23 Jan 2009
Barring a change of heart from both Andy Pettitte and the Yankees, this is the staff the 2009 Yankees will use:
SP’s Sabathia, Burnett, Wang, Joba and Hughes (could be Aceves or Kennedy too)
RP’s Rivera, Marte, Bruney, are the definities and then a mix of Coke, Aceves, Geise, Veras, Robertson and Ramirez.
It’s obviously a huge improvement over 2008, but is it enough? It starts at the top with Sabathia. The guy is the complete package and one of the best pitchers in the game. A healthy Chien-Ming Wang means the Yankees should have over 400 innings and 66 starts from their top 2 starters. After that things get a little murky.
Burnett is a fabulous pitcher when he is healthy, but that’s the problem. Can you count on the guy to pitch 200 innings? I’m not sure and I would assume he makes around 28 starts (his average over the life of his Blue Jays deal)
Joba is clearly a great talent, but he will be on an innings limit this year. He only got to 100 innings last year which means he probably won’t be allowed much more than 135-140 this year. I would assume he makes somewhere around 22 starts
You could write a similar thing about Hughes, but you would need to add injury risk to the profile. Hughes also finished right around 100 innings last season and I would assume they cap him around the same level as Joba.
Add it all up and you probably can expect around 140 starts from this group, so where do the remaining 22 starts come from? The Yankees could mix and match using Aceves and Kennedy to fill in as needed, or they could sign a pitcher. (And yes, I think Coke is a bullpen guy and not a starter)
Based on the stories involving Freddy Garcia, it sounds like they are trying to sign a pitcher and I am ok with that. Remember 140 starts is probably the best case scenario, an injury to one of the five (a decent bet with Burnett and Hughes) and you need more starts. So, do the Yankees go back to Pettitte? What about Sidney Ponson? (I’m kidding)
While I would like to see another starter added to the mix, I think the bullpen is all set. Mariano is in the front and the Yankees have plenty of arms behind him. You will most likely have two lefties in the pen and there are a number hard-throwing righties that the Yankees can call on. Look at the 40-man roster and guys like Humberto Sanchez and Mark Melancon are waiting in the wings as well. Add in the fact that the one are Joe Girardi really did well in was bullpen management and the pen should be very good in 2009.