Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yankee kids will get chances to crack 2012 rotation

In his last press conference before he disappears for the winter, Joe Girardi talked about how starting pitching would be the key focus for the New York Yankees in the offseason. From what the Yankees manager said, it seems likely that several talented youngsters in the organization will have real chances to earn spots in the 2012 starting rotation.

Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova will likely be penciled into the Yankees rotation heading into next year, although they will have to prove that they deserve to stay there, according to Girardi. “I know that they are going to work hard,” Girardi said. “Nothing in life is ever given to you. You have to earn it.”

“I expect them to have good years, but I can’t tell you,” he added.

But other youngsters such as Hector Noesi and a couple of the Killer B’s, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos, are going to get a chance to challenge Hughes and Nova for the chance to join rotation mainstays CC Sabathia (assuming he re-signs with the Yankees) and AJ Burnett (assuming the Yankees have absolutely no chance of moving him).

“The competition thing seemed to work well this year,” Girardi said. “It brought out the best in some people and I don’t think you can have too much depth in the starting rotation. I think the kids could start to challenge.”

It seems obvious that the Yankees are likely to part ways with either Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon (and probably both of them). If the Yankees do let Garcia and/or Colon leave, it should be with a firm handshake and a gracious thank you, not only for saving the rotation this year, but for bridging the gap while the Yankee kids took another year to develop.

This being the Yankees, I wouldn’t rule out a major offseason move for a more established big-league starter such as CJ Wilson. But the Yankees seem determined to give their kids a legitimate chance to win the available starting spots. I wouldn’t want to rely solely on these youngsters, no matter how talented they are, but they’ve shown enough to make me excited about the competition next spring.

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