|Yankees Can’t Buy Rotation||| Print |||Send|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on February 05, 2011
Andy Pettitte retiring shouldn't have surprised anyone.
He threw just 129 innings last year because of a midseason groin injury. His elbow has bothered him the last few years. And, most importantly, he's fluctuated on whether to retire the last few offseasons. This decision leads to a weak Yankees rotation in 2011.
But it makes sense to discount Pettitte contributing to the Yankees rotation next season. His 2011 summer includes testifying against former buddy Clemens, not adding an epilogue to his Yankeeography.
His departure leaves the Yankees even more desperate for starting pitching. That's an understatement, considering they signed Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, are flirting with Kevin Millwood, and are considering Sergio Mitre as a contributor.
That's not how Yankee fans envisioned the 2011 offseason. They figured their so-called infinite money would buy Cliff Lee, bring back Pettitte for one more go-around and secure an American League East-best rotation.
Not so much. Instead, CC Sabathia headlines what could be a weak rotation.
Many Yankee fans will point to Phil Hughes' 18-win season as a sign he's developing into a No. 2 starter. It would be important to remember Hughes finished with a 4.90 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 75 1/3 innings after the All Star Break. That came with the Yankees trying to protect their young arm.
The Yankees' rotation from there -- even Suzyn Waldman will agree -- is nothing but a grab bag of spare parts. AJ Burnett regressed after a solid first season with the Yankees. He has worked this offseason with pitching coach Dave Eiland on maintaining his focus through adverse situations in games, but Burnett has alternated injured seasons with disappointing ones.
Ivan Nova is an early fan favorite for the fourth spot, but it would be important to consider one important number: 48 1/3. That's how many more innings Nova, 24, threw last season (197) than he did in his previous high (148 2/3).
A 30-inning increase is considered the break point for a young pitcher; Nova obliterated that number. The Yankees will have to monitor his workload, especially early.
The Yankees are left with a competition among past-their-prime arms for the fifth spot because they chased Lee while solid options like Hiroki Kuroda and Brett Myers were signed. There are no serviceable replacements in the minor leagues.
The Yankees are left with what may be the fourth-best rotation in their division and a team that could finish out of the postseason.