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Yankees to force Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova to compete for rotation spots

Feb 28, 2012, 5:47 PM EDT

Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda Reuters

With A.J. Burnett gone, expectations were that it would come down to Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes for one spot in the Yankee rotation. Manager Joe Girardi has other ideas, though, announcing Tuesday that CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda were his only starters guaranteed spots. That leaves Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova competing for jobs.

“That’s kind of what we’re looking at,” Girardi said. “You sign Kuroda to start. You sign all these guys to start, but Kuroda has a big track history. There’s so much talk about Phil, but this guy was a dominant reliever in 2009 and a very good starter in 2010. Sometimes we focus on 2011 — and I understand why, because it was the most recent — but what if he’s an 18-game winner again? We’ve got a competition here. We have to iron out five spots, and sometimes the five you leave with aren’t the five you end up with. We’ve got time. There’s no rush.”

No, there’s no rush, but it’s hard to imagine the Yankees keeping Pineda or Nova out of their Opening Day rotation. The Bombers gave up Jesus Montero in the hopes that Pineda would be their long-term No. 2 starter, and all Nova did was go 16-4 last season.

Hughes, with the most bullpen experience of the group, looks like the top candidate to be left out initially.

  1. ditto65 - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    It should be a competition every start. Period.

    • Jeremy Fox - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      So if Sabathia has a bad start, he should be dropped from the rotation?

      Should it also be a competition every inning of every start? How about every pitch?

      Or maybe making every start a competition isn’t the best way to ensure that the best 5 guys get the starts.

      • Jeremiah Graves - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:37 PM

        I feel like you may have taken his quasi-motivational post just a tad too seriously.

        …but at least it looks like you’re trying to win every post. Every word of every post. Every letter of every post!

        You’ve got moxie, Kid!

      • ditto65 - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        Every pitch seems about right.
        😉 SaRcAsM, please

  2. uyf1950 - Feb 28, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Actually Freddy looks like the top candidate to be left out initially. Besides what’s wrong with competition between Pineda, Nova, Hughes and Garcia. Competition tends to make everyone better.

    • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Hughes stuff translates best to bullpen and he has thrived there. Only reason why is likely to be odd man out unless he is stellar and one other starter is really bad

      • uyf1950 - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        Except that Cashman has specifically said he views Hughes as a starter. I think as has been suggest it’s Hughes job to lose. If the competition is close then Hughes gets the nod. Besides I really expect the extra effort Hughes has put in this winter to pay off in results. But that’s just my opinion. We’ll see.

      • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:22 PM

        Yeah Cashman has said that, but others in organization have raised questions about that. Not saying Phil shouldn’t start (or won’t) but as you look at who fits where best for this season it’s Hughes in the bullpen before Garcia by a long shot.

        Additionally, Garcia didn’t break the bank but he also didn’t come cheap this season. 5 million plus is a lot to pay a guy for spot starts and long relief in blowouts because that’s all he’d be used for out of BP most likely.

        Once we see how every is shaping up in spring training (never mind if any injuries pop up) we’ll have a better picture, but right now I’d be willing to bet Hughes ends up being another power arm in the pen if nobody gets hurt or falls on their face.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:32 PM

        Actually Garcia’s contract calls for $4MM guaranteed and his first incentive of $250K doesn’t kick in until his 25 start of the season. So he actually is relatively cheap. Versus Hughes guarantee of $3.2MM plus incentives. Not a whole lot of difference really.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 28, 2012 at 8:18 PM

        You know who else has stuff that would play up in the bullpen? Every starter in MLB. Sabathia would be a beat for one inning at a time (hence my handle). Relievers are guys who can’t cut it as starters. There is no unique reliever skill set, apart from maybe warming up quickly.

      • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 9:11 PM

        Lol clearly you haven’t seen Garcia’s “stuff” lately.

        Tell me again how a guy in mid to high 80’s and is a “change-up specialist” now is a better fit than a guy who hits mid-90s with ease out of the pen.

        Anyone with eyeballs would say put Hughes in pen over Garcia if their springs go about the same, just because he is a “power arm” and people love them in the late innings.

        Anyone who says different is a liar or a fool.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 28, 2012 at 10:18 PM

        djpostl – I think you missed my point. I am not saying that Garcia would be better in the pen than Hughes. Quite the opposite. I am sure Hughes would be better in the pen. Just like I am sure Sabathia would be better than either one of them in the pen.

        What I am saying is that the pen minimizes the value of a pitcher if that pitcher is capable of starting. Power arms are great at the back of the bullpen. They are even better at the front of a rotation. If there is a chance Hughes could stick as a starter, the Yankees should give him every chance to do it.

  3. bigharold - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    “Hughes, with the most bullpen experience of the group, looks like the top candidate to be left out initially.”

    Nova and Hughes too, I believe., have options left. It would be smarter to put wither one of them in AAA to work as a starter rather than leave them ideal in the pen.

    • bigharold - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      “.. to put either one of them in AAA to work as a starter rather than leave them ideal in the pen.

      • bigharold - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

        “… idle in the pen.”

        Not multitasking well today.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

        bigharold – been there done that, many times.

      • dondada10 - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:51 PM

        Edit feature!

    • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      you toss them down to AAA and now you are pushing Warren, Banuelos, Betances, or Phelps etc.. down a notch to AA now, otherwise they are now idle. Food for thought.

  4. yankeesgameday - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    There’s also something to be said for not screwing around with the heads of dominant starters like the did with AJ. Dont fuck with Pineda, embrace his talent and give him confidence that every time out he has the stuff to dominate every game.

    Knowing you are guaranteed a spot and that guys like CC will help you get ready and teach the proper work ethic is way more important than telling a guy you think he might not be good enough to start for you.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:56 PM


  5. donniebb23 - Feb 28, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Unless the Yanks are completely giving up on Hughes being a starter (which would be so incredibly dumb) then it makes absolutely no sense to have him begin the year in the bullpen. What long-term good is served by having Garcia be the 5th starter? Does anybody really think that Garcia is going to outperform Hughes by that much that it’s worth ruining (once and for all) Hughes’s development? I don’t get it, I really don’t. Thankfully the only people saying this are those who are lazily speculating about it, not those actually making the decisions.

    • jwbiii - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:03 PM

      So your premise is that Joe Girardi is not actually involved in making these deceision?

      • donniebb23 - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:46 PM

        No my premise is that Girardi is saying it’s a competition because that’s what everybody says this time of year. The speculation that Hughes will be the guy left out because of his “bullpen experience” is misguided at best.

      • jwbiii - Feb 28, 2012 at 8:18 PM

        Those are Girardi’s words, not anybody’s speculations.

    • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 9:12 PM

      Garcia did out-perfrom Hughes last year….by miles & miles.

  6. jwbiii - Feb 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Eh. “decisions.”

  7. politicalrancor - Feb 28, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Lmao “Nova went 16-4″, great metric dipshit

    • djpostl - Feb 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      Great way to show you’re a tool “dipshit”.

      You could have made your point in a way that doesn’t show your cards and remove any doubt that you’re an assclown man.

  8. scadevage - Feb 28, 2012 at 9:53 PM

    Trade montero for this guy and he’s gonna compete for a spot … Ok

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM

    Let’s just see if spring injuries don’t solve this riddle for us. Remember last year, Boston had too many starters going into ST.

    Also, nothing says Freddy can’t be traded. It would require his consent, but if they tell him he is in the en in NYC and could start for the Mystery Team, I doubt he’d pitch a fit.

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