May 28, 2009

Yankees at stalemate with six starters

A six-man rotation is not a realistic option, but I am having trouble figuring out a different solution.

The Yankees have been hot in Wang’s absence, but now he is back and could actually help the team this time.  If Chien-Ming Wang is back to being the reliable Chien-Ming Wang of 2006-07, the Yankees have six capable starters.  Wang is essentially the monkey-wrench thrown into a perfectly working machine, if you catch my drift. 

Obviously, the top 3 aren’t going anywhere (CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett).  However, with three capable starters (Wang, Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain) and only two spots left in a five-man rotation, one of them is going to the bullpen, the minors or another team.   

Although it is a good thing that the Yankees have too much pitching, something has to give unless the Yankees decide to switch to a six-man rotation.

This decision doesn’t have to be made immediately, but here are the “options” for the three pitchers on the bubble:

Wang was indescribably awful in his first three starts of the season, but he may have worked out his kinks in his rehab.  Two perfect innings out of the pen further substantiates his health.  There is no reason to keep him in the pen if he has returned to his good form of 2006-07.  In fact, his dominance in those two seasons should automatically earn him the right to move back to the rotation.

Hughes has already mastered the minors, so sending him down would only be a waste of his time and talent.  So his other option would be to go to the bullpen.  After another excellent start in the second-easiest place to hit in baseball, I am going to vote he should never leave the rotation.  He is still young, 21 to be exact, but he has already conquered the minors so the only place he belongs is in the rotation.

Joba’s situation is similar to Hughes’ in that he is not going back to the minors.  I guess there is more of an argument to put Chamberlain back as the setup man, but I have always been a firm believer in him being a starter.  He is having some difficulties pitching deeper into games, but he will learn with more experience in the rotation.  That is why it is imperative he stays right where he is if the Yankees see Chamberlain as a starter in the long-run.

I concluded that each of the three should be in the rotation, so what’s the solution?  There is no feasible solution!  The Yanks are gonna need all three of these guys next season when Pettitte leaves, so trading one of them doesn’t make sense. 

If trading were an option, I’d say keep the two best of the three, and trade the third.  For me, Hughes would be the odd man out.

Maybe the Yankees can keep Wang in the long/middle relief until the trade deadline, but I don’t think a trade is the right option.  I don’t think any of their options is the right option (that’s a problem).

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