Saturday, August 28, 2010

I've Lost That Loving Feeling

In the early part of the 2009 season there was no way you could realistically believe that the Yankees were a championship caliber team. The bullpen was in shambles. The hitting was inconsistent. The team seemed uninspired (except for some pie shots). But, the key to things staying steady and eventually improving was the starting rotation.

CC Sabathia was, well, CC Sabathia. A.J. Burnett had his ups and downs, but there were more ups than downs. Chad Gaudin stepped up to the point where he was actually being considered for a playoff start. And of course there was the Yankee of all Yankees, Andy Pettitte, doing his Pettitte best.

Things started out well this season despite an inconsistent offense and a prolonged slump by Mark Teixeira. But as we near the beginning of September this team is back to not looking like a championship caliber team. All you have to do is look at the starting pitching to figure that out.

And I repeat, CC Sabathia is, well, CC Sabathia. And then things go kind of off track.

Phil Hughes has had his struggles in the 2nd half, but he's still a 15 game winner. A 15 game winner with an innings limit that has about 30 innings left.

A.J. Burnett is about as lost as Hansel and Gretel were and he may just get baked by the witch. I'm tired of hearing from the YES and WCBS-AM announcers about how good his stuff is. Granted, he gets run support, but the White Sox Freddy Garcia, who does not have a lot left in the tank, is 11-5!

Andy Pettitte is the worrysome one. He threw 25 pitches off the mound yesterday, but didn't push off with any kind of resistance and didn't exactly sound upbeat when interviewed on Michael Kay's radio show. Without Pettitte the Yankees aren't going very far if they hang on and make the playoffs.

The pleasant surprise has of course been Dustin Moseley. But Dustin Moseley is not a household name just yet.

So what happens next: Chad Gaudin will not be in the rotation this year and Sergio Mitre blew his chance.

As expected, the Dodgers today placed Ted Lilly on waivers. You can bet the Yankees have an interest, but you can also bet another team lower in the standings is likely to claim him. Another possibility could be Lilly's teammate Hiroki Kuroda, a Japanese veteran who has just three years of MLB experience.

Looking at the list of pending 2011 free agents, there are no other pitchers out there substantially better than what the current staff is made up of. Perhaps a flier on Livan Hernandez, but that's unlikely.

Ideally, Pettitte gets physically healthy, Burnett gets mentally healthy, and the Yankees gear up for number 28. Without it, you can forget a serious run at a back to back title.

On a non-pitching note, don't be surprised if the Yankees were to claim a veteran catcher (if he's put out there), such as Brad Ausmus. Though Ausmus doesn't hit, his defensive skills and game calling are superior to Francisco Cervelli's.

Photo courtesy of NY Daily News

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