King Felix is regarded by many baseball experts as among the top three or four pitchers in all of baseball. He won the American League Cy Young last year and finished second in 2009 on a really bad Mariners team.
Francesca suggested that the Yankees put together a package that would include the following players: Jesus Montero, Ivan Nova and either Andrew Brackman, Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances. And one or two other major prospects who would be ready to play in the majors right now.
Most Yankee fans know that Montero is the highest rated Yankee farmhand. He is only 21-years-old, and is currently hitting over .400 at Triple A Scranton and has been said by some to be too big to be a major league catcher.
Francesca mentioned again today that Montero would never be a major league catcher and that the Yankees should groom Austin Romine to advance as a major league catcher.
Ivan Nova, of course, is a 24-year-old starting pitcher who won a role in the regular rotation out of spring training.
Nova has been less than impressive in his first three starts this season and was even used in a relief role for one inning in Toronto last week.
The so called “Killer Bs” of Brackman, Banuelos and Betances have been considered by some as untouchable. If the Yankees are ever going to develop their own excellent starting pitchers, these three are the best possibilities in the Yankees' system right now.
Apparently, Francesca was saying that the Yankees would have to also include a couple of position players who are ready to play in the majors right now.
There are a few players who might fill that bill and Eduardo Nunez is the first that comes to mind.
But last year, when the Yankees were trying to rent Cliff Lee in July, Cashman declared Nunez off limits. He was willing to trade Montero—his highest rated prospect—but not Nunez.
The other young players in the Yankees' system, who come immediately to mind, are Ramiro Pena, Brandon Laird and Greg Golson.
So Francesca would give up the Yankees’ top prospect in Montero, one of the highly rated minor league pitchers in Ivan Nova (who pitched well last year) and as many as two of the other high prospects in the system for Felix Hernandez.
Okay, let’s look at what the Yankees would get in return.
Hernandez is 25 years old. In fact, he just turned 25 this month, but he has already thrown almost 1200 innings in the major leagues.
Look at that number carefully.
Felix was pitching for Seattle when he was 19 years old and started 12 games in 2005. When he was not quite 20 in 2006, Hernandez started 160 games and would do so over the next five years. He had 172 starts before he turned 25.
When he was 20 years old he threw 191 innings. Since then, he has averaged 219 innings over the last four years and threw 249.2 innings last year at age 24. In an average 162-game season, Hernandez has thrown 228 innings per season.
Brian Cashman and the other Yankees brass have been the most notable advocates of innings limits for young pitchers.
Do young pitchers wear out due to overuse when they are young? Does allowing a 20-year-old kid to start 31 games and throw almost 200 innings guarantee arm problems down the road?
If Cashman and the Yankees don’t believe that, why did they implement the stupid Joba Rules?
If Cashman does not believe that, why was Phil Hughes limited last year?
If they don’t believe that riding young pitchers guarantees arm injuries, why are they so protective of Banuelos and Betances?
Either they believe young kids have to be protected or they don’t.
So would Cashman really trade for Felix Hernandez, when he has been used the very way Cashman says young pitchers should not be? And if he would trade for Hernandez, would he trade the best young players in the Yankee system to get him?
This writer personally thinks Mike Francesca is out of his freaking mind.
Yeah, give them Nova and give them Pena and Golson—even give them Brackman if they will take him.
But there is no way you trade Montero, Banuelos or Betances for Fernandez.
The Yankees cannot risk that much when their whole theory on young pitchers is that you can’t use them as much as the Mariners have used their Young King.