I’ve been putting off thinking about the Yankees rotation until we knew for sure what was going on with Andy Pettitte. He’s too good a pitcher and can make too big a difference to make any kind of pronouncement without knowing his status. Now that he’s apparently retiring, however, let’s ask the question: Is the Yankees’ rotation good enough to get the job done?
I’m going to give a qualified yes. It will be worse than if Pettitte was there, obviously, but a team with this rotation can compete, make the playoffs and make some noise. That is, if everything breaks right. The quick version:
- Sabathia: Arguably the best pitcher in the AL. No issues there.
- A.J. Burnett: The biggest wild card in all of baseball? If he’s 2009 A.J., things are fine. If he’s 2010 A.J., it’s panic time.
- Phil Hughes: I don’t know too many people who think that he’s not the real deal and that he won’t progress nicely. If healthy, he’s more than good enough to be a #2 or #3 starter on a championship team.
- The wild card #4: Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon or Sergio Mitre are currently in the mix. I wouldn’t bet much dough that any single one of them will have a solid, 30-start season, but I wouldn’t bet against at least one of them being solid. Does that make sense? In my mind it makes sense. It will take a lot of work, monitoring and gambling on Joe Girardi’s part, but if he reads the signs from spring training correctly, plays the hot hand and is eager to use the pen when necessary, any of the four of those guys — or more likely, some combination of them — may work out well.
- Fifth spot: The fifth spot in a rotation is almost always a crap shoot. Even one of the #4 guys who isn’t on-point can cover this competently if need be.
The optimistic spin here: the Yankees rotation is no worse today with Petitte’s retirement than it was yesterday with him not yet committed. The worry: there is no margin for error here. If Burnett has another lost season and if there is an injury to either Hughes or Sabathia, it’s time for a full-blown freakout.
The Tigers will promoted Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon to hitting coach for the 2017 season, according to a statement released by the team on Friday afternoon.
McClendon’s history with the Tigers is long and storied. After serving five seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ hitting coach and manager, he got his start with Detroit in 2006 as a bullpen coach, then transitioned to hitting coach from 2007 through 2013. When the Tigers hired Brad Ausmus to replace former manager Jim Leyland, McClendon took the opportunity to break from the team and pursue another managerial position of his own with the Seattle Mariners, whom he guided to a 163-161 record between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Following his departure from Seattle during the 2015 offseason, McClendon took a spot as skipper of the Tigers’ Triple-A club, managing the Toledo Mud Hens to a 68-76 finish in 2016. His return to the big league stage is accompanied by the hiring of assistant hitting coach Leon Durham, who previously served as the long-tenured hitting coach for Triple-A Toledo.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.