Joe Girardi‘s bullpen was the team’s strength last year, as unheralded arms like Brian Bruney, Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez stepped up and exceeded expectations. Kyle Farnsworth was surprisingly effective before being jettisoned off to Detroit, while Damaso Marte finished strong after coming over in a trade of his own. Mo, of course, was Mo.
However, given the natural volatility of relief pitchers, it’s not a given that the Yanks’ pen will repeat it’s 2008 performance in ’09. Mo is a given, and Marte’s track record is long enough that you have a good enough idea of what he’ll give you, but the rest of the guys are all wildcards. Bruney’s command could desert him again, the league could adjust to Edwar’s change, and/or Jose Veras could just suck. It’s the nature of the beast.
When the Yanks signed Mark Teixeira, I proclaimed Manny as the biggest loser of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. The Yanks would have signed him had the Red Sox landed Teixeira, but with the Yanks out of the pitcher, the market for Manny is practically non-existent. Ramirez turned down a guaranteed two years and $40 million when he forced his trade from Boston, and Buster Olney says that Manny has only himself to blame.
I know some Yankee fans harbor a pipe dream that would see Manny land in New York for one year at some obscene dollar value, and I know others who would never root for Manny in pinstripes. I don’t think Manny will be Bronx-bound. Ironically, as Olney notes, the Red Sox are the only team left with the money and clear need for Manny, but the future Hall of Famer is learning the hard way that baseball karma is a bitch. · (67) ·
Now that the Yanks have invested millions of dollars in their pitching staff over the next few years, the biggest issues surrounding the rotation concern the health of their pitchers. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are coming off career high innings pitched. Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang and the two leading candidates for the final rotation spot — Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes — are coming off of injuries.
Given the unprecedented career workload that Sabathia and Burnett faced in 2008, the Yankees intend to ease their prized new starters into form when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.
“We’re going to be careful with them and make sure they peak April 6, not March 20,” Eiland said, referring to opening day. “We’ve already got a plan in place.”
Eiland has already spoken to Sabathia and Eiland about the gradual approach. “We’re not going to jump right in the fire of spring training,” Eiland said. “We’re not going to push them too early.”
But with Chien-Ming Wang, the idea is to get him in front of hitters as soon as possible.
In a rather telling quote, Eiland also noted the role Wang will play on the Yanks in 2009. “Wang’s as good a No. 3 as you’ll find as well,” he said to Caldera.
I’d be more inclined to see Wang as the Yanks’ number two. He has a better track record of success than Burnett and has certainly earned the designation for his work over the last few years. It is, however, mostly a matter of semantics.
In the end, the Yanks’ success will come down to pitching and health. As we’ve learned for too often over the last few years, a healthy pitching staff is something of a Holy Grail in baseball. But for now, the Yanks’ coaches are saying the right thing. Whether that can translate to on-field success is something we’ll find out in a few months.
A RAB hat tip to our own Mike Pop for sending in this article.
In a rather lengthy piece focusing on the lack of job offers for Jason Varitek or Ivan Rodriguez, Nick Cafardo notes that the Dodgers and Rangers are interested in Andy Pettitte. We’ve heard these rumors before, and Pettitte has continually said that he’ll play for only the Yankees. However, if Pettitte and the Yanks don’t come to terms, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the lefty land elsewhere. This all may just be a negotiating ploy in an effort to get the Yanks to up the team’s offer though.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are close to a one-year deal with Brad Penny. The contract is reportedly for one year and with a base salary of $5 million and $3 million in incentives. When healthy, Penny, a career NLer, can be a top pitcher, but he had an injury-plagued 2008. It’s a low-risk signing for the Red Sox and may encourage Pettitte to reevaluate the Yanks’ $10 million offer. · (39) ·
Andy from Sunny Daytona kindly asked me to mention that today is Yanks’ LHP prospect Melvin Croussett‘s 20th birthday. He spent 2008 in the Dominican Summer League, and put up a 47-9 K/BB ratio in 28.1 IP with a .125 batting avg against. Wow.
There, happy now Andy? HAPPY NOW?!?!?!? · (9) ·
Man, be glad you aren’t a Lions’ fan. That’s brutal.
- Abe Almonte: 1 for 3, 1 RBI, 1 K in 3 games
- Melky Cabrera: 29 for 93 (.312), 19 R, 6 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 13 BB, 14 K, 2 SB in 24 games
- Robbie Cano: 20 for 75 (.267), 14 R, 8 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 7 BB, 7 K, 1 SB, 1 HBP in 19 games
- Frankie Cervelli: 14 for 55 (.255), 9 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 9 BB, 13 K, 1 SB, 1 CS, 1 HBP in 24 games
- Edwar Gonzalez: 27 for 75 (.360), 5 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 5 BB, 16 K, 3 RB, 1 HBP in 28 games
- Walt Ibarra: 15 for 80 (.188), 3 R, 2 RBI, 7 BB, 20 K, 4 SB, 1 CS in 37 games
- Ramiro Pena: 37 for 132 (.280), 15 R, 4 2B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 3 BB, 14 K, 1 SB, 1 CS, 2 HBP in 36 games
- Jorge Vazquez: 69 for 198 (.348), 37 R, 12 2B, 15 HR, 46 RBI, 23 BB, 50 K, 2 HBP in 54 games
- Jon Albaladejo: 17.2 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 15 K, 1 WP in 16 appearances
- Wilkins Arias: 12.2 IP, 16 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 9 BB, 14 K, 1 HB, 2 WP in 17 appearances
Use this as your Open Thread tonight. The Broncos and Chargers play at 8:15pm, winner wins the AFC West and goes to the postseason, loser goes home. Should be a good one in America’s Finest City.
Oh, and before I forget: I’m covering for longtime RAB reader Dave over at his recently launched site, Blueseat Blogs, while he enjoys a little holiday vacation this week. I’m barely keeping my head above water there, but Dave has been doing some great stuff for a few weeks now. Make sure you check it out if you’re a hockey fan. Heck, check it out even if you aren’t.
It’s fitting that Chad Pennington would be the one standing in the way of a possible Jets’ playoff spot, but Gang Green has no one to blame but themselves after the past few weeks. It’s a simple scenario: the Jets need to beat the Dolphins AND the Ravens to lose at home to Jacksonville. The Pats already knocked off the Bills 13-0 to clinch a playoff spot and need the Jets to win to clinch a postseason berth.
Talk about the action here if you want. Just play nice.
According to a report in El Nuevo Día, a Spanish-language publication, Bernie Williams is a long shot to make the U.S. territory’s World Baseball Classic team. With better active players and some exciting up-and-comers available, Edwin Rodriguez, one of the team’s coaches, doesn’t see a spot for Bernie. Carlos Pieve, the ex-GM los Indios de Mayagüez, said that Bernie just doesn’t have the ability to compete at such a high level anymore. It’s sort of sad to hear these quotes about Bernie. He wanted to go out on his own terms, but he never could recognize when age had slowed him down too much. · (114) ·
Go nuts. Just play nice. Talk baseball. Talk anything.
We’re not entirely sure what’s going on with Andy Pettitte. He has a $10 million offer on the table and has yet to accept it. After the Yankees inked Mark Teixeira, some said that the Yanks considered pulling the offer, but that apparently has not happened yet. So we could still see Andy re-up with the Yankees, but it’s far from a guarantee.
The alternative to Pettitte as the fifth starter is a competition among those already in the organization. I’ve frequently seen the suitors listed as Hughes, Kennedy, Aceves, etc., though I’m not quite sure whom would be considered etc. Dan Giese? Maybe as a short-term option, but he looks like a better option in the bullpen. Chase Wright? Kei Igawa? Other than throwing left-handed, these two offer little to the major league club right now.
Picking the best from Aceves, Hughes, and Kennedy isn’t the worst plan in the world — certainly it’s better than implicitly handing any of them a spot outright. What do those three have in common, though? A lack of major league experience. Not that it’s a bad thing. Everyone has to start somewhere. Yet I can’t help but think it might behoove the Yankees to bring in a veteran to add to the competition.
We’re not talking about someone like Ben Sheets here, who would certainly require a guaranteed rotation spot before signing, and perhaps a multi-year deal as well. I’m talking about someone like Brad Penny. Buster Olney mentioned Penny’s situation in his blog today, noting that the veteran righty “may soon make his decision about where he wants to pitch in 2009,” noting that he wants a one-year deal to re-establish his credibility.
Unfortunately, it looks like Penny is the only attractive name among the available free agents. By attractive, I mean someone who has had past success at the major league level, preferably on a consistent basis. Even Penny himself might be a stretch, since he could easily land a guaranteed major league deal, rather than the minor league deal which would be ideal for a competition scenario.
So while it’s nice to think about adding a new element to a fifth starter competition, it doesn’t seem very likely. There might be some names on the board right now, but they’ll start dropping once we hit mid-January and teams start to fill out their rosters. But just for the hell of it, who would you guys target as some fifth starter competition for the youngsters?