On the Yankees and developing pitchers


(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It’s no secret that the Yankees have been unable to develop any quality starting pitching over the last … I dunno, five or ten or fifteen years. It’s part of the reason why they had to go out and trade for a young arm like Michael Pineda, because they haven’t been able to produce someone like that on their own. In fairness, the farm system was ignored for a long time in the early-to-mid-aughts, but guys like Joba Chamberlain, Andrew Brackman, and Phil Hughes haven’t pan out in recent years.

I had been planning to write about the Yankees and their pitching development program for a few weeks now, though I just never got around to it. It’s going to appear as though this is stemming from Phil Hughes’ performance last night and Pineda’s injury, but that honestly is not the case. This post has been in the works for a while. This quote from that anonymous scout guy (he gets around quite a bit, no?) in John Harper’s latest column finally gave me the motivation to get this together…

“I know we all baby these guys now,” one scout said, referring to young pitchers throughout baseball, “but I don’t know, maybe the Yankees take it to an extreme with the innings limits and pitch counts, and their kids never learn how to push themselves when they’re a little tired in situations where they need to get out of trouble.

“It’s not just them, but you can only protect arms so much, and sometimes it doesn’t matter at all because pitchers are going to get hurt. I just look at Hughes and Chamberlain and I can’t figure out what happened to them, and now I don’t like what I’m seeing from [Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances] either.”

I feel like the Yankees have managed to find this perfect balance between being both overly conservative and overly aggressive with their pitchers. They’re conservative in the sense that they hold them to strict pitch counts, but aggressive in the sense that they run them up the ladder after a good half-season at a level. Just take Ivan Nova for example. He’s the exception, a generally unheralded prospect who threw 575.1 IP in the minors before making his first MLB start. Compare that to Hughes (275 IP) or Joba (88.1 IP (!)) and it’s not hard to see why Nova come up a more complete pitcher and able to contribute. Now obviously every pitcher is different and not everyone needs 500+ IP in the minors before being ready for the show, this is just one example using three guys we’re all familiar with.

I think the scout in Harper’s column has a really good point about kids being unable to learn “how to push themselves when they’re a little tired in situations” while on strict workload limitations in the minors. Getting to the bigs and being effective as a young pitcher is hard enough, but you don’t want to compound the problem by having the kid standing out there in the fifth or sixth inning with his pitch count at 100 when he’s only thrown that many pitches in an outing a handful of times in his life. The big leagues is neither the time nor place for a pitcher to learn how to turn over a lineup three times or throw 100+ pitches in a start. It’s possible — not necessarily easy — to have a young player extend himself in the minors for the benefit of development without putting him at serious risk of injury. We know too much work can be bad for a young pitcher, but too little work can be harmful in a different way.

The whole point of the minor leagues is to help players develop the skills they need to be successful in the big leagues, and for pitchers that includes working deep into games — sometimes without their best stuff — and going through a lineup multiple times. That doesn’t mean they should run everyone out there for 120 pitches every five days, but this arbitrary five innings/80 pitches threshold we’ve seen employed so often in recent years accomplishes what, exactly? Hughes with Double-A Trenton in 2006 is a perfect example. He destroyed that league after his midseason promotion — 30.8 K% and 7.1 BB% with a 2.26 FIP in 116 IP — but he only threw more than five innings in 13 of 21 starts and not once in his final eleven outings. Again, we don’t have all the information from where we sit, but it’s hard to see how he was being challenged in that environment. More learning occurs when mistakes are made, not when things are easy.

Now obviously not every pitching prospect is going to work out, there’s some level of attrition that’s just unavoidable. Injuries are going to happen as well; pitchers can be babied to the nth degree and they’ll still get hurt. They’re cool like that. That said, I do think it’s fair to question how the Yankees have gone about developing their young pitchers in recent years, though we also have to acknowledge that as outsiders, we only have a small piece of the information pie. All we know about player development is what we’ve picked up as laymen over the years while reading Baseball America and Keith Law and checking box scores on a nightly basis. In the wake of Pineda’s injury and the failures of Hughes and Joba as starting pitchers, I do think that some level of self-reflection — more than the usual — has to take place on the Yankees’ part. What they’ve been doing has not been working.

Categories : Minors, Musings
  • jsbrendog

    i’m afraid of what the comments will devolve into for this one…

    • Matt :: Sec110

      Joba should go back to the minor as learn to be a starter!

      • Bo Knows

        takes a swig of absinthe

        • Robinson Tilapia

          My gamethread drinking is spreading, I see.

    • flamingo

      I’m going to hazard a guess and say they become contentious.

  • JohnC

    harper’s article was excellent. He makes very good points. Seems like since they started, Betances and Banuelos have been limted to 5 innings every time. They gotta get stretched out at some point. Of course, Yanks will insist that they do all kinds of studies on this and they are doing it the right way so the point is moot

    • TomH

      The Yankees can insist as much as they wish, but increasingly the burden of proof falls on them to account for why their pitching-development record has been so alarmingly poor.

      • .zip file

        That’s not in the binder!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          We were doing so well.

      • CW

        I think “alarmingly poor” is overstating it. As mentioned, they do have Wang,Kennedy, Nova, and Robertson to their credit.

        • chrisginn

          nova wasn’t treated as a highly rated prospect so he actually went deep into games; i assume robertson was brought along as a reliever; i don’t know wang’s background – does he have international experience where he got used to pitching deep?; the yankees almost ruined kennedy by rushing him.

          the yanks rush all their “top” prospects and don’t stretch out any of their pitchers so they never develop mental toughness and they don’t pitch when physically stressed. they should put their young pitchers on the nova regimen.

          the only other successful yankees starter i can think of in recent years is pettitte and i don’t think he was a gold star prospect either so he was allowed to go deep into games.

          • CW

            I doubt this will be read since the thread is now on page 2, but I’ll try. You’re narrowing the scope to not count highly rated prospects. So you’re basically knocking them for Hughes and Joba, a small sample size, no?. Too early to knock them for Bannuelos and Betances, IMO.

            • CW

              Also, was responding to the assertion that their pitching development in general was poor. Nothing was mentioned about top prospects or only starters.

    • Greg Corcoran

      The reason Banuelos and Betances only go 5 innings per outing is because their pitch counts get too high too quickly. This was the case last year as well. Everyone was jumping down the team’s throat, but if you looked at the pitch counts, they were reaching almost 100 every start. Now, if you want to blame it on the development and say they were rushed and that’s why they can’t get through 5 innings without throwing 100 pitches, then I might be able to buy that theory.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Who will win the award for most grossly taking this post completely out of context? Place your bets below.

    I have no clue what the answer is. It’s hard to believe that having these kids on a five inning limit or so in the minors would drastically derail them, or that just letting them throw without limits, like the Rangers seem to do, is the magic answer to everything. If you asked me to develop a program (and I STRONGLY suggest you don’t), I’d wager it’d look more like what the Yankees are doing.

    • jsbrendog

      with shots? i want shots.

  • S

    There is CMW, unfortunately he got hurt…

    • jsbrendog

      and nova, and ipk, and numerous bullpen pitchers.

      • A.D.

        numerous bullpen pitchers

        Tone of the article is about starters, can’t really baby pen guys

  • mike

    Unfortunately the Yanks have done an overall poor job of drafting in the past 10 years – and while there have been some successes, i think every fan believes that even when wiping away the gloss we put on them as fans of the team, that overall the minors have provided a disapponting level of talent and contribution to the ML roster over the past 10 years – and thats even when considering the Yanks participation in the international market where their fiancial clout should give them a marked advantage.

    • Matt :: Sec110


    • Guest

      I’d give this a smidge more credence if it wasn’t for the drop off in stuff and command we have seen from Joba and Hughes.

      It’s not like these were merely over-hyped guys who were doomed to disappoint once they ran into the big boys. They had honest to goodness nasty stuff.

      Hughes had pin-point fastball command and a sick slider that they scrapped for fear of injury and they replaced it with what was by all accounts a sick curve. What everyone forgets about Joba is that he actually maintained mid-nineties to upper nineties fastball as a starter in ’08.

      Their stuff fell of drastically (Hughes curve turning into a glorified folly floater and laughable fastball command, Joba’s MPH going the way of the Dodo). They tweak Manny’s delivery before 2011, and the young man whose calling card was command is now averaging over 4BBs per nine.

      This leads me to believe that the issue may be more about how the Yanks choose to develop their perceived “gems” rather than their ability to find them.

      • .zip file

        Their “it” guys seem to lose their command the higher they go in the system. Since I don’t watch their minor league games, I wonder if it is how the Yankees develop the it guys as they advance, or is it they never truly had the command we think they did. It’s just that the stuff was so good they were able to blow it past overmatched low level minor league hitters.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        The reason why Brackman and Chamberlain even came through this system is because they dropped in the draft due to injury concerns, or just outright injury.

        The only guy here who came through the draft, with a high pedigree and no observable risk, was Phil Hughes.

        Betances was always considered a raw talent and, therefore, longer shot. Banuelos still has a tooooon to go and was an IFA.

        Having the gems just handed to you isn’t that easy.

    • Alkaline

      I think they did a relatively decent job drafting overall. Don’t forget to take into consideration the fact that the Yankees are not receiving some of the top draft picks with the winning records over the past 10 years. Don’t forget what the Rays and Nationals went through before the past couple years.

      • LarryM.,Fl.

        AlKaline: you took the words out of my mouth. There is a Catch-22 to making the playoffs over the last 18 years or so on a regular basis. The team has had wonderful records and the signing of FA’s has dropped the Yanks into territory of the draft not know for can’t miss pitching prospects.

        As far as the Yanks babying their pitchers in development. Drafting a kid out of HS or signing from the International areas at a young age. The bodies are still developing so discretion of work is the better way. Now college pitchers get used to the nth degree. So a credible college pitcher should have the stamina if nothing else and then develop his pitches in the minors.

        I think the key to development woes is finishing high every year and the draft choices are mediocre at best. The Yankees with the win all every year has paid the price in the draft. As a fan I enjoy the opportunity to win the WS every year but the price is not only in ticket prices but in the farm system drafting and development.

    • Ted Nelson

      I think that if you look at their actual recent drafts is perspective (where they picks and how other teams do), you would feel differently.

  • DM

    One thing that’s left out regarding protecting these pitchers. Hughes, Joba and obviously Brackman had arm/shoulder issues prior to becoming Yankees. There was a reason to be careful with them — same with Betances after his injury. Also, the minor league inning totals is misleading when comparing HS pitchers vs Latin American FAs vs college pitchers.

    • Bo Knows

      Hughes never had any injury problems to his arm until last year…but I do agree with you overall.

      • DM

        Hughes had a “dead arm” (probably tendinitis) late in HS. Joba had a tricep tendinitis problem late in college. Both fell lower in the draft order for those reasons. That’s the reason why Phil was an 80-85 pitch guy pre-AAA. They were very careful with him. His fluctuating velocity thing isn’t new. He always had a strangely wide fastball range, 90-95 mph.

  • Frank

    If you read Harper’s article, it’s looking like Betances is the second coming of Andrew Brackman.

  • Jeremy

    If Hughes, Joba and the rest pitched well up to 100 pitches and then fell apart, I’d say that “babying” was a problem. Putting someone on innings limits and pitch counts has no effect on whether they have command of their fastball.

    • YeeSawn

      But it does. Most guys are fresh and locating well early in the game. It’s the guys who can get through an order 3-4 times and make big pitches at the end of the game who separate themselves from the rest of the pitchers in the game.

      • Buffalo Bill

        Yeah, but Hughes sucks the first two times through the order, too. So that theory is bupkis. It isn’t that he gets “tired”, unless they are babying these guys so much that their warm-up tosses are too much…

  • grassnot paper

    the Yankees don’t look at their young talent as ball players
    rather they are investments or assets- this is augmented by the hype
    there are times when developing an athlete involves taking risks
    you don’t put investments or assets at risk

    • flamingo

      I don’t know if this is true, but it’s a really interesting point.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Why do you feel this way? Not discounting you, but I’m wondering how you came to this conclusion.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I *think* I get what you’re saying. Yanks look at their young pitchers’ arms as things which need to be protected in preparation for the majors while, say, the Rangers just let ‘em pitch…

        …again, six of one, half-dozen of the other. On the surface, there’s merit to the Yankee approach, and I’m not sure it touches why Phil Hughes throws 25 pitches in the first inning, etc.

  • Guest

    Well said, and great balance to the article.

    The Banuelos slow down is somewhat alarming. And given what we’ve seen with the Hughes, Joba, Brackman and Betances (though the last two just might be classic examples of gangly bodies unable to find the Randy Johnson repeatable delivery miracle more than anything else), perhaps Campos should angle for a trade (I kid, I kid).

    As Mike advises, I know enough to know I know next to nothing about developing major league pitchers. That said, I hope everyone in charge of Yankee pitching development is taking a serious look at the program and analyzing whether changes need to be made. You want to believe things are luck, but if the same person keeps running out of burning buildings, you start to think something other than luck may be at play.

    There are two things that strike me based on my lay opinion: I think Mike’s on to something when he looks at the success of Nova. But it’s not just Nova. Look at Phelps. Look at the fact that Mitchell has already accomplished more than was expected. I think there is something to not being the “it” guy within the Yankee system. They actually pitch for a material number of minor league innings. Many of them seem to go deeper into games.

    It’s almost like the “it” guys are fabrege eggs that must have their precious arms protected, even as they are rushed through the system so that they can be displayed in front of the Bronx crowd ASAP. The non-”it” guys get to, you know, pitch like the game they’re pitching in actually matters. If its the sixth inning of a 3-2 AAA game, Nova and Phelps get to pitch like its a 3-2 game.

    Development is far more important than results, but isn’t a part of development learning how to strive for results? And if you know you’re getting shut down after 5, I imagine it would feel more like “you are getting your work in” rather than trying to win a game.

    • Guest

      The second point is that the IN GAME innings limits do seem like they may increase the risk of injury once a pitcher gets to the majors.

      It does seem intuitive that a pitcher is going to put a lot more strain on his arm trying to get through the sixth and seventh under the klieg lights at the Stadium if he doesn’t even have experience trying to get through the sixth and the seventh anywhere.

      Perhaps the focus should be on season long innings limits rather than in game innings limits? Or at least there should be a bit more flexibility in how long the Yanks let a pitcher go during a particular game.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      This is all perfectly logical, but I agree with the above question as to how this translates to a guy throwing too many pitches, and too many mistake pitches, earlier on in the game.

      Maybe there is to much messing with the more prized prospects, while the under-the-radar guys look like they get less rattled. That’s about as unscientific an obsevation as can be, though.

      What if the answer is the simplest one, and that’s that it’s hard to build anything when you’re contending every year? Just throwing that out there.

      • Guest

        Fair point. To your last point, maybe the semi-precious stones get more time to develop than the gems because the team is trying to rush them up to be an “impact arm” wherever the contending team has a need (Hughes was rushed early in ’07 because of rotation needs, Joba was rushed later in ’07 because of bullpen needs).

        • Robinson Tilapia

          That’s what always seems to resonate with me.

    • .zip file

      Very well said. One of the issues I see is the Yankee “it” guys don’t seem to have great command or control. They have drafted and signed guys who throw hard but don’t control where it is going. And they don’t seem to develop it. Hughes has been awful with his command for a few years now, Brackman and Betances never developed it (so far), Banuelos seems to have lost his in the last year or so and Joba has been hurt and yanked back and forth between starting and the pen.

      The successes they have had with starters are with guys with better control and slightly lesser stuff (Nova, Kennedy and Wang). It is why I think it is entirely possible someone out of the trio of Phelps, Warren and Mitchell will actually be the guy who develops into the guy for the Yankees instead of one of the B’s. And given where the Yankees draft, that may be where they need to look for arms, guys with somewhat lower ceilings and much higher floors. Let’s face it; developing a true #1 ace pitcher is hard. If it was easy, every team would have one.

      • The Guns of Navarone

        Let’s face it; developing a true #1 ace pitcher is hard. If it was easy, every team would have one.

        Rays – Shields, Price (could be Moore in the future)
        Red Sox – Lester
        Blue Jays – Halladay, Romero (could be Drabek in the future)
        Twins – Santana
        Tigers – Verlander
        White Sox – Floyd and Danks are at least solid mid-rotation guys
        Indians – Sabathia
        Rangers – Holland (could be Feliz in the future)
        A’s – churn out a number of quality young pitchers
        Mariners – Felix
        Angels – Weaver
        Mets – Mike Pelfrey (just kidding)
        Phillies – Hamels
        Marlins – Johnson
        Nationals – Strasburg
        Braves – yeah…
        Astros – Oswalt
        Cubs – Zambrano
        Brewers – Gallardo
        Cardinals – Carpenter, Wainwright
        Dbacks – Webb (IPK if you give them credit)
        Giants – Cain, Lincecum, maybe Bumgarner
        Dodgers – Kershaw
        Rockies – I would count Jimenez in his peak

        That leaves the Orioles, Royals, Mets, Pirates and Padres. Those are teams for the most part that have had little to no success over the last decade. And none of them have anywhere close to the resources the Yankes have, save for the Mets. Say what you want about when these pitchers are drafted, but the teams still have to develop those arms. They’re doing a better job of it than the Yankees.

    • Mike

      I’m sure that Phelps and Nova and Mitchell had the same innings and pitch limits as more heralded prospects. They just stayed in the minors longer. I’m not really seeing any type of plan other than to keep pitchers in the minor leagues for longer. Does anyone think that Jose Campos should be throwing more than 80 pitches a game right now?

      I’m speaking from a place of ignorance, but it seems best to have consistent limits. It shouldn’t be 80 most games and then once a month bump them up to 100. Flexibility seems like the most dangerous plan.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      “As Mike advises, I know enough to know I know next to nothing about developing major league pitchers. That said, I hope everyone in charge of Yankee pitching development is taking a serious look at the program and analyzing whether changes need to be made. You want to believe things are luck, but if the same person keeps running out of burning buildings, you start to think something other than luck may be at play.”

      Couldn’t have said it any better.

  • Mike

    “It’s possible — not necessarily easy — to have a young player extend himself in the minors for the benefit of development without putting him at serious risk of injury.”

    This could use expansion.

  • cr1

    Mike Axisa,

    Can you give us comparative results that would take into account the problem of selecting later than other less successful teams?

    I would like to know how NYY compares with regard to successful development of pitchers, taking into account the numbers at which they were selected.

    For example, does NYY do better/worse/about the same developing pitchers selected 55th (or whatever number).

    I think that might give us a fairer idea of how good/bad/average the team is compared with others.

    Comparing developing skills with teams that get to select much earlier is just silly.

    • CP

      I think this is a good point. I went back and checked the list of BA top prospects for 2007, and there are a lot more misses than hits in that list. Here are the pitchers that were ranked in the top 40:

      1 DAISUKE MATSUZAKA, rhp, Red Sox
      4 PHILIP HUGHES, rhp, Yankees
      5 HOMER BAILEY, rhp, Reds
      10 ANDREW MILLER, lhp, Tigers
      11 TIM LINCECUM, rhp, Giants
      16 YOVANI GALLARDO, rhp, Brewers
      20 MIKE PELFREY, rhp, Mets
      21 MATT GARZA, rhp, Twins
      23 ADAM MILLER, rhp, Indians
      24 CLAYTON KERSHAW, lhp, Dodgers
      30 FRANKLIN MORALES, lhp, Rockies
      31 SCOTT ELBERT, lhp, Dodgers
      32 LUKE HOCHEVAR, rhp, Royals
      34 NICK ADENHART, rhp, Angels
      35 JEFF NIEMANN, rhp, Devil Rays
      37 JACOB McGEE, lhp, Devil Rays
      40 CHRIS VOLSTAD, rhp, Marlins

      I think Daisuke and Adenhart shouldn’t really be considered, but of the other 15, there are really 5 that have gone on to be above average starters (Lincecum, Gallardo, Garza, Kershaw and Niemann). What’s also interesting is that all of them were 1st round draft picks (Garza is the only one oustide of the top-10, at 25) except for Gallardo.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Our Adam Miller?

        • Need Pitching

          Yankees ruined him

          • Robinson Tilapia

            In record time as well.

      • Buffalo Bill

        Adenhart has really turned into a bust. Probably the biggest bust on the list.

        • Doug

          too soooon

  • Darren

    “Just take Ivan Nova for example. He’s the exception, a generally unheralded prospect who threw 575.1 IP in the minors before making his first MLB start. Compare that to Hughes (275 IP) or Joba (88.1 IP (!)) and it’s not hard to see why Nova come up a more complete pitcher and able to contribute.”

    …unlike Joba and his 0.38 ERA and .75 WHIP in hist first year??

    • Guest

      …um…Joba did that as a reliever. In like 19 innings. Not quite a fair comparison to what Nova did last year as a starter through (almost) the full season.

      • Darren

        His second year he pitched 100 innings and his ERA was 2.60 and WHIP was 1.2, so obviously he was still a major contributor.

        Why isn’t it fair? Joba did his job extremely well as a raw rookie, and another 5 seasons of minor league ball would not have prepared him any better.

        • Need Pitching

          probably would have helped prepare him better as a starter at least somewhat. Learn how to pace himself and pitch to contact a bit more so he could work deeper into games on a more consistent basis, for example.
          I agree he was a pretty major contributor though.

        • Guest

          Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the people who believes that people really don’t give enough credit to how good Joba was in 2008 before he got hurt.

          But I don’t think we can say with certainty that Joba couldn’t have used more seasoning. He wasn’t very stretched out–either in terms of innings per game or innings per season. He hadn’t master a third pitch to complement the devestating heater slider combo.

          And the fact that he had thrown so few innings led to the unmitigated disaster of the “Joba rules,” which pretty much If he had come up a bit more stretched out, the Joba rules would have been completely unnecessary.

          • Mike

            The Joba rules were for when he was a reliever and I don’t think had much to do with how many innings he had thrown. He was a young starting pitcher with an injury history so they didn’t want him throwing on back to back days or coming into the middle of innings.

            I believe the point that Darren is making is, before his injury, Joba was at least just as effective as Nova. It’s inaccurate to say that Nova’s minor league experience lead him to be more effective in his first go around in the majors.

            • Guest

              They were also there when he was a starter in ’09. Joba had those weird three innings starts because they felt the need to keep him in the rotation throughout the pennant race while keeping his innings low.

              And, before his injury, I think Joba was MORE effective than Nova, at least in terms of his peripherals. I’m not trying to say that Nova pitched better than Joba.

              I’m trying to say that Nova was more polished and was pitching closer to his potential than Joba was.

              We were hoping Joba could be an ace. He had the stuff to be an ace. He became a middle reliever before his 24th birthday. Something went wrong there.

          • Darren

            Some pitchers never develop a third or fourth pitch, or even a second. That’s why some pitchers are meant for the bullpen. See Mo on the top of the list. Too bad the Yankes never realized that with Joba – he was a grunt and fart guy, not meant to be starter.

            • Need Pitching

              Joba had 4 pitches

            • Need Pitching

              in any case, how is banishing him to the bullpen an indication the Yankees never realized he should be in the bullpen?

              • JT

                The handling of Joba really ticks me off. In this case, I think the Yankees screwed him up to make him that 8th inning reliever. Then, they kept flipping him, bullpen to starter and back again. His situation was a lot different than Hughes.

                • Need Pitching

                  preaching to the choir

      • CP

        He also had a 2.60 ERA, 2.65 FIP and 3.14 xFIP in 100 innnings in 2008 – most as a starter.

        Of course, that was before he hurt his shoulder…

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      how many inning did joba pitch in nebraska, can you closely compare college ball and A ball?

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Phelps is gonna be good.

    Are we gonna be patient?

    • Need Pitching


      of course not

      • flamingo

        He might be the sort of starter who builds up goodwill by never being flat-out terrible, though.

  • BeanTooth

    So is Banuelos a goner, or can something be done to get him back on track development-wise? Would a return to AA be advisable, as both he and Betances have done nothing spectacular at AAA?

    • Guest

      FAR too early to say he’s a goner. Would not be shocked if he comes back from the back thing and looks great. I think we’re just a bit apprehensive given the team’s recent developmental track record.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ….or does he just have to come off the DL and pitch? :)

  • flamingo

    I’m starting to wonder if the Yankees are really good at developing sort of steady workhorses who project as #4/#5 starters and who don’t dazzle in the minors – but don’t really know how to handle electric stuff.

    • mike

      the issue is that every org can develop back of the rotation guys and bullpen fodder….and even though the Yanks do not have a great draft position each year, they have the budget for not only top international free agents, but also for the scouting, training personnel, facilities, dieticians, video guys etc.

      if they cannot harness these talented yet fallable guys who are available at the back end of the draft where the Yanks are rolling dice on them even with these advantages( like Brackman), then the Yanks should really re-evaluate their strategy because it is failing.

      • mike

        additionally – for some reason the Yankees, where facial hair is verbotten and the like – seem to have a problem with young talented pitchers who havent proved themselves showing up out of shape.

        this is an indictment of management in terms of setting the expectations for these guys in terms of performance and reward.

      • Mike

        “the issue is that every org can develop back of the rotation guys” Have you seen what rotations look like around the league?

        Until someone puts forth a theory on why the Yankees can develop the Nova/Noesi/Karstens type of pitcher, but not the superstar, I’m going to chalk it up to extreme small sample variance. Those guys are all developed in the same way. Perhaps they shouldn’t be, but I haven’t seen any sort of suggestion on how to anything differently other than to keep them in the minors longer.

  • craig

    Texas ERA against the Mariners & Twins is 2.57
    Texas ERA against everyone else is 3.41

    If the Yankees got to play the Mariners and A’s 36 times a year, I bet their team ERA would be lower, too. Just wait until Houston goes into that division next week. 1/3 of your games against 3 of the worst offenses in baseball.

    The Yankees have done a fine job developing pitching. They haven’t had a ton of top 10 picks to make the numbers look better.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      I see what you’re trying to get at here, but you’re over simplifying a lot.

      • craig

        Sorry, trying to do work so my attention is split. Pitching development comes in 2 ways…what do you do with the “stars” that you draft/sign and what do you get out of everyone else that you draft.

        The Yankees have picked so late for the last 15 years that they have had very few diamonds to develop. Guys like Joba and Brackman fell to the Yankees due to injury concerns and you cannot compare heralded prospects like Hughes and Joba to other heralded prospects like David Price, Tim Lincecum or Justin Verlander. These are not apples to apples comparisons.

        I would say that the Yankees have actually done a very good job developing pitchers with their mid and late-round picks. They have a bunch of good power bullpen arms and good depth in their system right now of potential #3, #4 and #5 pitchers.

        I believe that a lot of this is being blown out of proportion right now. God knows Michael Pineda was not hurt by the Yankees development program. He is a pitcher and pitchers get hurt. Tell me what other organization develops top pitchers? TB…they had the #1 pick for 10 years. Atlanta? They missed on a whole bunch, too. The Yankees also play in the toughest division in Baseball and that affects their #’s a bit, as well.

        Add this all up and this is a lot more about sportswriters penning articles with “unnamed scouts” and using incomplete research.

        Tell me who has been significantly better than the Yankees given where they draft and the division they play in? I am certain you will not come up with 10 teams.

        • Bo Knows

          Padres, Giants, A’s, and as of right now (still waiting to see if Nolan’s philosophy blows up in his face but at this moment its working) Texas have done very well in developing starters.

          • Ted Nelson

            A’s SPs have mostly been 1st rounders or acquired by trade.

            Giants’ SPs have mostly been 1st rounders.

            Who have the Padres developed? Peavy and Latos (ERA of 6 with the Reds) and… Their park is massive.

            I don’t think that the Yankees are the best at developing P by any means. But the flaws in your best of the best examples shows that it’s not as black and white as you make it out to be by far.

      • Ted Nelson

        So is everyone. Mike’s point is that 3 guys didn’t work out, so maybe there’s something wrong and maybe it was just bad luck. Anyone coming to a conclusion in a blog comment here is almost definitely oversimplifying.

        Competition and top picks do play a part, though. (As does ballpark.) Tampa has done a great job and the Yankees have their own huge advantages financially, but without top picks like Price and Niemann on the P side… (plus Longoria and Upton) are the Rays winning the division? Of course I can’t say, but I doubt it.

        • mike

          To a point I agree, but the fact remains with all of the Yanks advantages in terms of financial clout and international spending, they have done a poor job of either evaluating or managing the talent they do possess, as their minor leagues have provided very little over the past years – and if international FA are eliminated, their selection and handling of domestic/draft eligible players is that much worse

          • Ted Nelson

            Disagree that their minor leagues have provided very little recently.

            They’ve provided Cano, Gardner, Robertson, Nova, Hughes, Joba, Nunez, and a host of trades.

            “their selection and handling of domestic/draft eligible players is that much worse”

            Hmm? They’ve been drafting quite well for a while now.

        • Bo Knows

          With someone as good as Shields, the talent and potential of Moore, and Hellickson that is a really good portion of the Rotation that could stand with anyone else’s top 3. The Rays will be fine without Longoria, its a blow but that team is far better than the sum of its parts, they’ll make do without him.

          • Ted Nelson

            Would they win the division without those high picks? That was my question. I said right up front that they’ve done a good job overall.

    • TomH

      Then they’d better have the finest talent scouts in the baseball universe OR be prepared to scuttle their “austerity” program. The alternative is that EVENTUALLY they too–just like the Rays!–will get their shot at some of those top-line draft picks. Of course, in the meantime, in spoiled New York, the bottom will have dropped out of attendance.

      • Bo Knows

        outside of Nieman (i think) and Price none of their starters are 1st rounders. They are just really good at making starters.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Wasn’t Price the first overall pick? Matt Moore was a first-rounder as well, wasn’t he?

          • Need Pitching

            yes on Price, no on Moore (8th round according to B-Ref)

            • Robinson Tilapia


        • Ted Nelson

          So 40% of their starters were top 5 picks.

  • AndrewYF

    Eh. The real problem is the environment the team operates in. A team like the Rays can bring up Hellickson, Niemann, etc and let them pitch because there’s zero pressure to win.

    Contrast that with pressure-cooker teams like the Yankees and Red Sox (let’s not kid ourselves. The Sox have had just as many spectacular pitching development failures as the Yankees. The only difference is that one guy out of dozens figured it out and didn’t get injured along the way), and you start to see a pattern.

    Yes, there are teams that are notably better at pitching development. The Rays, aside from having pretty much zero pressure, are pitching development gods. There’s something there. The Twins and Terry Ryan were really good at developing pitchers until Bill Smith began his disastrous reign. The Rangers seem to have figured at least something out.

    But also let’s face it. The Yankees were NEVER good at developing starting pitchers. I mean, when Andy Pettitte is arguably your third-best developed starter in modern club history, and your club is the winningest club in the history of American sports, there’s probably something else happening than just organizational failure.

    • Ted Nelson

      How many teams have developed 3 SPs better than Andy Pettitte?

      • .zip file

        Depends on what you mean by better, and if you are talking about drafted and developed, or if they got a guy after no more than a cup of coffee in the bigs. Andy’s a good pitcher, but a lot of it comes from being on the Yankees and pitching for as long as he did. But, off the top of my head, I would say the Rays, Dodgers, and possibly the Indians, A’s and Braves.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          So you’re saying that two out of 29 times have definitely developed better pitchers….

          • .zip file

            Without looking it up, there’s at least those five teams who’ve developed at least two pitchers better than the Yankees have (reading comprehension fail on my part for the 3 SP in the original comment). You can also add in San Diego and San Francisco. And very quickly we will find out how Washington, Arizona, Toronto and Seattle fare with their young pitchers.

          • .zip file

            And if the Yankees hit with at least one more of their prospects as a successful home grown starter that pitches for them and not someone else, then I think the narrative will change. That would be 3 since 2005 that had success for them (Wang, Nova, any one of triple A guys or Phelps/Mitchell), plus IPK. That would be a pretty good development rate given where they draft most years. And part of the narrative, right or wrong, for fans with IPK is the Yankees developed him, but chose the wrong guy to trade of the big 3.

            • Ted Nelson

              Agreed. It’s a small sample, can’t really make definitive decisions.

        • Ted Nelson

          Pettitte is 14th in fWAR among Ps (could climb to 12th with a 1.6 fWAR season). fWAR doesn’t start until 1974, but Pettitte’s a pretty good P. There have been expansion franchises that complicate things, and as you point out not all Ps were developed by one team exclusively. Some of the best guys also come out of HS or NCAA without needing much development, they’re just freaks. I don’t think that’s too much of an insult, though, for Pettitte to be your 3rd best. And I also don’t know how much the P you were developing 50+ years ago have to do with your org today.

      • Greg

        According to Baseball Reference:

        Dodgers: Drysdale, Koufax, Hershiser, Sutton,
        Mets: Koosman, Seaver, Cone, Ryan

        Andy is 93rd on that list

        • Greg

          I think there are more

          • Greg

            Orioles: Palmer, Martinez (El Presidente), and Mussina
            A’s: Catfish Hunter, Hudson, Blue
            Braves: Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux,
            Indians: Lemon, Feller, Sabathia, Tiant,
            Blue Jays: Key, Stieb, Halladay

            • Robinson Tilapia

              You’re talking different eras, approaches, levels of competition. That could get hairy very quickly.

              Especially since I’ll spot you Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, and Whitey Ford.

              • Ted Nelson

                I agree, but that was Andrew’s original point. That Pettitte is their 3rd best P developed in “the modern era.” Have to assume that means Ford and Guidry and #1 and #2…

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  Greg was about to use the 1899 Cleveland Spiders as a reference point, though.

            • CountryClub

              The Braves didnt develop Maddux. And I think Pettitte has had a better career than a couple of other guys you mentioned. Maybe not a better peak, but better career.

    • .zip file

      Good point. Young pitchers need to take their lumps at the major league level. The Yankees have had very little patience in the last 40 years to let pitchers grow and develop at the ML level. The win every year mandate doesn’t really allow that. Other than Hughes, and to some extent Nova, the Yankees look to put finished products on the mound. Young pitchers are not finished products, it can take several seasons for a pitcher to truly learn how to pitch at the big league level. Pettitte and Wang were pretty much the exceptions in that they were pretty successful in their first season, so the immediate results justified allowing them to stay in the rotation.

      • Ted Nelson

        In terms of recent history, I’m not so sure. Their two most recent SP prospects have been Nova and Hughes, and both have gotten their chances.

        • .zip file

          “Other than Hughes, and to some extent Nova”

          I agree, and that to me represents a change from what they have done in the past.

          • Ted Nelson

            To some extent. How many other guys did they really pull the plug on who went on to succeed in MLB? Some of it was just not having the P prospects to try in MLB for various reasons.

            • .zip file

              “Some of it was just not having the P prospects to try in MLB for various reasons.”

              Very true, when their idea of developing a pitcher was to sign someone else’s free agent. Since they tried to focus more on developing prospects starting in about 2005, they now have a lot more prospects. Maybe we fans just need to be more patient. Developing pitchers takes time, and a lot of failure along the way. Wasn’t it Branch Rickey who said something like it takes 10 prospects to develop on e or maybe two major league pitchers?

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      That’s a good point. If the Rays went out this year and finished 75-87, no one would bat an eye. ESPN would not have a constant stream of articles wondering what happened, but if the Yankees or Red Sox did that….Armageddon.
      It also extends to single games. Girardi is never one to concede a game, and it gets tough for pitchers, like Phil last night, to work themselves out of a bad situation. I think Phil should have had a better opportunity to finish off the 6th inning last night, but he hit the magical 100 pitch mark with the Weiters HBP, therfor, he must…be…replaced. At some point the only way to give a starter confidence is to let them work their way out of trouble. Buck Showalter(who I can’t stand) didn’t take out Matusz after the 5th last night when he was in line for a win, he let him pitch and gain more confidence. Sometimes it’s just as easy as that.

    • Greg

      To be fair, Lester did get injured in a sense. He had cancer.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Fire John Farrell!

  • Ted Nelson

    I absolutely think that they have to constantly re-evaluate how they develop players. At the same time, what’s the point of questioning it when we know so little and have such a small sample? Three guys didn’t work out, and that’s what we’re going on. What’s the common thread between Hughes, Joba, and Brackman other than not developing?

    They haven’t developed any SPs in 5 years? How about Nova and IPK? Hughes is still a starter at this point, too. As bad as he is. Phelps is in the rotation. Mitchell and Warren knocking on the door. Banuelos might not be far behind.

    • Bo Knows

      IPK sucked until traded, and Nova is the model for success that Mike is arguing that the Yankees look at.

      • Ted Nelson

        IPK has appeared in exactly 0 MiLB innings for the Dbacks. Any development they did with him occurred over one off-season and ST. He was hurt before being traded, so I think it’s pretty easy to argue he’d have figured it out in NY too.

        Just about all of their other P prospects are on the Nova plan. Hughes and Joba were exceptions.

        • Bo Knows

          IPK added a new pitch he didn’t have with the Yankees, along with several mph on his fastball (can’t fault NY for that, might just be due to the warmer weather) also the D-backs did do some tweaking with his his delivery and grips that has paid huge dividends.

          The Nova method is keeping guys at one level at least 1 year. When was the last top pitching prospect to do that? Only the guys thought to be backend were allowed to do that, they were also the guys who were actually developed to the point that they can throw 200 innings without some kind of rule limit.

          • Ted Nelson

            IPK doesn’t throw any harder in Arizona.

            He had success in Az before the cutter, and since the cutter was basically invented by a Yankee… not sure he couldn’t have learned it here.

            That is not the Nova plan. He did split levels: AA and AAA in the same season. Betances and Banuelos are on that plan. Brackman wasn’t because he was an old prospect with NCAA experience,but he still was getting full seasons at levels as much as possible till he stunk so badly they had to pull him. Phelps, Warren, and Mitchell are all on that plan.

            • Bo Knows

              Doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t use it in NY, and IPK has stated that he learned the cutter in 2008 in Puerto Rico, but never used it in games until his stint in the AFL league of 2009 at the behest of the D-Backs when he was officially traded. Kennedy himself has stated that he never spoke to Mariano.

              Yankees have little to do with what Kennedy has done since leaving.

              • Ted Nelson

                He didn’t throw the cutter at all his first season in Arizona…

                • Ted Nelson

                  And was still a 2.4 fWAR pitcher.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        IPK wasn’t given a real chance until traded. He more than likely would not have done as well with the Yankees (park and strength division rivals), but it’s not fair to say he sucked.

        • Ted Nelson

          Part of the reason he wasn’t given a full chance in NY was injury. I think it’s fair to say that he’d drop off a bit in the AL East, but I would still say he could be plenty successful. Even if it cost him a full fWAR last season, he’d have been at 4.

  • Bo Knows

    Yankees do baby their top guys too much. One thing that irritates me is that in the Case of Betances, you can see the flaws with his delivery (even with untrained eyes) lie with his lower half. He collapses on his back leg, and when he’s following through he looks like he’s slipping/falling off the mound. You’d think someone from the coaching staff, would grab a bunch of videos of giants like CC, Josh Johnson, and even Michael Pineda put it up next to video of his own delivery and tell Betances “watch these guys lower half and look at yours”

    • Need Pitching

      what makes you sure they haven’t?
      I’m sure they have addressed mechanics with him constantly.

      • Ted Nelson

        Agreed. And what does that have to do with babying someone too much anyway? If you’re not instructing someone on their delivery you’re babying them too little, not too much.

    • Bo Knows

      him collapsing on his back leg, I’m sure they did. Changing his leg mechanics/stride to mimic other Tall pitchers; its fairly obvious they haven’t or else he still wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.

      • Ted Nelson

        Or he hasn’t taken to what they’ve been telling him. You can tell a P all the right things to do, but you can’t actually throw the P for him.

  • CountryClub


    It appears that they’re letting pitchers throw more than 75-80 pitches this yr more than they have in the past. Doesn’t take away from your overall point, but is this them loosening the grip a little bit? Just over the past week or so, Warren threw 99 & 98 pitches. Mitchell through 92. Even Campos through 88 a couple of starts ago.

    I’d still like to see them getting over 100 (especially the AAA arms), but it least it’s a start.

  • jim p

    The Nolan Ryan question needs answering. It’s now 2 or 3 seasons since he started the “pitch ‘em more” practice with Texas. I can’t tell you who he had then, but a savvy person should be able to say if those guys saw their arms burn-out, or if they were just average, or if they got better at this point.

    If we’re going to be considering what we could do better, wouldn’t the only example of an alternative we have (that I know of) be something to weigh?

    • CountryClub

      We can’t forget that Toronto did the same thing not too long ago and all of their pitchers got hurt. It was quite crazy.

      So TX might be getting very lucky. Or Toronto was very unlucky. Or what’s happened to each team tells us nothing. carry on…

      • Robinson Tilapia

        This. Easy to single out Texas’s approach when they’re off to a great start.

        • jim p

          I really don’t know Texas’s roster now or 2, 3 years ago. Did they keep all those guys they were “over-pitching”? I don’t know. So it’s the condition of the pitchers, whatever team they are with now (if any) that’s of interest.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    This post should be an insta-response to every comment, every night, asking when a player will be promoted.

    This is way oversimplified, but I’ve often thought of minor league development like levels in school. Curious how others react to that analogy. I don’t think these kids shouldn’t be pushed too far up the ladder too quickly, even if they’re excelling. You had a good half-season at your level? Make it a good full-season. Kids in school only skip grades in rare cases when they’re clearly not being served by staying in their age-group. I have absolutely no problem with slowing down the promotion train for all but the very best prospects. I think when I used to comment here more often I probably seemed a little overly-conservative in this respect, but I’ve always thought the Yanks should be less generous with promotions than they have been.

    As far as the workload questions, I think it’s a really interesting point and one that I hope the Yanks are seriously evaluating, at the very least. It’s so tough to know if they’ve been effective in protecting their players or if they’ve gone so far as to stunt their development in certain respects, but I do agree that it seems like you want these kids to face challenges prior to hitting MLB.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      (And by “this post” I meant Mike’s post, not my comment, just in case that wasn’t clear.)

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Makes perfect sense. Someone, of course, will point out that Drew Smyly barely pitched above A-ball and looks great so far for the Tigers, among others.

        The more we think we know, the less we know.

  • Kevin

    We can see how well Ryan’s philsophy has worked by what happened last year. Come post season time,many of the starters had simply run out of gas.
    And like others have said,the Rays and the Rangers have the luxury of not having pitchers pitch in towns where it’s win or bust.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Have you tried Tom Smykowski’s new game?

    • RetroRob

      Andy, why is your post consistently nestled comfortably at the bottom of the thread. I have no idea who Tom Smykowski is!

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        It was a reply to someone who said that Junior Seau commited suicide due to concussions.

    • Need Pitching

      I had to google it, but I finally got the reference.

  • viridiana

    Nova, Wang and Kennedy — that’s three pitchers, all of whom have had seasons of 16 wins or more. Add Hughes, who had one such season. That’s four in fewer than 10 years– and a pretty good record, I think.
    Joba and Hughes both had tremendous success before suffering injuries. Not sure that’s the fault of Yankee development.
    I do believe though there is one thread worth picking up– do the Yankees meddle too much with mechanics, exposing pitchers to wildness and injury?
    That could be the case. I would, for example, want to see Banuelos and Betances allowed to pitch with the mechanics that have brought them success in past — regardless of whether Nardi or someone else thinks they can improve with some tinkering. Can’t prove it but I’d be willing to bet a lot of the trouble these two are having arises from excessive tinkering with delivery and mechanics.

    • CountryClub

      It’s funny how often people forget about Wang in these discussions.

      • A.D.

        Interesting the similarities between Wang and Nova

  • RetroRob

    Nova’s been better than expected. Wang was better than expected. IPK was better than expected.

    Hughes is a bust. Joba has been underwhelming in all roles post the arm injury.

    The issue is the two high-end prospects, Hughes and Joba, both failed to become even consistent back-end starters and that’s greatly impacting perception and reality. If one of them turned into a front liner, then the story would be that the Yankees developed a great front-end starter, and also solid middle and back-end starters, and flipped another starter as part of a package for an MVP caliber CFer.

    So is the whole narrative here pinned on the failure of either Hughes and Joba to develop? Is that enough to say there’s a problem? Maybe it is. I honestly don’t know, and neither does anyone else here judging by what I’ve read.

    What’s the statistical comparison to other MLB teams?

    Maybe the failure of the front-end guys is more than development, but a failure in the total top-to-bottom approach. Perhaps they’re drafting the wrong type of pitchers. Brackman, Betances and Joba were all high risk guys of varying degrees. Maybe getting just one of the three to be a contributor on the MLB level should be viewed as a positive. Or maybe drafting those type of guys is a great approach, and kudos to the scouting team, but the Yankees don’t have the right development guys in house for those type of pitchers.

    Or maybe they’ve just had bad luck.

    No matter. Cashman has to be asking the same questions and more. He’s not the drafting guy or the development guy, but he is the GM. He’s the one responsible for putting the right people in place, and making changes if it’s not working. The Yankees have the most resources (read money) of any team, so they should be able to bring in the right development talent from other organizations who have had great success.

    It seems to me I keep hearing the same names over and over again, such as Nardi Contreras, who has great influence on development. Is he the problem? Or is he the one fucking genius in the organization and he’s surrounded by a bunch of fools?! That’s the impossible part for those on the outside to figure out.

    The Yankees since Cashman’s coup clearly do want to develop young pitchers and are giving them chances. In the case of Hughes, some may argue too many chances. Yet it does appear something is not working.

    • Ted Nelson

      Good points. Such a small sample, and luck can play a huge part.

    • flamingo

      This entire comment is A+.

    • A.D.

      IPK was better than expected.

      Probably right, but he was a first round draft pick and incredibly successful college pitcher

  • CJ

    This should be posted under rants rather than musings. It could be the pressure of pitching in NY as much as anything. High expectations and pressure may be too much for most men to handle. Pineda maybe concealed a tired shoulder leading to injury. Ian Kennedy is a 20 game winner yet it’s difficult to picture the same success in NY. Nova has done well under the radar with very little expectation. NY expectations proved difficult for Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Kevin brown. Irabu weaver pavano AJ contreras wright…the list of failures goes on. Pettite cone wells Mussina CC el duque are the only starters to thrive in NY.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Earth to Planet CJ: No.

      • CJ

        care to elaborate Tilapia? BTW you guaranteed Pineda would not miss the season

    • Preston

      I don’t see it as expectations as much as time. Ian Kennedy was never going to be given a spot and told to take the ball every fifth day. He had some early problems adjusting and some injury issues and got buried in the depth chart. Nova got lucky in the sense that we didn’t acquire Cliff Lee and Phil was unproductive. Otherwise he would have been stuck in the minors for the majority of last season. Most teams go into a season thinking, if everything goes right we can compete. The Yankees go into the season thinking even if things don’t quite go our way we’re adaptable enough to compete. It means short leashes for everyone and maybe rushing youngsters to the league to soon when the big league team has a need (or even worse converting starters to relievers prematurely). As for the problem with acquiring veteran pitchers, we have about the same success rate as other teams. Some times you get a Mike Mussina and sometimes you get a Mike Hampton.

  • Mike

    The Yankees should look at the Rays model, where they build their pitching prospects up slowly, usually one level per year, and build their innings up so that they can pitch 180-200 innings in their first year with the club.

    • Kevin

      That would require the Yankees to admit to their fanbase that they’re rebuilding..something that isn’t going to happen.

      • Mike

        No, it wouldn’t. It would mean developing their pitching intelligently, and with patience. Right now, Cashman and Girardi are hesitant to use younger players anyway, and the Yankees are always able to fill holes via free agency. The method of development they are using is not working, why not borrow from a team who’s method is, and who, by the way, are not rebuilding, but have turned into a perennial contender with a constant flow of good, cheap, young starting pitching.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    The bottom line is whatever they’ve been doing for the last 15 years has been failing miserably, at least when it comes to developing starting pitchers.

    I think they need to re-evaluate the entire organizational philosophy and maybe bring in a an organizational pitching guru like a Leo Mazzone or Dave Duncan to revamp how starters are groomed on the farm.

    It’s not like there hasn’t been talent or that the Yankees have have an unexpected run of bad luck but at this point, the only think I trust Cashman to do is write out big checks no brainer free agents like CC.

  • bg90027

    They screwed up in rushing Joba and Hughes through the system. They needed more time in the minors and I’m sure Cashman has learned from it. As much as anything, it is frustrating that they tried to develop those two and Kennedy at the same time in the majors as starters. Joba didn’t fail as a starter so much as they just stopped developing him as one. It was pretty predictable though that the Yankees with their win now mentality wouldn’t be able to suffer the growing pains and have the required patience with all three. Once, they narrowed it to Hughes, they’ve been incredibly patient with him. It just hasn’t worked out.

    I’m not sure if they really need to change anything though. Cashman already said this spring that major league needs would not dictate the development schedules of Banuelos or Betances and that it was his job as GM to fill the major league roster without rushing them. I also read somewhere that he thought 600 innings in the minors was the point at which a pitcher would have nothing left to learn.

    As far as the babying goes, it’s annoying at times but it’s hard to argue too strenuously against it given the injuries to Joba, Hughes, Brackman, Betances, Banuelos, Bleich, etc. Nova was ready to assume a full workload when he came up and if they don’t rush guys, there shouldn’t be a problem.

  • mustang

    ” I do think that some level of self-reflection — more than the usual — has to take place on the Yankees’ part. What they’ve been doing has not been working.”

    All that needs to be said!

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

    Whoops. Not sure where my response went but it ain’t here.

    Anyway, was saying that my question would be something like…

    How is the average team at developing ML pitching? (even better if you can control for draft pick order)

    Guys like Nova, IPK, Wang, and Robertson have been mentioned. 3 pretty good starters and an elite reliever seems pretty decent in a vacuum. Just like Hughes, Joba, Brackman (and now maybe B and B) seem like a collective bust in a vacuum. But we don’t live in the age of the vacuum.

    Would someone please get off the sofa and do the analysis? Yes I am too lazy.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we can point to the SF Giants and stand in awe of their staff, or the Rays but…seems to be they are the outliers. What’s the bell curve look like here?

  • Mike HC

    Do other teams get credit for developing great pitching if when they sign with an AL East team it turns out they actually do suck?

  • Tom

    I think the Yankees do three key things wrong:

    - They promote within the minors way too fast. When you have these high upside guys who might have 1-2 plus-plus pitches, when you promote them quickly they will lean heavily on those two pitches and may not focus enough on development. And when they get close to the majors are you working on that 3rd pitch which may impact your stats (ERA/FIP, K rates, BB rates) or are you focused on the result to get promoted. Banuelos should be in AA at this point… I have no idea why they promoted him.

    - They should never put a starting prospect in a 1 inning bullpen role for an extended period of time. It encourages bad habits as if you are throwing 1 inning you don’t care if it takes 25 pitches, you don’t need your 3rd pitch and your fastball may play up and you decide you now can blow major leaguers away. I think the philosophy of putting these guys in long relief is a good step for starters that are maybe a step below blue chippers (since the pitching is irregular). It allows them to use all of their stuff, it gives them the mindset of needing to provide innings (as opposed to just get the 0 for that 1 inning). Nova was in this role for a spell, as was Noesi, and now Phelps…. it will be interesting to see how the latter two turn out and whether this is just noise or a reasonable development path for some of the “back end of the rotation/possible mid rotation if everything breaks right” type prospects

    - They need to have these guys throwing at least 150 innings in a season in the minors before promoting them. This will pretty much put an end to the innings limit madness and if they are collecting that many innings it means they are working deeper into games already.

  • A.D.

    this arbitrary five innings/80 pitches threshold we’ve seen employed so often in recent years accomplishes what, exactly?

    You’d imagine this would cause a problem with working the 3rd/4th time through a line-up and thus needing to develop 3rd and 4th offerings

  • Holy Ghost

    Wang and maybe Nova have developed into quality starting pitchers

    Ted Lilly, Ian Kennedy, and Jeff Karstens were mostly developed by the Yanks and are now quality starters for other teams

    I don’t think the Yanks are necessarily “bad” at developing starting pitching. I think they’re just impatient.

    Teams that don’t expect to compete every year can afford to be patient and give starting pitchers a long leash to pretty much learn on the job.

    The Yankees expect to make a run for the WS every year so their leash is much shorter than most teams.

    Not every prospect is going to be a Strausburg or Felix Hernandez. Most guys take a season or two to figure out how to perform at the major league level.

    In the cases of Hughes and Joba, they have been given plenty of opportunities to learn how to pitch at the major league level. More than some of the guys we let go to other teams(ie Lilly and Kennedy). Very soon everyone will have to accept that those guys aren’t cut out to be big league starters.

  • Greg Corcoran

    I think this is a very reasonable position to take on the issue. I do still think though that most of those who criticize the Yankees’ pitching development have never taken the time to look at how other teams have done. I did a piece at BBD on the Yankees development of pitchers which actually showed data that no one is particularly good at it, and there are a lot of factors that have to come into play with it. One of the most important factors is draft position.

    If you go around the league and look at the starting pitchers, over 30% of them were first round draft picks that were drafted before the Yankees ever picked. Guys like Joba and even Phil Hughes only fell to the Yankees to begin with because of injury concerns. Everyone looks to the Rays as the team that’s best at it, but David Price and Jeremy Hellickson were both top 5 draft picks (I think it’s Hellickson, but I know they definitely have two top 5 draft picks). It’s unfair to compare the development of two teams with such different ability to draft pitching talent. Couple that with the fact that the success rate amongst international signings is much, much lower than a top 10 draft pick, and you start to see why a lot of the guys the Yankees draft never materialize.

    Anyway, if you read the article I wrote for BBD, you’ll see that by sheer numbers, the Yankees actually haven’t done that badly, and in fact are actually one of the better teams at developing pitchers. This fails to mention their development of relief pitchers, which is even better. I think you make a lot of good points in this article, but I don’t think there are enough people looking hard enough at the other side of the token.

  • Endlessmike

    The real reason the yankees don’t grow pitchers is because we pick so low in the draft. The low first rounders are like Phil Hughes which are great pitchers but like I said 5 years ago he won’t devolope into a verlander type pitcher.

    The others are high risk high reward picthers like Joba who blew out he’s shoulder in 2008 and who (stupidly) injured this year.The yankees don’t get guys like Price or Verlander in the draft.International is the only way to get great value pitching.