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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE YANKEES YOUNG STARTERS?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A young Yankee starting pitcher will undergo a major medical procedure. According to Josh Norris, HERE, starting pitching prospect Manny Banuelos will undergo Tommy John surgery on October 4th, adding to the laundry list of young Yankee pitchers who have had major injury setbacks.
Banuelos, who will turn 22 in March, was only able to log 24 innings in 2012 due to what was called a “bone bruise” he suffered in mid-May before getting shutdown in August, hoping he’d pitch in winter ball. You have to wonder if Banuelos tore a ligament in his elbow while rehabbing the bone bruised elbow, but I’m not a doctor, so I’ll try not to speculate. Either way, Banuelos will lose yet another year of development as this will keep him on the shelf for the entire 2013 season.

What’s really frustrating about this situation is that Banuelos is just another pitching prospect who has suffered serious injury. From Joba and Phil Hughes’ previous arm injuries, Michael Pineda’s torn labrum, Dellin Betances’ shoulder injury he suffered late in the year, Jose Campos’ elbow injury, and now this. Normally I point to bad luck for injuries, but this is getting ridiculous. I think changes need to be made. I’m not sure what, but maybe the Yankees relieving Billy Connors of his duties (HERE) may have been a step in the right direction. In fact, if Connors got relieved, perhaps minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras could be relieved as well? I’m just a blogger, but I'm also smart. Even from afar, this whole situation is just a mess.
With the $189 million budget looming, the Yankees need cheap, young rotation arms. Banuelos wasn’t ready for the majors as it is, so theoretically the earliest he could reach The Show is Mid-2014, and that’s assuming everything goes perfectly, ie. no injury setbacks, success in Triple-A, etc. Michael Pineda is a wild card, to put it nicely, following his labrum surgery.

Who the hell knows if he’s even committed as he’s had a DUI as well as coming into camp in poor shape since being traded to the Yankees. And, of course, he’s yet to throw a meaningful pitch for the Bombers, too. Finally, Ivan Nova was supposed to be another cheap, young rotation arm to go along with Pineda and Banuelos, but his 2012 season has been nothing short of a nightmare. A 5.02 ERA in 170.2 innings to go along with an opponent’s batting line against him of .288/.349/.511. In short, that opponent’s batting line against nearly matches Yoenis Cespedes’ .290/.352/.506 batting line in 2012.

The starting pitching problem goes beyond those three guys. CC Sabathia is nearing his decline years, and we all know Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte won’t be around for much longer. We also don’t know what to expect out of David Phelps and Phil Hughes. Will Phelps be able to build off his rock-solid rookie campaign? Will Phil Hughes be able to pitch back-to-back solid seasons as he nears free agency? Your guesses are as good as mine.

I’m just rambling now, but this is clearly an issue that needs to be resolved. The Yankees have had trouble developing a homegrown starter since Andy Pettitte came up in 1995, though there are some exceptions. At the same time, though, they have not benefited from high draft picks like a lot of other teams have, but I digress. Maybe the Yankees will strike gold in the free agent market. However, as noted, the $189 million budget is nearing, and that might mean letting some position players such as Curtis Granderson and/or Nick Swisher walking in free agency in order to get a free agent starter or two, and that will certainly hurt.




--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse


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