Apr
24

Moving out the mop-up man

By

Tonight’s game — a closer-than-it-should-have-been 6-4 win over the White Sox — proved that, yes, Mike Mussina can keep hitters off balance. In fact, he pitched like a more effective version of Jamie Moyer tonight. Funny how Hank nailed that one.

On the evening, Mussina went after hitters. He threw inside fastballs and had his slow, slower, slowest stuff out in full force. Except for two solo home runs, he largely silenced the White Sox. In seven innings, he gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three. He’s 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA, and if Mussina can keep that ERA around 4.50-4.75, the Yankees and their fans would be thrilled. With this game tonight, Mussina silenced the criticism for a few more trips through the rotation.

Meanwhile, the story of the night by the end of the game wasn’t Robinson Cano‘s utter bad luck, and it wasn’t Jason Giambi‘s utter lack of mobility at first base. Although both were out in full force tonight, the development from this game was LaTroy Hawkins and his inability to get hitters out. While I know that 9.2 innings does not a season make and I know that the Yankee fan reaction is “he’s not producing; let’s trade him,” I firmly believe that LaTroy Hawkins is simply wasting a roster spot on the Yankees.

For the season, Hawkins has made nine appearances, and he’s given up runs in four of them. He’s thrown 9.2 innings, given up 12 ER on 15 hits and four walks while striking out five. By any measure, he is right now the Yankee mop-up man, and I have to wonder about the wisdom of keeping him on this team for longer than necessary.

At AAA, the Yankees have three guys who have been throwing well — Chris Britton, Jonathan Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez — along with Scott Patterson who is off to a slow start. Of those three, Britton and Albaladejo have successful, if limited, Major League track records, and Edwar has flashed bouts of brilliance in between bad outings.

If we assume that the Yankees could get something for LaTroy Hawkins — he is, after all, and Established Name with a track record of success — then they should look to move him. Britton, Albaladejo and Ramirez are all significantly younger than the 35-year-old Hawkins, and their upsides are much higher than Hawkins’. We didn’t need Hawkins in the pen when Brian Cashman signed him out of some requirement for veteran bullpen stability, and we don’t need him now when three guys at AAA could outperform him. If an offer sounds good, I say make the move.

Categories : Game Stories
  • matt K

    Couldn’t agree more. We need to make room in scranton for Robertson, Melancon and Cox in the not to distant future as well. Cash should get rid of him before he makes him look any dumber.

  • Joe

    Agreed. Flip him for a PTBNL, for all I care. If the Yankees can get rid of Hawkins without having to take on much/any of his salary, it should be considered a win. If you can somehow send him to Pittsburgh for Marte with Betemit, or something, Cashman would be my hero.

  • Jeff

    What was up with the radar gun? Its been off by at least 5 MPH the last two games…Game day was more accurate as well as todays ESPN telecast….

    Just a reminder for you Phil Hughes velocity checkers tomorrow…

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

      good point. i noticed that too. it must have something to do with the comiskey park guns.

      as for Latroy, i think he’ll be given at least through May to see what happens. the good thing about a one year deal is it’s easy to cut him.

      • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

        Gameday’s gun is usually recognized by fans as the most accurate. ESPN is also very good. Other than that, I would not put too much stock into radar readings, maybe FOX but I am not sure about them.

    • http://www.ilikemygirls.com Seven Costanza

      the gun had to be off. no way jenks was only at 88 mph.

  • http://www.myspace.com/j_panama Jamal G.

    “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.”

    Just to continue the PF theme from the DotF post. :)

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike @ NYYU

    Hawkins should have never been signed in the 1st place.

    • Mike P

      I dunno, I think Hawkins was a sensible pick up. Bullpens are very volatile year to year. You only have to look at Bruney. Hawkins was available short term, fairly inexpensive and was the least volatile option available.

      Sure there are tons of good kids and let them pitch. But if Ohlendorf were pitching worse and Hawkins better it suddenly looks good. It was a pretty low risk signing IMO.

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  • RichYF

    Isn’t there some manager out in LA that just loves veterans?

  • David

    Why not just release Latroy and call up Britton? Latroy is a sunk cost; there’s no way anybody takes him on at this point.

    Torre hated Britton, because he was fat, and wouldn’t use him, but Torre’s not around anymore. Just because a pitcher is fat doesn’t mean he can’t pitch. See: Wells, David or Jenks, Bobby.

    Allof Britton’s minor-league numbers suggest that he can pitch, certainly as a 7th-inning guy in the majors. If the Yanks get rid of him, they will regret it when he has some good years for another team.

    In some ways, this is emblematic of a Yankee problem – why spend money on useless pieces like Pavano and Jaret Wright and Latroy Hawkins and Ron Villone (and Doug Mientkievich, Josh Phelps, et. al) when there are perfectly acceptable solutions in the minors? Like I said, part of the problem was Torre, but he’s not around anymore; he’s over in LA playing his fourth-best third baseman on a daily basis. The only way guys we can make a decision on guys like Britton, Ramirez, etc. is to let them play.

  • The Scout

    FYI: From the numbers, it appears Jose Veras has been the more dominant reliever at Scranton this year.

    • kingshaffy

      Chad Jennings said he’s been sitting at 95 all season. Problem with him is he’s Bruney-lite. Awesome when on, but has control issues. I think he’ll definitely be up and get a chance to prove himself this season.

  • Ron

    Is it possible to trade Hawkins? I thought there was some rule that prohibited free agents being traded the first year you sign them, but I could be mistaken.

    • TurnTwo

      yeah, he shouldnt have a no-trade clause in this deal.

      maybe are you thinking about trading a veteran who just signed a multi-year contract? i think if a player like that was trade, like Carlos Delgado when he went to the Mets or Javy Vazquez with the DBacks, they had the options to opt out of that FA contract… not sure of specifically why they can do that, but i remember it mentioned.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    He was a sensible pick-up, but we have better options. Albalajedo should not be riding the Scranton shuttle. Britton pitched well during a full season in the majors with Baltimore. If Edwar FINALLY has that second pitch, he’s going to be pretty damn special. This is a much different bullpen than last year.

    • TurnTwo

      agreed. made sense at the time because Cashman wasnt sure of what options would emrge from the young arms in the system.

      but now that they know they have legitimate options, combined with the fact that Hawkins has been really pretty unreliable, for the good of the team they should move him and promote another arm… that gives the team the best chance to win, and thats the point of playing the games.

      i am on the side that you can certainly trade him, rather than have to release him and get nothing in return… you may just settle for a low-A type of arm with some upside, but you’ll get something.

    • Geno

      I suspect Edwar’s problem was a lack of confidence in the bright lights of the big leagues. He’s got a fastball that touches 90, and a changeup that’s by all accounts one of the best. He’s ready now, if his mind is.

      • Dylan

        Wasn’t he also given something like 10 days off after 3 appearances (of ~3 total innings and ~7 or 8 total strikeouts) by Torre, then gave up the grand slam and was demoted?

  • JeremyM

    You can trade newly signed free agents starting May 15th, so we’re stuck with Hawkins until then, unless they just release him.

  • http://www.magicball.net Double-J (fmr. LBA Prequel)

    Please bring up Ed-Ram or Albaladejo, both have looked solid. Hawkins, on the other hand, has let the Paul O’Neill number thing get to him (or he just plain sucks), and should only be used in mop-up duty until he can prove himself otherwise.

    • whozat

      “Hawkins, on the other hand, has let the Paul O’Neill number thing get to him (or he just plain sucks)”

      Hey, don’t let those five straight scoreless outings factor into it or anything. Three against the Red Sox, covering five innings. He’s been inconsistent over his first ten outings. It’s ridiculous to dump him after such a small sample.

      Now, FARNSWORTH on the other hand…he is who he’s always been. And Bruney hasn’t really changed his stripes either. He’s good when the game’s not on the line and starts walking people when it is. We know what we have with these guys, and it’s time to cut ties.

  • Steve S

    All I have to say is remember Vizcaino last year, he started off well, then turned into mush, then got it together again. I think this expectation that these guys will be consistent is a myth. The kids down in the minors might be good, but Edwar is definitely not a sure fire major league reliever, after his performance last year (Joe Torre not withstanding), I think one thing is clear. Minor league pitchers who con demonstrate control of two pitches can dominate at the AA and to an extent the AAA level. That domination doesnt always come through when they get called up. They can be effective, but never as dominant. I say give him a little but more time, he is no worse than Farnsworth.

    • yankeemonkey

      Saying he’s no worse than Farnsworth is setting the bar pretty low, isn’t it?

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

        Kyle Farnsworth’s dirty little secret is that he’s not as bad as we all like to think he is. He’s maddeningly inconsistent, but he’s about average in terms of runs allowed/runs prevented.

  • Manimal

    The yankees are a very streaky team. Wait in a month when Bobby Abreu is struggling while Arod hits 20 hr’s in a month.

    Anyways, VERY offtopic but I thought I should share since theres alot of PS3 owners here. GTA IV comes out next week and there are finally videos of gameplay.
    http://www.gametrailers.com/pl.....07584.html
    http://www.gametrailers.com/pl.....07492.html

  • http://www.samiamsports.blogspot.com samiamsports

    Hawkins was a questionable signing at the time . I still would give him till at least late may to prove himself. If hes still sucking it up then then I would shop him….Its tricky cause if hes sucking his stock will be low but i think there will always be takers for a vet bullpen arm we saw that last year with detroit and fansworth(less). Wht I would give to have edwar back in the pen…..

    Btw , what ever happened with that ps3 mlb the show contest?.. Who ever won? I know i nailed a bunch of catagories???

  • WRT

    I’ve really never understood why the front office hates Britton so much.

  • zack

    You’re all missing the real story of last night, at least according to many Mediots, and thats that Mo had to pitch in the 8th inning, which proves that Joba needs to be a reliever. As if he had already moved. You see, there is this correlation once again that Joba to the rotation means total bedlam in the BP…sigh.

  • A.D.

    I definitly agree that the yankees need to clear some avg. to below avg. vets that they currently have in the pen to free up room for upside guys in the minors. Hawkins wasn’t a bad signing, a 1 yr deal is never a bad signing, and there’s lots of teams in need of bullpen arms due to injury (see Detroit & Atlanta among others).

    Now obviously we can throw out trades we’d love to see such as Hawkins for Lillebridge, but that won’t happen, Hawkins for a prospect, or farnsworth for a prospect would be good, clear out some room for someone from the minors to get his shot. Best case scenario would be packaging farnsworth and hawkins for a desperate team who may give up a real prospect.

    Also why didn’t Ohlendorf mop up last night?

    • steve (different one)

      Also why didn’t Ohlendorf mop up last night?

      because Hughes hasn’t gone more than 5+ innings in his last 4 starts?

      saving Ohlendorf for tonight made a ton of sense.

  • mustang

    “We didn’t need Hawkins in the pen when Brian Cashman signed him out of some requirement for veteran bullpen stability, and we don’t need him now when three guys at AAA could outperform him”
    I AGREE.
    Oh my God! I totally 100% agree. I’m going out and playing lotto or something. LOL
    Apparently, Hell Just Froze Over.

  • mustang

    7.0 IP-4 hits-2 runs and passing Bob Gibson in career wins.
    Not bad for TOAST.
    2 win down and 6 more to go.
    MOOOOSE !!!!!!!!!!

  • RustyJohn

    I disagree on some of the Hawkins stuff- he got a one-year deal at a reasonable market price when other middle relievers were costing an arm and a leg (thanks for taking Vizcaino in FA, Colorado) and when the Yankee pen was questionable (thanks for not using anyone but Proctor and Vizcaino, Torre). He is easily tradeable by any team who wants an established name and thinks that a change of scenary will do him good.

    Personally, I would rather have both Hawkins and Farnsworth traded and give the youngsters a shot at it to trim payroll and build for the future and, more importantly, because they’ll probably be better. If only one were to go I’d rather see Farnsworth- probably more because he is so maddeningly inconsistent and a dick.

  • Jorge

    Why would any reliever bother to sign with the Yankees when fans want to dump them after 17 games?

  • mustang

    Ok. Lets look deeper into LaTroy Hawkins numbers: (warning it’s scary)
    At Fenway- 21 IP- ERA 6.00- BAA- .296
    At the Stadium- 33 IP- ERA 10.00- BAA- .396
    I don’t know if Hawkins’ agent and Cashman were out for drinks and Cashman had one to many. He had to be drunk to sign this guy.

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