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The Road of Excess Leads
2002-12-31 10:33
by Mike Carminati

The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom, But Can You Build a Pitching Staff on It?

The Yankees GM Brian Cashman is quoted in the NY Times as saying that the Yankees are still in the Bartolo Colón sweepstakes even though they have eight starting pitchers on the roster:

"I'm prepared to say we will continue to pursue all the opportunities that might enhance our organization if it fits what we're trying to accomplish," Cashman said in a telephone interview.

Without mentioning Colón or any pitcher specifically, Cashman added: "The Montreal Expos may have some players available. I wouldn't count us out on anything. But with the personnel we have in place, there would have to be subtraction to make additions."

The Yankees are trying to move Orlando Hernandez, Sterling Hitchcock, and their salaries. Unfortunately, unlike every other club they have the disadvantage of not having the Yankees to offload their overpriced players. If they cannot move these two, they will probably work out of the bullpen. Either way, they will still have six starting pitchers: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettite, Jeff Weaver, Jose Contreras, and David Wells. Weaver worked out of the bullpen last year for the Yanks, but in 2003 he was supposed to be the new anchor to the Yankees' future staff. Wells began his career as a reliever but has been a starter for some time now.

Let's assume that Weaver works out of the pen one more year. The Yankees would then have five starting pitchers. How could they fit another? Salaries would dictate that Colón, Clemens, Mussina, Pettite, and Contreras be in the rotation. Does that mean that Wells would be moved to the bullpen? He hasn't worked there regularly since 1992. He also was arguably their best starting pitcher last year. I had read rumors to the effect that Wells could be moved to the pen, and even posted the possibility. But the more I consider it, the worse it sounds. Maybe the Yankees are expecting at least one of their superannuated arms to be out of service on a daily basis.

I would have to think that the threats to pursue Colón are just a ruse to ensure that Boston does not get him too cheaply. Montreal had been asking for Casey Fossum and Shea Hillenbrand for Colón, Fernando Tatis, and their salaries. Rumors had been circulating that Boston had pulled Fossum back and lesser youngsters were being proffered. Maybe the Yankees are just trying to pry Fossum off the Red Sox roster, leaving the Red Sox without a young starter ready to pitch in the majors (after having traded Josh Hancock to the Phils earlier this year).

Or maybe the Yankees are looking to institute the first nine-man rotation in baseball.

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