Pondering the ‘pen and Brian Bruney

Murcer out indefinitely
A view from inside the game

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.

Murcer out indefinitely
A view from inside the game
  • steve (different one)

    Abraham needs to stick to reporting, his analysis is terrible.

    • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

      Yea steve, NoMass kills him on that. They love his reporting as do all but his analysis is just “Huh?” at times.

      • JT Bk

        What’s great is that Pete reads this site and he should soon realize, if he already hasnt, that everyone knows he can’t analyze for cr@p. He’s only good for his inside info.. nothing more, nothing less. He’s like Spitzer’s call girls, only good for one thing.

      • RollingWave

        it’s still a lot better than George King’s abosaluet bullshit though

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G.

    I personally like the bullpen as it is. I do not think Patterson would have been a wise choice because he might have fallen into the Edwar nightmare. With Joba, Farns, Hawkins, and Ohlie where would Scotty P. get a regular chance to pitch during the first week? Those 5 games Joe G. would have been hard pressed to find openings for Patterson and that would have meant re-working his bullpen order just to get Patterson in. Since he would only be there for the first 5 games why not start him in AAA so his season can begin on April 3 and he should get regular work from Day 1 throughout instead of having to wait for a garbage time situation.

  • Adrian-Retire21

    I don’t think Albaladejo was a bad idea he can like Britton be a long reliever.Ohlendorf is way overrated and didn’t dominate spring training like people want you to think.Besides Patterson no one really looked like a lock in the bullpen.

    Ohlendorf and Albaladejo should fight it out until next week then see who’s better.Because both weren’t that great and if Jeter and Duncan weren’t so bad at defense Albaladejo would look better.

  • h2munro

    Ben I like the way this roster sets up as well, but it’s March. Things will change as the season evolves. Pete Abe’s point was pretty weak and betrays more of his lack of understanding then it does any insight into the thinking of the GM and Manager. It’s the August lineup and what gets us there that will tell us about Ca$h and Joe G not the Opening Day lineup.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Pete Abe never seems to get it right so when he voices commentary against the Yanks, as he often does (because I suspect he is secretly an RS fan), I dismiss it completely.

    His REPORTING is good. ANALYSIS bad.

    I like the BP but would have loved to have seen Patterson up.

    I don’t know if it’s going to “work” because it can either be brilliant or completely retarded. If everyone’s pitching well, brilliant. If everyone’s struggling, even for legitimate reasons (he’s old, he’s young, he can’t locate), it is going to suck bigtime.

    But I trust Joe G. to keep working at it and THAT is the difference between him and Torre.

    I know I’m going out on a limb here, BUT this is my prediction for ALL of 2008:

    Joe Girardi will never take a nap in the dugout.

    Daring prediction, I know. But I’d bet my house on it.

  • Count Zero

    I’m never one to defend Pete Abraham (who I think is a know-nothing) but I didn’t think his post was that far off base.

    They kept Bruney on the basis of 9 solid spring innings and the fact that “he’s been there before.” (Yeah — he’s been there before and he’s been awful most of the time.) I would rather have seen Patterson, myself. I said last year I never wanted to see Bruney in pinstripes again and I meant it — I don’t care how hard he throws, the guy has no command of his fastball. You can’t bring him into the game with men on base because he’s as likely to walk more men on base as he is to do anything else. Or he falls behind and has to come in when a hitter’s sitting dead red in a specific zone. We already have that guy on the roster — he’s called Farnsworth.

    But like you said — ultimately, it’s not the roster that starts the season, it’s the one that finishes it. I’m personally hoping at least three of these guys won’t be around at the end, and Bruney is definitely one of the three. He could prove me wrong, but I highly doubt it.

    • steve (different one)

      here is my beef with Abraham’s post:

      1. Last year, Cashman wanted to make a deal for Morgan Ensberg when 1B was a black hole. Torre blocked it.

      so right there, Pete’s entire premise is bullshit.

      the link is on NoMaas.

      who thinks Andy Phillips would have been released if Torre was still in charge?

      2. the line about “still” having a lot of 1Bman is dumb. last year they started the season with Giambi, Mientkiewicz, and Phelps. those are 3 guys who can ONLY play 1B.

      that is not the same thing as this season:

      Ensberg can play 3B, 1B, and play SS in an emergency.
      Betemit plays 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B.
      Duncan plays 1B, LF and RF
      Giambi can only play 1B.

      so no, the Yankees didn’t take “four” 1Bman. they took their starting 1Bman, a utility infielder with pop, a RH platoon option for 1B who can spell A-Rod, and another righty bat/5th OFer.

      the 2 situations couldn’t be more different.

      3. finally, the line about Rasner made no sense. they took a guy Cashman traded for (Albadalejo) instead of a guy Cashman released (Rasner)? huh? what does that mean? Cashman claimed Rasner off of waivers. then he had to remove him from the 40 man to make room before re-signing him to a minor league deal. what on earth does that have to do with Torre?

  • E-ROC

    I wonder what the bridge to Rivera will be. Farns, Ohlendorf, Chamberlain then Rivera?

    Who’s spot will Rasner take since Girardi wants a long man?

  • CB

    Scott Patterson didn’t make the roster based soley on experience.

    Bruney has thrown 148 major league innings and 272 minor league innings. Those are in no way small samples. In the majors his BB/9 is close to 7 but even in the minors his BB/9 is 5.

    How does 9 spring training innings change Bruney’s extensive track record for awful control?

    Girardi said that throwing strikes was his most important criteria in evaluating a pitcher. I don’t see how 9 spring training innings can substantially change Bruney’s body of work.

    Even this spring go back and look at the hitters Bruney faced. For many of his appearances he got in very late in the game and faced predominantly minor leaguers. Also, I don’t believe Bruney came in to any situation this spring with men on base.

    That wasn’t the case with Patterson. He was used early in games when the major leaguers and often with runners on base.

    It’s not unreasonable to send Patterson down to AAA. But I don’t think we should pretend that Girardi selected guys for the pen based on their performance alone.

    Bruney was picked primarily because of his “experience” despite the fact all of that experience suggests he can’t throw strikes.

    That’s fine – Girardi’s prerogative – but that is a very conventional way to make personnel decisions. Conventional’s not necessarily bad but there is a disconnect there between what Girardi has said (throwing strikes, major league experience not being a big deal) and his selection of bruney.

    • Count Zero

      Amen brother…amen! I think the point here (that Pete was making and that you and I are reiterating) is: “Meet the new boss – same as the old boss.”

      Now that’s a little bit of an overstatement based on how little has transpired to date — but keeping Bruney over Patterson is the exact same thing JT would have done. Keeping Giambi at 1B and putting Duncan on the bench is the exact same thing JT would have done. Keeping the veteran Ensberg on the roster is the exact same thing JT would have done.

      I’m not saying I disagree with all of those decisions — I’m just saying they are the exact same decisions JT would have made. That was Pete’s point…which you guys maligned him for. We’ll have to see how that trend develops as the season unfolds. I think Girardi will be much quicker to send Bruney and Ensberg packing than JT would have been — but as of right now, he hasn’t done anything differently than JT would have.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    This wasn’t a decision made based on a 9-inning spring training stinit. The Yanks saw Bruney and saw Patterson and determined that, from their perspective, they would rather go with Bruney first. He’s younger and has better pure stuff, I think, than Patterson. If Bruney struggles, I’m sure Scott will be up sooner rather than later.

  • mustang

    If you guys get a chance take look at “Yankees’ Patterson miffed by demotion” on the Yankees MLB site. Bruney’s attitude just plain annoys me and now I have even more respect for Patterson. The kid was robbed.

    • LiveFromNewYork

      Bruney has shaped up and by all accounts has changed his attitude. I’m not a big Bruney fan but maybe Joe G is thinking he needs to give him positive reinforcement and maybe he’ll throw strikes. I think Patterson was the guy but there is probably some utility in keeping Bruney until he blows it. Then Girardi will say you got your chance instead of sending him down to annoy the minor leaguers right off the bat.

    • steve (different one)

      isn’t one of the big reasons everyone “hates” Bruney, b/c he was “miffed” over getting demoted last season? he kicked over a chair when he got sent down, Abraham posted it on his blog, and everyone turned on the guy.

      i don’t know, Bruney has had a good spring. why can’t yankee fans forget last year and root for the guy?

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    that point about Patterson facing real MLers with men on base vs. Bruney facing MiLBers at the start of innings is excellent.

    perhaps the reason Patterson’s in AAA is to let the NY pen know anyone (Bruney, Ohlendorf, Alby) can be demoted bc there’s someone we can turn to in a second who dominated ST. maybe…

  • RustyJohn

    I have said it before, and I will say it again, I like Ohlendorf just because his name sounds like Ogie Ogilthorpe from “Slap Shot”. That’s all I have to say about the bullpen. Oh, and I think they should have kept Britton.

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