Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY has consistently been concerned about Michael Pineda‘s velocity this spring. He, along with some other members of the media and blogosphere, have almost comically tracked each Pineda pitch. The thought of sending Pineda down to the minors seemed absurd earlier in spring, but the signing of Andy Pettitte gave the meme a more realistic chance. With the surplus of pitching many writers are trying to figure out the odd man out, and proposing trades and demotions.
Marchand suggested in a blog post earlier today the Yankees should not trade Freddy Garcia, and choose between Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes starting the year at Triple-A. I think trading Garcia is a bad idea, but Marchand’s alternative is even worse.
I really like Freddy Garcia. He is a guy that has built a long career by adjusting to the physical limitations that Father Time has thrown at him. He went from a power pitcher to someone that relies on control and changing of speeds. His career looked over when he tried out for the Mets in 2009, only to revive it in Chicago by the end of that season. He makes Yankees fans nervous each time he takes the mound, but regardless of the amount of base runners he seems to come away with 6 innings/3 runs in every start.
With that said, Garcia is an insurance policy on a team that can win now and develop young arms. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are a great 1-2 punch. Ivan Nova has done nothing but compete and win since he was called up in 2010. Why should he get sent down? Because he doesn’t strike out enough batters and that doesn’t pass the mustard with some sabermetric ideology? Phil Hughes deserves a chance to prove he can be a consistent #3 starter in the big leagues. No good will come out of sending Pineda down to Triple-A. He needs to learn how to handle the glare of the Bronx. He needs to learn his craft on a big league mound, not in various Upstate New York outposts. He should be given every opportunity to fail, and then some, before he is sent down. You can lose a kid for good by doing that in this town. You want to destroy the confidence of a 23-year old prospect that cost you Jesus Montero before opening day?
Garcia and Pettitte are not the future. Pineda, Nova and Hughes are. There needs to be a balance between winning and development, and the Yankees are in the perfect position to do just that.
The real culprit behind this discussion isn’t Garcia; it’s the guy that was brought in two weeks ago- Andy Pettitte.
Everyone seems to think it’s a feta compli that Pettitte will be in the Yankees rotation this year. We saw veterans like Kevin Millwood and Carlos Silva attempt minor league comebacks last year. Each was unsuccessful and later released by the organization. Pettitte, because of his resume, will get a longer look, but the fact remains that he will be 40-years old in June and hasn’t pitched in well over a year. To count him as a certainty is foolish. To mess around with the rotation because of him is insanity.
Unless his health prevents him from coming out of the bullpen, Garcia should stay there all year. He can provide innings when a starter gets hit early. If you have an injury he can be there to step in. Most importantly, he can continue to help mentor young pitchers like Nova and Pineda.
I don’t get the obsession with sending down Nova, Hughes or Pineda. Considering the Yankees Triple-A rotation is already stacked with Banuelos, Betances, Warren, Mitchell and Phelps, there isn’t room for an obligatory stint for anyone else.
Pitching surplus can turn into pitching scarcity very quickly. Ask the Red Sox how their surplus worked out last season. Don’t trade Freddy Garcia. Don’t put him in the starting rotation. Let’s see Andy Pettitte throw a pitch in a simulated game before we sign him up for a quality start every five days in the Bronx. Let’s allow Hughes, Pineda and Nova to pitch themselves into a minor league assignment before we send them on the next bus Upstate.
Let’s all calm down and let this develop in a sensible manner.
Don’t put the cart before the horse.