May
18

Wanted: Outs from the bullpen

By

As Jonathan Albaladejo nearly gave the game away in the 8th inning yesterday, I was sitting in Yankee Stadium, apoplectic at the Yanks’ reliever’s inability to throw strikes. After striking out Jason Kubel, a good hitter, in the 7th, Albaladejo lost it. He walked Michael Cuddyer, allowed a first-pitch single to the weak-hitting Carlos Gomez and then walked Nick Punto, the Twins’ number nine hitter who is batting just .200/.304/.221 this season.

With one out and the bases loaded, Brett Tomko came in, and as I cringed in my seat, I e-mailed Joe. “I can’t deal with Girardi’s bullpen management. It’s awful,” I said. Joe came back to rightly defend the Yanks’ skipper: “He’s working with nothing. I have no problem with the moves he’s made today.”

In hindsight, Joe was, of course, right. The Yanks didn’t have Phil Coke available, and bringing in Edwar Ramirez or Jose Veras would make just as little sense as bringing in Tomko. The Yanks escaped that bases loaded situation thanks to an amazing play by Mark Teixeira at first base, and the pen lived to see another day.

Following yesterday’s walk-off win, the Yanks’ pen now ranks 12th in the AL in ERA. The team’s relievers have thrown 114.2 innings and have allowed 115 hits while waking 58. That’s a WHIP of 1.51. The relievers’ 108 strikeouts are impressive, but the 25 home runs allowed tops the American League. With Boston’s pen leading the AL, it’s no stretch to say that the Yanks’ bullpen is responsible for the team’s third-place showing right now.

Over the weekend, Peter Gammons dropped another one of his notes column, and in it, he briefly mentions the Yanks as bullpen buyers. I don’t need to be Peter Gammons to know that, but the ESPN scribe tosses out some potential targets for those teams looking for bullpen help. He writes:

The Dodgers are on the prowl for relievers; so are the Indians, Yankees and Twins. But the teams holding pitchers expected to be available believe the market will only get increasingly bullish. And few teams are ready to throw up white towels.

Among the list of relievers expected to be available are Houston’s Jose Valverde, Colorado’s Huston Street, Oakland’s Russ Springer, Pittsburgh’s John Grabow and Baltimore’s Danys Baez. Boston might be willing to move Manny Delcarmen, who might be able to close in the National League, but they’d trade him only for a significant bat.

If those pitchers make up the bulk of the relief market and those teams are going to be “increasingly bullish,” I shudder for the future of any potential bullpen trades. Last year, the Yanks shipped Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Jose Tabata, and Dan McCutchen to the Pirates for what was then the best bat on the market and the best lefty reliever. Based on Gammons’ early report, it sounds as though it will cost just as much this year to land a decent pen arm.

Of those Gammons mentions, only Baez and Street are at all appealing. Grabow is struggling in Pittsburgh right now; Russ Springer is old enough to have played on the same team as Matt Nokes and Andy Stankiewicz; Jose Valverde is a ticking time bomb on the mound. Baez is having a decent season after a few bad years, and Street can pitch in the AL when healthy. As the Rockies paid an arm and a leg for him, he’ll cost as much at or near the deadline.

In the end, then, I guess we’re going to war, for now, with the bullpen we have and not the bullpen we want. I’m sure David Robertson and Mark Melancon will get second or third cracks at it. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of Brian Bruney. If he returns healthy and effective this week, that might just be the push the Yanks need to shore up the ends of their games.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
  • Mike Pop

    Yeah, not so much into this idea.

    Let Bruney and Marte come back before we trade anything of value for these guys.

    Also, hopefully Melancon and Robertson come back up and pitch well like they deserve to get that chance.

    That’s adding arms while only giving up the crap-value that is in the pen now. Edwar, Veras, and Tomko go down/get cut for Marte, Bruney, and Melancon.

    That improves the pen most likely, no? Not to mention they can probably trade Veras for something. I know he has sucked but he has some potential and a shittier team would probably trade a little something for him, like tommie said earlier this week. They got something for Hacker, they would probably get a little something for Veras.

    • Mike Pop

      One more thing, I still think Edwar can be a solid reliever… just demote him because he has an option left. Veras, I still think could be good but he’s just so frustrating and Tomko is a given…. dude is 36. Doubt he will find success now UNLESS TEH STEROIDS!!11!! since the Yankees invented them.

    • Bob

      If Wang can come back and pitch like himself again, why not put Hughes in the bullpen?. He may be able to give us something similiar to what Joba did last season. He certainly has the stuff and it would seem like a waste to send him back to AAA again.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    Getting Bruney back is going to be like making a big trade for a ‘pen arm. I’m excited to see him back and I want the Yankees to give M-Squared and D-Rob an extended look.

    • Stryker

      agreed. i’m tired of the scranton shuffle for the two of them – especially robertson. he needs to get an extended look because he’s so much better than what he’s shown in the majors. why veras and ramirez continue to get appearances while roberston sits in AAA is beyond me.

  • Coach6423

    I think it’s time Aceves worked his way into the circle of trust. He throws strikes and is confident in his stuff. With Bruney due to come back, Coke throwing well, Aceves throwing well, hell, even Tomko, I think our pen has turned the corner.

    • jsbrendog

      aceves might be a long term solution out of the pen, as someone mentioned in a previous thread he very well could = ramiro mendoza which would be UUUUUGE!

      but tomko = cannon fodder

      • Coach6423

        completely agree with cannon fodder, but at this point, id rather see the rally monkey than veras

        • jsbrendog

          oh totally

      • Chris

        I think Tomko would be a perfect trade candidate if he can prove to be even somewhat effective. Once Bruney and Marte return, you could be looking at a bullpen of:

        Mo
        Bruney
        Coke
        Marte
        Aceves
        with 2 of: Edwar, Veras, Melancon, Robertson

        There really isn’t a role for Tomko, he has no future with the club, and if relief pitching is really in that high demand, then you could potentially get a great return for him.

        • Mike Pop

          You are not going to get a great return for Tomko.

          • jonathan

            Totally agree, we will not get a great return but I think that NL teams that are looking for a decent to above average 5th starter will be eyeing both Tomko and Aceves. I think we could get decent return on the latter of the two if we dub him expendible. As for Tomko, I really kind of like him…he throws strikes…he not afraid of contact…and he pitches to bad contact. K are great, but I dribbler to first is just as good.

            • Chris

              I think it depends on how he pitches for the next couple of weeks and what you consider a ‘great return’. I’m thinking we could get a good bench player for him.

              If you look at the guys listed as relief targets, he fits in with them assuming he can keep being effective:

              Jose Valverde ERA: 5.62 WHIP: 1.25 ERA+: 78
              Huston Street ERA: 4.11 WHIP: 1.239 ERA+: 116
              Russ Springer ERA: 2.76 WHIP: 1.53 ERA+: 158
              John Grabow ERA: 5.29 WHIP: 1.88 ERA+: 83
              Danys Baez ERA: 2.11 WHIP: 0.938 ERA+: 231
              Brett Tomko ERA: 3.86 WHIP: 1.714 ERA+: 122

              • Pasqua

                Chris– Sample size, sir. Sample size.

          • andrew

            Ha. Yea. Relief pitching is in high demand, but it’s good relief pitching that these guys want.

            • Bo

              Yea Tomko will get a huge return. Maybe Holiday. Even Pujols.

              Can him and Aceves get a few more outs before we think about trading them?

  • Derby

    Great article. Melancon and Robertson should be in the majors because I trust them both a lot more than I do guys like Albadalejo or Ramirez. Melancon and Robertson need to trust their stuff and throw strikes. That seems to be the problem with our bad relievers right now. Month and Aceves threw strikes yesterday and they pitched great. Albadalejo threw too many balls and got into trouble. It would be great to have Bruney, Melancon, Robertson, and Aceves as viable bullpen options. We don’t need to shop around. We have everything we need right in front of us!!!

  • Jake H

    I think with a healthy Marte and Bruney the pen will be better. I cringe everytime I see Veras out there.

  • Frank

    I want Melancon and D-Rob in the pen. They may experience some bumps along the way, but in time, they’ll prove to be upgrades over Veras/Ramirez. Albaladejo/Coke are going through this now. Aceves is a lock. Bruney, if healthy, is a lock. Marte, if healthy, will help but I suspect there is more to his injury than is being reported. Tomko is useful as a long man- he may stick if Marte’s injury is serious.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    You don’t trade anything of value for a middle reliever. Yet, teams do it every year, and other teams come off like bandits. My vote is for trading for NONE of those guys.

    Forget Girardi, Harkey, and Eiland. We need to Tim Gunn to go into the Yanks’ bullpen and tell them to “make it work.”

  • Mike Pop

    I assume Wild Thing Rick Vaughn is not available at this time?

    • Coach6423

      he is working on the terminator in AA

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      And I thought Russ Springer was old. Rick Vaughn is a good four years older than Springer.

      • Bo

        Kenny Powers is available.

  • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

    It’s amazing that something so good one year could be so bad the next.

    Seriously, if Veras had anything remotely resembling the control he had last year, we might very well not be having this conversation right now.

    Okay, we probably would still be having this conversation, but it would seem a lot less urgent.

    • whozat

      And that’s why it makes no sense to spend lots of money on bullpen arms. The guy who “finally put it together” last year is just as likely to fall back to earth as he is to continue being good. And there’s always the risk of injury.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      What gives me hope though is the collective K rate. The Yanks pen is still striking out a lot of hitters, but they’re walking far too many and giving up a lot of home runs.

      • UWS

        Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the show?

  • AD

    Hopefully Veras gets the boot when Bruney Comes Back. He is a disaster

  • ChrisS

    It’s amazing that something so good one year could be so bad the next.

    Which is why non-elite (read Not Mo) relievers are consistently over-valued.

    Take out the first couple of weeks of April, and the Yankees Bullpen is a lot better than 12th in the AL. They had an era of 6.46 through April and in May it’s 3.83 in only 14 fewer IP (although their WHIP only dropped a fraction, so who knows). Meanwhile, the starters (outside of CC) have gotten worse while pitching, on average, an additional 1/3 of an inning).

    Edwar is going to be frustrating for anyone. The change is great, but his fastball is flat, not all that fast, and not well-placed usually.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sloanbruno69 Bruno

    In the end, then, I guess we’re going to war, for now, with the bullpen we have and not the bullpen we want. I’m sure David Robertson and Mark Melancon will get second or third cracks at it. We shouldn’t though underestimate the importance of Brian Bruney. If he returns healthy and effective this week, that might just be the push the Yanks need to shore up the ends of their games.

    Exactly. With Bruney and Marte due back soon we set up nicely. Mo, Bruney, Coke, Alby, Marte, Robertson/Melancon, Aceves.

  • Klemy

    I’m really happy with Aceves this recent call up. I hope he keeps this up, because he’s throwing strikes like the Mexican Gangster we all know he can be.

    • http://www.puristbleedspinstripes.com Aunt Becca-Optimist Prime

      I’m not entirely sure we should be calling Aceves ‘Mexican gangsta’ given the real gang problems going on there, but this might just be my overly PC talking out of my ass again.

      • andrew

        I’m all for PC, but sometimes it’s a bit over the top. We would never ask somebody to stop saying “Sick diving stop by Tex yesterday” because there are people in the world who are truly sick. Gangster/sick/other words just have alternate definitions I guess.

        • Klemy

          Simply reusing from previous thread and since I am not PC in any way, it would be hard to convince me otherwise.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I’m loving his 4.50 K/BB right now. I’m not expecting it to stay that high, but as long as it goes higher than what it was in ’08 (1.60), I’ll be happy.

      And more than a little part of me agrees w/you, Becca.

  • mustang

    I totally agree with the thread, but this bullpen problem has been going on for years now. They have tried to buy a bullpen that didn’t work. Tried to pick-up other teams throw always they did get Bruney that way. They tried trades nope and development the jury is still out on that one. I think with all they have tried after a while you have to stop looking at the method and start looking at whom doing the picking.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      You’re missing the overall point though: Bullpen consistency is extremely tough to find. The Yanks had a good pen last year, which ruins your “blame Brian Cashman” thesis, and they haven’t yet put it together this year.

      By nature though bullpens are volatile, and outside of signing two closers and using one to set up, it’s tough to find a winning combination. Wait until Bruney comes back though. That solidifies the pen substantially.

      • mustang

        How many years has Cashman been the GM and how many of those years have they had a bullpen problem? Even a blind squirrel can find a nut every once in while (last year was the nut this year back to the normal).

        “Wait until Bruney comes back though. That solidifies the pen substantially.”
        At least we back agree on that.

        • mustang

          At least we can agree on that.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          You’re making claims that aren’t support by any evidence. If we base this solely on ERA (a dubious way to evaluate):

          2008 – better than average
          2007 – slightly worse than average
          2006 – slightly better than average
          2005 – worse than average
          2004 – worse than average
          2003 – better than average
          2002 – better than average
          2001 – far better than average
          2000 – worse than average
          1999 – best in the AL
          1998 – best in the AL

          So of Cashman’s years at the helm, seven pens have been better than average and four – including one World Series winner – have been worse. That inconsistency and volatility has less to do with Cashman’s pen decisions as it does the nature of middle relief in the current era of baseball.

          • jsbrendog

            sometimes i think it moves when i think of nelson/stanton/rivera…..

          • mustang

            And how many of those early years were guys in the pen that he inherited? How come the Angles don’t seem to have that problem until this year ? And I seen the Red Sox built and rebuilt two bullpens in the same time.

            ERA… Ben shame, shame on you..lol

            • mustang

              And he inherited the best closer in the history of the game and how long has he been looking for a bridge to him?

              God helps when Mo is finally done.

              • mustang

                God help us..

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

                Of all the complaints to have about Cashman, this just isn’t a valid one.

                Can you point me to a GM with a top bullpen track record? You’re using some phantom GM as a straw man to “prove” a thought you have.

                • mustang

                  Again the Angles seem to have had a strong bullpen for as long as we have had a weak one. The Red Sox have managed to rebuild theirs twice. I understand that its difficult, but you do have the best closer in the game to start with. They have tried every method it just makes sense to start to look for other reason for why this keeps being a problem.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

                You know what else is a little out there? This whole “he inherited them” line of reasoning. Cashman had been in the upper echelons of the Yankee Front Office before he was GM. Do you think he had zero input on the guys acquired before 1998?

                • mustang

                  Can you tell me what input he did have?
                  So that’s a non-issue no matter who is giving input GM’s get all the glory or all the blame.

                • mustang

                  I’m sorry Ben, but I can’t follow Cashman around blinding praising his good moves and excusing or blaming some x factors for his bad ones.
                  I like Cashman, but if he or his people can’t do the job then they should get someone who can.

                • mustang

                  blindly not blinding

    • JohnnyC

      Or the coaching at the major league level. Unless minor league umpiring is much, much worse than major league umpiring, it’s puzzling how pitchers who have exemplary WHIPs AND K ability can completely lose the plate in the majors. Frankly, they look unprepared when they come into games. “Trust your stuff” is a cardinal rule of successful pitching that seems to be absent from the Yankees’ mindset.

      • whozat

        Well, we know that “Proven Veterans” get the benefit of the doubt from umps. We also know that big-league hitters are more selective than minor league hitters. We also know that guys tend to be “too fine” when they’re nervous — see Melancon’s recent Q&A with Chad Jennings re: what went wrong in his first taste of the bigs.

        Given all this…is it any surprise that a lot of minor leaguers take a while to adjust and start throwing quality strikes in the bigs?

      • mustang

        Agree. Maybe its not Cashman, but something is wrong somewhere.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          something is wrong somewhere.

          Too many teams; too few pitchers.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            Middle relief pitchers are middle relief pitchers because they aren’t good enough to start and they aren’t good enough to close. Being not very good at their craft (relatively speaking), they are extremely volatile from year to year (sometimes from outing to outing!).

            Look at the Rays bullpen. They were great last year and have totally regressed this year.

            I think Cashman has learned his lesson and just decided to accumulate a bunch of cheap inter-changeable parts and let Girardi ride the hot hand.

          • mustang

            I meant in the Yankees organization.

    • Chris

      Before 2008, I think you also have to consider the manager when looking at the bullpen performance. When Torre had a quality reliever (other than Mo) he rode him into the ground.

  • DaveinMD

    Girardi’s handling of the bullpen has been criminal. He refused to use Melancon and Robertson after one bad outing. So of course they sucked after not being used for 10 days. Then he continues to throw Ramirez, Veras and Alby who have sucked for weeks at a time. I really don’t understand it. He’s been worse than Torre in bullpen usage.

    • steve (different one)

      . So of course they sucked after not being used for 10 days.

      yeah, this isn’t true.

  • GG

    That Gammons post is just awful…every paragraph it seems like, he goes back to talking about the redsox, and how good their young pitchers are and how they wont trade them etc. etc. etc. That man needs to hang em up already, or go work for a more local news outlet in Boston.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I omitted the next sentence in that paragraph. He calls the Ramon Ramirez-for-Coco Crisp trade something akin to the best trade of all time ever.

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      “… and how good their young pitchers are and how they wont trade them etc. etc. etc.”

      That stuff really bothers me. If he has a good connection to the Sox organization and happens to get more info about them than other teams, that’s one thing, but when he constantly makes statements like that it seems like he’s acting as part of their PR arm and parroting the company line. It affects fan reaction as well as, possibly, negotiations with other teams.

      • GG

        That last point, I’d highly doubt. If your front office is taking a Peter Gammons evaluation of a Boston player to heart rather than at face value, you got bigger problems than looking for an extra reliever. Fans however, absolutely, the past three weeks ESPN has convinced many casual fans across the nation that the red sox are ready to win a third championship in six years, as if thats some sort of dynasty or something, hahaha. I still voted seven this week, but I have a good feeling we will be coming on strong, I really like the demeanor of this team…ESPN will have to face the facts when the Yanks pull ahead of the pack

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          I don’t think anyone in a position of power in a front office is letting Peter Gammons make personnel decisions for them, but I do think what he writes can shape, in however small a way, the nature of some negotiations. Front office members are people, too, and not all of them are incredibly shrewd. I’m not willing to stipulate that media coverage cannot in any way shape/affect the opinions of front office members or the parameters/conditions under which they may enter into a negotiation.

  • Stuart

    the walks by the pen are a ticking time bomb.

    aceves deserves more chances. coke I like he throws strikes but 3 HR’s recently to lefties in limited innings is bad.. I know the lefties were good hitter but you need to keep the ball in the park.

    tomko is a 35 year old journeymany who throws hard but has never ever gotten the job done.

    abeledajo, veras, and edwar all throw to many balls and are total flip a coin guys. you cannot have that in your pen.

    melancon could be huge. bruney if he is effective would be as big of a gain as an effective wang or close…

    • Bo

      The homers Coke has given up to lefty’s is a huge concern.

  • adeel

    I know this is kind of out there.. but what about Hughes? He has proven that he is too good for scranton time and again; and what’s the point of sending him down when Wang gets back? What can he accomplish there? Keeping him here, as a reliever/spot starter would help him mature just as much if not more than starting every fifth day in scranton.

    • DaveinMD

      Hughes needs innings and needs to work on his secondary pitches. He needs to throw is his changeup. Working out of the pen won’t help.

      • Klemy

        But working in Scranton won’t help much either, so we are in a difficult place.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          But it’ll give him innings and let him build arm strength, which wouldn’t happen in the ‘pen at the Major League level.

          • Klemy

            I wouldn’t argue that at all. My point is only that no matter where he goes or what decision is made, there’s going to be debate on the topic.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      We’ve covered this a bit. Moving Hughes into the pen is equivalent to moving Joba there. Right now, Hughes needs innings and consistent work. He won’t get that in the Yanks’ bullpen.

      • Some Call Me…Nick.

        I politely disagree:

        I’ve never heard a PHRANCHISE TO TEH 8TH!!1!! call. Ever.

        I know there isn’t a lot of stock put in ‘chemistry’ here, but how about ‘biology’–I don’t think Hughes has the proper fist-pump to be a closer…or a set up man for that matter. Do we want to waste him on long relief (although that was a great job he did for Clemens 37 years ago…) or mop up duty?

        I like that we’re dreaming about this before Wang’s back, but let’s just wait and see how it plays out…

        • jsbrendog

          I politely disagree:

          I’ve never heard a PHRANCHISE TO TEH 8TH!!1!! call. Ever.

          its been discussed here in many threads many times over and is nto an option. also, the ignorant MSM continues to think that it would possibly make some sense, which it does not.

        • whozat

          “I’ve never heard a PHRANCHISE TO TEH 8TH!!1!! call. Ever.”

          People were calling for it in two separate threads here last night. We’ve had the same conversation twice in the last 18 hours.

      • adeel

        He can if he is used as a long reliever/spot starter. I wouldn’t use Hughes as a set up man; I would use him as someone to come in the 5 or 6th and pitch 2-3 innings at a time. Then use him as a spot starter here and there.

        the other alternative (as far as hughes goes) would be to try a six man rotation… I am sure that would help Joba and hughes (probably wang and Pettit too)….
        A benefit of going to a six man rotation is that you could skip Hughes on his off day, and he could be a 6,7,8,9 type guy the next day (ie Joba)… so the pen would get an extra day of rest.

        Hughes to the bullpen is NOT the same as Joba… Joba is much more progressed as BOTH a starter and reliever than Hughes is at this point, and i feel A LOT of it has to do with the confidence he gained as a setup man/starter last year..

        • whozat

          “i feel A LOT of it has to do with the confidence he gained as a setup man/starter last year..”

          You can feel that all you want. It’s not true, but that’s cool.

          It has to do with the fact that he had a third pitch that he already commanded very well: his curve. Hughes isn’t quite there yet. Also, Joba’s fastball is better, which gives him more of a margin for error with the rest of his pitches.

          Hughes needs command of and confidence in that third pitch to get him through games in which one of his other pitches isn’t always working, and also to let him turn lineups over multiple times. He’s not going to get that as a reliever. He won’t be throwing to the same batter more than once or twice per game. He won’t have the luxury to work on that third pitch.

          Send him to AAA when possible, and tell him he can only use his curve 10 times a game or something. Make him work with his secondary stuff. It’s been done before.

          • jsbrendog

            + eleventy bajillion

          • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

            Lol, that part of the confidence was total whozat-baiting. Anyhting about chemistry or confidence (ie non-measurables) is pretty much calling for a reply from whozat. You should charge 5$ like Keith Law does.

            • whozat

              Chemistry…yes. I don’t believe that chemistry has much causal relation with on-field results.

              Confidence? Yeah, I do believe that confidence in oneself has an impact on one’s ability to perform in the bigs. You have to throw your pitches with conviction in order to execute. You can’t be second-guessing yourself at the plate, or you’ll never put a good swing on the ball. I totally buy that.

              However…

              command of a pitch that you picked up just last year, having experience working to a hitter that’s already seen you twice today, and the endurance to be able to effectively execute pitches 80 – 110 are much more important. Phil Hughes knows he can get big leaguers out. What he needs is to learn how to pitch on days when he doesn’t have his best stuff, against guys who already have a book on him, and in the 6th inning of a start when he’s tired and has already shown his FB and CB. None of that will happen if he’s throwing 2-3 inning stints every couple of days.

    • whozat

      One of the things that eventually came to frustrate me a lot about Lohud was that the comment threads became mere rehashes of the same few discussions, because as soon as we’d put an idea to bed, someone would show up that hadn’t participated in the discussion and ask the same question again.

      This is the second time that I, personally, have seen someone come into a thread in the last 24 hours and posit Hughes-to-the-pen as though it was an idea that no one had discussed yet. That’s fine, because there’s no reason to assume that everyone has read every thread, but I think there needs to be some way to help head this off — or TSJC will spend all his time reposting the same arguments that show putting Hughes in the pen to be a poor idea.

      • adeel

        yea I apologize for that… I hate when people rehash stuff too, but I rarely post, let alone follow every post. I had no idea this forum was that busy. I was actually expecting him to discuss it in the opening paragraph, and I was suprised he kept on going about trading for questionable pieces (that Gammons suggests nontheless) rather than Hughes. My mistake though.

        • whozat

          He didn’t talk about it because it’s not a good idea :-)

          My point is that we need to make it easy for people to discover that an idea has already been discussed in the comments. I wonder if wordpress has any comment-search functionality?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          I didn’t talk about it because (1) that wasn’t the point of the piece; (2) I’ve already takled about it; and (3) it remains a terrible short-sighted and 100 percent improbable idea.

          Here is the post from three weeks ago about the debate. I realize that the tendency throughout blogs is to just read what’s on top, but please check the categories, tags and our site search before proposing something we’ve probably already discussed.

    • MattG

      Although I missed the earlier conversations, I am not going to rehash anything (my stance: I want Hughes to spend a little time in the pen the end of this year, probably September, to see if he would have value on the post-season roster as a reliever), but I do want to debunk all the ‘reasons’ for not putting Hughes in the pen, and calling it short-sighted.

      In our father’s baseball, the pen was a training ground for the rotation. All the stuff written here about needing to use all his pitches, getting guys out three different ways, etc, is just as nonsensical as the comment about Joba’s success due to confidence when pitching in the pen.

      The generation right before this one didn’t care about any of that crapola, and hundreds of starting pitchers can up that way. There are even isolated incidents of it happening in this era, lest we all forget Johan Santana. Pitching is pitching. There is no rule that limits relievers to two pitches, and nothing that prevents them from honing their craft in 2-3 inning stints.

      Finally, Hughes does have stuff to work on in the minor leagues. I personally would tell him to start pounding the zone in the minors more. It is probable that he gets AAA hitters to expand the zone, where he is unsuccessful doing that in the AL East. I’d like to see him have success in the minor leagues by getting hitters out on strikes. That sort of success, and the confidence gained from it, is probably more transferable to the majors.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      I know this is kind of out there.. but what about Hughes?

      Okay, this has gotten to the point where we need a label for those who advocate this ridiculous philosophy.

      B-Jobbers is for those who think Joba should be in the pen. What’s a good label for those who think Phil should be in the pen?

      • MattG

        There is a difference between thinking a guy should be permanently placed into the pen, and thinking a guy who would be your sixth best starter should spend time in the pen to help the big club win.

  • Cozimoto

    I kinda like the Hughes to the pen idea, could be something.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      It would be something silly. Hughes needs to build innings and arm strength; he can’t do that on inconsistent use and rest in the Yankees’ pen.

    • jsbrendog

      oaktag.

    • A.D.

      The Artist is that you??

  • Bill from NJ

    6th (if needed): Aceves
    7th: Aceves & Coke
    8th: Bruney
    9th: Mo

    abeledajo, veras, and edwar cannot be trusted.

    • GG

      thats the blueprint alright, you also got marte somewhere in the mix at some point I hope…The pen will be fine, for all the coverage of the pen’s troubles in the media, a whole lot more should have been made of why they had been so abused, CMW of course. I’ll feel fine about the pen once I see a couple of strong outings from the Brunster

      • kunaldo

        you know what this should really say?

        Medium leverage: Aceves, coke
        Medium high leverage: Bruney(Marte?)
        High Leverage: Mo

        sigh…if only…

    • MattG

      Why is score no longer part of the equation? This is perhaps my biggest peeve in this game now–bullpen pitchers are selected by the inning, with complete disregard for the score!

      If you are up 6-5 in the sixth inning, you do not use your 9th-12th best pitcher to relieve. You go right to Bruney or Marte for as long as you can, and try to get it to Rivera (or score a bunch more runs).

      • kunaldo

        agreed totally dude, probably should have read your post before i replied to GG

  • steve (different one)

    Boston might be willing to move Manny Delcarmen, who might be able to close in the National League, but they’d trade him only for a significant bat.

    Gammons is f’ing hilarious.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      He might be able to go to Pittsburgh and close with Hansen as a committee. Or he could stay in Boston and close with Ramon Ramirez. Oh, those deep and gritty Boston Red Sox!!!

      • GG

        IETC

    • adeel

      Maybe if Boston lets their guard down, they may let Declarmen go for Matt holiday. Or maybe the Indians can give up Matt Laporta and Cliff Lee for Declarmen.

      – Peter Gammons.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Hey, the Cardinals need a closer. Maybe they can get Pujols for Delcarmen, move Youk to 3rd, and trade Lowell for Lincecum.

    • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

      All I want from the bullpen at this point is for Tomko to be the one sent packing when Bruney is back. I would also like to see less of Albaladejo if he can’t get back into the habit of throwing strikes.

      Not that we know if Bruney is going to kill right away in any case, let’s not forget he does have command issues that come and go.

      I do think Edwar and Veras have their uses but they need to find wherever THEIR command is hiding as well. Not an easy to task to do, and not much you can do about it except put them in non-crucial roles. The problem is that there haven’t been many of those with the bullpen Bruney-less.

      • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

        whoa not sure why that turned up as a reply there i left it as a new comment thread…i blame firefox.

  • Matt

    We should have picked up Juan Cruz. He was only available for like a million months this offseason.

    • adeel

      I kept on refreshing mlbtr like 20 times day during the offseason hopeing and praying for that =(…

    • whozat

      Weren’t we just complaining about the bullpen’s inability to throw strikes?

      And you’re craving a guy with a 13:10 K:BB ratio??

    • A.D.

      Juan Cruz is very similar to Jose Veras, having a better season this year, but has the making to blow up like Veras.

      • Bo

        Veras has nowhere near the long term track record of Cruz.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          Veras: 94 IP, 1.394 WHIP over 4 seasons
          Cruz: 533 IP, 1.366 WHIP over 9 seasons

          So yeah, Cruz has a longer track record than Veras. Unfortunately, he throws up the same numbers.

          • Matt

            Except this year his WHIP is 0.9 and his ERA+ is 318. Man, I would sure take that over Veras’ 1.5 WHIP right now.

  • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

    So, bear with me here, I’m going to break some new ground. What if the Yankees put Phil Hughes in the bullpen? I know, I know, a radical idea, but one that just might make sense. What do you think?

    • whozat

      bangwagon.

      • DreDog

        I can barely watch BBTN right now. Could you imagine how much more annoying Kruk and Phillips would be if that happens!

        • jsbrendog

          mlb tonight is much better. but even it has its moments

          • DreDog

            I don’t get it in HiDef in my area though. Sucks.

        • Chris V.

          I think Hughes will be in the bullpen somewhere around August. He will have 120 innings or so by then and hes one of the 12 best pitchers on the yankees. The Yankees goal is to win the World Series and they arent going to leave Hughes in the minors all year if they think he can help the big league team.

          • jsbrendog

            yes. yes they are.

            no, no he won’t be in the bullpen. i’ll bet a bajillion space bucks.

            • Chris V.

              You’re on! I’m already figuring out what to buy with my bajillion space bucks in august.

              • DreDog

                You do realize that space inflation has ruined the value of a space buck, right?

                • Chris V.

                  im confident that the galactic economy will rebound by august.

            • steve (different one)

              while i agree that they shouldn’t move Hughes to the pen NOW, i’m not sure that situation that Chris outlined would be awful. if Hughes had 120 innings by August, would it be so bad to let him get his final 20-30 innings out of the big league pen?

              this is a slightly different situation than the one people have been talking about.

              i’d be open minded about this.

              • Bo

                Hughes needs to build innings and learn how to be a starter. he needs to learn how to pitch out of trouble and deal with adversity.

                He doesnt belong in the pen. Maybe later in the year when he nears his innings limit.

                • andrew

                  I think that’s what Steve was saying. Once he’s approaching that innings limit, maybe they bring him up, similar to Joba. It will do little harm to his development because it won’t cause him to miss any starts, but it could be a much-needed improvement to the bullpen

            • MattG

              Can I get in on this action? I am low on Space Bucks.

              When the AAA season ends, at the latest, Phillip Hughes will be on the Yankee roster. Whether that is as a reliever or starter depends on the health of the current 4 and Wang.

              Anyone who wants him in the bullpen right now, or converted to the bullpen permanently, is over-reacting to the current situation (Hughes’ and the team’s). Anyone that doesn’t want him, if he is healthy and one of the Yankees’ 12 best pitchers, on the team in September, even in the bullpen, is stubborn.

              And I hope people stop using the phrase, “learn how to be a starter.” It’s another version of “learn how to win,” “professional hitter,” and “good chemistry.” Hughes does not need to learn how to be a starter, he needs to learn how to get major league hitters out, which he can do in any inning.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Eric

      Hold on a second. I like the way you think, but I have an even better idea…

      Sabathia to the pen. This way we can limit his innings, but more importantly, his eating. He can’t be stuffing his face (as much) if he’s in the ‘pen, not knowing when he will pitch next. As a starter, he knows he’ll only be pitching 1 day out of 5, so he’ll be chowing down on the other 4 days. A lean, mean, hungry CC Sabathia in the bullpen. How scary is that?

      • Brendo

        The insert pitcher for 8th inning jokes are starting to get a little old.

  • Simon B.

    I’m still not convinced the bullpen is a problem. I think the early struggles were mostly a matter of overwork and luck. There’s too much talent in that pen for it not to get going soon.

    Girardi was so good last year at making sure everybody got regular work without overwork. So far this year, he’s been the polar opposite. He needs to start using his brain again.

    • Bo

      Overwork? Bullpens are going to have to work a lot. That’s just the fact of life in 2009. You can’t just go to 2 guys every night.

    • http://theyankeeuniverse.com Moshe Mandel

      The team has 5 relievers that have been healthy/with the team all season. Those 5 are all between 15 and 18 innings on the season. I’d say he has done a nice job spreading the work load.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Regular work isn’t the problem. Effectiveness is.

      • ChrisS

        So you’re saying you’d like a more consistent bullpen.

        Good luck with that.

        • andrew

          I don’t think he said consistent. Effective. I rather have a group that’s effective 80-90% of the time and implodes once every eight-ten games than have a bullpen that is consistently below average.

          • ChrisS

            You and 30 general managers.

            Relievers are volatile. Aim to have a large group that throws strikes and work from there.

            There’s 7 guys in the Yankees bullpen, one of which is effective 95% of the time. The rest of the guys are largely interchangeable and hit or miss over the course of the season.

            • Brendo

              Shouldn’t be hard finding a few pitchers who throw strikes especially when you have 200 million to play with. Come on. If the Twins and padres can do it every year so can we.

  • Axl

    While I understand that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on other players…and our inexperienced bullpen full of nobodies did actually perform pretty well last year, common sense should have told everyone that just because the inexperienced bullpen full of nobodies performed well for a small sample size of 1 year…it definitely was going to need some help. Instead of getting help…Cruz was out there (albeit a Class A free agent)…we extended Marte for 3 years at like $5MM per…rewarding him for his inconsistencies last year. I don’t get it.

    Every year we search within and grab and rely on the Paul Quantrill’s and the Tanyon Sturtze’s and the Scott Proctor’s. Never really getting a grasp that we actually could use another reliable reliever. After-all, we’re spending all of this money…what’s another $10+ million? If you’re going to spend a lot you might as well get EVERYTHING you need. You shouldn’t have to gamble on anything when your payroll is already over $200MM. Or maybe gamble as often I should say. Whenever the bullpen is in the game…it seems like there’s almost a 50/50 chance that the game is going to be lost or the lead the other team has is going to be extended. That shouldn’t be the case after spending so much money.

    Our offense and our starting pitching are clicking (although it’s only been a few games and it’s already clicked…before subsiding into non-existence for 5 straight games there-after…but still. The offense is up to it’s usual “score a bunch of runs in one inning and then never again” in most games. Which hasn’t hurt us quite as much as it could. And Burnett’s record is 0-1 since his brilliant day against Tampa Bay.

    The keyword here is “consistency” and our teams lack of it. On all cylinders. The team as a whole is inconsistent. The starting pitching is, the offense is, the bullpen is the only thing that really isn’t. It’s consistently stinking. It will miraculously get by and get out of jams…but it certainly won’t look pretty.

    Management took a gamble against common sense…and common sense won like it always does. Should have addressed the bullpen. We didn’t. Now we have to deal with it however we can. I guess management, like everybody else, just loves and wants to be a part of the constant Yankee “soap opera” unnecessarily created from every angle year after year…

  • ChrisS

    The keyword here is “consistency” and our teams lack of it. On all cylinders. The team as a whole is inconsistent

    I’ve dreamt of a website that rises to glory with that word …

    From the Great Google

  • DreDog

    The problem is that there aren’t many reliable relievers out there to begin with. The ones that are don’t hit FA or the trade market often.

  • touchtoneterriost

    How is Brian Bruney gonna save us?When was the last time he pitched good in a two month period.He’s a journeyman.Marte is the key.Marte has been a set-up man and closer.

    Unless you put Joba in the pen Marte is the key.Not Melchon,Robertson,Bruney or Hughes.Hopefully Marte comes back.

    Besides Mariano none of these guys have played even a whole year without getting hurt orhaving a ERA of 5.00 and more.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      When was the last time he pitched good in a two month period.

      From his return from injury (Aug 2) to his last appearance of the season (Sept. 28) in ’08, Bruney put up the following line:

      23 GP, 23 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 10 BB, 21 SO, 0 HR, 1.96 ERA, .913 WHIP, 8.22 K/9, 2.1 K/BB.

      That’s a very, very good two month stretch.

      Then there was April to June of ’07 in which he posted the following line:

      37 GP, 33 IP, 24 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 24 BB, 26 SO, 1 HR 1.91 ERA, 1.455 WHIP (maybe he was a bit lucky), but he only allowed a .281 SLG against.

      Yeah, Bruney has shown he can pitch well for stretches of time.

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

    The bullpen ERA has gone from 6.46 in April to 3.88 in May. And we’re complaining? Has anyone, ANYONE, noticed that since the starters have been going deeper the bullpen has been better? Does this correlation not occur to anyone?

    No, Axl would rather rip management because he’s so much smarter than all of them.

    • ChrisS

      And the starters averaged an additional 1/3 of an inning in May (granted, the act of taking CMW out of the rotation probably did wonders for that average by itself).

      With the three horses, Sabathia/Burnett/Pettitte, and the potential return of another horse, the 7th man in the bullpen is pretty much superfluous. Veras and Marte can be shipped out for spare parts. Otherwise, what’s the point of stockpiling young arms while the young positional core is, shall we say, lacking?

    • Axl

      I am smarter than all of them. Have you seen these outing in which the bullpen ERA went “down” in?? This whole post talks about how ugly the bullpen looks compared to the mirage of ERA decline. I love how the bullpen was good last year for one year…does absolutely horrible starting this year…and then gets luckier perhaps (due to stellar defense) and we’re tossing aside how it all looks but commending the results. I’m all for appreciating the results…but if it’s been utterly ugly the majority of the year…and it STILL looks ugly with just a better result…common sense tells me that it’s more than likely going to stay ugly and AT BEST fluctuate between ugly terrible outings…and ugly but successful outings…with the heavier load going to the former.

      If I fail a bunch of exams bc I’m not studying…and then I luck out and pass 2 of them not studying…your outlook is “why would we change anything and start studying?? we just passed the last 2 exams!!” Doesn’t common sense tell you that it probably wont last or continue that way??

      Oh well…

    • BG90027

      This absolutely makes sense. Its also true if you take out the three games which Wang started, the team ERA goes from 5.30 to 4.54 and the team WHIP goes from 1.51 to 1.40. That improvement would be enough to move the team up from 12th in the league to about 6th in the league in both categories. That’s not just taking into account Wang’s numbers but also the bullpen’s performance in those games when they were asked to suck up all those innings.

      If you want blame Cashman for something related to the bullpen, blame him for not having a long man around at the beginning of the season. As long as everyone stays healthy I expect the team pitching to be among the top 3 in the league at the end of the year. Our starters are too good and the bullpen will pitch better with less work and more defined roles.

      Regarding Hughes, I think he goes down when Wang is ready and is back in August as a Starter with Joba shifting to the bullpen (for the remainder of the year only) once Joba nears his innings limitations. Next year though, Hughes could very well be in the bullpen because he’ll be out of options.

      • Axl

        I slightly agree with what you’re saying…all but how what I said made no sense. The bullpen looks bad even when the outcomes are satisfactory. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that. They are constantly giving up hits and walking everybody in sight regardless of the outcome. I don’t blame you for being excited about the outcome…but what we’re seeing out there isn’t much different now than it was when they were getting tanked…it’s just a different result…the hits and walks given up might be less…but not by much…

        • Axl

          Nevermind you said it makes sense? and probably didn’t have anything to do with my previous post…please disregard…

          • BG90027

            Sorry for the confusion. I was replying to Joseph’s comment that the bullpen has been better since the starters have been pitching deeper into games. I got sidetracked by work and by the time i hit the “add comment” button there were additional posts including yours.

  • Brendo

    All they need to do is get rid of the dead weight ie Veras, Edwar and replace them with pitchers who throw strikes and get outs. That’ll improve the bullpen.

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