Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ain't Pitching a Bitch?

So here we are, in the final days of camp. Who makes the team? Who doesn't. I've been talking about this a lot recently, but it's been largely filler. Enjoyable speculation with no real concrete basis. Spring Training is generally an exercise in "going through the motions" for a team like the Yankees, who have most of their key positions spoken for. The one sticking point that we have is the last rotation spot and a few bullpen seats.

That's what we need to talk about today. The 5th starter is Carl Pavano until another pitcher is acquired or brought up from SWB. Wang's injury and Karstens' situation move that 5th starter issue into a bit brighter spotlight. Not that we need a 5th until late April, but rather Carl Pavano is now our 4th starter. If Wang is back sooner than expected, it's a non issue. If we have any problems with health going forward (knock wood) then we have this situation in our face more urgently. Who is the 5th and 6th starter on this club?

Pavano and Karstens are probably the short term answer to that question. When all is right in the world, health-wise, it's hard to argue against that. You may want to argue that those players are holding roster spots for far more talented players (Clemens and Hughes?), but they are the right answers at this point. Without Wang and Karstens, we are looking at Rasner as one of the players, and perhaps Phil Hughes as an emergency #6, although I doubt it. Rasner just blew up against the Astros, surrendering 7 runs in 4.2 IP. Hideous. He won't come up, hopefully, as we don't need a 5th now, but it's not a good sign. We may need to enlist our more talented AAA guys sooner than later if this happens in May. That's not a bad thing, but it's something Joe and Cash will have to be open to without much hesitation. The AL East could hinge on a handful of games, and I'd hate to think we left a loaded gun (Hughes) in the drawer, as the lesser talent blew games.

The other thing is bullpen seats. It looks safe to assume that the pen will feature:

Mariano Rivera
Kyle Fansworth
Luis Vizcaino
Scott Proctor
Mike Myers

I'm guessing that Bruney will get a spot, as Britton has been bad and the Beam/Bean duo aren't in Joe's clubhouse. He didn't help his case today though. The pen is breaking down as camp wanes. The other spot is for a lefty, and we've talked about it ad nauseum. Henn should be the guy breaking camp rather than the $2.5 million Ron Villone. Villone is not good, and just choked up a storm in today's game. 2 hits a walk and 3 earned runs to go with several inherited runners allowed to reach home plate. That was in 0.0 innings of work. He faced 3 batters and allowed all three to reach safely. All he needed was one out. Henn came in and got that out. He did give up a hit and a walk in doing so, but he has a Spring ERA of 3.00 to Villone's 14.40 after a successful 1.1 innings of work today!! You can't take a guy to New York with a 14.40 ERA, regardless of his veteranosity quotient or his belly full of gutsiness. Villone must not be allowed to come to New York and I'll contact Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Homeland Security to keep him on the "No Fly" list if I have to.

How soon do we see Phil Hughes? How long will Joe go with Rasner/Karstens? Does Sean Henn make the roster, or are we doomed to pay $2.5 million for an ERA that looks like it ate Tampa? Maybe the answer to the last question rests with COH favorite, Tanyon Sturtze.


Chris V said...

Looks like Henn (and Nieves and Phelps) are going to make the team. I'm surprised, but pleased. If you have the choice between average players, I would go with the younger ones. Experience might help a little bit, but I'd rather take a guy who could improve. Henn could develop the same way Proctor did.

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