Baseball fans can breath a sigh of relief as the intense trade deadline has come and gone, leaving just a few waiver-induced deals to take place in the month of August. Many big names changed uniforms, but none of them put on the pinstripes, and the Yankees’ only deal came in the form of acquiring third baseman Casey McGehee for reliever Chad Qualls.
There were reports up until the final minutes that the Yankees were very close to acquiring the NL-ERA leader Ryan Dempster, but instead Texas jumped ahead and acquired the 34-year old. Though I and other Yankee fans were hesitant on giving up any solid prospects for a three month rental, there is little doubt Dempster would have improved our chances in the postseason.
In the end, the Yankees were unable to nab any starting pitchers to help bolster their currently weak and hobbled rotation. It’s certainly not the end of the world, but the Yankees are going to have an uphill battle to climb this October.
To me the team is caught in a very difficult state right now. Recently joining Andy Pettitte on the disabled list is their (at the time of his injury) hot-hitting slugger Alex Rodriguez. It seemed he was finally turning it around, but one pitch to the hand ended any chance of a second half surge – A-Rod won’t be back until late September, and will have to work very hard to get back his strength and be ready for October. We all remember last year, when he was on and off the DL and produced mostly nothing for the Yanks in the ALDS.
As for Pettitte, he recently felt soreness in his ankle while rehabbing, and though that is nothing serious, it got me thinking about the southpaw. What if he’s not the same when he returns? He was simply awesome when he came back after his one-year retirement, pitching better than he did before he left. As much confidence as I have in Andy, it will be very hard for him to get back to that form at the age of 40. Also, as we saw in his original return, he needed a good amount of minor league rehab starts to get in shape, so September 1st seems like a stretch for his return, and if it is, he’s in trouble – the minor league season ends that day.
Now I know Brian Cashman was trying in the end to get Dempster, but now that he hasn’t, it seems the Yankees are now in “once we get Andy back..” mode. Meaning their mantra no matter what happens is that once Pettitte gets back the Yankees will be fine and will have a strong enough rotation to go deep in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, that’s not something I can really buy into at the moment, given the recent acquisitions by other teams and their already formidable pitching staffs. Also, add our ongoing RISP failures and a bunch of injuries to the mix, and the Chase for 28 may not be so simple to complete this fall.
But, trying to be confident, the Yankees’ rotation would not be the worst and most surprising staff to win a World Series. The 2011 Cardinals’ rotation was nothing spectacular, yet by just coming up in the clutch the Cards beat a ferocious Texas team with both a solid lineup and rotation.
Also, look at the ’09 Yankees. Heck, they only used three starters, and one of them was A.J. Burnett! (I’m only kidding.)
But the point I’m getting at is the Yankees do not need equally good or better pitching than Texas and LA to win. They just need consistency and players coming up in the clutch, which isn’t necessarily something that either the Rangers or Angels just acquired.
Looking at the likely rotation we’ll have when the season ends, the Yanks could go with CC, Pettitte, Kuroda, and Hughes in that order for the playoffs. And no matter what anyone says, that is a solid postseason rotation. Each pitcher has experience, and most of all, success on the big stage, which is not something the Angels or Rangers can say about their starters.
And you cant’ forget about the bullpen either – the Yankees still have one of the best bullpens in the majors, and so combine experienced solid starters with an experienced strong bullpen and you get a championship-caliber pitching staff. Simple math!
It’s funny how when I set out to write this article, I was thinking down on the Yankees and their chances of winning the World Series. But as my negative thoughts normally deteriorate and the positive ones start flowing through my head, anything is possible in sports and the Yankees are by no means a weak team or the underdog in the American League. They’re still a great team with a great chance to go far this October, and it would be awesome to see them go out and prove everyone, including myself wrong. Go Yankees!
What do you guys think? Are the Yankees doomed, have a puncher’s chance, or will be the cream of the crop come playoff time?
March 16th, 2012 seems like decades ago. Out of absolutely nowhere, Andy Pettitte un-retired and signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Yankees. The saying “you can’t have enough pitching” applied nicely to the deal, as the Yankees already had six formidable starters fighting for five spots. And come on, it’s Andy Pettitte – how could the Yanks say no?
Well here we are, amazingly nearly a month into the season, and surprise! Things aren’t working out as planned. Michael Pineda is done for the year with a torn labrum in one of the most catastrophic starts to a Yankee career to date. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova have pitched well, but not up to their capability. Hiroki Kuroda is throwing either gems or getting knocked out before the 5th inning. But most importantly, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia have been absolutely terrible, posting a 7.88 and 9.75 ERA respectively.
Fans have been calling for their heads, as have I, but hold up – the Yankees aren’t in trouble quite yet. They’re the Bronx Bombers, and the offense has clearly carried them directly to this good start in 2012. But eventually, when good hitters meet struggling pitchers, things can and will get messy.
And heres’ where the irony kicks in – suddenly, we are relying on Andy Pettitte once again to be our savior and carry this pitching staff. Where have we heard that before?
In all seriousness, Pettitte will be a very important piece to the Yanks’ puzzle now. However, he is turning 40 and hasn’t pitched in a year and a half. Now I do think he can pitch close to what he was before, but not totally. And even that may not be enough to get the Yankees to where they want to be – in City Hall receiving their 28th Championship rings.
Right now with the current rotation, I’d have to say the Yanks have a decent shot at making the playoffs. But to go far and win the World Series, they’ll need all they can get out of Andy Pettitte, as well as Hughes and Garcia to step it up big time.
Though it’s pretty much May and I’m pulling my hair out as I watch Phil and Freddy continuously get smacked around, I’m not panicking. But in the end, these two starters won’t get the Yankees anywhere come October. So here’s to Andy coming back soon and pitching like he never left, because without this insurance policy, the Yanks would be in serious trouble right now.
Once again it’s Tuesday and it’s time for Spanning the Yankee Blogs. Check them all out if you can. Enjoy.
* An A-Blog for A-Rod suggests what the order of the rotation should be.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue has an exclusive interview with Nick Swisher.
* New York Baseball Digest thinks Teixeira needs to return to form, not bunt.
* Pinstripe Alley looks at which Yankees use the whole field.
* River Ave Blues has the day the evil empire was born.
* The Captain’s Blog takes a historical look at baseball attendance and fan loyalty.
* The Greedy Pinstripes ponders the future of the Yankees outfield.
* The Yankee Analysts are predicting A-Rod’s 2012.