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…

Yanks 4, A’s 3: The Giambino delivers

Not much to say on my end as I didn’t get to watch this game. Good win tonight, and good to see Giambi coming through with the big hit after an 0-for-5 evening. Maybe this will get him started.

I have just a few quick points:

  • I don’t see why Doug Mientkiewicz is pinch-hitting for anyone. At this point, his value lies as a late-inning defensive replacement for Giambi or Josh Phelps. With his 0-fer performance tonight, Mientkiewicz has now gone hitless in this last 23 at-bats and has reached base once in his last 24. That’s dismal. No amount of great fielding can compensate for that lack of hitting.
  • Meanwhile, I did indeed say Jason Giambi as a potential first baseman. Over three years ago on a baseball blog far, fara way, I wrote about split stats comparing DHs to their time in the field vs. their time solely as DH’s. In 2004, I noted that Jason Giambi hit significantly better in the field than he did as a DH. And the same still holds true. His slugging is .100 points higher when he plays the field. Maybe playing the field keeps him more focused on the game as a whole and less focused on succeeding during his one at bat every few innings. Sports are very psychological, and as Giambi continues to struggle, when will he get some starts in the field? Giambi’s bat producing at his normal level is much more important that a few runs per season saved with a better fielder. There’s no doubt about that.
  • Tonight was the third game in a row in which Scott Proctor pitched. I’m just sayin’.
  • Finally, good to see the bullpen throwing strikes. While burning up every reliever is never a good thing, 12 innings of shutting down the A’s is pretty damn impressive. No earned runs tonight from the pitching staff, and Farnsworth’s pitch totals — 16 pitches, 10 strikes — during his third appearance in three games is encouraging. Maybe he really did spot a flaw after all.

And finally, in very good news, Chien-Ming Wang took the mound Saturday in extended Spring Training. He went five strong innings, allowing no hits and striking out six. No word on how many ground balls he induced. Wang is now on target to rejoin the Yanks on April 24.

Down on the Farm

Update: Hat tip to commentor Jeteupthemiddle for pointing this out: Double-A Trenton pitchers currently have a 46 inning shutout streak going, dating back to the 6th inning of Tuesday’s win over Harrisburg. That’s freakin’ incredible.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Pawtucket)
Jamal Strong: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HBP – minor league journeyman getting a chance to play with KT called up
Alberto Gonzalez: 2 for 4
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Andy Phillips: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 0 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS – absolutely en fuego
Mighty Matt: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K – took a no-no into the 6th
Ben Kozlowski: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

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