Thursday, May 8, 2014


Our rotation turns it’s lonely eyes to you.

This is not a panic post. Make no mistake, I am very confident that the Yankees are just starting to gel on many levels and I believe they will hit on all cylinders soon enough. What I am concerned about is the evolution of the starting pitcher…or regression in this case. It’s not just that the Bomber’s starting staff has already suffered injuries to Ivan Nova (Tommy John, done for 2014) and Michael Pineda (Back muscle strain, and stupidity), but it’s also the fact that aside from Masahiro Tanaka, the staff is fragile to put it gently.

CC Sabathia is doing his best to reinvent himself this season. He was smart enough to learn all he could from the War Horse we knew as Andy Pettitte. CC can’t reach back and find that 94-95 mph gas any longer. He works with what he has and keeps hitters of balance. It’s tough for the big man because he was born to be a power arm and now he has to be crafty. The thing that gets me is the lowered bar CC has had set for him. If he can keep the runs relatively low and go 6 innings Girardi and Rothchild seem overjoyed. I don’t get it. And I’m sure Sabathia doesn’t either.

I wasn’t a huge supporter of bringing back Hiroki Kuroda. I’ll admit it, I think he emptied the tank in August last year and is running on fumes now. But the Yankee Brass figured they’d roll the dice and hope he is the pitcher that was a CY Young candidate early last season. Much like CC, the coaching staff seems to baby Hiro a bit. I understand that they want to be sure not to overtax his arm too early, but he’s the team’s #2! I don’t understand the new formula. I think being over cautious with young arms is a recipe for disaster (see Joba and Phil) and coddling the veterans dulls their edge and puts too much strain on the bullpen.

When I think of an outstanding Yankee Starter David Cone instantly comes to mind. Sure, it’s partly because Coney is one of my all-time favorites, but its the he pitched that causes me to hold him in such high regard. Cone came into the league with the ability to blow hitters away with a great fastball that had late movement. When he signed with the Yanks, David still has an above average heater, but he added different pitches and arm angles to his repertoire remaining a dangerous big game pitcher. That kind of guy is sorely missed in this day and age. Cone stayed durable and wouldn’t consider 6 innings a “quality start” by any means. Number 36 was old school. He believed his job as the day’s starter was to go out and complete 9 innings. That was the mindset for so many pitchers not a decade ago and it’s changed now…for the worse in my opinion.

I got the chance to meet and talk with David Cone a few times in 2011. He is every bit a class act. He shared stories, thoughts on the game and it was clear to me that he would make an outstanding pitching coach if given the opportunity. The only loss would be to the YES broadcast team, because let’s face it; Coney, O’Neill and Leiter are outstanding color commentators. They are funny without trying and add great insight without seeming “Joe Morgan”.  Coney really was one of the last of a dying breed of Big League starters. They were guys who wanted the ball and found ways to grind out wins even when they didn’t have their best stuff. David was pitcher’s pitcher. He was the type of competitor who would glare into the dugout at a manager who dared to move toward the bullpen phone when the pitch count neared the century mark. The start was his responsibility and he took the hill as if to say to his friends in the pen, “Relax boys, I got this…even you, Mo. I’ll get it done.” 

You just don’t see that much anymore around Major League Baseball. Arms now come into the league with a owner’s manual and expiration date. BE SURE NEVER TO PITCH HIM AFTER A RAIN OUT. ONLY GO 6 INNINGS OR RISK INJURY. NEVER ASK HIM TO PITCH ON THE ROAD WHEN YOUR CLUB SPENT MORE THAN 2 HOURS ON A FLIGHT THE NIGHT BEFORE. It’s pretty outrageous and I don’t know about you, but I miss pitchers like David Cone. They set a very high bar and sadly, most pitchers today aren’t allowed to go near it.

I am encouraged that CC is aware of his limitations and never makes excuses. Through his years with Pettitte he has a connection to the days of Coney and other Yankee pitchers who simply found a way to get it done. I watch Sabathia’s starts very closely. He is searching for that thing that made David Cone so great. It was the ability to evolve from “Thrower” to pitcher.


--Mike O'Hara, MLB Fan Cave Host, Season 1
   Twitter: @mikeyoh21

"Paulie was always my favorite player."


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