Yankees likely to cut rotation down to five by Monday

Heat mapping Mariano's cutter
Three Yankees on BA's Top Minor League Tools Lists

Prior to this afternoon’s game, Joe Girardi indicated that the Yankees are likely to get back to a five-man rotation by the time they start their road trip against the Royals on Monday. “We’re going to try to make our decision before we go to Kansas City,” said Girardi. “We’ve been talking about it, that we need to get down to five men. I’ll let you know [who’s out] when I know.” Sounds to me like Phil Hughes is getting Saturday’s start to show he’s worth the rotation spot, otherwise it’s back to the bullpen for him. Sigh.

Heat mapping Mariano's cutter
Three Yankees on BA's Top Minor League Tools Lists
  • The Fallen Phoenix


    • theyankeewarrior

      Which part is idiotic?

      • The Fallen Phoenix

        Putting Hughes in the bullpen would be idiotic. If he’s not in the starting rotation here, he needs to be in the starting rotation in AAA. Hughes needs to build innings, a starter’s endurance, and work on all his pitches, if he’s going to be successful into the future.

        • MikeD

          It’s mid-August. If he’s sent to the pen, then send him to the Arizona Fall League for more innings later.

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

            That would work if he was eligible to play in the Arizona Fall League.

            • MikeD

              Didn’t realize the restriction, although it makes sense.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        It’s idiotic not to get rid of the guy who’s clearly the worst starter. They benched Posada and they ought to do the equivalent of benching Burnett too, move him to long relief. He’s been absolutely atrocious, and he shouldn’t be given the opportunity to start games in a tight division race.

        • The Fallen Phoenix

          Think the Yankees are going to cut Burnett from the rotation? Reading between the lines, it sounds like Hughes has to do something incredible to stay out of the bullpen.

          And that’s what I think is idiotic.

        • JT

          I still wouldn’t say that Burnett is the worst starter on the team.

          Hughes has one good game and everyone seems to forget about all the crap he’s done before that.

          Until Hughes proves that he can continue to pitch well (which unfortunately 1 extra start is not enough) Burnett is probably the more reliable pitcher. And as unreliable as Burnett is, that just shows how bad Hughes has been this year.

  • Justin

    Just hope that Hughes is well rested the days AJ is scheduled to pitch. He’ll probably log more innings out of the pen that way then AJ would out of the rotation.

  • A.J. Burnett Apologist

    Yet Burnett is not an option for long relief. As long as he does not get traded or released it’s fine with me.

  • Bronx Byte

    Give Noesi work by sending him to Scranton until the rosters are expanded on 9/1.
    Put Burnett in the back end of the bullpen. He’s not entitled to shit just because he has a big salary. Trust him as far as you can throw a refrigerator.

    • Accent Shallow

      Of course he’s not entitled to anything, but swallowing the rest of that contract is a tough pill. If Hughes and Nova had both been brilliant all year, maybe you do it, but Hughes has been hurt and shitty, and Nova’s been effective, but hardly great.

      • Matt

        AJ has underperformed his salary by a lot, yes, but it’s not clear to me that he is definitely worse than Hughes and Nova: he’s just paid a lot more so he seems worse.

        • Accent Shallow

          This is more or less what I feel. Of course, you have to balance that with the fact that AJ’s unlikely to have a renaissance, whereas Hughes or Nova could either take a step forward into a solid #3/4, or make The Leap(tm) and become a stud.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          He may not be much worse than Hughes or Nova, but he’s definitely got a lot less potential than Hughes or Nova. He’s been pretty shitty for two years now, and there’s no glimmer of hope in his numbers. The books already out on AJ and we know what he is. Hughes and Nova are still young and at least have the potential to be better than a 4/5 starter.

          • JT

            But his stuff is electric!

            • nord

              Couldn’t agree more. His stuff is electric, but he has got to stop sticking his finger in the socket in the middle innings!

        • Alibaba

          AJ is definitely a lot worse than Nova at this point. If Hughes has a good outing again tomorrow, AJ will clearly be the worst started on the team. However, Hughes seems to be destined to the BP. However, I agree that sending him down to AAA is better than sending him to BP. He needs his innings.

  • MikeD

    I’m hoping Hughes pitching an excellent game.

    I’d like to see AJ out of the pen. My gut is that he’s too inconsistent to pitch out of the pen, yet it’s possible just coming in for an inning or so at a clip will keep him focused and will allow him to reach back on his fastball.

    It’s worth a try.

    • MannyGeee

      I hate the ‘lost focus’ or ‘not mentally tough’ narrative that keeps getting shoved down our throats about AJ. Hes a grown man, not a 7 YO on Ridalin. He is an erratic and inconsistent pitcher, and maybe he can’t rely on stuff alone to get him through 200 IP at this point in his career… but he is NOT a basketcase based on this alone.

      please someone give me another example of why AJ is mentally unstable….



      • MikeD

        That haircut is just….incredible.

        And by incredible, I mean really bad!

  • CP

    AJ pitches 6 innings and gives up 4 runs, and the narrative is how he needs to be pulled from the rotation.

    Nova pitches 6 innings giving up 3 runs (but leaving the bases loaded with no outs – only one run scored) and the narrative is that he’s pitching so well that he can’t be taken out of the rotation.

    I don’t disagree with the assessment that AJ is the 6th best starter on the team, but I find it funny how people can look at their last start and draw that conclusion.

    • MannyGeee


      • Jetrer

        in this case narrative = facts

        • MannyGeee

          disprove CP then. I happen to agree with him.

          worth mentioning that if the Yankees face Haren yesterday and hang 9 runs on AJs start, I am not sure this conversation is still happening…

          • Jetrer

            disprove what? that giving up 3 runs in six innings is better than 4 runs in six innings? or that Nova’s 3.85 ERA/ 4.27 FIP/ 4.11 xFIP is better than AJ’s 4.60/4.68/3.94 line?
            Its not just one start, that start was a typical AJ start, while Nova’s start was his worst in a while. Over last 30 days Nova is 2.61/3.31/3.21 AJ 6.44/4.99/3.96. So AJ was worse in his last start, worse over the last month, and worse on the season. Nova has pitched well lately, AJ most definitely has not. I’m not sure how anyone can wonder why people would want Nova to stay and AJ to leave the rotation. Its pretty obvious. Really the only question is Hughes or AJ, Nova has greatly outperformed both.

            • Jimmy McNulty

              Yeah, this counts as proving narrative, I’d say. Nova’s not perfect, by any means, but he’s been quite a bit better in most advanced stats, and the advanced stats that AJ leads AJ only has a slight lead in.

              tERA:AJ: 4.98, Nova: 4.48
              SIERA: AJ: 3.90 Nova: 4.12

              Besides, SIERA makes a few assumptions that just aren’t true in AJ’s case. The Fangraphs article on SIERA suggests that it may not work for AJ this season.

              • BK2ATL

                Forget Fangraphs for a second. What do your eyes tell you?

                AJ is SUPPOSED to be our #2 pitcher behind CC. It can be more than favorably argued that he is battling Hughes for the #6 slot in the rotation.

                That being said, I would trust EACH and every one of our other 5 starters in the postseason over AJ. AJ is ALWAYS just one pitch away from a complete meltdown. And it happens very fast. There’s no way you could trust him in a pressure start. I’m sure Fangraphs or other advanced stats doesn’t account for confidence.

                IF AJ remains in the rotation, he needs to be out #5, on the shortest leash of any pitcher. Meaning, every inning he goes out there, Wade, Hughes, or Ayala are warmed up and ready before his first pitch every inning.

      • CMP

        AJ Burnett has been a below average pitcher for 2 years and his best years are behind him. His pitching is only going to deteriorate over the next 2 years as he loses velocity and he will never be more than a number 4/5 starter. Those are facts.

        Hughes is 25 years old with the potential to be a solid number 3 starter and his best years are ahead of him. Screwing with his arm by placing him back in the pen to make room for Burnett is beyond idiotic. That is also a fact.

        Get of your soap box defending Burnett because in this case the narrative that you mock is supported by facts.

        • CP

          The narrative is that Nova solidified his spot in the rotation in this last time through while AJ is pitching himself out of it (if not for his contract).

          That’s paraphrased, but basically what they said on the broadcast today.

          How is that supported by facts?

        • Jimmy McNulty

          Hughes is 25 years old with the potential to be a solid number 3 starter

          Ugh…remember when he was supposed to be an ace?

          • The Fallen Phoenix

            When Cliff Lee was 25, he was pitching to a 5.43 in his first full year in a starting rotation (with a BB/9 of 4.1). He broke out at age 26, pitching to a 3.79 ERA in 202 innings with a K/9 of 6.4, although he cut his walks in half.

            He then fell off a cliff for two years before regrouping at age 29.

            Granted, Cliff Lee has had a very strange career arc; he developed pinpoint control as he got older, and he’s allowed that to carry him to one of the game’s best starters at age 32. Phil Hughes has a lot of career ahead of him to get back to what scouts were predicting from him back when he was 19, 20, 21 years-old.

            • JT

              That Lee example is more supportive of why one should have a little more faith in Nova being more than a #4/5 starter than believe that Hughes is suddenly going to learn how to locate his pitches.

              Even when Hughes was good in the first half of last year, he wasnt hitting his spots. He was merely overpowering hitters with movement on his fastball up in the zone, which barely ever hit the intended target (assuming the glove placement was the intended target)

              • Mike R

                You’re just dumb. Anyone remember Hughes no hitting the Rangers before Injured his hamstring? Hughes wa great during last years first half and pitched great against the Twins in the ALDS. Way too soon to say Hughes can’t get better, AJ on the other hand is more than matured. The guys 34 he’s not going to change, his career is defined by inconstistincies

          • Jorge

            Both of those will always be just speculation, though, and not proof of anything.

    • Dan

      AJ hasn’t had a good start in well over a month, Nova has put together a number of quality starts and even taking his last start out has far outpitched AJ over the last two months. IMO AJ has better stuff than Nova, and probably should remain as a starter, but his ability to completely lose it so quickly in one start is beyond frustrating because there is no way for Girardi to be prepared for it. At least coming out of the pen, he can have other people warming up at the same time. Girardi wouldn’t have someone warming up for AJ if he has only given up 1 hit through the first 4-5 innings as a starter.

    • Jetrer

      3 runs in 6+ > 4 runs in 6
      and Nova’s season starts are much better
      and Nova has been much better lately
      its called context, if AJ had that start after a run of good starts, nobody would say anything, but he had yet another poor start in a season full of poor to mediocre starts

      • CP

        6 IP, 6 K, 3 BB, 1 HR > 6 IP, 0 K, 3 BB, 1 HR

        Beyond that, Nova shouldn’t get credit because Soriano was able to get out of a bases loaded no out jam and only give up 1 run.

        • Jetrer

          so ignore the rest of the season then? AJ will always have better K’s, but he always finds ways to underperform is peripherals. And Nova’s blow up came an inning later than AJ. I’m not saying Nova’s start was great, or AJ’s was horrible, but in the context of recent performance by both, Nova > AJ.

          • CP

            You’re completely missing my point:

            The narrative is that Nova solidified his spot in the rotation in this last time through while AJ is pitching himself out of it (if not for his contract).

            That’s paraphrased, but basically what they said on the broadcast today.

            • Jetrer

              I think that the narrative is at least somewhat accurate though. Nova had been pitching much better going into their most recent starts. I think to solidify his spot, Nova pretty much just needed to not completely suck. He accomplished that. AJ needed to start turning his recent poor performances around. He did not accomplish that. While the starts were close in quality overall, I think AJ needed to show more based on how the rest of the season has gone for both of them. Its not just that 3 runs in 6 is OK for Nova, its that its OK and an off start for him given his recent performance, while AJ’s 4 in 6 is just more of the same mediocrity from him.

    • MikeD

      It’s all about expectations.

      It’s not about Nova and AJ anymore. It’s now about Hughes and AJ. Which one is the weakest link as the starter, and which one might be able to help the Yankees more in the pen down the stretch. The numbers say AJ has been the better starter and Hughes, as we know, has shown he can pitch out of the pen.

      Yet as I noted elsewhere, I’d like to see AJ pitch out of the pen. He seems stronger earlier in the game, usually falling apart somewhere after the fifth. Let’s see what he can do for one or two innings at a clip. With his fastball and the rush that seems to come with pitching out of the pen, he might be more effective than many think.

    • Brian S.

      Nova has been better than AJ this year. Lower ERA, FIP, has accrued more WAR…That being said, Hughes is the one that I feel is the least deserving to keep his spot.

      • CP

        I agree that Nova has been better than AJ this year. My point is that people are using each of their last starts as justification for why Nova is better than AJ.

        The problem is that AJ pitched better on Tuesday than Nova did on Wednesday.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      You’re leaving some stuff out. You’re forgetting that Nova was cruising through the line up, no balls were hit very well, and he was basically allowing a lot of cheap hits. He got robbed of at least two strikeouts by my count, and he pitched quite a bit better than the final line suggested.

    • Alibaba

      I would not make such a decision based on one start. However, if you looks at their season so far, Nova outperformed AJ decisively so far.

  • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

    AJ Burnett in the bullpen is a disaster waiting to happen. Hes an AWFUL situational pitcher. Awful. If he doesnt have his stuff, hes a batting practice pitcher. Hughes makes more sense. Its been a real bad year for Hughesy so hopefully he can contribute in the pen for the remainder and then start off on a clean slate next year, Maybe. Show to camp in shape? Who knows..

  • UncleArgyle

    AJ Burnett’s lone skill right now is the fact that he stays healthy and takes the ball every five days. Moving him to the bullpen obviously negates that. I’d put Hughes in the pen personally. We saw in 2009 how much his fastball plays up in the pen. Which in turn makes whatever below average breaking pitch he’s throwing that day look more servicable.

    • David, Jr.

      I tend to be with you. I see Hughes as a guy whose secondary pitches aren’t usually good enough to exist as a starter, when coupled with his straight 89 – 92 starter fastball. Out of the bullpen, it is a completely different story, as his fastball is more like 95 or 96.

      Some stats:

      Starter – 4.92 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, 7.0 SO/9

      Reliever – 1.51 ERA, .876 WHIP, 11.4 SO/9

      • Jetrer

        that fastball was 2 years ago and pre-shoulder problems
        no guarantee moving him to the bullpen makes that velocity magically appear again
        To me, its more about potential and need right now. The bullpen doesn’t really need any help right now, but the rotation has big questions after CC. There is a chance that Hughes can regain his form from first half of last year and emerge as a #2-3 starter in the postseason. I think thats worth keeping him in the rotation for the next few weeks to see if it can happen. If it doesn’t, Hughes can always be moved to the pen for the last couple of weeks. At this point, AJ is a known quantity at starter (mediocre #4 or 5). Hughes still has a shot to be better.

        • David, Jr.

          It is a tough call. There would be no harm in about three more starts to see what Hughes has, although it sounds like the decision would be made far sooner than that, by Monday, which leads me to believe that Burnett stays as one of the five.

      • CP

        his straight 89 – 92 starter fastball. Out of the bullpen, it is a completely different story, as his fastball is more like 95 or 96.

        He’s not going to gain 6 MPH on his fastball. Maybe he’ll add 2 or 3 MPH, but not 6. You can’t compare a health Hughes as a reliever in 2009 to an injured Hughes as a starter in 2011.

        • David, Jr.

          That says that he is still injured. If that is the case, he certainly shouldn’t be a starter.

          • Michael Mirabella

            Everybody’s saying how Hughes should go to the bullpen, but for what? Last time I checked, the bullpen was one of if not THE BEST part of the team.

  • MannyGeee

    Girardi is giving Hughes every single inch of rope available to see if he will hang himself with it. if Hughes has another start like he did in Chicago, Girardi will have an interesting decision to make.

  • Dan

    AJ needs to develop a phantom hamstring injury to go on the 15 day DL until rosters expand.

    • A.D.

      Maybe they tell AJ he’s going to the pen, he goes into a rage punching things, hurts himself, bam DL. Problem solved

      • Your mom

        Hooray! More black eyes!

  • Gonzo

    Man oh man. This is going to be interesting. Hughes has pitched 38 innings this year.

    I know the Yankees think they can throw an innings limit, or lack thereof, on a pitcher based on his career innings pitched high (and that may be the case, generally speaking), but isn’t Hughes the one guy that suffered from that philosphy this year?

    I am worried guys. Comfort me!

    • CS Yankee

      Thinking Nova will go down if Hughes pitches well on Saturday.

      If Hughes pitches well…like 6IP, 1-2 BB’s, 2 ER…he stays and Nova stays stretched out in SWB.

      If Hughes blows…like a 4IP, 3+ BB’s, 4-5 ER…he goes pen & Noesi goes SWB.

      If Hughes throws high FB’s, no change-ups & leaves the hook high and over the plate…I will turn the TV off for a hour to avoid any possible damage to needed set.

      • MikeD

        Nova’s in the rotation. Girardi has even said Nova is not fighting for a spot. Nova is the #4. Hughes and AJ are fighting for the #5, with the loser going to the pen.

        I suppose if Hughes does pitch poorly they could send him to AAA for more innings over the next few weeks, but my guess is they’ll use him in the pen and then have him pitch in one of the Fall Leagues to build up his inning count.

        • The Fallen Phoenix

          Except Hughes isn’t eligible for any of the Fall leagues. And I don’t think the Yankees have the authority to assign Huughes to an independent winter league, such as the one Colon pitched in while auditioning for major league teams last off-season.

          If the Yankees want Phil Hughes to build innings, he needs to be a starter. That can be AAA – it doesn’t have to be the majors. But Hughes needs to start. He can’t be allowed to go back to the bullpen, that’s not a step forward for him at this stage of his development.

          • MikeD

            I agree on one level since I want Hughes to be a starter, but his development is not going to end if he finishes the 2011 season in the pen. Because of Joba, Yankee fans are

            I seem to be one of the few people who want to give AJ a shot in the pen, but not as punishment or banishment, but to see how his stuff translates to shorter stints. The Yankees are going to be paying him for the next two years, so use the six-man rotation issue now and AJ’s struggling to see how he looks out of the pen. It also doesn’t mean he’ll stay there anymore than Mussina did after 2007.

            So I hope Hughes pitches well as a starter, and they send AJ to the pen.

            • MikeD

              I guess I didn’t finish that second line, which was Because of Joba, Yankee fans are fearful of ever seeing a promising young pitcher sent to the pen. It’s irrational.

      • David, Jr.

        “Thinking Nova will go down if Hughes pitches well on Saturday.”

        “He’s been one of our best five guys,” Girardi said in his pregame news conference. “The last three months, especially, he’s been really, really good for us.”

        So was Nova still auditioning to keep his job?

        “I wouldn’t say that,” Girardi said.

        August 11th – ESPN

        • CS Yankee

          Thanks, did not know this. He still doesn’t really commit fully to Nova though.

          If this is the case, my money would be on AJ staying as the starter & Hughes goes pen.

          • David, Jr.

            I’m with you, but it is a headbender, and it will get even more that way if Hughes has a strong next start. I just can’t see Burnett anyplace except as a starter. It would be like asking a fish to fly.

    • MikeD

      Hughes is at 52 innings, including his minor league starts. Add in whatever he has the rest of the way into the postseason, and whatever innings the Yankees give him in the offseason, and he’ll be over 100. Having already done a 190 inning season (postseason included) and being 25 years old, he’ll have no problem ramping up to a 200 inning season in 2012 as long as he pitches well enough to throw 200 innings! The reduced workload this year after the 2010 season is probably a good thing.

      My guess is we’ll hear more in the off season that Hughes wasn’t properly condidtioned coming into 2011.

  • The Big City of Dreams

    Why can’t they just send Hughes down?

    • CS Yankee

      They can…

      Think he has an option (or two) left, but with just two weeks left of AAA; they would be more likely to keep him up and in the pen, i would guess.

      Nova seems to be better but regression to the talent level seems to be the thought…

      Projected Talent has Hughes >>> Nova (a #1 vs. a #3-4)
      Actual Talent 2011 Nova >> Hughes (a #4 vs. a #6)

      Will the projections correct, that’s the big question. Nova & Hughes could fall anywhere in 2012.

      I would guess, Hughes at a #3 ceiling going forward (really doubt or expect more) and Nova at a #2 (if that slider keeps developing, he doesn’t lose the C/U and the heater stays mid-90’s), if not, a #4 (as is).

      • The Big City of Dreams

        Great post CP. I enjoyed reading you’re point of view on the situation.

  • Bronx Byte

    Keep Burnett and the Yankees are down to a 22 man roster. Jorge, Andruw Jones, and Burnett contribute little.

  • BGrider85

    There seems to be no easy solution. But I’d say to shorten Burnett’s leash and put Hughes in the bullpen. In today’s game, Sterling said the only reason he wouldn’t send Burnett to the pen is because he had never been there before so they don’t know if it would work. Experimenting with that seems less a crap shoot than sending him out to the mound every 5 days and hoping he won’t blow the game open.

  • Steve

    Neither one of AJ or Phil are going to be any kind of important contributors in the pen. They will be long men – coming into the game early when the starter gets waxed. It’s been a long downhill climb for Hughes, but he’s not been able to stay healthy and he simply has not progressed in any meaningful way. The fact that he came into camp out of shape and overweight doesn’t help his cause – I don’t think he has any rope with the Yankees. I don’t think AJ has been nearly bad enough to pull from the rotation, so if Phil doesn’t pitch lights out on Saturday, I can’t say I blame the Yankees. Even if they sent him to AAA, their season ends in a few weeks – he’s not going to get any significant innings this year most likely. Is he eligible for winter ball? If so, he should go there.

    I think he’ll be competing for a spot in the rotation next year and if he doesn’t make it, he’ll be put in the pen permanently.

    • The Big City of Dreams

      You’re one of the few fans I’ve seen that believes he’ll be competing for a spot next yr.

  • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

    So let me get this straight. If Hughes pitches like he did against Chicago (which I think he’s very capable of because he’s facing a not so scary lineup) will Burnett get moved to the bullpen? Because you can’t just have him deal and then have him move to the bullpen. So clearly if he does pitch well he will continue to start and Burnett will go into the bullpen. I’m glad Girardi has the stomach to do this. He’s gonna go with the five best starters, and throw the contract numbers out the window. Good for him.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    If they’re moving Hughes back to the bullpen this team is absolutely and completely lost when it comes to developing young high profile pitching. Didn’t they learn their lesson with Joba? Or do they think that they didn’t make any mistakes when it came to Joba?

    • Jorge

      ….or Hughes continues to have a bad rebound year from a beyond-career high in innings last year.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Keep him in the rotation then, even if it’s in Scratnon.

    • MikeD

      What lesson were they supposed to learn from Joba?

      • The Big City of Dreams

        How to not screw up a high end arm. They don’t take all the blame but some of the stuff they did was ridiculous.

        • MikeD

          I do think they gave up on Joba too quickly after the injury. He wasn’t the same pitcher, but he still seemed good enough to keep in the rotation.

          I don’t blame them for the Joba Rules, which had nothing to do with the injury he sustained that August night in Texas. That’s why I asked the question “what are they supposed to learn from Joba?” Not to have a young pitcher suffer a freak injury? Never to send a talented young pitcher to the pen for any length of time? Neither is a good answer.

          • The Big City of Dreams

            The rules weren’t a big problem although I didn’t like some if the things they did. The problem was they seemed to be indecisive. Trying to serve two masters and not taking into account bouncing back and forth was not going to be easy.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Give high end arms a chance to succeed or fail in the rotation, the bullpen isn’t to be a security blanket for failure as a starter.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          Hopefully Man Ban doesn’t suffer the same fate.

      • BK2ATL

        I guess the same lesson that Florida learned with Josh Johnson??? Maybe apples and oranges, maybe the same. Both “high end arms.” Both on the DL for the season.

        Both came into MLB with previous arm/shoulder issues. No matter what lead up to 2011, both went down for the season again with arm injuries. Did Florida handle Johnson incorrectly?

        I’m a Yankees fan, but I have to say, Joba is overrated as a NYY pitcher. To me, the work effort never came close to matching the talent. I believe that they had the best intentions in the botched Joba rules.

        I also believed that had Joba just took the ball, followed instructions, shut up and pitched what was called, rather than going the AJ Burnett route of thinking too much, there would’ve been better results. A lot of things went against him, but he certainly didn’t consistently help himself either.

        • The Big City of Dreams

          True he didn’t help himself but the Yankees botched this thing almost from day one.

          • BK2ATL

            They did botch some of it. However, the rest of it must also come down to personal responsibility.

            Joba’s had chances to take advantage of the opportunities. Even the screwed up “rules.” Preparation, conditioning, willingness to listen, execution, film study.

            They put you in the bullpen, well come out firing what’s called, not what you feel like throwing.

            They tell you that you’re on an innings limit, well give your best stuff for those innings. That happened very inconsistently.

            I just don’t get when fans don’t hold players accountable, when given the opportunities. I can’t believe the excuses I read. AJ doesn’t deserve to be in the rotation, contract or not, certainly over Nova. Joba was outperformed by Robertson since 2009.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              Players get blamed there were things that Joba did that was frustrating such as shaking off catchers and being stubborn. He has been held accountable by fans for the past couple of seasons. My thing is the Yankees didn’t do him any favors.

  • Winston Smith

    This shouldn’t be between Hughes and Nova. It shouldn’t even be between Hughes and AJ. It should be AJ goes to the pen, period. In the competition the past few weeks he’s done nothing to prove that he belongs to stay. 5.2 ERA last season, 4.6 ERA this season. Contract be damned, AJ’s gotta go.

  • Jorge

    I’d stay with the “everybody on a six man rotation except for CC” plan personally. If I had to pick someone to exile to long relief, though, it’d be AJ. We know what to expect to him, good or bad, and I don’t see how and where improvement is around the corner. AJ looks great until he looks absolutely lost. It’s always a matter of how much damage he does when he’s lost before he rights the ship. He did it in Florida. He did it in Toronto. He does here.

    The commitment should always be to get the younger pitcher, Phil Hughes, for where he needs to be for his own long term success and the success of the team’s. This team’s outlook is much better when Phil Hughes is on his game.

  • Kyle

    Even if Hughes pitches a gem he should be sent to AAA until at least the rosters expand. It is no guarantee that the 5 men that remain will a) stay healthy; or, b) pitch effectively. Come playoff time Joe can make the decision to bring Hughes into the rotation or use him as long relief or an extra arm in the pen. no harm in sending him down now. If he wants to be a starter and still has the tools he will deliver. If not, fuck it. enjoy AAA.

    On another note, there is no way this team is considering bringing MANBAN up for a lefty specialist RIGHT? This has joba/hughes written all over it. I hope I am just expressing my paranoia and not actual thinking.

    • BK2ATL

      I think if Hughes pitches well, you leave him and Nova in the rotation, as they will have proven that they give the team the best chance to win.

      If I’m correct, coincidence or not, AJ hasn’t won a game in August in pinstripes. His 3rd year now. So if that continues to be true, what is left to think about?

      Put AJ in the bullpen, in the mop-up role. One, it would be a signal to him. Two, for him to get his “head” and hair together. Three, it sends the rest of the team a message that, as Posada, no one is above the bench, contract be damned.

      If they bring up Banuelos as a strictly lefty specialist, I’d be okay with it. As long as they don’t push it past that, one or two batters at most. He’ll be coming up on his innings limit anyway. He’d finally get a taste of MLB hitters. It could be used as a showcase for 2012, as well as what he’ll need to work on in the offseason.

  • Nogomo

    Anybody see the story making the rounds (Reuters)? http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/08/11/sports/baseball/sports-us-baseball-yankees-pitchers.html?ref=baseball

    Looks like Nova is in and it’s down to either AJ or Phil. I would’ve been ready to place a (small) bet on Phil before he blew that game out of the pen, but you could also argue that against his going into the pen. In a just world AJ would go to the pen. We’ll know soon enough. I like our chances with a rotation of CC, Bart, Nova, Garcia, Hughes. Could be a lot worse!

  • scooter10

    I like the idea of having Hughes in Scranton continuing to throw every 5th day. It’s inevitable that there will be injuries. If we get to mid-September and there aren’t injuries, he could probably play a short reliever role in October.