Results tagged ‘ Phil Hughes ’

Case closed: Joba is a starter

Joba-2-28-(2)-250.jpgBy Jon Lane
This debate will never end. And there are plenty of you passionate enough in your belief that the Yankees are best served with Joba Chamberlain as part of a one-two lockdown with Mariano Rivera by virtue of our homepage poll which suggests that Phil Hughes should start over Chamberlain (1,063 votes to 1,039).

Ain’t gonna happen. Chamberlain threw three scoreless innings on Monday. That was his second consecutive solid outing in which his fastball showed live, his breaking pitches bite and the moxie that’s part of his makeup. That’s something you need through the course of a 150 innings and a full season, rather than cameo appearances that aren’t guaranteed every day or every other day.

Straying from the quick-fix approach that has brought them names like Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Kenny Lofton and Tony Womack (to name only a few), the Yankees aren’t building just for 2009. They’re building a program, one that in the age of revenue sharing that in part kicked them off their perch as kings of baseball, will keep them competitive for years and years. Joba Chamberlain, who has all the makings of an ace, is part of that program and his development should not be stunted in any way.

If you don’t take my word for it, Mark Feinsand lays it all out in The New York Daily News. And in his blog, Feinsand asks pertinent questions to pitching coach Dave Eiland to justify the organization’s belief that its best interest lies with Joba the starter.

For those of you who will always believe in Joba the reliever, you’re justified and have evidence to back you up. The problem I had with a few tabloids calling for the Yankees to put him back in the bullpen was that it came off his first few Spring Training starts. Spring Training, folks. If it were anyone else you’d chalk it up to building arm strength, experimenting with new pitches and getting into a rhythm that will best serve you over a long season. Because it was Chamberlain, unproven as a full-time starter yet amazing in an eighth-inning role, he was deemed a failure as a starter.

Imagine if Chamberlain were to pitch out of a the bullpen and he’d blow two or three one-run leads in the eighth over a stretch of a couple of weeks. Would anyone demand the Yankees move him back into the rotation? It doesn’t work that way. It was determined after the 2008 season that Chamberlain was to be a starter, and that he’d have all winter and a full Spring Training to prepare with the mentality of being a starter. You cannot yank him in out of roles like a yo-yo. That’s when you’re really asking for trouble.

Fear not though, loyal members of the Joba-to-the-bullpen army. He may end up in the bullpen again – as part of the Yankees’ postseason roster. To echo Feinsand, Chamberlain would reach his innings cap by October and since he’s the fifth starter, you’d have your top four guns start playoff games while Chamberlain contributes from the back end of the pen. The Yankees have to get there first and that’s far from a guarantee. Just look at last season: The Yankees won 89 games but finished third in the AL East and were deemed a failure. Like it is every year, 2009 is winning time. The best way to get there is to have a future No. 1 as your No. 5

Joba Time

joba_250_031609.jpgBy Jon Lane
The Yankees play the third of a four-game homestand this afternoon when they welcome the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Joba Chamberlain is back on the mound to face off against Kyle Kendrick.

Chamberlain looked sharp his last time out, throwing three innings of one-run ball with no walks and three strikeouts to bounce back from a terrible start to the Grapefruit season. But even though Phil Hughes produced his first bad start of the spring Saturday in Bradenton (two hits — both solo home runs — three walks, two strikeouts in three innings), Hughes led our homepage poll as of 11 a.m. by a slim 932-895 that asks whether he or Chamberlain should be the Yankees’ fifth starter.

Will another strong performance from Chamberlain assuage more concerns that he’s better off in the bullpen? We’ll have this poll up one more day, so we’ll see where you stand by this time tomorrow morning. Don’t forget to also sound off on our message boards about this and other topics surrounding the Yankees.

Today’s lineup
Brett Gardner CF
Cody Ransom 3B
Nick Swisher 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Xavier Nady RF
Jose Molina C
Angel Berroa 2B
Todd Linden LF
Eduardo Nunez SS

Storylines
Pitching after Chamberlain:
Brian Bruney (Today’s Quick Cut and in my view the Yankees’ best choice to set up Mariano Rivera)

Kei Igawa (Your 2009 New York Yankees fifth starter — insert sarcasm wherever you prefer)

Dave Robertson (Fighting for a spot in the front end of the bullpen)

Robinson Cano (right shoulder tendinitis) and Damaso Marte (left shoulder inflammation) will have MRIs done today and be examined by team physician Chris Ahmad. Brian Cashman referred to these injuries as “yellow flags” and hopes rest and recovery will do the trick. Then again, Jorge Posada’s shoulder was no big deal and Alex Rodriguez was supposed to only have a cyst drained. Historically, the Yankees are overly cautious when it comes to diagnosing injuries, and rightfully so.

UPDATE: Each MRI revealed no structural damage. Cano has bursitis and Marte inflammation. According to The Journal News, Cano will DH or pinch hit before returning to full-time action on Friday, while it’s unknown when Marte will pitch again. 

Three years ago, George Steinbrenner denounced the World Baseball Classic, but Cashman took the high road despite seeing two of his players return from the competition nicked up.

“You have some great storylines going on,” Cashman said. “It doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. Of course we’d love to have our entire team here together, working every day.”

Seeing Posada catch four innings on Sunday was reassuring. Although his throwing arm wasn’t tested, it was another big step forward. Next for Posada is catching CC Sabathia Tuesday against the Pirates, the same night Mariano Rivera will make his spring debut. The YES Network will air these two significant steps as part of its live telecast beginning at 7 p.m.

Ian Kennedy was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday, a blip on the radar, but notable considering he remains a vital part of the Yankees’ future. Cashman predicted “a big year” for the right-hander, but this shows you how much further both Hughes and Chamberlain are ahead of the team’s first-round pick (21st overall) in 2006. That said, Kennedy is 24 years old and unless the Yankees are blown away (or desperate) at the July trade deadline, there’s no reason to cut the cord.  

Reliever Mark Melancon was also among eight players reassigned to the Minor League camp. Looking for another Joba Version 2007 or possibly Rivera’s successor? Melancon is your man.

1:28 p.m. Following a four-pitch leadoff walk to Eric Bruntlett, Chamberlain whiffed Jason Donald on three pitches and caught Ryan Howard looking to strand Bruntlett at second base.

1:47 p.m. Another good inning for Chamberlain, who retires the first two batters and survives Geoff Jenkins’ two-out double to escape the second unscathed.

2:06 p.m. Another scoreless inning for Chamberlain, though he had some help when Jose Molina gunned down Bruntlett trying to steal second base. Joba also hit the next batter (Donald), but showed some mettle. This, folks, is a very good sign being that it’s a Spring Training game in which Chamberlain is experimenting with different pitches and techniques while still working his arm into season shape.

2:22 p.m. The line on Joba Chamberlain: three innings pitched, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts, one hit batsman. He threw 48 pitches, 27 for strikes. Yankees lead, 2-0.

Back in business

cityofpalms_420.jpgBy Jon Lane
Refreshed after an off day in the Florida sun, the Yankees return to action tonight against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

I’ll never forget my first trip to City of Palms Park, which made a one-way, two-hour-plus drive from Tampa seem like 10. It was 2004 and the Yankees’ first meeting with the Red Sox since Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. There was an overflow crowd outside the ballpark. People looking to make extra bucks were selling souvenir pins for $6 and tickets for at $100-$500 for the privilege of viewing what the Boston media was calling “Game 8.”

Mind you, this was a Spring Training game. The biggest names on the trip for the Yankees were Jorge Posada and Jose Contreras. What certain people sacrifice and put themselves through for the minuscule of pleasures.

Tonight will be different. The rivalry has simmered down (at least for now). There’s neither bad blood spilling over from a near brawl nor heartache over Aaron “Bleeping” Boone. And don’t forget the small detail that the Red Sox have lad this game of one-upmanship since Game 4, 2004 ALCS. Last season they fell to the Rays in seven games of the ALCS in defense of their second World Championship in three years, while the Yankees come off missing the postseason for the first time in 13 years.
 
For those making the trip, living in New England, subscribers to the MLB Network and/or MLB.TV, or those who get a kick out of refreshing box scores, it’s Chien-Ming Wang against Tim Wakefield. Each will work three innings and the Yankees’ biggest name player on the trip is Xavier Nady. After tonight, the Yankees have an immediate turnaround thanks to afternoon games in Bradenton (1:05) and Tampa (1:15). The YES Network will carry the latter affair against the Astros with A.J. Burnett on the mound (Phil Hughes goes against the Pirates). Be sure to stay logged on all weekend for the latest as Opening Day draws closer.

Storylines

  • Wang comes off allowing a run on three hits with two strikeouts in three innings on March 7, his second start since missing the final 3 1/2 months of last season with a torn Lisfranc ligament of the right foot suffered in Houston on June 15. Before the injury he was 8-2 and won 19 games each of the last two seasons. Not a bad resume for the Yankees’ No. 2 starter.

  • Robinson Cano, Damaso Marte and Francisco Cervelli, each returning from the World Baseball Classic, all will likely play tomorrow. For Cervelli, Italy’s ouster is a blessing in disguise. There’s still time to show the Yankees if he’s a reliable option should an injury fell Jorge Posada or Jose Molina.

  • The Yankees bullpen is deep, and if one arm falters
    others are waiting, writes Mark Feinsand.

  • Very interesting story from Kat O’Brien on what Joba Chamberlain, CC Sabathia, Brian Bruney and Burnett have in common: Tattoos.

Thanks to everyone who shared their takes on this Hughes vs. Chamberlain debate. There were certainly a lot of passionate opinions on both sides. As of 12:25 today, Chamberlain holds a slim lead over Hughes (540-520) in our homepage poll, which will remain active throughout the weekend. I’m wondering whether Hughes’ start on Saturday will further influence the discussion either positively or adversely.

2:22 p.m. Tonight’s Lineup
Brett Gardner CF
Cody Ransom 3B
Juan Miranda 1B
Xavier Nady RF
John Rodriguez DH
Jose Molina C
Shelley Duncan LF
Angel Berroa 2B
Ramiro Pena SS

Injury updates
Robinson Cano has a sore right shoulder and Damaso Marte has pain in his left pectoral muscle, which he told reporters he hurt lifting weights before appearing in the Dominican Republic’s final WBC game. Both were to play tomorrow, but that’s out and instead each will visit a doctor.

The Joba Must Start vs. Must Set up armies

joba_250.jpgBy Jon Lane
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this re-ignited Joba the starter vs. Joba the reliever debate, one that truly never went away. As of 1:45 p.m. Chamberlain earned 346 (53 percent) of your votes compared to Phil Hughes’ 312 (47 percent). We’ll have this on the homepage a bit longer, and you can also vote to your right.

Peter Abraham, a staunch Joba the Starter supporter, has this:

The “Joba to the pen” crew is at it again. Here is all I ask of them: Prove to me that 200 innings is less than 70 and we can talk. I want my best pitchers trying to get 600 outs, not 210. It is not really complicated. You know who would make a good pinch hitter? Albert Pujols, he’s a really good hitter. But you want him up four times, not once.

Bob Klapish, however, presented the most compelling case for Joba the Reliever to date. Among the highlights:

He’s not the pitcher he was in 2008; even while blanking the Reds, something seemed amiss.

Clearly, Chamberlain isn’t the horse the Yankees projected while he was crushing the competition in the Minor Leagues. Joba might have the unbreakable mentality of a latter-day Goose Gossage, but he’s fragile.

GM Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi should consider the possibility that Chamberlain’s 80 innings in the pen might be more valuable than 150 innings in the rotation. His outings will be shorter, more explosive, and he’ll only pitch when it’s critical.

With CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Chien-Ming Wang anchoring the pitching staff, how much would it really hurt the Yankees to use the reconstructed [Phil] Hughes in the No. 5 spot?

Will anything happen between now and April 6 for the Yankees to change their mind? Only a Joba breakdown that’s catastrophic. Another strong effort or two and this debate will [momentarily] be put to rest, but one reader had a radical suggestion: Pedro Martinez.

That will never – repeat – never happen.

Is a 2010 rotation featuring Chamberlain AND Hughes a bad thing? I think not. Even in the face of such a pressurized win-now mentality, Cashman is committed to building not just a winner, but a winning program like Gene Michael did in 1995.

_______________________

CC Sabathia was pounded for five runs and a walk in 12/3 innings by the Tigers on Wednesday.

So?

Some comments in this thread reek of sarcasm. Others are downright ridiculous.

History lessons: Last year, Sabathia’s spring ERA was 4.50. Last April with the Indians, he was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in his first three starts and 1-4, 7.76 in five. His overall April numbers are 11-10, 4.47. Of course, some people will already label him a bust if he again starts slow because of his large contract.

Some free advice: Chill.

_______________________

The Yankees are off today – completely. That means no bullpens, no BP in the indoor cages, no Minor League tune-ups and no meetings. There’s nothing like a free day in the Florida sun. In case you care, New York City will see a high of 40 degrees.
 
Some relevant stats through 12 Spring Training games (excluding the exhibitions against Team USA and Canada). Take them for what they’re worth.

Mark Teixeira – batting .529
Brett Gardner — .417 with three homers, five RBIs and six runs scored.
Melky Cabrera – .238-0-2
Cody Ransom –.346 with two RBIs and five runs scored
Jorge Posada –.353 with four RBIs
Mark Melancon — five innings pitched, allowing just one unearned run on three hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
Kei Igawa — five scoreless innings, two hits, no walks, four Ks. (Here’s your fifth starter.)
Phil Hughes — five scoreless hitless innings, six Ks
Joba Chamberlain – 1-0, 6.75 ERA, six hits and three Ks in four innings, 

Joba or the Franchise?

hughes_250_022309.jpgBy Jon Lane
Two terrible starts in Spring Training suddenly put Joba Chamberlain against the ropes. Yes, the same Joba Chamberlain who burst upon the scene as an electric set-up man in 2007 and a projected front-line starter was in a bit of danger of actually losing his grip on the fifth starter’s role with the Yankees in 2009.

Chamberlain shut up the naysayers, at least for now, with a nice performance Tuesday night. But because he’s not a five- or 10-year veteran, and since the Yankees were burned by handing starting jobs to Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy last season, the message is clear that Chamberlain is not receiving a free ride. Newsday reported this morning that some teammates let him know that it was time to step up.

This job is Chamberlain’s to lose. Should he stumble again, the likely scenario is not a demotion to Triple-A, but a rehashing of a debate that just will not go away. John Harper was the latest to suggest that while Chamberlain showed why the Yankees want him to start, there’s something about having that lock-down back end of a bullpen, an idea that was actually endorsed by our own Jim Kaat in Harper’s column.

Besides Chamberlain’s poor start to the spring, the impetuous to this discussion is Hughes’ impressive camp to date. The one Peter Abraham coined “Phil Franchise” is locating his breaking curveball to perfection and looks more motivated than ever to prove he’s for real and not a 23-year-old version of Carl Pavano. This led Harper to write: “If Hughes does have a strong spring, and CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettitte are all healthy, you can make a strong case for putting Joba in the bullpen again.”

I’ve made my case before: Chamberlain belongs in the rotation. He’s ahead of the curve compared to Hughes and more time in the Minors for the latter is not a bad thing whatsoever. But what do you think? Would the Yankees be better off with Chamberlain back in the pen and Hughes as the fifth starter? Be sure to comment on this thread and vote on our homepage poll.

As of 12:30 p.m., Chamberlain received 53 percent of the votes. Here’s some information to help you decide:

Key Stats
Chamberlain: 2.17 ERA in 61 appearances (12 starts) and 124 1/3 innings since his 2007 debut.

Hughes: 5-7, 5.15 ERA in his career; 0-4, 6.62 in an injury plagued 2008.

Big games
Chamberlain: Recorded countless big outs as the eighth-inning reliever in 2007; out-pitched Josh Beckett at Fenway Park on July 25, 2008, by allowing three hits and striking out nine over seven shutout innings, a tell-tale sign he has the goods and the moxie to be a front line starter

Hughes: No-hit Rangers for 6 1/3 innings May 1, 2007 before pulling up lame with hamstring injury; tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Roger Clemens in Game 3 of 2007 ALCS

Injury issues
Chamberlain: Rotator cuff tendinitis forced him to the disabled list in early August before he returned the next month to work out of the bullpen.

Hughes: A torn hamstring derailed Hughes in 2007. The following year it was a fractured rib. 

Time to panic over Joba?

joba_250_031009.jpgBy Jon Lane
Joba Chamberlain makes his third Spring Training start tonight against the Reds (YES HD, 7 p.m.). Normally that’s considered ho-hum, but Chamberlain is not just any other pitcher. He’s the prized jewel of the farm system and has already achieved cult status amongst the Yankees’ fan base.

Here’s the problem: Chamberlain’s first two spring starts were awful. He threw 28 pitches last Thursday in an exhibition game against Team Canada and walked four, including Justin Morneau and Jason Bay with the bases loaded, and failed to record an out. In his first start, he gave up two runs in three hits in only an inning.

Can Joba suddenly be on notice? George King writes that another brutal outing from Chamberlain and there will be questions: Is the shoulder OK? Is he better off in the bullpen? Or might he not make the team?

Including the exhibition game against Team USA, Phil Hughes, destined to begin the season in the Minors, has allowed two runs in 7 2/3 scoreless innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. I’m just sayin’.

“We want to see progress,” Joe Girardi told reporters of Chamberlain. “We want to see him a little bit more mechanically sound. That’s important because there is a direct correlation between mechanics and strikes.”

Let’s be fair: This is Spring Training, which means pitchers try different things and aren’t expected to ratchet it up and illuminate the radar gun with large numbers. In his first start, Chamberlain threw almost exclusively four-seam fastballs and has spent time after the Team Canada outing making adjustments to mechanical flaws by pitching coach Dave Eiland.

Furthermore, Jim Kaat, who knows a thing or two about pitching, sums it up this way: Pitchers are just trying to build up their arm strength, stamina and form. If a pitcher doesn’t look like he’s throwing his best stuff in his first few games, it’s because he isn’t.

A good performance from Chamberlain tonight and this debate is moot. But if he struggles again, is it time to panic? Would his status as the fifth starter be on shaky ground? What do you think?

7:51 p.m. Crisis over, people. Chamberlain breezed through the first two innings hitting as high as 96 on the gun and throwing a few nasty breaking pitches. He retired seven of the first eight Reds batters before allowing a broken-bat base hit in the third. Chris Dickerson doubled to deep center to drive home the Reds’ first run, but Brett Gardner appeared to misjudge the flight of the ball. 

Monday musings

pettitte_250_030909.jpgBy Jon Lane
Andy Pettitte his spring debut this afternoon against the Blue Jays. Pettitte and the Yankees, as you know, were at a stalemate before compromising on a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with an additional $6.5 million in bonuses.

Not that Pettitte will rebound from a down season to win 20 games like Mike Mussina last year, but he will be better now that he’s healthy and free from the HGH admissions that weighed heavily on his mind.

Furthermore, having won in New York, Pettitte offers an invaluable intangible to CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and the Yankees’ young arms. His wisdom, experience and insight will become especially valuable late in the season and the take here is that Pettitte still have a few big games left in him.
 
Today’s lineups
Brett Gardner CF
Melky Cabrera LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Jose Molina C
Angel Berroa 2B
Justin Leone 3B
Ramiro Pena SS

The center field derby
Brett Gardner: 6-for-18, 2 HRs, 5 R, 2 SB
Melky Cabrera: 4-for-15, 0 HRs, 2 R, 0 SB

Don’t look now
Phil Hughes’ Grapefruit line: 7.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, including three hitless innings on Sunday (two walks, four strikeouts).

Transactions
Andrew Brackman was optioned to Single-A Charleston. J.B. Cox, George Kontos and Kanekoa Texeira were reassigned to the Yankees’ Minor League camp.

Storylines
Alex Rodriguez is undergoing hip surgery this morning. Pete Caldera of The Bergen Record tracks the A-Rod stock market.

Cody Ransom is getting his share of press. This column by The Record‘s Ian O’Connor is an absolute must-read. This alone makes you want to root for Ransom.

Strictly in baseball terms, the Yankees can get back with Ransom at third base for a month or so. He’ll be that much more valuable to the team once Rodriguez returns.

A few updates from Peter Abraham:

Andy Pettitte’s line: 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 31 pitches

Dan Giese gave up a solo home run to Russ Adams in the third.

Brett Gardner’s hot spring continues. Gardner went yard with a two-run shot (his third of the spring) to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the third. Melky Cabrera was hitless in two at-bats entering the fifth.

Gardner later reached first on a bunt single and was moved to third on Cabrera’s two-out base hit. However, Cabrera got caught between first and second and Gardner, breaking for home, was tagged out. Gardner is 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Cabrera finished 1-for-3 before he was replaced in left field by Austin Jackson.

The news was not so good for Ian Kennedy. The right-hander got tagged for five runs on five hits in two innings, including Travis Snider’s solo homer with one out in the sixth. 

Generation Trey?

By Glenn Giangrande
If I hear the phrase “Generation Trey” one more time, I’m going to explode.
 
I specifically remember reading an article in which Joel Sherman first coined the phrase and Michael Kay has run with it on Yankees broadcasts ever since. While I understand how it seems like every player has to have a nickname nowadays, it’s inappropriate on a number of levels.
 
First, there is a chance that a not-so-far-off day will come in which two of the three are not going to be Yankees. Who’s to say that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy will be long for pinstripes? Both have already come close to being dealt away.

Second, should we really be invoking memories of the Mets’ “Generation K,” Bill Pulsipher, Jason Isringhausen, and Paul Wilson? All three were derailed by injuries and health problems, with Isringhausen being the one who fought back to carve out a very respectable career as a closer.

Third and finally, why must we have names for players who have yet to accomplish very much? I understand Joba Chamberlain was a phenomenon a couple of years ago and seems primed for a distinguished run with the Yankees, but give him and the others a chance to develop before even thinking about hitting them with labels.
 
Just let the kids stand on their own. 

Season premiere of Yankees on YES

hughes_320_022609.jpgBy Jon Lane
The YES Network presents its first Yankees telecast this afternoon at 1:15 when the Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

New York is off a 6-1 win over Toronto in Dunedin, Fla., where Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run home run in his first game since his admission of using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03. Brett Gardner also homered to lead off the game. Brett Tomko started and pitched two scoreless innings.

Today’s starter
Phil Hughes is anxious to rebound from an 0-4 2008 which included a broken rib that ruined his first full season. The right-hander pitched well in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 38 in 30 innings. Right now, Hughes is destined to begin the regular season in Triple-A, but would likely be the first one up in the event of an injury to one of the established starters.

To learn more about Hughes, check out one of YESNetwork.com’s exclusive Quick Cuts.

Today’s lineup
Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Jorge Posada DH
Jose Molina C
Melky Cabrera CF

The rotation
Hughes, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mark Melancon.

About the Rays
Joe Maddon’s 9=8 motivational slogan, his belief that nine players playing hard for nine innings leads to being one of the eight playoff teams, helped lead the Rays to a surprising AL pennant. His new slogan this year is ’09 > ’08, meaning 2009 is greater than, or better, than 2008. That would mean one thing: a World Series win. It’s going to be hard enough for the Rays to ward off the Yankees and Red Sox, but after what they did last season never put anything past Maddon’s crew. 

Be patient, the kids will be good

hughes_250_022309.jpgBy Joe Auriemma
Don’t give up on the young arms just yet Yankees fans. I know that Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy did little to convince everyone that they had the stuff to be good Major League pitchers last season, but I still think they need more time. Jim Kaat has always said that pitchers need at least 50 to 75 starts of game experience in the Minors before they are fully developed for the Major League level. This is definitely something I agree with.

Now I know some pitchers have made the leap to the Majors and done quite well with a lack of Minor League experience, but for most pitchers it takes that extra time to develop that devastating out pitch, the confidence to get Major League hitters out and build up enough arm strength to be able to go a full season.

In one year, the opinion of the Yankees Minor League system has gone from a top-tier system with many quality arms to one that most critics are calling an overrated group. I have been covering the Yankees Minor League system with our Down on the Farm features for the last three seasons and the one thing that I can safely say is that these pitchers are still the quality arms everyone thought they were just one year ago.

Was Kennedy ready for the Major League spotlight last season? No, definitely not. Does he still have good stuff? Absolutely. Will Hughes bounce back? Given the chance I think he will mature and be a very solid, if not very good pitcher for the Yankees for years to come. Am I the crazy person that not only asks himself questions, but also answers them? Apparently.

It’s not just Kennedy and Hughes. The Yankees are also very impressed with Mark Melancon, who they could actually be lining up as the closer of the future. Melancon has a good four-seam fastball that has hit 96 on occasion and a wicked curveball. He also has a changeup and is starting to open some eyes down in Tampa.

Phil Coke and David Robertson were pretty effective out of the bullpen last season. Coke has the versatility to be both a starter and reliever and the good thing about him is he’s a lefty. He also has terrific composure and could become a very nice option out of the bullpen this season. As for Robertson, he came on strong in the Majors last season going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his first 11 games and then faded in his last 14 games with a 2-0 record and an 8.00 ERA, but all-in-all he was pretty effective.

Andrew Brackman is another name that you are going to hear about in the near future. This 6-foot-10 giant certainly has the stuff to be effective with the big club, but control is something that needs to be worked on down on the farm.

Dellin Betances is another big time prospect and I mean that in every sense of the word. He is another tall pitcher at 6-8 and has the stuff to be a quality pitcher with the Yankees for many years to come. Again, control is an issue, but that is what the Minors are all about.

Humberto Sanchez, Zach McAllister and Christian Garcia are also pitchers that are definitely on the Yankees’ radar, so please don’t give up on the pitchers down in the Yankees Minor League system just yet. Let them develop and give them a chance.