Friday, March 20, 2009

State of the Rotation: Part V

The fifth and final matchup is between Brad Penny and assorted others vs. Joba Chamberlain and fellow youngsters

It’s far from a guarantee that Penny will be in this spot for very long. The same can be said for Joba as well. Though both have the capability to be top rotation starters this season it really can’t be expected from either of them. For Penny the most important aspect of his game is health. He has a dominant fastball, though he doesn’t have overwhelming secondary stuff. But if that heater is out on the mound and he’s able to hurl strikes on a consistent basis then the Sox will be ecstatic with their minimal investment in Penny. If he doesn’t work out then they have either the stalwart John Smoltz on his way back from rehab or Clay Buchholz who is probably itching to prove himself after last year’s rough rookie season.

Joba on the other hand has slightly different concerns. Health is a big one for him, but in a different way. Aside from last season’s minor meltdown in his shoulder, Joba has proven to be healthy for awhile. But, like several other young Yankee pitchers, he hasn’t come anywhere near the innings levels that the Yankees want to see their big three at. The Yankees are saying Joba is going to get 30 starts which would lead one to conclude they want 180 innings out of him. If they could get that then they deserve a reward. It’s just unrealistic to expect that much out of arm that hasn’t been that taxed yet.

If Joba does slip up, then his first stop will probably be Triple A Scranton and in his stead will be Phil Hughes. Hughes has done several things better since his awful season last year. He has tweaked and improved his curve and he has begun to look to his a cut fastball on a regular basis and a change up on occasion. Beyond him there is Ian Kennedy and Kei Igawa…

Sorry I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Verdict: If this was question of upside and pure talent the Yankees would win. Even when Brad Penny was healthy he wasn’t dominant in the NL West, and the Yanks young guns have more talent than he ever did. Joba and Hughes both have more ability than Penny, but like him and Smoltz they both have durability questions. It’s a close call but I really like the Smoltz pick up for the Sox and I fully expect him to displace Penny when he comes back. Smoltz is a badass, even at age 41, and his experience and tenacity give him and the Red Sox a slight edge in this final slot over the upside an optimism of Joba and Hughes. Sox make it a game, but Yanks win 3-2.


Dennis said...

Ah, the young Yankee pitchers, this one is right in my wheelhouse.

Seriously, I just have one problem with this. Ten years ago Brad Penny was Joba Chamberlain. There wasn't the hype over prospects then, and he wasn't in NY, but in 1998 Brad Penny was BA's number 5 prospect in all of baseball. He played in the futures game that All-star weekend. So to say that Chamberlain is decisively more talented than penny is just wrong.

And in his last healthy season, 2007, he was 16-4 with an ERA of 3 in 208 innings. He made his second consecutive All-star team that year, and I would call that pretty close to dominant.

Anyway, if he is healthy (he was at 93-95 in his first ST start this week) Penny is a 15-20 game winner for the Red Sox. I think Penny may be the best signing of the off-season.

Bronx Baseball Daily said...

I have a feeling the Red Sox are going to be scrambling to fill that number five spot all season long. Penny's health has been Pavanoish. Smoltz can't be counted on until August from what it looks like. But the Red Sox always seem to be there in September anyways. We'll see.

Dennis said...

Pavanoish? Seriously, I know you Red Sox and Yankee fans think baseball doesn't exist west of the Hudson, but your lack of knowledge of Brad Penny is astounding (Maybe 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in the 2003 World Series will refresh your memory?).

Last season Penny made 17 starts because of a serious shoulder injury. In 2007 he made 33, 2006-33, 2005-29, 2004-24, 2003-32. This guy is a workhorse, not to mention an all-star.

Peter said...

I might give Penny more credit for '07 if he didnt fall off in the second half. His ERA jumped a run and a half, his k/9 dropped from 6.33 to 5.22 and his whip jump by a whole 0.27... He pitched well for half a season in the NL West and then fell off. He did the same thing in '06 except even worse when his ERA balloned from 2.91 to 6.25.

Those were his two all-star years and he used everything he had to make those teams because he definitely didnt have anything left for the second half.

So my logic goes something like this: He couldnt handle pitching at a high level for a full season in the NL West, then he wont be able to come close to "workhorse level" in a superior division while coming back from a major shoulder injury.

Dennis said...

Brad Penny was 6-3 with a 3.84 ERA in 15 starts after the break in 2007. That isn't pitching well? It was not as good as his first half, but he was still pitching very well.

Look, I am not saying that Brad Penny is one of the 5 best pitchers in the league, I am just saying I think you are underestimating him.

I understand that the AL East is a very good division, but there are 25 other teams that are, contrary to popular belief, actually playing Major League Baseball. I don't think the performances of those teams and their players should be dismissed because they have not come in Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium.

Dan said...

I have to admit. I can't remember seeing Brad Penny pitch at all in the past 3 years. But going by stats alone, I think that his production far exceeds Pavano's during that period. It's not a very good comparison. I'm not sure where Penny got this injury rep from to be honest. He was hurt last year, but judging by the number of starts and innings pitched over his career, he doesn't seem to get hurt any more often than any other pitcher. I'm glad the Sox picked him up. We'll see how it goes.