Joe Sheehan likes the Yankees bullpen -
Other than re-signing 2008 trade acquisition Damaso Marte to a three-year, $12 million deal, the Yankees made the statement, however implicit, that they are committed to their homegrown relievers in 2009. One of the bright spots in the team’s first October-free season since 1994 was the emergence of hurlers such as Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras, who combined to strike out 126 men in 113 innings with a 3.74 ERA. By the end of the season, Phil Coke and David Robertson were making contributions in low-leverage situations. Add in free-talent pickups like Brian Bruney and Alfredo Aceves, and the Yankees have more than enough effective relievers to go around, whether you’ve heard of them or not.
Staying out of the reliever market is a good idea for the Yankees, who have spent most of the decade trying and failing to recapture the magic that was Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson in the seventh and eighth innings. The set-up tandem from 1997 through 2000 contributed to three division titles, four playoff appearances, and three World Championships. Joe Torre’s ability to run a bullpen was in no small part predicated on having those two pitchers around; since ’01, Torre has never seemed quite as comfortable with his relief staff.
Actually, the Yankees bullpen in 2002 was not terrible. See this list of seasons, from 1996 through 2008, where the Yankees had guys on their team with an ERA+>=115 along with a H+BB/IP Ratio<=1.33, with at least 30 games pitched and 85% of them in relief:
Year Number Players Matching +----+--------------------------+------+---------------------------+ 2002 4 Mike Stanton / Steve Karsay / Ramiro Mendoza / Mo Rivera 2006 3 Scott Proctor / Mariano Rivera / Mike Myers 2001 3 Mariano Rivera / Ramiro Mendoza / Randy Choate 1998 3 Mariano Rivera / Graeme Lloyd / Darren Holmes 1997 3 Jeff Nelson / Mariano Rivera / Mike Stanton 2008 2 Mariano Rivera / Brian Bruney 2007 2 Mariano Rivera / Mike Myers 2005 2 Tom Gordon / Mariano Rivera 2004 2 Tom Gordon / Mariano Rivera 2003 2 Mariano Rivera / Chris Hammond 2000 2 Jeff Nelson / Mariano Rivera 1996 2 John Wetteland / Mariano Rivera 1999 1 Mariano Rivera
Could it work? Sure, maybe… Then again, maybe not…