January twelfth of 2012 is undeniably a day that will live on in the hearts and minds of Yankees fans. It was that evening that the balance of power in Yankee-land shifted for the foreseeable future. Since then the picture of what this rotation will look like next season has crystalized. With Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia at the top, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda following him up, Ivan Nova in the fourth spot and one of Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia rounding things out. Except, like he always says, like all managers always say, Joe Girardi claims there is competition. He claims Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are not guaranteed rotation spots. They have to earn them. In Girardi’s words:
I’m just trying to make sure that when we leave spring training, we’re taking what we feel is the five best. And to be fair, there’s no guarantees.
Of course no one believes that Pineda, the centerpiece of the perhaps the biggest trade of last winter, will be on the outside looking in as the Yankees head north. No matter how poorly he pitches this spring, he has a job, as does CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. It’s also tough to imagine Ivan Nova, who won 16 games in his rookie season and pitched to an ERA far under 4.00 and who had a spectacular second half of the season, heading to the bullpen. This is just Girardi talking, as he often does. It’s a managerial tactic. He wants his team to wake up from a long hibernation, shake off the rust, and come out of the gate on fire.
Yet the Garcia-Hughes competition for the fifth starters role has always been assumed. As much as Hughes has meant to this franchise his 2011 was abismal, as was his second half in 2010 and his first half in 2009 and his entire 2008 season. At 25 he has a 4.46 career ERA despite pitching half his games out of the bullpen. His only marginally decent season as a starting pitcher came in 2010 and his 1.3 HR/FB and 4.19 ERA were subpar. Garcia meanwhile, though a veteran with little to know future in the Major Leagues given his age and the level of his stuff to date, made 25 starts last season pitching to a 3.62 ERA, the lowest of his career outside of a near-Cy Young 2001 season in Seattle.
Phil Hughes may be the future – part of the future at least. But with Sabathia entrenched, Pineda on his way to the top of the rotation, Nova coming off a superb rookie season, and a farm system stacked with Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and a number of other talented pitchers, Hughes’ future suddenly seems less crucial. And given the talent that is the 2012 Yankees roster, the nessecity to win now with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on the decline but Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira in their primes, it would make sense to leave the door open to another season at the five spot for Garcia.
And yet, despite what Giardi has said and despite the potential logic behind an open competition and despite the advantages Freddy Garcia may pose it doesn’t look like an open competition after all. As Joel Sherman first reported yesterday morning (or speculated, or hinted at, whatever you want to call it) it looks like Brian Cashman and the Yankees are set on Phil Hughes taking the fifth spot in the rotation and Garcia heading to the bullpen as the team’s lone long reliever.
We can pretend there is a competition going on for the Yankees’ No. 5 starter spot, but that is what it is. Pretend. The WWE stages more realistic battles. The Yankees are saying it is Freddy Garcia vs. Phil Hughes. But their general manager is also saying this: He believes Hughes is, right now, a top-of-the-rotation starter. That has not been said about Garcia since, oh, about 2001.
All I can say is: good.
I appreciate what Freddy Garcia did for this team last season. 25 (for the most part) excellent starts. He’s not young but he’s also not too old to be effective at 35. He’ll eat innings, he wont walk guys, he’ll keep the home runs down, and he’ll generally be a positive force on the mound. But Garcia is nothing special. A 4.12 FIP and 4.36 xFIP will attest to that. A pitcher with that skill level isn’t going to survive for long in Yankee Stadium. At 35, with a checkered recent past, there’s little to know reason to hand him a job no matter how well he pitches this spring. We know what he is. A few innings in Florida aren’t going to change that.
We don’t know what Hughes is. In a way, this the most powerful argument for and against an open competition. Hughes has not been consistent and he hasn’t been particularly good. It might make sense to give Garcia, the more dependable option, a chance. On the other hand, Hughes has substantial potential value. At 25, a former top prospect with above average stuff and solid command. A history of brief Major League success. He’s still on the roster, clearly the front office has not given up on his future, and so there’s no reason to hold him back. Even if he has a mediocre spring his case is quite strong.
A fifth starter wont kill this team. If he struggles mightily Garcia is still there, as are Warren, and Banuelos, and the rest of them. But depth is never as deep as it looks. Prospects are never as safe as they look. Not giving such a young, talented pitcher a chance would be a mistake. If Sherman is right the Yankees get that. Good for them.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- many dresses are especially for wedding or for other events2 on Chuck Johnson on Chase Whitley
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees