During last off season, Yankee fans, Red Sox fans, national pundits and sportswriters everywhere all agreed on one thing. Sometime around the midseason trade deadline, the Yanks will make a deal for a starting pitcher, period. The reasoning was as follows. The Red Sox have a better starting five, the Yanks have the chips to make a deal happen, and someone, somewhere will become available. Somebody always does. But as we approach the deadline and look at who’s available, it becomes more and more clear that the Yankees will not be in the market for any of the pitchers currently on the trade block barring an injury to their staff. Brian Cashman was quoted saying this earlier in the week:
“I’d be shocked if I could trade for anything better than what I’m getting off the DL, both with starters in Colon and Hughes and in the bullpen with Soriano,” Cashman said.
Let’s start off by assuming that in a few weeks both Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes will have returned healthy and effective to the Yankee rotation. Colon looked great again yesterday, and Hughes has shown good velocity deep in games in his rehab starts. At that point we’re all wondering where the Yanks will pitch all these guys and who will be the odd man out. MJR penned a piece exploring Phil Hughes’ return, and Rob Neyer recently posited that the Yanks will soon find themselves with an embarrassment of riches, having 7 quality starters for 5 rotation slots. And that’s just the proven pitchers with an MLB pedigree. In terms of depth, if Nova’s the odd man out in the rotation then he gives you a long man option who could return to the rotation in case of injury/ineffectiveness. Brian Gordon can fill in here and there and give the Yank offense a chance to win. Adam Warren is flat out rolling in AAA. Even Hector Noesi could give you a some innings in a pinch if you have a well rested bullpen behind him. Chad Jennings thinks the best available starters may be in-house, and I agree. Here’s your starting five after the All Star break:
Where’s the need for a starter? Colon was the 2nd best pitcher on the staff over the first few months of the season, and at times was arguably better than CC. Phil Hughes (when healthy) is a solid #2 or 3 starter on any team in baseball not named the Phillies. Good AJ can dominate, bad AJ gets killed, you’d have no issue making Burnett a game 4 starter in a playoff series (if its not elimination). If those guys are healthy and performing to the backs of their baseball cards, you can head into October feeling you match up well with anyone in the AL. The Sox may have a better 1-2, but the Yanks are more deep in quality starters and have a much better bullpen which could be even better once Soriano returns.
I don’t mean to dismiss the fact that everyone not named CC has some question marks on that staff. But the Yanks have the depth to weather those storms should they occur, and you could argue they have an ace in CC, and three #2s in Colon, Hughes and Burnett. Should a clear upgrade present itself via trade, we can all agree that Cash should pursue it. But will there be a sense of desperation on the part of the Yanks to get something done at the deadline? As things currently stand, I just don’t see it.
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