The Chien-Ming Wang era in New York has finally ended (*mixed boos and cheers*). The Yankees decided on not tendering Wangs contract before the 11:59pm deadline Saturday. New York opted to tender contracts to outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitchers Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. The decision basically came down to starters/trade bait. Cabrera is the current left fielder (and trade bait), and Gaudin and Mitre are current candidates for the back of the rotation. Had the Yankees tendered his contract, arbitration would have given him 20% less than his $5 mil. contract for this season.
In 104 career starts as a Yankee, he went 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 5 seasons as a Yankee. Of course, his two 19-win seasons were considered his best, and his accuracy was pin-point. He started 2008 8-2 and everyone remembers that one June day in 2008 in Houston when he tore a muscle in his foot and sprained his ankle rounding third base causing him to be out until September. Then this past season came, and he got knocked around and had a record of 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA before he was shut down for the season due to shoulder surgery.
Wang and his agent expect to get offers from other teams very soon, and if it would be from the Yanks it would be for much less money.
The Yankees would have to part with quite a bit if, as Peter Gammons reports (MLB Trade Rumors), the Red Sox would have to part with both Casey Kelley and Clay Buchholz. I can only imagine that the Yankees would have to give up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, and maybe one other prospect to get Doc and then an additional $20 million a year to keep him. That is a really hefty price to pay and while I do love the idea of having Doc in our rotation losing three top prospects is not easy to stomach. Add onto that the fact that the Yankees made three blockbuster deals last year and it seems a little unreasonable that they would need to sign Doc. The rotation is far from set but resigning Pettitte while tinkering with Hughes and Chamberlain as well as with a healthier Chien-Ming Wang sounds like a perfectly reasonable option. After all, the Yankees won the world series doing just that.
Would I love to have Doc? Absolutely. But is he worth giving up three top prospects and 20 million a year? If that is the case, Doc might not be the Yankees huckleberry, even if he wants to be.
It has not been more than a few weeks since the Yankees won the 2009 World Series but already the team well known for its off season acquisitions is making a splash in the free agent market. Rumors of pursuing John Lackey, Curtis Granderson, and Roy Halladay have permeated the rumor basins. These kinds of things are nothing new to any Yankee fan who has watched the team make major moves almost every off season this decade. The big announcement that I believe has the most impact on the team, however, is not the pursuit of big name players but Brian Cashman’s statement that Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will be starters next season (NY Daily News). My question is, why?
Hughes for the most part of the season was nothing short of spectacular in the bullpen. He became the 8th inning guy that Chamberlain was before the experiment with Joba as a starter. Hughes had a stellar 2009 campaign in the bullpen, posting an ERA of 3.03, a WHIP of 1.12, and striking out 96 while walking only 28 in 86 innings pitched. If the Yankees resign Andy Pettitte and Chien-Ming Wang returns to be at least somewhat effective then Hughes’s presence in the starting rotation would not be absolutely necessary. But, if you absolutely had to put one of them back in the rotation it would be Hughes.
Joba simply isn’t cut out to be a starter with such stringent pitching limits. When he came up in the bullpen with the Yankees he was electric, energizing, and dominant. I watched his first save as a Yankee in a meaningless game against the Blue Jays late in the season a few years ago and the crowd went wild as Joba struck out the last batter on a fastball that clocked at 100 mph. His stretch as a starter ultimately ended with him traveling back to the bullpen so the Yankees management can say what they want but he was ineffective as a starter. Their unwillingness to pitch him during the playoffs speaks to that. Mariano cannot pitch forever and Joba is a better fit for being a closer than a starter with a pitch count.
If the Yankees go and get Halladay or even John Lackey putting Joba back out in the starting rotation would not be worth it if they were still going to protect him with a pitch limit. The only way it would make sense is if they simply let him pitch until his arm got tired the way Nolan Ryan has his pitchers work for the Texas Rangers. Otherwise he needs to be left in the bullpen where he is incredibly effective.
When my wife and I got married, we’d only known each other for two and a half months. There were many skeptics. When I told my father the news, he said something that has stayed with me to this day: “these things,” he said “are not measured by how they begin, they are measure by how they end”. I think this is an appropriate criteria for the 2009 New York Yankees. To say that we had an inauspicious beginning is an understatement, I’m not much for hyperbole but consider the following:
- Before the first pitch of spring training The Yankees had to deal with Alex Rodriguez’ steroid circus, the accusation, the mea culpa press conference, and concerns over A-Rod’s mental fortitude to deal with it all.
- Then it seems that the universe was piling it on to A-Rod, books by Selena Roberts and Joe Torre painted an even dimer view of Rodriguez in and out of the locker room. He pulls out of the World Baseball Classic with a hip injury, has surgery, and misses the first few weeks of the year.
- CC Sabathia labored during his first few outings
- Teixeira had his infamous slow start in April
- Going 0-for-8 against the Red Sox to start the season, were criticism of Girardi’s over-managing gained momentum
- Chien-Ming Wang goes 1-for-6 with a 9.64 ERA, hurts his shoulder, then his foot
The Yankees were 8 back of the Red Sox before getting it together in June and turning their season around in a hurry to get to their 27th Championship. Everything came together for this team, the pitching solidified, the offense became more consistent, the defense was sharp, all things that can be attributed to talent and execution. But then we began to notice other aspects of their game develop, the kinds of things that make a team special or at least poised for something great.
Things that we notice which excite us a fans and makes us wonder aloud: this could be the year. Two-out rallies, numerous comeback wins, consistent contributions from the bottom of the lineup, scoring almost 1/2 of their runs after the 6th inning, poise at the plate, working the count, no desperation when loosing by a few runs, bullpen contributions. These characteristics are the result of more than talent and execution, they are the tangible result of team character and chemistry.
Even after winning 103 games, the most in the league, there were questions about the way that Girardi was setting up the pitching rotation, the Joba experiment, would A-Rod finally come through in the postseason, can Sabathia improve his postseason record specially when asked to pitch with 3 days rest, how can the Yankees loose Posada’s bat in order to accommodate AJ Burnett with Molina behind the plate, which Burnett would show up…but this team embraced a blue collar approach and was determined to work through any obstacles to be victorious at the end.
The Yankees did not hesitate in their approach to the job at hand, they did not shy away from challenges, they didn’t get too high or too low, and they did not allow for doubt to permeate their thoughts. They were clear in their purpose and continued to do what was necessary to become World Champions. No one in sports is under more pressure to finish the job than the New York Yankees, to whom much is given much is expected, and finish the job they did. This is how things end, not with a whimper, but with the bang of fireworks and the loud proclamation that the 2009 New York Yankees are World Champions.
Chien-Ming Wang met with Dr. James Andrews and came to the following conclusion: He will have season-ending surgery. This isn’t exactly the biggest setback, as Joe Girardi had already said that he thought Wang was out for the season. Still, surgery is never a word you want to hear. Hopefully Wang is back to form when he returns.
People seem to think that the Yankees rotation is solid as is. Those people are forgetting the injury factor.
CC Sabathia: Overweight, so you cannot make any guarantees especially with the amount of innings he pitched last year.
A.J. Burnett: He is AJ Burnett, it is not a walk year, enough said.
Chien-Ming Wang: Coming off leg injury and you can’t count on him.
Joba Chamberlain: First full year as starter, can he handle the innings?
5th Starter TBD
Many people would love it if the Yankees managed to sign all of the free agent starters out there. Some want Burnett, some want Lowe, others want both. Seems like all want CC Sabathia. Andy Pettite is poised to sign with New York, but that adds at least 2 pitchers to the rotation. Lets take a look…..
That looks great, doesn’t it?
I think it does.
So I began to look at that rotation, trying to figure out what made me have this empty feeling inside……then it hit me……
Where are the prospects?
Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke, and even Ian Kennedy all seem poised to enter the MLB once again this year as starters. What do they just say no? Make them relievers? Here is my master plan:
MY MASTER PLAN ROTATION
5. Prospect Starter that wins battle in spring training (see players above)
Phil Coke is an effective lefty reliever and why not give him a chance in the bullpen.
I think Joba is a no-brainer. He will replace Rivera when he retires and will serve as a 1-2 inning shut down set-up man until then.