Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Undesireables

In the 2004 ALCS it was clear that the Yankees did nothing to revamp their pitching staff after the migration of Pettitte and loss of Clemens and David Wells. It has now been three seasons and the Yankee rotation includes a Mexican journeyman(Aceves), a pitcher released by Texas(Sir Sydney), a fading fast veteran(Andy) and Carl freaking Pavano.

This is nothing new either, a lot of the starters who have seen significant time the last four years can be categorized as either old(36+,) unproven or simply mediocre. These are three categories you want to avoid because more times then not bad things will happen. I think that a team can only handle so many starts by these Undesirables and any thing over a certain threshold puts your postseason aspirations in jeopardy. Think about it, the odds of a 36+ year old pitcher breaking down or aging before your eyes is pretty great and young pitchers are a 50/50 proposition at best.

So let's take a look at just how many of the starts by the Yankees the last four years can be put in these categories. I will start with the Rays and Red Sox this year as a point of reference;

Tampa- Total starts by Undesirables 30, 22% of Schedule
2 Starts by Unproven - Neiman
28 Starts by mediocre - Sonnastine
Matt Garza had 24 career starts before this year so he doesn't quite qualify as an unproven and I am giving Edwin Jackson the benefit of the doubt that he has turned his career around and is no longer a mediocre pitcher.

Boston - 58 Starts by the Undesirables, 41% of schedule
25 Starts by the Old - Wakefield(25)
27 Starts by the Unproven - Buchholz(15), Masterson(9),Pauley(1),Bowden(1), Zink(1)
6 Starts by the Mediocre - Ponson(6)

2008 Yankees - 127 Starts by the Undesirables, 89% of schedule
59 Starts by the Old - Mussina(30), Pettitte(29)
31 Starts by the Unproven - Kennedy(9), Hughes(6), Joba(12), Giese(3), Bruney(1)
37 Starts by the Mediocre - Rasner(20), Ponson(13), Pavano(3), Igawa(1)
2007 Yankees - 98 Starts by the Undesirables, 60% of schedule
44 Starts by the old - Mussina(27), Clemens(17)
30 Starts by Medicore -Igawa(12), Karstens(3), Henn(1), DeSalvo(6), Rasner(6), Pavano(2)
24 Starts by unproven Kennedy(3), Chase Wright(2), Hughes(13), and Clippard(6)

2006 Yankees - 120 Starts by the Undesirables, 74% of schedule
65 Starts by the old - Johnson(33), Mussina(32)
45 Starts by Medicore -Jaret Wright(27), Chacon(11), Small(3), Ponson(3), Wilson(1)
10 Starts by unproven Karstens(6), Rasner(3), Henn(1)

2005 Yankees 162 Starts by the Undesirables, 100% of schedule
87 Starts by the Old - Mussina(30), Johnson(34), Brown (13), Leiter(10)
21 Starts by the Unproven - Wang(18), Henn(3), Proctor(1)
54 Starts by the Mediocre - Redding (1), May(1), Sturtze(1), Small(9), Chacon(12), Wright(13), Pavano(17)

And just to drive the point home...
1998 Yankees - Total starts by Undesirables 6, 4% of Schedule
3 Starts by Unproven - Bradley, Jerzemback
3 Starts by mediocre - Bruske, Buddie
The Yankees have simply had too many of their starts taken by the old, the young or the just plain no good. This has to stop and there really is only one place to lay blame and that is at the feet of Brian Cashman. Maybe the lucky run at the end of 2005 provided Cash with some false sense of hope around this high risk spots.
The bottom line is you can survive having two spots that are high risk but this year 4 out of 5 spots were undesirable, this has to change next year.

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