Via Joel Sherman-
It may feel like yesterday that Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain got here, but it is not too many more tomorrows until they could leave.
Hughes and Chamberlain both are due to be free agents after next season, which means the clock is ticking for the Yankees to decide what to do with them. And that, in many ways, boils down to a question of who they are.
Interestingly, Brian Cashman said, “I believe I know who they are.”
And when pressed on that, the Yankees general manager added: “They have been around long enough. They are not guys I am dreaming on anymore.”
Translation: In the eyes of the Yankees front office, Hughes and Chamberlain no longer have a higher ceiling to reach; they are no longer projectable to something considerably better than what they are now. They are — in the Yankees’ thoughts — who we think they are: Talented, but maddeningly inconsistent performers. And what does an organization do long term about those types of entities as they enter their prime — and also their prime earning years?
“They are here for a reason, — they are important pieces for us,” Cashman said. “I have made trades and done things and I haven’t moved them. That should say something.”
But when asked if that meant wanting either or both long term, Cashman said, “That is stuff I can’t answer at this stage. It is a two-way street. It is a negotiation for two sides. So it is all for another day.”
[Hughes] did not grow into the No. 1 or 2 starter of the Yankees’ dreams. He’s more like a No. 3 1/2. Hughes has yet to put two healthy, successful seasons back-to-back as a starter. His changeup has never fully formed, and he has become homer prone. Hughes’ 4.41 ERA as a Yankee is the third worst in franchise history for anyone who has thrown at least 575 innings, trailing just Hank Johnson (4.84) and A.J. Burnett (4.74).
The Yankees could, in theory, re-sign free agents Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda for a year to join CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and David Phelps, with the hope Michael Pineda returns healthy enough from shoulder surgery to have an impact. Cashman said Pineda “would not be a factor” in building a 2013 rotation because “he is coming off of a major injury. The best thing to do is just forget about him until he declares himself ready to help. Let him surprise us as a luxury.”
Nova seems very hittable this year. Also, Pettitte and Kuroda are not spring chickens – although the latter has been very impressive this season.
I like David Phelps. And, I would have no problem counting on his to be your fifth starter in 2013. But, if Hughes and Pineda are somewhat, potentially, out of the picture for next season, the Yankees are looking at a year-older Sabathia in 2013 and a lot of questions in their rotation. And, let’s not forget that Sabathia has broken down twice this season.
And, Joba? There’s a lot of rust there now. And, before that, he was just a league average pitcher. Think: Brian Bruney.
It’s probably time to let him go.