Reports out of New York have been anything but positive in regards to the health and comeback status of former ace Chien-Ming Wang.
Wang himself appears openly troubled and pessimistic about toeing a rubber before the 2010 season, and the Yankees should not be leaving the lights on in anticipation of his return.
While the front end of the rotation has been nothing short of electric over the last month, the back end has a fray in its stitching that could eventually lead to a gaping hole.
The old adage states that a “stitch in time saves nine,” implying that an early fix always prevents problems from escalating into an unstoppable avalanche.
Much like the threat of Global Warming, the Yankees rotation is experiencing some setbacks and changes, but the issues have not yet begun sounding the alarms.
Contingency plans should already be in effect, but the recent surge of success in the Bronx has clouded the eventual need for rotation depth.
Whether or not you are a devoted fan and supporter of Joba Chamberlain’s position as the fourth starter, the impending issue is one for you to be concerned with.
Chamberlain’s unwavering innings limit has once again come under discussion within the Yankees organization, and GM Brian Cashman has admitted it is a concern moving forward.
Once Chamberlain reaches 130-140 innings pitched, he will be forced to vacate his spot in the starting rotation in favor of the bullpen—as he is capped at around 150 innings.
Cashman made it clear that this philosophy has not changed whatsoever since the preseason, and that “no new wrinkle” has been added into the dreaded “Joba Rules.”
With the uncertainties surrounding Wang, Chamberlain, and Sergio Mitre’s statuses, manager Joe Girardi has expressed his own valid worries about the back end of the rotation.
This of course does not even include any resurfacing of the arm injuries that derailed the second half of Andy Pettitte’s 2008 season—almost forcing him into an early retirement.
So the burning question remains…what is the ultimate solution? Cashman offered the possibility of Alfredo Aceves permanently thrust into the rotation, as well as one other startling conclusion.
After hearing the words, “Kei Igawa has been pitching very well in Triple-A, so I can’t say you won’t be seeing him this year,” my ears inevitably began to emit a stream of blood reminiscent of Niagara Falls.
While Aceves would likely perform admirably in a permanent role as a starter, he has been far too valuable to the resurrected Yankee bullpen. The ‘pen has been as reliable and important as any facet of the team, and this option should be of the “last resort” variety.
The more prudent solution lies in a pitcher New York is rather familiar with—a pitcher who once stood on the other side of baseball’s most storied and passionate rivalry.
The Yankees should look to acquire Cincinnati Reds hurler Bronson Arroyo.
Arroyo has pitched well in the AL East, is an innings eater (even when he is beaten up early), has playoff experience out of the bullpen, and already has 10 wins on a bad team in 2009.
Do not let his bloated ERA fool you, as he allowed 18 earned runs over 6.2 IP in two deplorable starts. When removing these performances from the equation, Arroyo is an impressive 10-7 with a 4.13 ERA.
The Yankees need a dependable veteran presence in the fifth starter role, and someone they know can provide length.
Arroyo is on pace for his fifth straight 200 plus inning season, and he has pitched seven or more innings in 45 percent of his starts (9-for-20). He is exactly the kind of pitcher New York needs, and can be had for a package of mid-level prospects.
The Reds would be happy to get his salary off of the payroll and open the spot to another talented young arm, and Arroyo is the kind of pitcher that misses throwing meaningful games.
The move will not cost Cashman and the Yankees the likes of Austin Jackson, Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, Chamberlain, Austin Romine, or Zach McAllister.
It is a proposition that creates a win-win scenario, and provides Cashman with a “nothing to lose” opportunity.
While other teams battle for the services of Erik Bedard, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Jarrod Washburn, it is time for New York to fly under the radar and snatch up Arroyo.
The Yankees cannot wait until Chamberlain’s limit is reached and Mitre hits a rough patch before analyzing their pitching status, and Arroyo is just the man to ease their concerns.