October 21, 2004

From the beginning, lack of SP cursed NY

The Yankees will reflect upon the worst collapse in postseason baseball history and starting pitching that wasn't quite there all season.

The Yankees tried to sneak by with a thin rotation and got caught.

In spite of two marquee acquisitions, there were serious doubts back in April as to whether New York’s rotation would have the dexterity to last into the postseason.

To fill the holes left by Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, they traded maligned starter Jeff Weaver to the Dodgers for six-time all-star Kevin Brown, who overcame elbow and back trouble to pitch well in 2003.

And on December 4, they dealt one-time prospect Nick Johnson and Juan Rivera to Montreal for starter Javier Vasquez, considered by some to be the prize pitcher of free agency – ahead of Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, and Curt Schilling – in spite of having no experience in big games.

The staff was also to include Jose Contreras, inconsistent in his first two seasons in Pinstripes since coming over from Cuba in 2002, and Jon Lieber, working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Nevertheless, George Steinbrenner thought he replaced his two aces well enough if all the “ifs” went his way: If Brown had anything left; and if Vasquez could pitch in big situations.

The answers came last night in Game 7 when Brown gave up a two-run homer in the first and Vasquez, who immediately gave up a grand slam to Johnny Damon in relief of Brown.

After Steinbrenner assembled the most expensive team money could buy - a payroll in excess of $184 million - it wasn't enough to return to the World Series.

But the real bottom line is a rotation that wasn’t there at the end, and wasn’t there to begin with.


At 3:37 PM, Blogger Tom Goodman said...

You, are absolutely right on. The Yankees never had reliable starting pitching this season. Mike Mussina and El Duque suffered various injuries and ineffective streaks, John Lieber was literally coming back from a long layoff following surgery, Kevin Brown was...well...Kevin Brown, which is to say, very unpredictable and unreliable and Javier Vasquez was simply a mystery. In sum, this was hardly the sort of staff that can carry a team through 162 regular games and two rounds of the playoffs without springing the inevitable leaks it did.

At 6:54 PM, Blogger Tom G. said...

Its becoming more apparent that as Big Stein gets involved in player acquisition more and more, the team continues to go longer and longer without a World Series victory.

Vasquez is the one that surprises me. I sort of wondered about the rest of the rotation right from the start, but I thought J.V. would do well.

Whose staff is easier to fix, the Phils or the Yanks?

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

The Yankees have the money to put together a whole new rotation next year.

Right off the bat, I think the Yanks will ask about Pedro. I think Brad Radke and Carl Pavano would be nice fits. Eric Milton started his career there, maybe they'll want him back.

The Phils won't be spendors, but I think they'd do well to bring in a smart veteran left-hander like Al Leiter to mentor Wolf. I think they need to inject some winners into the rotation, guys who talk the talk and walk the walk. I'm not a big Russ Ortiz fan, but he's out there ...


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