Building a bullpen one LaTroy at a time

In defense of Hideki Matsui
The Yankees have a sense of humor

The Yankees, according to Ken Rosenthal, are close to a one-year, $3.75 million deal with LaTroy Hawkins. This move bores me. On the one hand, it’s a one-year deal for not very much money. On the other, Hawkins has seen his K/9 IP decline over the last five seasons (with a slight uptick last year), and just like every other Yankee reliever, he puts on more than a baserunner per inning. Is a 35-year-old really a bullpen upgrade?

In defense of Hideki Matsui
The Yankees have a sense of humor
  • alex

    “he puts on more than a baserunner per inning,” but not generally via the walk. unlike most of the other yankee relievers, he at least gives his team a chance to make plays.

  • CB

    What’s the alternative?

    Sign Viz for a 3 year $12million dollar deal?

    Or go with all rookies? Without guys like Hawkins or Mahay they’ll have 6-7 rookie pitchers on the staff.

    No good solutions. It’s just a matter of how to handle the different types of risk you face.

    Having Hawkins on a one year deal isn’t that big a risk. He probably won’t be very good but he may give them some innings and let guys like Ohlendorf, etc. get used to pitching at the big league level. If they want they’ll be able to trade him to the NL midseason or even DFA him.

    There’s no good solutions for relief pitching in this market – AP is reporting the Brewers signed Gagne to a one year $10 million dollar contract with a $1 million more in incentives! That’s just crazy after how he pitched in Boston.


  • Adrian-Retire21

    Well at least Gagne is back in the NL.But you need some bullpen arms with expirience.Not good but at least with don’t have to give up a draft pick like Mahay.

    • Stu

      The Yankees wouldn’t give up a draft pick for Ron Mahay. Atlanta would get a sandwich pick for him, but a type B free agent doesn’t require the signing team to give up a draft pick.

      The only remaining Type A free agent is Aaron Rowand (I think Michael Barrett accepted arbitration–if not, he’s a Type A free agent as well).

  • Pfistyunc

    To me, this is just another example that Brian Cashman is a moron.

    • steve (different one)

      right, a 1 year deal for a guy with a career 3.35 ERA as a reliever makes cashman a moron.

      it’s a nothing move. not great, not bad.

      certainly doesn’t make anyone a moron.

      • Ben K.

        In what world does LaTroy Hawkins have a career ERA of 3.35?

        • steve (different one)

          in the world where i said “3.35 ERA as a reliever“.

          which is this world, the real world.

          his era is bloated b/c he was a terrible starter early in his career.

          “as Starter 518.1 IP 6.11 ERA”
          “as Reliever 553.2 IP 3.35 ERA”

  • trevor

    how hard is hawkins throwing these days?

  • Greg

    I think this is a fine signing because it is low-risk, decent reward. Way better than giving Viz or Mahay 3 years, which I think is absurd and I would hope Cashman agrees. This at least gives the yanks 3 veterans in the bullpen to go along with all of the kids.

  • Stephen

    I had heard earlier rumors that a multi-year deal with Hawkins was in the works. I’m glad that it’s just the one year. I don’t really see any legitimate reason to oppose this deal. Hawkins could very well be a solid arm in a very thin and very unexperienced bullpen or he could just as easily be a complete failure. Either way it seems worth a shot at this price.

  • Ivan

    I don’t like the move but hey there wasn’t better choices out there either. Hawkins might be decent for a change.

    After all it’s only one year for less than 4M dollars.

    Besides thats a better contract than Viz and Mahay is looking for which is multi year contract in the 12 to 15M dollar range.

  • Steve S

    Middle relief is about catching lightening in a bottle. You never know who is going to work out. Cashman does need to have someone with some major league experience in that bullpen. At 3.75 million hawkins is fine and can be let go if the kids work out. And I doubt Girardi will be of the Torre mantra and stick with the veterans.

  • yankz

    Yeah. Why not? He’s been average to outstanding every year since 2002. Worst case is he’s Vizcaino, except only for a year. Someone has to pitch those 70+ innings, and it’s good that the Yankees have many options instead of just the kids (the best of whom might not even be healthy this year).

    • mehmattski

      That’s a pretty warped view of Hawkins’ recent career… his last two years he’s been somewhere between “mediocre” and “awful,” striking out less than one tenth of the batters he’s faced, allowing more than a hit per inning, and gives up a .890 OPS to left-handed hitters. $3.75 million for a 35 year old league average ROOGY? No thank you, I’ll stand behind Britton, Ohlendorf, and Albaladejo.

  • mehmattski

    What’s the problem with having a bunch of rookies in the bullpen? Year to year, there aren’t a whole lot of consistent relief pitchers, and those guys are quickly made into closers. One strategy is to take a bunch of closers (Tom Gordon/Kyle Farnsworth) and throw a truckful of money at them hoping to sign them as setup guys.

    This doesn’t work on the other end, taking a bunch of middle relievers and overpaying them to be setup men. They’re pitchers with track records of being mediocre, why should we expect anything different? Plus, then the guys are locked in to major league contracts and can’t be sent away if they turn out to suck (as predicted).

    The rookies, meanwhile, all have minor league options left and can be subbed in for one of the other right handers in the surplus without too much effort. I will go ahead and guarantee that Ross Ohlendorf will have a better 2007 than either LaTroy Hawkins or Ron Mahay. There’s no reason to go nuts over a mediocre pitcher just because he happens to pitch with his left hand.

  • PinstripePride26

    God No!!! please tell me this isn’t true? Cash is out of his mind…

  • iYankees

    ^Hawkins is a righty. Either way, I think it’s all about providing a balance to the pen. Obviously, you want to use your rookies in there because they’re cheap and can pan possibly pan out for you for more than a year. But, you also want to put some vets in their to offset the lack of experience.

    Throw Hawkins in the mix with a bunch of other young guys, Mo, and Farnsworth, and you have a more complete group. Also, Girardi should prove to be better at managing the bullpen than Torre, so it’s up to him to create an environment for everyone to succeed (and hopefully he’ll do that).

    • mehmattski

      I think the signing makes even LESS sense because Hawkins is a righty. You can talk about “balance” and “chemistry” and “stickitoitivness” or whatever, and I’ll take “ability to throw strikes” every time. Hawkins doesn’t walk many people, but he strikes out someone once every TEN batters. That’s downright awful. “Giving his team a chance to make a play” is an odd argument, especially considering the Yankees’ infield defense isn’t exactly stellar. Plus Hawkins gets knocked around by lefties, because his pitches don’t have enough bite to get anyone out on his own. That’s the making of a bunch of blown saves right there.

  • Alan

    I don’t mind this signing. It’s only money, and we’re not stuck with him for multiple years. If it doesn’t work out, we drop him. If it does, great. Boring and unimaginative, but not risky. Besides, with all of the young arms expected to be in the bullpen it’ll be nice to have some veterans in there to help out.

  • Chip

    I like it, very little risk and who knows, maybe he has a little bit of advice to help the new guys?

    • mehmattski

      What advice is that? “Throw your fastball slower they’ll never see it coming!”

  • Mike


    • Pfistyunc

      Agreed. This isn’t a backbreaking kind of mistake that Cashman usually makes, but this is still a complete waste of money. They should have just donated this money to charity instead of wasting it like this

      • Ivan

        Since you are so negative about the signing, who should the yankees sign?

        • Pfistyunc

          Nobody from this group. The veterans on the market are unlikely to be as good or better than the Yanks’ young internal options. The Yankees probably have at least half a dozen young pitchers who will be as good or better than LaSuck Hawkins.

  • RollingWave

    it’s acceptable enough in that it’s a one year deal… but really he’s just one more body to throw and hopefully pan out.

  • Steve S

    I think everyone who is ripping it should name an alternative that they know would be better than what the existing options. And its easy to name all the kids we have but there is nothing to say that these guys will be better than Hawkins. Ohlendorf looked okay, Veras looked okay. We dont know what Sanchez will be or the kid that we got from Washington. Sometimes its about volume. And all those people who are chomping at the bit for the kids should look at Colter Bean and realize that sometimes guys are career 4A guys. Hawkins is established and good enough to pitch 60 innings for the Yankees next year.

  • Travis G.

    not too bad. great GB/FB rate this year, and outside of 06 has been well above average since 02 (by ERA+). if he totally sucks, he’s gone, no big deal. the question is: when he has those shitty weeks/months, will he be DFAed, or will they hang onto him hoping he rebounds? not as hard moving a rookie up and down.

  • Jersey

    I’m fairly ambivalent about this one, but that’s probably only because Torre is gone, and I have faith that Girardi will bench Hawkins when appropriate.

  • Jamal G

    Its official now. Again, not a bad or great move. But whats the risk?

  • Jamal G

    Yankees playoff defeat to Cleveland Indians: Joe Torre’s job
    Can of Bug Spray to distract Joba Chamberlain: $673
    A Jackass out there willing to spend $673 on a can of bug spray: Priceless

    • Ben K.

      Jamal: We’ve already got a post up about that. If you have a tip, e-mail us instead of dropping links willy-nilly into threads please.