When the Yankees made their roster announcement last night, I breathed a sigh of relief. Up until the last minute, it looked as though the Yanks were going to take on a sub-par pitcher — Kei Igawa or Darrell Rasner — just to say they had a “long reliever.”
In my opinion, that’s an unnecessary cog. Why waste a roster spot on a pitcher just because? Considering the Yanks’ offensive potential this year, no deficit should be too big for the Bombers.
But, as Mike reported late last night, the bullpen came together nicely. For the first few days of the season, the Yanks will go with eight relievers; the four who were already inked in will be joined by Billy Traber, Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bruney and Jonathan Albaladejo. While Scott Patterson probably should have made it over Albaladejo, that spot will go to Andy Pettitte when he is activated from the DL on Sunday.
While Peter Abraham see this roster as an indication that things haven’t changed with Joe Torre out, I disagree. The Yanks went with the arms who impressed in Spring Training, and they went with the bats on the bench. They’ve put together a powerful team, but at the same time, this is a team — especially in the bullpen — on a short leash. With numerous pitchers in the minors who can throw strikes effectively, a player who struggesl will get shipped out pretty quickly.
And that’s where Brian Bruney comes in. Last year, we had pretty much written off Bruney. We couldn’t decide what was worse: his attitude or his control. And when he was banished to AAA after throwing walk after walk, he threw a fit about it.
This year, he came to camp ready to pitch. He’s in great shape, and his pitchers are showing life. In 9 Spring Training innings, he gave up 9 hits and 2 ER while striking out 12 and walking 3. He’s been throwing strikes in the mid- to upper-90s all spring, and it’s not an understatement when I say that an effective Brian Bruney could be a very valuable cog in the Yankees bullpen this year.
Bruney is one of the Kyle Farnsworth-type players who GMs cannot resist. He throws hard but has no idea where his pitchers are going. When they’re in the strike zone, they’re nearly unhittable, but oftentimes, their outings as disastrous.
The key to Bruney this year will be his walks. He’s walked 114 in 148 Major League innings for a K/9 IP of just a shade under 7. That’s awful. If he can keep that number around 3 or 4 per 9 IP, the Yanks will finally see Bruney realize his potential.
There’s no doubt that the Yanks are taking some calculated risks this year. Some key pieces on this team’s pitching staff are, by and large, unproven youngsters or veterans on the cusp of AAAA status. But the crazy thing is that this just might work.