Monday, June 15, 2009

Move Alan Horne to the Bullpen

The Yankees pitching staff, thought to be a strength heading into 2009, has been among the worst in Major League Baseball thus far. Both the bullpen and the rotation have experienced significant struggles, and there appears to be a dire lack of "sure things" in either. Rivera has faltered, Sabathia has been up and down, and everyone between the team's two aces has been hurt, inconsistent, or both. 

In my mind, the rotation will sort itself out. The Yankees Major League roster has seven pitchers capable of starting, with Wang, Hughes, and Aceves deserving a look for the fifth and final spot. Personally, I would like to see Hughes there (as I believe he is ready, and needs to take his lumps). Wang's velocity would be up in the bullpen, and he would have more time to work on his mechanics, and Aceves has proven to be very valuable in high-leverage situations. 

The bullpen, then, is my concern. I believe that Melancon and Robertson need to stay on the roster, and Veras needs to go. I do see another pitcher that should get a look, though, that has skirted under the radar - and that is the titular Alan Horne.

Horne has been in the Yankees organization for four seasons now, and has been ineffective for three. He is injury-prone and inconsistent, and his stuff has suffered a bit following his second major arm-surgery last season. At 26, this trend is unlikely to reverse itself, leaving Horne's value as minimal, at best. I believe that, much like Phil Coke, Horne could be a very good reliever.

For those of you that don't know much about Horne, he is a power pitcher, and his mechanics leave him very prone to injury. At the same time, though, this makes him an ideal reliever. His velocity peaks at 95 in the rotation, his power slider and hard curve have been rated between average and plus, and he has a surprisingly effective change-up. He struggles with control at times, and his fastball sits below 90 at times. In the bullpen, Horne's velocity would likely increase, he would be less likely to strain himself with high pitch-counts, and he may be able to help the team fairly soon.

In the end, there's no real reason not to make the move with Horne. I dislike giving up on starting pitchers, but Horne has fallen behind several other prospects, and it seems unlikely that he will be able to right the ship at 26. That being said, he has the stuff to be a light's-out reliever, and it could very well save his career.