We all miss baseball. Deeply. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be reading and writing about it. It has been more than four months since we last saw baseball that counts. As such, we can take comfort in early spring training games. It’s easier than ever, too. The Yankees have played live on television three times already, and will continue to do so frequently throughout the spring. In addition, beat writers flood twitter with a bevy of updates letting us know the latest happenings in camp.
We can, in other words, cling to baseball to a greater degree than ever before. That’s wonderful from an emotional standpoint. But from an analysis standpoint, let’s agree to leave things alone until the players are further along in the process.
There’s a lot at stake in Yankees’ camp. There’s the future of the pitching rotation. Michael Pineda has already come under the microscope. Phil Hughes, too, will face intense scrutiny as he competes for a rotation spot. Every time they take the mound they’ll be the centers of attention. Afterwards, the media will pick apart every little detail, as though it were a regular season, or even postseason, performance. It’s not that we should ignore any of this information. Instead, it’s that we should approach it knowing that these players aren’t even close to full speed.
Look at Pineda, for example. Before his start yesterday he came under fire for issues that we’d known about for weeks, if not months. Yet his performance looked just fine, as he retired six in a row after allowing a leadoff hit. The media in general praised him. But then reports surfaced of his relatively low velocity, and the conversation turned on a button.
Today’s focus was Hughes, who needs a big year to regain some of the luster that wore off last season. The good news? He hit 93 today — multiple times. The bad? He allowed four hits while recording just four outs, reaching his pitch count before his two innings were up. You can take that information any way you’d like, but I hope it’s any way but seriously. There’s too much time left before the season starts to make too much of anything right now.
The information we’re learning now might come in handy in the future. If Pineda’s velocity remains low, it will absolutely become a concern. If Hughes continues to throw well, but remains hittable, it will become a hindrance to his cracking the rotation. But right now, at this very moment, there’s not much we can do with this information. After all, they’re playing games that don’t count for a reason. At least for now, let’s continue to remember that they don’t count. There will come a time when judgements and analysis will become necessary. But in early March, when the Yankees haven’t even completed one turn through the rotation? That’s not the time.