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Brian Burkhart chimed in yesterday with a fantastic post about the difficulties that a team like the Yankees faces when trying to develop young pitching:
Now, let me first state that this is a great problem to have. But the reality is, because the Yankees are expected to compete for the World Series every single year, it is difficult for them to give young starters the experience they need. In a perfect world, at least for Joba and Hughes, both pitchers would be allowed to make however many starts they needed to reach their innings cap. The Yankees can’t just run both pitchers out there though; they tried that in 2008 with Ian Kennedy and Hughes, to disastrous results. So instead, in comes Javier Vazquez……
The big market teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets have been accused in the past of using other teams like a farm system, but sometimes when it comes to starters, this is simply the most effective method. Look at how hard it is to juggle the development of 2 young starters.
Brian is right on the money here, as developing pitchers in a winning environment is difficult in terms of both perception and execution. Fans and media expect clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox to do what is best for the club at the present moment, and frequently suggest moves that might improve the team in the short -term but are not in the long-term best interests of the club. Teams shut down pitchers due to workload concerns all the time, but it gains negative attention when the club doing it is in the midst of a pennant race. Even though that sort of perception should not have an impact on decision-making, it is difficult for a club to act as if they were in a vacuum when every member of the media and many of their paying customers disagree with a move.
In terms of execution, even if the club ignores external pressures to send a young starter down or put him in the bullpen, the vagaries of a long season and the typical struggles of a young starter often force the organization’s hand. The team needs to find a balance between short-term and long-term goals, and it is often difficult to gauge what kind of impact a move made for “the now” will have down the line. When the club is in the midst of a pennant race and a young pitcher is struggling in the rotation, the priorities of the team may be altered and decisions that would not be made in Kansas City are undertaken to satisfy the needs of the current roster, often at the expense of the pitcher’s development. These factors combine to make for a inhospitable environment for young pitchers.
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