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I have to say I’m rather impressed with the New York Yankees for not selling the farm to get Johan Santana. Don’t get me wrong, Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes was a darn good offer, but they stayed the course of building through young pitching.
It all starts at the top. Chien-Ming Wang will turn 28 next month. All he’s done is go 38-13 the past two years. He has a great sinker that forces a lot of groundouts. His pitch counts usually stay pretty low, and he averages over six innings per start.
Phil Hughes was one of the Yankees most coveted prospect last year. Like Wang, Hughes had a hamstring injury that cost him some time last year. However, he was still decent going 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA. He finished strong going seven innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out five in a win over Tampa Bay on September 27th last year. Hughes will turn 22 in June.
While Hughes was the guy people talked about at the beginning of the year, it was Joba Chamberlain that stole the show by the end it. He turned 22 in September and was fabulous last year going 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA striking out 34 while walking only six batters. He didn’t allow an earned run until his 13th appearance. He wasn’t as successful in the playoffs, but as long as he’s not swarmed with bugs every game, he should many outstanding years to come.
Ian Kennedy just turned 23 and is also full of potential. He started three games last year going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA. He went seven inninns in both of his odd starts allowing just one run. He needs to work on his control some after allowing nine walks in his three starts, but that could have just been him adjusting to the big leagues.
I’m not sure how many teams can boast of a quartet of young pitchers like the Yankees can. Even if someone else can, nobody can claim the same ability to keep those pitchers should they choose to.
I’m not saying the Yankees are perfect. Their lineup is starting to age. Roger Clemens was a complete waste of money. Kei Igawa was a swing and a miss. I’m not saying he was a Pavano miss just yet, but he needs to show a lot of improvement. I fully expect the Yankees to return to the playoffs. Why wouldn’t you? They will battle the Red Sox for AL East supremacy. Oh, and A-Rod will hit a ton of home runs. Say what you want about the Yankees bloated payroll, these four young pitchers show they are at least trying to develop some talent rather than (over)pay for it.