Who’s going to start on Saturday?

While discussing the Chase Wright situation yesterday, another interesting topic came up: who’s going to start Saturday against the Red Sox? Pettitte has Friday, and Wright — if he doesn’t completely bomb — will have enough rest to start Sunday. That leaves a damning hole.

Wang and Karstens won’t be back for the weekend. Starting Wright and Igawa on short rest on back to back days isn’t exactly advisable. What to do?

The easy answer is to start Sean Henn. However, much like the decision to give Chase Wright tonight’s start, this would be a mistake. Henn has done very well out of the bullpen so far, so why mess that up? Plus, the Yanks are going to need plenty of help from the bullpen against the Indians, and likely will also need it against the Red Sox. Why sacrifice a bullpen arm in that situation?

(Yes, I realize there are now eight bullpen arms: Mo, Farns, Proctor, Vizcaino, Henn, Myers, Bruney, and Britton. All of them may be needed over the next four games, and all of them, sans Britton and Mo, have been worked hard this season. Having eight guys in the bullpen is a Godsend this week.)

The solution suggested by River Ave. Blues: Mighty Matt DeSalvo. He’s dealing this year: 2 ER, 11 K, 3 BB, 6 H over 9 innings of work. Yes, this is just as small a sample as Wright’s (though DeSalvo has fewer innings). But we’re also talking about a guy who 1) is facing tougher competition (the Braves and Red Sox AAA teams, as opposed to the Orioles and Nats AA teams) and 2) is/was an actual prospect.

Like Wright, DeSalvo absolutely dominated the Florida State League (1.43 ERA, 80 strikeouts to 30 walks and ONE home run over 75.1 innings). He went on to have a great year at AA in 2005, compiling a 3.02 ERA over 149 innings, 151 strikeouts to 67 walks, and just 8 homers allowed.

Of course, we all know about his hiccup last year, but given his performances before and after, that seems like an anomaly. That’s what happens when you double your career walk rate. He also had personal issues to work through last year.

Really, there was little good reason to pass over DeSalvo for Wright in the first place (the 40-man roster status may have been the deciding factor, with DeSalvo having lost his spot to Miguel Cairo in January). However, with the opportunity for another start, there is even less reason to deny DeSalvo this time around. Choose Henn if you will, but that’s too simplistic and it doesn’t allow him to continue what he’s been doing so well this season: coming out of the pen and getting guys out. Some guys are just better off in the bullpen.

Down on the Farm

Triple-A Scranton
Game 1
(5-2 win over Pawtucket in 7 innings)
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 4 – BA “down” to .324
Bronson Sardinha: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Andy Phillips: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – more H (10), XBH (6), HR (3), RBI (6), and BB (6) in fewer ABs (38) than Minky and Phelps combined (6, 0, 0, 1, 5, 39) 
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K -  3 straight games with a bomb
Chris Basak: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Steven Jackson: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – solid effort considering it was 44 degrees and raining
TJ Beam: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1-5 GB/FB
Game 2 postponed due to wet grounds. No makeup date announced.

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Chase Wright: Clearly not the best option

Ben, Mike, and I have made no attempt to hide our sincere opinion that Phil Hughes should be called up in the wake of the Yankees recent pitching injuries. Over the course of the season, they will face even more injuries and find that certain pitchers — I won’t even sugar coat it: I’m talking about Igawa — aren’t going to be consistently effective. Therefore, if called up now, Hughes should manage to stay in the rotation for the remainder of the season. People claim that he still has stuff to learn in the minors, but he can learn all of that in the majors. And he’ll learn it against bona fide competition, not the retreads that fill AAA rosters.

Yet, the Yankees decided to call up Chase Wright as a temporary replacement. The reasoning: he impressed them in the spring, and he’s had two dominant outings so far in AA. All of which, of course, means that he’s a better option than the guy with the most talent. At least that’s how the Yankees brass — and many fans — are assessing the situation.

People often cite psychology as a reason to not promote Hughes. He’s not ready, they say — though I wholeheartedly contest that. If you bring him up now and he gets rocked (they say), you can mess up his head and ruin our blue chip prospect. However, if we’re going to talk psychology — which is often an exercise in futility — we have to bring up the damage the Yankees are doing to him right now. First was Spring Training, when they flat out told him he wouldn’t make the team. And now we have him passed over promotion by Chase Wright. How do you think he feels now? At least if he got the call and got smacked around, he could make a learning experience of it.

He says he’s ready, the scouts say he’s ready, but for some reason, the Yankees organization is obsessed with babying its pitchers. Yeah, you don’t want to see your blue chipper bust, but holding him back is going to have adverse effects at some point. He’s mentally ready, and his stuff is ready (and if I hear that he needs a dominating changeup one more time, I’m going to put a fist through my freakin’ wall). Call him up and let him help this team. Keeping him on pitch counts in AAA isn’t doing him any good — or at least compared to the good that can come from a stint in the majors.

I digress, though. My objective wasn’t to campaign for Phil Hughes — again. If management is going to be set in their ways, I’m doing nothing but wasting breath. My objective is to debunk this Chase Wright myth. Even if they are refusing to call up Hughes, there are four other options in the Scranton rotation that are better than Wright.

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Yankees X, Athletics X+1

Player WPA pLI Pitcher WPA pLI
Posada .239 1.22 Pettitte .155 0.85
Alex .108 1.18 Proctor .098 1.24
Damon .070 1.19 Mo -.898 1.84
Giambi .047 1.04
Melky .005 1.21
Jeter -.010 1.47
Minky -.062 1.36
Cano -.088 1.48
Abreu -.165 1.52

Well, at least no tabloid stooped to the “Mo isn’t Mr. Automatic anymore” bit.

In the long run, that loss won’t kill the Yanks. In the short term, however, it really stings. Twice they were just a strike away from winning, and twice the at bat ended in disappointment. I could probably gush for hours about it, but since it was just a freak occurrence, I’ll just leave it be. Hopefully we can look back on this in September and laugh.

I wish I had more as far as a recap goes, but sadly I don’t. Some crappy defense by Jeter cost them a run in the first, and Mientkiewicz’s slow ass cost them a run — or at least a run-scoring situation — in the sixth. Okay, fine: it was more the favorable rebound off the wall that cost them a run. But if that’s anyone but Minky or Giambi at third, that run scores and you still have Alex up with a man on. Thankfully, he, Giambi, Posada, Cano, and Melky rendered that moot the next inning, plating three runs to take the lead.

I have to admit, I tuned out for portions in the middle of the game. It was seriously frustrating. Before the seventh inning, the Yankees failed to have more than four hitters complete at bats. That happened seven times for the Athletics, as they only put something together in the first and ninth innings.

Having a day off today is a good thing. Beyond the apparently devastating rainfall (that has cancelled work for both of my roommates), it’s really tough to watch a game following a weekend series like that. All three games were winnable, and I’m just glad we didn’t get swept. I don’t know if it’s the worst part or the best part, but we could have swept them, too.

Baseball is a funny game.

Everyday Scotty

The Yankees have played 11 games. Scott Proctor has appeared in 8 of them, including four in a row and is now on pace to appear in over 110 games this season. Last Wednesday, Joe and I had this conversation about Scotty. We were joking. But, um, yeah.

Ben: It’s Wednesday. That means Scott Proctor pitches!
Joe: And you know what Joe Torre’s thinkin’.
Joe: “Well, tomorrow is an off day, so I can use him Friday, too!”
Ben: So true.
Joe: And if he uses him Saturday, it’s okay, because it’s only two days in a row.
Ben: And Monday’s an off day.
Joe: Sunday it is.

Down on the Farm

Don’t sweat Mo blowing the game today; the A’s beat the best, just tip your hats to ’em. Just think, you’ve got a guy whose thrown 14 innings above A-ball in his career starting the next game, against the team with third highest OPS in baseball no less!

Triple-A Scranton rained out. Doubleheader Monday.

Double-A Trenton rained out. No makeup date announced.

High-A Tampa (6-3 loss to Sarasota) 
Tim Battle: 0 for, 4 K, 1 E (fielding) – 15 K in last 24 AB, but who’s counting?
Jose Tabata: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – the best Yankee position player prospect since Nick Johnson was putting up .525 OBP’s…there, I said it
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Marcos Vechionacci: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 E (both throwing) – third straight game with a double
Francisco Cervelli: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PB – picked off first
Bryan Villalona: 4 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Jose Valdez: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Low-A Charleston (4-0 loss to Augusta)
Mitch Hilligoss: 0 for 4 – 1 for his last 15
Austin Jackson: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 CS
Seth Fortenberry: 0 for 4, 2 K – 2 for his last 24…speedster is 2 for 5 in SB attempts
Chris Malec: 2 for 4 
Josue Calzado: 1 for 2, 1 BB
Tim Norton: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 1 Balk, 8-3 GB/FB
David Robertson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – I’m a huge fan of this guy, 7.1 IP, 2 H, 11 K this year

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Moose and Pavano hit the DL, and this is a good thing

Why you ask? Because their likely replacements will probably outperform them.

Phil Hughes is perfectly capable of matching the 11.1 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K line put up by Pavano, and I’m sure Mighty Matt can match Moose’s 6 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 4 K effort.

Chase Wright is not the answer. If you think he is, then I hope the simplicity of calling him up because he’s lined up to start Tuesday and is already on the 40-man roster comforts you when he gets his brains beat in. Start the process of dumping Colter Bean and Jeff Kennard off the 40-man (seriously, why do these guys have a spot anyway? They’re dead weight), and get Hughes and DeSalvo ready to go.

I can’t fathom why everyone’s afraid to call Hughes up. He’s learned as much as possible in the minors, he’s as ready as he’s going to get, and the Yanks have the need for him. The Yanks can show some confidence in Mighty Matt after his dominant outing, and help him further get back on track.Â

It’s an ideal situation: they’re low risk moves with the potential for great reward, plus they’re nice and easy to back out of.Â

FYI, Britton got the call to reinforce the pen for the next couple of days.

Let’s get a little discussion going: who should fill in for Moose and Meatball, why, and how will they fare?

Update: The Yanks have decided who will start Tuesday, but won’t announce who it’ll be until the player has been notified. Translation: Double-A Trenton will need to find a starter for Tuesday. Sigh.

I can’t believe I have to campaign for a Phil Hughes promotion….

Update Part Deux: It’s Chase “I’m half the pitcher Hughes is, but I’ve made 2 great starts in a league I’m too old for after having 1 good year since being drafted in 2001” Wright. I’m not bitter…