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2008-06-17 06:51
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

In his blog yesterday, Rob Neyer looks at the Yankees' pitching options now that Chien-Ming Wang won't be around for a good, long while:

One thing I'm sure about: the Yankees aren't punting. Not now.

I don't believe that Dan McCutchen is ready. He was excellent in nine Double-A starts this spring, but has only five Triple-A starts and generally hasn't been able to keep the ball out of the air this season. At 25, he's a prospect but not a savior.

Ian Kennedy? He's on the DL, but throwing without pain. Kei Igawa has a 3.73 in Triple-A this season, and a 6.75 career ERA in the majors. Jeff Karstens has a 5.65 career ERA in the majors, and a 6.11 ERA in Triple-A this season. Dan Giese? What a story. At 31, he's finally getting his shot and he's getting it with the Yankees. If he really could pitch effectively in the majors, you'd think he'd have done it before now. But stranger things have happened.

Right now the Yankees don't seem to have any attractive options. But the same was true six weeks ago, right? And Darrell Rasner stepped in, and he's given the Yankees five quality starts (out of seven). Can the Yankees really catch the Red Sox and/or the Rays with a rotation that includes Chamberlain, Darrell Rasner and (for example) Giese? Probably not. But they have to try, and will.

(And the same goes for the Indians, who still have a fighting chance and aren't trading C.C. Sabathia anytime soon.)

Isn't this guy looking for work?

Hey, our boy Bouton prolly still has some life in his knuckler...

Comments (52)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-06-17 07:15:58
1.   mehmattski
I think I'd prefer Freddy Garcia (who struck out 50 men in 58 innings last year) to David Wells (whose strikeout rate is painfully low).

I also think panicking immediately after the injury will lead to poor decisions. The Yankees needed an outfielder in 2006 and we all clamored for a trade, NOW! And Cashman was patient, and got a .300/.400/.500 hitter for basically nothing. I think that's what we're going to see this year. Cashman's going to wait and then pounce upon a name that no one saw coming. It's not going to be Sabathia; Cashman rarely makes the move that everyone in the press is calling for.

2008-06-17 07:19:16
2.   dianagramr
If its up to Hank, it better be a pitcher that never has to run the bases, ever!
2008-06-17 07:20:36
3.   Alex Belth
Freddie. Ah yes, that's right, Freddie.

Hey, Boombah wouldn't run the bases. Be a perfect fit. I'm still leaning toward Bouton.

2008-06-17 07:21:46
4.   Raf
This guy's looking for work too :)
http://tinyurl.com/6ovho6

Seriously, I guess we're looking @ Igawa & Giese for a short period of time.

Someone who may get a shot (I don't know if he's been mentioned) is Alfredo Aceves, who was signed out of the Mexican league last offseason. He's pitching in Trenton right now, and is doing well. He'll probably see some time in SWB before the Yanks call him up, if in fact they do.

2008-06-17 07:22:16
5.   Vandelay Industries
Any package of pitching prospects for Tim Lincecum? Eh? Eh?
2008-06-17 07:23:49
6.   Raf
1 Cashman didn't give up much because the Lidle/Abreu trade was a salary dump.
2008-06-17 07:26:41
7.   Sliced Bread
I'm no surgeon, so I'm not sure if this is possible -- but doesn't Pavano have a healthy foot he could lend Wang for the summer?
2008-06-17 07:28:09
8.   Raf
7 The only healthy thing on Pavano is his wallet.
2008-06-17 07:29:58
9.   horace-clarke-era
Alex, my memory is that The Boom, who loved the game, and worshipped at the Shrine of Babe Ruth, actually LIKED batting and being on base, thought he could scoot. (He was also a vg fielder, fat but NOT a bad athlete.)

Lincecum was valued at more than Rios in the winter.

We apparently have 8 off-days coming up only need a 5th starter 4-5 times in next two months. I know we lost a 1-2 starter, not a 5th, so this equation skews a bit, but I expect Cashman to take his time, see what happens to other teams for the next 4 weeks.

As best I gathered in winter, his decision was to hold off on Santana and chase free agents, player-cost free, in the off-season. The usual suspects were Sabathia and Teixeira.

Everything is in flux, and not just because of Wang (because of the uncertainty over Cleveland's injuries, too, and whether Seattle will set a match to the team, among other issues) but I think Cash will hang cool for a bit. Hope he does.

2008-06-17 07:39:38
10.   mehmattski
6 And so couldn't there be somewhere in baseball a team looking to salary-dump a pitcher? If he's healthy and the Yankees are still contending in July, AJ Burnett seems like exactly that kind of guy. Yes, it would be difficult in-division, but I'm just using him as an example.

I still say that if a trade is made, it will be out of the blue. Remember, in 2000 everyone wanted Sammy Sosa. Instead, we got David Justice, and it was the perfect fit for that team. When it comes to in-season trades: In Cash I Trust.

2008-06-17 07:40:31
11.   mehmattski
Also, can you imagine the chaos if Joba hadn't been recently converted to a starter?
2008-06-17 07:46:38
12.   monkeypants
I posted this on another thread, but to repeat--the guys at RLY did a write-up on the impact of Wang's injury. Based on admittedly flaky projections, replacing Wang with a cocktail of internal solutions over the remainder of the season only projects to be a two or three win downgrade.

Now, two or three wins could be critical for a play-off run. On the other hand, as Horace 9 points out, but the rotation can be shifted so that Wang's spot only comes up a few times over the next month. That gives the team some time to look at internal options--including the return from injury of IPK--as well as scour the trade/waiver market.

I really believe that the bigger issue facing the team in the short run is on offense. The roster is now carrying as many as 7 sinkholes out of 13 offensive spots: Cano, Gonzalez, Molina, Moeller, Cabrera, Jeter and Betemit (it depends on how you count Jeter, who has been scuffling for sure, and Betemit, who is a platoon player). That's a lot of dead wood. But if the O comes around, they may be able to weather the blow to pitching staff until IPK or Hughes or McCutchen or David Wells or whomever fills in.

2008-06-17 07:47:37
13.   monkeypants
11 Not nearly as bad as the chaos created by not having a lock down 8th inning guy.
.
.
.
Yes, that was sarcasm.
2008-06-17 07:55:24
14.   williamnyy23
12 The projections were very flaky, especially the part about the 30 fewer innings being taken by a league average reliever. Assuming Mariano and Farnsworth aren't going to have that workload tacked onto theirs, that would leave Edwar as the only candidate to pick up the slack. I have a feeling that Ohlendorf and Hawkins would be more likely to suck up some of those innings in the 6th and 7th, and neither is close to league average.

I don't get the attempts to minimize the loss of Wang. His absence represents a crucial blow. The Yankees are not replacing a 5th starter...they are replacing the anchor of a staff that is full of question marks.

2008-06-17 07:56:15
15.   Bagel Boy
7 8 Fantastic!
2008-06-17 08:01:24
16.   monkeypants
14 Attempts to minimize are no worse than exaggeration. Let's put things in perspective--pitchers control the outcomes of games more than any other player, but they do so only every five days. And Wang was having an off year. Yes, he may have turned things around and gone on a run. Yes it is indeed a major blow. But exaggerating the impact will only lead to very silly decisions.
2008-06-17 08:02:21
17.   Mattpat11
1 I had some faith in Cashman to make a good trade for an outfielder.

I have no faith in him making a competent pitching move.

I have a really, really bad feeling that he's going to try, yet again, to prove some point with Kei Igawa.

2008-06-17 08:14:08
18.   williamnyy23
16 Wang was having an off year? By my count, 10 of his 15 starts were anywhere from good to great, which is part of the reason why the team was 12-3 in games he started. I am sorry, but it is going to take more than a crude analysis to convince me the Yankees will only lose 2 more games because of Wang's injury.
2008-06-17 08:22:21
19.   Raf
14 I would think that Hawkins would be replaced with someone who can pitch closer to league average. Ohlendorf is fine when allowed to pitch an inning @ a time.
2008-06-17 08:27:21
20.   Mattpat11
19 I've long since given up on the Yankees management replacing certain incompetent pitchers.

Hawkins will stay.

2008-06-17 08:34:19
21.   RIYank
12 A cocktail of internal solutions... Nice!

When you think about juggling the rotation so that Wang's slot only comes up a few times, remember that this is itself a substantial cost compared to having him in the rotation. You get Moose, Rasner, Pettitte once each, say, instead of three Wang starts. I bet that's maybe 2/3 of a win right there.

2008-06-17 08:43:12
22.   monkeypants
18 He was having an off year in that his ERA+ was 101--essentially league average. His walk rate was up, his WHIP was the highest of his career at over 1.3. You can't wish away the starts where he was shelled, and we don't know if his last couple of good starts (which weren't that good if you look at the peripherals--lots of DPs helped hide lots of base runners) guaranteed that he would reel off a bunch of wins.

By the way, I'm not sure what "crude analysis" means in the context of a post that determines, seemingly subjectively, that some number of a starters games were "good to great."

2008-06-17 09:01:10
23.   RIYank
22 18 This brings up a point I've been wondering about. If one pitcher has eight great games and two really bad games, for an ERA of 4.2, and another pitcher has ten mediocre games, also for an ERA of 4.2, would you rather have the up-and-down guy than the consistently mediocre guy?
2008-06-17 09:09:16
24.   tommyl
23 D) Kei Igawa (or none of the above)

isn't that always the answer?

Seriously, its very rare to find a guy who is consistently mediocre. Most pitchers like hitters have good and bad streaks.

If Carl Pavano pitches for the Yankees this year, I want them to assign him the number 134. That is the only thing that would make it tolerable. Actually, strike that, nothing would make it tolerable.

2008-06-17 09:24:36
25.   williamnyy23
22 I am not wishing away the bad starts...just signing up for 2/3 of his starts being at least pretty good. I don't think the Yankees can simply replace that level of performance.

My analysis of Wang's starts might be subjective, but I don't think it's crude. I looked at every start and gave it a subjective rating. RLY went beyond subjective and made wild assumptions, which is what makes it a crude analysis. If you don't like my good to great nomenclature, you could use quality starts, game scores or simple ERAs and come up with a similar conclusion.

23 There is definitely value in consistency. Sometimes, I think we look at ERA too much and dismiss Wins too much.

2008-06-17 09:32:14
26.   Raf
25 I can understand why wins would be dismissed; Clemens vs Mussina in 2001 would be a good example. Clemens vs Welch in 1990 would be another good example as well.

I remember trying to reason with my fellow Yankee fans in 1996 when Hentgen won the award over Pettitte. Pettitte won more games, but Hentgen had better all around numbers.

2008-06-17 09:36:11
27.   williamnyy23
26 Yes, but I think we go too far. Wang wins alot of games because he throws a lot of innings and usually give you a quality start. Wins may not be the best evidence of a quality pitcher, but often times it can give you a pretty good idea. In other words, I don't think Wang seems to win more than his fair share by random luck, and now, I am not anxious to test that theory.
2008-06-17 09:43:23
28.   monkeypants
25 OK, I see what you are saying. I never said that the Yankees could "simply replace" Wang's production. I do believe, however, that we should not exaggerate the level of his production or start making wild claims that his injury will mean the loss of 5 or 10 games (I'm not saying you said this).

But looking at the numbers--like ERA--Wang's performance has not been, overall, "ace" quality. If anything, the innings he gives will be tougher to absorb, a point you made earlier. But the actual performance could be replaced not "simply," but with some internal solutions combined with greater offensive output.

And that really has been my main contention: the offense needs to step up; regardless of the Wang injury, three starters and the entire bench cannot continue to hit like ass.

2008-06-17 09:45:52
29.   monkeypants
26 Interestingly, if I recall correctly, Pettitte 1996 is an example of RIYank's question 23 --didn't Pettitte get absolutely shelled in a couple of games and really inflate his overall ERA.
2008-06-17 09:59:51
30.   williamnyy23
28 Fair enough, but whom do the Yankees have that could come close to replace Wang? I think we all agree that if Igawa gets the spot, it will mean 5 to 10 more losses.

My other concern is that I am still skeptical of Rasner and Mussina. With Wang out, you really need those two to keep it up. The offense and what little quality there is in the bullpen can only be stretched so far.

Having said that, I do agree that Jeter and Cano in particular have to pick up almost as much of the slack as Wang's replacement. Of course, it could also be argued that Damon and Giambi have been playing well over expectations, so a Jeter/Cano revival might only counter a decline in the performance of those two.

2008-06-17 10:16:46
31.   monkeypants
31 I'm skeptical of Moose/Rasner too, but that is independent of Wang. Even if he were not injured, if he continued to pitch as he did overall for the rest of the year and those guys went south, the team would be really hurting. I think that the team can only hope that their magic carpet ride continues while they deal with one problem at a time.

As for who to replace Wang: I really have faith--probably misguided--that Igawa is way, way down the list of options. We will only see him possibly as a spot or patch starter once or twice, and when he sucks, he will go away. I will also tap into Cliff's vibe from the other day and predict that IPK will once again ride in and save the day.

2008-06-17 10:17:14
32.   monkeypants
31 That should be for 30 , though I do frequently talk to myself.
2008-06-17 10:53:28
33.   ChrisS
I'm not so sure Bedard can't be had for a lot less than CC. He's not particularly happy in Seattle, and Seattle needs lots of help. CF defense in particular if Ichiro moves back to RF.

Melky + perhaps. I don't think they can expect to get ML talent like Adam Jones back, but they can expect to get something better than the two draft picks they will get when Bedard leaves via free agency.

Something that I'm sure will get kicked around.

2008-06-17 10:56:56
34.   JL25and3
Long post alert, but this is what Will Carroll has to say today:

"No one knows feet like Dr. Philip Kwong of Kerlan-Jobe, so I'll just let him tell you about Wang: "It is unusual to have both a Lisfranc ligament sprain and partial tear peroneal longus together, and longer time will be needed for recovery (8-12 weeks if no significant instability occurs at the Lisfranc joints). The combined injuries represent greater rotational stress than would be experienced for each injury alone. Prognosis and time line for recovery will depend on the exact amount of ligament/tendon tear sustained and on the amount of tissue remaining to provide stability. Healing is the formation of scar tissue and not regrowth of the normal ligament or tendon tissue; consequently, future problems such as arthritis can occur at Lisfranc's joints or reinjury of the peroneal longus tendon." So as I'd expected, the additional damage beyond the Lisfranc is likely to add to the time Wang is out. It leaves very little wiggle time for him to come back and throw meaningful innings, not unless the Yankees are right and Wang comes back at the extreme low end of expectations. I think the Yankees' record is going to dictate how this is eventually handled."

2008-06-17 10:59:20
35.   cult of basebaal
31 well, according to cashman yesterday, the list went something like giese, igawa, SFBG ... and he didn't want to rush horne or mccutcheon

i'm having a hard time getting worked up over this situation, it isn't great, but it's not the invitation to panic that some people have taken it for

both time and scheduling are in the yankees favor. scheduling, because of the few number of times this rotation spot will need to utilized in the next 2 months. time, in that the yankees have only to buy a small amount of time and their pitching replacement options look markedly better than at current. if giese fails in 2 or 3 spot starts, it probably won't be igawa next on the list, it'll be IPK, who's just about ready to join the SWB rotation ... or maybe, in spite of what cashman is saying now, horne or mccutcheon will step up and get the call (remember last year, phil wasn't, wasn't going to get a call up, until things changed and he did). even if it is igawa (because say IPK isn't ready quite yet) he's not going to cost us 5-10 games, because he won't have time to cost us that many. if he sucks for even a start or two, there's gonna have ipk, horne, mccutcheon and then phil breathing down his neck and he'll be back at SWB. there are too many options available and cashman has the luxury of being able to keep throwing replacements at the problem.

is it perfect? hell no, i'd rather have wang. but given the quality of the replacement options that are available over the total time line, i'd put money down in vegas that the yankees find at least average production out of this rotation spot before the beginning of september.

captain mediocre and rotten robbie are far, far greater variables in the yankees' chances of making the post-season. if this offense can score consistently, it will take a lot of pressure off the starting staff.

IF.

2008-06-17 11:05:09
36.   cult of basebaal
anyway, some good news on the pitching front, chad jennings reports that jb cox is already throwing again and that his reported "shoulder tendinitis" has been downgraded to mere shoulder tiredness, which the short time off seems to have resolved.

also, bryan smith over at baseball prospectus had this to say about our supplemental pick in the draft

"Every time we talked about Christian Friedrich this spring, we wrote that no one was in Friedrich's zip code in terms of curveball grade. However, after watching Seminole after Seminole swing through Jeremy Bleich's hook, I think there's a competition for the crown. Bleich's fastball was topping out at 90 mph, but it didn't matter, as he was in command and impossible with two strikes. Bleich was seen as something of an overdraft, but the Cardinal has bounced back from injury rather perfectly. "

2008-06-17 11:29:51
37.   monkeypants
35 I agree entirely. The most we see Igawa is one or two starts, unless he wins. Butin that unlikely case, he hasn't cost anything. More likely is that he will suck, but then he will be made to go away again because other options will become available (IPK, trade, etc.). I also hold out crazy misguided hope that Phil makes it back in August sometime, in case one of the others turns back into a pumpkin.
2008-06-17 12:10:55
38.   Vandelay Industries
I still think is we can get Lincecum for a packege of prospects headlined by Hughes and Kennedy we should take it. Sabathia isn't worth that, so he won't be an option this season.

Kennedy is a 38 year old Mussina and he's only in his rookie season. How will he look when he is actually 38?

2008-06-17 12:12:14
39.   Vandelay Industries
35 "well, according to cashman yesterday, the list went something like giese, igawa, SFBG ... and he didn't want to rush horne or mccutcheon"

Like he didn't want to rush Hughes, Kennedy, and Chamberlain?

2008-06-17 12:41:00
40.   cult of basebaal
38 well, since i'm bored today, perhaps you could tell me what you think a fair trade between the yankees and the giants for lincecum would be.

if you can do that, then go another step forward and come up with a fair trade that you think both sides would actually be willing to make, given all considerations that both franchises are currently operating with.

2008-06-17 12:54:39
41.   monkeypants
39 Remind again how Hughes was rushed? He spent 3+ years in the minors, dominated every level, and was kept on strict innings/pitch limits. The only place where one could say he was rushed was at the AAA level, but then his performance at both AAA and MLB in 2007 suggested that he was ready to move and stay at the next level.
2008-06-17 13:03:20
42.   JL25and3
40 Let's see. Lincecum is in his second year - that's 1-1/2 years until arbitration, 4-1/2 to FA. What we hope Phil or Joba might be, he already is - 8-1, 2.21 for a putrid team.

I'd say the Giants might become interested if you offered a package that started with Hughes and Chamberlain, and added from there.

2008-06-17 14:09:23
43.   Vandelay Industries
41 I was being somewhat sarcastic. Horne is 25 and had TJ surgery three years ago. He should already be pitching at the Major League level. I don't think any of them have been rushed. I find that argument by Cashman unpersuasive and specious.
2008-06-17 14:14:27
44.   monkeypants
43 OK, I see what you mean. Really, I don't pay much attention to what Cashman says, since I assume he is not going to advertise to the world all of the Yankees' plans and contingencies. I mean, what's he going to say: "Well, this injury to Wang is a big blow and we're really crapping ourselves. We spent 40 million on a dud from Japan who will never pitch in the majors again, so we are really, really desperate to make a trade. We just hope teams don't ask for some of prospects, including some who have flown under the radar like XXX."
2008-06-17 14:21:31
45.   Vandelay Industries
40 Well, also in response to 42 , Lincecum will win his Arbitration hearing easily if he keeps this up, so the Giants will be paying more than they would like after next season anyway. You could make an argument that only Peavy and a healthy Ben Sheets are on par with him throughgout MLB.

As for a trade, I would offer Hughes, Kennedy, and Marquez or Jackson, preferably Marquez. I think the Giants could live with that. If the Yankees cannot, well then we are stuck with Kennedy, who will never be more than a fifth starter, and Hughes, who may be a number three someday.

2008-06-17 14:28:57
46.   Vandelay Industries
44 Agreed. I was on the "don't trade for Santana" bandwagon last season. I rode the wave of emotion that had me believing that I would enjoy the team more if I could watch the youngsters grow before my eyes, much like Jeter, Posada, Mo, and Bernie. However, I now believe that the "known quantity over unknown quantity" argument may make the most sense.

I respectfully disagree with those out there that think IPK will ever be more than a fifth starter, although I hope I am wrong. Hughes simply lacks the velocity going forward to be more than a two or three, again, I hope I'm wrong. Chamberlain is the real deal, and as he was off the table for Santana, so not giving anyone else up for Santana seems in retrospect to be a mistake. Maybe Jackson is the next Bernie, I don't know. Maybe Brackmun is the next Ryan. What I do know is that Lincecum is young and very very talented and playing for a loser club. I would love to have him or Hamels, but the Phillies aren't that stupid. However, the Giants have proven that they are indeed bad baseball people and might let us have the kid. Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina are the players being pushed as All-Stars? Seriously? The Giants have done a hell of a job the past ten years at building a club, sheesssh.

2008-06-17 14:30:55
47.   Vandelay Industries
46 *Brackman. I should at least spell the name correctly of the kid the Yankees gave a Major League deal to.
2008-06-17 16:30:09
48.   cult of basebaal
hmmm ... ok, i'll play along ... you be brian sabean, i'll be peter magowan. you try and explain to me why i shouldn't fire you for favorably proposing a trade of lincecum (currently just about the only reason to come spend money at my ballpark, a potential all-star game starter and a legit cy young award competitor for whom i'm only paying 405,000 this season) for a #2/3 starter who's never completed a single healthy year in professional ball, a #5 starter currently with an 8+ era, an a AA player with barely 1 full season of above average production (and that's if i'm being generous and using jackson, instead of marquez, because the former is a top 100 prospect and the latter is dreck).

how does this help this team, currently only 6.5 games out of first in a very mediocre NL West, win this year? How does it make us better next year? why aren't you trading for an impact bat to help our struggling offense with an eye towards maybe making a run this year?

oh, and saving money isn't the answer. giants payroll is at 76mil this year, down 14mil from last year, with 16mil coming off the books this year and 16mil coming off after next year and with matt cain already signed to a sweetheart 4 year deal through 2010, there's plenty of money for lincecum and either arbitration or a lockup deal.

2008-06-17 17:08:31
49.   Vandelay Industries
48 Why didn't you fire me for signing Barry Zito? Why didn't you fire me for not using the time while Bonds was filling seats to work my ass off and stock our farm system? We have nothing at all but Lincecum to show for my efforts the last decade, and quite frankly sir, you are a moron for keeping me in this job this long. Have you seen the pittiful display we put on every night due to my incompetence in not preparing for life after Bonds? Denker is our best infield prospect? Seriously? Randy Winn? For the love of God please fire me! I am fielding a AAA club morphed with a weekend softball team notwithstanding even the laughable Dodgers stocking up their system with guys making an impact right now!

In short, players and cash! How much cash you ask? Well, however much cash big Bud will allow us to provide in return for making this deal! Hughes and Kennedy could potentially keep this club competitive in the less than mediocre NL East (it does border on AAA), Jackson could replace anyone in our sorry ass outfield, and we could keep Hughes and Kennedy for less than $5,000,000 per for many years, while Lincecum will be long gone and earning $15,000,000+ in three years.

I'll write more later. I am on the West Coast and have to get out of here to catch the Laker . . . I mean . . . Yankees . . . no I mean Lakers . . . game.

2008-06-17 18:00:19
50.   cult of basebaal
49 you're right, i am a moron for not firing you a lot sooner ... but if i had, how could my evil plan to undermine my greatest rival have come to fruition. I might have hired Flanders instead of the Carpetbagger! Then where would I be??? Doubly Screwed!!!
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-06-18 00:44:22
51.   cult of basebaal
49 hope you watched the yankees, the lakers returned little on any investment made on them this evening ...
2008-06-18 07:20:04
52.   Raf
48 -50 Thanks, I needed the laugh.

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