Mar
29

Tomko solid, but it might not be enough

By

On a day dedicated to the long-man in the bullpen competition, we learned that the Yankees might not carry a long man at all. That’s a shame for Brett Tomko, who pitched three scoreless innings en route to a 6-4 Yankees win over Atlanta. Alfredo Aceves also made a decent case for himself, allowing just two hits, a walk, and an earned run in his three-inning audition. Yet there’s a chance that neither makes the team, given Girardi’s comments after the game.

According to Mark Feinsand, the Yanks could opt to carry Jon Albaladejo, who would meld with Phil Coke to form a long-man. That would give Girardi an extra look for short relief, and would work with a seven-man bullpen. It would also mean the best relievers make the team, regardless of stamina.

One guy who almost certainly won’t make the team is Dan Giese. Not only did he allow three runs and walk two in his 2.1 innings, but he needed Edwar Ramirez to come finish the job. Edwar, by the way, continued his magnificence, striking out one of the two batters he faced.

The Yanks offense pelted the 23-year-old Jurrjens for six runs, three earned, over five innings of work, collecting nine hits. Teixeira and Cano both homered in the fifth, which accounted for the team’s only extra base hits. The other four runs, all plated in the second, came on walks and singles. Melky, getting the start in center, went 3 for 4. Looks like he won’t let Brett Gardner get the starting job so easily.

Meanwhile, Jorge Posada, Chien-Ming Wang, and Nick Swisher got in reps with the AAA squad. Posada doubled and gunned down a runner at second. Wang surrendered four runs in five innings, allowing nine hits and striking out three. Says Jennings: “Chien-Ming Wang gave up two home runs in the first inning. Both should have been flyouts to left but the wind was almost as bad Saturday in Tampa as it was Friday in Bradenton. One of the other runs scored off Wang came after a double in the fourth when the wind blew the ball over Nick Swisher’s head.” Swisher went 1 for 5 with a homer and two strikeouts.

Notes:

Also from Feinsand, David Robertson has been sent down to AAA. If Albaladejo makes the team, Robertson will probably be the first bullpen arm up, and could force his way back to the bigs with a strong start.

Derek Jeter bruised his pinky and is day to day. Given the at bats he wants from here forward, I’d expect him in the lineup tomorrow. (Hey, remember when Mattingly hurt his pinky and took a day or so off? Didn’t he get a lot of flak for that?)

A major league scout has some kind words for Ramiro Pena (h/t Pinto). Takeaway quote: “…now I can see him as an everyday shortstop.” While the utility infielder job could still go to Angel Berroa, Pena should get plenty of time to prove himself in AAA this year.

Categories : Game Stories

27 Comments»

  1. MattG says:

    Good idea, Joe. The best pitchers make the team. And, if “The Office” is anyway to judge, anyone of these guys can be up from Scranton on a moment’s notice if needed.

    • I don’t see the real need for a long man with this rotation. I mean maybe they’ll take Joba out in the 5th inning if they have a big lead. But they’ll still be carrying 7 relievers and that should be plenty. A long man would just rot on the bench.

      Also if Tomko made the team they’d have to get rid of somebody to make room for him on the roster. Probably Giese.

      • Artist formerly known as 'The' Steve says:

        That’s my take. Alby has a situational role (groundball) that will be needed far more often. There’s no secret who Brett Tomko is at age 35. In case of injury, he probably wouldn’t even get a start (Hughes would be called up). He is only there if someone either gets shelled or has to come out of a game.

        Given the length we can expect out of Wang, CC and maybe AJ, it doesn’t look like the bullpen will be getting much work in any case. Patching 6 innings together once in a blue moon shouldn’t be a problem.

  2. Simon B. says:

    I’m ambivalent on this one. Yeah, chances are we won’t have a fraction of the kind of trouble we had in April last year where, in half of the games, the starter wouldn’t get out of the third. It might be wise, however, to take a long man just in case as we get a better idea of what we’ll get from the starters in the early-going.

    On the otherhand, I have jumped on the Albie bandwagon a bit. His stuff looks good this year, and he seems like a nice piece to have. Either way, I hope he’s up soon.

  3. John says:

    If A-Rod hit 3 homers but hurt his pinky-knuckle, he would have been booed like crazy for being a little baby, telling the team about a knuckle. He would have to hide it…maybe that’s why he did not complain about his hip stiffness.

  4. Rich says:

    Keeping Albaladejo over Tomko has the added benefit of not having to remove someone from the 40 man roster, plus under the terms of the mL contract that Tomko signed, he can’t opt out until June, according to Kepner.

    Anyway, given the unpredictable number of innings per start that Joba may pitch, according to Girardi:

    “Some days he’ll throw five innings, and if he throws a lot of pitches, it’s going to be less than that,” Girardi said. “You have to be smart about it.”

    I would expect that we may see a version of the SWB Shuttle as relievers are moved up and down to compensate for the bullpen’s workload in support of Joba.

    I now see Pena as a possible heir apparent to Jeter.

  5. Let's Talk About TEX Baby says:

    Having a 7-man bullpen and C.C. and Wang who are so efficient with pitch counts should allow the entire pen to pick up the slack on the Joba days on normal work without an actual long man.

  6. bg90027 says:

    Judging from posts here and on just about every yankees blog, I think most fans underrate the importance of the long reliever/spot starter role. The Yankees haven’t had a good one since Ramiro Mendoza and its been a weakness for our team. We aren’t wasting a spot on the long relief position if we have a good candidate for the job. When Mendoza was good, he was the third most important member of the bullpen (behind Wetteland and Mo).

    People seem to have the wrong idea and think this is relegated to just mop up work in blow outs. Its also important to have someone who can eat innings in case a starter has to be pulled because of an injury and someone who can give you 4-5 innnings at least in an emergency start. Its hard on the bullpen when you have to use most of the bullpen 2 innings at a time to get through such games and we should look to put an end to the Scranton – NY shuttle for emergency starters. If a starter has a serious injury and has to take an extended stay on the DL, the team would call up Hughes to take the spot but you can’t rely on his or even his or Kennedy’s starts lining up with an emergency need. How many times have we seen Wang miss a start because of a blister or a fingernail problem? Others get injured too and need to miss one start. We should have someone who can make that occasional start on the team. I frankly would be fine with the long reliever being Coke as long as Marte is pitching well. I don’t think it should be Albaladejo though. If its Coke, you can keep Ablaladejo as a middle reliever and that would probably be the best bullpen option. Alby is nice to have because he can pitch 2 innings easier than most of the relievers and he’s also a good option to be able to call on if you need a groundball double play rather than a strikeout. Edwar is pretty tough on lefties so I’m not convinced that you really need a 2nd lefty middle reliever.

    If they don’t buy Coke as a long reliever, I think you have to either send him or Albaladejo down and keep Aceves or Tomko for that role. I only suggest considering sending Coke down because you could still stretch him out and continue to develop him as a starter. I’m not saying to do that, but its worth at least considering.

    The utility spot comes down to two issues for me: (1) how much faith does everyone have in Cody Ransom to fill 3B for 6 weeks; and (2) do you want to commit a 40 man spot to another infielder long term. If they are worried about Ransom’s offense than they are probably more comfortable with Berroa on the bench should Ransom not work out. If they are very confident in Ransom being able to produce than Pena is the more valuable bench player as a better defender and pinch runner. I don’t think you want to put Pena on the 40 man and then try to pass him through waivers though when A-Rod is healthy. If that is the plan for the utility spot, they are better off with Berroa. I’m not sure how this works though, do they have to make a spot on the 40 man for the utility player or is A-rod going on the dl (retroactively) for long enough that they don’t need to remove anyone?

    • Ben K. says:

      Judging from the way Major League front offices behave, I’d say you’re overrating the importance of a long reliever/spot starter. Ramiro Mendoza, when used in the bullpen, was not the Dan Giese/Brett Tomko/Al Aceves mop-man who ate innings. Mendoza’s relief innings averaged to 1.5 per appearance, and the vast majority of his career innings were low leverage appearances.

      Mendoza was never the third most important member of the bullpen. When Rivera was closing that honor was reserved for both Jeff Nelson and Mike Stanton. I’d even argue that Graeme Lloyd was more important than Mendoza. So now we’re talking about a spot starter and the fifth guy in your pen. How important is that guy really?

    • NaOH says:

      In addition to what Ben noted…

      There was one season that Rivera, Wetteland and Mendoza all played for the Yankees (’96). Mendoza started 11 of the 12 games he appeared in, so I’m unclear how he was ever the most valuable bullpen arm behind Rivera and Wetteland.

      Let’s look at some basic numbers. Last year the Yankees pitched 1,442 innings. Let’s just assume the number this season will be the same.

      Presuming they are healthy, Pettitte, Wang and Sabathia have typically logged more than 200 innings. Burnett, in his 3 seasons in Toronto, averaged about 175 innings. Let’s say Joba only pitches 150 innings.

      Relievers over a full season typically throw 50-70 innings. Let’s take that as an average of 60 innings and say 5 guys reach that threshold.

      All told, that’s 1,175 innings, or 267 innings less than the Yankees pitched last year. Put another way, that’s about 1.2 innings per game that are not accounted for.

      Now, should someone really miss time and require a visit to the disabled list, there are plenty of AAA arms which appear capable of filling in either as starters or relievers. Should, for example, Wang need to have a start skipped, then I would point to what Ben wrote. Or I would remember how scheduled off days often help these issues resolve themselves.

      • NaOH says:

        My own math was wrong. If what I wrote pans out, the team has 1,225 innings covered. In that case, there are 217 innings unaccounted for, or 1.3 innings per game.

      • bg90027 says:

        I should no better than to post that late after a few drinks and in a sloppy way without checking stats or years. I was thinking that Mendoza was already a major part of the bullpen in 1996. I was wrong.

        I stand by my main point though. In his prime, Mendoza was throwing 100-130 innings and making 10-15 starts along with his bullpen appearances. How is that not more valuable than a middle reliever who generally pitches 60-70 innings?

        If you don’t want to use the long reliever that way where he’s the first option for a spot emergency start then it is a wasted spot. I don’t like the scranton shuttle though. I think we ought to have someone on that 25 man roster who can take those starts.

  7. dkidd says:

    here’s my 2009 scranton line-up

    angela (small strike zone = .400 OBP)
    pam (selfless, will give up at-bats to advance runners)
    jim (cool under pressure)
    dwight (who else would bat clean-up?)
    kevin (surprising athleticism)
    oscar (plays the field like his idol kenny lofton)
    kelly (distracts opposing team with flirting)
    creed (disturbs opposing team with glaring)
    toby (would bat higher but manager michael scott hates him)

    stanley is on the DL “for personal reasons”
    meredith is under suspension for failing a drug test

  8. steve (different one) says:

    here is my take on it:

    NOT taking a longman requires the least number of changes to the 40 man (unless you make Aceves the longman, which would be ok).

    Giese is going to be DFA’ed. that is inevitable. they have to add a UIFer with A-Rod out.

    DFA Giese, add Berroa (or Pena, but i think Berroa is the better roster move).

    since Tomko basically said he would stick around until his opt out in June, stick him in AAA.

    if the need arises for a longman, bring him or Aceves up.

    i agree that having a longman is valuable. but i also understand the roster crunch that is happening.

    since you can stash Tomko in AAA without a roster move, that may be the ideal scenario.

    • bg90027 says:

      A-Rod had his hip surgery on March 9, 2009. Giradi has suggested that conservatively they are expecting he’ll be back in mid May. I’ve been assuming that they can put A-Rod on the 60 day DL retroactive to the surgery date or perhaps even before that when they first learned of the injury and were deciding what to do. If he goes on the 60 day DL, they don’t need to create a spot on the 40 man for Berroa. I’ve been assuming that is how it will be handled. I guess if they think there is some chance that A-rod could be ready earlier and if Tomko doesn’t make the team, they could DFA Giese and not put A-Rod on the 60 day DL.

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