In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Gimme the heat kid
It's been a long time since the Yanks had a young pitching stud come up to the majors and start blowing people away. Chien-Ming Wang was very good last year, but he didn't overpower people. Neither did Andy Pettitte. I'd love to see the Yanks trot out a young - as in closer to 20 than 25 - fireballer every 5 days that doesn't know he's not supposed to dominate major league hitters yet.

There's nothing more exciting in baseball to watch than a young pitcher who turns each start into an event just with his sheer ability. I want a Felix Hernandez or an Ervin Santana or a Joel Zumaya of my own to root for. Heck, I'd settle for a Zach Duke. Living where I have for the past 2+ years, I've been fortunate enough to witness the rise of Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Danny Haren and Matt Cain, and there's always the occasional glimpse of someone like Justin Verlander rolling through the Bay Area (against the A's last night he was consistently hitting 98 on the gun in the 7th inning with his pitch count in the 120's), and it's spoiled me.

I know with the Yankees it's all about October, and the thinking seems to be that you need veterans who aren't scared of a little pressure (okay, alot of pressure) to thrive. The problem with that is young guys like me aren't really able to relate to the wiley old veterans going out to the mound, but seeing a young kid that's at the same point in life as me jog out there brings me that much closer to the game and the team.

Hopefully Phil Hughes could be that guy.

Down on the Farm:

Triple-A Columbus (9-8 loss to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
Kevin Thompson: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB - picked off first
Melky Cabrera: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 BB
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI - rebounding quite nicely
Jeff Karstens: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
Scott Erickson: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K - pitching well enough for me think he's a better option than Jaret Wright

Double-A Trenton (3-1 loss to Altoona)
Bronson Sardinha: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
Ramiro Pena: 2 for 4
Tyler Clippard: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 K - ERA still hovering above 5.00
JB Cox: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K - 5-0 GB/FB ratio, first lights-out outing of the year

High-A Tampa (1-0 loss to Fort Myers)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS - picked off first
Edwar Gonzalez: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 2 K
Phil Hughes: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K - talk about a tough luck loss

Low-A Charleston (1-0 loss to Augusta)
Jose Tabata: 0 for 4, 1 K - 4th straight day at DH, he must be nursing something
Chris Malec: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Phil Coke: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K - rock solid yet again, where'd he come from?

Nothing to do with the Yankees, but I have a good friend - that happens to be a die hard Mets fan - that's been giving me a hard time day after day after day about Xavier Nady "finally turning the corner" and "living up to his potential now that he's been given a shot." Well, I took the liberty of crunching Nady's career numbers using Dave Pinto's Day-by-Day database:

March thru May: .298-.353-.494-.847
June thru October: .243-.297-.380-.678

Come August, Mets fans will be begging for Mike Cameron.
Anonymous Marcus said...
Hey Mike,

I just have to hand it to you for putting together this blog. You do an awesome job of keeping up on the minor league system, and it really adds a lot of value to the Yankee blogosphere.

And all the while it sounds like you live in the Bay Area. Ah, the wonders of the infernets...

Keep up the good work!

Blogger Mike A said...
I'm about 2 hours north of the the Bay Area, but I was born and raised in Brooklyn and shuffled around a bit after high school between Jersey and PA before deciding to go to school in Cali.

Thanks for the kind words, it's greatly appreciated.

Anonymous baileywalk said...
I don't want to be a total hypocrite here, because I love flamethrowers (nothing like seeing someone come out and throw high-90s and even 100, which is why I always liked both Wagner and Farnsworth). But in reality, velocity doesn't mean jack.

Check out the guys you referenced (excluding Harden, who truly is a stud, and Zu, who's a reliever):

King Felix: 6.14 ERA.
Santana: 3.93 ERA.
Duke: 4.50 ERA.
Haren: 5.40 ERA.
Blanton: 6.87 ERA.
Cain: 6.75 ERA.
Verlander: 5.40 ERA.

As much fun as it is to watch, heat means nothing. It's a good asset, but I'll take control and movement over it any day.

Blogger Mike A said...
Yeah but it's also April, so those guys have what, 3, maybe 4 starts under their belt?

Come the end of the year they'll all have ERAs at or below 4 and Kper9's at or above the 6's.

I semi-disagree that heat means nothing, it's only meaningless if you have heat and no control.

The underlying point is that power pitching wins in October, and the Yanks have next to none in the rotation.

Anonymous baileywalk said...
Actually, Felix and Duke have looked HORRIBLE this year. They're not guaranteed to have an ERA under 5. We'll have to watch those guys. Cain, Verlander, Blanton and Haren have had their moments, but also had some bad mistakes with those fastballs and got killed (Cain so far has looked like a more assured pitcher than Verlander).

I'm not saying it's not great to rear back and throw 97, but you don't really need to. Like I said, it's a good asset, but it's probably the fourth-most important thing for a pitcher to have. I wouldn't say the Yankees have NO power pitching. On a good day Johnson still gets it up there 95-plus. And Wang throws in the mid-90s too.

Power pitching doesn't win in October. GOOD pitching does. The White Sox don't have any power pitchers on their staff (at best you could say that of Contreras, but not really). The only power pitcher on the Astros' staff was Oswalt (and how'd that work out?).

The reason Rich Harden is a true stud is that he has a wicked slider. Heat alone means nothing.

But I'd take the current Mussina over any of those guys because he's throwing reasonably hard (90, 91), has pinpoint control, and is changing speeds effectively.

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