Rob over at Bronx Baseball Daily wrote a piece yesterday about the Yankees and their need to develop pitchers and it’s something I’d like to touch on.
I’ve already discussed my disappointment about the recent developments in the Yankee pitching staff, so I’m going to expand on that. Rob is right, as is Joel Sherman, whose article Rob drew upon for his own.
In the last decade or so, the Yankees have not been great at developing pitchers. While some of their pitchers, such as Ross Ohlendorf and Ian Kennedy, are now looking to build their own careers outside of the Bronx, the Bombers have not developed any impact starters aside from Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang (whose career is a bit uncertain at this point).
The only pitchers close to that have been Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, and both of them have been quite screwed around with in their short careers. I’ll start with Hughes, who’s been less screwed around with.
The Yankees were sort-of patient with Hughes. He had 274.2 IP in the minors before making his first start in 2007, and he was just insane in the minors. From ’04-’07, Hughes never had a WHIP above 0.876 and struck out no fewer than 9.7 batters per nine. Basically, the dude was too big for the minors. I really had no problem with him being called up in 2007, but he could’ve used a full season in AAA, which he hasn’t gotten yet (and never will at this point).
In 2009, though, the Yankees really screwed up with Hughes. The panic move that brought CMW back to the team and the rotation should have never happened. As brilliant as he was in the bullpen, the Yankees should’ve stuck with Hughes in the rotation over Wang. If they had, Hughes being a starter again in 2010 would not be even the slightest bit concerning
As for Joba, well, there was a lot done wrong with him. He had fewer than 90 innings in the minors and the SP/RP switching obviously hurt him. He never should have been reliving in 2008 and he should be starting in 2010. By not having Joba start for all of 2008, they pushed his first full season back a year and had to make a hasty judgment rather than a patient one.
You’ve read all of this before, whether it’s come from my “pen” or that of another blogger. So where does this all leave us? It leaves us with this: the Yankees need to do a better job of developing their starting pitching talent. It’s one thing to push a number of pitchers through, and just about any team can do that with a decent combination of skilled players and a little luck. The trick, then, is to do so wisely and the Yankees haven’t done that.
The utter lack of patience they’ve shown with Joba Chamberlain worries me and makes me think that the same lack of patience will be applied to guys like Zach McAllister, Ivan Nova (upon whom I’m actually not all that high), Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi, Andrew Brackman, and Adam Warren. While it is nice to use some of these guys as trade bait, which will surely happen, it is inefficient for the Yankees to keep developing these guys to a certain point, jettisoning them, and signing older and much more expensive free agents.
Perhaps we were all spoiled before 2008 by dreaming of a future rotation headed by Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy. It’s foolish to think that any team, especially one with the resources the Yankees have (that is, they can get anyone they want) will have a long term rotation of all homegrown pitchers. That’s something that isn’t going to happen but the Yankees need to start planning like it will.
2010 and the upcoming offseason will be big tests for the Yankees patience and planning. Will they let Andrew Brackman continue to start? Will they go after Cliff Lee? Will Joba be back in the rotation? Will Javier Vazquez return?
Looking back, this post is a bit rambling but it’s only because I’m unsure of what to think of the Yankees at this point. They’ve shown patience before, opting to hold onto Hughes and Kennedy instead of trading for Johan Santana, but then they go and block Joba’s development this offseason and it makes me question their long term planning. They’ve begun smarter drafting, but will they simply look to trade these players in the future?
If the Yankees don’t change their ways, we could be stuck with a future full of overpriced, underperforming veteran pitchers who hurt the team both on the field and on the bottom line.
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