Joel Sherman does an excellent job of laying out the Yankees reasoning for all of this, and it's sound enough. But, there are a number of things I don't like about this:
- For the all the fuss the Yankees made about limiting the work loads of Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte in the wake of last season, and with concerns about Phil Hughes hitting an innings cap late in the year, they're completely punting on an opportunity to give all four pitchers an extra day of rest. Thanks to the doubleheader last week, Vazquez could have taken his regular turn tonight and everyone else could have had an extra day off.
- The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. If Sherman's right, the Yankees are trying to line up starters for a series that's taking place two weeks from now. Who the hell knows what will happen between now and then. Remember last week when a new Yankee was getting hurt everyday? If that happens once between now and then, or if there's another rainout, this whole plan goes to pot. Why not try to line up the post-season rotation now while we're at it?
- Furthermore, as we mentioned in the news and notes this morning, the team seems prepared to use Vazquez as a long reliever over the next few days. If they do, they jeopardize his ability to take the ball Friday, and then we have to go through this whole exercise once again of slotting Vazquez back into the rotation and transitioning Sergio Mitre back into the bullpen.
- This is the second time Vazquez has been shuffled around (really the third if you count him being pushed a back an extra two days in Detroit - one due to the Pettitte injury, the other due to the rainout), and both times one of the reasons cited has been getting Vazquez a start in an NL park so he can hit. I'm sorry, I'm not buying that. It's just not that important. Ditto for Sabathia. Yes these guys can hit a bit for pitchers, but where does that rank on the scale of importance as far as determining the rotation? Fifth? Tenth?
- I also think the Yankees are showing the Red Sox way too much respect at this point. I'm not writing them off, not at all. But as this stage in the season, there's no need to shuffle the rotation to play match ups against anyone, let alone a team that's had the Sox' struggles so far. I was ok with the team lining up their three best starters in Fenway late last August when it was officially pennant race time. This, however, seems a little premature.
- To that end, something's rotten about skipping Vazquez here. He had a very good start in Detroit last week. Now, not only are they risking that momentum by putting him on the shelf for a week, but they're having him avoid the Sox for the second time in ten days, and they're ensuring he doesn't pitch in front of a potentially hostile Yankee Stadium crowd. This doesn't sit right with me. It sounds far too much like the things Ed Whitson said happened late in his Yankee career, and there are already far too many fans already trying to draw as many parallels as they can between Javy and Eddie Lee.
All that said, I'm going to the game tonight (Batter's Eye seats no less), and I'm very excited to watch Hughes pitch. I just hope the plans for the rest of the rotation work out over the next couple weeks.