Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yankeetorial: Phil Franchise may be going away, and it's all about sperm count

Today, Yankee America faces the prospect of losing Phil Hughes.

Phil may have a rare circulatory condition. If so, he's done until next spring. Some come back. Some don't. This is why clubs horde young pitchers. They're like spermatozoa. For every 10,000, only one has the speed and guile to reach that magical strike zone and impregnate the catcher's warm mitt.

Let's remember a few tidbits about Hughes:

Back when he was a super-prospect, the knock was his fragility. In the bullshit prospect "rankings," his score fell because "scouts" - re: fan bloggers - questioned his durability over a full season. One reason Minnesota wanted Hughes and Joba for the washed-up tub known as Johann Santana: Phil's medical record, which would put a smile on the face of any personal injury lawyer.

The Yankees, to their credit, held him on a tight innings count. In 2009, they moved him to the 8th inning slot, although bullpen meant a different workload. Last year, they turned him loose: He fell apart in August, threw a great playoff game in October, then got hammered and... now... kaboom.

Did we abuse him? Not in the Pedro Feliciano sense. But who knows? Maybe we squeezed everything gettable -- an 18 win season and a 2009 World Championship - -from Phil Hughes. Who an say whether this ailment wasn't always fated to occur? At a certain point, every pitcher must go balls to the wall. Some last until age 40. Some crash and burn.

The key is our Yankee sperm count. For every 20 pitchers in our system, one might swim through. We spent March celebrating the Killer B's -- Brackman, Baneulos and Betances (who faces a similar fragility knock, by the way) -- none of whom has pitched well since. Last weekend, as Ted Lilly was throwing for the Dodgers, Mark Melancon was lights out in Houston, and Ian Kennedy threw a shutout for Arizona, the facts of survival once again became very clear:

We must not trade young players for spare parts. Ever.

There is simply no reason. We have the money to supplement our team with free agents. We do not need to trade a raft of young prospects for Xavier Nady. (God, did we ever get killed in that deal!) The hell with the Lance Berkmans and the Enrique Wilsons. (For whom we gave up Melancon and the original Damaso Marte.) They don't matter. They never do. We always have a system stocked with Juan Mirandas and Ramiro Penas -- players who can fill holes.

Which brings us to the greatest threat on the Yankee horizon: The looming four-prospect debacle trade for King Felix.

As Seattle continually falls apart, you can see it on the horizon: They'll want us to take Ichiro off their books. They'll want Jesus Montero. They'll want two of the B's, plus Nunez and anybody else who looks good in our system. They'll scout our system better than we do. They'll kill us, and we'll take on a pitching hitting the wall from the huge number of innings he has already thrown. This is the threat. This is the one thing that can destroy the Yankees, set us back to the 1980s -- the era of Danny Tartabull and Steve Kemp.

Don't think it can't happen again.

Let's hope Cashman values his sperm as much as we do.

Wait a minute. I don't like the sound of that.

1 comment:

Alphonso said...

The one thing that can destroy the Yankees?

We always trade the real prospects for the dogs. Granderson was the only balanced deal in the last decade.

Old age is destroying the Yankees.

Old age and no quality replacements. Lots of part time back-ups, but no stars.