Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thanks Hank

Post #57 Topic: Money for nothing, Santana for free

You need go back but a month to quickly become privy to my sentiments on the Mets acquisition of Johan Santana. Sure he hasn’t pitched santanaishly yet, and sure he’s given up a couple home runs (more than he should be giving up I know!). But Santana has always made his most impressive runs in the 2nd half, which based on the shaping up of things in the NL East, is when the Mets are most inclined to need him. Santana will win 16 games; he’ll strike out 150 batters and pitch 200 innings – minimum. What he will NOT be doing, is pitching for the cross-town Bronx Bombs.

The fact that Santana is not pitching for the Yankees is quickly turning into one of the biggest jokes in baseball. Balls-deep in their pride, when given the opportunity to pull the trigger on Santana by including one of either Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy (yes, only one of them, in addition to Melky Cabrera), the Yankees declined, claiming that “these were the cornerstones of the future Yankees”. Ok, maybe Hank never actually said that, but based upon his actions (or omissions if you’re a shark) you can tell that he was thinking it.

So the Yankees, who had all the offensive firepower that a team could ever ask for, went into the season relying heavily on what was for the most part, an unproven rotation. Chien-Ming Wang as their ace, and perhaps the only sure-thing amongst their starters, has been as good as advertised: 6-0, 3.00 E.R.A., and an uncharacteristic but pleasantly surprising 32 K’s. After that… well things aren’t so fine and dandy. Andy Pettitte’s been decent – 3-3 with a 3.93 E.R.A.. Mussina, although 4-3, has been shaky at best with a 4.23 E.R.A.. Keep in mind that this is a team that paid 46 million dollars to bring Kei Igawa over from the orient only to see him buried in AAA Wilkes-Barre: anyone who has been to Wilkes-Barre (myself) or perhaps seen the office knows that Wilkes Barre is no choice place to be buried!

But the Yankees didn’t need to worry about their veteran starting pitchers… did they? They had Phil Hughes, the one time #1 ranked prospect in all of baseball (according to Yankees Fans), and Ian Kennedy – the NEXT GREG MADDUX. Well, as so very often is the case, Yankee management was dead wrong. 6 feet under wrong. That #1 ranked prospect? 0-4 with a stunning E.R.A. of 9.00 (only a run an inning!!!), and now found on the DL until what optimistic forecasters are calling July. And Kennedy? The piece that absolutely couldn’t be included in a trade for Santana? Well, he’d better speak Chinese because his new roommate Kei Igawa has a locker room reputation as being a motormouth. Kennedy earned his sudden $30 per diem and upscale motel 8 lodgings by commencing the season (in a very un Greg Maddux like fashion) 0-2 with an 8.37 E.R.A..

This is not me saying that these guys will never be good pitchers, not even me saying that they can’t become stars. It’s just me saying that… “wouldn’t Johan look so great in that rotation, after Wang?” The answer regardless of who you are is an emphatic yes. The Yankees could certainly have afforded to give up one of these “future aces” to bring in Johan. Instead they let him fall to the Mets at a bargain basement price. Imagine Wang, Santana, Pettite, JOBA with Mussina as your 5th starter, giving Hughes or Kennedy (whichever survived) a chance to hone their potential by pitching another year in Wilkes-Barre. THAT… would be a formidable yankee team; that would be a team that the Red Sox would fear.

But now the Red Sox can rest assured that in any given week, 3/5 of the Yankees scheduled starters are going to get roughed up. And should those starters exit before the 7th, that Kyle Farnsworth will be there to make matters worse – where’s Carl Pavano? As for the Yankees; instead of worrying about catching the Red Sox, they’re worried about how they’re going to pitch to the suddenly potent Devil Rays – imagine the panic in the Bronx when the Rays get Kazmir back, realize they’re ACTUAL contenders, and sign Barry Bonds to plug the DH spot… then what are the Yankees going to do?

Whatever they decide on as the appropriate course of action – they’d better do it quick. While the Yankees have the sluggers to keep them in games, they don’t have the starting pitching to get them into those games in the 1st place. Now the Yankees are hovering around .500, already distancing themselves from the wild card leaders. Yes! It’s early in the season, but the earliness of it all carries both positive and negative tidings (not of the yule distinction). Positive: the Yankees have time. Negative: the teams the Yankees are most likely to be competing with for that wild card spot come the tail end of the season, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, Chicago, etc., etc., etc… haven’t gotten their gears going yet either. The distinction: without Santana backing up Wang, the Yankees are left with the weakest rotation out of all those clubs.

The Tigers have Bonderman, Verlander, Dontrelle, Nate Robertson, and the non-aging Kenny Rogers – a rotation far stronger than that of the Yankees. The Mariners have King Felix and Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva, three horses that although have yet to find their stride certainly soon will. The Indians have baseball’s best pitcher (outside Arizona) thus far into the season – Cliff Lee. With Fausto Carmona coming on strong and C.C. Sabathia showing signs of regaining his location, the Indians have perhaps the toughest front 3 in baseball. As for those Chicago White Sox, their rotation may not have as heavy an arsenal as some of the other teams just mentioned, but they do have one thing – WORLD SERIES EXPERIENCE, which but for a couple of roided out years nearly a decade ago, the Yankees rotation lacks entirely.

So tell us now Hank, that the Yankees’ prospects were too good to include in a trade for Santana. When you’re done; tell us how you plan to restore the once young and suddenly aged and moldy Yankees rotation back to respectability.

Other Notes

Jagr is next to godliness. Should he not be back next year, he will sorely be missed.

Fish genocide: learn about the history to prevent it in the future.

Sushi – always delicious, even when its not.

No comments: