This off-season, the New York Yankees‘ hopes of adding an additional pitcher fell through.
True, pickings were slim, but with the seemingly impending retirement of Andy Pettitte, it didn’t make life any easier in the Bronx.
The Yankees will turn to their starting three of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett. In 2010, Sabathia and Hughes were solid, but Burnett was inconsistent and the team needs his talents in order to stay competitive in 2011.
Burnett knows how important his role will be and GM Brian Cashman paid Burnett a visit to make sure he was fully aware of the situation.
Change is scary and unsettling, especially when it is not by choice.
The 2010 off-season did not work out the way the New York Yankees had hoped. The franchise heads into a New Year having failed to acquire ace Cliff Lee or any other highly sought free-agent players.
Getting player’ to sing with the Yankees is not usually such a hard sell. The franchise is the most historical and successful in all of sports; New York City is incredible and players’ paychecks tend to have a few extra zeros on the end.
So, if anything, the Yankees are hurt, but humbled.
There is no denying that Yankee fans aren’t worried, as pinstripe haters are basking in what is deemed a non-contending group for 2011.
The team has enough experience and if they can learn from past mistakes, watch out and here are two reasons why
There are obvious holes in the starting rotation without adding Cliff Lee, and presumably sans Andy Pettitte.
AJ Burnett was a mess in 2010—but it is a new year, a new season and Burnett was more disappointed than anyone, so give the guy a break until proven otherwise.
CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are as solid as you can get, but it still leaves two unfilled rotation spots. The hope is, or was, to fill one with Pettitte’s talents, but GM Brian Cashman has not given any reason to count on the southpaw’s return.
Cashman’s only choice is to head on down to a solid farm system that is filled with a ton of young talented arms. Two of the youngsters will get rotation spots, as there is no way Sergio Mitre should get another chance to lose games.
The alternatives are risky, but well worth the reward.
Just look at the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants, who were carried in September on the shoulders and the 1.13 ERA of a 21-year-old named Madison Bumgarner. Many claim that without Bumgarner down the stretch, the Giants might not have won the NL West, as Bumgarner followed his stellar rookie season in the majors with a heroic postseason.
The Nationals had stunk for years now with the only shining start, pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg already out for the entire 2011 season, as he needed Tommy John surgery. Not good news for any pitcher, especially a 21-year-old as the blame is on the organization. The Nationals’ meager fanbase turned up in droves for Strasburg, only to have him taken away—an all-too-common theme since settling in Washington five years ago.
Regardless, the Nats’ 2010 record speaks for itself, as it was the NL East’s worst finish with 69 wins and 93 losses. At home, they were above .500 closing out 41-40; but on the road, 28-53 is nauseating and not numbers that draw big stars.
Then consider facing the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, the unpredictable New York Mets and the up-and-coming Florida Marlins 18 games a season doesn’t help the Nationals’ cause either.
With crappy stats the only resolve is to go after a semi-star, like Werth, then pay up with a big contract. Werth is a star but he not the same level as Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee, making the dollars number so outrageous that the player will at least meet with you. The Nationals came with a plan, first by promising Werth that his money would not cap out the club, as the Nats pockets ran deeper to find him some more help.
That is still just talk about things that had not happened yet, and it is the Nationals making it easier said then done. What must have caught Werth’s attention was the Nationals farm system because this club is stacked for the next few seasons.
I guess sucking for so long does have its positives—just look at the Tampa Bay Rays, who made a 180 from bad right into the World Series in what seemed like nano-years.
Unlike down in Tampa Bay, the Nationals claim to have money to spend. So, presumably holes can be filled and if not by the green, then the Nats can head on down to the farm.
Remember that quality not quantity does apply here, meaning talent doesn’t come in numbers so it is taking a chance. Any club who wants to win now has to think like the Yankees or Red Sox. The one or two times trading works out has usually been the difference maker for a successful season.
So, who are these youngsters? Other than Strasburg, I watched the other three in the Arizona Fall League and each caught my eye.
Stephen Strasburg, SP
The most hyped rookie in MLB history. Strasburg is an outstandingly talented pitcher that every baseball fan salivated over during his brief stint in 2010. This is a special kid, as he won games, is only 22-years old, sold 78,00 jerseys in June and literally filled an empty Nationals ballpark. In his first 68 innings pitched in the bigs, Strasburg finished with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts.
The 2010 No. 1 draft pick will be just 19 on his next birthday. Harper bats with plus-power, attacks pitches and can hit to the opposite field. He already posses the ability to make changes at the plate and has an above-average throwing arm in the outfield. This kid will make his debut in 2011 and you can bet Harper will be a superstar.