Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Optimism alert (I will disavow this later): The Yankees have too much pitching, pitching, pitching

In recent years, whenever the Yankees crow about their abundance of pitchers, we are soon treated to a start by Wally Whitehurst. There's something about having six starters that sends Scranton-Wilkes Barre to Defcon 1, and causes everybody's hammy to snap like a garter belt. So what should we make of the current Yankee avalanche of hope: Eight starters? Eight.

Yes, eight. Wontotheeforfivesickssevenate. That's optimism, folks! Yep... Shoot me. But it is cause for hope. CC Sabathia finally showed up this week (though it was the Marlins. Betty White could twirl a gem against them.) Hiroki Kuroda has been cuffed around - but hey, he's still Hiroki. Masahiro Tanaka could be the impact pitcher we have searched for since Chin-Ming Wang ran home. Ivan Nova? Who knows? But that brings us to the battle for fifth starter - Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno. I don't want to get carried away here, because too much can go wrong - and I don't think anybody will ever accuse me of wearing rose-tinted glasses about the Yankees...

But listen: This might be the strongest competition for a fifth starter in baseball.

Yes, I know what Alphonso would say: Don't jinx them. Speak the worst, and you don't get disappointed. And I'm not ready to leap into the Pineda hot tub. He threw four shutout innings yesterday against Pawtucket. Big deal. But he has progressed all spring. He's big as a bank vault, and he looks scary. He may never again be the pitcher he was in Seattle, but that was merely an six-weeks illusion; he was never the Second Coming of Bob Gibson. Let's just say he is one of the rare Yankees whose ceiling remains undefined. That's fun.

Then there are Phelps and Warren, the classic overachievers, another Yankee rarity. Both seem to have come over on the Mayflower; they slogged through Yankee system, never getting the "Manny Banuelos-Killer B future superstar" treatment by Baseball America, Neither has ever been hailed as the next Guidry. But I see the next Ted Lilly, the next Bronson Arroyo, the next Jake Westbrook - and I'd take any of those guys for fifth starter.

Finally, we have Nuno, signed off the dirt leagues three years ago. He leapfrogged through the minors, he throws marshmallows, and all he has ever done is win. Last year, he mysteriously disappeared after a pulled muscle - he was the Malaysian Flight 370 of the Yankees - but now he's back, still soft-tossing junk, still getting hitters out.

If there was a star IF somewhere out there on the market, Cashman could mix a fifth starter with an extra catcher and - boom - who knows? Right now, it's the best card we've been dealt. Eight starters for five slots. Do we dare look for a deal? I dunno. Wally Whitehurst could be just around the corner.

1 comment:

John M said...

See, now is the time for creative thinking, for complete throw-the-book-out-the-window thinking.

Once upon a time, there were four-man rotations and guys pitched whole games. Sometimes they pitched 14, 15 innings if the game went into extras. We laugh at that today...what crazy behavior! Those pitchers' arms must have literally fallen off when they were 30!

So now we have five-man rotations and pitch counts and limited innings.

Why not go all the way? Why not break the mold and do the unthinkable?

I say, it's time for an eight-man rotation that befuddles and hogties the competition. That makes pitching gurus around both leagues scratch their heads and say, 'What in Sam Hill...?'

Eight Men IN. See what happens. You can always change it in May and drop the losers.

Roster spots? Just drop a couple mop-up guys from the bullpen and toss in a bencher or third catcher or something.

If they're smart enough to try it, they're smart enough to figure that out.