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Andy Pettitte, Michael Pineda, and the Latest on the Yanks Rotation

By Frank Russo ~ April 23rd, 2012. Filed under: Digest Contributors, New York Yankees.

The setback to Michael Pineda this past weekend where he was shut down after only 15 pitches on Saturday, along with the recent struggles of the Yankees rotation, have turned the signing of Andy Pettitte from a “luxury item” to a thing of urgent necessity.

So how concerned are the Yankees with Pineda’s latest setback? I spoke with a member of the Yankees organization on Saturday in regards to both Pineda and Andy Pettitte’s comeback, who informed me that the team has gone from having minimum concern over Pineda’s rotator cuff tendinitis issues to “outright worry” that there could be something seriously wrong with him. Pineda will be seeing Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Monday and will also be getting another MRI. If it does turn out that there is something structurally wrong with Pineda’s shoulder, then you can bet your last dollar that the “acolytes”, those groups of Yankees fans who never wanted to trade Jesus Montero in the first place, will be hard on the heels of Brian Cashman on the blogs and message boards.

Speaking of Pettitte, my source, who has been monitoring his comeback since day one, told me that Andy looks “outstanding” and that his control is, in his words, borderline “impeccable”. “He looks like he could step into the rotation right now and not miss a beat”.

More interestingly, my source also told me that he had a 45-minute conversation with Pettitte this past week, where the iconic left hander told him that he’s been monitoring what’s been going on with the rotation, and that he remains steadfast and totally focused on coming to help out any way he can. Pettitte, who’s always been known for his ebullient and loquacious personality, seems to have a spring in his step that not many in the Yankees organization have seen in quite some time.

I was also informed that, as of right now, Pettitte, who will start Wednesday for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, will get at least two more starts afterward before Yankees management considers calling him up.

As far as the Yankees current rotation goes, it appears that Freddy Garcia, who has been just awful so far this season, will most likely be the odd man out when Pettitte returns. Garcia, who is now sporting a 9.75 era, is starting to resemble a batting practice pitcher rather than the pitcher who went 12-9 with a 3.62 ERA in 2011. So can Garcia, who has been known as a notoriously slow starter, right the ship, or was his 2011 season nothing more than an outlier.

As far as Garcia’s main competition, Phil Hughes, I was told that his sub-par performance against the Twins this past Thursday has actually bolted him slightly ahead of Garcia in the rotation pecking order. In fact, there are a lot of people in the Yankees organization willing to give Hughes a “mulligan” for his last start due to the fact that his pitching line would have been a lot better if not for the Nunez error and Girardi’s ridiculous over shift on Ryan Doumit with the bases loaded that cost the team two runs.Hughes, who is now 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA, needs to step it up, not only to help the club, but to also maximize his chance of staying in the rotation. From what I have been told, and this is really no secret the consensus down in Tampa, is that the Yankees brain trust still prefers Hughes over Garcia, and will give him every opportunity to stay there.

As far as minor league options go, Adam Warren might very well be given a look see later in the season. I was told that the organization is impressed with his toughness and maturity on the mound. All he needs is to accrue the proper amount of innings at the minor league level and he “should be” good for an eventual call-up. Also don’t be surprised if you see David Phelps start a game or two this season. Personally, I would have preferred to see either Warren or Phelps get a shot at the rotation over Freddy Garcia, but that’s simply water under the bridge.

Passing Thoughts

So was Bobby V. right about Hiroki Kuroda? Several advanced scouts that I have spoken with recently feel that Kuroda might have a very difficult time adjusting to life in the heavy hitting American League. Kuroda has never pitched full-time in a league with a DH, ever, until this season, so there might be more than a few bumps along the way before he straightens things out and gets some consistency going. The key to Kuroda is, of course, his sinker, which he has failed to throw with any consistency so far this year. Kuroda’s next start should be a rather interesting one, to say the least, as he is set to face off against fellow countryman Yu Darvish in Texas this week.

Speaking of the Rangers, in my opinion at least, they are still the most prolific hitting team in all of baseball. With a batting order that is, as one scout friend of mine called “scary and relentless,” they are still the team to beat in the American League. Seriously, Josh HamiltonIan KinslerMichael YoungAdrian Beltre, (now injured) Elvis AndrusNelson CruzMitch MorelandDavid Murphy…..simply scary! Here’s an idea, maybe the Rangers should change their name from the Texas Rangers to the “Relentless Ranger’s Of Arlington, sort of a play on the whole Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim name fiasco. All I know is there could be a lot of runs scored this week when the Bombers and Rangers meet!

Frank is a resident of East Brunswick, NJ and former radio announcer. He is a 4th generation Republican and Yankees Fan. He also enjoys listening to talk radio. His favorite announcer is Shawn Hannity of “Hannity” on FOX and enjoys reading about military history. In addition to rooting for the Yankees, he also has a passion for the New York Islanders. You can enjoy Frank’s work at The Dead Ball Era and his book “Bury My Heart at Cooperstown”. Check out his “Rants and Raves” on New York Baseball Digest.
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9 Responses to Andy Pettitte, Michael Pineda, and the Latest on the Yanks Rotation

  1. Daler

    The Rangers should have signed Prince too

  2. Joseph DelGrippo

    Seems like there is a whole lot of “monitoring” going on around here.

    Master of the obvious.

  3. David S.

    Glad to see you back Frank! Great piece! So one question. How long do they stay with Garcia?

  4. Frank Russo


    From what I was told this weekend, the Yanks are going to stick with Garcia and hopethat he can reverse things. A few more starts like the one Saturday and I don’t see him long for the team.

  5. Stu B

    The Yankees are finally figuring out what the Mets and other teams knew about Garcia years ago - he’s a bum.

  6. Raul

    “He’s a bum”

    So is Girardi.
    Why aren’t you people calling for HIM to get sent down to AAA?

  7. Chuck

    There was an old saying used to describe Buck Showalter when he was in Arizona…”he can’t manage his checkbook.”

    Same applies to Girardi.

  8. Joseph DelGrippo

    “A few more starts like the one Saturday and I don’t see him long for the team.”

  9. Stu B

    “So is Girardi.
    Why aren’t you people calling for HIM to get sent down to AAA?”

    I’m not calling for anythiing, and Garcia’s the one doing the bad pitching, not Girardi.

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