Andy Pettitte

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That PED thing sure was fun, wasn’t it? Now I am going to focus on the actual team for a little bit.

Since the All-Star Break, the Yankees haven’t won a series. They are 6-10 and the solid starting pitching of the first half has deserted them. It’s a small sample of course, but Yankee starters in the second half have a 4.89 ERA compared to a 3.96 ERA in the first half. Of major concern, three-fifths of the rotation, Sabathia, Hughes and Pettitte all have ERA’s closer to 5 than to 4 for the season and they have been getting worse for awhile now.

The problem is, there are not a lot of alternatives right now. Both Phelps and Pineda are going to see Dr. Ahmad today. Vidal Nuno is on the DL in AAA and the rest of the rotation in Scranton is a mess. In fact between Scranton and Trenton the Yankees have only one pitcher younger than 28, with 10 starts this year, and an ERA under 4. That’s really bad. So the rotation is ” Kuroda and Nova and then it’s ovah.”

A look at the standings paints a grim picture. They are 9-1/2 back from the division and 5 back from the second wild card. Coolstandings puts their playoff odds at 3.4%.  We can certainly expect the offense to improve with Granderson and that other guy back in the lineup, But unless the pitching improves a lot, it’s hard to see how the Yankees get back into the playoff picture.




Good Idea

Joel Sherman in today’s Post speculates that the Yankees should trade Hughes and/or Joba for offensive help. He acknowledges that both would be traded when their value is low, but also mentions that there is little chance of either one being in pinstripes next year.

Let’s set Joba to the side right now, he is basically a mediocre middle reliever and those aren’t hard to find. But Hughes is a different pitcher. Sure, he hasn’t been what Yankee fans hoped for, but he is at the very least a guy you can plug into the back of a good rotation and not worry about. That has value and in today’s market where pitching is at a premium, it wouldn’t shock me to see Hughes get five years at at least $10-million per as a free agent.

Now the Yankees probably can’t pay that and get under $189 million. (At least if they sign Cano to an extension they can’t. ) They could keep Hughes for the season and then offer him arbitration and get the draft pick, but the Yankees need to develop a rotation for 2014. It is highly, highly unlikely that they can afford to pay both Kuroda and Pettitte (and that assumes those two want to come back next year) so the 2014 rotation is Sabathia and Phelps right now.

But the Yankees have other arms. Pineda is making his way back. Nuno looked good in his starts. Nova is at AAA and Adam Warren has pitched well out of the pen.  All of these guys could be part of the 2014 rotation, but the Yankees need to see them pitch in the majors regularly and assess them. That means getting rid of at least one current starter and Sabathia, Kuroda and Pettitte will not be that starter. Phelps is a guy they need to evaluate, so that leaves Hughes.

Now, the Yankees could decide they want to keep Hughes around. If that is the case, they should try and sign him now and then worry about breaking in a pitcher or two next season. But what they can’t do is just continue to send Hughes out there every fifth day and then let him walk away after the season. That would be another case of the Yankees not looking at the big picture. With a real payroll ceiling quickly approaching, they can not afford to do that.