The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Pinch hitting: Yankees Etc.

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Jan 18, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

January is usually a slow month for baseball news. So we’ve lined up a series of guest bloggers to entertain you. Next up is Travis from Yankees Etc..

Travis has been blogging the Yankees and Giants since the summer of ’05. A New York native, he went to school in Boston and now works in Philadelphia. He says his favorite players are Donnie, Paulie and El Duque and he has the Giants over the Patriots in the Super Bowl. But we’re letting him blog anyway and here’s his post:

It seems hardcore Yankee fans are looking forward to 2008 more so than any other season in years. Last season we saw that our top prospects were not over-hyped as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy lived up to or exceeded expectations. Assuming none are traded, all will be important pieces of the 2008 team and well beyond. With their potential production for the next decade at stake, Yankee management is taking every precaution to ensure the Trio can and will contribute for as long as possible.

In what way should the Trio be used and in what way will they be used?

Management played it safe last year with the Joba Rules, even in the midst of a pennant race. Going by the “Rule of 30” (supported by Rick Peterson, Will Carroll and Tom Verducci) none of the Trio will reach 200 innings in 2008.

Looking at their innings totals from 2007 and how much those increased from 2006, here’s what we can expect their limits to be:

Hughes pitched 72.2 with the Yankees, 5.2 in the playoffs and 37.2 in the minors = 116 total innings. That’s exactly 30 fewer innings than 2006 (due to injuries). Since he pitched 146 innings in 2006, it’s possible he could be stretched to 170 innings.

Joba pitched 24 with the Yanks, 3.2 in the playoffs and 88.1 in the minors = 116 total. That’s 11 fewer than 2006 when he threw 89.1 at Nebraska and 37.2 in the Hawaiian Winter League. He probably won’t be stretched beyond 150, but some put it up to 170.

Kennedy pitched 19 with the Yanks and 146.1 in the minors = 165.1 total. That’s almost exactly 30 more innings than in 2006 (101.2 at USC, 2.2 in the minors and 30.1 in Hawaii). We can reasonably expect 195 innings this year.

If we assume 200 each from Wang and Pettitte, who each topped 200 in ’07 (counting the playoffs), it would still require about 550 innings from the remaining starters (to match the AL average of 950 innings from starters).

Assuming that any or all of the Trio will outperform Mike Mussina (he of the 5.15 ERA), they can and should be used to their maximum innings limits. If they average six innings per start, that would allow the former duo to start at least 25 games each and Kennedy to start 33 games. Great – we get pretty much a full season from Kennedy and over two-thirds from Hughes and Joba. However, it still leaves about 50 starter innings unaccounted for, hence a number of spot starts will be needed from Mussina or the hot hand of the moment (e.g., Alan Horne, Steven White, Jeff Marquez, etc.). That would require a kind of five-man rotation, going something along the lines of:

Kennedy (due to a higher innings limit)
Joba (a 100% homegrown April rotation!)

Moose will need to fill in for Hughes and Joba (alternately) roughly twice for every four times through the rotation. However, with off days, it would drop to about eight starts throughout the season. This maximizes our best starters, minimizes our worst (sorry Moose), and keeps the trio within their individual innings limitations.

(Travis says to chech out his blog for more on this subject)




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