Via John Harper today -
The Yankees could well win multiple championships over the next 10 or so years, thanks largely to a pitching staff built around young guns Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. But this year? Forget it. It’s more likely their streak of 13 straight playoff seasons will come to a crashing halt.
Each of the six [major league scouts and executives who saw the Yankees multiple times this spring] polled made a point of saying they were impressed by the way the young trio performed in spring training, yet four of the six said they believe the Yankees indeed will miss the playoffs in 2008, citing the inevitable growing pains as well as questions about the rest of the pitching staff.
“I love their future,” was the way one scout put it. “But if you think those young guys aren’t going to take their lumps at times this season against American League lineups, you’re dreaming.”
Against this backdrop, then, consider some of the observations the scouts and executives raised about the Yankees as the new season begins:
They wonder if Wang’s horrible ALDS has caused a confidence crisis. The sinkerballer threw a lot more sliders and changeups in spring training, trying to give hitters different looks, but his 8.02 ERA was largely the result of the same thigh-high sinkers he was throwing in that playoff series against the Indians.
They don’t see how the 38-year-old Mussina can have anything more than occasional success this season with a fastball mostly clocked at 85-86 mph this spring.
They suggest the relief tandem of Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins won’t be reliable enough to allow the Yankees to move Chamberlain from the bullpen this season.
So, some scouts and members of the media agree that the Yankees pitching this season is a potential concern.
Me, I still think the Yankees will win 92 games this season – even with the pitching concerns. Will that be enough in 2008? Well, six months from now, we’ll know…