Saturday, January 24, 2015


Yankees GM Brian Cashman spent a lot of the team’s off season making the organization younger and adding some depth to their bullpen. Depth and young talent are essential to a winning organization as we all know. The biggest concern I have, as well as many other Yankees fans, is the health and lack of major league experienced depth within the starting rotation. 

The Yankees could potentially have a very strong group in 2015. Potentially being the key word there. CC Sabathia is in the late innings of his career and coming off knee surgery in 2014, a season in which he made just eight starts. Masahiro Tanaka suffered a slight tear of the UCL in his right elbow in July, but has, thus far, avoided the dreaded Tommy John surgery. 

Michael Pineda is, well, Michael Pineda. He is an injury or pine tar incident away from missing time at any moment. Ivan Nova is likely not due back to the rotation until May or June. These are huge concerns to me. 

While improving the bullpen and making the Yankees younger, Cashman dealt two of his experienced young starters away as well as a one-time top prospect.  I’m not saying I disagree with his maneuvers, but he dealt a few valuable commodities away in David Phelps, Shane Greene and former top prospect Manny Banuelos.

David Phelps provided some quality innings for the Yankees in 2014 going 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA over 32 games, including 17 starts. In the three years he had been with the club, he started 40 games and had an overall 15-14 record with a 4.21 ERA. Shane Greene made his major league debut in 2014 for the Yankees going 5-4 in 15 games (14 starts) with a 3.78 ERA. He was very impressive for a young pitcher in his rookie year and I was excited about his potential for sure. I am disappointed about him being traded away. Hopefully it doesn't bite him and the Yankees in the rear.

After Sabathia, Tanaka, Pineda and Nova, the Yankees have Nate Eovaldi, a hard throwing, young right hander, whom they acquired from the Marlins. He has plenty of potential, but has yet to harness it as he gave up the most hits in the NL in 2014. 

I love that they obtained Eovaldi. Young, experienced and throws hard. Boom! They also re-signed veteran left hander Chris Capuano who filled in admirably for the Yankees beat up 2014 rotation posting a 4.25 ERA over 12 starts. He is a fifth starter though who has pitched just 203 innings over the last two years. Can he give the Yankees 160+ quality innings? It’s a crap shoot at best! So what else do Cash have up his sleeve? Hopefully a couple aces! I'll even take pocket 10's!

Adam Warren, who pitched very well out of the bullpen in 2014, is going to be stretched out in the spring. Warren produced a 2.97 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 78 innings. With their added depth in the bullpen he could be a candidate to start if necessary at the expense of the pen. Chase Whitley started 12 games for the Bombers in 2014, but he tailed off as the summer got long. Bryan Mitchell pitched his way to AAA Scranton in 2014 and even made three appearances for the big club. He sported a 3.67 ERA in nine games (eight starts) in Scranton and in 11.0 innings with the Yankees had a 2.45 ERA. He will likely be the first pitcher to get a shot as a fill in starter when the Yankees need one. 

Hard throwing lefty Jose De Paula, whom the Yankees signed in the off season, is an option after posting a 4.21 ERA in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League for the Giants AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, last summer. 
Between the injury concerns, which there are plenty, and the lack of depth at the major league level, are the Yankees really prepared for a 162 game season? I’m finding it hard to believe. On the flip side of that, how do guys earn their keeps in the big leagues? They get their shot and run with it... that's how! Any one of the youngsters could be called upon and have a breakout season. Shane Greene was that guy last year and they turned him into Didi Gregorius

With James Shields still on the market and Hal Steinbrenner’s checkbook always on him, the Yankees could make a splash at the last two free agent pitchers. They also could go after The Sporting News AL comeback player of the year for the Mariners in 2014, 36 year old righty Chris Young or another injury prone talent in Alexi Ogando. Cashman has been known to surprise us, good and bad!
If the rotation stays healthy and effective, both huge keys and concerns, the Yankees could have a strong, stable rotation in 2015. The questions within the staff are concerning however. Should Cashman make a bid at two free agent pitchers and sign them long term as they progress in their 30’s? We've seen how that goes (CC, ARod, Tex). Should he try and sign one or two older veterans and hope to find that ace up his sleeve? Or should he simply let the young men within the organization have their shot when their time arrives? I guess only Hal and Cash know at this point. Hopefully whatever decisions are made, it leads the 27 time World Champions back to the promise land. 

Dan Lucia
BYB Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia

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