After you get past the joy of Monday's latest walkoff win -- this one courtesy of Hideki Matsui's ninth-inning home run -- the focus around Yankee Universe has to be on the fifth starter situation.
There was bad news Monday about Chien-Ming Wang, and at this rate who knows if we will see the former ace of the Yankee staff again this season.
"Any time you're dealing with a [rotator] cuff issue and shoulder tendinitis -- or whatever you want to describe it as -- there's concern," (Yankee manager Joe) Girardi said. "Whatever it is he's able to do, we would love to have."
The mid-season fifth-starter tryout camp begins (continues?) tonight when Sergio Mitre toes the rubber against Baltimore. Don't expect Mitre to be more than a temporary fill-in, though. He is 10-23 with a 5.36 ERA in parts of five big-league seasons. He can hardly be expected to become a reliable starter in a pennant race. Maybe he ends up replacing Brett Tomko as the long man, but I don't see a lot of starts in Mitre's future.
Girardi recently described Mitre this way.
"He’s a sinker-curveball- changeup guy," Girardi said of Mitre, a right-hander who pitched for Girardi with the Florida Marlins in 2006. "He’s going to throw a lot of strikes, and he’s going to get a lot of ground balls. I always thought he had kind of a bulldog attitude. He’s a pretty thick guy. I never thought he shied away from contact."
For the Yankees, this is turning into an yearly ritual. I guess we could call it the annual mid-summer search for the next Aaron Small. Unless you want to see Kei Igawa again (and I don't) there are no other answers at AAA if Mitre flops. Girardi has repeatedly ruled out a return to the rotation for Phil Hughes, since he has been so dominant in the bullpen. Alfredo Aceves' value in the pen also makes the Yankees reluctant to start him.
Yet, Girardi admitted telling managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner he had "concerns about the depth of our starting rotation right now." For his part, Steinbrenner said Monday the Yankees would "look at all possibilities."
Those possibilities are extremely unlikely to include Roy Halladay. We've been over this a bunch of times, and the Yankees just aren't going to ravage the farm system for one pitcher -- no matter how good he is.
So, who could the targets be if the Yankees push for a starter via trade?
How about Cleveland's Cliff Lee? The Indians might consider moving the reigning Cy Young Award winner, and the price tag will have to be lower than the one for Halladay. Then there is always Jarrod Washburn, whom the Yankees seem to have been talking about acquiring for a year or more. I want nothing to do with Erik Bedard.
A lot of names will get bandied about, and it gives me a headache trying to figure it all out. So, I won't. Anyway, it will be interesting to see where this goes.