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Tag: Chien-Ming Wang

Bonus Cantos

The Yankees celebrate Posada's game-winning single (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)Michael Kay loves calling extra innings “bonus cantos,” but when they come in a regular season game that began with a compelling starting pitching matchup, they feel like anything but a bonus. Saturday afternoon’s contest between the Yankees and Blue Jays began with Chien-Ming Wang dueling Roy Halladay, but ended in the twelfth inning with Brett Tomko and Sean Camp. The Yankees won, but I still feel a little bit ripped off. Some of that feeling likely comes from the fact that, while the Yankees unexpectedly won a game started by Halladay, something they hadn’t done in six tries since Wang bested Halladay on Opening Day of last season, they may have lost Wang.

Wang pitched well for five innings yesterday, getting ten of his 15 outs on the ground. He got into a bit of trouble in the second by walking Lyle Overbay with one out, then giving up a ground-rule double to Vernon Wells and a two-RBI bouncer up the middle to Alex Rios, but killed that rally there by getting Dave Dellucci to hit into a double play. He then allowed just one more baserunner over the next three innings until Marco Scutaro led off the sixth with a double and, after an Aaron Hill groundout, Adam Lind homered to right, erasing what had been a 3-2 Yankee lead.

Wang’s next pitch sailed low and away from Scott Rolen. Jorge Posada, who immediately ran out to the mound and called out the trainer, later said Wang “didn’t throw that ball, he seemed like he kinda spotted it in there.” Wang was immediately removed from the game with what an MRI later diagnosed as a shoulder strain and bursitis. That ruined what had been a long, but seemingly fruitful comeback by Wang, who won his first game in more than a year against the Mets his last time out and entered the sixth with a lead on the great Halladay.

The Yanks got to Halladay early, scoring a run in the first on a one-out walk to Johnny Damon, a groundout that moved Damon into scoring position, and an RBI single to right field by Alex Rodriguez on which Damon just beat Raul Chavez’s tag at the plate. They then added another in the second on a solo homer by Hideki Matsui and yet another in the fourth on a lead-off homer by Posada, which gave the Yankees that 3-2 lead.

Making just his second start since returning from a groin injury, Halladay was clearly off his game. Having walked just 15 men and allowed just seven home runs all year, he issued three of each in this game and ultimately gave up five runs. David Robertson coughed up another run after Wang’s departure by walking the first two men he faced then giving up another RBI single to Alex Rios, but Halladay couldn’t hold the 5-3 lead. With his pitch count in the high-90s, he opened the seventh by giving up a single to Derek Jeter and a game-tying Yankee Stadium homer to the third row in right field to Johnny Damon.

And so it stood for the next five innings as Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera, Phil Coke, and Brett Tomko combined for five hitless innings (two of them by Coke). The Yankees had their chances before the twelfth. Hideki Matsui hit a one-out ground-rule double off Brandon League in the eighth, but Melky Cabrera couldn’t move him over, and Brett Gardner struck out to strand him. Derek Jeter led of the bottom of the ninth by working a nine-pitch walk off Jeremy Accardo. After Damon struck out, Jeter moved to second on a fly ball to deep center by Mark Teixeira. Cito Gaston then had Accardo walk Alex Rodriguez and brought in Jesse Carlson, who got Robinson Cano to ground out to strand both runners.

Cano was nearly the goat again in the bottom of the twelfth. Teixeira led off with a double off Camp, again prompting Gaston to have Rodriguez intentionally passed. Cano was then assigned to bunt the runners up, but Camp didn’t throw him a strike, so Cano took to 3-0. One pitch away from loading the bases, Cano inexplicably bunted the 3-0 pitch (Girardi later said, “he misunderstood something”). Not only that, but he didn’t get the ball far enough away from home plate, and Teixeira, who was expecting Cano to take and was thus headed back toward second base as the ball neared the plate, was easily forced out at third.

No matter, Jorge picked his teammate up by delivering a game-winning single to center. Game over. Yankees win 6-5, take a 2-0 lead in the wrap-around series, emerged victorious from a Roy Halladay start on a beautiful Independence Day Saturday, and pulled within one game of the Red Sox, who lost to the Mariners. Just try not to think about Chien-Ming Wang’s shoulder while you’re watching things blow up in the sky tonight.


Yankee Panky: The Wang Stuff

Wednesday afternoon, Yankees GM Brian Cashman held a press conference in which he discussed Chien-Ming Wang’s return to the starting rotation.

“He’s a starter and he’s got a huge history of nothing but success,” he said. “It’s time to find time to slot him in.”

Now is, and was, that time. Wang made Cashman and manager Joe Girardi look smart for two innings, until he reverted to the pitcher whose ERA resembled the national debt ticker in midtown Manhattan. Was that what the Yankees were waiting for?

Speaking of waiting, the way the Yankees have treated Wang, admittedly rushing him back before accurately gauging his progress, one wonders if he was accelerated and placed in the starting rotation in order to be showcased to potential trade suitors. Cashman would never say that and no local scribes have gotten that provocative yet, but the possibility cannot be ruled out.

Newsday’s former Yankee beat man Jim Baumbach went there, sort of, giving some insight into the tenuous relationship the organization has had with Wang, going back five years.

The Yankees gladly would have traded Chien-Ming Wang in a package for Randy Johnson during the 2004 season if only the Diamondbacks had any interest in him. After the trade deadline passed with no moves, the Yankees even let Wang pitch in the Olympics, something they never would have done if they thought Wang was a legitimate prospect.

Is he right? Think about it. The Yankees could have signed Wang to a long-term deal last year, but opted not to. They instead signed Robinson Cano to a long-term deal and took Wang to salary arbitration, where the pitcher was awarded a $4 million contract. This year, the Yankees and Wang went to arbitration again, with the righty getting a $1 million raise.

Baumbach wasn’t done, though. In a column recapping Thursday’s victory, in which the Yankees got Wang off the hook, Baumbach wrote:

Seemingly every time the Yankees talk about Chien-Ming Wang, they reference how he won 46 games for them in the previous 2 1/2 seasons, as if that should count toward something here in 2009.

But we’re more than a third of the way through this season, and pretty soon the Yankees will have to come to grips with the fact that the pitcher who used to be their ace hasn’t been heard from since he hurt his right foot last June in Houston. And there’s no guarantees that pitcher is going to make it back this season.

It should be noted that the pitcher who won 46 games from 2006-08 only won one playoff game in that time frame. In 2007, his second straight 19-win season, he lost both of his ALDS starts, pitching just 5 2/3 innings over those two appearances and logging a 19.06 ERA. Why is this relevant? The Yankees told Wang what they thought of his ace status by shelling out $242 million in long-term contracts to pitchers they believed had a better upside. That the 2009 version of Wang looks more like the pitcher who faced Cleveland in ’07 as opposed to the one who helped lead that team to a wild-card berth hasn’t helped his case.

As far as Phil Hughes is concerned, he is in the bullpen now, and as Baumbach and others have written, the Yankees view his future in the rotation. The same is true with Wang. He’s viewed as a starter. But what happens if and when Brian Bruney or Damaso Marte return to their respective relief spots? Whose future is in the Yankees’ rotation then? Will the Yankees wait that long to make their move?

We’ll know the answers soon enough.

Wang Again

Late spring mid-week matinee against the Rangers, not so terribly exciting, right? Wrong. Not only is this afternoon’s game the rubber game of the series, but the Yankees enter the day tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East and a half game behind Texas for the best record in the American League. Though it would surely be a temporary condition, a win today could put them alone in first place with the best record in the league. A loss could drop them to second place with the league’s third-best record.

That’s fun, but even more important is the return of Chien-Ming Wang to the rotation. To recap quickly, Wang broke his foot running the bases in Houston last June, missed the rest of the season, then opened 2009 by giving up 23 runs in six innings across his first three starts (34.50 ERA). He was placed on the disabled list with what the Yankees claimed was weakness in his hips stemming from the foot injury. After working out in Tampa, Wang threw 13 scoreless innings across two rehab starts for Triple-A Tampa, but the Yankees weren’t thrilled with the velocity or drop on his sinker and decided to keep him on the farm. Then, on May 21, Joba Chamberlain got hit with a comebacker and had to leave his start in the first inning. The resultant strain on the bullpen motivated the Yankees to activate Wang immediately and stick him in the pen. He pitched three moderately effective innings the next day, but in his two outings since then, he’s been excellent, throwing two perfect frames against the Rangers on May 27 and three scoreless against the Indians on Sunday, striking out five in those five innings.

With Phil Hughes having stumbled in his last start, the Yankees have swapped the two, starting Wang today and putting Hughes in the bullpen (count me among those glad to see them keep Hughes in the majors). The Rangers bats will tell us all we need to know about how well Wang is pitching, but I also go back to this great video analysis from the MLB Network’s Dan Plesac for a an idea of what to look for in Wang’s mechanics: balance on that right foot, a high leg kick, hands in close to the body, getting on top of his pitches, particularly the sinker, and throwing on that downward plain.

The Rangers counter Wang with former White Sox prospect Brandon McCarthy, who is finally healthy and pitching well. McCarthy has allowed more than four runs in a start just once this year and pitched fewer than five frames only in that same start. Last week, he shut out the Astros. In his last start, he held the A’s to one run on three hits over six innings.

Mark Teixeira, who sat out last night’s game having bruised his ankle on that take-out slide on Tuesday night, is back in the lineup. Francisco Cervelli gets the start behind the plate after Jorge Posada got hit with a variety of bats and balls in last night’s game. Derek Jeter also gets a game off, with slick-fielding Ramiro Peña starting behind the groundballer Wang and Nick Swisher moving up to bat behind Johnny Damon in the two-hole.

In other news, A.J. Burnett was suspended six games for throwing at Nelson Cruz the other night, so maybe Hughes will get another start anyway. Vicente Padilla, who has reportedly been placed on waivers by the Rangers, was merely fined.

Yankee Panky: The Tao of Pooh-vano

There was so much hype about Carl Pavano facing the Yankees. The tabloids ate it up, and Suzyn Waldman, as far back as the Texas series, said, “If there’s any justice, C.C. Sabathia will pitch against Carl Pavano in Cleveland.”

Sabathia and Pavano both pitched, but not against each other. Sabathia faced his No. 2 two years ago, Fausto Carmona, on Saturday, while Pavano squared off against Phil Hughes, which may have been a more intriguing matchup considering Pavano’s history with the Yankees and his five victories in May, and Hughes’ stellar outing in Texas and continued effort to stay in the rotation.

As I was listening to the game on the radio (another Sunday spent driving), I got to thinking about the myriad options the local editors and writers had for the game. Would Pavano be the lead? Would I make Phil Hughes’ mediocre start coupled by Chien-Ming Wang’s three scoreless innings of relief the lead, playing up the intrigue of Wang’s possible return to the rotation? Poor umpiring was a theme of the day. Where would that fit in? Are all these topics combined into one or do you do take one story as your base and go with the others as supplemental pieces?

I probably would have made Pavano the focus of the game story and made Hughes/Wang a featured supplement, tying in the early note that Andy Pettitte expects to be ready to start on Wednesday. How would you have presented Sunday’s game? Thinking of the broadest audience possible, how would you have set up your Yankees section as an editor? How would you have attacked the game if you were on-site? It’s two different thought processes. I’m curious to get your thoughts.

An examination of the eight local papers covering the Yankees revealed the following:

NY TIMES: Jack Curry had Pavano leading but alluded to the Hughes/Wang situation, melding everything into a tidy recap with analysis and historical context. Typical goods from Mr. Curry.

NEWSDAY: Three individual stories from Erik Boland, who’s now off the Jets beat and has replaced Kat O’Brien: Hughes/Wang leading, a Pavano piece tied with notes, and a short piece on Gardner’s failure to steal.

NY POST: As of this writing, only George King’s recap had been posted. Interesting to see that he focused on the bullpen, specifically Coke and David Robertson. (Had I been reporting, that would have been the angle I took with the game recap.)

NY DAILY NEWS: Mark Feinsand tied everything together, but it looked and read strangely like an AP wire story.

JOURNAL NEWS: No full game recap posted, but Pete Abe gives more in about 200 words on a blog than most other scribes do in 800.

STAR LEDGER: Marc Carig copied off Erik Boland’s paper in that he had individual stories on Gardner and Wang/Hughes, But he had a couple of other tidbits: 1) His recap was short and had additional bulletpointed notes. I thought this was an interesting format. It reminded me of an anchor calling highlights and then reading key notes off the scoreboard graphic. 2) He had a full feature on Phil Coke and his blaming the umpire’s call on the 3-2 pitch to Trevor Crowe. Check out the last paragraph. Looks like he copied off Pete Abe’s paper, too.

BERGEN RECORD: Only one story on the game from Pete Caldera, but boy does he know how to write a lead paragraph.

HARTFORD COURANT: Associated Press recap. Not much to say except this paper is an example of what’s happening in the industry. Dom Amore’s words are missed.

And this just in … on the “Inside Pitch” segment of the midnight ET edition of Baseball Tonight, Karl Ravech and Peter Gammons said the Yankees were the best team in baseball. This revelation comes hours after the ESPN ticker read “Pavano dominates Yankees” in the first half of its description of the game. I’m not sure what to make of this. I know Ravech, my fellow Ithaca College alum, is as good as it gets, but when Gammons agrees, I get concerned.

I’d say the best team is the team with the best record, and the team that’s playing most consistently on a daily basis. That team is being managed by Joe Torre.

The Streak Is Over

Jimmy Rollins deposited the first pitch of tonight’s game between the Phillies and Yankees in the right field seats. That pretty much summed up the game right there as the Phillies snapped the Yankees’ nine-game winning streak with a 7-3 victory.

Carlos Ruiz rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run to left field off A.J. Burnett in the second inning (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)Seven home runs were hit in the game, four by the Phillies and three by the Yankees, but Philadelphia starter Brett Myers otherwise kept the Yankees off base, walking no one and allowing just five other hits. As a result, the Yankee taters—by Alex Rodriguez in the sixth and Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira in the eighth, the last reaching the suit level just under the upper deck in right field—were all solo shots. The Phils, meanwhile, added two-run jacks from Carlos Ruiz in the second and Jayson Werth in the fifth to build a 5-0 lead on A.J. Burnett, who otherwise struck out seven against just two walks in his six innings.

Chien-Ming Wang pitched the final three innings for the Yanks, but struggled to throw strikes or keep his pitches down. He started his first three batters off 2-0. The second man he faced, major league home run leader Raul Ibañez, crushed a letter-high pitch into the right-center-field bleachers, after which Wang put runners on the corners before getting Matt Stairs to ground out to strand them.

In the eighth, Wang gave up another run on singles by Pedro Feliz (on a 2-0 pitch), Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley (on 1-0), finally beginning to show some of his old form by getting Ibañez to ground into an inning-ending double play. Of the seven pitches Wang threw in the ninth that reached catcher Kevin Cash, six were balls (four of them walking Jayson Werth) and just one was a strike. His other three pitches that inning were put in play in the air, albeit for outs.

Wang showed good velocity, hitting 94 and even 95 on the YES gun, but he wasn’t locating or getting his pitches down in the zone. He gave the rest of the pen some much-needed rest, but he didn’t do anything that would threaten Phil Hughes’ place in the rotation for now.

After the game, Joe Girardi said Wang showed “definite progress,” noting his velocity and the few good sinkers he did throw, which makes you wonder how poor he looked in Scranton. Girardi added that Wang wouldn’t be available again until Tuesday, which is Joba Chamberlain’s next scheduled start, though Chamberlain insists his knee is already fine.

What’s Wang?

In the comments to Alex’s post on Chien-Ming Wang below, reader “cult of baseball” brought my attention to this outstanding video analysis by the MLB Network’s Dan Plesac.

According to Plesac, Wang’s balance is all off. When he lifts his left leg to deliver the ball, he’s not lifting the leg nearly as high as he had a year ago, he’s bent at the waist, whereas last year he was standing straight up, and his hands are both lower and farther away from his body. There’s been a lot of talk about Wang not getting on top of his pitches, particularly his signature sinker, thus leaving them up in the zone. Plesac’s analysis shows why that might be the case.

Plesac then takes that a step further and suggests that because Wang is putting all of his weight on the right foot he broke last June when he lifts his left leg, his poor posture in that position could be a sign that the foot isn’t fully healed. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it could be a bad habit he picked up during his rehab process borne out of a fear of placing too much stress on the foot. If that’s the case, the root of the mechanical flaw is mental, which is another theory that’s been bandied about of late.

Whatever the problem is, the Yankees need to fix it, either by fixing Wang or removing him from the rotation. The Yanks are 7-3 in games Wang hasn’t started, which is a great start, particularly given the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Xavier Nady (and to a far lesser degree Mark Teixeira), poor performance from Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom, and the erratic performances of the middle relievers.


Beasts of the East

Uehara pitching for YomiuriThe Yankees look to rebound from a disappointing Opening Day tonight against the Orioles and veteran Japanese right-hander Koji Uehara. Uehara is making his major league debut tonight, but he already has some history with the Yankees’ two Asian players. When Uehara joined the Yomiuri Giants as a 24-year-old rookie in 1999, Hideki Matsui was already established as the Giants hitting star. Matsui is just six months older than Uehara, and the two were teammates for four seasons and remain friends. Their time together climaxed in 2002, when Matsui won his third Central League MVP award, Uehara won his second Sawamura Award, and the Giants won their twentieth Japan Series championship. Matsui joined the Yankees the next year, and the Giants haven’t won a championship since.

In 2004, Uehara pitched for the Japanese Olympic team in Athens. When Japan faced Chinese Taipei, the starting pitchers were Uehara and Chien-Ming Wang, then a Yankee prospect who had just made his Triple-A debut. Uehara and Wang matched each other into the seventh. Uehara gave up a three-run home run to the Dodgers’ Chin-Feng Chen in the third. Wang blew the lead by allowing Japan to tie the game in the sixth. Ultimately, the game was decided by the bullpens as Japan won 4-3 with a run off the Rockies’ Tsao Chin-Hui in the bottom of the ninth. Current Dodger Hiroki Kuroda got the win.

Uehara also pitched for Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and was the starting pitcher in Japan’s game against the USA. Derek Jeter went 1-for-3 in that game. Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-5. Johnny Damon struck out in a pinch-hit at-bat, I assume after Uehara came out of the game.

So, Uehara isn’t a complete unknown to the Yankees, at least not to Jeter and Matsui. The scouting report on the 34-year-old righty is that he’s a finesse pitcher with outstanding control. His fastball tops out in the low 90s, but he compliments it with a cutter, slider, splitter, and forkball. In his ten seasons with the Giants, he walked an incredibly low 1.20 men per nine innings and had an equally impressive 6.68 K/BB ratio. He has, however, suffered from some leg injuries and spent 2007 as the Giants’ closer in part to stay healthy. Last year, he made just 12 starts against 14 relief appearances and posted a 3.81 ERA in just 89 2/3 innings, though his peripherals remained outstanding.

The most famous walk Uehara issued came in his rookie season of 1999. Matsui and Venezuelan slugger Roberto Petagine were neck-and-neck in the Central League’s home-run race that year. With Matsui a home run behind the gaijin late in the season, Uehara was ordered by to intentionally walk Petagine in a game against Petagine’s Yakult Swallows. The Swallows had been walking Matsui all game, but Uehara wanted to pitch to Petagine and broke down in tears upon carrying out his orders. It was all for naught, as Petagine out-lasted Matsui, 44 homers to 42. In 2003, Petagine joined the Giants as Matsui’s replacement.

Wang pitching in the 2004 OlympicsGetting back to tonight, while Uehara brings some interesting history to the mound, my eyes will be on Chein-Ming Wang, who is making his first regular season start since breaking his foot while running the bases in Houston on June 15 of last year. Wang had an inconsistent spring, posting a 4.15 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, and most alarmingly, allowing three home runs (he allowed four in 15 starts last year). In his last start of the spring, in the first game ever played in the new Yankee Stadium, he gave up four runs in five innings and didn’t get a ground-ball out until the third inning. Wang’s foot is not my concern. What concerns me is the rust on his arm and his mechanics, as well as the fact that, when he hit the DL last year, his numbers revealed career-highs in ERA (4.07), walk-rate (3.3 BB/9), and WHIP (1.32). None of those figures is alarming, they were combined with a career-high strikeout rate (5.1 K/9), and Wang is no longer being relied on to be the Yankees’ ace, but after an eight-month layoff from mid-June to mid-February, he has something to prove this month.

The Yankee line-up is the same as Monday’s. The Orioles have moved Luke Scott to DH and replaced him in left field with Felix Pie, putting Ty Wigginton on the bench.

In other news, Dan Giese was claimed off waivers by the A’s.

What’s Wang With This Picture?

Chien-Ming Wang, 2008 Topps

The Yankees have signed Chien-Ming Wang to a $5 million contract for the 2009, thereby avoiding arbitration with the first of their four arb-eligible players (Xavier Nady, Melky Cabrera, and Brian Bruney are the other three). The contract in and of itself is insignificant. Wang made $4 million last year, but missed the second half of the season with a lisfranc fracture in his foot and thus only got a $1 million raise. No big deal. I do, however, find the Yankees’ treatment of Wang’s arbitration years interesting.

Last year, Wang and Robinson Cano both became eligible for arbitration for the first time. With Cano asking for $4.55 million in 2008, the Yankees decided to buy out his arbitration years entirely with a four-year, $30 million contract. Wang, meanwhile, asked for $4.6 million and the Yankees took him to arbitration to save $600,000 and beat him.

To me, that says alot about the Yankees’ relative enthusiasm for these two players. That’s not to say that they don’t value Wang on a year-to-year basis, but Wang is 2 1/2 years older than Cano and, while its easy to forget even following his foot injury this past season, he has a less than rosy injury history.

Way back in 2001, labrum surgery cost Wang all of his second professional season, forcing him to restart at short-season Staten Island at age 22 in 2002. In his rookie season of 2005, he was shut down in mid-July with another labrum scare that, fortunately, turned out to be solved by his simply spending two months on the DL. In 2007, he started the season on the DL with a hamstring strain suffered in spring training, and last year he broke his foot running the bases in Houston, ending his season after just 15 starts. Thus, Wang has avoided the DL in just one of his four major league seasons.

Beyond those injuries, Wang is also sometimes looked upon with suspicion because of his poor strikeout rates. He has been able to succeed despite striking out just 4.02 men per nine inning on his career (against a league average of 6.48) because of his extreme ground-ball rate, but there’s a sense that that balance will not hold indefinitely. Fortunately, Wang managed to increase his strikeout rate in both 2007 and 2008, topping out at 5.12 K/9 last year thanks to the coaching of Dave Eiland, who had him working in more sliders when he needed a K. Unfortunately, Wang’s walk rates have risen as well, so that his K/BB ratio has held relatively steady near his career sub-par 1.58 mark (league average is 2.01).

On top of concerns about his fragility and effectiveness, there’s age. Wang was 25 as a rookie and will be 29 this season. That’s certainly not old, but he’s several months older than both CC Sabathia and  Josh Beckett. Wang’s arbitration years will take him to age 30, where as Cano’s contract is only guaranteed through his age-28 season. It seems to me that this is the primary reason why the Yankees are taking Wang year-by-year, but went ahead and bought out Cano’s arbitration years in bulk.

There’s another thing that strikes me about Wang’s new one-year deal. It seems unlikely that Wang’s value is going to be lower next year than it is now. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the Yankees to try to negotiate a two-year deal and thereby preemptively suppress Wang’s 2010 salary based on his injury-shortened 2008 season? Perhaps having failed to get a multi-year deal out of the Yankees last year, Wang and his agents wouldn’t agree to such a thing. Still, I think the fact that the Yankees continue to go year-by-year with Wang supports a notion I had when the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett for five years:

The Yankees don’t intend to re-sign Chien-Ming Wang after he becomes a free agent.

Think about it. Sabathia is signed for at least three years and possibly seven. Burnett is signed for five years. Joba Chamberlain is well on his way to establishing himself in the rotation. That’s three spots in the 2011 rotation that are already spoken for. Wang will become a free agent following the 2010 season. If the Yankees can, over the next two years, develop just two more young arms (with Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Zach McAllister being the top candidates), there’s no room for Wang in 2011, and no need to pay a free-agent salary to a player whose arbitration years the Yankees wouldn’t even buy out. Even if the Yankees only develop one more starter by 2011, that leaves just one empty spot in the 2011 rotation, and there’s a good chance that they will be able to find a better way to fill that last spot than to give a big-money, long-term deal to a 31-year-old Chien-Ming Wang.

Of course, when it comes to pitching anything can happen. It could be that none of the pitchers above is healthy or productive enough to claim a rotation spot in 2011. Projecting pitching even just three years into the future is a dangerous game, but the way everything looks right now, I think we’re only going to see Wang in pinstripes for two more years. Enjoy him while you can.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver