• Yanks Cannot Count On Unit

    Posted by on September 26th, 2006 · Comments (16)

    From the S.I. Advance

    His back “locked up,” Randy Johnson will skip his final regular-season start for the Yankees and be pushed back to Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

    Johnson had allowed five runs in each of his past three starts, with a 7.64 ERA over that time. He had been scheduled to pitch Thursday and then in Game 1 or 2 of the Division Series. Now, he will have 12 days between starts.

    Manager Joe Torre revealed the Johnson issue after last night’s 16-1 pounding of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

    “It’s a crapshoot,” Torre said of scratching Johnson. “But we feel that the rest probably is going to do more for him than just the fact that he can stay on schedule and pitch regularly. We’ll take a chance not pitching him in hopes that he’ll feel good. I’d rather have him when he feels at his best.”

    Johnson, who turned 43 earlier this month, said he has been suffering back spasms, getting progressively worse since the start of the month. He also has been dealing with “upslip,” in which his right (landing) leg gets pushed into his hip, causing the pelvic bone to tilt and affecting his back.

    “It’s a little tighter,” he said. “I’ll get it taken care of.

    I think Yankees fans all over the place are having flashbacks to David Wells and the 2003 World Series this morning. And, it’s not pretty.

    I’m going to the game on the 28th (at the Stadium). So, it would have been fun to see Johnson pitch. But, given this news, I’ll be happy to see someone else – and give Unit the rest.

    But, more importantly, I think this situation brings cause for having someone like Darrell Rasner on the post-season roster now. If Johnson does pull a “Wells” and has to exit a game early, you need someone who can come in from the pen and offer you some length – and still be a quality pitcher.

    Since there’s no news at all on Cory Lidle, I have to assume that he’s out of the picture these days. This leaves Darrell Rasner and Jeff Karstens as people who can pitch 5+ innings out of the pen in a game. Rasner seems to be more seasoned at this point. So, I would give the nod to him.

    And, the Yankees should look for another SP for next year.

    Wang can take one slot in 2007. And, hopefully Mussina can come back for another year too. Either Rasner or Karstens can be a third starter. Ideally, the Yankees can pick-up another quality starter next season to allow them to count on Johnson or Pavano for the 5th slot. If the Yankees assume that they can could on Johnson to be one of their “Big Three” starters next year, that’s a mistake.

    Yes, right now, given his overall performance this season, his age, and his recent history of injuries, Randy Johnson is in the “Carl Pavano” class of reliability. That may be cruel – but, it’s the truth. It’s time to stop counting on him. You wouldn’t want to have to count on a Mark Redman or Casey Fossum in the Yankees rotation next year – and that’s the level that Johnson is pitching to now – and he’s a lot older than those guys.

    Back to this post-season, it now looks like the Yankees are back to:

    “Wang and Mussina and a precipitation novena.”

    How those two go, so will the Yankees this October.

    Comments on Yanks Cannot Count On Unit

    1. baileywalk
      September 26th, 2006 | 10:43 am

      Rasner and Karstens are number five starters — not threes. Karstens looks like he could hang in the major leagues, but he’s too Chacon-like for my tastes (too many fly balls with all those curves and weak fastballs). Rasner looks like the real deal to me. He has a deceptive fastball, great location, and a plus curve. He can easily slide into the fifth-starter’s role next year.

      If contracts weren’t involved, the Yankees could pick someone up — whether it’s Matsuzaka or someone through a trade — and bring up Hughes. (Making the staff Wang, Mussina, Matsuzaka/whoever, Hughes, Rasner.)

      But both Randy Johnson and Pavano are owed a lot of money. Neither one can be traded, either. So if they re-sign Moose, the rotation will probably be Wang, Moose, Pavano, Johnson, Rasner (unless they get dumb and still pick up a free agent).

      We have to assume that Pavano will get hurt (since he was out this entire year) and that Johnson will stink again. That means that Hughes will be up mid-season and Clippard not long after that.

      I wouldn’t want to part company with either Melky or Tyler Clippard (I love them both), but if the Marlins saw the fact that they didn’t need Dontrelle Willis and offered him up for them, I think the Yankees would probably have to make that move. Since Hughes and Rasner are young, inexperienced and haven’t thrown a lot of innings yet, you need a third guy who’s gone the distance before.

      This is all assuming Pavano gets hurt. If he doesn’t, they’ll be fine. Hughes will be up in the Bronx in ’07 one way or another, though.

    2. September 26th, 2006 | 11:08 am

      FWIW, I didn’t mean that DR or JK could be a # 3 man in the rotation – I meant that they could be one of the five in the rotation – along with a Wang, Mussina, TBD, and the 5th spot.

    3. September 26th, 2006 | 11:39 am

      I just saw that Lidle is pitching tonight. So, I guess he’s back in the mix, for now.

    4. September 26th, 2006 | 11:45 am

      Off-topic I know, but: Do my eyes deceive me, or did the Red Sox wake up in third place this morning?

    5. baileywalk
      September 26th, 2006 | 11:48 am

      If Johnson is a no-go for the playoffs and Lidle gets the start ahead of Rasner, I will explode like a supernova. Though I seriously doubt this happens — Torre seems to have a certain distaste for Mr. Lidle.

    6. MJ
      September 26th, 2006 | 12:09 pm

      Come on, people. Everyone knows Torre won’t put Rasner on the playoff roster. It’s futile to even talk about it since it’s just not happening. We’re talking about a man that thinks Bernie Williams is the backup CF on this team…

    7. Jen
      September 26th, 2006 | 12:14 pm

      carla, not only did they wake up in third place, they went to bed that way after getting blanked by Toronto. It’s gonna be nice seeing 2 blue flags ahead of that red one at the Stadium tonight.

    8. Jason O.
      September 26th, 2006 | 12:22 pm

      A fine post, SL.

      About that starting pitcher…a west coast guy with a huge curve who vacuums innings with a career ERA+ of 129?

    9. baileywalk
      September 26th, 2006 | 12:46 pm

      About that starting pitcher…a west coast guy with a huge curve who vacuums innings with a career ERA+ of 129?

      My worst fear is that the Yankee pursue Zito. At this point in his career, the best thing you can say for him is that he’s durable and that he eats innings. That’s not worth fifteen million dollars a year.

      Zito had a really nice year in 2002. But he hasn’t been that good since then, and his numbers continue to decline. In ’04 his ERA was up near 5, and these last two years it will be around 4. He still walks a lot of people, and his WHIP was ridiculous this year. He’d be a great number three on a competing team, but he’s still thought of, and wants to be paid as, an ace — and only a foolish team would do that.

    10. Raf
      September 26th, 2006 | 1:44 pm

      I think Yankees fans all over the place are having flashbacks to David Wells and the 2003 World Series this morning. And, it’s not pretty.
      I had a flashback to gm 7 of the ’04 ALCS

    11. MJ
      September 26th, 2006 | 1:49 pm

      I’ve been let down by RJ this year, just like everyone else. But to already assume that he’ll pull a Wells and just walk off the mound is not something I’m prepared to do. I don’t think he’s that kind of guy. A guy with a 5.00 ERA doesn’t mean he’s a spineless loser. We’re not talking about any pitcher with a high ERA, we’re talking about a guy that, like him or not, does enjoy competing.

      Let’s lay off the negativity just a bit, OK? The guy’s taking a week off to get right for the postseason for crying out loud.

    12. redbug
      September 26th, 2006 | 2:02 pm

      I don’t think Rasner’s an option. I believe he wasn’t on the roster before 9/1.

    13. September 26th, 2006 | 2:08 pm

      He was on the DL, so, they can sneak him in.

    14. baileywalk
      September 26th, 2006 | 2:09 pm

      MJ, for what it’s worth, I don’t think Randy Johnson would take the ball if he couldn’t pitch.

      You do have to consider this worrisome, though. If Randy at “game-ready” health is the guy who pitched against the Devil Rays the other day, I’d rather he not pitch at all. Even if the team somehow got through with his balky back in the ALDS, we would still have the ALCS and (hopefully) the World Series. That’s AT LEAST two more starts.

      Right now, for me, Jaret Wright and Randy Johnson are the same guy — they could go out and pitch well, but most of the time they struggle, and they need a free-swinging team to succeed (Johnson throws more innings, but they both fade late in the game). If I was the Yankees, I wouldn’t let Randy Johnson take me down. I wouldn’t think twice about replacing my third- (maybe fourth-) best starter in the rotation.

      You’re right. He’s just taking some extra rest. But with how he’s pitched lately, I say, Randy, don’t rush back.

      TOTALLY off-topic here, but I saw something really interesting in “Baseball Prospectus.” For any Torre supporters left out there, check out this stunning bit of news about our 36-year-old closer:

      “As for Rivera, he’s the biggest advantage the Yanks have going for them as they head to the postseason; despite missing three weeks–a move mandated as much by the fact that he’s STILL thrown more innings (72) than all but two closers (J.J. Putz and Takashi Saito) as by his elbow strain–he’s sixth in the AL in Reliever Expected Wins Added (5.282).”

      It’s pretty stunning that Mo, after missing all that time, is third in IP among closers. So even teams who were clinging to playoff spots didn’t burn out their closer the way Torre did.

    15. September 26th, 2006 | 2:40 pm

      BTW, to Carla’s point – the last time the Sox were lower than 2nd was 1997. Nice to see them back below again.

    16. brockdc
      September 26th, 2006 | 10:59 pm

      I think Baileywalk’s pretty much spot on regarding Zito. AT MOST, the guy’s a #2. Is he an innings eater? Sure. Would you want to count on him in a crucial playoff game? Probably not. If he were asking for a 1 or 2-year deal, then maybe he’d be worth it. But, no doubt he’ll be looking for something in the 4-6 year range; and at 14-15 mil. per, that’s just insanity.

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