Well, the Yankees exited the playoffs early again. While this won't stop me from watching baseball, it has caused me to start thinking about next year, perhaps earlier than I normally would have. First comes the Yankees' pitching woes. While the rotation was the problem this year, I don't think it will be next year. My proposed rotation for next year would be:
That's right, no Mike Mussina. The Yankees should just go completely young with their rotation. Kei Igawa is a failure and San Diego has expressed interest in him. If that interest is still there, send him to San Diego for some bullpen help. Mike Mussina has proven to no longer be effective in the American League. However, I think he, and Curt Schilling as well, could still be very good in the National League. Some NL team will eat the last year of Moose's contract via a trade. The Yankees are weak at the position player spots in the minors and this is what should be acquired in a trade for Mussina. Next, I come to Brian Bruney and Edwar Ramirez. Neither one of them should so much as sniff the Major League roster for a long time next year. Bruney is definitely an AAAA pitcher and is too inconsistent to pitch at the Major League level. Perhaps he, like Mussina, could be effective in the NL. If a trade could be worked out, that'd be great. If not, keep him in the minors. Edwar Ramirez is still young and could definitely still be worked out if he does a few things. He needs to learn how to locate his fastball to be able to set up his changeup. Until he does that, he will continue to get absolutely rocked. His strikeout numbers, 31 strikeouts in 21 innings, are very promising but he's still a very raw talent. Next on the list of young pitchers that need to work on something is Phil Hughes. His fastball is great and his curveball is as well; but it's his changeup that needs the work. By working on it over the off-season, he will only improve. Once he does that, he will be the next great pitcher in the American League. Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy need to just work on arm strength to adjust to the innings boost they will get by going into the rotation. Kennedy also needs to cut down on his walks. Chien-Ming Wang is a mess right now. His last two starts were god-awful. He needs to do something, anything. My suggestion would be the following: 1) Work primarily out of the stretch in the off-season. Wang has proven to be terrible with runners on as of late and the only way he'll get better is through practicing. A contact pitcher who can't pitch out of the stretch doesn't make much sense now, does it? 2) Take a page from Brandon Webb's book and turn his sinker into a strikeout pitch to keep runners off base. Wang has strikeout stuff; he just needs to use it.
As for the bullpen, Luis Vizcaino will once again have to be the go to guy. Hopefully, he won't be overused like he was in the first half of this season at he suffered. In the second half, when "relaxed" (43 IP first half, 32.1 in the second) he improved drastically. His ERA dropped from 5.02 to 3.34, he struck out 33 as opposed to 29 in the first half, his WHIP in the first half was 1.60 compared to 1.27 in the second. While his BA against and slugging against rose (only 5 and 1 points respectively), his OBP against and OPS dropped significantly-55 points and 53 points respectively. Hopefully, this second half surge continues and Vizcaino can be effective next year. Kyle Farnsworth is pretty much a lost cause. He had (very brief) flashes of brilliance last year but putting him out there is about as smart as Greedo shooting first. The main bullpen would look like this for me:
CL: Mariano Rivera (he'll be back)
RP: Luis Vizcaino
RP: Kyle Farnsworth
RP: Chris Britton (needs to have a bigger role)
RP: Russ Ohlendorf (he's young and only pitched a few games last year but I think he can be effective).The bullpen may once again be an issue in the 2008 season but with a more secure rotation, it will be less taxed and, hence, more effective.