On one hand, Cashman’s nerves are understandable. He has a reliable ace in CC Sabathia and then four question marks. However, you would think he would be excited about what a great opportunity the team has to get better and save money at the same time. As I’ve said throughout the offseason, the Yankees have so many near-ready pitching prospects that at least one of them should pay off. It’s entirely possible they go 0-for-8 or so in young starters in 2011, but it seems unlikely, especially given how talented some of these kids are. While only one of them seems to have true ace potential at this writing (young Mr. Betances), somewhere on this year’s Scranton or Trenton rosters lurks a pitcher or two who can fill out the back of a rotation better than Dustin Moseley or Sergio Mitre can, and that’s all the Yankees really need if their offense and defense are up to last year’s standards. What should be even better from Cashman’s point of view is not only can these tyro hurlers be good, they won’t be arbitration eligible for two or three years.
If all of Cashman’s fears are justified, then 2011 turns out to be a transition year as the Yankees break in their new rotation. Yes, the results-only crowd, which tends to include Yankees ownership, would consider that a disappointment. The problem is, as the Pavano-Wright epoch demonstrates, you can’t force these things. Even Cliff Lee by himself wouldn’t have made 2011 any more of a sure thing, though he would have reduced the number of gambles the Yankees would have to undertake. Penciling Freddy Garcia and his 4.50-5.00 ERA into the rotation won’t change a thing except to lower the team’s profit margins. If the Yankees want to take an injury-prone, low-strikeout fly-ball pitcher and stick him in Yankee Stadium and have him shell the Bleacher Creatures, that’s their right, but it isn’t smart and it isn’t better than letting a kid do the same thing, because the kid is cheaper and might actually get better.