• Sheehan: Yanks Have Right Pen In ’09

    Posted by on March 2nd, 2009 · Comments (11)

    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

    Me?  I’m not 100% sold on the Yankees bullpen this season.  I’ve already documented concerns on Bruney, Ramirez and Veras.  That leaves Marte and some rookies to support Mo Rivera. 

    Could it work?  Sure, maybe…  Then again, maybe not…

    Comments on Sheehan: Yanks Have Right Pen In ’09

    1. yagottagotomo1
      March 2nd, 2009 | 11:17 pm

      Lol, Steve. You sure do love your hedging. Maybe…maybe not. Not 100% sold? What about 90%? 80? Do you like the bullpen or not? It is a simple yes or no question.

    2. March 2nd, 2009 | 11:24 pm

      ~~Do you like the bullpen or not?~~

      Mo is Mo. Marte’s OK. I just don’t see someone else there being as good as Nelson was…


      Coke might be able to be a Lloyd (with Marte being Stanton). But, again, who’s Nelson this year?

    3. thenewguy
      March 2nd, 2009 | 11:25 pm

      ~~Do you like the bullpen or not?~~

      If the bullpen repeated this year what it did last year, is that good enough for you?

    4. thenewguy
      March 2nd, 2009 | 11:26 pm


    5. March 2nd, 2009 | 11:33 pm

      ~~If the bullpen repeats this year what it did last year, is that good enough for you?~~

      No. I want to see a more consistent effort.

      Last year, the pen had an ERA of 5.42 in August with 7 losses charge to them. That’s bad performance at a bad time.

    6. yagottagotomo1
      March 3rd, 2009 | 12:03 am

      That’s fair Steve. But I would guess that you are going to see even the best bullpens have months like that. I’ll concede that August is not a great time to have that sort of breakdown.

    7. March 3rd, 2009 | 1:36 am

      I think the Yankees bullpen will be strong this season. They did a decent job last season, Bruney looks poised for a big season, and when was the last time the Yankees this many young arms ready to go? They have plenty of guys ready to pick up the slack if some fail.

    8. YankCrank
      March 3rd, 2009 | 9:00 am

      How about this Steve. I’ll agree with you when you say a repeat of last year’s august would not be ideal, even though we all know a bullpen is unpredictable. But how do you feel about the way the bullpen is built?

      Developed Yankee pen arms that are cheap, some cast offs like Bruney and Edwar who are also cheap and for the most part, productive, and a trade for one of the better lefty relievers in the majors. With most of these guys either drafted by the Yanks, picked up off the trash heap by the Yanks and identified as a needed trade, can you give Cashman some credit for this? I don’t see any $5-$6 million a year guys past their prime anymore, it’s the result of pure scouting and drafting.

    9. Tcarda4
      March 3rd, 2009 | 9:02 am

      I agree, their depth is very strong. I have confidence in this bullpen

    10. Evan3457
      March 3rd, 2009 | 5:31 pm

      The Yanks’ bullpen will be fine, and better than fine if Bruney can really fill the Nelson role, rembering that Nelson always had 1 or 2 stretches a season where he lost command of the frisbee slider and got lit up or walked the park.

    11. March 4th, 2009 | 12:12 am

      […] Sheehan: Yanks Have Right Pen In ‘09 / A.J. feels strong after simulated game […]

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