Monday, April 21, 2008

Grading Out The Pitching

20 games in, we have our first off night not counting opening day's rain out and we're at .500. An improvement over where we were last year at this time, but still not satisfied with what I'm seeing - are you?

I'm not sure how big a difference it would have made given the lack of hitting, but I think our pitching (in particular three members of the starting 5) could use some improvement. Here are my grades so far in '08:

A: Wang, Pettitte, Rivera, Chamberlain, and Bruney. Actually, I think Bruney gets an A+. He's come to play, his demeanor on the mound reminds of Jeff Nelson. By an large, these four have set the standard.

B: Ross Ohlendorf - this guy is pretty good, saved the pen with his effort on Saturday.

C: Mike Mussina, Kyle Farnsworth, and Billy Traber. Traber's numbers are better than his actual performance so far. He doesn't seem to be able hold any runners on base when he comes in. They get charged to someone else, thus the low ERA. Mussina and Farny I think we've beaten to death.

F: Hawkins, Hughes, and Kennedy. When it comes to Hawkins, he had a few bad outings, has shown some improvement, but at the end of the day, you are only eligible for an F when you wear The Warrior's number and wonder why people get upset - an F for stupidity for him. And on Hughes and Kennedy, 0-5 with an avg. ERA above 9 - what else needs to be said? We drain the bull pen when these two take the hill.


Here's what I'm thinking. (I mean, other than having second thoughts about doing the deal for Santana this past off season) You give Hughes and Kennedy one more start to see if they can show some signs of improvement. If not, you have to send them down to fine tune their game (both need help with location: Hughes puts the ball belt high middle of the plate, and Kennedy has the '07 Farnsworth cold of falling behind every single hitter he faces). At that time I think it would prove wise to give Joba his earned shot at the starting rotation or you give (like you didn't know this was coming) Kei Igawa or Darrell Rasner (both with a couple of wins and an ERA at 2 or lower at SWB) another shot and see what happens from there.

I think the end game is, finding a pair of starters that can go 6 innings and have the team in position to win. Right now, the two young guns aren't up to task (yet).


The Scooter said...

OK Mid, surprisingly that was a well thought out post and for the most part I agree with your grading system.

When it comes to the kids, you absolutely can not grade them yet....haven't you ever heard of an "incomplete"? Sure, they have struggled, but they are gaining invaluable experience at the games highest level. And the team is STILL at .500.

As long as Wang and Pettitte keep pitching as well as they are, the Yankees can afford to let Kennehughes experience their growing pains on the big stage. Look on the bright side, they certainly won't throw too many innings this year.

One more start is not enough time...if we are approaching the All-Star break and they are still throwing up crooked numbers, then you might have an argument for sending them down to the farm, but at this point patience is the key.

These guys aren't a washed up Kevin Brown or an ancient Randy Johnson...they are kids with electric stuff who are learning how to be big league pitchers. Give them some time.

It would be nice if the offense gave these guys a lead to work with every once in a while. I would like to see how they react to being up 3 or 4 to nothing, instead of always feeling like they have to throw a no hitter to win a game.

Hope A-Rod isn't out for more than a few games. The off-day has come at a good time.

Crash said...

I think you'll see the rotation order changed a bit before we see anything as drastic as sending down Hughes or Kennedy, and calling up Rasner or Igawa.

Probably something along the lines of:
1. Wang
2. Hughes
3. Pettitte
4. Kennedy
5. Mussina

This was touched on a little bit in the YES broadcast during the 2nd rain delay.

I think what you're seeing out of both Hughes and Kennedy is that they are trying to do too much. It's like they are trying to impress everyone and say "see we belong at the big league level." When you start doing that, you stop doing what got you to that level. If they relax and pitch they'll be fine. It's like on every pitch they're trying to make the perfect pitch, rookies won't get those calls, so their pitch counts are going up quick. The organization made the decision to stick to the kids and not trade them, they can't send them down just 3 or 4 starts into the season.

Plus it's amazing how a good offense will turn a 6 inning, 4 run start into a "W". It's a lot different when the bats are cold.

If the Yankees stick to this plan and go into the All-Star break 5-10 games above .500, they are in the playoff picture. That's all you can ask.

Mid said...

I think you're both right on the kids.

It looks like they are pressing. And when I'm saying sit em or send them down, it is not a permenately stance, just maybe one turn out of the rotation to let them catch their breath, regain control then come back stronger than ever.

Mid said...

On a side note, I was more than surprised to see the Big Hurt get thrown to the curb as quickly as the Jays did. -- who picks him up??

old professor said...

Okay, I am back from LA and can participate in the discussions once again. Bt the way, southern California should be off limits to any male who is married. It just is not right!!!

Regarding the state of the Yankees rotation. I believe Hughes will be in the rotation for most of the season. However, Kennedy has not got the stuff to keep him there. He has the number of pitches to draw on but the fastball is only 87 and he cannot get it by people right now. He has walked far too many people and is trying to avoid bat contact. Hughes needs to stop believing all of the press releases about him being the #1 stud in the system and just go out an pitch and challenge people.

While I can understand Mid's allegance to Rasner, I cannot believe he is talking about bringing Igwa up. Rasner may be the logical choice.

Traber has done exactly what he has been asked to do. Get left handed hitters out. He was left in the other day to eat an inning or two because the kids didn't last that long.

Crash, Hughes has not matched up well with the number three starter for most teams and you want to move him to #2 -get real. Mussina will be moved to the number four slot to break up Hughes and Hennedy (or it could be Pettitte - though I would like to see him at number 2).

The Yankee roster right now is a mess. Posada is scheduled to catch next week sometime. So the team carries three catchers, and two dh's and a first baseman that can't field or throw. They need to re-shape the roster to be more balanced. If Posada can't catch put him on the DL. The Yankees are faced with losing the catcher they brought up because he has to clear waivers before being sent down again. He has called a good game and actually hit surprisenly well.

How long can the team continue to slot Giambi in when he has five hits on the season?

Crash said...

Old Prof glad to see you back, but that California sun must have gotten to your head. First you seem to be doing a 180 on your Kennedy position. I seemed to recall you gleaming that all of your sources were saying Kennedy has the best stuff out of all 3 of the young guns. Now you say he can't cut it at the bigs. Traber has not done what he was suppose to do. Left-handed batters are hitting .333 against him while right handers are hitting .182. Not the stat you want to have as a lefty-specialist. This is a la Mike Myers, whom the Yankees released because of this type of performance.

During the Yankee broadcast yesterday they were saying they don't like pitching Wang & Pettitte back-to-back, because then you're left with essentially 3 ineffective starters in a row. The thought was to split Hughes and Kennedy with Pettitte and have Mussina in the 5 spot. I don't really know, or care, which one, Hughes or Kennedy, would go in the #2 spot.

And just when you thought it was safe...Boss Jr opens his mouth and wants Joba in the rotation "soon". Saying "you have to be an idiot" not to put him in the rotation asap.

I couldn't agree more on Giambi. Is there a more frustrating player to watch right now? At least he's playing the field well. Does Betemit even have an AB this year? I don't think I've seen him in a game yet. The team as a whole is batting .265. And most of that is due to their back-ups...Moeller is batting .350, Gonzalez, Molina, and Ensberg are all at .333.

old professor said...

Crash, I have not done a 180 on Kennedy. He has the stuff to be a good #4. However, right now it appears he has forgotten how to pitch and he is doing something he has not done before in his career - walk people.

Regarding Betimet - he is on the DL with a slight strain. In addition he wasn't hitting when he was playing. Steinbrenner's comments were typical Steinbrenner. He was the one who stated patience for the young kids. What he seems to forget is that Joba did not have a real good Spring training ( I believe he started a couple of games and didn't have real good command.).

It is not possible for Girardi to juggle the line up to get enough at bats for all of the outfielders and DHs and Posada being put into the first base/DH mix doesn't help things at all.

Middle Relief said...

actually, I was the one who said Kennedy had the best stuff of the three (just listening to my scouts).
What do we do with Chad Mole - send him down or use him as trade bait? Both Catching back ups have done very very well in Jorge's absense in my opine.

57 said...

Props to the Mets anyone and how Wagner has not given up a hit in 4 save opps?

old professor said...

offense finally comes alive. Wang pitches in and out of jams for the win. Second start in a row he has not been on top of his game. Apparently the finger nail problem from last year has resurfaced again.

The Scooter said...

The mark of a great pitcher is being able to battle and keep your team in the game, when you don't have your best stuff. That is exactly what Wang has done in his last two outings.

Prof, last night after the game, Girardi said that the fingernail is not a problem.

Bobby Abreu is a "professional" hitter. Remember this time last year when we all were running him out of town?

Boy, Joba is fun to watch.

Farnsworth is the anti-Joba.

Congratulations to Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez on the birth of their little girl.

The Scooter said...

Hey 57! See what happens when the Mets face a quality team? They get the broom upside their heads.

Mid said...

I am so glad we re-signed Abreu.

Traber failed to come through - maybe he is a Mike Meyers type situation.

Tell you what, all of the back ups that have actually seen some time this year have done pretty well. Ensberg, Moeller, and Gonzalez all batted over .300 for them - not bad.

Mid said...

The party is over for the Obama campaign - he's batting an 0 - for when it comes to a big state contest (Texas, Ohio, Penn, NY, Cal, and officially Mich and Fl) - can't win in the general without the support from those states.

The Scooter said...

let me be the first to say it:


Crash said...

Ok, so maybe we just don't start Mussina against the Red Sox. He had a decent outing last night. I hope we can get that kind of pitching from Hughes and Kennedy and maybe run off a nice win streak.

old professor said...

Mid, did I just read you were glad the Yankees re-signed Abreu? Last season you were all over him about lack of offense and his lack of defense. I believe you may have come close to sending your blood pressure into the danger zone when they re-signed him. NOW you are glad he was re-signed!! You do more flip flops the Romney.

Scooter, Girardi may have said the nail isn't a problem, but when the trainer checks the finger after every inning to monitor the nail, there is a problem.

Hmmm, Mussina has his second good start. What no props for the man, Mid.

Crash said...

I have been of the opinion that the Yankees bullpen is highly underrated and is actually very deep. Now all of a sudden they are looking for more help. Ohlendorf was used for 2 innings. I thought his first inning was very good and the second inning was a case of maybe being used too much too soon. He has already gone multiple innings on a couple of occasions. Bruney is apparently in a walking boot with a foot strain, Farnsworth strains an elbow last night and Joba was used for more than an inning. That pretty much leaves Traber and Hawkins available in the pen and both have not been that effective. Girardi said they make some moves.

I think Hughes was the best he's been all year, not hard to do when your ERA is nearly 9.

Hopefully Andy can come through again and give 7 or 8 strong.

Middle Relief said...

Old Prof - again wrong. I think it has to do with the fact you don't actually read the posts.

Rewind: end of last season, glad they signed him, hoped they trade Damon or Cabrera.

Begining of season, I predicted Abreu would be a candidate for MVP.

Does that sound like a support of NOW????

old professor said...

Don't be surprised to see Patterson be called up. The only issue would be if he is not officially on the 40 man roster someone has to be released (could be Moeller).

Joba was not impressive last night and apparently Olendorf can't go more than one inning. He needs to throw more than one pitch. Can't say whether Hughes was impressive or not, he only pitched two innings. He pitched five good innings last time and then coughed it up in the sixth.

Hawkins has been a disappointment from the pen. He gave up a run the other night and his era dropped to 10.00.

57 said...

Aaron Heilman is a waste of a roster spot. GET RID OF HIM. Perez lost himself in the 6th and Heilman came in with the game locked and gave up a salami. Nats win 10-5... joke.

AND NO ONE MENTIONS THE DRAFT TOMORROW????? The day where every Jet fan cannot wait to get to MSG in anticipation of booing the first pick????

Memo to Jet Fans... you wont get McFadden and Ryan will be a bust in the NFL; you heard it first.

Bills will pick up the young CB from Troy. TREMENDOUS. Bills in the playoffs in 08.

There will be a lot of wheeling and dealing tomorrow.

The Jets are on the clock....... for 2009.

Crash said...

57 I can't see the Bills taking McKelvin. Yes they need help at DB, but they need more help at WR. Everyone has them picking the kid from Michigan St. Don't know if I like that, but there really isn't anyone at the position to take. Maybe for that reason alone they go to the DB if he's available. The Saints could also be interested in McKelvin if they don't trade up.

57 said...

Crash.. he's played one year in the Big Ten. I hope they pass on him.. too young.

Crash said...

Bruney is done for the season. Needs to have surgery on the foot. Too bad he was off to a good start and looked to be the set-up guy when Joba moved into the rotation.

The Yanks have had a couple of tough losses the last couple of nights hopefully they can turn it around today.

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