More musings on last night’s loss

Why tonight's loss supports moving Joba to the starting rotation
No one feels worse than LaTroy Hawkins

When the eleventh inning rolled around last night with the Yanks clinging to a one-run lead, the Yanks could have turned to Joba for the save. By stretching him out at the big league level, the Yanks have some flexibility with regards to his usage. That Joe Girardi opted to go to LaTroy Hawkins instead isn’t some testament to his stubbornness. Rather, Girardi knew Kennedy was hurt, and outside of Joba, the other option for Kennedy’s next scheduled spot would be Kei Igawa. What would you do there?

Meanwhile, last night’s game showed not the impact of transitioning Joba into the rotation but rather the impact of an early-season pitching injury. Had Brian Bruney not hurt himself earlier in the year, the entire tenor of that game – and many others this month – changes. Bruney is sometimes the forgotten man, but losing him hurt.

Why tonight's loss supports moving Joba to the starting rotation
No one feels worse than LaTroy Hawkins
  • Tripp

    Isn’t it about time for Bruney to be reevaluated? I thought he was going to where the boot for a month and then the doctors were going to look him over again.

    Hasn’t it been a month yet?

    • Ben K.

      The most recent item I’ve found on Bruney is from a Star-Ledger piece a few weeks back:

      Reliever Brian Bruney met with foot specialist Martin O’Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan Wednesday to examine the Lisfranc injury in his right foot that has him on the 60-day disabled list. Bruney, who shed his protective boot, had X-rays taken Wednesday and today is scheduled to go to the Yankees minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla. Bruney could begin throwing after he meets with O’Malley again on June 5.

      So Bruney’s a long way from coming back if it’s possible for him to do so this season.

      • A.D.

        Well he’s going to start throwing again soon so that’s something

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos

    Kudos on the Bruney reference. On opening day, he was the third best pitcher we had in the pen, by FAR. Losing him is like the Sox losing Okajima, or the Cubs losing Marmol.

  • http://deleted Randy

    i’m not sure if i agree that bruney’s injury loomed large in this. i agree he is a HUGE loss, but i still think the bullpen would’ve been short. its possible that if bruney was still here then edwar might be in AAA. you’re just replacing one pitcher with another. the bruney injury probably loomed larger in the first game of the series then the second because he probably pitches in those late innings over hawkins and veras and at that point you weren’t using up relievers like what happened last night.

    one more thing about last night was the umpire’s decision to not delay the game while the yanks were still up. i know matsui hit the ball hard but that was a little ridiculous. its too big of a situation to do something like that.

  • Larry

    Out of curiosity, anyone know when the Yankees last won an extra innings game on the road? Seems like it’s been ages.

    About the only saving grace was seeing Girardi make up for years of Torre’s bullpen mismanagement by deploying Mo in a tie game on the road in the bottom of the 9th.

  • RollingWave

    Igawa! that way we would have so many more games that we know we don’t have to waste our time to watch ;)

  • JRVJ


    If I may, I made the same point about Kennedy being hurt and Joba being held so he can throw on Monday at 8:28 A.M. in the previous thread, so I guess great minds think alike or something :-)

  • http://2009 Haggs

    Bemoaning the loss of Brian friggin’ Bruney just shows how horrid this pen really is. Bruney is the definition of unreliable.

    It was easy to cover up with Joba and Mo to protect anything close, but now the pen’s warts are showing. And it will get worse before it gets better because we all know a Farnsworth meltdown is imminent – my fingers are crossed but he can’t possibly keep this up can he?

    Don’t lump me into the Joba should have stayed put camp. I’m in the Cashman and company could not have planned this much worse camp. I did not sign up for throwing away games while this transition is happening.

    • Ben K.

      Bruney was actually pretty good this year and much more reliable than he had been. Small sample size issues exist, but there was reason for hope. Don’t be too harsh on the guy!

      • TurnTwo

        i agree that Bruney was better this year than I expected, and it was a setback to see him get hurt like he did.

        but, in reference to Haggs, i also think that you shouldnt wallow in despair because there is nothing in the bullpen past MO, Joba, and Bruney. there are definately options there, just a matter of finding the right combination and right role for each of them to succeed.

        bullpens are always a work in progress.

        • http://2009 Haggs

          Maybe, but the difference is the Yanks dis-assembled their bullpen. And everyone is so giddy about Joba starting that they don’t give a crap about the mess that was left behind.

          They yanked out a big support beam and crossed their fingers that they could get by with guys who have never in their lives (over large sample sizes – Farnsworth, Hawkins) approached reliable, guys who had very little big league experience – most of which was bad, and guys who have never even thrown a big league pitch.

          They are actually lucky. This would be worse were it not for the 2008 anomaly that is Farnsworth and the effectiveness of Ramirez. If those two revert to their usual selves, then you’ll see despair.

          • Jon

            How does Ramirez have a usual self after 35 major league innings? So when he pitches well it’s an anomaly? If you look at his statistical history he’s pitching more like his usual self this season.

  • Adam

    i think this loss stems from the organization’s failure to build the best possible bullpen with the parts on hand. they insist on using marginal known quantities (hawkins) over potentially useful, relatively unknown quantities (britton, robertson, patterson). sure hawkins makes more money, but at this point it seems like their choice is to pay him to lose games or pay him to not pitch. the answer seems obvious.

  • Jon W.

    I was as disappointed last night as anyone, but as Ben has pointed out in this thread, a small sample size is not always a good predictor of future results. I wanted to banish Hawkins to the scrap heap too, but upon further review, it turns out that before Monday’s game, he had thrown 11.1 consecutive scoreless innings, spanning 8 outings. His main problem seems to be that when he’s good, he’s very good, and when he’s bad, he’s terrible. I wouldn’t be upset if the Yankees ship him out in favor of Britton or Patterson, but I wouldn’t let the past 2 games completely overshadow his other outings. Just don’t ask him to come in to protect a 1 run lead in the 11th inning of a game at Camden Yards.

    • mike

      I agree he should be moved, but if he is actually at the back end of the pen, I hope one of the many talented players we keep hearing about in the minors could do just as credible a job, and if not at least we
      a) get to stop hearing about them,
      b) get rid of another over-the-hill reliever and most importantly
      c) determine if Cashman’s vision of a pitching-mill minor league system is actually worth the wait, or is his judgement of minor league talent on par with that of his judgement of major league pitching talent………….

      • Ben K.

        Name a GM who has done what you would consider to be a good job identifying major league pitching talent.

        My point here is not to defend Cashman, but rather it is that MLB pitching talent is at a premium these days, and no one has it.

        • mike

          I’d look at Minnesota, who after losing Santana and Garza and Liriano can still be competitive, or at Theo, who besides his man-love for Timlin has put together and kept together a great staff, or at the Angels who have developed young pitching talent…….

          • Mike A.

            Joe Saunder and Ervin Santana took their beatings before getting to where they are today. Hughes and IPK aren’t the only young pitchers that struggled.

          • MD

            Mike, I agree with you…..Mr. C has consistently pushed the wrong pitching buttons…..this is with hindsight, but I always figure that they should know more than we do……..we have 2 guys in the pen with ERA’s over 7……c’mon……..Olendorff (and Steven Jackson) have yet to show anything…..Clagett and Whelan are not exactly fast tracking…….Humberto? ok, we did get a utility infielder, sorry……

            • Ben K.

              Humberto and a utility infielder? What exactly are you talking about?

              • MD

                the package of talent we acquired for Sheffield and Johnson

                • Ben K.

                  Ah, that’s what I thought. You were a bit all over the place.

                  Considering what Sheffield’s done, I’m amazed we got anything for him. RJ is a toss-up. They got the Viz last year, and Ohlendorf still has a future even though he’s struggled lately.

                • MD

                  Ben…agreed….just think Mr. C needs to be better at acquiring pitching talent…..

                • mike

                  Ben – if Sheff was cookin’ at First base last year instead of the mish/mosh we had we win the pennant. So we would have needed to give him another year to shut him up? Bobby “Im afraid of the wall” would be playing elsewhere, outfield arms would be weak for sure, and we would have lost the luxury of Humberto being on the DL – the same Humberto who went from power starter to power reliever to power set-up guy over the last year or so in the eyes of the organization

                • Ben K.

                  That’s a lot of revisionist history with regards to Sheffield. First, he was awful at first base in 2006 and wasn’t about to learn the position. Next, while he had a decent final line last year, in the second half, he played 51 games and hit .203/.324/.299. This year, he’s hitting .213/.344/.331 and is back on the DL.

                  The reason Sanchez went from power starter to reliever (and set-up guy isn’t exactly an insult considering the undying love people show for Joba the set-up guy) is due to an injury. The Yanks are happy to have an arm still considered among the best in the organization working its way back from an injury. Don’t sell short on Sanchez until we know he’s a flop.

                  As for Sheffield, we’re not missing his bat these days.

                • mike

                  No doubt he slowed down last year at the end (and he was hurt – and bitching about it too) but compared to Phelps/Cairo/Phillips etc, and with spring training to play 1B with Doug-E on hand for defense…I would have liked to see them with an additional righty bat in the lineup last year-and this one too.

                  And revisionist is the same for Humberto – he went from being touted as a front of the rotation power guy to a guy with two pitches so he could be the next closer to a guy who the org ( to read blogs/posts/scouts) believes could be a dominant middle reliever…. not really getting what we thought we were, although we did know he was injured when we got him as we later found out.

                  So we traded a pain-in-the-ass guy who could have helped us at 1B with a righty-bat for a injured minor-leaguer who now projects as a strong set-up guy? In light of Cash’s plethora of young pitchers coming up who are righty , throw hard and destined for middle relief…need we another?

                • Ben K.

                  And revisionist is the same for Humberto – he went from being touted as a front of the rotation power guy to a guy with two pitches so he could be the next closer to a guy who the org ( to read blogs/posts/scouts) believes could be a dominant middle reliever…. not really getting what we thought we were, although we did know he was injured when we got him as we later found out.

                  That is categorically UNTRUE, and I’m getting really tired of your baseless generalizations.

                  Can you actually prove that someone is now touting Sanchez as a middle reliever? You just changed your mind from setup man to middle reliever in the course of 18 minutes.

                  He has the stuff to be a starter. Whether he has the health is a different story, and if he ends up being only an eighth inning guy, well, all things considered, that’s pretty damn good.

                • A.D.

                  People only say he’ll be a reliver because that could get him to the bigs this year coming off injury, I believe there is a Nardi Contreras interview on either Mike Ashmore’s or Chad Jenning’s Blog which has Nardi saying theyre waiting for Sanchez to build up his arm to 45 pitches off the mound, which is the yankees coming of TJ number for starters

            • Pablo Zevallos

              this makes zero sense–Ohlendorf isn’t in the right role, Jackson has been pushed up and down, Claggett isn’t really a prospect, Whelan started to pitch full-time in 2004, and Humberto has yet to pitch for the Yanks. so chillax

  • Jamie

    Rando question but after seeing Kazmir throw such a great game the other day it got me thinking… who was the last “great” ace arm that the Yankees “gave” away in a trade?

    On M&MD the other day they were bitchin’ about how every team has 1 of these (Mets with Kaz, Giants with Liriano). But for the Yanks, I really can’t think of one that has happened in the last decade or so.

    • Bo

      Would help if they actually developed and drafted young stars.

    • Ben K.

      Javier Vazquez?

      • Mike A.

        Eric Milton? He had some very good years with the Twinkies. Not exactly Kazmir years, but he was a nice big leaguer for a while there.

        • A.D.

          Milton is the closest since the beginning of the run a few names they’ve given up (sp pitching wise)
          Ben Ford
          Eric Milton
          Jake Westbrook
          Brandon Claussen
          Ted Lilly
          and probably a few guys I forgot

          Milton & Westbrook were the only guys that really made the majors, Milton was pretty good right after then digressed especially with the reds, Westbrook is solid for the indians, Lilly is solid for the cubs, the other guys didn’t really make it in the majors.

    • MD

      Scott McGregor in 75 or Lew Burdette in 50……not to mention Leiter and Drabek

    • Ben K.

      You know, the other thing here though is that Liriano was good for 121 innings one season. The jury is still decidedly out on him.

  • Bo

    Hawkins makes Bruney look like Goose Gossage.

  • mike

    I liked Brunney too, but I always believe that power pitchers have a big advantage in the early going – and if the cold bothered the hitters, im sure it helped the pitchers a bit too.
    I don’t like losing Brunney, and he woiuld have been a bigger asset than the last guy in the pen is now, but he was not a long term solution with his control issues.

  • question mark

    screw it…..i’ll start for Kennedy next time out. i don’t even know if I could throw a ball 60 feet and 6 inches without bouncing it, but I can do better than Igawa.

    in all seriousness, you allow Joba to go on his current pace and start anyone else not named “Kei Igawa.” Anyone.

  • Matt M.

    The bullpen has suffered from some tough luck. as soon as torre was gone and eiland was in, i had high hopes for bruney. his injury really hurts this team. albaladejo was servicable.

    right now the bullpen has a lot of dead weight with veras and hawkins. but it’s not a lost cause, its just a misuse. here is how i would use the pen:

    Rivera – ninth

    and then rotate these three guys with the 7th and 8th.


    Ohlendorf can succeed at this level, but what hurts him and the yankees is that the team has no long man in the pen thus, ohlendorf gets jerked around as an inning pitcher here, a 3 inning long reliever there. make ohlendorf your one inning, 7th or 8th inning guy and you’ll see a marked improvement.

    DFA traber, hawkins and ensberg and add cox and melancon to the 40 man for a callup in a month and everything will be fine.

    until then, britton can at least be better than hawkins and karstens can eat innings as the long man once he rehabs fully

    • A.D.

      I agree with the true long man, people make the arguments if Ohlendorf is actually good or not, we don’t know yet, but put him back in a situation where he pitches reguarly and throw 1 -2 innings, and he knows that and then he can be properly evaluated.

      Their is a mass of starting pitching in the minors right now, some of it blocking others, so bring up Karstens/Guise/White, guys who are less prospects needing development and more bottom of the rotation/long guys. In last night game they come in, maybe they give up 4 runs too, but they’d give you 4 innings and thus Edwar could have been pushed to pitching the 9th Rivera the 10 & 11th, Yanks win (hypothetically).

      Regardless if Ohlendorf is good or going to be a good major league reliever, he shouldn’t be pegged as the long man, let a minor league starter do that (not a convert), which would allow guys such as Hacker, Aceves, McCutchen, Wright, Jason Jones, etc move up freely as they earn it

  • ctkaiser

    41 comments and not one mention of what Betemit was doing 10 feet off the line? Was he guarding against the single? I was trying to think of who the defensive replacement should have been. Answer is there was nobody. Duncan now looks like a nervous wreck at bat and in the field.

  • Travis G.

    just a shitty all around game, no question. you can pin the blame on kennedy, ohlie, jeter, betemit, hawkins.

    if we dont make the playoffs this year, i can live with it (but there’s still a good chance). we’re developing three young pitchers: there’ll be growing pains.

    maybe if joba starts the game, he gives us 6 ip, 3 er, and we dont have to rely on hawkins late.

    in fact, our bullpen has been solid this year (better than average in terms of ERA). it’s been our starters that have struggled.

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