Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
The Sorrow and the Pity
2008-05-16 05:24
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

Ian Kennedy was filled with big talk before his recent start in Triple A. Last night, he felt there was improvement in his return outing for the Yankees but the results were not splendid--five runs in five innings. The Yankee offense, dubbed "the Dead Bat Society" by N.Y. Post writer George King, mustered just two runs as the Rays won the game (5-2) and the series and sent the uninspired Bronx Bummers into last place. Scott Kazmir, fresh off a three-year extension, got the win.

Things aren't much rosier in Queens as the Mets lost an agonizing 1-0 game yesterday afternoon (and three of four to the lowly Washington Nats). Mike Pelfry had a no hitter going into the seventh inning; Carlos Beltran got doubled off third base to end it in the ninth. After the game, outspoken closer Billy Wagner let rip in the direction of one Carlos Delgado. According to Adam Rubin in the Daily News:

"Someone tell me why the ---- you're talking to the closer. I didn't even play. They're over there, not being interviewed."

Wagner paused for dramatic effect. Then, in a scene reminiscent of last year's Paul Lo Duca comments, minus the racial overtones, the closer sarcastically added: "I got it. They're gone. ----ing shocker."

The forecast calls for steady rain today and then thunderstorms tomorrow. Maybe both teams could use an old-fashioned rainout. The way they've been been going recalls the title of Jimmy Breslin's famous account of the '62 Mets, Can't Anybody Here Play this Game? Just goes to show, a collective $300+ million don't buy what it used to.

2008-05-16 05:56:19
1.   williamnyy23
The Yankees could use a rain out "every fifth day". Heck, while I am putting in requests, how about a deluge until both Posada AND Arod get healthy?
2008-05-16 06:10:39
2.   Sliced Bread
Dag, a muddy Schlubway Series.

There's a colt named Yankee Bravo running at the Preakness tomorrow. At 15-1 looks like a better bet to show than either NY baseball club.

2008-05-16 06:13:02
3.   horace-clarke-era
I think Shaun and Chyll in the game thread yesterday had it exactly right ... it seems weird to blame IPK for doing what pitchers DO, which is take time to learn to handle the Show. And more - many don't learn it BUT it is absurd to decide he's 'not a prospect' yet. Give this 2 YEARS not 5-6 STARTS.

I'm back to my core point about pitching in NY when the team is not allowed to rebuild, or give kids time. Add the offensive doldrums (no wind in THESE sails!), starting on the road against a legit southpaw stud, and a loss in this one was gonna happen. He threw two very bad pitches to Hinske and Riggins and burned for it. At 4-0 the game was over, given how we're hitting, and especially against left-handers with Alex and Jorge absent.

The guy I would say is not a prospect, because he isn't young and hasn't done it at all is, alas, Shellenstein. Being fun to have around doesn't cut it if you can't help vs southpaws at all.

One other thing ... looking back, it seems obvious to me that the expectations and pressure relating to IPK and PKH were hugely increased by the non-Santana trade. When fans are logical (I know, I know ...) we remember that this was a finances and long-range decision (money saved for Sabathia and/or Tex) not a 'kids will match him NOW' call. But this remains the hardest place in the game to play and mature.

2008-05-16 06:22:47
4.   williamnyy23
3 I don't think it's a matter of blaming IPK, just as it's silly to blame Farnsworth when he blows a 1 run lead in the 8th. If IPK is still figuring out how to pitch, then it's up to the Yankees to determine whether they can afford to have him learn on the job.

Also, just as it's absurd to dismiss IPK as a prospect based on 6 bad starts, it's also equally absurd to consider him a prospect based on a college career and 140 professional innings, especially when his main (and to some trained eyes only) attribute is command of fringe stuff. This isn't Buccholz pitching to a 5 ERA, but with 1K/IP. There aren't many (or any) positive signs that mitigate against a 9 ERA.

As I've commented previously, it seems like a whole lot has to go right for Kennedy to be successful. With the stuff he has shown, he simply doesn't have a margin for error. I don't think this is an issue of be allowed to rebuild as much as the Yankees needing to be sure that if they are going to rebuild with a $200mn payroll, they do so with the right building blocks.

At this point, I am neither comfortable or confident that IPK is a solid building block, and therefore am very reluctant to having the Yankees permit him to treat his starts as a learning experience.

2008-05-16 06:26:20
5.   unmoderated
Recipient: Yankees
From: unmoderated
RE: yesterday's game

Message Body: ugh.

-----this message is virus free-----

2008-05-16 06:34:39
6.   horace-clarke-era
william, I hear you, but I also doubt that the scouting and management are going to be sloppy about this and there would be (forgive!) an element of arrogance in either of us making long-range assessments based on what we know now.

I certainly don't take the 'leave it to the experts' line or we'd have no damned FUN here arguing for changed batting orders or trades ... but when it comes to long range talent evaluations I think caution's appropriate. IPK is 23, you aren't going to GET a lot of innings to look at, man! He has a career line of:

156.2 innings 1.78 0.93 and 173 Ks.

william, by me, I give that kid some time before I start saying 'no margin for error' 'absurd to consider him a prospect' ... in fact the comments LOOK stupid when you look at the age and the line.

I do agree that received wisdom seems to suggest he's middle of rotation not ace (mainly because of his speed on the fastball) but middle of rotation is a FINE building block. Having said that, I was one of the guys here cool with sending him down and I would not have rushed to get him back up after one good AAA start ... THAT smacks of incoherent management. Command comes from confidence and feeling poised (not just looking it) and these are hard to come by when any single bad pitch to a back up catcher starts the 'what is he doing here' chorus.

2008-05-16 06:39:39
7.   Alex Belth
Schlubway Serious! I love it and I'm stealing that (though I'll give credit where credit is due).
2008-05-16 06:48:22
8.   Rob Middletown CT
I missed the game, which is just as well, it seems. 5 runs in 5 innings isn't getting it done, but neither is scoring 2 in 9.

On the plus side, apparently the bullpen didn't allow any runs.

Man, this team needs ARod and Posada back somethin' fierce.

2008-05-16 06:51:00
9.   rbj
2 Does the colt have a glove? Maybe we can stick him at first, though I wonder if he'd take a bat to the ol' horsehide.
2008-05-16 06:51:52
10.   williamnyy23
6 I am not willing to make a long-term assessment of IPK, but I am also unwilling to state he is such a compelling prospect to warrant learning on the job, at least not while the team is still trying to contend.

So, what's the alternative? Well, for starters, IPK only has 40 innings at AAA. Would it be so bad to have him pitch a whole season at that level? Also, the Yankees could also use that time to have IPK work on things he isn't good at now, instead of simply having him apply those that he is. The obvious argument against that is the one that states IPK has nothing to prove at the minor league level. In that case, why not have him learn the ropes in the bullpen. Countless pitchers have earned their spot in the rotation that way. Why not have Kennedy do the same?

Regarding the two quotes you parsed, you have presented them without context. I stated "with the stuff he has shown, he has no margin for error". I think that is a fairly self evident statement. Also, I said it was absurd to consider him a prospect if you also call it absurd to dismiss his early struggles. Again, IPK isn't showing a dominant pitch. He is exhibiting very poor command of fringe stuff. If a supposed fireballer was called up and could only throw 90, I'd say he wasn't a prospect until he lived up to his rep. With Kennedy, the rep is pinpoint command. Right now, he doesn't have it, and without it, he is a AAA starter.

In summary, I agree that they should have left him AAA. I still think there are some things for him to work on. Also, judging by his comments, I think there is still some growing up to do. At this point, my course of action would be to allow him to rack up innins in the minors as a starter, and then when Joba assumes a rotation spot, have IPK finish out the year as a long man. This way, he can add on to his innings total and also get on the job training in less profiled situations. Some success out of the bullpen might be what he needs to gain the confidence he seems to lack.

2008-05-16 06:52:15
11.   RIYank
8 Kennedy had long-ball trouble. The Rays had a total of seven base runners in the entire game and scored five runs. But they crushed two homers and also scored a double. They also hit some long outs, for that matter.
2008-05-16 06:53:43
12.   ny2ca2dc
Losing three of four against the Rays is not a good result. BUT, I think prior conceptions of who the Rays are is influencing our sorrow. (OK, I actually think it's the miserable offense and mediocre inconsistent pitching, but bear with me.) If you start thinking about the Rays as an outside contender, or at least a solidly .500 team, a la the Blue Jays perhaps, then taking only one of four isn't SO bad. At least we didn't just get swept by the Orioles, who are a legitimately putrid team. (Also, don't bring up how the Yanks performed against the O's earlier in the season.)
2008-05-16 07:02:12
13.   Bob B
4 William gets it right. IPK's 9.0 is evidence enough that he is not ready for the big time and needs more time in the Minors. I'd rather see them turn Farnswarkle into a starter than have to watch Kennedy give up a run per inning again. I happened to see John Smoltz pitch in his first season when the Braves were in SF in 1988. I looked up his stats and was surprised that his ERA as a rookie was 5.48. However, I remember thinking, after seeing him pitch, that the Giants should try and trade anything to get him. You could see the talent. I don't see anything like that with Kennedy. I'm no scout but he looks weak. Good thing they pitched him yesterday and not tonight. If Santana shuts us out as he has in the past the lame decision to keep Hughes/Kennedy and pass on Santana would look really bad!
2008-05-16 07:06:02
14.   Bob B
Of course, I know it's absurd to compare Kennedy with a HOF player but I still remember that game in August of '88 like it was yesterday. Smoltz lost but WOW, he had amazing stuff.
2008-05-16 07:07:01
15.   ny2ca2dc
10 Who's going to replace IPK in the rotation? Medium term, it's Joba, but who's going to take that fifth slot for the rest of the first half, or however long Joba will still be in the pen. I think Cashman might have started hinting at a transition for Joba if one were coming in the next few weeks, but I would guess the plan remains to transition near the ASB. Karstens is still a few weeks away I believe, and I don't think anyone wants to see Igawa. I suppose I'd be down with throwing White or Geise out there. In fact, I'd be happy to see White get a chance, maybe he could we worth a relief semi-prospect in a trade if showcased.
2008-05-16 07:08:09
16.   williamnyy23
12 The Rays are no longer a bad team, but they don't have a great offense. Also, as good as their pitching appears, the Yankees should have been able to score more runs in the first three games. In other words, it would have only taken a decent effort by the offense to win 2 or even 3 games in the series. The main impression from the series seems to be how well the Rays played, but I think it should be how poorly the Yankees did.
2008-05-16 07:14:27
17.   williamnyy23
15 At this point, you have to go with some of the older prospects like Giese or White, or even consider taking a flier on a journeyman (not sure who is out there, but maybe Garcia, Wells, etc.). If Kennedy was showing some flash, or even keeping his ERA around 6, you might be able to say there isn't a better option, but at this point, I don't think it serves the Yankees or Kennedy well to continue to have him pitch this badly.

Of course, now that they recalled him, the Yankees almost have to give him 2 or 3 more starts. Pulling the plug again would likely reinforce every negative being experienced by Kennedy.

2008-05-16 07:42:01
18.   horace-clarke-era
william and I aren't disagreeing on what seems the best course at the moment - IPK in AAA. I was querying comments like absurd to consider him a prospect (and I still think that's a silly thing to say based only on 'struggles' at 23 william, despite your claims of being selectively quoted ... a prospect is just that, not a present day). But I was all for sending him down and for KEEPING him there for awhile. Nor do I have an issue at all with long relief later as a way back up. May was a good month as we only needed a 5th starter a couple of times and I think he was (and is) being jerked around a bit now.

I do note that Hank appears to be all OVER Cash (Heyman's piece):

"What Hank Steinbrenner's most recent complaints are mostly about, according to people inside the organization, are the two young starting pitchers Cashman trumpeted and protected this winter when other teams were targeting them in trade. Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy have combined for zero wins so far this year, putting the target on Cashman's back.
Hank recently said in an outburst to the New York Post that the team isn't providing much bang for his buck. But Hank's most pointed behind-the-scenes complaints are directed toward the big pitching decisions, and specifically the fact that Cashman -- with the backing of practically all the Yankees baseball people -- successfully argued to keep Hughes and Kennedy rather than trade them for Johan Santana, who pitches tonight for the New York Mets in the opener of a Subway Series that features the two struggling big-market teams. The Yankees are 20-22 and in last place while the Mets aren't much better at 20-19.
Of Hank and the Santana deal, one Yankees insider said: "He won't give up on that one.''

2008-05-16 07:43:03
19.   Raf
17 I think Garcia's recovering from shoulder surgery. I am a bit surprised that no one has taken a flyer on him.

Not much out there; Wells, if signed, would be a month away. Don't think Clemens will ever pitch in MLB again.

Everyone else, John Thompson, Russ Ortiz, Rodrigo Lopez, Jose Garcia is hurt.

Eric Milton pitches like he's hurt...

The Mets designated Jorge Sosa & Nelson Figueroa for assignment, but the Yanks have better options in house than them. If they were interested in stockpiling arms, I guess they're worth a shot.

2008-05-16 07:46:50
20.   williamnyy23
18 I don't know if the Santana deal would have made sense regardless, but you could argue that if IPK doesn't pan out, the Yankees would have lost an opportunity to sell high. For example, I wonder if the Reds would have considered IPK for Josh Hamilton? With all the Yankees arms, it might have made sense to make such a deal regardless of IPK's future. The Yankees could desperately use a younger bat.
2008-05-16 07:52:49
21.   rbj
I would have been fine trading IPK for Santana, but the Twins wanted Hughes + IPK + Melky/Cano(?) + more. It was an unrealistic demand.

It would be great for both Hughes & Kennedy to get a full season of AAA under their belts and maybe with Rasner pitching well one of them can.

2008-05-16 08:52:31
22.   Franl Leja
Is Hank really that far off on Cashman? Holding on to Hughes and IPK might have been sound. Failing to plan for the possibility that one or both might need more time to develop wasn't. Similarly, since Giambi has been hitting below .200 since May of last year, what was it about Duncan and Ensberg that gave Cash confidence that they amounted to a suitable Plan B?
2008-05-16 09:09:03
23.   Bob B
22 Cashman has done a terrible job,IMHO. It's not just 1st base, it's the outfield, the bench, the reliance on aging ballplayers past their prime.
2008-05-16 09:37:44
24.   pistolpete
13 >> If Santana shuts us out as he has in the past the lame decision to keep Hughes/Kennedy and pass on Santana would look really bad! >>

I don't know if that's even going to be a serious issue at this point. If we were scoring 9 runs a game but all of our starters were giving up 10, you could definitely make the case that the Yanks absolutely should have dealt for Santana.

However, you get the feeling that Santana would be suffering the same fate as most of our other (reliable) starters right now - lights out pitching, zero run support.

But I must admit, right now this rotation looks pretty sweet:


2008-05-16 09:52:34
25.   horace-clarke-era
23 Bob, I honestly wonder ... given the existing payroll, accumulated in a different Yankee climate of overpay (before revenue sharing and penalty taxes started to REALLY hurt) I am not sure what Cashman did so very wrong.

There was a lot of talk here about 1st base and an agreement there was little available that looked promising, and a sense (here at least) that powder was being kept dry for next year when contracts run off and Teixeira might be ours (though we'll be held to brutal ransom by his agent).

This represents (as I see it) Cashman hoping his 4-5 options for first base might produce 2 productive ones. And, as has also been noted here, Giambi is NOT so bad ... it is the less-used, vs lefties side that has hurt us a ton (and I wonder if a healthy Betemit would have solved it by now).

The OF? Really? What should Cashman have done THIS spring? Trade Damon or Matsui (the latter our very best player to date)? For WHAT? Who wanted them as trade targets? He kept Melky, remember.

Cashman had an aging lineup under contract and was (and is) engaged in getting younger and (possibly) cheaper. Two MASSIVE injuries and 2-3 significant ones have us not in first place, but 4.5 out, waiting for guys to return, in a season of significant parity.

I don't see such a terrible job, and do agree that the jury MUST stay out a couple of years on the non-Johann deal, though I was one of those who'd have made it. I do NOT believe we could have taken on Santana/A Rod AND Teixeira. And if I am wrong, and we want a top starter we can go after Sabathia in winter, WITH the 3 kids in house.

In other words, this IS a swing year, contracts coming off, free agents a year away, and people aren't allowing Cashman that.

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