and examine decisions. If a pitcher isn’t developmentally ready to start in the bigs, will relieving in the bigs help excel that development? Or will it just prepare him for life in the bullpen? These are all questions that have to be asked of individual pitchers, and cannot be determined by a rule of thumb.

The good news is that the Yankees have three top-flight pitchers in their minor league system who, if developed fully, can help the team for years to come. Of course, chances are that only one will help. The others will make the bigs, maybe, and maybe even show signs of greatness. But the chances are great that one will backslide, one will get hurt, and one will succeed. The only way to find out which is which, though, is to let them continue developing their games. It will hurt the 2011 team for sure. But it stands to help the future Yankees to a greater degree.

Categories : Pitching
  • http://twitter.com/#!/billreichmann breich315

    Great article. I think also the farm is re-stocked with guys that are actually relievers that they can bring up (Whelan for one) so hopefully the don’t have a Joba 2007 situation on their hands.

  • Kosmo

    but NYs FO has often blown the pooch on pitching prospects .IPK might be on this years NL all-star team.
    Home grown pitching talent NY has let go of in trades who are in either in the majors or have pitched well in the minors this season-
    IPK
    Coke
    Aceves
    Karstens
    Melancon
    Dunn
    Clippard
    McCutcheon
    Veras
    Axford
    Visciano
    McAllister
    outside of Granderson NY has zero to show for it.You can say what you want about a few of these guys .The AL east supremacy bullshit.They didn´t have an out pitch (McAllister) etc. but they are all contributing to their teams success.

    • V

      You seem to have a lot of issues with spaces after your periods. Wth?

      • Kosmo

        Are you serious …?

    • Ted Nelson

      You can say that about every team.

      • Kosmo

        Show me !

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Kosmo wants proof damn it

    • The Big City of Dreams

      some of those guys aren’t big losses but yes the Yankees don’t have a good grasp on pitching until they can prove other wise.

    • Jetrer

      IPK would be at best a fifth starter in the AL East and showed he may have issues handling NY. Coke is a decent Loogy. Aceves was a Cashman fuck up definitely. Karstens sucks. Melancon should have been given more of a chance. Dunn is basically Logan but he throws harder and is wilder. Clippard has been a suprise out of the bullpen, don’t think anyone would have predicted that. McCutcheon sucks. Veras has been DFAd about 4 times in the last couple of years. He royally sucks. McAllister is only a back end guy. The Yankees have plenty of guys like that or better. Visciano was a bad move for only Vasquez. Of that list, Viscaino and Aceves were the only big losses that they got nothing back for.

  • Jorge

    I’m as ready to write off Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain as I am ready to write off the other pitchers who have experienced similar issues and have gone to regain their form, as well as the other young pitchers who have experienced these same issues this season alone.

    In the future, though, Yankee prospects are ready when they are ready, and not when need dictates.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      In the future, though, Yankee prospects are ready when they are ready, and not when need dictates.

      ————————————-

      unfortunately it took them this long to figure it out

      • Jorge

        It’s not just the Yankees. Look around.

      • CP

        unfortunately it took them this long to figure it out

        It’s not a simple balance to strike. If you’re the Orioles or Royals, it really doesn’t matter if you wait an extra 2-3 years to throw a prospect into the fire. With the Yankees, it’s more difficult because they’re trying to win a World Series every year.

        So for the Royals, a player is ready when they’re at (or near) their peak performance. For the Yankees, they’re ready when they can help the team win a World Series – which Hughes and Joba did in 2009.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Yes those two were key factors in getting to the PS and winning but unfortunately they have arm issues and are on the DL.

          • CP

            True, but would you give up the 2009 World Series to have them healthy now?

            Obviously it’s not that simple, but the Yankees clearly have one eye on the present and one on the future in every decision they make – and probably more focus on the present.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              I probably wouldn’t give up 09 but at the same time I expect the Yankees to have a better grasp on the pitchers in their system. No one is perfect but some of the stuff they did with Joba was dumb(couldn’t find a better word)

              • CP

                some of the stuff they did with Joba was dumb

                Not really. They just did what other organizations have done – it just happens that Joba got hurt. Maybe that’s on the Yankees, but maybe it’s just in Joba’s DNA (literally). The Yankees were only able to draft him because he was injured, so why are we surprised when he gets injured as a pro?

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  So the 3 inning relief starts along with long rest normal rest, long rest, normal rest, etc is something that other organizations do as well?

                  True he fell in their lap due to injury concerns but at the same time he was handled well.

                  • CP

                    I think the juggling is a little overblown. In August/September 2009, he had 2 starts on more than 5 days rest and one start of less than 55 pitches, so that’s 3 of 11 starts that were odd.

                    I think most organizations would just shut down the pitchers when the reach their innings limits, but they do sometimes juggle them like this.

                    • The Big City of Dreams

                      It wasn’t just the number of pitches it was the innings. Hey kid go out there get a couple of outs and then we’ll pull you. I remember a game against the Angels where he was nibbling Jeter got in his face, Joba got on a little role and then they pulled him out. I’m sorry that’s idiotic for anyone to do to a pitcher especially a prospect they held in high regard.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      Why is throwing less innings bad? How would that lead to arm problems?

                      Look an Manny’s game log in AA and you’ll see a lot of 4 IP starts.

  • Mr Bleh

    True indeed.
    Quick question: other than Betances Banuelos(sp) & Brackman are there any other *projected* front end starters in the Yankees farm system?

    • Kosmo

      Brackman IMO is far from being a front end SP.He´s not even a backend of a rotation starter.
      Warren-Phelps and Noesi could very well barring injury be a good 3-4-5 .

      • Mister Delaware

        Brackman is the Kennedy of this group, although what sets him behind is probability, not upside.

    • Peter

      Although they are a little ways off some think Bryan Mitchell in SS and Brett Marshall in High A have that potential. Not really much above that though.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    The good news is that the Yankees have three top-flight pitchers in their minor league system who, if developed fully, can help the team for years to come.

    ——————————–

    wouldn’t bet my life on it

    • Jorge

      I generally tend to think the good news is that they’re the New York Yankees.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        I understand that every team has pitchers that are injured. But they have at least one guy who they can point to and say alright he made. He was the one that made it through. But who is that guy for the Yankees?

        • Kosmo

          I´m sure folks will disagree but it would have to be IPK.Hughes was at one time but the jury is still out deliberating .Time will tell.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            The problem with Kennedy is he doesn’t pitch the Yankees. He made it through but unfortunately it happened somewhere else.

            • Kosmo

              I followed IPKs scouting reports in 2007 and the fact he skyrocketed thru the farm system led me to believe he could develop into a Greg Maddux type of pitcher.I´m not penciling him into the HoF or anything but he knows how to pitch.You don´t need a 96 mph fastball to succeed.Pettitte had a very good career with average stuff.

              • The Big City of Dreams

                I agree I think Kennedy will have a solid ML career. He’s never going to be the best pitcher in baseball but a solid 3-4 pitcher is something he can be for the next handle of seasons.

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  handful*

              • It’sATarp

                Being in the NL helps the numbers. As reported before a part of why Arizona wanted him but Tigers did not to keep him and packaged him for scherzer and the yanks were willing to part with him, was that scouts and management all felt he would succeed in the NL west as opposed to the AL where they felt he would have some problems. IPK is solid, He can be a very good pitcher in the NL west, but i’m not sure how his stuff would have translated here. I mean right now his rates are pretty average, and he’s been pretty fly ball. so the Maddux comparisons (who was groundball heavy) is a bit over the top .

              • Jetrer

                Pettitte threw mid nineties most of his career. His stuff was never just average. His fastball became average at the end.

                • Kosmo

                  Pettitte never thru in the mid 90´s .That´s revisionist bullshit.His early years with NY his fastball was 92-93 on a good day.Look it up!

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

            That’s only because IPK is healthy and productive at the moment.

            When Joba and Hughes were healthy and productive (which wasn’t that long ago for either of them), they both outproduced what IPK is doing right now.

            And IPK could blow out his elbow or shoulder in the blink of an eye just like Hughes/Joba and everything would change. When IPK had that aneurysm, everybody shit on him as a ruined bust who would never recover.

            Don’t let the serial position effect cloud your judgment.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          whoops posted this on the wrong reply

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

    I still wouldn’t theoretically be opposed to Betances/Banuelos/Brackman breaking into the bigs as relievers. Tons of starting pitchers have done that without issue.

    The problem arises when the team considers keeping those young starters in the bullpen on either a permanent or even a semi-permanent basis. You want to get one of the B’s feet wet with a midseason bullpen stint? Fine, not a problem. You let the success of that stint allow you to consider leaving a capable starter in a role of lesser utility and delay their development track? That’s where you messed up.

    You want to use the big league bullpen as a means to control a young starter’s innings limits? That’s also a mistake.

    I’m totally in favor of Betances/Banuelos/Brackman being used to shore up a bullpen hole come August/September if those holes still exist and those young starters need to have their innings capped somehow. But when that bullpen stint is over, move them back to a rotation somewhere (MLB or AAA) and let them start to continue the path to becoming a healthy starter capable of throwing 200+ big league innings.

    Joba 2007 was fine. Dicking around with Joba starting in 2008 with that ridiculous scheduled midseason transition from reliever to starter was the problem. Moving Hughes from rotation to bullpen to rotation and ignoring the innings dips and jumps and expecting no adverse health effects was the problem.

    Let them get a taste of the bigs and help the team down the stretch, and then return them to starting. Stop the ridiculous belief that there’s no value in keeping a good young starter in AAA building innings and waiting for the inevitable hole in the big league rotation.

    • Jorge

      They also, to contradict my earlier statement, did win a championship and came pretty close twice more during that period WITH two of those three as important parts. They’ve contributed already.

    • CP

      Dicking around with Joba starting in 2008 with that ridiculous scheduled midseason transition from reliever to starter was the problem.

      I know people love to complain about 2008, but there isn’t a clearly better option. They could have delayed the start to his season, but then he doesn’t reach his innings cap if he get’s hurt. They also could have shut him down when he reaches his innings cap, but then they wouldn’t have had him for the stretch run.

      Plenty of pitchers go back and forth between the rotation and pen without getting hurt, so why was it such a bad assumption that Joba could do it?

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

        I know people love to complain about 2008, but there isn’t a clearly better option. They could have delayed the start to his season, but then he doesn’t reach his innings cap if he get’s hurt. They also could have shut him down when he reaches his innings cap, but then they wouldn’t have had him for the stretch run.

        You just listed two potential better options.

        The first better option is only worse if he gets hurt, which isn’t a guarantee (and is disingenuous, since getting hurt in ANY scenario probably means he doesn’t hit his innings caps). The second better option sucks for the stretch run, but losing one pitcher for a stretch run, as shitty as it may be, is probably what we have to start doing for the long-term health of our prospects and the long-term player acquisition strategy of the team.

        There’s not a perfect option, but there are/were potentially better ones.

        • CP

          Yes, but they were only potentially better options. There isn’t a clearly right or wrong way to handle it (ok, there are plenty of clearly wrong ways to handle it, but this wasn’t one of them).

        • Ted Nelson

          Those options are as much potentially worse as potentially better… you’re going totally off confirmation bias. Joba might have ducked a throw-down and messed up his shoulder and not been the same for a few years under those options just as easily as the option they took.

          • Ted Nelson

            Every time a pitcher gets hurt doing a certain thing that doesn’t mean the org should never allow a pitcher to do that thing again… he tore something throwing a curveball… no one else in our entire org will ever throw a curveball again.

            People will bitch no matter what happens. If Betances comes up at 24, 25 and struggles in the rotation people will bitch whether they send him to the pen or AAA if it doesn’t work out in the long-run. Confirmation bias makes bitching easy.

            • Mister Delaware

              Padres haven’t allowed their pitchers to sneeze for almost a full year now.

    • Ted Nelson

      “Dicking around with Joba starting in 2008 with that ridiculous scheduled midseason transition from reliever to starter was the problem.”

      You’ll find plenty of guys who transitioned from pen to rotation mid-season.

      • CP

        Here are just two examples who went on to have decent careers:

        http://www.baseball-reference......ro01.shtml

        http://www.baseball-reference......jo02.shtml

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

          Neither of those transitions happened like Joba’s transition, with the regimentation and planning. Neither of those transitions were done with an eye on innings limits or pitchcount restrictions to protect a 22 year old arm that wasn’t used to a large workload.

          Largely because both of those pitchers had already been in their respective organizations’ minor league orgs for years, building up arm strength and throwing hundreds of innings. Joba’s transition happened when he had yet to throw a single 100+ inning season at any professional level.

          And both of those pitchers spent portions of those seasons where they shuffled between the pen and the rotation in the minor leagues, working on stamina and development.

          • CP

            And both of those pitchers spent portions of those seasons where they shuffled between the pen and the rotation in the minor leagues, working on stamina and development.

            Did you look at the links/game logs? Halladay spent no time in the minors in 1999 and Johan spent no time in the minors in 2003.

            True, they had already pitched full seasons in the minors, but they weren’t shuffling between the pen and rotation in the minors. Halladay had 103 minor league starts and 15 relief appearances (13 in 2001), while Johan had 57 starts and 8 relief appearances.

          • Ed

            Joba’s transition happened when he had yet to throw a single 100+ inning season at any professional level.

            That’s the problem as far as I’m concerned.

            Yeah, they might have been able to do better on the bullpen/rotation issues. We all have different thoughts on the “ideal” way to do it, and we’ve debated it many times before.

            If you’re trying to get a full season’s worth of work out of a guy conditioned for a half season workload, you’ve already failed before you begin. No matter what you plan, things aren’t going to go exactly how you hoped, and you’ll be in a bind eventually.

            Maybe you can pull it off if you’ve a last place team and really do have the self control to not care if you lose some games, and are willing to end someone’s season early. I don’t see any of that happening with the Yankees.

          • Ted Nelson

            “with the regimentation and planning. Neither of those transitions were done with an eye on innings limits or pitchcount restrictions”

            So planned transitions are inherently worse than spontaneous transitions? I’m not sure the thought behind the transitions is nearly as relevant as the transitions themselves.

            “Joba’s transition happened when he had yet to throw a single 100+ inning season at any professional level.”

            Are college inning inherently less stressful on the arm than pro innings? He was throwing 100 IP in college.

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

        At the major league level, with staggered innings/pitches limits, spring-training style?

        With all that planned out ahead of time, like Bill Walsh scripting the first 15 plays of the game?

        No, you won’t. That was pretty unprecedented. Hector Noesi moving to the rotation from the bullpen this year would be a typical, normal version of that event, because Noesi was a starter in the spring, a starter in the minors to begin the season, came up and had the occasional bullpen appearance, went back down and started more, etc… that’s the way guys do it. Aceves, Mendoza, etc.

        Joba was planned on spending a month in the bullpen and then a month transitioning to starting and then starting the rest of the year. All in the bigs. I don’t ever remember a regimented plan like that before Joba’s 2008. Not with an elite pitching prospect.

        It was novel.

        • CP

          Look at Johan Santana in 2003:

          http://www.baseball-reference......;year=2003

          He started in the pen, made a spot start or two, then in mid-July transitioned full time to the rotation. Then, at the end of the year, he was pulled early in a couple of starts (not sure why, but he was pitching well and didn’t have a high pitch count).

          I have no idea whether it was planned out ahead of time, but it was done and worked. So, when other teams are looking back maybe they see that and plan for it – instead of just winging it as the needs arise.

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

            Santana was also about three years older at the time, with 400+ professional innings under his belt, half of that with the big league club. The Twins weren’t as concerned about innings limits in his 2003 season as the Yankees were with Joba’s in 2008.

            • CP

              Johan was actually 18 months older than Joba (24 years 1 month vs 22 years 7 months at the start of the season).

              And whether they were concerned about his innings more or less is irrelevant. They treated him in the same manner and he was fine. So why should the Yankees expect a different result?

              • Ted Nelson

                And how planned was it on the Yankees’ part anyway? If Hughes and/or IPK had help down the rotation spots they started the season with and/or CMW doesn’t get hurt, would Joba have transitioned to the rotation mid-season?

                I think TJSC has created a narrative on what happened that doesn’t necessarily mesh with reality.

        • Clay Bellinger

          Yes, it was quite odd to see a scripted transition like that from the pen to the rotation. At the time and given the other options, I wasn’t against it though. He transitioned quite well actually. Over the course of the 12 or so starts he had he was pretty good, even dominating at times. If he didn’t get hurt in Texas, who knows where he’d be. Not sure if the transition played any role in the shoulder injury, but I suppose there’s no real way to tell.

  • kenthadley

    Warren, Phelps, Noesi….are they closer to Kennedy or Karstens in potential?

    • Jorge

      That’s the first I’ve seen “Karstens” and “potential” in the same sentence.

      • kenthadley

        he was used as a piece of a trade package, and he’s been pitching in the majors for 4 years, so he brings some value, but mainly as a throw in to a bigger deal

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

      I’d say:

      Noesi >> Karstens >>> Phelps/Warren

      • kenthadley

        That makes Phelps/Warren org players in a good organization. Ok, just wanted to know if they had anything to offer either to NYY or as trade pieces. If they are worse than Karstens, I doubt they are major league pitchers….the writups on both seemed to indicate otherwise.

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

          No, Karstens is a useful player, just not all that particularly useful to us on a long-term scale since we are constantly looking to upgrade all 25 spots on the roster to come as close as possible to guaranteeing success.

          Phelps and Warren have trade value, just like Karstens had trade value. It’s not a ton, but it’s there.

          Losing Karstens, McCutchen, and Ohlendorf didn’t mean all that much to us, but Pittsburgh wouldn’t have done that deal without their inclusion because they’re all servicable ML-caliber pitchers (albeit not superstars) that they then don’t have to develop, acquire, or otherwise pay for.

          Warren and Phelps would be desirable pieces in many a trade; they’re just not going to get you superstars (unless there’s mitigating factors, like, say, the massive salary relief that a team would get for dumping someone like Beltran or KRod.)

          • Ed

            I get what you’re saying and largely agree, but I think you’re overstating Karstens value.

            He’s been outrighted to the minors multiple times by the Pirates over the past few years. He’s been on and off their 40 man roster and through waivers multiple times. To me, that screams replacement level player. I guess you could call a replacement level player useful, but I think that’s just diluting the meaning of the word useful.

      • Jorge

        Feel free to throw numbers at me that say otherwise, since I have none to offer myself, but I never Karstens more as a flyball-prone pitcher eating up some halfway decent innings…..for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • Chris V.

    I think its time to stop considering Brackman a “top flight” pitching prospect. Is there any other top flight pitching prospect whose performance and scouting reports have been more underwhelming?

    He’s 25 with one very good year in his minor league career, and the stuff that he was projected to have coming out of college high 90′s fastball, knockout curve just isnt there according to just about any report I’ve seen written about him by scouts or beat writers.

    And yes I know you will reference the Frank Pilliere report from last year but be honest, the large majority of reports on Brackman are underwhelming and negative.

    I still hold out hope that he turns it around, but “top flight” is not how i would describe his prospect status.

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

      He’s A) a big, tall pitcher and B) a guy who hasn’t been a baseball-only guy for more than 5ish years.

      Brackman requires patience. The upside is significant but the process to turn him into a legit MLB player was always expected to be a long one. Big pitchers tend to struggle more to get all the moving parts in sync in a repeatable delivery, and Brackman split much of his amateur development between two sports (thus setting him back further).

      He’s a long-term project. Potential is still there, though, because he still has dynamite raw stuff.

      • Chris V.

        I don’t disagree with anything you said.

        Long term project does not equal top flight prospect. That was my only point.

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

          Meh, that’s a subjective decision for each person to make, though.

          He’s a long term project, but he’s still a top-ten prospect in our system. Probably in everyone’s system, for that matter.

          Is being a #5 to #10 prospect in every team’s system (and thus, roughly somewhere between #150 and #300 in all of baseball) top flight? I don’t know. Where does the “top-flight” designation stop? Top 30? Top 50? Top 100? Top 200?

          To each his own.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    so people still think that Brackman will be any kind of (good) starter? Maybe it’s just me but I still think that he’ll be a setup man at best. Betances and Banuelos just need to stay healthy and gain some command and then not too much should/could go wrong imo, both should be at least #3 type starters.

    But then again baseball can be a strange game and strange things will happen.

  • Fairweather Freddy

    Has Okajima been released by Red Sox? He might be worth taking a shot as a LOOGY. Can’t be any worse than Logan as been

    • Foghorn Leghorn

      no way…Oki sucks..

    • CP

      Logan has a 3.68 ERA, 3.89 FIP, and 4.33 xFIP. That’s not bad.

      He’s pitched better against righties than lefties this year, which is odd, but overall he’s been pretty effective.

    • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/ Matt Imbrogno

      I believe he accepted his trip to Pawtucket.

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

        He did.

  • Nick

    “and while Hughes and Joba could still succeed to degrees, I’m not sure it’s particularly likely at this point.”

    I’m not sure how you can make this statement about Hughes….He had success last year and in 09 (granted the 2nd half of last year was tough, but none the less winning 18 games with a 4 ERA in the AL East is pretty damn good). He can easily still succeed and be the pitcher he can be. Kennedy was helped by moving to the inept NL West, so that really shouldn’t count. haha

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    One of the best articles I’ve read in a while, good job.

    Hughes is still young enough that I can believe this injury is a blip on the radar for him, albeit a big one. Joba will still be useful in some role. And Kennedy… well, at least we have the best CF in the AL.

    That’s why I can’t consider the Kennedy trade a total loss, or even a partial one really. It’s the yin and yang of trading. You win some, you lose some. We all wish that every deal could turn out like the Swisher deal, but we all know that that’s impossible. Granderson was an established young star when the trade was made – he wasn’t going to cost nothing. Could you imagine where the Yankees would be this year without Granderson? Sure, it’s easy to play the “what if” game, but in the long run I’m glad we got the Grandyman and I’m keeping him over Kennedy.

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

      Yeah, that.

      I’m an IPK fan, always was. But Granderson is well worth IPK.

    • MikeD

      There is no loss at all with IPK. I wouldn’t take back IPK and Austin Jackson for Granderson. That’s what a minor league system is about. Some guys will contribute directly to the big league club, most will be traded elsewhere for other pieces. Granderson is one heck of a piece.

  • V

    But I want my burrito NOW!!!

    • It’sATarp

      No you get a Taco…a Taco Bell Taco with fake meat and diarrhea inducing ingredients

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

        Lotta dialea.

  • Am I the only Kevin?

    A few have said they have no problem in theory with a young starter getting his feet wet in the bullpen. I disagree.

    Especially in the case of guys with the capability to dial up the fastball in short stints, you are flirting with disaster. Your taking guys for years who have trained as 400 meter runners and telling them to beat Usain Bolt in the 100m. Instead of throwing 100 pitches at 93-94 with an occasional 95 thrown in, you have guys coming in and throwing 97-98, goofballs like Kay and Jones talking to them incessantly about it, and then before you know it the guy is completely changing his slot and motion to squeeze a few extra mph and get the oohs of the crowd. It’s a recipe for disaster.

  • Samuel

    “The good news is that the Yankees have three top-flight pitchers in their minor league system who, if developed fully, can help the team for years to come.”

    If anybody believes that Brackman is a top-flight pitching prospect then they should have their head examined.

    Brackman is nothing more than a reliever and should be sent to the AAA bullpen if, and when, Whelan is promoted.

    This will gain Brackman pretty decent experience to prepare and begin his journey to where he is best suited – the Yankee pen.

    • Samuel

      To add to the above comment:

      Phelps, Warren, DJ Mitchell, Banuelos, Betances and Craig Heyer are better starting pitchers than Andrew Brackman.

      Also, Graham Stoneburner, who might pitch again if the Yankees take eliminate most of their idiotic injury precautions, is twice as good as Brackman as a starting pitcher.

      • MikeD

        So basically, you’ve determined the future for Brackman. Don’t ever take up talent evaluation!

        • Samuel

          Yes, after seeing him pitch, he is not a starter long term. He could pitch consistently in the high 90s out of the pen and a few years ago when he struggled with command, a trip to the bullpen ironed things out and he was flat out dominant.

          Also, BA agrees with my assessment as they have Brackman as the Yankees future closer:

          http://www.baseballamerica.com.....10907.html

          • MikeD

            It’s easy to predict failure for every pitcher signed by a MLB team because they have a spectacuarly high fail rate, yet the only thing it will show is they have knowledge of statistics, not an ability at evaluating young pitchers.

            I’ve seen him pitch too. Last year in Trenton in person, as well as a number of times this year since I have a subsciption to minor league games. None of that really matters. I’m not crazy enough to predict success for Brackman as a starter. I’m also not crazy enough to predict success for him as a closer.

            Brackman has two development issues related to becoming a successful MLB pitcher. One is command, the second is development of a third pitch. Command, however, is the biggest issue. In some ways it’s even crazier to predict success for him as a closer because of his command. Yet if he improves his command to a level he can be a closer, then he greatly improves his chances of being a starter.

            He’s older in years, but younger in experience than other minor leaguers at AAA. He had only two years of pro-ball experience heading into 2011, not to mention surgery, and he’s very tall and amazingly still growing. These present challenges for him that other pitchers at AAA aren’t facing. Anyone evaluting him has to take all these into account, which is why he remains a much higher-end prospect than Warren, Noesi and Phelps for a good reason.

            It’s funny how people have such strong opinions on minor leaguers, yet have little understanding of what the Minor Leagues are about. It’s development. Brackman is still a work in progress. Few credible talent evaluators would be giving up on him now.

      • Voice of Reason

        Those guys may be better pitchers than Brackman as of this moment, but that does not necessarily make them better prospects. Brackman was solid last year and if he can get his shit ironed out he’s drastically more likely to contribute in the majors than any of those guys apart from Banuelos and Betances, unless being a spot starter for the Pirates counts.

        • Samuel

          Have you thought that the reason why Brackman can’t “get his shit ironed out” is because he really isn’t that good as a starter?

          Brackman is a two-pitch pitcher, with his fastball and curve being plus pitches. But he doesn’t have what it takes to go 7 innings.

          I have seen him pitch many times. His command is not that good and for someone with his “stuff,” there are way too many really hard hit balls off him.

          As many pitchers throw harder in one to two inning relief stints, Brackman could conceivably hit the upper 90s very consistently.

          As JoePaw said in the piece, there are no prospects, just pitchers. The pitchers who pitch the best are your better pitchers!

          Phelps, Warren, Mitchell, Noesi (forgot about him!), Stoneburner and Heyer are all better pitchers than Brackman.

          I have seen all those guys multiple times and like what they show in stuff, command, mound demeanor and ability to work out of jams.

          Maybe their pitches aren’t thrown as hard or their breaking balls are not as sharp (most of the time), but they all have better command than Brackman and they have proven their worth with better results, most at the same AAA level.

          • Voice of Reason

            Not that good as a starter? He has started pretty much exclusively in his pro career, and his shit was ironed out just fine all last year. It’s not like he’s never thrown strikes as a pro and you can write this year’s performance as more of the same. Plus when a guy’s surrendering 7 BBs/9 you don’t just throw him in the pen and say “problem solved.” He clearly needs to work some things out.

            “there are no prospects, just pitchers” might be a crowd pleaser but that is an egregious oversimplification. AAA is not just a miniature version of the AL, stuff matters. Brackman has no business being anywhere near the majors until and unless he regains some semblance of control and nobody thinks otherwise. Still, you must understand that a pitcher’s worth as a prospect is derived from some combination of his potential and his likelihood of reaching it. If you asked me who I want starting for the Yankees tomorrow, Brackman or D.J. Mitchell, the answer would be Mitchell, but that doesn’t make him the more valuable asset. Which of Brackman, Mitchell, Warren, Phelps, Stoneburner and Heyer is the most likely to produce well above replacement level in the bigs? The answer is Brackman by a mile. He’s a bit of a longshot, but he’s the only one with a realistic upside above 5th starter, and the only one who profiles as a potential set up man.

            • Samuel

              “Which of Brackman, Mitchell, Warren, Phelps, Stoneburner and Heyer is the most likely to produce well above replacement level in the bigs? The answer is Brackman by a mile. He’s a bit of a longshot, but he’s the only one with a realistic upside above 5th starter, and the only one who profiles as a potential set up man.”

              I guess you haven’t seen any of these pitchers. Replacement level? You don’t want replacement level pitchers, but that is what Brackman has been this year and most of his career.

              Those other guys are better PITCHERS with COMMAND, which translates well at any level, even the majors.

              Warren, Phelps and Stonebrunner have dominant stuff. One bad report by a single scout and it carries forever. And Mitchell’s sinker might be the biggest moving pitch of all the Yankee “prospects.” It is deadly.

              So, longshots or not, I will always take the better pitcher over the better stuff.

  • MikeD

    Joes, I wouldn’t be writing off Hughes and Joba just yet. First off, Hughes and Joba have already succeeded, and the success rate on Joba’s probably TJ surgery is high, while Hughes was suffering from a dead arm. It doesn’t mean his career is over.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Not writing them off but they are question marks at this point no.

  • Guest

    The story of IPK, Joba and Phil (to this point) is a little depressing. I agree with everyone that says that they would trade IPK and Jackson in a package to get Granderson again. Grandy is wonderful in every way (every article I see about the man includes a comment from some Tigers fan who says he hates the Yanks BUT still roots for Grandy because he is THAT awesome). I would do that trade everyday of the week and even twice on Sunday.

    And I understand that there is a huge, major, ginormous difference between pitching in the AL East and the NL West. But its still sad to see that, of the three pitchers, it is the one who has done most of his development at the major league level outside of the Yankees organization that has the most current success (and frankly, at this point, the best prospects for future success). This is especially disheartening given that he is the one who everyone agreed had the least amount of natural talent.

    It just makes you wonder about the Yankees ability to develop young pitchers to the point where they can maximize their talents. I think the last few years have clearly shown that the Yanks know how to draft high-end starting pitching and develop them so they can achieve minor league success.

    But the story of IPK, Joba, and Phil (to this point) shows that they still have much work to do in determining how to turn them into polished major league starters.

    For the sake of the Killer B’s, I hope they figure this out — and quick.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      Excellent point they have done a good job in acquiring talent but and yet to hit when it comes to turning them into major regulars.

    • Voice of Reason

      You know what you call a draft pick who contribute in the majors as Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy have to this point? A resounding success. Two legit ML starters and one potential-ace-turned-upper-echelon reliever. You’re seriously complaining about those outcomes? I don’t know what you think happens in other organizations, but that’s a win.

      • Guest

        Yes, overall, as draft picks, all three of them are resounding wins.

        I think I tried to get at that point when I mentioned that the Yanks have proven (recently) to be very good at spotting high end pitching talent and developing them in the minors.

        But I think its fair to say that the last few years have been botched with both Phil and Joba. They have been treated very curiously in terms of innings limits (sometimes they matter and sometimes they don’t?) and jerked around from bullpen to starting and back again.

        The process, from my ignorant lay sports fan position, has looked bad and the results seem to justify that view (injuries, inconsistent performance).

        Again, I agree the draft picks have turned to out to be unusually successful, but that doesn’t mean that the Yanks have maximized their returns. Far from it.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          “They have been treated very curiously in terms of innings limits (sometimes they matter and sometimes they don’t?)”

          Yea if it’s the regular season they watch the innings with a fine tooth comb but if it’s the PS than the gloves are off.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        “A resounding success. Two legit ML starters and one potential-ace-turned-upper-echelon reliever. You’re seriously complaining about those outcomes?”

        Kennedy is no longer with the Yankees, Hughes has a dead arm, and Joba won’t pitch until 2012 or 2013. How is that a resounding success?

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Solid relief outing.