Monday, September 5, 2011

Yankees unfairly drag out rotation decision

Instead of actually making a tough call, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have once again deferred a decision on trimming the New York Yankees six-man rotation down to five starters.

Girardi had pledged to make a decision after the series against the Boston Red Sox and claimed that one start would not make or break a pitcher’s chances of staying in the Yankees rotation. But he appears to have had a change of heart, largely because AJ Burnett’s decent outing against the Red Sox has given Girardi and Cashman cover to keep him in the rotation if he can come through with a solid start this week. They have seemingly been reluctant to pull Burnett, despite his consistently bad pitching, because of his enormous contract, his fragile ego and a concern that he will not be able to contribute out of the bullpen. Phil Hughes, on the other hand, has proven that he can be a successful reliever. Bartolo Colon, the other candidate for a seat in the bullpen, has pitched way more innings this season than he has in the previous three years combined and the thinking is that he could use the rest to be ready for October.

But the inability or unwillingness of Girardi and Cashman to make a firm decision is unfair to all the pitchers involved. Imagine having to pitch games in front of 40,000+ with this cloud hanging over your head, knowing one bad pitch could get you banished to the bullpen. Think about what a burden it is to constantly have to answer questions about the possibility of losing your job. I think that’s why we saw Hughes uncharacteristically testy following his start against the Red Sox. The uncertainty of the situation outweighs whatever relief they get from getting one more turn in the rotation.

Even CC Sabathia is adversely affected by the inability to trim the rotation because it is disruptive to his routine. Sabathia, being a good soldier, said he would take the ball whenever the Yankees hand it to him, but he has previously made his feelings known on this topic and can’t be happy about the lack of decisiveness by his manager and general manager.

Someone will be hurt by whatever decision they make, but at least it’s only that person who is affected by the move. Girardi and Cashman need to stop dragging this out. They are going to get criticized no matter who they send to the bullpen so they should simply make a decision, put it behind them and concentrate on winning the division and getting ready for the playoffs.

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