We’re Late Early: A’s-Yanks Gamer

Mitre has already given up two in the first. Uh-oh. Comment away.

55 replies on “We’re Late Early: A’s-Yanks Gamer”

okay. i’m ready to end the mitre experiment. hughes to the rotation, pls. keep albaledejo up, bring up duncan, mitre back down.

It’s only his second game! And while I would also like to see Hughes back in the rotation, I’m worried about the effects of a second starter-reliever conversion would have on his arm.
Unless Shelley suddenly learned how to hit a major league breaking ball in Scranton, I don’t want to see him.

Situational hitting! Jeter’s RBI single scores Melky and Ransom. Yankees take the lead back. 6-5.

A walk to Posada chases Braden from the game. Peace out, Braden, it was fun scoring runs off of you.

7-5, “good guys”, if morality is something to be assigned to grown men paid to play a children’s game for a living.

Swisher fights off a high fastball to the opposite field for a leadoff double. Swishahouse!

Bruney makes Elllis drop his bat swinging for a big strikeout… and Girardi decides not to stretch his luck any further. It’s Our Lord and Savior Mariano Rivera for the 4 out save!

Girardi called on Mo in the 8th like a manager who didn’t go to the pen early enough the day before and lost the game as a result.
Big days for Cano and even Ransom. Whatever the knocks on Mitre, he has pitched well enough in 2 starts to hand off a lead in the 6th. That’s absolutely fine with me for a #5 starter. The bigger issue is who takes Joba’s place when he rotates back out come late August/early September. It’s easy to say Hughes, and I’d love to see him start, but agree with doug re: the top priority being his health. Curious to see if the Yanks plan is to go after someone like Washburn or try to transition Hughes back in.

I’m not sure sure I agree on well-enough for Mitre. The guy gives up a ton of hits (17 in 10.2 IP) and he’s faced weak hitting teams – both Baltimore and Oakland are in the bottom half of league. Next up is the ChiSox – also weak – but after that he’s looking at the BoSox, or if they’re smart and use the Aug 3rd off-day to skip him, then the Jays. After that it’s Seattle and their woeful offense. The good news is if they want to make a change, Mitre has given them time to do so. Except they’ve done nothing so far.
The latest is Seattle asked for Melky and Gardner for Washburn. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. I don’t even think they should trade either for a few months of Washburn. They liked Reegie Corona. Send him and someone like Nova and Edwar. But be forewarned: Washburn has been helped by pitching in a big stadium. If he’s the #5, then he’s fine.
Otherwise, it really has to be Hughes. I know they’re probably worried because of Joba last year, but the guy has been a starter his whole life. Furthermore, I simply ask myself: Who do I want pitching in the 4th slot in October – Aceves, Hughes, Mitre or even Washburn? Joba will be in the pen at that point. Given the need to have great starters in the post-season, and Pettitte gets tenure rights on one slot, I don’t see how it can be anyone but Hughes. Washburn, while folks remember his 2002, hasn’t been very good in October since then.
Otherwise, Aceves or Mitre starting an October game is likely to be the last memory of that October. Sort of like Jaret Wright starting an October game.

I just posted more than I should have on another thread re: transitioning Hughes back so I won’t repeat here. Suffice it to say, I would love to see him start, but I think mid-season reliever-to-starter transitions are perilous and that we also have to recall Hughes’ ’09 record in starts. So while I want it, I am not upset that it hasn’t happened yet or feeling like they should rush him back in.
As for October, with the way they schedule the postseason, 3 strong starters with excellent long-relief as necessary (including possibly Hughes) is sufficient, especially when you have a horse in the #1 slot who has proven effective on short rest as has CC. #4 starters do not feature big in October and #5s not at all.
The # 4 and # 5 considerations are – to me – relevant for the next 2 months – i.e. can we get to the postseason and in what position. After that, everyone, including Hughes, is available for whatever they can give with the burden of starting falling on the top 3 – and, especially, the top 2.
Of course, if CC goes down this would change, but we’d be screwed in that scenario regardless.
Just one opinion…

Sorry, Ironhorse but lest we forget:
2007 – They go to Wang on short rest with Hughes in the pen and Mussina pitching terribly. Wang doesn’t make it past the second inning and the Yanks lose in Game 4 and go home.
2006 – The choice in the deciding Game 4 is between Jaret Wright and Cory Lidle. They start Wright and he’s wrong by the third inning. They lose and go home.
2005 – Shawn Chacon starts Game 4. He actually pitches decently and they make it to Game 5 where Mussina, on extra rest, is gone in the third inning.
So, teams always need four decent starters in the short series and then, of course, in the longer series. And the Yankees, this season, don’t have three decent pitchers for October with Joba’s innings running out. Remember, the Yankees had no trouble making it to October those three years above. Heck, Jaret Wright was a league average starter. So was Jeff Karstens. The problem is once they got there.
As long as the choice is between Hughes, Aceves, and Mitre, it’s an easy choice. If they want a better chance at winning a championship then they need to switch Hughes. Sure, he could get hurt. But that’s even more reason why they should have started the process a month ago. Counting MLB and AAA, he’s actually started 10 games this year. To use the record when Hughes has pitched out of the bullpen is sort of besides the point. If anything, their reliance on him has prevented them from developing other guys (Robertson, Melancon) in high leverage roles.
Sure, they could go out and get a Washburn. But I’d rather they trade the same talent for Scott Downs. I know I’d rather have Hughes starting than anyone not named CC.

Yes, you will have to pitch 4 guys, but you can’t compare what a rotation headed by CMW or balky Johnson will need to what a rotation headed by CC will need. The Yankees have not had a bona fide ace backed up by 2 strong experienced starters for years.
When your # 1 starter is CMW you need 4 well-above average guys. You selected years in which the Yankees failed in October, but we should also look at their successes. When the Yanks last won it all in 2000, they pithced Pettitte, Clemens, El Duque, and – when they needed to – Neagle, who in his 16 starts with NY that year went 7-7 with a 5.81 ERA. Neagle was only able to win one of the 3 games he had to start in October, but it didn’t matter, because the top 3 were strong. He didn’t appear at all in the ALDS even though it went 5 games because both Pettitte and Clements doubled up.
Morever, given that the Yankees best baseball has been played over the past month, I am very glad that they did nothing differently over that time than they in fact did – including starting a transition back to the rotation for Hughes while Joba was still learning how to go more than 4 innings.
If they want to start that transition now, great. I’ll be thrilled to have the guy in the starting rotation, especially if he can get there without injury and can perform consistently as a starter (which he has not to date – including when he started in April/May of this year). If he DOES work back in and become a consistently strong starter for the first time this year, we would have to attribute it at least in part to what he learned while staying in the majors as a reliever during this time rather than going back to SWB, which was the ONLY other choice they would have had given what he, Joba, and Wang were doing to the bullpen at that point.

Rob, the way I see it, the Yankees are a rather isolated case. Look at the Sox in ’07 for a great example, they had two very good starters, and the rest were mediocre on down. Look at the Phillies last year, you could argue they had one good starter, and the rest were mediocre. The Yankees’ problem in the postseason in recent years were that they didn’t have a shutdown guy they could rely upon. They didn’t lose in 07 because of their third or fourth starter, they lost precisely because their FIRST starter was historically bad. In ’06, Wang was fine, but 36 year old Mussina crapped the bed and they didn’t even bring Wang, who could very well have started on short rest but that genius Joe Torre decided against it, on the road with them. In ’05, billion year old Randy Johnson, their ‘ace’, sucked ass. They probably win 2, if not 3 of those series if they actually had reliable options at the top of their rotation. I’ve said it before, if you’re relying on your fourth starter in the playoffs, you’ve had bigger problems than who your fourth starter is.
Now, besides all that, I agree with you completely on transitioning Hughes back to the rotation, but only once someone else steps up to the plate in the bullpen. Maybe Bruney is coming around. Maybe they acquire Downs, like you said. But the only utility I want Hughes to be put to is to let Joba take a breather in August and September, so he doesn’t speed past his ‘limit’ on the days rosters expand. Hughes will be on the Yankees’ projected playoff roster, but he will be in the bullpen, and rightly so. Joba is, right now, the Yankees’ third starter in the playoffs, and he’s a fine option. Pettitte too is a fine option at number four, although I’m guessing he will be number three because of ‘experience’. Again, if the Yankees lose it will be because of their top two guys, not their third or fourth starter.

And, I can’t believe you actually want Hughes over AJ in a playoff series right now. That’s kind of silly.

“if the Yankees lose it will be because of their top two guys, not their third or fourth starter.”
“They didn’t lose in 07 because of their third or fourth starter, they lost precisely because their FIRST starter was historically bad”
“Randy Johnson, their ‘ace’, sucked ass”
Agree X 10.
The other extreme is of course the 2001 D-backs (win it with 2 aces), but in general, you need a stud ace and 2 more v strong starters plus a great pen. Additional strong starters beyond that are gravy and just as likely to come into a long-relief role in October anyway than to start a pivotal game.
When the Yanks last had 4 great post-season starters (99: Cone, El Duque, Clemens, Pettitte) they rolled ridiculously, sweeping both the ALDS and the WS and needing only 5 for the ALCS. They don’t need that again to win and can’t generate it out of what they’ve got now anyway.

I don’t trust Burnett one bit. Plus, Hughes actually has some playoff experience (5.2 innings of 1.59 ERA, 5 K vs. 0 BB in 2007).
Otherwise, good points from you guys. For playoff rotations, it really depends on matchups. The 2007 Sox had four legitimate above average pitchers. And the Phillies last year had two decent pitchers with one stud. I’m not sure if these Yankees would match up to either rotation. I like CC, but his past post-seasons are still a cloud. Burnett has no post-season experience and as a headcase worries the shit out of me. And for as much as Pettitte has experience, he’s vastly diminished. They’ll give him a start unless he really implodes Mussina 2007-style. I don’t know – I just don’t have a ton of confidence in that group.
Most teams don’t have decent third or fourth starters. So if you have a stud there, you’re in good shape even if you lose an early game or two. That’s what Hughes offers. He can go out and dominate, at his best, in a must win game. None of Pettitte, Aceves, or Mitre is close. And unfortunately, Joba will be a bullpen arm. If they swap Joba and Hughes soon, they could even use Joba for multiple inning stints in the playoffs.

For the record Rob, I completely share your question mark around CC in October and definitely your trepidation re: AJ – who is just an unknown quantity in those situations.
I take some hope re: AJ from the fact that he has (in the past anyway) excelled in high-pressure regular season situations (for Toronto he was always most beastly against both NYY and Boston) but October is of course different. I could just as easily see him throwing 7 wild pitches in a game and walking 7 as I could see him strking out 12 in a row. It will be interesting to see how he takes to October if they get there.
On that point, I’m not sure anyone would have guessed that El Duque or Pettitte would have been the October pitchers they proved to be based on their regular seasons. (And in the head-case category, El Duque is probably the most relevant example!)
As for Pettitte, my only concern with him is health. He is always very good in the second half and seems to love October ball. I feel good about a healthy Pettitte as a # 3 starter, even if he is not the Pettitte of old.

You don’t trust Burnett, but you trust Hughes, who didn’t actually make a start but was coming out of the BULLPEN?
And come. on. You know, Hamels had zero experience in the playoffs until he dominated in the playoffs. Actually, evidence points towards Burnett succeeding in the playoffs. He’s always craved the spotlight, and aside from his starts in Boston this year (let’s admit, everyone shat the bed in the Boston games), he’s proven that desire to be effective.
Burnett is their number 2 guy. Again, he is a fine choice. Hughes, really, is not.

Sorry, I’m with IH here on Burnett. Like he said, I could just as easily see him completely blowing the game as dominating. For Hughes, he may stumble but he’ll keep them in it if he doesn’t have great stuff.
What’s interesting about Pettitte is he’s exactly the same pitcher in October that he is in the regular season – small samples that are now big enough:
Regular: 3.92 ERA, 1.365 WHIP, 2.34 K/BB
Playoff: 3.96 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, 2.32 K/BB
I mean, that’s why I love statistics! Jeter’s another fun case – his OPS is off by .001 between the regular season and playoffs!
Still that means that for Pettitte we can count on a guy, based on the last two years, that gives 6-7 innings with 4 or 5 runs allowed. That’s not terrible, but also not exactly something I’m psyched to have in a pivotal Game 3 or 4.
The other thing with Hughes is he’s a true difference maker at the back of the rotation. The comparison isn’t to Burnett because of course Meathead will get the second game. The comparison is to every other third or fourth starter in the game. If they’re going to beat a team like the Sox or Dodgers or Angels they need that depth.

If they’re going to beat the Angels in October they will also apparently need a witch doctor and some kind of ceremony that involves chickens, goats, and lots of blood.
I’m with you to a point Rob – the prospect of October Burnett scares but also excites me. He has more shut-down stuff than Pettitte ever had and Pettitte was a superb Game 2 starter for years of successful October series. The guy leads the league or is in the top few percent in K’s, BB’s, and hit batters. He is dominating at times and wild at times – often in the same game. However, he DOES seem to scramble well when he needs to – which is to say that after he walks and hits guys to load the bases he then often reaches back and Ks the next 2-3 guys to get out of it.
So yeah – nervous for sure, but not enough to say he should be replaced by Hughes. I think he is a good and possibly really great # 2 come October.
With all this talk about October I feel like I have to say IF WE MAKE IT so as not to tempt fate (or anger the chickens and goats).

He’s a difference maker? Hughes has a high-4s ERA as a starter, and his only experience in the postseason is out of the BULLPEN. How you can’t consider him just as much if not more of a ‘question mark’ than Pettitte or Burnett or what have you is beyond me.
I think we’re all setting ourselves up for disappointment with Hughes. He looks good out of the bullpen, but that’s mostly because he can just blow his above-average fastball by batters. That doesn’t fly as a starter. Hughes himself admitted that coming out of the bullpen, he doesn’t have to worry about tiring in the third inning, he can just let go. He has a lot, A LOT, to learn as a starter at the major league level. That’s undeniable. Are you willing to let him learn at the expense of the Yankees, and at the expense of the bullpen? I’m not so sure.

Yeah, if they have Hughes in their post-season rotation I don’t think they’ll need a witch doctor. But, point taken.
I’d rather watch (and trust) Hughes over Burnett but I’m not so clueless as to think that’s even a possibility. I agree with you, IH, completely. How I feel may change over the next few months. First, I’d like to see Burnett dominate a decent team. He’s shit the bed against the Sox, but also against the Angels and Phillies too.
With how they’ve been playing, I feel very confident so long as everyone stays healthy (touch wood). They’re 44-23 since A-Rod came back and with him in the lineup. That’s a 106 win pace. The Rays just don’t seem to have the consistent pitching they did a year ago. And the Sox have many more problems right now.

He has a lot, A LOT, to learn as a starter at the major league level. That’s undeniable. Are you willing to let him learn at the expense of the Yankees, and at the expense of the bullpen?
Of course. But if they made the change a month ago, he would have had half the season to learn and refine his stuff, especially the secondary pitches he needs. Each week that passes is an increase in the likelihood that we’ll see Mitre or Aceves in the post-season rotation. That’s completely unexceptable. Awful, really.
The best comparison is to 2007. The Yankees trusted Wang on short rest over Hughes. How’d that turn out? I could easily see them trying the same thing with CC. But I’d expect the same result, especially with his history. In 2006, they trusted Jaret Wright when they could have called up Hughes in September and had him give a Wright in 1997 performance. How’d that turn out?
You keep pointing to Hughes coming out of the pen in 2007. But he’s the reason they won a must-win Game 3. Clemens came up gimpy in the 3rd. Hughes came in and pitched 3.2 scoreless innings with two hits and 4 Ks against 0 BBs and used 63 pitches to do so. That’s dominant stuff under the greatest pressure of his career.

Um, Hughes had pitched the day before in 2007. Out of the bullpen. He looked dominant, but it was OUT OF THE BULLPEN.
I really don’t get your fascination with Hughes The Starter. He’s never shown much at the major league level to make anyone believe he’ll be successful off the bat. He struggled this year, too. Now he’s pitching great out of the bullpen, but that’s nearly as far from a guarantee of starter success as him succeeding in the minor leagues.
So let’s just stop with all the “Hughes is our savior” crap. He isn’t. He won’t be. 6 innings of BULLPEN (imagine that word being echoed off several mountain ranges) success in the playoffs doesn’t mean squat in terms of how he might perform in a starting role. In fact, it lends itself to Hughes being most successful in a BULLPEN (again with the mountain ranges) role in the postseason, at least for this year. He’s a two-pitch pitcher whose stuff plays up most in the bullpen. I know it’s blasphemy to state it, even think it, but guess what, the bullpen might just be where he provides the most value to the team. That will be the case this year, if the Yankees make the postseason. Of course you find out if he can start next year and the year after, but if it doesn’t work out, it sure is a good feeling to know he has the stuff and attitude to be dynamite in the pen.
And look. I know you loathe Pettitte and Burnett and every pitcher on the Yankees roster aside from CC and Hughes, but the Yankees’ projected postseason rotation is CC, AJ, Pettitte and Joba, and that’s damn fine. If injury strikes, yes, their fourth starter will likely suck (and, yes, Hughes The Great is in the category of ‘will likely suck’, because he has while not in the bullpen). But every team in baseball has that same problem. So, it’s not exactly ‘unacceptable’.

Those six innings are more than Burnett has. And he threw 3.2 innings IN A DECIDING PLAYOFF GAME. That’s not a traditional bullpen role. I think I’m being very realistic on Hughes apart from my admitted fanboyness. At best, given the conservative Yankee front office, he’ll be the fourth starter in the post-season rotation. You’re simply wrong on Joba. He’s at 100 innings. He has maybe 40 or 50 more innings in his arm and two months to go. He won’t be a starter in October. Guar-an-teed. That leaves Aceves, Mitre, or Hugh for the final rotation spot. Who do you want of those three in a deciding playoff game?
Of course, that assumes they don’t make a move. But if the move is Washburn, I’d much rather take my chances with Hughes. Sure, it’s a risk. But Hughes has always had more upside than Joba. And Joba has turned out okay so far even with all the folks clamoring for him to stay in the bullpen. They replaced Joba just fine. They’ll replace Hughes too.

I think you’re being too tough on Burnett Rob. He is a great pitcher with lights-out stuff. He has some of the best stuff in the game when he is on, which is why he is always high on the K-list. He’s just unproven in October.
Andrew, Hughes is at least a 3-pitch pitcher – his fastball, slider, and curve are all plus-pitches and he’s got a change. He has been throwing almost all f-ball/slider out of the pen just as Joba did as a reliever, but Hughes’ curveball is markedly better and he throws it with better control than Joba with his curve. Hughes has had superlative starts last year and this but they’ve just been separated by too much mediocrity. My hopes for Hughes remain very high and his record-setting performance as a reliever is stoking those hopes (even as “as a reliever” echoes off the mountainsides…).
More reason for hope: several of the Yankee starters are notorious for being stronger in the second half than the first (CC, AJ, and Pettitte). If they hold true to form we could have a great couple months ahead.

By the way, no YF wants to hear this, but I’d be shocked if we don’t see Kei Igawa come up before long. He has been fairly strong in AAA and the Yanks will be seeking to integrate a new starter if they don’t land Washburn. According to Girardi, Hughes will NOT be moved into the rotation this year.

Thanks for playing peace maker, IH. But comparing Burnett to Hughes is like comparing a rookie to a veteran. I know I made the mistake, especially in mixing my personal preference with reality, and I apologize for that. But what frustrates me most about Burnett is that it just seems like he’s never learned (or been interested in learning) how to pitch. He’s a chucker. And this nonsense about Halladay finally getting through to him is exactly that – nonsense. His peripherals in 2007-2008 (when he supposedly “got it”) are no different than his peripherals in 2004-2006. This year he’s actually reverted back to the even wilder chucker he was in 2002. Except now he gives up more homers and hits. Even if he pitches a complete game shutout to win the Series, he’s always going to annoy me – between his contract and his inconsistency.
By contrast, Hughes is really in his second professional season with still a lot to learn. His minor league numbers were outstanding for a reason. The guy knows how to pitch. That said, of course there’s a learning curve in the majors. I like how the Yankees have backed into the old Earl Weaver bullpen-to-rotation regimen. It worked for Joba and I expect it will work for Hughes too. If it doesn’t, there’s really nothing lost. He’s still a bullpen arm who can throw 95-97 mph with a wicked curve.
Speaking of which, I think you have his pitches wrong. I thought he was throwing a fastball and curve exclusively and that the Yankees made him give up his slider. Instead, I think he’s been developing his cutter and he also has a change. Here’s the most recent article I could find.

No chance on Igawa. He got shelled today. I think the Yankees just want to pretend he doesn’t exist.
The one option may be to try him as an expensive lefty specialist. Left-handed bats are hitting .174 against him this year with 27 Ks against 2 BBs in 30 IP with a 1.76 ERA.

The reason I say Hughes is really a two-pitch pitcher is because that’s what he is right now. But I feel like even now his curveball is more of a ‘show-me’ pitch, because he’s getting almost everyone out with his superb fastball. He doesn’t have a changeup. When he’s starting he uses his fastball, curveball and cutter. Sometimes he throws in a slider, but I wonder if Pitch/FX simply misclassifies a two-seamer or something. Starting, his fastball is usually around 92, maxing out at 94, 95. Relieving, it’s around 95, maxing out at 97. It shouldn’t make too much a difference, since major league batters shouldn’t do much different against a couple miles an hour, but maybe he really can just blow his fastball by hitters when he’s relieving, and he can’t when he’s starting.
I would like to see Bruney or Aceves or someone step up and take the late-inning relief reins while Hughes is temporarily transitioned back to starting. I don’t think it’s such a guarantee that Joba doesn’t start in the playoffs. The team says they have a plan in place for him, and we don’t know what it is. I personally believe it’s to skip his starts here and there, and have him go into the playoffs at 150 IP. Yes, it will go over his ‘limit’ when starting the playoffs, but honestly, as a fourth starter, it won’t be that big a deal, even if the Yankees do go the distance. Remember what Cashman said in response to the question of the “Joba rules” in ’07. “The only rules now are to win.” I think you’ll see him take a similar stance if the Yankees do in fact make the playoffs.

I’m totally late to this argument, but Rob, can you honestly argue that Hughes is definitely going to be a “stud”? He has looked good in the bullpen, but has a 5.45 ERA as a starter this year. I’ve always expected big things from Hughes, but Burnett is a much better choice right now, hands-down.
And citing Hughes’ 5.2 playoff innings two years ago as evidence that he will be better than Burnett is ridiculous.

What Andrew said earlier:
“Hughes himself admitted that coming out of the bullpen, he doesn’t have to worry about tiring in the third inning, he can just let go.”
Success as a reliever does not equate to success as a starter. I expect to see Hughes and Joba switch places before the end of the season, but Hughes is far from a sure thing.

When have I ever said anything is definite? But if you put a gun to my head, I’d say “yes, he’s a stud”. The list of young starters struggling early is notoriously long. Some emerge from those early difficulties quite well, including after stints in the bullpen.
As for the post-season innings, they were simply to counter any sense that Burnett can pitch under pressure. But yeah, call me crazy for liking the guy with a history of impeccable control over the chucker.

Sorry, Andrew, but Hughes’ curve has widely been seen as a plus pitch for a long time. He throws it in the high 70’s and consistently for strikes. He may not be putting people away with it, but it sets them up for the heat. He also throws the cutter but I agree he needs more work on the secondary pitches. Even he says so. See that article I linked to last night. Of course, maybe he fails in a starter role. But then Joba was working off of reduced heat and has only recently found how to tap it as a starter. It takes time. Even more reason the Yankees should have started the process before the break.
I’ll believe it on Joba when I see it. They’ve consistently babied him and Hughes. I don’t think that will stop now. Still, in order to keep him at 150 innings, that means he has about 6 or 7 more starts in the next two months. Who makes up the rest?

They’re not going to baby Joba if the playoffs are affected. They didn’t do it in ’07, and they won’t do it in ’09. And I said it before, they’ll temporarily transition Hughes back to starting to take up some of Joba’s starts. They will NOT put Joba in the bullpen. Heck, they might find some phantom injury and DL him. I’m fairly certain that ‘the plan’ revolving around Joba is to get him to 150, 160 IP by the end of the season. If they don’t go deep in the playoffs, well, they haven’t overstretched him. If they do go deep in the playoffs, well, that’s a positive anyway.
40-man callups could take up some starts in September as well. Someone like Nova could see some action if the Yankees are safely within reach of a playoff spot.

We’ll see. I’m skeptical. He was supposed to throw 110 to 120 innings in 2007. He threw 115 innings including the playoffs.

Leave a Reply