Yesterday I discussed the Yankees ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ scenarios in regards to Cliff Lee and their pitching rotation. Essentially it seems like their options are either to sign Lee or sign Carl Crawford and trade for a pitcher.
However, today Bill Madden of the NY Daily News wrote a column about general manager Brian Cashman’s original ‘Plan A’ which was to develop a steady stream of young starters:
Cashman’s vision of a mostly homegrown rotation remains the same – and is, in fact, “Plan B” if his pursuit of Lee goes for naught. Only the principals have changed. [Andrew Brackman], the 6-10, 2007 first-round draft pick out of North Carolina St., whose progress was retarded by Tommy John surgery in 2008, came on strong the second half of this past season after being promoted to Double-A Trenton. [Dellin Betances], the 6-8 Brooklyn product selected in the eighth round of the 2006 draft, has been making steady progress with 108 strikeouts and 22 walks in 85.1 combined innings at Class-A Tampa and Trenton. This season those two were joined by a new prodigy, 19-year-old Mexican lefty Manuel Banuelos, who had 70 strikeouts and 31 walks in 59 innings at Tampa and Trenton. All three possess “plus” fastballs, breaking pitches and changeups and appear to be on the fast track. And, according to Yankee operatives, the hope is that one or more of them could land in the big league rotation at some point next season. Scouts I’ve talked to are unanimous in their praise for the “Three B’s,” citing Betances’ “outstanding breaking ball,” Brackman’s “power cut fastball, which he never throws straight,” and Banuelos’ way-above changeup.”
I wouldn’t go as far as to call that ‘Plan B’ as Madden does. The lure of the big name has always been there for the Yankees and if they can’t sign Lee it’s hard to see them passing up on another free agent. However, ‘Plan B’ may not even be possible as I outlined yesterday.
So it may be that they are forced to move on to ‘Plan C’ of trying to break-in Betances, Brackman, or Banuelos. Brackman is probably the closest to the majors, but Betances is likely to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason so it may only be a matter of who is pitching better at the time of need.
Banuelos is by far the youngest as he’s only turning 20 this spring, but he has already pitched at the double-A level and many scouts have said that his poise could help him move through the system quickly. He might not be an option for the rotation in 2011, but it’s possible he could pitch out of the bullpen this year and in the rotation as soon as 2012.
Having these three pitchers so close to the majors is exciting, but it’s hard to expect a lot from any of them in 2011. Hopefully the Yankees can find a solid starting five going into this season and they can fill the holes with these guys and Ivan Nova as needed.
At that point if any of them show real promise at the major league level they can possibly fill Andy Pettitte‘s role after the 2011 season. But to think that the Yankees would rely on one of these guys going into the 2011 season seems almost out of the question.
So for the time being it still should be ‘Plan A’ or bust. Without Lee the Yankees will be in a sore position this year. Even with three quality pitching prospects on the brink of the major leagues.