Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Idea/Bad Idea Yankees Style

Who else remembers the Animaniacs? Well, it may be time to introduce a new type of article here. We’re going to play a game of “Good idea, Bad idea”. Today’s article will focus around the Yankees most recent roster moves.

Good Idea: Moved David Phelps to the rotation in the wake of CC Sabathia's injury. In all honesty Phelps has pitched well enough both as a starter and as a reliever to warrant a longer look in the rotation. It’s not the perfect scenario to take over for the big lefty, but if Phelps can put together a few solid starts everyone will be happy, and he might just get a chance to compete for a starting spot next spring. I can’t fault Cashman, or anyone else involved for making this call. The guys over at River Ave Blues have been calling for Phelps to get another shot in the rotation for a while now. His splits are pretty positive, he hasn’t been giving up an overwhelming number of line drives, he’s striking batters out frequently, and has managed to avoid the long ball reasonably well. The biggest gripe I could make about this one is that he hasn’t been stretched out for starting, and at least this first start could be a short one, I’m thinking 80 pitches, maybe 5 innings if he’s economical? I could be wrong, he’s only pitched once this week in a game, and twice in the last 14 days. Maybe the Yanks have been quietly stretching him out in anticipation of a move to the rotation.

Bad Idea: Signing Derek Lowe. I get the premise, he’s going to be the low man in the ‘pen, he will be there to take the 4 inning hit when a starter gets lit up, he’ll be there to slowly allow the opposing team back into a blowout, but most importantly, he’ll be there to protect actually valuable arms from taking the same punishment. That said, I don’t like it. I don’t like signing a pitcher because of his “pennant race experience” or his “postseason success”. His pedigree would hold up if it weren’t currently so covered in the mess of his recent failures. Yes he has had success earlier this season, yes he’s pitched out of the bullpen before, and yes he’s almost free. Knowing all of that, he still sucks, and I’m still leary of his ability to be productive. Everyone will throw it around like it’s reason to justify the signing, Lowe still gets ground balls with great frequency; but he also doesn’t strike anyone out. I’m not saying a pitcher needs to throw 100 mph or strike out more than 1 per inning to succeed, I still root for Chien-Ming Wang to return to form, I like seeing the defense involved in a lot of plays, and I like seeing pitchers go deep into games, but he’s walking batters at a higher than average (3.4/9) rate and striking out almost exactly 3 per 9. That is not now, nor has it ever been a recipe for success. I said he’d come back down to earth, and he came back down so hard that the Indians are willing to pay him to pitch somewhere else.

This is one of those moments where it’d be great if I were wrong, but I just don’t see it. I don’t see how I can be wrong about Lowe here. Maybe he throws a little harder out of the ‘pen, maybe Russell Martin can keep him from tipping pitches, but to count on either of those things would just be foolish.

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