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November 12, 2006

NYDN: Yanks set to send Wright to Orioles
by Fabian

Apparently, the Yankees have all but signed the papers for a deal in which Jaret Wright is expected to go to the Orioles in exchange for right-handed reliever Chris Britton. Britton throws a low 90s fastball and a curveball and like so many young bullpen arms, he's 23, he struggles with consistency. I don't think he's any great shakes now or ever will be, but looks to be of the Scott Proctor mold of fungible bullpen arms and those guys are always nice to have around. More importantly, the Yankee rotation as of 6:23 AM today stands as follows:

1. Chien-Ming Wang
2. The Big Useless™
3. Carl Pavano
4. Mystery Meat
5. Hidden Prize

This has me extremely excited. On the one hand, there's the possibility that the Yankees wouldn't have dealt Wright if they were sure that Matsuzaka was headed elsewhere. On the other hand, even if Matsuzaka isn't secretly being fitted for a Yankee uniform it shows that the Yankees and Cashman are seriously dedicated to improving the team. They could just have easily have kept Wright, as he did perform decently enough in his 5 inning stints for the most part, but rather they are electing to look for better. As far as that relates to this year's free agent market it seems there are only two viable candidates. SG did the analysis in this post and while he came to the conclusion that Zito was amongst a top group, but still under whelming, I would like to see the Yankees make a run at him. Firstly, despite his less than ideal peripherals, Zito has been adept at beating systems that attempt to eliminate the effect of defense because he seems to legitimately allow weaker contact. In addition, I would only be expecting him to post ERA+s in the 115 range and over the last 3 years he has been at 100, 110, and 118. The key to his performance is that he consistently provides around 220 innings and has never missed a start. Such dependency is especially critical for the Yankees going forward because next year's AAA Scranton rotation looks to be:

1. Phil Hughes
2. Humberto Sanchez
3. Tyler Clippard
4. Steve White
5. Darrell Rasner
6. Jeff Karstens

Yeah...for the first time in ages the Yankees project to have a relatively young AAA rotation with guys that have the stuff and performance record to step up when needed and be anything from serviceable to excellent. However, with Phil Hughes being the best of this group the Yankees aren't going to want to push him too much and they're going to be able to avoid doing so they're going to need someone other than Wang to carry a large chunk of the workload. I believe Zito can be that guy and I'm willing to live with the innings where he can't find the strike zone as you can't teach durability...I think. So, my hopeful opening day rotation (accepting that there's nothing that can be done about The Big Useless™ and believing that discussions with Mike Mussina are in fact going very well):

1. Mike Mussina
2. Barry Zito
3. Chien-Ming Wang
4. TBU™
5. Pavano

When Pavano is injured walking to the mound for his first start he can then be ably replaced by one of the members of Generation Right-Handed Pitchers™.