Wednesday, March 7, 2012

4 Guys, 3 Rotation Spots

According to Joe Girardi there are currently 3 spots open in the Yankees rotation. That is probably a bunch of bullshit but I will pretend that its true and proceed to compare the distinguished candidates. They will be listed in order of player that I am most emotionally invested in how likely they are to make the rotation.

Michael Pineda (age 23):
Pineda throws absolute gas. His fastball averaged 94.2mph in his 2011 rookie season, which is very fast. He also throws a knockout slider. He started his rookie campaign incredibly well, garnering a decent amount of attention, especially for a player from the baseball purgatory Seattle Mariners. He was less impressive after the all star break but I think this was likely due to youth and inexperience. The underlying performance was fairly consistent as he struck out more than a batter per inning while walking less than 3 per 9 innings.

The truth of the matter is that there is a 0% chance that he doesn't make the rotation, because the Yankees traded Jesus Montero for him in the off season. As any Yankee fan knows, Jesus Montero probably wouldn't have amounted to much as a Yankee. However, now that he has been traded he will end up being the fucking Venezuelan Babe Ruth and will make the Yankees look stupid. Anyway, Pineda should be just fine as he works on a third pitch this spring and assumes his all but guaranteed rotation spot.

Ivan Nova (25):
After 30 or so decent innings at the end of 2010 Ivan Nova managed to get himself a rotation spot last year and really made the most of it. He started the season pitching decently enough to keep the 2nd best offense in the AL in games, but had to relinquish his rotation slot when Phil Hughes came back from his bout with retarded arm syndrome. Nova could have cried about it like a little bitch, but instead he went down to AAA and spent almost a month there developing a slider. Upon his return from AAA, he used that very slider (statistically his best pitch after July) to power a 7 game win streak and finish out the season 8-0. Nova earned himself Rookie of the Year consideration and the #2 starter role in the playoffs, so he is also pretty much guaranteed a rotation spot.

Phil Hughes (25):
Hughes was the top pitching prospect in baseball in like 2007, which is pretty much his greatest claim to fame. It is also the reason that Yankees fans have an incredible fascination with him, even though he has been mostly disappointing in pinstripes. In between a myriad of injuries and stints of shitty pitching Hughes has done just enough in the big leagues to keep fans and Yankee brass hoping that he will turn into the ace they envisioned. Hopefully he can be like the shutdown reliever he was in 2009 or the decent starter he was in 2010.  I have nightmares about the Hughes who showed up to camp in 2011, looking like he spent the off season having Captain Crunch eating competitions with CC Sabathia, and proceeded to whip 85 mph fastballs down the middle until he got shut down in April.

The case for Hughes in the rotation is still fairly strong. He spent the last off season working out at Athletes Performance Institute and supposedly was already hitting 93mph in his first spring start. At the end of the day there can't much harm in running him out there for starts early in the season. Even if he isn't great he will be backed by a deep bullpen and strong offense. Worst case he is sucky again, and the Yankees can send him to the bullpen, while calling up a AAA arm or giving the job to Freddy. This is very likely to happen, as Brian Cashman has already said that Hughes looks to him like a bust that he should have traded for Cliff Lee top of the rotation starter early in camp.

Freddy Garcia (Old):
Freddy is pretty old and his repertoire basically consists of slow, slow and slower. I mean his fastball in 2011 averaged 86.9mph, which is just 0.3 mph more than CC Sabathia's change up. That's pretty slow. Freddy's overall performance showed that there is a lot more to pitching than velocity. He could probably make a decent 5th starter and keep the Yankees in games for 5-6 inning while allowing their offense to go to work. Freddy is owed 4 million guaranteed dollars by the Yankees, and has made it clear that he doesn't mind hanging out in the bullpen while Phil Hughes gets another shot at the rotation. That's pretty smooth of him, since he doesn't really have a choice and Brian Cashman is already B'ing his L' over Phil Hughes.

Projected Rotation:

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