• Where Cashman Went Wrong With Yanks Rotation

    Posted by on August 26th, 2010 · Comments (11)

    Via George King

    Can a bullpen session in late August be considered crucial? When it involves Andy Pettitte’s cranky left groin the answer is a very loud yes.

    If Pettitte passes a bullpen test tomorrow in Chicago, the Yankees can start planning on when the veteran lefty will return from the disabled list. If the groin doesn’t allow Pettitte to push off the rubber? How about a dark October?

    “I think it will be a good indication,” manager Joe Girardi said of what Pettitte is able to do in the 20- to 25-pitch session. “If he is able to push off [it will be good]. If not, that would be a pretty big setback.”

    Try a killer setback.

    The Yankees’ rotation is led by AL Cy Young favorite CC Sabathia and has serious questions throughout the next four slots.

    Phil Hughes, last night’s starter and loser against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, is 15-6 with a 4.12 ERA but is working on an innings limit believed to be in the 170-175 range. He is at 144 1/3.

    A.J. Burnett (9-11, 4.80) has been up and down all year. Dustin Moseley is 4-2 filling in for Pettitte, but the right-hander survives on location instead of velocity, and pitchers like him have to be sharp or they get hit.

    Ivan Nova, who will start in the struggling Javier Vazquez’s spot Sunday against the White Sox, will make his second big league start. Nova was very good Monday night in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays, but relying on a neophyte down the stretch is risky business.

    The current state of the Yankees’ rotation has many baseball executives believing the Yankees will make a play for Dodger Hiroki Kuroda, who is on trade waivers that expire today.

    “The way he has been throwing lately he is better than A.J. Burnett,” an NL talent evaluator said of the 35-year-old Kuroda, who is 8-11 with a 3.48 ERA and owed about $2.5 million for the remainder of the season.

    As this all starts to shake out, it’s appearing as if Brian Cashman made some critical mistakes with his starting pitching plans this year – counting on the following:

    1. Andy Pettitte to avoid injury all season, at his age.
    2. A.J. Burnett to pitch like he’s being paid to – meaning like a quality “3rd starter” in a rotation.
    3. Javier Vazquez to pitch like he did in 2009 rather than like he did in 2004.
    4. Phil Hughes being able to step up and pass Burnett and/or Vazquez in the rotation pecking order, should the need arise, and be a horse in the rotation.

    Now, I know that some may say that no one could have predicted Pettitte’s injury, or should have, even with his age, because he’s been a durable pitcher. And, some may say that Cashman wasn’t counting on Vazquez and Hughes to do anything more than what anyone would get from your 4th and 5th starters – and that the combination of their stats meets those expectations.

    O.K., if you want to play those cards, I will allow them. However, the matter on A.J. Burnett stands. After having Burnett in house for a year, and seeing what he was all about, the Yankees should have acquired a front-end starting pitcher, either before the season or during this one, to push Burnett into the back-end of the rotation and have another “stud” on the front-end to pair with Sabathia.

    Pettitte, before he got hurt, was pitching like that “stud” and it was a blessing – but, now, as King notes, it’s cross your fingers time to see if he can get back to that.

    Comments on Where Cashman Went Wrong With Yanks Rotation

    1. Raf
      August 26th, 2010 | 11:51 am

      After having Burnett in house for a year, and seeing what he was all about, the Yankees should have acquired a front-end starting pitcher, either before the season or during this one

      I believe they were in on Halliday and Lee so it’s not like they’ve been standing pat regarding the pitching staff.

      Not sure that anyone expected more from Burnett than what they’ve gotten. He’s there to eat innings and strike people out. And walk them too.

    2. Evan3457
      August 26th, 2010 | 1:56 pm

      They were also in on Haren, too.

      I would like to remind everybody that at this time last year, that while the team was hot, the rotation was:

      1) A red-hot CC
      2) A so-so 37 year old Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.18 ERA, WHIP 1.40, out of the game in 6 innings or less in 12 of 26 starts due to inefficiency)
      3) A cold AJ Burnett, 10-8, 4.10 ERA, having not won a game in a month wiht and ERA of 6.00 for August, on his way to 3 more poor starts, before righting the ship in mid-September with 4 good starts just before the post-season
      4) A cold Joba Chamberlain, in the middle of negatively reacting to the plan for his innings limit, going 1-2 for the month of August, with an 8.44 ERA for the month, and on his way to not throwing another good start the rest of the season, and on his way to the bullpen.
      5) Chad Gaudin, who did pitch well in the #5 slot, but who was not going to get a post-season start without a signed note from the Deity.

      In addition, people were fretting even more because of CC’s terrible post-season track record, AJ’s complete lack of post-season experience, Joba’s limited and bad post-season record, and Pettitte’s advanced age.
      The back of the rotation was shaky enough that Girardi and Eiland decided to take advantage of the numerous TV-designed days off to go with only the top 3.

      People wailed Cassandra warnings over that, too, but it worked pretty well, actually.

      The bullpen was lights out for most of August and September, but the team ERA was still 4.06 for the last two months, and that includes the last two weeks of “garbage time” when the race was basically clinched and the team ERA was 3.29. I’m not going to do a game-by-game search and add, but I’d bet that in spite of CC and Gaudin, the starters’ ERA in the period 8/1-9/15 was well north of 4.

      Heck, OK, I will do it. 43 games started. The team went 31-12. The starters’ ERA in those 43 games was 4.66. Bullpen ERA was 3.76. Overall team ERA was 4.34. So what’s different? The offense hasn’t been consistently dominant.

    3. Jake1
      August 26th, 2010 | 2:28 pm

      We now know why he lusted after Lee and Halladay and offered up his best prospect in 10+ years.

    4. Evan3457
      August 26th, 2010 | 2:36 pm

      Jake1 wrote:

      We now know why he lusted after Lee and Halladay and offered up his best prospect in 10+ years.

      Because they’re great pitchers who can each be reliably projected to remain outstanding for the next 3-5 years?

    5. Jake1
      August 26th, 2010 | 2:40 pm

      @ Evan3457:

      Because the rotation was weak and may not be championship caliber.

      hence why he would package Montero for two guys who will be both be FA’s after the year. If you know Cashman you will realize it isnt his MO.

    6. GDH
      August 26th, 2010 | 3:20 pm

      Jake1 wrote:

      Because the rotation was weak and may not be championship caliber.
      hence why he would package Montero for two guys who will be both be FA’s after the year. If you know Cashman you will realize it isnt his MO.

      Because any time you have a chance to add an elite calibur arm, that could tip the balance of power in your league, you have to be willing to entertain that move, at the right price, with an extended deal, not just for the rest of the season. And unless Texas extends Lee, which Lee wouldn’t do mid-season, we will have that chance again in the offseason, for no prospects.

      All teams have rotation and bullpen concerns over a long season. In the end the hot pitching usually prevails, which Evan illustrates very well with last year’s example.

    7. Garcia
      August 26th, 2010 | 4:56 pm

      Yeah, Steve, can’t disagree with much of what you’ve said here. Though, I’d really like to but the facts are right their in front of my face.

    8. Evan3457
      August 26th, 2010 | 5:26 pm

      Jake1 wrote:

      @ Evan3457:
      Because the rotation was weak and may not be championship caliber.
      hence why he would package Montero for two guys who will be both be FA’s after the year. If you know Cashman you will realize it isnt his MO.

      Lee is a free agent after the season. Halladay signed long term at the time of the trade. Haren is tied up for several years.

    9. Evan3457
      August 26th, 2010 | 5:39 pm

      Don’t know if anyone hear cares what Mike Axisa or River Ave. Blues say, but he basically says what I’m saying, only with better detail, better writing, more clearly reasoned, and with an important addendum about the perceived differences between where the Yanks were this time last year, and where they are now:

      http://tinyurl.com/2eg4vs7

    10. Evan3457
      August 26th, 2010 | 5:40 pm

      “Anyone hear.”

      Sigh.

      {Laments the lack of an edit button. Again.}

    11. Jim TreshFan
      August 26th, 2010 | 10:21 pm

      Yes, but at the moment the Yankees have just a two man rotation:

      CC Sabathia and CU Nextyear

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