Pressing Needs

In his latest piece at Foxsports, Dayn Perry takes a look at what the contenders need to do to improve themselves. Not surprisingly, he lists starting pitching as the Yanks most pressing need. In my view (and YF's and Rob's) this is an issue that can be taken care of from within. The guy is named Phil Hughes. He should be starting by mid-August. Meanwhile, Perry thinks the Rays and Sox are fine as they are. Indeed, it's hard to see a place on the Boston roster that can be improved, but you can't be thrilled as a Sox fan about the offense. Boston's OPS totals have decreased each month. Perhaps another bat is necessary. What do you think?

21 comments… add one
  • on the sox pre-game last night they were debating that – there’s no room for another bat! OPS is decreasing cause Bay and Drew stopped hitting, and Kotsay was playing in place of Lowell.

    dw (sf) July 21, 2009, 2:41 pm
  • Bay is slumping back to his norm, and Drew started slumping as soon as he was moved out of his regular spot in the batting order. Youkilis and Pedroia also are just getting over horrid slumps. It’ll happen. But I do think Lowell needs to be replaced, and I think a Victor Martinez/Adrian Gonzalez would fit that bill. Unfortunately, how do you do that without giving up the only pitcher anybody has confidence can actually improve the back end of the rotation down the stretch? It’s not that there’s no room for imptovement. It’s that there’s no room for improvement at a price that would still allow the club to improve, if that makes sense.

    Paul SF July 21, 2009, 2:51 pm
  • No…leave Hughes in the bullpen, move Joba there as well later in the year, maybe, and trade for another starter. Why mess with success with Hughes pitching lights out in relief? Not to mention when they inevitably move Joba back to the pen we are going to be money late in games…
    I can’t remember the last time we had a bullpen that nailed down 1 run games as often as this year’s crew???

    krueg July 21, 2009, 3:26 pm
  • Hanley Ramirez at shortstop in Boston would be an improvement. ;^)

    Hudson July 21, 2009, 3:33 pm
  • Let me say that I agree with YF that Phil Hughes should be a starter…Next year though. He’s filling a need for the Yankees right now and doing a pretty darn good job.
    Here’s why I say leave him there just for 2009:
    1. Who replaces him in the 8th inning if we move him into the rotation? Everyone in contention, with the exception of the Sox, could use a bullpen arm, so the cost wouldn’t be cheap. Plus who are the arms available? Chad Qualls? Heath Bell? I like Heath Bell, but the asking price will be much too high. Do you give Melancon (or someone else within) a shot at this role? Is now the right time to try this…late July, tied for 1st place…
    2. If the Yankees make the playoffs you are looking at Joba and Hughes being in the pen. A bridge like that to Mo is reminiscent of the glory years…
    3. A serviceable starter can be had if the Yankees need one (if Mitre fails). It won’t be Halladay, it won’t even be Cliff Lee, but it could be Washburn, Harang, etc…I’d much rather pay (close to) top dollar for a starter, than for a relief pitcher.
    4. This success will only be a positive going forward for Phil. This is not a Joba scenario. We already know that Phil can be an effective ML pitcher. He’s in the rotation next year, no debate necessary. For now though this team has a need and he can fill it better than any option out there, especially when you take cost into consideration.
    5. Relievers, (other than the uber elite) are a volatile bunch. Ride this wave for all it’s worth. Much like Grant Balfour, Madson and Okajima last year, the Yankees have found a guy who is getting the job done. Stick with him until it stops working.

    John - YF July 21, 2009, 3:42 pm
  • “3. A serviceable starter can be had if the Yankees need one (if Mitre fails). It won’t be Halladay, it won’t even be Cliff Lee, but it could be Washburn, Harang, etc…I’d much rather pay (close to) top dollar for a starter, than for a relief pitcher.”
    All you have to do is look at a Washburn’s contract compared to a decent middle reliever’s contract to know that you are going to HAVE to pay top dollar. If Mitre fails, then I certainly don’t want the Yanks adding an innings-eater such as Washburn at the cost of prospects and an expensive contract. I’d rather go for a Thornton on the White Sox or another decent relief arm for a cheaper package and put Hughes in the rotation. It’s a cheaper option and has the added benefit of fitting into the Yanks’ long-term plan for the Franchise.

    Nick-YF July 21, 2009, 3:58 pm
  • The Yankees don’t need a “serviceable” starter – they need an honest to goodness #3 or #4 if you want them to do anything in the post-season. I have zero faith in Burnett being consistent when it matters most. Joba is a bit less scary but he’s certainly not a sure thing, especially with his innings limit. And Pettitte, no matter how much he’s won in October, now gets by on fooling hitters. Besides CC, the Yankees just don’t have a starter that can really shut down the best teams in the game. Hughes is close. Of course, he’s good in relief. So would CC be. And Beckett. And Halladay. And Johan. Good pitchers get outs. The question is: How many outs do you want them to get? Three to six or 18 to 21?
    Now as to John’s points:
    1. Marte is one. Melancon is another. Aceves could be a fine 8th inning guy (and he has been). There are too many options to worry about this “problem”. Hughes is now on pace to throw less than 75 innings. If he’s going to be a starter next year, he needs to get that number closer to 120 innings. By contrast, Joba is on pace to surpass his limit in September. Why not swap them?
    2. Ugh. And who starts to get the ball to them? Game 3, in a short series, is below league average Pettitte? And Game 4 in a seven game series? Who starts that game?
    3. I disagree for the reasons Nick gives. If Mitre fails, I sooner give Igawa a chance than trade anything for the scrubs out there. But this shouldn’t be the debate. A mediocre starter is worth what the best closers give. And Hughes isn’t medicore. Ergo, he’s worth more as a starter than Mo.
    4. If he doesn’t pitch enough innings this year then he’s on a very short leash in 2010 and they’ll have to do a rotation/pen split like they did with Joba in 2008 (and which got him hurt). And if you’re worried about the cost of a setup guy, you should also be worried about the cost of a fringe starter. The value difference between the two is minimal.
    5. Exactly, but only because almost all relievers, including closers, are failed starters. Hughes is a good starter. His talent is being utterly wasted right now when he could be throwing twice as many innings each week. Three innings is always less than 6 or 7 innings.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 4:49 pm
  • And I’m going to be furious if the Yankee pen in September features Joba and Hughes while the rotation features Pettitte and Mitre and Aceves. That’s just obscene to even think about. Just horrid.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 4:52 pm
  • One more thing I’m going to vent on: What the hell is it with the Yankee front office and responding to injuries? In the last 12 months:
    1. They failed to do anything when A-Rod complained about his hip last September
    2. Xavier Nady was injured and they waited months to bring on another bat while carrying instead Angel Berroa.
    3. Wang was rushed back because Joba could have been hurt…and wasn’t. Then they switched Wang into the rotation before he was ready and swapped out Hughes. Now Wang is hurt again. And they do nothing with Hughes?
    Awful management. Truly dumb.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 5:04 pm
  • And I’m going to be furious if the Yankee pen in September features Joba and Hughes while the rotation features Pettitte and Mitre and Aceves.
    I don’t see anything wrong with that. ;-)

    Paul SF July 21, 2009, 5:31 pm
  • rob paints a kind of doom scenario there, but truth is burnett can be dominant, and joba’s a stud, has been from day 1. but starters are made not born. he’s going to have rocky moments. looks to me like the yankee front 3 is very good. pencil hughes in at 4 and pettitte at 5 and that’s formidable stuff. better than boston? who knows. short series…..

    YF July 21, 2009, 5:59 pm
  • fwiw: over on the banter, cliff making some excellent points, suggests giving mitre a shot, and if he fails immediately moving hughes to the rotation.

    YF July 21, 2009, 6:06 pm
  • Hey, the Yankees haven’t had 4 of their pitchers hit the 100 strikeout mark since 2003 (sad, really, meanwhile Boston’s rotation has done that each year except for 2006). AJ’s already reached it, CC is 1 K away, Joba is en route to eclipse that mark by the end of the month, Pettitte by mid-August.
    A number 3 or 4 starter isn’t going to make a difference in the playoffs. If CC or AJ are awful, the Yankees are in rougher shape than even Aaron Harang can fix.

    AndrewYF July 21, 2009, 6:25 pm
  • And yes, that’s me advising a trade for Harang. Might not be quite as good as in his late-20s prime, but he’s still a horse.

    AndrewYF July 21, 2009, 6:29 pm
  • What kills me is that even if Mitre has a Small Summer, what has the team really gotten out of it? For this season and the post-season? So, even if he succeeds it’s a waste.
    More troubling is the fact that they basically just had a week off. They could have sent Hughes down for two shortened starts, especially after his 20 pitch outing, surrouding the break, another start this week, and he’d be back for the next time they need a 5th.
    As for my “doom” scenario:
    1. Burnett is on pace for 200 innings. The last time he pitched back-to-back seasons of 200 innings is….never.
    2. In his next start Joba will pass his professional high for innings pitched…with two months to go in the regular season. That’s a projection of 167 IP and an increase of 60% over 2008….before we ever get to October.
    3. Pettitte ran out of gas at the end of 2008 without his HGH. Besides, as much as I’m happy to watch him be a fifth, in October all bets are off especially when the alternative is Hughes and Joba. Give Pettitte the gold watch and the kids the ball.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 6:50 pm
  • The White Sox are 1 game out of first place, why would they trade Thornton? He’s an extreme GB pitcher in a hitters park, he’s signed through 2009, but they have a club option in 2010 and 2011. The club option is the key here, without it I could see them moving him. Can’t see why’d they move him, but I could be wrong.
    Guys that can probably be had:
    Mike Gonzalez
    Rafael Soriano
    Heath Bell
    John Grabow
    Joe Beimel
    Rafael Betancourt (2010 club option though)
    Washburn is a FA after this season, he’s making a little over 10 million for the season. Assuming he was traded on July 28th or so, the Yankees would have a minimal portion of that salary remaining. I don’t think it would take anything near upper echelon prospects to obtain, that being the point. The only thing that scares me about him is that he’s a FB pitcher. But overall he’s been very good this season, 2.87 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, that’s pretty good, certainly better than an “innings eater.” The Mariners are in the thick of things in the west though so much like the Sox, they might not want to move him and just collect the draft picks after the season.
    Players that can be had:
    Erik Bedard
    Doug Davis
    Jon Garland (Mutual Option 2010)
    Cliff Lee (Club Option 2010)
    Brandon Webb (Club Option 2010)
    Zach Duke (Possibly?)
    (I don’t endorse everyone, just giving options)
    Hughes pitching fewer innings this season should have nothing to do with his role in 2010. How many innings he tosses this season doesn’t mean a whole lot, he was going to have a ceiling (whether it be ’09 or ’10) regardless.
    The whole 7 innings as opposed to 1 is common sense. I’d rather have $7 than $1, I get it. Problem is the Yankees have been searching for a bridge and right now they found that. It’s not an easy find by any means. Sure the players you listed could possibly do the job, but are we certain of that? Is now the time to experiment and find out? Sometimes necessity has to win out.
    Joba was going to the pen regardless once he reaches his innings limit. Hopefully, thanks to his mediocrity, that limit will come later rather than sooner just from a need POV.
    I won’t even get into your dissection of the FO. Ask the Mets about preparedness and issues with injuries.
    I like this team, I like where they are and I like where they could be after the trade deadline. I am not blind to their faults, but I will put my faith in the powers that be until proven otherwise.

    John - YF July 21, 2009, 6:54 pm
  • Hughes pitching fewer innings this season should have nothing to do with his role in 2010. How many innings he tosses this season doesn’t mean a whole lot, he was going to have a ceiling (whether it be ’09 or ’10) regardless.
    Sorry, but that’s not how it works. He, in theory, could throw 120 innings this year. That means, at most 150 – 160 innings (+ 30%) in 2010. However, if he only throws 75 innings this year that’s 100 – 120 innings next year. That’s the difference between being a #5 the whole season versus having to spend time in the pen (and risk an arm injury with a mid-season move – eg Joba in 2008).
    And sorry, but none of your options will come cheaply – in dollars or prospects. Why give up either when they already have options for the pen and for the rotation? Pitching is the last thing they need if they used waht they have wisely.
    Problem is the Yankees have been searching for a bridge and right now they found that. It’s not an easy find by any means. Sure the players you listed could possibly do the job, but are we certain of that? Is now the time to experiment and find out? Sometimes necessity has to win out.
    No experiment necessary –
    Alfredo Aceves – 2009:
    as a Reliever: 41 IP, 0.96 WHIP, 4.0 K/BB
    in Save sits: 39 ABs, .483 OPS, 12 K/BB
    Finally, comparing the Yankees to the Mets is like comparing the Lakers to the Clippers. There is no denying that the Yankee FO has botched their injuries all season long, with Nady/Berroa and Wang being the most egregious. Now they make matters worse by cutting Hughes’ true value in half?

    Rob July 21, 2009, 7:15 pm
  • Thanks for explaining the game to me!
    We disagree, as usual. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.
    You’re the reason even as an author I only visit sporadically. Doom and gloom and abrasiveness is not my MO. Talking baseball is enjoyable, talking baseball with you is frustrating and one sided. You don’t need to reply I won’t be back tonight.

    John -YF July 21, 2009, 7:38 pm
  • What? Doom and gloom for pointing out the relevant facts for Burnett and Joba? When they’ll both be in uncharted territory over the next two months? Good to know you’re following along.
    Keeping Hughes in the bullpen is insane. It makes no sense whatsoever from any logical analysis. It’s pure emotion and from the same place where folks said to keep Joba in the pen. Guess what? He’s their third-best starter this year. And they found someone to replace him, just as they have someone in Aceves (who you keep ignoring) to replace Hughes.
    Look, I understand the fanatic behind “fan”. But talking baseball, to me, involves much more than raw emotion.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 7:58 pm
  • Clutch-Rod!

    Rob July 21, 2009, 8:32 pm
  • Whoops, wrong thread.

    Rob July 21, 2009, 8:33 pm

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