Monday, April 16, 2007

Yankees, Nationals = same quality starters?

What a mess. The Yanks are 11 games into the season and have lost 3/5 of their rotation. Yesterday they put Pavano and Moooooooooooose on the DL. Pavano will be out for at least a month based on the description of his injury -- the arm issue that shelved Rivera for September last year. Given Pavano's ability to overcome injury, we may see him in June.

Moooooooooose's stint is retroactive to April 11 and he will likely be back by the end of the month. Before April 30, the Yanks face the Indians (can hit) the RedSawx twice and have two games against Toronto. By next Tuesday, the Yanks COULD have Wang back. If not, their rotation will consist of Pettitte, Igawa, Chase Wright, Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner. The former Columbus Shuttle, now the Scranton Shuttle (the Yanks changed their AAA team from Columbus to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year), will have a lot of passengers.

Wright is suddenly the prize of the Yanks' farm system -- he's 24, wowed the team in Spring Training where he was really the best pitcher not named Wang, Pettitte, Mussina or Rivera, has a major league change-up, and has befuddled hitters in AA. But that's AA. The Indians (tomorrow) and RedSawx (Sunday) are not AA teams. Nor are they AAAA lineups like the Pirates or Nats (even the worst AL teams have decent ability thanks to the star rookies on KC and Tampa this year). So this suddenly gets interesting. Neither Phil Hughes nor Tyler Clippard, the Yanks' best AAA options are available because they pitched over the weekend. Besides, both got knocked around, so their learning curve still needs to swing upward.

Karstens was an afterthought in the Yanks' system, until he pitched well in various emergencies last year with the big leaguers and was going to break camp as the #5 starter in all likelihood until he had a minor arm problem that landed him on the shelf. Rasner is a AAAA pitcher -- better than a career minor leaguer but not quite able to stick in the majors; he did a credible job Saturday after getting slapped around by the Orioles on Easter.

These are the reasons that Rivera's honk against light-hitting Marco Scutaro after getting him down 0-2 with two outs in the 9th is so bad. Rivera mowed down the first two A's in the 9th before giving up a typical Rivera hit -- short squib to opposite field. Then he committed the cardinal sin of walking Jason Kendall, who has all of ONE homer in 1200+ AB in the AL! Ugh.

So now, the Yanks have to battle through some tough games with a tired bullpen, a paucity of pitchers and a defense that simply stinks (Derek Jeter, 2005, 2006 Gold Glover = 6 errors in 11 games). And I switched back to DIRECTV to get the MLB package . . . oy.

No comments: