Does the bullpen need adjusting?

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Sucka Got No Juice leads off today’s column with a bit on the Yankees bullpen. As is typical of national columnists, and even some in New York, Rosenthal leads with the Joba issue. Thankfully, it includes a quote from Cashman, in which he points out the obvious: “But right now, [Chamberlain] is needed even more in the rotation than ever.” With Chien-Ming Wang out indefinitely, Cashman is certainly right. With the next best options being Alfredo Aceves (5.74 ERA despite decent peripherals in AAA) and Ian Kennedy, it seems that in terms of both long-term development and immediate team need, Joba’s optimal role is as a starter.

Yet this leaves an enormous question mark in the bullpen. With Brian Bruney on the 15-day DL and with many of the mainstays struggling, the Yanks could use some reinforcements. They’ve got an immediate band-aid in the forms of Mark Melancon and David Robertson, but there still remains the collective issues of Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Damaso Marte, and to a lesser extent Phil Coke. So what are the Yankees going to do to patch things up? Rosenthal has the word from a Yanks official:

“Nobody wants to hear it, but you just have to let ‘em pitch.”

It’s not easy to stick with that mindset amid a few bullpen blowups and a four-game losing streak, but it appears that’s what the Yankees will do. As Cashman says, the bullpen is “talented and gifted and probably undersold.” I’d mostly agree with that, though that doesn’t mean that every underperforming reliever will right himself. It means that the Yanks have enough flexibility to ouster the truly bad and bring in fresh arms.

The problem with evaluating the bullpen right now is that there is almost no sample to draw from. Jon Albaladejo and Jose Veras lead the team in reliever innings pitched, and they only have 10 each (Alb has 10.1). How can we judge the effectiveness of a pitcher based on a measly 10 innings? We can say that he hasn’t pitched well to this point, but to project the season based on 10 innings is mostly pointless. Yes, Veras could maintain his 6.30 ERA through 70 innings this year, but it won’t be because of what he demonstrated in his first 10 innings.

Veras has one outlier appearance, which came during the home opener. I’m wary of removing this outliers, because to remove them is to imply that they don’t matter. Outliers do occur, so they do matter. Still, without that one stinker of an appearance, Veras’s ERA is down to 3.60. We could try to even things out and take out his positive outlier, the 3.1-inning, no-hit performance against Oakland, but then we’re working with a sample of 6.2 innings, hardly worth analyzing (though his ERA would be a still-terrible 5.80).

More than justifying Veras’s performance so far, I hope the preceding paragraph illustrates the randomness of small samples. We have his actual ERA (6.30), his ERA with his outlying terrible appearance removed (3.60) and his ERA with his outlying terrible and outlying appearance removed (5.80). All this drawn from a measly 10 innings. Veras’s next 10 could be just like that, or they could be completely different — or he could go on a tear like he did from June 5 through July 5 last year, in which he pitched 17.1 innings and allowed one earned run. This is just the nature of most relief pitchers.

Remember, too, that not all is lost because the bullpen had a poor April. Damaso has a long track record of success and should turn it around. Bruney should be back in a few weeks. Melancon could give the Yanks another late-inning setup man. Veras and Edwar could both go on tears like they did last year. The Yanks bullpen could easily follow up a horrible month in April with a stellar May. And just as April isn’t an indicator for the next five months, May will not be an indicator for the next four — unless it’s equally as terrible, and then we can start to wonder, even though the sample will still be small.

As a final thought experiment, imagine the bullpen locks down the rest of the month without allowing a run. With Hughes, Joba, and A.J. set to go over the next three games, let’s figure the bullpen gets eight innings (hopefully that’s a high estimate). That would give them 72 innings with 46 earned runs, or a 5.75 ERA. Last year Boston’s bullpen had a 5.23 ERA in April, and they recovered just fine, keeping the bullpen ERA below 4.00 for every month except September. The Yanks could certainly do the same this year, especially once their starters go deeper into games.

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  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    2008 Mets.

    That’s probably what’s going through everyone’s mind. Still, we saw last year that when used correctly all of these guys can pitch.

    Am I concerned? Yes.

    Am I panicking? No.

  • V

    They’ll be fine.

    Will Yankees’ fans? Hopefully. I think the fan base needs to take a collective Prozac and calm down. 9-10 is not the end of the world.

    • another steve

      xanax or valium would be the more appropriate therapeutic agent in this case.

      • Bo

        id say drink but this v doesnt drink beer. only zima

  • blee

    thank you thank you.. every year we go through the same panic when the season is not even 20 games old..

    calm down people.. We’ll get our best setup guy back, our best player back, and hopefully top of the rotation guy back before May is out.

  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    I like Veras. While it is true that he has little idea of where it is going, you can usually tell after a batter or two if he does not have it and get him out of there. Conversely, when he does have it, he is pretty much unhittable. Conversely, I am not an Edwar fan- everytime someone guesses right on him it seems like the ball is headed a long way.

    My pen- Mo, Bruney, Marte, Veras, Coke, Albie, and one of D-Rob and Melancon, with the other coming up when someone gets hurt/falters.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      Right now I like Ramirez better than Marte.

    • Yankee1010

      I’d say Mo, Bruney, Melancon, Marte, Robertson, Coke and Albaledejo will be the bullpen before long.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Agreed. But we’ll need to find someone interested in giving us something of value for Veras first, since we can’t just send him down like Edwar. Until then, either D-Rob or Melancon will be on the Chris Britton Memorial Scranton Shuttle.

        And, speaking of Melancon…

        Mike, I must concede the point to you: I didn’t think the Yankees would add Melancon on or before May 15th like you said, because I didn’t think we’d just DFA someone off the 40 man for him like what we did with Humberto.

        I was wrong, you were right. I hope we did this because Humberto’s agreed to remain with the team in the minors and get healthy…

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          Humberto didn’t get DFA’d; he got straight released.

  • The Lodge

    I read this crap earlier today:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/ru.....mlb,159473

    I don’t know why I even bother occasionally reading anything on Yahoo sports.

    I’m still nauseous from that read. You will be too.

    • Accent Shallow

      Comments on the article are priceless.

      • The Lodge

        Priceless, as in: a sad commentary on humanity.

        People who know nothing about baseball stepping over each other to offer something along the lines of:

        “The Yankees are clueless, from the top down. What are they going to do when there’s a salary cap & the Yankees can’t buy championships anymore?”

        • Frank

          This is the best one…

          “Joba has not had time to adjust to the rotation and moving him back to the bull pen onl slows down his maturity process as a starter. Yankees need to bring another arm up from the minors, like Andrew Brackman, or Sanchez????”

          Oh boy. I don’t even need to explain why this is funny.

  • yankeefan91 Arod fan

    We need a center fielder and a Good utility player like gruzdlanek.

    Does frank catallanato play center field?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Cameron is beasting this year. I’d love to have him.
      .328/.429/.672

      • yankeefan91 Arod fan

        Yea i really wanted him in the winter i wished they would of made that deal.

    • A.D.

      Catallanotto does not play CF.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Nor does he hit lefties.

        06- .237/.348/.342 (only 48 PA’s)
        07- .231/.375/.231 (only 19 PA’s)
        08- .167/.286/.250 (only 15 PA’s)

        He’s basically half of a 1B/DH/LF platoon, and it’s the half we don’t really need.

        All things considered, Juan Miranda >>>>>>>>>>>> Frankie Cat

    • Joe R

      Price of tea in china?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        “Hello, China? I have something you may want. But it’s gonna cost ya. That’s right… All the tea…

    • Patrick T

      Frank Catalanotto has never played CF in professional baseball, at least according to b-ref.

      That said, I concur that I’m far more concerned with the current black holes of CF and 3B, and eventual black holes of CF, and the bench as a whole than I am with the pen. Cash has done an admirable job of stocking the minors with live arms for just this reason. If anyone in the pen other than Mo continues to win at arson, there are a plethora of options in the minors. Eventually, either the guys with the big league team will pitch like we know they can, or the Melancon/Robertson/Jackson/Claggett/Aceves/et al group will get their shots and out of that very large group, Girardi should be able to put together a quality 5-man group (I couldn’t possibly care less about the identity of the teams 6th and 7th best relievers.)

      While I don’t advocate blowing them up completely, I think we all knew ahead of time it was unlikely Gardner is a major league CF, and Melky has had plenty of time to prove he’s a 4th OF at best. AJax really should get a full year at AAA and even if he’s ready now, he’s unlikely to be a star at the position. As much as I’m a farm system kinda guy, I fail to see what the harm in taking a chance on a guy like Edmonds is as opposed to allowing Gardner to prove beyond all doubt he can’t hit major league pitching.

      At the risk of reigniting an overstated debate, its unconscionable that the Yanks haven’t been able to get anything resembling even AAAA depth for position players with a lineup this old. If Posada, Jeter, Damon, A-Rod, Matsui continue to lose games to attrition and/or suffer the likely age-related decline, there is nobody in the system to even provide replacement-level offense in their wake. Obviously any team is screwed if they lose a bunch of starters, but when your lineup is this old, you must do better on the bench than Cody Ransom, Angel Berroa, Jose Molina, Ramiro Pena, etc.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Jim Edmonds is like Frankie Catalanotto: Utterly useless against lefties, and thus, requires a right-hitting platoon partner that we still don’t have.

        • A.D.

          He also can’t really play CF anymore

  • A.D.

    Realistically whats the other options, Yankees could hit the panic button and try and trade for a reliever, and if they do, who exactly would be available that is an obvious upgrade?

    The only name that comes to mind for me is Houston Street (who hasn’t pitched well so far this season). But my guess is Colorado will ask a fair amount & they might not want to trade him with their set-up man on the 60 day DL.

  • Ivan

    Am I worried a lil about the pen, yeah, but overall like Cashman said you got alot talent in the pen. Hopfully Bruney gets healthy and Melancon can get acclimated to the league quickly and pitch his potential. I still think this BP is going to recover.

  • jsbrendog

    spaghetti approach. just keep throwing people out there, eventually som will stick. whether it is marte, ramirez, veras, clagget, melancon, sanchez, wilson, hernandez, santiago, jesus, peter griffin, or the dalai lama who the hell cares. we have more than enough depth in bp arms to just keep throwing people into tjhe fire til someone steps up

    • Bo

      Just keep giving tryouts and something will work? Heckuva plan, Brownie.

      I don’t see thge Sox doing that. How did that workout for the Mets last yr? You know actually getting good, reliable guys out there is a pretty good way to build a pen.

      But hey Cashman couldn’t deal for Putz even if it would have cost them Melky.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I know all those words are English, but the way you put them together, they just don’t make sense.

  • Ed

    I’m not concerned about the bullpen or the other facets of the team turning it around. At some point they will. I am worried about how far back the team will be when they do turn it around. If it happens in the next few weeks or so no problem, if its June like last year they may be in trouble. I guess you can’t control what the other teams do, but it’s something to think about.

  • El Generalissimo

    Im honestly not concerned at all about the pen… maybe Im being too optimistic… but a 789 in a projected 10 days of Mo Bruney and Melancon with Coke and Albie picking up the 6th as your main guys with Veras, and Marte filling in the rest I am not concerned.

    Unless he is awful Melancon is here to stay and Edwar has options.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    So what are the Yankees going to do to patch things up? Rosenthal has the word from a Yanks official:

    “Nobody wants to hear it, but you just have to let ‘em pitch.”

    By the end of last April, Kyle Farnsworth (our primary Bridge to Mowhere at the time) had made 12 appearances and allowed at least one run in 5 of them (41% of the time). His ERA was 4.05, his OPS against was .937, he had a loss and a hold, we went 4-8 in his 12 appearances, and we were all screaming bloody murder.

    In June and July, before we traded him to Detroit, Farnsworth made 21 appearances and surrendered an earned run in 5 of them (23% of the time), had an ERA of 2.84 and an OPS allowed of .713, had a win, a loss, a save and six holds and we went 17-4 in his appearances. He was actually a fairly good relief pitcher for the middle of the season.

    Let the guys pitch. Girardi showed faith in the guys we had last year, even Farnsworth, and he was rewarded. And, frankly, all the guys we have in our bullpen are better pitchers than Kyle Farnsworth, so we should be more optimistic.

    • Bo

      how many games do they get to fail before the “let them pitch” thing doesn’t work?

      maybe they just arent very good.

  • Rich

    When the Yankees have a lead of four runs or less, Melancon should be the primary bridge to Mariano, pitching the 8th inning. He should be supplemented by Robertson and Coke who should pitch the 7th. Marte and Ramirez should be used with bigger leads until or unless the start pitching more consistently. Veras doesn’t do high leverage situations. He should be be the long reliever.

    • Darth Stein

      That may be jumping the gun for a guy who just got here.

      • Rich

        Who is a better option than Melancon with Bruney out?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Veras doesn’t do high leverage situations. He should be be the long reliever.

      Jose Veras, Career

      High Leverage Situations
      35 games, 106 batters faced, .186/.333/.349, 95 tOPS+
      Medium Leverage Situations
      37 games, 67 batters faced, .286/.394/.500, 154 tOPS+
      Low Leverage Situations
      54 games, 206 batters faced, .213/.296/.355, 85 tOPS+

      Funny, Veras is actually ever so slightly below league average in high leverage situations, and a little worse in low leverage situations. He’s damn effective in medium leverage situations.

      He may not be the guy to call on with the bases loaded in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th on the road, but he’s still a pretty effective reliever. Certainly not a “longman”.

      • Accent Shallow

        You’re misinterpreting the data here. tOPS+ is a a measure of how he pitched based on his overall line. So he’s at his best in high/low leverage situations, and performs poorly in medium leverage situations.

        I’m not sure how predictive that data is, and I’d be hesitant to use Veras in high leverage situations solely because he’s so volatile.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Okay, thanks, that makes more sense.

        • Chris

          He has a .389 BABIP in mid-leverage situations (compared to .233 and .246 in high and low). I would expect all of them to regress to the mean.

        • Bo

          Mr Snark misinterpreting data to push his argument??? no way!

          • Rick in Boston

            His misrepresentations are a lot better than your actual comments.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Mr Snark misinterpreting data to push his argument??? no way!

            A) I wasn’t really “pushing an argument”, I was more just making an observation. I can see how you confused the two, since you’ve never ever had an argument nor an observation.
            B) As always, me >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> you, Grantbo.

      • Rich

        Using WPA:

        2007: 0.28 (5th among Yankee relievers)

        2008: 0.38 (9th among Yankee relievers)

        2009: -0.05 (5th among Yankee relievers)

  • Joey

    ooooooooohhhhh a YES Network Official blog banner. Fancy stuff there fellas

  • Steve B-BALL

    WE ARE ALL BASHING THE RELIEF PITCHING.
    HAS ANYBODY CONSIDERED IT MIGHT BE THE PITCHING COACH?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      For the love of Mo, please don’t start with the caps lock, B-BALL. Your comments are already full of enough crazy histrionics without you adding the shouting.

      • Jack
      • Jim

        Off with everyones heads! May be its the bat boy. FIRE THE BAT BOY!

      • Chris

        I sort of agree with him. Maybe Dave Eiland was really kidnapped by aliens in the offseason, and it’s just an alien pretending to be Dave Eiland.

        That’s the only explanation that I can think of since last year Eiland was able to get good results out of a similar group of relievers.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      We definitely have a guideline about using all caps.

      http://riveraveblues.com/river.....uidelines/

      • Bo

        The PC will be the first one to go here if this keeps up.

  • Jim

    People….calm down.

    3B – A-Rod will be back by next week.

    Bench – Nady will be back by June (Gardner/Melky/Nady/Matsui/Molina is just fine, actually is pretty damn good)

    CF – Melky and Gardner will be fine.

    SP (empty spot) – Wang / Hughes / kennedy / Aceves – Any team in baseball would love this depth.

    It’s been less then a month. Everyone in the lineup is slumping a bit. Once A-Rod gets back and is batting behind Tex, The lineup will get a huge boost. More people getting on base will only help Melky and Gardner and so the domino effect will begin. The Starting pitching is still warming up. Look at CC’s and Tex’s first month the last few seasons. They are right in line.

    Remember this is a new team. They will build up some chemestry and get on a roll. Its only a matter of time. Chill.

    The media does the same thing every year. Calls for everyones head if the Yanks loose a few games in the start of the season. We are tied with the Mets right now, but from the papers you would think we haven’t won a game yet. Comparing this to swine flu is awesome because in case any one hasn’t noticed, there are about 200 cases in the whole world….billions of people…200 cases and the media has it sounding like the new coming of the black plague. Stay in your homes and pray for God Mercy. Chill everyone!!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      While I agree with the overarching theme of your post and think you’re 95% correct, I do think the CF hole could use some spackle. Gardner don’t have enough of a track record of success for us to think he’ll just snap out of it and start producing like we would with Tex, and Melky has enough of a track record of suckitude for us to think it’s not likely he keeps this up over an extended showing.

      I think panic is most certainly not in order. But, if I’m Cashman, I’m still monitoring the price for Mike Cameron with great interest.

    • Accent Shallow

      If Cano is slumping now, I can’t wait until he heats up. He’ll make Albert Pujols look like Bill Bergen.

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      CF – Melky and Gardner will be fine.

      I disagree with only this. I don’t think we can count on them to produce anything more than what they’re at now. Melky and/or Gardner would be fine as a 4th OF/defensive replacement, but that’s it. The CF issue needs to be addressed by June and the more time passes, the more I’m salivating for Mike Cameron. I’m willing to admit that, at least for a month, I was wrong about Brett Gardner. I thought he could at least keep his OBP at league average level but it doesn’t appear BG will be able to do that. Melky is not an everyday player, he’s just too streaky. There are times when he looks like an All-Star and then times when he looks totally lost. I’d rather see that dichotomy off the bench or in Miller Park.

      • Jim

        Bernie Willimas batted .238 his rookie season and that was when the AL East didn’t have the competition it has today. Again, chill. We do not need 30 HR hitters at every position. The platoon seems to be working fine for now. Next year you’ll have A-Jax there. Can’t wait to see the panic and criticism when he’s batting .100 after 20 games. Off with his head!

        • jsbrendog

          yes but whenever someone brings this up they fail to realize that neither brett gardner nor melky cabrera are even close to now being nor will ever be close to being bernie iwlliams

          • Chris

            Mike Cameron isn’t close to being Bernie either (particularly at this stage of his career). Bernie is a HOF caliber center fielder. You can have a perfectly capable CF who can actually help the team and they won’t be any where near as good as Bernie.

            Just to put it in perspective, Cameron’s highest OPS+ was 123 (in 2001). In Bernie’s peak years 1995-2002, his lowest OPS+ was 129.

            • jsbrendog

              huh? what does this have to do with what i said? i was just saying that ppl who compare gradner to bernie or melky to bernie because of their age have no idea what they are talking about

          • Ed

            I think they’re well aware that Melky and Gardner aren’t in Bernie’s league.

            Let’s rephrase the point: Even a great player like Bernie Williams (the Yankees last great homegrown outfielder) had a terrible first season. 200 career plate appearances is too little to conclude that Gardner can’t be productive.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          Bernie Willimas batted .238 his rookie season and that was when the AL East didn’t have the competition it has today.

          This is entirely irrelevant. Bernie Williams had a compact swing, the exact opposite of Melky’s long swing, which sucks for him since he has no power at all. Bernie also had much more power than Brett Gardner has shown in his short career. Comparing Bernie Williams to Gardner and Cabrera is an insult to Bernie Williams. Neither Brett Gardner nor Melky Cabrera will ever be half the player Bernie Williams was and neither one is a long term solution in CF for the Yankees. Anyone expecting either one of those things is incredibly delusional and mistaken.

          We do not need 30 HR hitters at every position. The platoon seems to be working fine for now.

          I’m not asking for a 30 HR guy at every position, or even a Grady Sizemore or a Curtis Granderson in CF. I’m asking for someone who can hit at league average and won’t be an automatic out while playing above average defense. Mike Cameron is all those things, and he can play way above average defense. The fact that he’s on the last year of his contract and comes relatively cheap is absolutely fantastic. And, no, it is not working right now. CF is basically a black hole in our lineup. Right now, the lineup is incredibly top heavy and is producing the majority of the 5+ RPG the Yankees are putting up right now (how many times have I said this in the last 24 hours?). Take a look at this, just an example of how little the bottom of the order is getting on base. Derek Jeter has 11 RsBI in 84 PAs. The average MLer with 84 PAs has 10 RsBI. That’s good, Derek’s on an above average RsBI pace. But, he could be doing even better. The average MLer has had 54 runners on in front of him through 84 PAs, Derek Jeter has had only 40. The Yankees run production could be even better if the the 8/9 spot (3B/CF) wasn’t such an offensive nothing.

          • Mike HC

            A-Rod replacing what we have at third is a huge upgrade. If we can acquire a CF mid season, that will be another huge upgrade. I believe the Yanks will be fine even with what we have now, but they also have the ability to make major upgrades.

          • Chris

            Melky has a career .330 OBP. Cameron has a career .341 OBP. Considering that Melky has not yet entered his prime years and Cameron is well past his, I don’t know that you can expect a significant difference in offensive performance between the two.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

              Seriously? You’re comparing 1,600 career PA to 6,800?

              • Ed

                That’s pretty much his point, and that’s the part that makes sense.

                A player with only 1,600 career PA is probably still improving. A player with 6,800 career PA is almost certainly declining.

                He’s coming to the wrong conclusion because he’s overstating Melky’s ability and understating Cameron’s, but the premise there is right.

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

                  I don’t think we can just grant that premise, though. If this was the first time we’ve seen Melky be streaky and not able to string good games together, then sure, I’d be more willing to accept that. But the fact that he’s seemingly decreased in ability every year since ’06 kind of negates that.

                • Chris

                  My conclusion is that Cameron is better, but not by a lot. I think all of the data pretty much backs that up.

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

                  Using the CHONE historical WAR tallies, Mike Cameron has been worth about 3.04 WAR per year; Melky has been worth .925 WAR (these numbers don’t include 2009 to this point). That’s a pretty significant, 2.115 WAR to be exact, difference.

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

                  Allow me to correct myself: on the grand scale of things, 2.115 wins is probably not a significant difference. But for one season’s worth of play, which is what the Yankees’d get out of Mikey C, I’d say it’s pretty significant.

                • Ed

                  Matt, we’re on the same page, you’re just harsher than I am here.

                  Chris – Melky had an OPS+ of 68 last year. Cameron’s was 110. If they post say 80 and 100 this year, that’s still a big difference. If we were having this conversation a year ago, you’d be right, we’d only be considering Cameron to be a slightly better player.

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

              Alright if we’re gonna make silly comparisons, here we go.

              Mekly has never slugged above .400. Mike Cameron’s career SLG is .450. Mike Cameron has a 90 IsoD, Melky has a 62 IsoD. Mike Cameron has a .199 IsoP, Melky has a 112. Melky has also gotten worse every year since ’06. He has shown absolutely zero consistency in his career and the same goes for ’09.

              Let’s factor in defense as well. Mike Cameron has a career 5.5 UZR/150 in CF. Melky has a -8.8.

              Melky will never be Mike Cameron. Ever. In fact, Melky has probably already hit his ceiling. If he becomes something better than a 4th OF in his career, I’ll be shocked.

              • Chris

                You spent the entire first comment explaining how there are not enough men on base in front of Jeter. My point is that there is not much of an upgrade from Melky to Cameron. Sure, Cameron is better, but you’re not talking about going from Angel Berroa to A-Rod. It’s one slightly below average CF to an average/slightly above average CF. And there is basically no upside potential for Cameron. He is what he is. With Melky (as much as you don’t want to admit it), there is a potential upside.

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

                  But there’s not a point in worrying about Cameron’s upside. He’s in the last year of a contract. He’d be a cheap, 3/4-1/2 season rental. Melky’s potential upside is almost zero at this point. He’s no more than a 4th outfielder and giving him, or Brett Gardner for that matter, the majority of PAs in CF this year will hurt the team unless they are Uptonian in center, which is highly unlikely. Sure, it’s not gonna be a 5-10 win player swing like it will be from Berroa to Rodriguez, but Cameron probably adds 1-2 wins over Gardbrera with his bat alone and then probably .5-1 wins with his glove. I’d feel much better with Brett and/or Melky on the bench than I would with them in the lineup every day.

      • Mike HC

        While Melky and Gardner are most probably 4/5th outfielders, the silver lining is that if we can replace them with a legit CF, the Yanks immediately become a lot better. I know it is easier said than done, but it would be a lot worse if there were not obvious areas we can fix. I believe the bullpen will be fine and is not our problem. An upgrade at one of the most important positions on the field will the Yanks immensely, and it wont take that much to upgrade from what we are running out there.

        • Mike HC

          *will help the Yanks immensely

          • Bo

            I cannot help from laughing at people stating the case for Melky.

            HAVE YOU NOT WATCHED HIM THE PAST 3 YEARS!?!?

            seriously

            and even mentioning bernie in the same sentence as melky gets the gulag in some countries

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              I love how even when you’re right, you’re right in an obnoxious way.

  • Sal

    bullpen by tryouts Throw 20 pitchers out there and 3 will be good right???

  • Big Mike

    I think you’ll get a lot of knee jerk reactions after the sweep in Boston. It was an ugly series, plain and simple.

    I actually thought CC pitched well last night. I’m not worried about him. He’ll come around.

    The bullpen is the big question mark. They are like night and day. It seems like when one guy pitches well, they all do. When one guy starts struggling, they all start struggling. I think once they get Bruney back things will be fine.

    This is the first Yankee team in awhile that I actually feel very confident in. They have all the pieces. It is VERY, VERY, VERY early in the year.

    I think come October you’ll see the Yankees in first place in the AL East with Boston 5 or 6 back.

    Everyone, including myself, just needs to take a deep breath.

    My prediction on Hughes line tonight: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 ER and the Win.

  • David

    Yeah it seems to me that the problem is really that our starters haven’t gone deep into games. Bullpens can’t be managed well when they have to take on 5 innings a game. If the rotation figures itself out I think the pen will fall into place as well. I also think a Melancon-Bruney setup duo seems pretty good to me.

  • Mike HC

    I know most people on this site actually watch the games, as I do, and I don’t think you can honestly say that the bullpen is the reason we are 9-10. Why isnt anybody focusing on the fact we have played 6 home games and 13 on the road. Both hitters and pitchers usually perform better at home. I think the problems could be that simple.

    • Rich

      That is an overlooked point, but I think the issue can be more narrowly focused than that. I really believe that if the Yankees had not blown Friday’s game, there would either no scrutiny of the team’s problems, or it would be far less searching.

      • Mike HC

        Agreed. Getting swept by our arch rival will always create panic in the more fickle, uneducated fans.

        • Bo

          how smart do u have to be realize this team has deficiencies? are u educated as a fan if u stick your head in the sand and don’t think this team has issues to deal with fast?

          its not being fickle. its being realistic

          • Rick in Boston

            Bo, do us all a huge favor:

            Tell us what YOU think the team should do. Every comment from you is tearing into someone else’s comments without any productive comments. As snarky as TSJC is, he at least adds something of substance.

            I wish there was an ignore feature on here so I don’t have to see your lohuddian comments. Are you related to, or possibly are, Pete Abe?

          • A.D.

            Every team has deficiencies, its always going to happen, the team that wins the WS will have deficiencies.

          • Mike HC

            The team has its deficiencies, and I’m not saying they are going to turn into the 1998 Yanks. I am saying that this team easily has the potential to win 95 games, and it is not the same team as last year.

    • Accent Shallow

      Yeah, but that’s tough to quantify. Still, this is something that I haven’t really seen mentioned that could be a major factor.

  • Simon B.

    *sigh*

    Why does every April have to be so painful for the Yankees?

    If they’d just play in April the way they do the rest of the year, they’d get 100 wins almost every year.

    The bullpen will recover, there’s too much talent and depth there not to.

    • Frank

      I’m not so sure the bullpen will recover. There’s plenty of reasons why they WON’T recover. Guys like Robertson and Coke are young and unproven, thus it’s impossible to try and predict how they will pan out. Neither Robertson or Coke has the kind of stuff Melancon has… so you have to feel a little more confident about him given his stuff and track record in the minors. I personally wouldn’t trust Robertson or Coke in a big spot/setup role. But there’s also no guarantee Melancon won’t struggle in the bigs at first as well.

      Edwar and Veras’ inconsistancy over the years is a big concern b/c you have to figure that won’t change much. And saying Marte will be ok simply because of his past success is ridiculous to me. His past success with the Pirates doesn’t change the fact that he’s been absolutely dreadful since joining the Yankees and even struggles to get that one lefty out.

      • A.D.

        Melancon tried struggling on Sunday, he didn’t like it so he went ahead and got out of the inning unscathed

        • Frank

          I love him. I hope he excells in the setup role so the BJobbers have no more excuses.

          Melancon, Bruney, Mo. Nighty night.

          • Bo

            I think we’re coronating Melancon a tad early. Can the guy pitch a few times before we crown him the set up man?

            Hes obv got talent but let him ease into it. it would help him if the other 45 guys out there could actually get an out here and there

      • Chris

        The Yankee’s bullpen is third in MLB in K/9 and 5th in K:BB. The only problem they are having is giving up too many home runs. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s pretty likely that the home run rate will come down as the season continues. The Yankee relievers are on pace to give up 120 home runs, and the worst most home runs a bullpen has given up since 2000 was 86 (2006 by Baltimore).

        • Frank

          Good stuff there. It’s not likely the Yanks relievers will continue to give up the long ball with their ability to miss so many bats.

          That and maybe they can “accidentally” give Edwar the wrong flight information.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          It’s not guaranteed, but it’s pretty likely that the home run rate will come down as the season continues.

          BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BANDBOX STADIUM?!?!?!?!?!?!

          But seriously, I agree with you. The ‘pen can only go up from here, and it probably will.

  • Evan

    I would be happy with a win tonight. Just throwing that out there.

    • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

      If the Yanks don’t win tonight, I’m jumping ship and joining confused/angry/in-the-middle/uneducated Axl.

      • jsbrendog

        just ask yourself one thing…what would aj burnett think about you if you did that?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        If the Yanks don’t win tonight, I’m jumping ship and joining confused/angry/in-the-middle/uneducated Axl.

        No, you’re not, Pop. You don’t just go from sane to crazy overnight on a whim.

        Sure, you’ll try to be as irrationally jumpy and fatalistic as Axl, but you won’t be able to pull it off. Not even the best actors can truly nail “batshit insane”, because the normal mind just doesn’t work like that.

        That’s why those nutty B-Jobbers keep surprising us: we never know what levels of inanity they are capable of stooping too. There is no floor.

    • Nady Nation

      +1

  • Bo

    it’s not CF was a huge gaping hole all of last yr and well pretty much since Bernie left or anything

    How do they spend all this dough and leave the position to gardner and melky? especially after melky proved he was useless last yr

  • Andy

    I have said it before, and I will say it again – the answers to the Yanks bullpen issues are keeping their best relievers on the 25 man roster, and right now (Bruney aside since he’s on the DL), their best releivers are Rivera, Melancon, Robertson, in that order. Everyone is quick to call Melancon and Robertson “unproven,” yet they call Veras “proven.” Look at Veras’ minor league numbers, they SUCK the big SUCK SUCK, just like his major league numbers do, last years’ strong first half (before a return to suckiness in the second half) aside. Melancon has dominated everywhere he has ever been, period, and he has great stuff. Robertson, though less heralded and with not quite the stuff (although he has a plus FB and plus plus curve), has been even more dominant statistically than Melancon – please look at the guy’s minor league K rate, it is re-fing-dickulous. While his ERA in the bigs was a bit high last year (as a 23 year old rookie), he still only allowed 29 hits in 30.1 innings, with 36 Ks. The guy has been MONEY his entire career (including college). I’ll take that track record any day over some over-hyped 28 year old with great stuff and no track record of sucess anywhere besides an OK year last year, and a year or two of decent numbers (never even approaching Robertson’s worst year) in the minors when he was way old for the league. Let’s put this in perspective – here are Robertson’s ERAs in the minors in his career, from his earliest to his latest:

    0.77 (low A), 1.08 (high A), 2.25 (AA), 0.96 (AA), 2.06 (AAA) and 0.00 (AAA).

    Here are Veras’ ERAs from earliest to latest:

    6.75 (R), 7.12 (R), 4.81 (A), 4.53 (A), 5.34 (A), 0.00 (A), 3.45 (AA), 8.44 (AAA), 6.30 (AA), 5.23 (AAA), 3.79 (AAA), 2.41 (AAA), 0.00 (R), 0.00 (A), 4.50 (AAA), 1.38 (AAA)

    Those numbers are not the end all be all, but you get the point. Fact is, Robertson has a much better track record than Veras, period. MLB experience counts a lot more than minor league experience, but minor league experience counts for something, and these two guys aren’t even in the same universe.

    Not that I don’t think Veras is useful – in fact I think it is way to early to judge the pen as harshly as it is being judged – but sooner or later the Yanks have got to go with their best arms, and those arms are Melancon and Robertson, not Veras and Coke.

    • Frank

      Robertson is an anomoly to me. I’m not sure I would quantify an 89-90mph fastball as “plus” at the major league level. He’s a middle reliever to eat some innings in a 4 + run game IMO. Nothing more.

      I realize Robertson’s minor league numbers have been stellar. But it’s a completely different animal in the bigs. I would be careful with statistical comparisons between Veras and Robertson in the minor leagues. Robertson has a much smoother delivery which attributes to his consistency. Veras has had to learn to repeat his delivery…something he is still struggling with. But Veras stuff and upside makes Robertson look silly.

      • Andy

        You’re underselling his FB a couple MPH, and completely forgetting movement. Missing bats is the best indication of stuff, and Robertson flat out misses bats, even at the major league level.

  • Evan

    Why do you think Mariano is paid so well? He is one of the few bullpen pitchers who come out and get the job done on a regular basis. The bullpen, in my opinion, is a revolving door and you go with whoever is hot and what not. I don’t expect Melancon or whoever to obtain the 8th inning role, and keep it. We will have 3-4 8th inning guys this year, no doubt. The only staple in that bullpen all year will Rivera.

  • Confused Axl

    There are just so many things that are wrong right now that would all have to right at the same time. And you could look at it like “hey, they all went wrong at the same time? why can’t they get right at the same time?” But that’s thinking from one extreme to the next.

    I agree that this is the bottom of the barrel and the only way to go is up from here…but at the same time I don’t understand how you exclude Veras’s recent history due to it being a small sample size…though you keep Brian Bruney’s success which could be even a smaller one.

    Like I’ve stated before. Just because a guy shows “signs of brilliance” doesn’t mean that he’s an outstanding pitcher. You’re only as good as your numbers show. Marte was irratic all last year back and forth…same with Veras. Just because they have “stuff” doesn’t make them worth keeping. Look at Oliver Perez for an example. He’s had “stuff” for quite a few years now and he just doesn’t have it. Period.

    I’d rather take a solid arm in the pen who doesn’t have great stuff but gets the job done more often than not…than have a guy with “stuff” who is all over the place…and you really don’t know what you’re going to get night in and night out. The problem is finding those “solid arms”. It’s not easy because middle relief, for the most part, is made up of failed starters and closers. They’re not starting or closing games for a reason. So part of me wants to logical and just take what we can get.

    It’s just frustrating because EVERYTHING seems to be crashing down all at once. So it makes each individual thing look that much worse.

    I personally think the key to our bullpen…is getting the starting pitching in order. They’re the ones not doing what they’re suppose to do first and foremost. And if they right the ship and the bullpen continues to do shitty? THEN we express some interest in some alternatives.

    • Evan

      I agree with this to some extent. I do think that getting the starting rotation in a groove will alleviate a lot of the pressure on the bullpen, such as last night’s outing by CC. He got the loss but he gave them some needed rest so tonight there should be no excuses. But I don’t agree with your statement on the guys who have “stuff” but it doesn’t translate. Those type of pitchers will always have a job somewhere. Look at Farnsworthless. He is the definition of a night and day reliever but as long as he is throwing 98 someone will take a chance on him. I think our guys are better than Farnsworth, it just takes a little while to get things smoothed out in the bullpen and get everybody situated. We don’t know who the 8th inning guy is right now so every reliever has to be on his toes ready to go. I think once we get all of that worked out and people know their roles they will be fine.

      • Mike HC

        There roles are to go out there and pitch well when called upon. Mo has the ninth … other than that, 6th, 7th, 8th, who cares, be ready to pitch. I don’t think the problem is that they don’t know there roles. There roles are to pitch well no matter what innings.

      • Confused Axl

        You’re right. Guys with “stuff” will always have a job for the most part. But that’s only because people are mislead by it like I said. And as a result you get Farnsworth blowing 3 run leads twice within the first week of the season as a result. People are always willing to take the gamble. That’s just the way it is. My argument wasn’t whether or not they would keep a job if they have stuff…it was whether they are worth this risk or not after so long of being inconsistent…and unfortunately…the illusion of “stuff” makes that harder to determine.

  • YankeeScribe

    I think the bullpen is a problem that will work itself out over the course of the season. We have to give these young arms a chance to learn and prove themselves.

    The biggest weakness that Cashman has failed to address over the years is bench depth. It’s been years since the Yanks have had a Darryl Strawberry/Chili Davis type bench/dh player who could be clutch in pinch situations are an all around clutch bench player like Luis Sojo. Guys like Ransom, Betemit, adn Berroa really make you miss the days when the Yankees had a productive bench…

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      The only reason the bench looks so crappy this year is because people who’d normally on the bench, guys like Gardner, Ransom, Berrora, and Pena, have been thrust into roles as starting players. Once the team gets healthy–Rodriguez and Nady–the Yankees will have an absolutely fine, if not good, bench.

      Jose Molina’s defense along makes him one of the best back up catchers in all of baseball.

      Xavier Nady could probably start on almost every team in the Majors, but he’ll be a bench guy with the Yankees. And, if he plays well and Swisher hits a cold spell, Swisher, who could also start on any team, would be the bench guy. Either one of those two is a great option off the bench (Swish should start no matter what but we’re speaking in generalities here anyway so bear with me).

      Angel Berroa is probably a decent guy with the bat off of the bench and Ramiro Pena is a great defensive replacement. Once they’re not in the everyday lineup because of A-Rod’s absence, the IF bench will look much, much better.

      • YankeeScribe

        Molina is a great bench player but I agree with the idea that he should get more starts at catcher than Posada. Nady is an everyday outfielder, not a bench player.

        I’m not sure what Swisher’s long-term role will be with the team. Maybe he can be a Luis Sojo type utility guy. He had great at-bats coming off the bench in the first few games of the season. I’m not sold on the idea of him being our everyday right-fielder over the next few years. I hate to admit this but he seems like a downgrade from Abreu.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

          Molina shouldn’t be starting at catcher as long as Matsui and Posada are both healthy and effective. Jorge’s bat out of the catcher’s spot brings a lot more value than Molina’s glove/arm. Putting Molina in means taking Matsui out and right now, that’s not a smart thing.

          Swisher is way better than Luis Sojo. By a lot. A whole lot. Putting Swisher on the bench as a utility guy or a pinch hitter would be a HUGE mistake. Nick Swisher is also better than Xavier Nady. Unless Swisher is playing absolutely awful, and I mean AWFUL, worse than he did last year, he should stay in right field. He’s got a better track record with the bat than Nady, doesn’t have a pronounced platoon split (.801 OPS vs. righties, .833 vs. lefties), and is a better defender. Offensively, sure, he’s probably not as good as Abreu but he’s a whole fuck of a lot better out in right field and is a lot younger (he’s also two years younger than Xavier Nady) and is no where near his decline phase yet. And, since Swisher is the only OF currently under contract for more than the ’09 season, he’s definitely the RF heading forward and I’m more than okay with that.

          • YankeeScribe

            Posada is becoming more and more of a defensive liability but as long as Matsui is being productive at the plate, it’s tough to get Molina more starts. This problem may not get settled til next season.

            I like Swish’s effort but I guess I have to watch him for the entire season to say what his value is to the team. As for Sojo, what he lacked in talent he more than made up for with baseball smarts. I’m more comfortable with Nady starting in right than Swisher.

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

              Posada’s bad defense is not outweighed by his great offense for his position while Molina’s defense is far outweighed by his awful, awful offense. Unless Matsui goes down with an injury, he and Posada must remain in the lineup.

              Can you explain to me why? Everything points Swisher’s way. He’s got basically equal rate stats to Nady (had the advantage in OBP which is what’s most important), has better advanced rate stats (bests Nady in EQA and wOBA), is a better defender in RF by UZR (10.1 per 150 to -1.8 per 150), and is younger than Nady. Why the aversion to Swisher?

    • Jack

      Who would you suggets they get?

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

        Yeah, that’s what I’d love to hear from the crowd that says Cashman hasn’t built a good bench. They constantly spit that line out but they never say what should be done or who could be gotten to remedy the problem.

  • Rob in CT

    I think the bullpen will be fine. It’s early, and the starters have been blown out of several games. That means added strain on the ‘pen. Given the talent in the rotation, that shouldn’t continue.

    I’ve been disappointed so far, but it’s really not that bad. Yet. ;)

  • Evan

    They are 9-10 the way they have been playing. It could be much, much worse.

  • danilo

    Along with the small sample problem, a reliever’s ERA becomes even less meaningful when you consider that allowing inherited runners to score does not affect their ERA, but it loses games nonetheless.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    On a positive note…the bullpen looked good last night.

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  • kavi shah

    If they throw out Clagget’s ERA and Wang’s ERA, our team ERA is not THAT bad…Everyone on the negative just needs to calm down. If the Red Sox didn’t just win 11 games in a row, no one would be making a big deal about a 4 game losing streak in a 162 game season…