Smoke and Mirrors

[I wrote this post on my site, but feel that it deserves a forum where it can be discussed, whether you agree or disagree]

Today’s inevitable Joba/Hughes debate, and the resulting arguments, one might come to realize, beg a question that’s much larger than who is the Yankees’ fifth starter in 2010.

The question:

Can the Yankees develop, successfully, a starting pitcher?

The answer, one that I’ve avoided very often, is that it’s been a very, very long time.

Since Andy Pettitte came through the system in the mid-90s, what starting pitcher has come up through the Yankees system, you are hard pressed to find a pitcher who came up through that same farm system and went on to have sustained success with the Yankees.

If you think about it, almost every 1-4 Yankee starter over the past decade, with very rare exception, from David Wells and David Cone to CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, have come to the team via another team, whether it be trade or free agency.… Click here to read the rest

Christian Garcia Still Teasing Fans And Scouts

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From Frankie Piliere:

He’s plenty scary right now though, and he has a lot more going for him than just his fastball. Garcia is a complete, three-pitch pitcher, and that is with three plus pitches. I don’t like to throw around plus grades often, so to see a pitcher with three plus pitches is a real rarity. It’s never been about stuff with this big right-hander; it’s always been about his health…..

Consider the arsenal Garcia showed off on Wednesday. His plus fastball with good movement produces a huge amount of groundballs and broken bats. His curveball is an elite, swing-and-miss type pitch. And, he has a changeup he can locate with excellent consistency with a 10-14 mph differential from his fastball. The main complaint about the Yankees farm system from a pitching perspective is that they lack a hurler with frontline upside in the upper levels of their system. If Garcia is on the field and throwing like he did on Wednesday, that won’t be the case for long.

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Guest Post: Awful 2008 Still Impacting The Yankees

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This is a guest post from friend of the blog Jamal Granger. It is an excellent and thorough read, and I could not agree more with his conclusion.

In April 2008, the New York Yankees opened the MLB season with a rotation of Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Employing two first-round picks that never pitched a full season at the major-league level, the Yankees were set to embark on a new era in their starting rotation. After pitching just 116 innings in the previous campaign due to multiple injuries, Hughes was likely slated to throw 170-180 innings because he had a career-high of 146 IP over his 2006 campaign at High-A Tampa (30 IP) and Double-A Trenton (116 IP). As for Kennedy, the restrictions were likely off in 2008 as he threw 165.1 innings across three minor-league levels (A+ through AAA) and the majors in 2007.… Click here to read the rest

Was it over before it started?

The worst-kept secret in Yankeeland was made official today: Phil Hughes will indeed enter the 2010 season as the team’s fifth starter.

The Hughes/Joba situation has been analyzed to death on this and every other blog in the ‘sphere, so I don’t want to waste too much more time on this subject, but I will say that, while there really is no “right” move in this situation, this certainly makes the most sense from a develop-Phil-Hughes-as-a-starter-long-term perspective.

Of course, on the flip side it leaves Joba Chamberlain completely unresolved and pretty much confirms that all the babying of Joba was probably a waste of time and may have ended up hindering his development more than anything else. If the team truly believes that Joba is best deployed as a reliever (though I don’t think this is the case), then I suppose this decision makes a bit more sense. But to use Chamberlain exclusively out of the bullpen for all of 2010 and then expect him to be able to go back to shouldering a full season’s workload of starting in 2011 sounds like it’s asking an awful lot.… Click here to read the rest

Hughes The 5th Starter, Hughes Rules Coming?

As I am sure you all know, the Yankees announced today that Phil Hughes will be the 5th starter. I have discussed this at length and you know that I do not like it, so I would prefer to look past the prudence of the actual decision and look at one of the important details. Rob Neyer discussed the Yankees 5th starter situation yesterday, and the following statement stuck out:

Hughes threw 80 innings in 2008, 112 in 2009, and … 200 in 2010?

I don’t think so. The Yankees, reasonably enough, seem to have concluded that Hughes is the fifth-best starter in their organization. I suspect that they already have a reasonable plan to limit him to something like 160 innings this season. I just don’t know what that plan is.

Once again, the Yankee 5th starter is likely to have innings limits, but what will that limit be? I noted yesterday that the Yankees tend to use a pitcher’s previous career high as a baseline, and that Brian Cashman has said neither Joba nor Hughes would have a significant limit in 2010:

Based upon Cashman’s assertion that there will not be a significant cap on Phil’s innings, I would assume that the Yankees will be referring to his previous high as well, as he only threw 106 IP last season, leaving him near 145 for 2010 if the previous season was the baseline.

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Players to Watch, AL West

Hey all. How are we on this Thursday afternoon? Please excuse the relatively abbreviated post today, but I had to hand in a big paper yesterday, but was unable to because of a car breakdown. Awesome. Anyway, let’s keep this mini-series rolling and turn the proverbial spotlight to the Left Coast and look at AL West players we should check up on during the 2010 season.

Starting, as usual, with the division winner (Angels), I’m gonna pick Scott Kazmir. Kazmir started off poorly with Tampa in 2009, pitching to a 5.92 ERA with a 1.541 WHIP and a pedestrian 1.82 K/BB. Something clicked for Kazmir when he got to the Angels, though. His ERA dropped below 2 (1.73) and his WHIP improved to 1.046, and his K/BB went up to 2.60. After a few seasons of numbers tailing the wrong way, late 2009 was great for Scott. We’ll see if he can keep it up out there in L.A. or if his slide towards mediocrity will continue.… Click here to read the rest

A vote against Carl Crawford

It has become conventional wisdom at this point that the Yankees intend to make Carl Crawford a wealthy man at the end of the 2010 season. Allow me to be among the first to ask, why?

Don’t get me wrong, Crawford is a solid player, but his career line of .295/.335/.437 translates only to an OPS+ of 103, which is just ok. Granted, he steals 50 bases a year, which is sick, but he’s getting older. I struggle to see him keeping his value if he loses his speed as he enters his 30s.

And therein lies the problem. To me, fair value for Crawford is something in the 4 years for $40 million range. Except, no one thinks he’ll sign for that. I’m sure as I write this his agent is telling him he’s going to pull in at least $60 million over four years. Sadly, according to Fangraphs, Crawford probably won’t be worth that much.

My hope is that Brian Cashman is playing his cards close to his chest, and rumors of Yankee love for Crawford are exaggerated, only because he seems like he could be a Carl Pavano redux, at least in so far as he probably won’t live up to the contract it would take to land him.
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Is Phil Hughes the 5th starter?

RAB is reporting that the Yankees are set to announce that Phil Hughes will be the team’s fifth starter at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, they report this will send Joba to the pen at the season’s beginning.

I recorded my thoughts on this earlier. RAB mirrors my opinion. Until the innings limit is lifted from Hughes this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and may potentially lock Joba into a relief role. Stay tuned.
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