Yankees Look Forward (or, The Not-About-Manny Thread)

Want to talk about the Yankees’ likely near-future?  Or just want to talk about anything other than Manny Ramirez?  You’ve come to the right place.

As for the Yankees: this year has felt to many YFs like a transition year – one in which young talent would be preserved, cultivated, and given a shot to come up rather than traded for the latest aging superstar in a win-now-at-all-costs maneuver and therefore one in which the October prospects might not be so great.  In a gratifying way, the Yankees seem to have held true to this strategy even while making significant mid-season moves that undoubtedly improve their prospects for playing in October, even if only marginally.

It is inarguable that Xavier Nady and Pudge provide better offensive punch than Brett Gardner and Jose Molina while not hurting the team defensively.  And Damaso Marte addresses the need for a left-handed reliever while filling (if not improving) the hole left by the departure of Kyle Farnsworth – a guy who Cashman dealt at what is by far the highest-value-point he has reached since he donned pinstripes.  Thanks to Girardi’s/Eiland’s disbursement of the bullpen workload and the results it has produced, the pressure for Marte to step up will be eased by the strong seasons being had by Veras, Ramirez, Robertson, and the expected return of Bruney.

At the same time, the Yankees have not let go of a single talent that seemed likely to be part of the Yankees’ plans in the coming 2-3 years.  Kennedy and Hughes are still here, Cano is going nowhere, and additional arms like Melancon are on their way up.  Tabata had become a disappointment and, even if he is to develop into a major league talent, this would appear at least 3-5 years away at best.  Karstens was a nice spot-starter but nothing special.  LaTroy was a flat-out disappointment and journeyman in any case.  And no one would call Kyle a young talent, despite the fact that Girardi and Eiland had gotten more out of him than he had ever given to the Yankees before.

So why is it only a marginal improvement in the prospect of October-baseball in the Cathedral? 

The Yankees are better poised to make a run to be sure, but the biggest shortcoming of the team – starting pitching – has not changed one bit.  Can veterans Pettitte and Mussina keep up their levels of performance and can Joba continue his young mastery?  The latter seems more likely than the former, but even if both hold true, we still have Sidney Ponson taking the mound every five days.  After a nice first start against the Mets, Ponson has compiled a tidy 7.84 ERA in his last 4 starts for the Yankees.  And Darrell Rasner, despite his gutsy efforts, has no better than a 4.92 ERA in his 14 starts with the team.  If you take out his first four starts and just look at the past ten, that ERA shoots up to 6.37.  Even calibrated for their low-men-on-the-totem-poll #s 4 and 5 spots in the rotation, these performances will not do it and place impossible pressure on both the offense, the bullpen, and the top three starters.

So the Yanks are better placed than they were a week ago undoubtedly, but their biggest need goes unaddressed probably because it really can’t be this year.  At least they have not sold the farm or the future while making the team better for this year and their moves should mean a more exciting August-September for YFs, even if not October.  And this is baseball – strange things happen.  Hughes or (admittedly less likely) Wang may make it back in time to contribute to the stretch-run, Tampa Bay may collapse (unlikely), Matsui may come back and be a monster, or the Yankees may simply figure out for the first time in years how in the world to beat the Angels (yes, also unlikely), who they play more (10 times!) than any other team between now and the end of the season.

I for one would prefer to see Ian Kennedy in either Rasner’s or Ponson’s spots (preferably Ponson’s), as the kid has – in 39.1 IP at AAA Scranton W-B – compiled a 3-2 record with a 2.06 ERA and I think it’s time for him to face ML hitting again.  That certainly would not solidify the rotation, but I don’t see it as likely to be worse than what the other two are giving and it is the best way for the kid to develop.  And if a Washburn deal can be made that doesn’t include top prospects, that would be fine too, but as that seems increasingly unlikely, it seems we have now what we will have for the coming months.  (those who oppose Washurn, please first consider that the alternative appears to be more Sidney).

And as the Yanks begin tonight a tough stretch of 7 vs. LAA, 3 vs. Minnesota, and 4 vs. Texas, the re-jiggered line-up and bullpen will undoubtedly have plenty of high-pressure opportunities to produce right away.

In short, after all the deal-making, we can certainly say that this inspires confidence:

Damon (LF/DH)

Jeter (SS)

Abreu (RF)

A-Rod (3B)

Giambi (1B)

Cano (2B)

Nady (LF/DH)

Rodriguez (C)

Melky (CF)

Even while we admit that this does not:

Joba

Pettitte

Mussina

Rasner

Ponson/Kennedy

33 comments… add one

  • My rally cry has always been SP’ing wins in the fall and I am not backing away from that. The Yankees have really helped their cause with the recent additions and honestly other than Tabata, lost nothing in doing so. The problem is the starting pitching still isn’t great. I say enjoy whatever we get out of this season and just keep smiling knowing that the Yankees future is VERY bright.
    I too would MUCH rather see IPK than Ponson or Rasner, but I care much more about his future. If staying at AAA all summer helps him long term, so be it.

    John - YF July 31, 2008, 11:27 am
  • basically I agree, although I think it’s a toss-up between offense and starting pitching in regards to what the team’s biggest shortcomings have been this year. The starting pitching is dubious, as you point out, but so was a line-up that featured Molina-Gardner-Melky in it every day. So they’ve done a good job of making the line-up less dubious, and NOW starting pitching becomes the area in need of improvement. But before this past week, both areas were problematic.
    I still think there’s one more deal left for the Yanks.

    Nick-YF July 31, 2008, 11:28 am
  • Cash has to get a starter…has to.

    krueg July 31, 2008, 11:42 am
  • “I still think there’s one more deal left for the Yanks.”
    You implying Washburn or just talking generally Nick?
    I’ve agreed all season that both offense and pitching needed help but have tried to argue that the former is more likely to turn around and certainly easier to remedy. Cano and Abreu have already begun raking while A-Rod continues to be A-Rod and Damon is back in the line-up so I feel like the turnaround began post-ASG. And now that Nady and Pudge round things out nicely at the bottom of the line-up. Would kind of like to see Jeter get out of this funk of mediocrity. He is not exactly slumping, but his offensive numbers across the board are some of his worst ever.
    I totally agree with John that this may still not be our year, but it certainly got more interesting for us in the past week and should be a good ride.
    I am excited at Joba and Wang in the same rotation next year plus what I hope will be one other big deal (dare I dream for Sabathia), after which a vet (Pettitte or Mussina?) and a young gun (Hughes?) would round things out nicely I think. Yeah, the future is bright, though the Yank position players aren’t getting a whole lot younger and that is one area where their prospects are not so inspiring.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 11:44 am
  • Rumors about Yankees kicking Lohse’s tires. Makes no sense though.

    John - YF July 31, 2008, 11:45 am
  • I’m thinking for someone like Washburn, but I could imagine a Bronson Arroyo deal coming out of nowhere. The thing about the Washburn situation is I don’t know why the Mariners wouldn’t just deal him to unload his crappy salary. It makes too much sense for a team not likely to compete in 2009.

    Nick-YF July 31, 2008, 11:47 am
  • Tonight I get the nausea pleasure of going to a game at the Toilet, and sitting about 10 feet from the field. I’ll do my best to get a couple of pictures of Pudge snarling at his teammates or exchanging thoughts about the Middle East with Giambi.
    Anyone else going to be at the game?

    SF July 31, 2008, 11:49 am
  • It would be funny if Arroyo ended up on the Yanks.
    Slapfight!

    SF July 31, 2008, 11:49 am
  • Is Pudge supposed to be a disagreeable guy with interesting political views?

    Nick-YF July 31, 2008, 11:50 am
  • “the Toilet”
    Someone tricked you SF – the Yanks don’t play at Shea.
    “…exchanging thoughts about the Middle East…”
    OK – this one went over my head. What’s that about?
    Very curious to see how Pudge meshes with all the new pitchers – some very young, others very old.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 11:51 am
  • “the Toilet”
    does that make fenway the urinal or the bidet?
    ;)

    dc July 31, 2008, 12:03 pm
  • the Yanks don’t play at Shea
    Sure they do. Stupid interleague…

    SF July 31, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • SF: hold up a big “HI KRUEG!” sign so I know it’s you…that or wear your Sabres jersey!!! :)

    krueg July 31, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • I was under the impression that Pudge and Jason have, at certain times, shared interests.

    SF July 31, 2008, 12:09 pm
  • Well I get that SF – but the Middle East? OK. Too clever by half for this dimwit.
    The Angels are just downright scary. They haven’t lost a freaking series in over a month (June 27-29 vs. the Dodgers). Blech.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 12:16 pm
  • You guys miss Lackey and Saunders, though, as luck would have it.

    SF July 31, 2008, 12:19 pm
  • So we have Pettitte, Ponson, Ras and Moose going against the Angels??? Great. Another bloodbath…

    krueg July 31, 2008, 12:27 pm
  • SF, it’s a 4-game set so we do get Lackey. And in that 4-game set they get both Rasner and Ponson.
    Also, we then go to LA next weekend and – if they stay on rotation – we get Lackey and Saunders in the first two of that three game set. And we get Teixera for all seven games rather than the one that the Sox just had him for. So luck isn’t exactly looking all that great from this yf’s perspective!

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 12:28 pm
  • nobody laughed at my joke?
    yfsf doesn’t deserve me

    dc July 31, 2008, 12:32 pm
  • “You guys miss Lackey and Saunders, though, as luck would have it.”
    I thought as lucky as we were with the matchups with the Sox last weekend, we are equally as unlucky this weekend. Who cares who we miss, let’s just look at who we are throwing.

    John - YF July 31, 2008, 12:33 pm
  • I don’t mind the Angels getting better so long as they’re beating up on the Yanks/Rays. They’ve been beating up the Sox, so they might as well spread it around a little fairly.

    Atheose July 31, 2008, 12:35 pm
  • I figured it was just dc being dc so I shrugged it off…
    But on the topic, Fenway is the sewer into which Shea drains.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 12:36 pm
  • We dont miss Lackey. He throws on sunday vs. us.

    Sam-YF July 31, 2008, 12:40 pm
  • Forgot it was four game set. Sorry.
    Ever been to Fenway, IH?

    SF July 31, 2008, 12:49 pm
  • I have been to Fenway. It smells funny.

    AndrewYF July 31, 2008, 12:57 pm
  • i only went to fenway once…don’t know if i’ll ever get back there, so at least i have that…all kidding aside, i understand why it’s considered to be so charming…my big fear about the new yankee stadium is that it will have that antiseptic-corporate-expensive type feeling to it…kind of like my aunt’s house, where we were not allowed to enter the living room, let alone actually sit on the furniture…a friend’s aunt had her furniture covered in plastic…i’ll miss the toilet…

    dc July 31, 2008, 1:12 pm
  • Cash has done a great job so far, but I am all for getting Washburn. He’s actually been better than his numbers would indicate (kind of unlucky, and has had his #’s ballooned by 3 terrible starts) and has pitched much well over the last 6 weeks. I’m not saying he’s better than a #4 on a good team, but he’s a HUGE upgrade over Sidney, probably to the tune of a win or two, even over the course of a measly 10 starts. However I also agree that he’s not worth giving up an even mid-level prospect for given his contract issue. It’s a deal I’m still hoping happens. I really don’t want to see Ponson toe the rubber for us ever again.

    Mark (YF) July 31, 2008, 1:17 pm
  • EEI is reporting that the deal is dead with Florida/Pittsburgh

    Brad July 31, 2008, 1:35 pm
  • I think this “dead” call is a bluff on the part of the Red Sox. Florida is reportedly asking for money on top of the deal – so Gammons has “leaked” this to be dead.
    The Marlins can’t be this stupid to ask for more money on top of a free Manny Ramirez.

    Brad July 31, 2008, 1:49 pm
  • I call foul on Brad!!!!! This is the NOT-ABOUT-MANNY-THREAD! I know Manny is the hottest news right now but there are 10 other threads on this site about the guy! Please save us from Manny-talk here. (Incidentally, your take on the “dead” rumor would be confirmed by what I just heard on WFAN, which I just noted on the “Tradesville” thread.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 2:01 pm
  • Brad please post Manny stuff in the other thread. The title of this one is “the not-about-manny-thread”!

    Sam-YF July 31, 2008, 2:04 pm
  • SF, I haven’t been to Fenway. My sewer remark was strictly in jest. I’d love to go and from the many many many games I’ve watched there over the years have to admit that it is one of the more attractive (not to mention, of course, historic) parks around. Probably at the top of the list of parks I want to visit. Despite the reception I and my Yankee hat would be sure to receive.

    IronHorse (yf) July 31, 2008, 2:27 pm
  • It looks like a pretty cool little stadium…if it weren’t for all the Sox fans in it of course!!! :)

    krueg July 31, 2008, 4:16 pm

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