Did the Yankees Give Up Too Soon on Ross Ohlendorf?

August 13, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

When you look back at some of the trades the Yankees have made, you wonder about some of the younger players who left and never got a chance to develop fully.

One player immediately comes to mind, and that’s Ross Ohlendorf.

Some of the newer Yankee fans may not remember him pitching, mostly because he wasn’t on the team for very long.

Two years ago, Ohlendorf was part of the deal that brought the failed experiment of Randy Johnson to New York.

In 2007, he started out in the minor leagues, and was a late-season call up.

In six games, he had a 2.84 ERA and nine strikeouts; and Joe Torre felt good enough to add him onto the post-season roster. Although, his one inning pitched in Game 1 in Cleveland wasn’t his best.

In 2008, Ohlendorf was given a spot in the bullpen.

Although, he was really groomed to be a starter, he still threw hard and had a good enough arm, that Girardi threw him in the pen.

That season wasn’t the best for Ohlendorf in pinstripes. He went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA in 25 appearances pitching in 40 innings. His worst stat may have been the six wild pitches he threw. Ohlendorf faced control issues and was sent back to the minors to correct them.

Before Ohlendorf ever got called back up, he was again traded on July 26, 2008. Ohlendorf, along with Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Jose Tabata were sent to the Pirates for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.

There have been many critics of that move.

The acquisition of Nady didn’t produce much, as he only played half a season in 2008; and his 2009 season ended on Opening Day when he was injured, requiring Tommy John surgery.

As for Marte, he has spent the majority of this season on the DL. He’s signed with the Yankees through 2011.

But once Ohlendorf arrived in Pittsburgh, his struggles continued. He made five starts and went 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in 22 innings pitched.

It’s safe to say 2008 was not the best year for him.

But 2009 has been a much different season.

Ohlendorf just turned 27 and as a full-time starter, he is 10-8 with a 4.30 ERA in 23 starts with 73 strikeouts. In 2008, he threw 10 wild pitches. In 2009, he’s cut that number down to one.

It seems like Ohlendorf has much better control now.

With Ohlendorf’s recent success, it makes you wonder if the Yankees should have hung onto him and not traded him.

Chances are, with Chien-Ming Wang’s shoulder surgery and Ian Kennedy’s aneurysm surgery, Ohlendorf could have gotten the call to be a starter this season.

In other articles on Bleacher Report, many have said the fifth starter should be a young pitcher to develop. Other teams in the league are doing the same thing:

The Red Sox’ fifth starter is Junichi Tazawa. The Phillies’ fifth starter is J.A. Happ. The Rays’ fifth starter is David Price. The Tigers’ fifth starter is Rick Porcello. Notice the trend? Even the good teams are developing young arms to see if they can handle the big games.

Tazawa has only made one start for Boston, but Happ, Porcello, and Price have all had decent success in 2009.

Ohlendorf has been mostly used as the Pirates No. 3 starter, but if he were still on the Yankees as their No. 5, he could have given them the same innings and wins he’s gotten in Pittsburgh, and been a factor in the pennant race.

Just to give you all an idea of what kind of stuff he can bring, in his last start at Coors Field against the Rockies, Ohlendorf pitched six innings, allowed six hits, three runs, walked two and struck out three for the win.

To be able to get a quality start in Coors Field (six innings and three runs or less is considered a quality start) against a red-hot Rockies team in August is very impressive.

The Yankees will probably never know what Ohlendorf could have done for them if he stayed longer in the Bronx.

If he continues to have success in Pittsburgh and wherever else he goes in his career, it could be a clear case for Brian Cashman of a good, young arm that was traded away too soon.

Notice the Yankees weren’t as willing to trade away young talent for guys like Roy Halladay or Jarrod Washburn this past July like they did one year earlier?

If Cashman ever had the chance to re-acquire Ohlendorf, he might want to consider it. Ohlendorf has a fastball that ranges around the 95-96 mph range and his breaking pitches got better with experience.

For now, Ohlendorf is classified into the Yankees file under the “What-If” title.

readers comments

Yankee Tickets

Yankee Tickets

Shop Yankee

Shop Yankee