The Yankees have been looking to fortify their starting rotation since November. Since then, and now we see it, the team has toyed with the idea of taking one of their lights out bullpen specialists out of his routine to fill the void. Once you go that way, don’t expect an easy road back.
Chad Green continues to be the Yankees answer to their inability to land an insurance starter to their rotation. We’ll leave aside the question of whether or not the Yankees are over-reacting to a situation which hasn’t even come about yet, wherein another starter is needed because, with off days built into the schedule, the Yankees won’t even need a fifth starter until the middle of April.
Nevertheless, Chad Green appeared in 40 games for the Yankees in 2017, all but one out of the bullpen, amassing 103 strikeouts in 60 innings pitched and, are you ready for this, compiled and almost unheard of less than one WHIP (.779). He can pitch one, two, three, or as many innings as required as a game dictates. That makes him unique – as in invaluable.
Here’s the lure, drop the bait…
Before we go much further though, consider that the Yankees are not a rash organization, and especially under the leadership of Brian Cashman for the past eighteen months, there is almost always some thinking behind decisions they make regarding player personnel.
But the trouble, in this case, is the Yankees are dealing with an individual they think they know at the same time they need to be darn sure they do “know” Chad Green. Most players and Green is one of them, will do anything the team asks of them. And they’ll give it their all in spite of their instincts to say no.
A case in point has recently surfaced in Texas where the Rangers are toying with the idea of using a six-man rotation this season. Jeff Bannister, the Ranger’s manager, is faced with something similar to Chad Green with Cole Hamels, a veteran pitcher who is now asked to do something out of his usual realm. Hamels has not been shy about voicing his reservations to the idea.
One would have to believe that after all these years, Cole Hamels knows Cole Hamels better than Rangers GM Jon Daniels or Jeff Bannister, and therefore there should be pause given to the quiet, though real, objections coming from Hamels.
But he has something to say that is worthy of consideration when it comes to drastic changes in a team’s expectations of a pitcher on their staff. And it has everything with something called routine and a mindset that accompanies the ability to function in a season that encompasses six months and 162 games.
Position players are conditioned otherwise, and playing right field today and left field tomorrow is not only unexpected but in many cases, desired. Not so for pitchers, who do stretching today, a bullpen tomorrow, running the next day, and so on to prepare for their next start.
Whereas a bullpen artist like Chad Green, who is likely to be called on in a moment’s notice when Masahiro Tanaka can’t get through the third inning to provide three innings, or one inning the next day creating a bridge to David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman, mentally the game becomes a whole new challenge.
All of which is to say that if the Yankees keep up with their apparent plan to “stretch out” Chad Green, they’d better be aware that changing horses in mid-stream usually doesn’t work out so well in the short term.
Kevin Kiernan of the New York Post was (apparently) thinking with me when he wrote:
Yes, Aaron, that would be the “smart move.” So why didn’t you make this your first challenge to Brian Cashman, who spoke throughout the winter of making Chad Green a starter?
I’ll give you a pass Aaron Boone, but just make sure this doesn’t go on any longer. Cashman gives you the 25 players, and you have no control over that, but you are the man who says who plays, where they play, and how often they play.
It doesn’t need to be a confrontation. For Boone, all that matters is as he said to do the smart thing. That’s all this thing about Chad Green is about.
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