Thursday, May 1, 2014
Posted by el duque at 7:23 AM
The latest Pineda setback - plus the visit from St. Tommyjohn to Jose Campos and Ivan Nova - have blown my circuitry. From now on, I'm giving all our starters the 1,000-yard stare. If a new guy shows up, why bother to learn his name? The old ones? Keep Dr. Andrews on speed-dial. CC Sabathia hasn't gone the last two seasons without a DL stint, Hiroki Kuroda is coming off his worst outing as a Yankee, Masahiro Tanaka is still untested beyond April, and David Phelps and Vidal Nino both missed the last half of 2013 with tweaked gonads. Bloggers are already calling for Cashman to trade for Cliff Lee. Yeah, it's that bad.
So this morning, I decided to check stool samples on the young studs who are flinging the ol' pill down in Scranton, the Electric Bugaloo of Pennsylvania. And, wow, it's a bumper crop.
For starters, let's talk about Brian Gordon. He's 35, which would actually make him old for the Yankee rotation. When he started his pro career, Bill Clinton was president. Years ago, when he was leading the International League in ERA, the Yankees signed him for a spot start. John Sterling adored him, said it was a bold move, and that he could be a gem. Then they released him, Sidney Ponson-style. His ERA is now 3.51. He's thrown 25 innings, workhorse of Wilkes Barre. Frankly, I bet he is a great role model and de facto coach for young pitchers at Scranton. If only we had any.
Then there is Shane Green, not to be confused with Sean Black, whom we traded last year for Alfonso Soriano. He's big - 6'4" - and he's only 25, the baby of the rotation. Trouble is, his ERA is 7.50. While I recognize that ERA is an old stat, outmoded by the new Sabermetrics, it still translates to about 8 runs per nine inning stint. That rattles me. The Yankees like him. Still, it would be reassuring to think he's dominating the Toledo Mud Hens before they roll him out against Big Papi and Mike Napoli.
OK, let's talk about the elephant in the room: Alfredo Aceves. He's now 31, and there has been much written about his mentality - which is to say, he's loonier than Zsa Zsa Gabor after a six-pack of Colt 45. (Is she still alive, and do they still make Colt 45?) His ERA is 1.98, which is great, though he hasn't gone more than 5 innings, and in his last two stints, he hasn't made five. My sense was that the Yankees were grooming him for middle inning relief, not as a starter. That may have changed. Maybe a return to New York will settle Alfredo, psychologically, though he would be the first man on the planet about which that would be said. Well, who knows? Give him an anger-management course and some pine tar. He's probably headed our way, once Pineda's suspension is lifted.
Finally, there is Caleb Cotham, age 26, who sports a 5.17 ERA. Like Alfredo, he hasn't gone more than 5 innings. The league is hitting .324 against him. It says on his biography that Caleb, back at Mt. Juliet High School in Tennessee, was his junior class president and a member of the National Junior Honor Society. I have never seen that on a player's bio. For that reason, I am rooting for this guy. Bring him up, Cash... to Cotham Gity!
We only have four starters at Scranton because every fifth game has been a Biblical downpour. Maybe we'll skip AAA and bring somebody up from Trenton - Bryan Mitchell would be the man, I guess - but I suspect the truth is this: Cashman is already running metal detectors over the scrap pile, sifting for anything with a pulse.
The Yankee pitching strategy right now resembles the GOP health plan, in lieu of Obamacare: Everything's fine, as long as nobody gets sick. Good luck with that. Me? I'm rattled. You should be, too. Mayday, mayday, mayday...