Wednesday, August 06, 2008

House of cards . . . falling down

The Monk was foursquare behind the Yankees' youth movement at the beginning of the season and for good reason -- it was long overdue. In 2002, the Yanks squandered a solid young prospect by trading Ted Lilly for Jeff Weaver. Lilly became a solid starter for Oakland and Toronto before going to the Cubs last year as a free agent, but more importantly he was a RedSawx killer.

Weaver went from good young pitcher on suck team (Tigers) to Ed Whitson II before the Yanks sent him to the Dodgers, where he continued to fail. That trade begat Kevin Brown, the grumpy and overpaid ace who declined from future Hall-of-Famer (check out his overall stats here, they're better than a lot of current HOF members -- at 211-144, his winning percentage [.594] puts Don Drysdale, Don Sutton and Fergie Jenkins [all sub-.560] to shame) to brittle financial albatross after signing a 7-year/105M deal with the Dodgers. That grumpy over-the-hill former ace was shelled when presented with the task of preventing the GREATEST PLAYOFF CHOKE EVER in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

So going young seemed like a great idea. Anchored by young ace Chien-Ming Wang (46-18 career), the rotation of the future was taking shape: Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy and in a couple of years, Andrew Brackman.

The performances of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain supported that view. Hughes was 3-0 in September '07 and pitched well in the playoffs; Kennedy had three starts and baffled MLB hitters (1-0, 1.89); Joba was a phenom. But Hughes and Kennedy regressed and suffered injuries this year. Hughes is working his way back from the DL, Kennedy is working his way back to the majors after sucking wind. Joba became a near-ace . . . and now he's in Pensacola talking to Dr. James Andrews about the shoulder pop he felt Monday night. And Wang is out for the year after 15 starts (8-2 record) with a foot injury.

All of which means the Yanks' season is in trouble. All of which means the Yanks have to change their plans for 2009 because the three young-'uns all will have innings limitations next year. All of which means the Yanks will likely try to make a splash in the free agent market (Sabathia, Burnett, Sheets) or wrangle a trade using some of the team's farm assets (Sanchez, Hacker, McAllister, Heredia, Betances). And still the Yanks hope that some top starters in the organization (Brackman, Sanchez, Horne, Wright, Hacker, McAllister) will be ready to contribute in the next two years. Hoo boy.

Not good.

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