In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Too much depth?
Pitching depth is a good thing to have, a great thing to have in fact. But is there such a thing as too much depth? Maybe.

As of this moment, the Yanks are looking at an 8-man bullpen for most of the season(once Octavio Dotel returns from Tommy John surgery around May, maybe sooner), meaning they'll have a 13-man pitching staff. So doing the math: 25 roster spots - 13 pitchers = 12 position players. Given that 8 position players and 1 DH are written into the starting lineup most days of the season (not counting away interleague games of course), the Yanks are left with a 3 player bench. Three! One has to be a catcher (Kelly Stinnett), so that leaves 2 players that have to be capable of playing the other 7 positions. Miguel Cairo can handle all the infield duties as well as the corner outfield spots to some degree, so his versatility (and $1M price tag) are all but guaranteed a spot. That leaves 1 roster spot left, who's going to get it?

With the way Brian Cashman and Joe Torre have been talking this winter, it would seem as if Andy Phillips is the front-runner for the spot. He's relatively versatile, and in an emergency situation he could play just about any position except pitcher, catcher and centerfield. He's a good hitter, sporting a career minor league BA and SLG of .296 and .516 respectively, although he hasn't yet translated it into big league production (.559 OPS in 48 career ML ABs). Then again, giving the spot to Phillips leaves Torre with no viable pinch running options (Cairo has 17 career SBs in 10 ML seasons, Phillips has 21 in 7 minor league seasons).

There's always cult hero Bubba Crosby, who started in centerfield for the $200M Yankees in the playoffs. The former first round pick can play any outfield position in a cinch, he's got some speed, and he's well liked by teammates. His bat isn't very lethal (.221 BA in ML career, .281 in the minors), but he's capable of hitting his pitch a long way, evidenced by the walkoff bomb he hit against the Orioles last September 19th.

And of course, there's always a Felix Escalona or Melky Cabrera or Kevin Reese available at a moments whim.

Situations like this have a way of working themselves out, either by injury, someone performing poorly, etc. But what happens if it doesn't? What if Kyle Farnsworth and Tanyon Sturtze are lights out in front of Mo, Aaron Small starts the season 5-0 out of the pen, and Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright and Chien-Ming Wang are all healthy and throwing well. Who gets the axe when Dotel becomes available? Mike Mussina, who's showing serious signs of decline? I doubt it, as Moose is still pretty consistent from start to start.

The best bet may be a trade, particularly one involving Carl Pavano. He's relatively young (just turned 30), still only 1 year removed from an 18 win 220+ IP campaign, and the most marketable name on the staff (besides Wang). Perhaps a deal could be worked out with the pitching starved Phillies (who are so pitching handicapped that they signed Ryan Frankin to be their number 4 starter), who could give up pitching prospects like Gio Gonzalez and Dan Haigwood (both came over in the Jim Thome deal) in return. A team like the Devil Rays could be interesting too; if they're in the thick of the wildcard race come July, would they give up one of their young outfielders for Pavano? Would Cashman deal Pavano within the division? Who knows. All I know is that this situation could lead to some serious spring training competition, making things in the Bronx even more interesting.
6 Comments:
Blogger yankeestadium said...
great blog and info...i will be adding you to my yankee bloggers...i would actually like to see pavano succeed this year instead of fail...it never hurts to have too many effective pitchers...

Blogger Michael Black said...
I'm not quite sure there is such a thing as too much depth. If, and this is a BIG if, Dotel comes available and everyone else is pitching lights out...then I would look for a trade for younger talent to develop.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I don't really get the idea of trading Pavano. We MAY -- a big may -- end up with depth in the 'pen, but how much depth do we have in the rotation? Small has to prove that he can be effective again (and he's in the 'pen right now) and Wright has shown he's just an average pitcher (and he's in the 'pen right now, too). If you get rid of Pavano, your five starters are: RJ, Moose, Wang, Chacon, Small/Wright. I'd much rather have Pavano in there. Especially since you don't know if Moose, Wang or Wright will stay healthy. The 'pen pre-Dotel will look like this: Mo-Farnsworth-Small-Sturtze-Villone-Myers-Wright. Should we be lucky enough that Dotel comes back firing a 95-mile-an-hour fastball AND Sturtze is pitching well, it would make much more sense to trade Sturtze and get back something on a guy we took off the trash heap. Because next year J.B. Cox and maybe T.J. Beam will be in the 'pen anyway. So the scenario you paint would be a great one for the Yanks: they get a healthy Dotel for half a season and get something in return for Sturtze. Then the next year the 'pen looks like: Mo-Farnsworth-Cox-Myers-Small-Beam/Villone.

Blogger Joseph P. said...
I wouldn't go so far as to say that Moose is consistent from start to start...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
If I were Torre I would start the season with Wright in the rotation rather than the pen. If he gets hurt it might open a spot before Dotel becomes available. If he does well, then maybe a trade could be worked, and if he stinks, he can be released for $4 million.

Blogger Mike A said...
Personally, I'd like to see Wright start the season in the rotation. If he's healthy I really think he can be a successfuly pitcher in the Bronx.

Maybe I'm just hanging onto the memory of him beating Andy Pettitte in Game 5 of 1997 ALDS too long...

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