It’s been a pretty good week, Yankee fans. The Yankees went 4-2-1 in their first full week of Grapefruit League games and haven’t lost in their last four. Mark Teixeira made his grand return and although he didn’t look great, he did look healthy. Alfonso Soriano finally was able to shake the mystery illness that held him back. Rumor has it that some Masahiro Tanaka guy did some pitching, too.
I thought that I was going to make it through the week without losing my cool. I thought everything was coasting along until Saturday. In two-thirds of an inning my whole positive outlook went down the drain. The Bronx is boiling, folks, and I need to blow some steam.
Oh Killer Bs How You’ve Killed Us
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? The Yankees won the World Series in 2009 which quite frankly seems like eons ago. They were bounced in 2010 in the ALCS by the Texas Rangers but going into 2011, Yankee fans were told the second biggest lie they had ever been told. We were told that the saviors to our pitching staff were here and they came in the form of the Killer Bs.
Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos have not come to fruition the way we were told they would. This is worse than the Ian Kennedy, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain lies we were told a few years earlier. At least we got a few decent years out of that trio. The Killer Bs though look like they may be a complete and total bust.
The biggest bust of the three was Andrew Brackman. This guy was drafted in 2007 needing Tommy John surgery and never really made it back. He had a decent year at Double-A in 2010 in which he cracked the Top 100 prospect list. It was never really his fault, though. It was the hype of the Yankee farm system, something they have always been very good at doing. (Don’t believe me? Ask the Mariners how Jesus Montero, our top catching prospect is doing.) Brackman left baseball altogether in 2012 but signed this winter to the Chicago White Sox minor league system.
Betances and Banuelos are the ones we need to meet expectations now but it’s time we realize these expectations may have been set too high. Betances is now 25-years-old. He was drafted in 2006 and by 2007 he was the third best prospect in the Yankees’ system. He was supposed to be the front-end starter of the Yankees future but instead is battling for a spot in the bullpen this spring. Banuelos, once a top 30 prospect in all of baseball, made his triumphant return from 17 months of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on Saturday and got shelled. I know, I know. It was his first pitches in a year and a half and they looked sharp. I get that he just wanted to throw baseballs with some velocity on them, which he accomplished, but he also got tagged by the Houston Astros. There is little reason to believe that Banuelos’ outing provides any hope for a promising future.
It’s not all their fault. It has to be clear by now that the Yankees farm system doesn’t breed pitchers. Seriously, think about it. When was the last Yankee pitcher that made a true, long-term impact on the team? Andy Pettitte? That was almost 20 years ago. You’re telling me in 20 years the New York Yankees couldn’t produce a homegrown pitcher worth anything? What we are good at is publicity and making other people believe the hype.
There is something internally wrong here somewhere and it probably started with The Joba Rules. Stop babying these guys. They were brought here to pitch, so let them pitch. The Yankees tried to save Joba with pitch counts and inning limits and look where that got him. Maybe he could never crack it as a starter because he was never allowed to throw starter-like innings and develop starter-like qualities. That had to be what was behind hiring Gil Peterson in 2012 as the new minor league pitching instructor but it still seems like he is playing catch-up. If the Yankees are content with reversing everything they have worked on with Betances and switching him from starter to reliever, then his fate has already been decided. If Manny Banuelos isn’t optioned soon to Triple-A and allowed to start games and pitch well into them, the Yankees may as well give up on him, too.
Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Betances and Banuelos may still have decent careers with the Yankees or whatever team we sucker into taking them off our hands. It’s just that they won’t ever manifest to what we were told they were going to be. I guess that is my fault for once again taking the bait. Well played Yankees, well played, indeed.