It's the big question facing voters in the 2008 presidential election.
And it's the choice hanging over the heads of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as they inch closer to choosing running mates.
Will the 46-year-old Obama double down on change or team up with a battle-tested veteran? Will the nearly 72-year-old McCain emphasize experience or go for a fresher face?
Nobody can say for sure. Not even Andy Rooney.
Which brings us to our topic of the day: If the first half of the season is all about acquiring as many young breakout players as possible, especially starting pitchers, then the second half should be dedicated to finding as many reliable rotation arms as possible.
August is when starters begin to break down, when the four-and-a-half-month workload starts to take its toll.
And who do you think is most affected by the dog days of summer? You guessed it: the young guns.
Inexperienced starters usually break down at this time of year, mostly because of overuse. Pacing oneself is an asset that's generally learned over time.
So with that mind, let's take a look at a few starters who are wearing down and others who are likely to benefit from a second wind down the stretch.
Mark Buehrle, White Sox: Buehrle's strikeout totals have waned in recent years. But whatever he's lost in dominance or velocity, he's made up for in ironman durability. After all, how many left-handed starters have logged 200 or more innings for seven straight seasons, all while sustaining an ERA in the neighborhood of 4.00? Conservative on the hill, Buehrle has thrown 100-plus pitches in 16 starts this season, but he's topped 110 only once.
Joel Pineiro, Cardinals: Another Cardinals starter benefiting from the tutelage of legendary pitching coach Dave Duncan? Stunning. The overall numbers may not show it, but Pineiro has looked more like the promising stud who notched 151 strikeouts and a 3.78 ERA for Seattle back in 2003 than Boston's failed closer project of '07. Helping his cause are a career-high 1.72 ground-ball-to-fly-ball-ratio and improved command since the All-Star break (18/4 K/BB), and he's got wins in each of his last three starts to show for it. Consider giving him another whirl.
Scott Baker, Twins: Baker hasn't gotten much attention, but he's come into his own as Minnesota's anchorman, much like James Shields did in Tampa Bay last year. Efficiency has played a pivotal role in Baker's run. He's averaged 94 pitches per start this season, has issued just 26 walks and looks poised to set a career high in innings pitched. Perhaps, then, the fourth-year right-hander will finally get the credit he deserves for leading a young Twins rotation.
Carlos Zambrano, Cubs: Sure, Zambrano's 12-5 record and 3.38 ERA give little indication of anything gone wrong, but a closer look says it all. Remember when the fiery right-hander used to overpower hitters? Well, that just doesn't happen anymore, as his strikeout rate has dropped dramatically since 2006, from 8.83 to a pedestrian 6.13. The normally durable Cub spent two weeks sidelined by a shoulder strain earlier this season and has thrown more than 115 pitches in six of his 24 starts. The wheels may not fall off completely this year, but the workload is clearly catching up with Zambrano. A breakdown could be imminent.
John Lannan, Nationals: Lannan has been one of the few bright spots on Washington's pitching staff (3.81 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), but things are about to take a turn for the worse. The 23-year-old lefty finds himself in unchartered territory with 141 2/3 innings and 2,305 pitches under his belt, totals that rank among the Top 5 rookie leaders. A 56 percent ground-ball rate is all that's keeping the bottom from falling out in light of the difficulty he's had locating the plate in the second half (4.79 BB/9, 5.05 ERA).
Daniel Cabrera, Orioles: Some owners used to attribute Cabrera's wildness to growing pains, and nothing more. Those days are long gone. The big right-hander burned plenty of forgiving souls in recent years, and things appear to only be getting worse (4.98 K/9, 5.76 ERA in last 6 starts). Cabrera's nine lives are running out in Baltimore, and without a major improvement over the next month, a trip to the bullpen could be the next step.