Saturday, April 22, 2006


Going to the first game of the Devils-Rangers game this afternoon. I'm a huge, Devils fan, and I haven't been this pumped in a long time. I can smell the Stanley Cup.

I won't be able to watch the Yankee game today, so don't expect much commentary. However, I'd like to talk a little bit about pitching depth.

Last year we had a period where Wang, Wright, Pavano and Brown were all down. We weren't prepared at all for such a disaster. We traded for Tim Redding and Darrell May. Sean Henn, called up from AA, stumbled. At one point, we didn't know who would be starting as little as two days in the future. Then we caught lightning in a bottle with Small and Chacon, and started to make our impressive comeback to win the division last year. On top of all of this, we had to call on guys like Wayne Franklin, Scott Proctor (pre-Godly Scott Proctor), Alan Embree, and Jason Anderson to pitch in big spots for us as our TanGorMo bullpen tired out.

This season, the situation is much different. Brian Cashman spent the offseason assembling more pitching depth than we could have imagined one year ago. If things go wrong, here are some names that the Yankees will call upon:

  • Darrell Rasner - a convienent gift from the game's worst GM: Jim Bowden. Rasner is performing well at AAA, after a successful major league cup of coffee last year. Rasner is a sinkerball pitcher with decent control and strikeout numbers. All sources point to Rasner being an average major league starting pitching. Who knows why Bowden let the 25 year old go.
  • Matt DeSalvo - DeSalvo is the first of many Yankee homegrown pitchers who should make an impact at the major league level. DeSalvo lit up AA last year, pitching to a 3.02 ERA for Trenton. He's a sinker/changeup pitcher, but struggles with his control quite a bit. He's got a knack for striking out people and getting ground balls. The 25 year old, if he can cut down on his walk rate, could be a very effective major league starter. If the control problems persist, he'll at least be able to perform at replacement level.
  • Jose Veras - Veras made a lot of people laugh after he was signed when he claimed that he was to be Mariano Rivera's setup man, but he is still a quality reliever. Another 25 year old, Veras is built for power. His 6'5", 240 pound body propels a power fastball at the batter in classic form. He has dominated AAA so far this year, pitching 8.2 innings, giving up only one run and striking out 13 (walking only one). When a guy this good is in AAA, your in luck.
  • Scott Erickson - The Aaron Small of 2006? It's possible. Erickson was argueably the worst starter in the major leagues last season, but has been impressive in Spring Training and early into 2006. He has pitched to a 1.54 ERA in 11 2/3 innings of relief for Columbus this season, allowing only 5 hits and striking out 8. He's probably the 15th or 16th pitcher on the Yankee depth charts, but Aaron Small was too.
  • Matt Smith - Yeah, he's on the big league roster, but only in a minor role right now. Smith dominated AA and AAA last year, after being converted to relief. He struck out 92 in 83 innings between Columbus and Trenton, with an ERA under 3. This season, he has yet to allow a run in relief. If Villone or Myers become ineffective or are touched by the injury bug, Smith could fill in quite gracefully.
  • Colter Bean - Bean has dominated AAA for a long time, but his sidearming status has kept him off the major league roster. Want to talk power? Colter Bean has 255 pounds of power. The 6'6" righty has been flawless at AAA this year, allowing only one run in 13 innings while striking out 13. On most major league teams Bean would be in a middle relief role. On the Yankees, he's way down in the depth charts.
Having too much pitching is a great problem to have. If things go wrong this summer, the Yankees finally have an effective plan B.