At this point, I think it’s pretty clear that the Yankees intend to front their rotation with C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. But who will they slot in as their fourth and fifth starters, and in what order? There is a case to be made for all the candidates.
Garcia gave the Yankees 25 starts, 146.2 IP of 3.62 ERA ball – not exactly setting the world on fire, but more than serviceable. He’s a veteran, he’s been this guy for two seasons in a row, and, like any pitcher, you know what he’s going to get unless he breaks.
At this point, the only positive thing I can say about Burnett‘s tenure with the Yankees is he always takes the ball when it’s his turn and he soaks up innings. If the Yankees are willing to eat say… 75% of his salary, they can probably trade him, but that’s a spicy meatball.
Nova’s rookie campaign have the Yankees 165.1 IP of 3.70 ERA ball in 27 starts while going 16-4. That’s impressive. Now I think it’s fair that no one expects him to repeat that performance in 2012, but Nova looks like the real deal, and I don’t see any reason why the Yankees would want to disrupt his progress (Hughes style… Chamberlain style… sigh.), so it stands to reason they’ll find a spot for him.
Hughes has been the Yankees pet project for years, but I think it’s finally over. Hughes has repeatedly shown success in the bullpen while the injuries just keep piling up. Sure, he had that one strong year in 2010, but his health is a concern.
So what’s a team with four arms for two spots to do?
Nothing. Having too many starting pitchers is the sort of problem that could work itself out before opening day as someone could get injured. Phil Hughes’ fastball velocity could be in the toilet again… Burnett might get punched in the face again… Garcia might have another kitchen accident… who knows?
Make a trade. The bullpen is already pretty crowded, so maybe the Yankees try to move Hughes. On the other hand, his value is low now, so the Yankees would be selling low, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. They have been reportedly shopping Burnett for months now, and, because they are sick of his act, may be willing to eat a ton of money just to get rid of him – especially now, with this influx of too many arms and a need for a part time DH. (Of course, they can keep Burnett and pick up Johnny Damon or Carlos Pena for straight cash.
But what will they do? What do I think they’ll do? I think they’ll force Burnett out the door for a bag of balls… but we’ll see.