Arms Race: Yankee Pitchers Hurting, Bombers Need an Arm
“I hurt my hands because I fell down the stairs.”
This is the reason A.J. Burnett gave the New York Yankees’ training staff on Saturday after he departed from the game vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. Burnett tossed just two innings and gave up four earned runs on four hits. He walked none and only struck out one batter.
He hurt his hands falling down the stairs? That’s not a reason for getting hurt.
It’s a punch-line.
It turns out Burnett hurt himself slamming a door out of frustration. Quite honestly he has a lot to be frustrated about. The Yankees’ number two man is 7-8 this season with an ERA of 4.99. To this point he has struck out a measly 82 batters, walked 46, and given up 12 home runs. In fact, Burnett has given up 56 hits and 36 earned runs in his last 10 games.
It’s obvious there is something wrong with him. Can it be corrected? Who knows.
The day after Burnett’s episode, the Yanks lost one of their All-Star pitchers. Andy Pettitte, who had been tearing it up with a record of 11-2 and an ERA of 2.88, suffered an apparent groin injury. In the third inning, Pettitte came up lame after throwing an 85 mph slider to Kelly Shoppach and was immediately removed.
Not what the Yankees needed, by any means.
According to several reports, Pettitte will be on the disabled list for three to four weeks leaving a hole in the pitching rotation for the time being.
Javier Vazquez has not exactly been setting Yankee Universe on fire either. The right-hander is 7-7 with a 4.45 ERA. After starting the season incredibly slow, he has started to pick it up. In his last 10 games Vazquez 5-3 with a 2.78 ERA. Over that span he has also surrendered 41 hits and 20 earned runs.
Vazquez hasn’t been overwhelmingly dominant, or the most consistent pitcher, but he has at least given the Yankees more innings than Burnett.
At press time the Bronx Bombers have two pitchers in their starting rotation who they can really rely on, obviously CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes. With the way the rest of the pitching has gone (which in a lot of ways is downhill) I asked myself this morning, “Should the Yankees go after a decent starter to fill in for Pettitte and for the stretch run overall?”
The best answer is yes.
I’m not saying they need to give away all of their best prospects and get a hurler like Roy Oswalt, but there are some relatively cheap starters currently on the market that might do some good in Pettitte’s absence. With Burnett and Vazquez pitching as they are, the Yanks might just need another arm.
Here are two suggestions for the Yanks to consider:
The 29 year-old righty from the Arizona Diamondbacks is currently having a rough year. He owns the same record as Burnett (7-8) with an ERA of 4.60. However, he has 133 strikeouts and only 27 walks.
Haren possesses great ability; the only problem is his team and lack of run support. At press time the D’Backs are 34-58, good for last place in the National League Western Division. His team is not much to look at, but if he got more support his numbers would undoubtedly improve.
Not to mention he has experience pitching in the American League. Before he joined the Diamondbacks in 2008, he had been a nemesis of the Yanks with the Oakland Athletics.
The only two things I see that might stand in the way of Haren and pinstripes are money and who the Yankees would or would not give up for him. He is owed $29 million after 2010, but a trade would keep him with the Yanks through 2012 because of his contract.
Arizona would probably ask for someone like Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, also making the trade a little less doable. I’m not sure the Yanks would want to part with such young, promising players, but in return they would get a solid pitcher for a few years.
I’d like to see it happen. Haren would look good in pinstripes.
Unlike Haren, a trade for 29 year-old righty Brian Bannister would most likely come a lot cheaper.
Bannister, a member of the Kansas City Royals since after the 2006 season, currently has a record of (again) 7-8 with an ERA of 5.65. He has 62 Ks coupled with 40 walks.
His numbers are not ideal, but he has experience pitching in New York. Before making his way to Kansas City prior to the 2007 campaign, Bannister originally started for the New York Mets. He was traded after the season for Ambiorix Burgos.
The ability is there; I even remember watching a Mets game in ’06 and thinking to myself, “This guy has talent. He could go places.” After all, Bannister was the first pitcher to hand hyped-up phenom Stephen Strasburg a loss this year, as the Royals beat the Washington Nationals 1-0 on June 23.
A trade for Bannister would probably be cheaper for the Yanks, and they might even be able to hold onto him for awhile. Bannister is not a free agent until after 2012, therefore they would really be able to get some length out of his service.
Bannister would not just go “one-and-done” like Vazquez might.
If the Yankees want to go a much cheaper route and get a pitcher who can probably throw up a handful of quality starts while Pettitte rehabs, Bannister might be their man.
This morning Buster Olney reported that the Yankees are not looking for help with their starting rotation and they are focused on the bench. He mentioned names like Ted Lilly and Jake Westbrook, and said the Yanks should seek them instead of anyone high-priced.
This might be when the world ends, because I disagree with him.
Lilly and Westbrook have already been Yankees and so far the idea of getting former Yankees back (like Nick Johnson) has (I’m sure) not worked out as well as the Yanks would’ve hoped. And if I recall correctly, as a member of the Blue Jays, Lilly has plunked Jorge Posada twice.
The second time Posada was hit, he jaw-jacked with Lilly and a brawl almost ensued.
The bottom line is that either Lilly or Westbrook would not be as good a fit as either Haren or Bannister. As far as the “focus on the bench” Olney spoke of–I seriously hope he was kidding. The bench is probably the last thing the Yanks should concern themselves with at this point.
I would say fix the hole in the starting rotation (even though it’s temporary), try to iron out the bullpen, and then try to add a bat off the bench. If they really want to add a bench player or someone with a lot of power, I got two words for them:
Russell Branyan. They don’t call him “Russell the Muscle” for nothing.