Right now, the only thing that we know about the Yankees 2006 bullpen is that Mariano Rivera and Tanyon Sturtze will be in it. I do expect the Yankees to carry 6 pitchers in their pen to start the season next year. This means there are four spots to fill.
I’m hoping that the Yankees re-sign Aaron Small to take one of those four slots – he deserves it (based on what he did in 2005).
I also anticipate Jaret Wright getting one of the four spots (as the “last man” in the pen) – and here I assume that he is healthy, not traded, and not needed for the starting rotation. If he is not available, I suppose it would be OK to have Jorge DePaula take this role on the team – or even a prospect like Steven White. The “last man” in the pen doesn’t have to be a stud – just someone who can handle a mop.
What about the other two undefined positions in the bullpen? It would be nice to have a lefty in the mix. A propect like Matt Smith or a vet like Al Leiter maybe? And, for the other spot, right now, according to who’s on the roster, it will be a Scott Proctor type. Or, could it be Jose Veras?
In summary, right now, it would look like this:
Set-up: Sturtze and Small
Bridge: Proctor or Veras
Lefty: Smith or Leiter
Long-man: Wright or DePaula or White
I could see Torre burning out Sturtze and Small in a hurry with that group.
Ideally, the Yankees can acquire another set-up type pitcher, for now call him Kyle Farnsworth, and then everyone below Mo slides down a notch, as follows:
9th Inning: Rivera
8th Inning: Farnsworth
6th and 7th Inning: Sturtze and Small
5th Inning: Wright
And, then, you have Proctor, Veras, DePaula, et al, pitching in Columbus, if needed, where they belong. Or, one of them replaces Wright (if needed).
So, to me, the Yankees bullpen plan should be simple:
Sign Farnsworth (or someone like him).
Figure out who is your lefty.
I wonder what they’re waiting for?