Who Should Be The Fifth Starter?

On the evening of January 13th Yankee GM Brian Cashman emerged from a winter slumber of inactivity with two moves that sent a rumble throughout MLB.  The first news to hit was that Cashman had traded Yankee uber-prospect Jesus Montero along with pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Michael Pineda.  Just as Yankee fans and media were trying to absorb and analyze that surprising move the second shockwave hit. Cashman had also signed free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to a one year, ten million dollar deal.

With those moves, four slots of the Yankee rotation were all but assured. The newly acquired Pineda and Kuroda would join C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the 2012 Yankee rotation.

It was about ten minutes after those moves were digested that the debate began about who the Yankees’ fifth starter in 2012 would be. It looked like a three-man battle would take place this spring between A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia.

Last week the Yankees traded Burnett to the Pirates for two low-level prospects and the battle for the fifth rotation spot was down to Hughes and Garcia.  So which of these pitchers should be the Yankees fifth starter in 2012? The answer, for a variety of reasons, is Phil Hughes.

By now almost everyone who follows baseball has heard of the Joba Rules.  Many Yankee fans cringe when they hear a reference to these rules and with good reason.  In an effort to protect the young arms of their prized pitching prospects from injury, GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees formulated a systematic plan limiting the innings that these young pitchers could throw in their initial years. The idea was to prevent injuries to these young pitchers like those that crippled the careers of young sensations Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. The general consensus is that overworking young pitchers can lead to problems later on.

On the surface these rules seemed to be a good innovation by a franchise looking to learn from the mistakes of others. It was the practicality of the application of these rules where things got sticky.

Chamberlain’s trials and  tribulations since being removed from the rotation in late 2009 as he approached his innings limit are well-known.  While the rules may carry Chamberlain’s name, he’s not the only Yankee who has been adversely affected by them. Phil Hughes was also a victim.

In 2010 Phil Hughes won the last spot in the Yankee rotation.  Ironically, the pitcher he beat out for the spot was Joba Chamberlain. Hughes quickly removed any debate about whether or not manager Joe Girardi had made the correct choice out of spring training.  Hughes tore through April and May with a 6-1 record. By June 19th Hughes was 10-1 with 3.17 ERA and a sure thing to be named to the All-Star game.  He was pitching as well as any starter on the team and the words Cy Young contender were being used in the same sentence as his name more often than not.  It was all downhill from there. Hughes was about to become another victim of the Joba Rules.

After his start on June 19th against the crosstown Mets that sent his record to 10-1, it was announced that Hughes would skip his next scheduled outing.  His innings were ahead of the 170-180 innings limit that was being imposed on him for the 2010 season.  Hughes missed his turn in the rotation and returned on June 29th against the Seattle Mariners. Hughes’ command was off badly and he was battered,  allowing 10 hits, 2 walks, and 6 earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in his first loss since May 22nd. With Hughes obviously unhappy about the time between starts affecting his performance, this is what his manager Girardi said after that game:

“If I was in his shoes, it would be hard for me too,” Girardi said. “But as I said, we’re concerned about Phil Hughes today, tomorrow, two years from now, five years from now. A lot of times, players live in the moment; I understand that because I did it myself. But we have a responsibility to the organization and the players to keep them healthy. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions players don’t like, but it’s our job to make those tough decisions.”

Hughes pitched well in spots after the All-Star break that year, but never settled back into the form he had displayed prior to the skipped start.   Because of the way the skipped start affected Hughes in June, the Yankees tweaked the Joba Rules. To allow him to pitch his scheduled turns in the rotation without skipping a start the Yankees limited the innings in his starts,  with 6 innings being the maximum number of innings he was allowed to throw. He pitched the rest of the 2010 season in this fashion, also making one relief appearance in September against the Rangers.

Hughes finished the year having pitched 176 1/3 innings, just as the Yankees had planned.  He went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA.  Not a bad record for a pitcher in his first full season as a starter but anyone watching could see he wasn’t the same guy after the Joba Rules disrupted his season.  His two ALCS starts against the Rangers were abysmal and capped off Hughes’ 2010 season. Still, Hughes very promising season was viewed as a bright spot for the Yankees. It appeared the Yankees had a young starter who would be a reliable part of their rotation for years to come.

Expectations were high  for Phil Hughes for the 2011 season. Those expectations were immediately tempered when Hughes came to camp packing additional pounds.  He wasn’t large enough to be put in the Shrek category, but was large enough to end up in what the Yankees refer to as fat camp. Fat camp is for players who need to gain fitness in order to be ready for the season.

Hughes started the 2011 season with three ghastly efforts. With no life on his fastball at all, Hughes was pulled from the rotation with a 13.94 ERA that made him the butt of many jokes.  After being examined for every malady known to man it was finally determined that he simply had inflammation of the shoulder. Cortisone shots seemed to help the condition and Hughes was sent back to the Yankees training complex to start from scratch.

Returning to the Yankee rotation right before the All Star break, Hughes made four starts in July.  Three of them were not very encouraging. With the Yankees using a six man rotation that C.C. Sabathia was obviously not happy with, speculation began that after Hughes made his first August start that he would be sent to the bullpen to reduce the starting rotation to five. Hughes, however, made that hard to do.

Hughes strung together three strong starts in a row in August, allowing only a total of only three earned runs in those outings and getting the win in all three games. More importantly, his fastball once again had life.  Hughes appeared to be in the mix for a playoff rotation slot. Two sub par outings were next for Hughes, followed by two more strong outings.  Speculation about a slot in the postseason rotation came to an end when back spasms caused Hughes to be scratched from a scheduled start in a makeup game against the Twins. Shortly after that, Girardi sent Hughes to the bullpen where he finished the season.

Freddy Garcia was a bargain bin signing by Cashman before the 2011 season. A soon to be thirty-five year old veteran, his fastball was long  gone.  The signings of Garcia and fellow veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon by the Yankees before the 2011 season were the source of endless mocking of the Yankees’ pitching situation. Having been left at the altar by free agent Cliff Lee, Cashman did what he had to do to put a staff together for 2011. By June, the jokes and mocking had turned to disbelief and praise. Colon seemed to have turned back the clock with a shockingly good fastball. Garcia had stopped trying to get a fastball by hitters and accepted his station in life. Garcia mixed up speeds, locations, and pitches effectively enough to finish the year at 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA.

When Girardi rewarded Garcia by naming him the third starter in the 2011 ALDS, there was some concern. It’s one thing to use mix up speeds and locations  in the regular season, it’s another to send a pitcher to the mound in a postseason game against the slugging Tigers with a fastball that was topping out in the mid 80′s on the radar gun.   Garcia allowed a two run home run to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning that put the Yankees in a two run hole. Flirting with trouble, the end finally came when he was punished in the 6th inning.  The Yankees could not overcome the four run deficit and lost that crucial game.

Freddy Garcia will always be remembered as one of those pleasant surprises in a Yankee season.  To give the Yankees the solid outings that he did last year and keep them in ball games was another reminder of how good Brian Cashman can be with his low-end trades and signings.  The question is does anyone really believe that Garcia can be as effective this season as he was last season? Garcia will be another year older and his fastball will be one year slower. As evidenced in the 2011 ALDS, it’s a lot harder to get through the lineup of a good team without an effective fastball.  It just doesn’t seem likely that Garcia  can reproduce last year’s form. It’s even less likely that he would be better in 2012. Hughes’ potential upside simply outweighs Garcia’s by a wide margin.

Phil Hughes came to camp this year in such good shape that on site observers have referred to him as buffed.  That is a great sign that Hughes understood that he let down himself and the team by failing to condition properly for the 2011 season.  Did the Joba Rules play a big role in slowing his development after June of 2010? Probably, but the condition in which he arrived at camp last year certainly played a huge role. Hughes brought the physical results and criticisms of his work ethic upon himself by doing that.  By taking the offseason seriously and arriving at camp in the best physical shape of his Yankee career, Hughes has displayed an acute awareness of his shortcomings and taken responsibility for his own actions. Now if only the Yankees will do the same.

You don’t have to be a doctor or general manager to see that the Joba Rules have been a disaster so far. Whether or not they were made and enforced with the best of intentions, as Joe Girardi spoke of in the quote earlier in this article, is not the point. The point is that the results so far have been to do nothing more than  stop two very talented young pitchers cold in their tracks.

The Yankees must buy into Hughes as the fifth starter in 2012 for more reasons than his upside being greater than Garcia’s and his age.  With David Phelps, Adam WarrenManny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances all lurking with great promise in the minors, the Yankees must display that they can apply the Joba Rules to a promising young pitcher and not ruin his career as a starter.  Already there are concerns among Yankee fans about how these future Yankee pitchers will be handled.  As much hype as those  prospects have received, as much promise as they have, Yankee fans have been down this road in the recent past when Joba, Hughes, and Ian Kennedy were supposed to be the anchors of the Yankee rotation of the future.  Joba is recovering from Tommy John surgery after one and a half disappointing seasons in the bullpen, Hughes is fighting with a 35-year-old  Garcia for the fifth spot in the rotation, and Kennedy was given up on early and traded as part of the Granderson deal.  Even more alarming is the progress that Kennedy made once out of the Yankee system.  Kennedy was 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA last year while leading the Diamondbacks to a post season appearance.

Hughes has the talent  to once again become the pitcher that he looked like in 2010. It appears that he also possesses the fitness level.  It’s time to let Hughes pitch without the hindrance of rules or every start being a referendum on whether or not he stays in the rotation.  You can’t micromanage and control every aspect of a young pitcher’s career. At some point you  just have to hand them the ball every five days and say “go get them kid”.

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About Michael P.

I am a Saratoga Springs, Ny resident whose been sports obsessed since I was 5 years old.

Posted on February 24, 2012, in Personal Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. I think that Hughes should be the 5th starter. The kid just had a bad year. Just like A-Rod did & Teixeira did.

    Great article!

  2. Philsanity! No seriously Hughes should get the 5th spot considering that he got his act together in september and kept the earned runs down. I’d hate to see another repeat of Ian Kennedy, where if Hughes doesn’t play he gets traded and ends up dominating for another team (got a little flak about this in my fantasy league, just a little.)

  3. I have liked Phil for a long time, he now has three+ working pitches. Of the three of them…IPK, Phil and Joba…I had IPK as the one that knew how the pitch. Joba as the power guy with good talent but poor work regiment and no concern for his lower half, Phil was the gray line guy, had confidence in his ability but, his FB was not a pitch he could afford to lose any speed off of, everything of his works off a FB about 93. Without the 93 he has trouble.
    His up side is well-known to us all by now.
    The thing I have questioned over and over again is; why have they constantly refused to give Joba an honest shot at being a starter. Unless he has a physical problem we don’t know about. He also has good stuff and three+ workable pitches.
    I can see with the pitchers we have and have on the way, he will be much more valuable in the BP, his numbers are very good against either rightys or lefties. :)

    • Imagine if Hughes has a big year what pressure that would take off Nova and Pineda.

      • Matt this insanity of every start being a referendum on whether or not a young pitcher is in the rotation or not just HAS to stop. Last year Nova was pitching just fine, growing and developing. He had a couple of bumps along the way and was promptly sent down to Scranton. I’d like to find the quote from Nova about how upset and stunned he was. He was brought back to the team and the rest is history. They portrayed as it as a regular old good move and cast him in a “Rudy” light as they told of how he declared when he was sent back up he’d never go back to the minors again.
        Ok, it worked for Nova. For many guys that can break them mentally. I don’t want to hear that Kennedy didn’t have the “mental makeup” to make it in New York and how smart Cashman was to trade him. We jerked him around and screwed him up. I’ll have to look up the exact date, but I believe it was May of 2008 when I decided that I couldn’t stand a thing about the way Girardi managed and treated pitchers along with his buddy Cashman. Kennedy had started that season out with the big club and struggled. Of course he was sent down to the minors to “get straightened out”. When they recalled him the first game he was supposed to pitch was in Tampa against Kazmir when he was still really good. WHat does Girardi so to boost his confidence? He sits Arod, Posada, and started out with Duncan in rf instead of Abreu. Thats great huh? Way to support a young kid just recalled. Ump squeezed him badly and Kay was going crazy and Girardi never jawed with him or anything. Kid didn’t pitch bad but he lost. We gave up on him soon after that and then he had the aneurysm, etc.
        Point is we keep jerking these young guys around and it’s insanity. The Yankees blew the way they handled all three of the big three who were supposed to be anchors of our rotation.
        I know everyone will say the Rays have no choice but the way they do it with young pitchers flat out works.
        They bring them up and let them pitch at the end of a season in Aug/September and then just let them start the next season in the rotation. Maddon doesn’t tell the press that they’re on the hotseat before every start. Thats how you wind up with Moore, Shields, Hellickson, and Price as your first four guys in what will most definitely be the best rotation in MLB this year.
        At some point you just have to give these kids the job and tell them its their job. They ALL have to be rookies sometime!!
        With Joba coming off TJ theres no way he can even be dreamt of as a starter when he returns this year or even next year. Hughes represents the last chance to salvage a good starting pitcher from a big three that were supposed to be our 2-3-4 pitchers right now.

        • Michael. Good points I agree they do mishandle the young guys. I just feel upper mgmt doesn’t want to give the young guys the go right away as fear of the media and onslaught they would get if they slump for a week.

          On most teams I think Montero probably would have played a full season last year.

  4. I think Hughes needs to get back to using his cutter, 2 years ago in the first half of the season I think he used 4 pitches, 4 seam fastball, cutter, curve, and change. If he can get back to throwing all those pitches again he will be successful. What hurt him last year was his overuse in 2010. I look for a bounce back season this year from Hughes.

    • Doug, back when Pete Carroll was the coach at USC he bragged that his practices were like games because everyone’s job was on the line every week. From a decade of incredible talent at USC Carroll won the big game one time(and that was stripped) and only made the big game twice. He always found a way to lose a game or two he had no business winning, usually against a 20 point underdog he had no business losing to.
      What happens when you put every single damn move made by a player under a microscope is that they play TIGHT!! Thats why USC had the biggest decade of underachievement in college football history and thats how we’ve managed to develop so few players in the Girardi era. Take a look at the guys who broke in under Torre, who was the anti Girardi. Jeter, Mo, Petitte, Cano, Posada, etc.
      Hughes has been sent back and forth from the bullpen and in relief he’s not using all those pitches.
      Furthermore he’s been tight on the mound at times, and when that happens he’s throwing basic fastball, curve, fastball, curve.
      I know its NY and I know the pressure to win is vast, but thats the case in a lot of places. It’s not unique to the Yankees.
      This is the ultimate chance to get Hughes going back in the right direction. He’s only being asked to start out as the fifth pitcher. Just giving him the job and letting Garcia lurk in the bullpen is not a good idea. They should give him the job and peddle Garcia for what they can get. If they’re just going to have Hughes looking over his shoulder after every game I don’t like the potential outcome.
      I’ve been told that its unfair to compare Girardi to one of the best managers ever but its really not. Girardi’s tenure has been marked with a constant circus of overtweaking lineups, sticking with “his guys” in lineup spots they have no business in(couldn’t wait to demote Posada and talk about dropping Jeter last year when he slumped but kept Texeira 3 or 4 until September when he FINALLY put Cano where he belonged three years ago), and input into trading guys he didn’t like(Melky, Kennedy). He did win a title with one of the best Yankee teams I’ve seen but he managed to break the playoff streak(and the AL all star game streak, lol), and took an early exit in each of the last two years. One of the past two teams should have made the World Series.
      This is his fifth year now and I’m almost out of hope. At some point he’s got to choose a lineup, a rotation, and bullpen roles and just stick with them unless there’s an obvious situation that needs changing.
      Old school managers get laughed at, but since 2003 McKeon, Francona(twice), LaRussa(twice), and Manuel have all won WS. Ozzie Guillen is even more old school than new school so you can say they’re batting 7-9 in the last 9 WS.
      I believe the right atmosphere that Girardi has cultivated has hurt the Yankees in the postseason the last two years. It’s a kid’s game, never forget that. You can’t suck all the joy out of it.

      • Damn Michael…
        I thought I was long-winded but I thank you for being more so. LOL
        Fun aside, I remember USC very well, I had one of my better games against them back a year or few. Sorry, I take that back, it was UCLA, damn, I was sure it was…..?
        Ok, I will give a history lesson to anyone who wishes to be enlightened.
        Stick Michael is where it all began;
        Gene was appointed the Gm in 1990 and learned quickly, the only way to improve the Yankees was to build its minor system up, they really had no system at that point. In 1992 he hired Buck Showalter as the Manager of the Yankees. The two of them had a very good nose for talent so they started drafting players for the team of the future. In 1993 they hired Cashman as Asst. GM. Cashman and Gene worked a lot to gether trying to put a team for the future out there.
        Gene and Buck left the team at the same time in 1995, Watson carried on the same work started by Buck, Gene and Cashman Watson gave up the job to his younger Asst GM for the 1998 season…Cashman.
        Now let us get some facts straight shall we. Joe Torrie became the Manager in 1996, he had a terrible record as a Manager before that. The fact was he wasn’t a very good manager at all.
        But I digress, He was one of the luckiest guys in baseball…1995 the Yankees lost to Seattle in the play-offs. But the team was already being set for the next 5 to 10 years. So, in comes Joe T. 1996 and the team falls into his lap, they win 4 WS right, he is called the best manager in a long line of managers, for what…winning 4 WS in 12 years. With a team that even he had said he could have copied the same line-up every day. He put the same guys out there every day (almost) then they started the age-old thing of getting old and leaving the team. He went against the orders from Cashman to play the younger guys so they could see what they had talent wise.
        This is what they call…”being in the right place, at the right time”!
        Now it gets even better…he goes to LA Dodgers as the savior and…yup, you guessed it he was a looser.
        Now compare that to the guy he replaced, Buck Showalter has had success everywhere he has gone. Buck is a builder more than a manager but, he gets the job done!
        For those of you that admire Joe T. give him his dooooooo, he was fantastic with the press, and was the guy for those first few years, not from 2000 and on. Least we forget, baseball is a team sport and the team is not only the 25 roster players but all the support people on the way up to the owner.
        I came close to matching you Michael, by the way, just trying to set the history right your post was very good and I agreed with much of what you said. :)

  5. In the last post I made “right” should read “tight” in the last paragraph. It’s sure not right by me!

  6. Joba falls in love with his slider and Phil his cutter, these things are normal. They are still learning their craft, as they find out (and I believe they have) the hitters are not stupid. The guys will start mixing things up rather than giving the batter the advantage because, he knows what is coming for the 3-2 pitch.

    These remarks are mine and mine alone, After going through many of the statements of both Cashman and others involved, while it was all coming down.
    “One thing to remember about the Joba rules! They were set up to protect Joba from Joe T. Remember Scott Procter, he never was the same after Joe T over used him, the same for Mike Stanton.” Cashman gave Joe T. orders through out the last two years but, Joe ignored them…one way to lose ones job is to flip off the boss. Right or wrong, he was the boss.
    The good thing is, they are making better decisions with their players, except for Brackman. I think they made a miss calculation with him.

  7. It’s tough to tell which pitchers are going to be good each year. Last year Nova, Colon, and Garcia were surprises while Hughes was a disapointment. 2 years ago Hughes was the surprise. This year I think Kuroda will be the surprise, no one talking about him, and Nova might take a step back. All 5 Yankee starters have the ability to win 15 games, but that probably won’t happen.

  8. Michael P, I really think the 90′s Yanks were built by Buck, that’s just my opionion. Torre was stocked with 6 good starters most of the time. Pitchers like Clemens, Cone, Pettite, Key, El Duke, made it easy to win. Your had 3 border line Hall of Famers on those staffs. I left out Wells, and 2 of them pitched perfect games. You don’t really need much clutch hitting with those pitchers starting. The Yankees the last 10 years haven’t had those kind of pitchers. As far as giving Hughes a good chance, he will get every possible chance to be a starter this year, but when you make the playoffs every year , you don’t give any pitcher a job unless his name is CC. The rest of the pitchers are going to have to earn their spots. It’s alot harder pitching for the Yanks than the D-Backs. Let’s just see how things play out, you need 6 pitchers to win in the East. That’s what killed the Sox last year, they ran out of pitching. Remember El Duke was a 6th man on a great Yankee staff.

  9. Michael P, on the Yanks not making the series I think it’s a crap shoot with all the rounds in the playoffs. The team that gets hot usually wins. At the beginning of the year, the Sox and Phillies were picked by most people to be in the series. I think the Yanks over acheived last year. Their pitching was much better than expected with Colon, Garcia, and Nova. A-Rod and Jeter were hurt part of the year. This team is better on paper than last year, let’s hope they can get hot at the right time, like A-Rod and Matsui did in 2009.

  10. Great article, Can’t wait for more.

  11. Garcia is the better pick for the following reasons.
    1- He is coming off a very solid year.He won the job based on last year’s performance.
    2-He gives the rotation a completely different look.Hie is the soft tossing junk guy that throws off teams timing..
    3- Lets not forget Hughes sucked last year.Working out for pitchers is overrated.Boomer Wells was so out of shape but the guy could pitch.You don’t run the ball up to the plate you throw it.
    Hughes problem with his velocity has more to do with his poor pitching mechanics.When he was a highschooler he threw in the upper 90′s,where did it go?Phil has very stiff arm action and pitches from the dreaded inverted W,
    Phil ‘s the hearts choice ,because he’s young and homegrown.Freddy is the minds choice because he’s proven and will do a better job.
    CC-Power lefty
    Pineda-Power righty
    Freddy-Soft junker
    Nova -Back to power-Nova will pitch better following the soft tosser and not following a guy wiyh a better FB
    Kuroda-Veteran with a splitter
    That is great rotation construction……..

    • Ballpark how did that junk look against the Tigers in the ALDS? Fastball pitchers win playoff games. That’s why AJ was always capable of tossing a big game like he did in game 2 of the 2009 WS and game 4 last year in the ALDS.
      In the playoffs hitters are a bit more tense, the more reaction time you give them the better they hit. Its important to remember that with injuries and unforeseen bad years that the 5 man can often wind up being a 3 man by the time the playoffs start. Thats exactly what happened last year and it cost the Yankees. That pitch he threw Cabrera to put us in an immediate 2 run hole may as well have been placed on a tee. I remember that pitch and it was one of those pitches where you knew what was going to happen as Cabrera started to swing. Its about who has more upside and the possibility of being a really good pitcher this year. The upside on Garcia is that he repeats last year’s smoke and mirror performance. I’m a stuff guy. You can toss the most intelligent game possible but it’s still harder to hit a good fastball or a diving pitch.
      Michael Kay was asked the day after the Yankees were eliminated what happened. He pointed out what many of us have known subconsciously but haven’t spoken out loud, the Yankees have done an awful lot of beating up on bad teams during the season and not as well against good teams. That’s the hitters and pitchers both.
      Last year the Yankees record against the other 5 teams with winning records in the AL for the 2011 season was:
      Boston 6-12, Tampa 9-9, Detroit 3-4, Angels 5-4, Texas 7-2. Thats 30-31.
      You see, those are the teams that once again will undoubtedly be the other playoff contenders this year. It does matter that you win the easy games to make the playoffs, but in the end you have to display that you can beat the good teams consistently.
      In 2010 against teams with a winning record in the AL we find Boston 9-9, Tampa Bay 8-10, Toronto 8-10, Minnesota 4-2, Chicago 4-2, Texas 4-4. Thats 37-37.
      So in the last two years the Yankees are 67-68 vs teams in the AL who finished with winning records in those seasons. You toss in the playoff games in those two years and that’s another 7-7.
      So in the end the Yankees went 74-75 in those games the last two years vs opponents in the Al who had winning seasons in those years.
      That’s one game below .500 and thats exactly how we’ve “felt” as a team when playing those teams. As good as they are but not better despite our records that were pumped up by dominating inferior rivals.
      Without getting better this year I fear the same result. If the Boss were still here he’d belittle the the results of the last decade which have seen all those teams with great records come away with only 1 title.
      I feel that part of the reason we’ve come up short is that Cashman has become complacent and ok with just making the playoffs and using that as a measure of success. In NY that’s NOT a measure of success. We’ve been using depth that the payroll allows us to scratch and claw into the postseason but when the true questions need to be answered in the postseason we’ve been short when it matters.

      • Michael….
        This is a new year and unless we have guys hurt at the time, we will not see Freddy pitching in any game during the Post season. We only need four pitchers (at the most) for those games.
        The time-honored (by so-called experts) axiom is; “Beat up on the weak teams and break even with the best teams!”, now I don’t like to lose at all, so I have never agreed with the experts…but, if one looks at the records every year…it does get one to the play-offs.
        The biggest problem with that is; back in the days when there were only 2 divisions or even before, when we had only one in each league. That worked out fine, one only had two go to the WS or later, when you had to beat one play-off team to reach the WS.
        Now days it is a crap shoot to go through all the teams one must navigate through just to get to the WS.
        One could win every game in a season (very unlikely) and still not make the WS game.
        As to Cashman being complacent, I don’t think so. He just has refused to take part in trades that are “Highway Robbery”, the old days of holding up the Yankees for an unreasonable bunch of young players for one older player are over with.
        The whole business end of baseball has changed over the last few years, the tax is a real drag on the teams ability to do things as they have always been done in the past.
        So, bottom line is, I guess I disagree with you on this one. :)

    • Good Day Ballpark…
      I have a soft spot for soft junker pitchers and I think your reasoning is right on and common sense.
      My reason for having Phil as one of the starters is simply…the future!
      If I remember right, we talked about Phil’s W pitching mechanics last year. We have about 4-5 guys that may push for big show time this year but, more so next year.
      Freddy and Kuroda will be gone next year. If Phil is in the BP this year what happens next year with him? As a starter he is worth more as a trading chip for a good bat.

    • Ballpark makes a good point about rotation construction. Garcia provides a different look and he’s going to get plenty of starts again this season after basically being their #2/#3 starter for all of last season.

      However, Hughes must be given another chance at the rotation. He’s only 25, with a great pedigree and successful seasons in 09 & 2010. Last yr he was out of shape and he clearly had arm problems coming off 2 seasons that saw his innings jump from 69 in 2008 to 111 in 2009 to 192 in 2010.

      Hughes coming in excellent shape shows his commitment after years of having a slacker mentality. So if he looks strong in ST, he has to be in the rotation.

      That said, the yanks will definitely need all 6 of their starters this yr. Only CC & Kuroda are veterans who are likely to throw 200+ ip. I think the rotation will work itself out but Hughes should be given one more shot in the rotation out of ST. Cashman spoke very highly of him recently saying he’s much more than a 5th starter while at the same time consistently downplaying Pineda.

  12. You need 6 starters in today’s game, the odds of 5 starters pitching the whole season are less than 20%

  13. Matt, Fishjam and Doug…
    I don’t really see any of us really disagreeing much. I think some believe in Freddy…because of his Junk stuff (I like junk pitchers) gives a different look for hitters and I agree most heartily with Ballpark…it worked for me.
    With Phil I want him to have a chance, as do some of you, because he could be of help for many years, as a starter, BP or trade bait…who knows?
    I guess it could be considered a catch 22 deal!?!?

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