In his morning post, pinch hitter Ed listed three common elements of the past 11 Yankees teams to have advanced to the World Series. No. 1 on the list: “You need really good starting pitching to win it all.”
With that in mind, I wonder if the overlooked fact of this offseason is that the Yankees’ rotation is much deeper than it was three months ago.
Aside from re-signing Andy Pettitte, trading for Curtis Granderson and signing Nick Johnson, the Yankees made a move to bring Javier Vazquez back to the Bronx. They aren’t asking him to be an ace, or even a No. 2. Vazquez seems to line up as the Yankees No. 4 starter, and I find it difficult to name a better No. 4 in all of baseball. He’s thrown at least 200 innings each of the past five years, he’s finished with double-digit wins each of the past 10 years and he’s coming off a career year in Atlanta.
Adding Vazquez is a pretty significant upgrade for a Yankees team that got through the 2009 playoffs with only three starting pitchers. The schedule isn’t always going to allow for a three-man postseason rotation, and although it makes sense to hope for either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to become an indispensable part of the rotation, it also makes sense to upgrade with a reliable and durable starter like Vazquez.
Through all of the debate about left field and the questions about Hideki Matsui’s departure, the rotation upgrade seems to have gone almost unnoticed, but it might be as significant as anything the Yankees have done this winter.