Posts Tagged ‘Chien-Ming Wang’

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Yankees Will Miss Wang (in 2011, Anyway)

February 28, 2010

On February 19th the Nationals made one of the more underrated moves of the off-season when they signed Chien-Ming Wang to a one year, $2 million deal (potentially worth $5 million with incentive bonuses). The Yankees reasoning for cutting ties with Wang seemed to be that they hit their monetary threshold for this off-season, and their other needs were more pressing than a guy who would likely be 7th on the starting rotation’s depth chart. The latter can’t be argued, it was definitely more beneficial to the team to bring in Curtis Granderson and to add depth with Randy Winn. This does support an argument that, as ludicrous as the Yankees payroll is, even they have limits. But what was even stranger than the fact that the Yankees couldn’t go slightly over their payroll to bring Wang back is that he received (at least publicly) so little attention and pursuit.

Wang had one of the worst 40 inning stretches in baseball history last year. 2009 was a mix of awful results and injuries. I wrote last April about what I thought was wrong with Wang, and I still think that the foot injury he suffered in ’08 was the cause of his issues last year and ultimately his shoulder injury. I will never approve of Dave Eiland after everything that went on with Wang last year. He was clearly favoring the foot on the mound, whether because it was still injured or because he was afraid of re-injuring it. Either way that is something that should have been addressed and corrected.

My point with that is that I don’t think Wang simply fell apart because he lost the ability to pitch. He just needs to get back into pitching shape and re-establish the mechanics and ground ball ability he had shown since the Yankees called him up to the majors. $2 million dollars is a paltry investment when the potential is there to receive 3-4 months and possibly 100+ innings of above average pitching. Wang is throwing off of flat ground, and should be moving on to a mound rather soon with the hope that he will be back in the majors by sometime in May.

Someone like Wang would have been a perfect investment for a team like the Mets, who lack quality pitching and have the money to spend. As bad as they were last year, most of their issues are injury related and with good health they could make a serious wild card run. Half a season of league average pitching, a reasonable expectation, could potentially put them over the other wild card contenders. However, my gripe with the Yankees not signing Wang has more to do with the fact that Andy Pettitte will (probably) retire after this season. There is of course plenty of time and resources to be acquired between now and the 2011 season, but bringing Wang back on a test run for 2010 could have been a perfect set up to round out the rotation next season.

Wang is only 29 years old (he’ll be 30 March 31st), so his age as of next season is no concern. Bringing him back and finding him to be healthy could have left the Yankees with a guarantee of at least five quality starters:

1. C.C. Sabathia

2. A.J. Burnett

3. Phil Hughes

4. Joba Chamberlain

5. Wang

2010′s ballclub of course has the newly acquired Javier Vazquez, but he is a free agent after the season and it remains to be seen if he will want to stay a Yankee past that time (and if the Yankees will want him back). Retaining both Wang and Vazquez also could have made Hughes or Chamberlain expendable in a  trade. That’s not to say that I favor trading either of them, but the more options the better.

DNE wishes Chien-Ming Wang success and good health in Washington. The Nats are definitely on their way up and have made a ton of great moves the past two off-seasons (just look at how their outfield was put together with the steal of a signing in Adam Dunn and the steal of a trade for Elijah Dukes). Losing Wang most likely won’t result in any major set backs for the Yankees but any time you can retain talent (especially homegrown, popular talent) for a minimal price it probably should be done.

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Wang Has Surgery; Trade Deadline Causes Internet to Explode

July 30, 2009

Chien Ming Wang had surgery on his pitching shoulder, ending his horrid year. It’s a similar and less invasive procedure to the one undergone by Jorge Posada last year, but obviously Posada is not a pitcher and the recovery is going to be different. Hopefully this will give Wang a chance to strengthen his lower body, something which he never seemed to get to full strength after his 2008 foot fracture.

If only someone noticed earlier this year than Wang’s arm was completely out of whack, perhaps due to his foot (Ahem and Ahem)! And yes, it is absolutely necessary to toot my own horn anytime I am on point with even a minor thing, because most of the time I’m wrong.

Only kidding, I am never wrong.

On to more exciting news! The trade deadline is still about 36 hours away and there have already been a boatload of trades, ranging from the big deal (Cliff Lee on his way to the Phillies) to the insignificant (Yankees acquire Jason Hirsh from Rockies for AAA depth). Perhaps I shouldn’t call that last one insignificant, because it also got the Yankees to release Brett Tomko. We call that addition by subtraction around these parts. The Pirates made two savvy deals as well, dumping their middle infield of Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez to the Mariners and Giants, respectively, netting a decent crop of younger players, including Jeff Clement and Tim Alderson. They’ve essentially gutted the team they started the season with, not a bad idea for a last place team, and at the same time shed payroll and brought in young talent. Great moves.

Cliph Lee

Cliph Lee

The Lee deal was of course the most noteworthy news of the day. The Phillies had been locked in discussions with the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay, but after a two week (or longer) face off that offered everything from inane rumors to angry standoffs between the two GMs the Phillies moved on and acquired Lee, a great pickup (though a clear step below Halladay) for far less than they would have had to give the Jays.

I’d like to see the Yankees sit on their hands for once. They need a starter, but the options possibly available to them (Jarrod Washburn, Bronson Arroyo, Jon Garland) are all mediocre at best, and probably are no better than the currently rostered Sergio Mitre. Ideally Phil Hughes will end up in that spot, a theme I will probably mention in every post from here until it happens. If they are that worried about the 8th inning perhaps a set-up man can be picked up on the cheap, something like a salary dump or cash exchange. Relief arms are very volatile, so it isn’t worth giving up anything of real value to get one (Brian Bruney, the good version not the current iteration, was picked up off of waivers last season). And in fact that type of move probably isn’t necessary at all with Damaso “Ball in play; run(s) scored” Marte almost ready to pitch in the bigs again.

Lots to be happy about as a Yankee fan at the moment, just don’t go overboard, Cash!

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Yikes, Where Did The Time Go?

July 16, 2009

So, I disappear for two months, only to find that my traffic was doubled for the time I wasn’t updating. Is my style so off putting that I am more entertaining in silence!? All of the posts after this one will contain nothing more than ellipses…

So the All Star break is about to end so it is as good a time as any to get back in the swing of things. And what could be a better place to begin than by acknowledging unfounded rumors about a trade that won’t happen!?

Roy Halladay: Future Yankee?

Ehhh, no. I don’t think so anyway, though I would love for it to happen.

I have an idea. Let’s play a game! In this game we pretend we are in an alternate universe. The Mets entire team isn’t crippled from the waist down, Chien-Ming Wang isn’t broken,  and the Blue Jays have no qualms about trading Roy Halladay to a team above them in the division. So what might it take for the Yankees to get Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays? Being that they’ve gone through approximately forty starting pitchers this season, they would obviously want a young starter back in exchange for their exceedingly durable ace . They could use a young shortstop to take over for Marco Scutaro in the next year or so. They also need a catcher. The Yankees have prospects in two of those areas, so they certainly could meet the need. One of Wang/Hughes/Chamberlain, along with someone to fill an offensive hole, like CF Austin Jackson or catcher Jesus Montero, and another decent prospect or two would probably be a pretty enticing offer for the Jays.

Back to the real world: Of course, Wang’s value is in the tank right now, which somewhat limits that possibility (along with the fact that he shouldn’t be sold at the absolute bottom of his value). The Jays might want to get a little something more from the Yankees than they would expect from any other team, as a tax of sorts for an intra-divisional trade. On top of that, Cashman might still be keen to keeping both Chamberlain and Hughes.

It likely won’t happen, but even so, if an offer comes in revolving around one of Chamberlain or Hughes (without gutting the ENTIRE farm system), you have to take it. The Yankees are one of the few World Series aspiring teams this season, and Halladay would provide another ace for at least several more seasons (with an extension). If Halladay isn’t the best pitcher in baseball, he is right next to them (and it wouldn’t hurt him to replace a few starts against the Yankees offense each year with the Blue Jays). And even with a trade of one of those young pitchers, you’re still left with several young starters, particularly if Wang rights himsef.

One quick opinion on Wang: He needs a full offseason of conditioning and work. He still has his sinker, just not the location, and he shouldn’t have been working himself out in the major leagues at all until he proved himself worthy in the minors for more than two starts. He will be fine next season, barring any reoccurrences in his foot or other lower leg troubles.

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Chien-Ming Wang: Easiest Word Play in Baseball?

May 4, 2009

As someone so incredibly noted two weeks ago Chien-Ming Wang has been dealing with a sore foot. The foot problem has led to hip and leg problems, which in turn has given him a release point about as consistent as a Sammy Sosa’s English. Wang’s DL stint and rehab will be switching focus from arm  stamina to a lower pitch count lower body strengthening program designed to help his legs and hips recover.

wangrehab

Not having his legs beneath him would go a long way in explaining Wang’s historically bad start to the year, and hopefully he can be back before the end of the month pitching like he is capable of.

In the meantime, Phil Hughes had a suberb start this week, striking out six in six innings against a very good Detroit offense. He allowed only one hit (a single) to Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez combined, and only two hits total.  His pitch Fx data for the game is here. There is a ton to be encouraged by, even if it is only one start. His pitches ranged from a high of 94 mph to a low of 73 mph, a pretty huge difference in speeds, and his fastball averaged 91.33 mph, which is just where it should be if he wants to have enough velocity to get it by hitters on occasion. The variation pitch to pitch is incredible, and it really looks like his time in AAA has been paying off.

hughes428

Hughes even had some trouble getting his great curveball over the plate, it often was left high, but the break on it is so sharp that he was able to get away with it. If he can consistently throw his curve where he wants to Hughes’ arsenal is pretty tough to match.hughes2

He still has to prove he can be healthy for a full year, even though none of his injuries have actually been arm related, but a game like that one is exactly what everyone who has been following him in the minors knows he is capable of. It is yet to be determined if he will start tomorrow against Boston or be pushed back because of today’s rain out. Boston is probably an even more daunting game than his season debut, but I would love to see how he comes out of it. He could really push the Yankees to keep him in the majors with a good start.

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Return Of Sir Philip?

April 24, 2009

Via Peter Abraham’s blog:

UPDATE, 3:41 p.m.: Nardi Contreras just told reporters in Tampa that Wang needs more arm strength and that is sinker is not consistent enough.

I don’t know what injury they’ll claim he has, but every indication is that Wang will be on the DL sometime soon.

This seemed obvious. Options for starting are probably one of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Alfredo Aceves. Hughes and Kennedy are tearing up AAA, and while I have a few reservations about whether or not they can carry some confidence over from the minors to the Yankees I would like to see one of them get the call to start. The next scheduled spot after Wang’s start was skipped in Boston will be in Detroit. Quite a daunting task for one of these young guys. As one of two people in ownership of a Phil Hughes jersey (this is the other) I am especially excited about the possible return of our top prospect to the majors. The situation from which this possibility arises is less than desirable, but getting to see a pitcher currently dominating the minors with major league stuff is always exciting.

And for anyone who thinks the Yankees rotation is in dire straits, the Orioles are there to cheer you up. Any city that can not only employ Adam Eaton but  give him a standing ovation is okay with this blog. Just to refresh your memory, Eaton is the man Phillies fans booed during the World Series ring ceremony. In spite of his gem today Eaton is essentially a terrible pitcher who somehow has stuck in the majors on reputation alone. The particularly puzzling thing is that Eaton’s reputation is as a terrible pitcher. Yeah, chew on that one, baseball fans.

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Is Wang Still Hurting?

April 18, 2009

A day before his third start, I’ve been glancing over Chien-Ming Wang‘s pitch breakdown, seeing if there was any evidence of decline or lingering issues from his injury, since (as his two previous games obviously showed) he is just not sharp.

Wang’s fastball/sinker is averaging 90.5 mph, down 1.3 mph from last season. His slider has also shown a decreased velocity, down from 85.4 to 81.9 mph. On top of this, the main and the most obvious problem to anyone who has seen his first two starts has been his inability to locate pitches. His sinker has often been left up in the zone, and that is only when Wang has even been able to get it over the plate.

Wang’s injury last season was to his right foot. There are a few issues that could be lingering from this. First is that he did not even begin to lightly throw until late October, so he was likely way behind his usual off-season schedule. The second is that his foot is either still bothering him, or was bothering him recently enough that he is afraid to go 100% on it. The right foot for righties is the one used to push off of the rubber. If Wang is unable or unwilling to push off with maximum effort than not only is his velocity going to suffer (like it has been) but he is not going to be able to stay on top of his sinker, and it’s going to linger up and all over the zone from an inconsistent release (as has also been his problem).

Best case scenario is he was simply afraid to push it, and he is not actually injured (it’s been enarly nine months since the initial injury, so it’s likely that the foot is 100% healed). Hopefully it is something that either he or pitching coach Dave Eiland noticed and have corrected before tomorrow’s game, because the A.L. East is going to be brutal and until he recovers his form having Wang out there is simply giving away victories. The majors is not the place to work out mechanical and physical issues. Ian Kennedy has been completely dominant in AAA, striking out 11 in 6 innings in his last start, and Phil Hughes has demonstrated that he has the talent to get major league hitters out (when healthy), and both are better options than an out of sync Chien-Ming Wang.

By the way, I and probably most other Yankee fans were singing the praises of Nick Swisher since he got into the lineup and immediately went on a tear. Anyone who didn’t want him starting over Xavier Nady before certainly wanted it then. Well, Nady is going to be gone for quite awhile, and if his second Tommy John surgery becomes necessary (which it looks like it will) than Nady’s days as a Yankee are likely over. This is not exactly the way anyone wanted it to go down, because Nady is a very valuable hitter, especially against left handed pitching. Swisher will be in the lineup every day, but with Teixeira suffering from an ailing wrist and Matsui with a bum knee already the Yankees former depth is going to be spread very thin. It is a good thing that they assembled a strong bench because it is already becoming necessary. Perhaps this is the baseball gods roaring “You wanted Swisher, you’ve got it!” and striking down three of our hitters to get him in the lineup. Apparently they are not without  a sense of humor. In any case, best of luck to Nady, and hopefully he can get back and contribute later in the year; it’s never a good thing to see someone on your team hurt.

Unless they’re the rocking combo of Damaso Marte and Jose Veras. Fuck those guys.

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