With Bruney down, Yanks might seek bullpen help

Garcia strong in second start
AccuWeather: Expect more Yankee Stadium HRs

The news flashed at the bottom of my browser, courtesy of Bryan Hoch’s Twitter feed: “Bruney to see Dr. James Andrews Wednesday. When has that ever been good news?” Unless you’re John Smoltz, who apparently visits Dr. Andrews just because, it is most certainly bad news.

Bruney was again placed on the 15-day DL yesterday, just a week — and one appearance — after the Yankees activated him. The as-of-now unknown nature of the injury coupled with the Andrews visit does not bode well for the Yanks’ eighth-inning man. In fact, the team would do best to assume Bruney won’t pitch again this year and take it as a bonus if he does.

This is a shame, considering Bruney appeared poised for a steady spot in the eighth inning. With fellow setup man Damaso Marte also out, the Yanks have had to piece together relief outings for most of May. Thankfully the rotation has stepped up and has pitched deeper into games this month, thereby placing lesser burden on the pen. The starters can’t go seven or eight every time out, though, and when they exit, it might well be a close game. The Yanks are going to need a few arms who can put up a good share of scoreless innings and get the ball to Mo in the ninth.

Chances are they’ll evaluate or reevaluate in-house options before turning to other clubs for a potential deal. David Robertson is already on his way to Texas to take Bruney’s place, and he’ll get every shot to prove he can stay in the bigs. Mark Melancon is likely right behind him and will certainly get a look before the Yanks explore the market. Jon Albaladejo could get another shot, and then there are the guys already on the roster: Coke, Tomko, Veras, Aceves. The Yankees will take inventory of all these pitchers.

What they seek, though, is a reliable bridge to Mo. Among the aforementioned options, it’s unlikely they’ll see someone who can get it done consistently. Whether it’s due to wildness like Veras or inexperience like Melancon, the Yanks can’t bank on one or two of their current guys stepping into the primary setup role. Marte should be able to once he comes back, but even then the Yanks could use some help.

The only place to turn, then, is to the trade market (that is, unless you want to see what Mike Timlin can do, though I’m sure the Yanks front office does not). The Yanks probably won’t start seriously looking at the market for a few weeks, first because they want to evaluate the talent on hand, and second because few teams are willing to admit they’re out of it. This leads us to the biggest problem in finding a good reliever on the trade market.

The teams most willing to trade good players during the season are typically those who are out of contention. Those teams, unfortunately, tend to have a lot of crap in the bullpen. The Nationals, who have no chance of competing this year, basically fired their entire pen earlier this month. Even though they’d probably like to trade a vet or two for prospects, they don’t have a reliever the Yanks would covet. Even if they did, it’s improbable they’d part with such an arm. Ditto the Rockies. Unless they’re completely punting the season, they can’t afford to trade one of their only good bullpen arms.

Since it’s unlikely a contending team would dish a reliable bullpen arm, the Yanks have limited options. Here’s a short list of guys they could possibly target come late June or July. The price to acquire each, of course, remains up in the air. Suffice it to say that none will come cheap.

Chad Qualls. The D’Backs are 10.5 games behind the Dodgers right now and are playing like absolute crap. Felipe Lopez, Mark Reynolds, and Justin Upton are the only guys hitting anything right now. Their pitching isn’t much better, as the team blew a 7-0 lead yesterday to lose 9-7. Yet they have a few serviceable bullpen arms. Two of them they’d surely like to hang onto: 27-year-old Tony Pena and 25-year-old Juan Gutierrez. They’d probably trade Jon Rauch and his 6.27 ERA, but do the Yanks want him? He pitched well with Washington for the past few years, but has been terrible since the trade to Arizona. Maybe a change of scenery rejuvenates him.

Still, of that whole crop the Yankees would probably prefer Chad Qualls. He did blow the save yesterday, but before that he had a 3.32 ERA in 19 innings, striking out 22 to just four walks. He’s also a groundball guy, extremely so this year, though he’ll probably even out to his career average of 1.48. Not bad by any means, especially from a guy who strikes out nearly a batter an inning. Qualls won’t come cheap, not by any stretch. The Diamondbacks have plenty of needs, though, so perhaps the teams can match up yet.

Jose Valverde. The Astros are currently in last place, but as we learned last year owner Drayton McLane doesn’t like to give up on the season. Guys like Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence, and Roy Oswalt are positively untouchable, but if Houston continues its poor play they could certainly make some other players available. Valverde is a prime candidate because he’ll be a free agent after the season and will more than likely price himself beyond the Astros’ range. He’s made just eight appearances this year and is currently on the DL with a calf injury, which does set off a red flag. If he can come back and pitch like he did last year, or even in 2007, the Yanks might show some interest. First he has to come back and show he’s healthy, so the Yanks won’t even kick the tires until a much later date. The Astros will certainly listen, as they’d probably like to foist the remainder of his $8 million salary onto another team.

Russ Springer. He’s 40 and is sporting a 5.19 ERA. So why Springer? He’s been very good over the past three years. Yet at 40, he might be over the hill. His groundball percentage is down from the past few years, and his FIP is pretty much in line with his ERA. Perhaps he’d do better in the winning environment in New York. But something tells me the Yanks will go with what they’ve got rather than trade for Springer.

Huston Street. He went to Colorado in the Matt Holliday deal, and now he’s closing for a last place team. Not that he’s doing a bad job of it. He’s still just 25 years old, which is hard to believe considering he’s a college guy. The Rockies might have some longer term plans for Street, making it tougher to acquire him. Do the Yanks want to give up serious prospects for a guy like Street? Would he be worth a Zack McAllister? Probably not. It depends, I suppose, on how dire the bullpen situation becomes.

Looking at the lower-end teams, this is about it. What the Yanks seek is an upgrade over the guys they have, and a look through these limited bullpens provides few answers. Sure, they could look to a guy like John Grabow, but is he really a better option late in games than the guys the Yanks currently have on their roster? No. What they need is a clear upgrade, or else someone already on the team to step up. That won’t be an easy task, especially at this point in the season.

A final note: I beg of you, please, if this site means anything to you, please do not turn the comments section into a Joba to the bullpen argument. You might think that’s the best solution, and that’s fine, even though everyone knows that a starter is more valuable than a reliever. I implore you, though, to save it for another bullpen thread. We’ve had it a billion times before, and I just don’t want to wake up to the same old-same old in the comments. It’s old, it’s tired, Joba is doing quite well on his way to being a top-line starter, so please, let it be for now.

Garcia strong in second start
AccuWeather: Expect more Yankee Stadium HRs
  • Longo

    But who needs a 23 year old #1 starter when you could have an eighth-inning man?

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

      Just out of curiosity, what part of “don’t turn this into a debate about Joba” did you not understand? I realize you’re probably joking, but that doesn’t help the situation.

      • radnom

        I got a good chuckle out of this.

      • sic

        Jeez. Freakin comment nazis.

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

          It’s either comment Nazis or a MetsBlog style comments disaster. We pick the former.

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

            NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!

    • the hutt

      joba to the bullpen :)

    • Doug


      • Erick


  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    Two words: ex-Rockies closer Shawn Chacon.

    Boom. That just happened.

    • BigBlueAL

      Are Mark Wohlers and Jay Witasick available????

    • Jake

      Working for the Newark Bears I’m sure he’s available.

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

      Boom. That just happened.

      My mind is blown.

    • Chris

      three words …. jason isranghausen

  • Joey

    “that is, unless you want to see what Mike Timlin can do”

    I just threw up in my mouth a little when I read that

    • radnom

      Lets get him up here right before Giambi and the A’s come to town.

      There was one year where Giambi got off to a rough start where it seemed like he had only 3 or 4 hits one month into the season and they were all HRs off Timlin.

  • Kevin Greene

    I am afraid of Valvarde, he reminds me too much of benitiez…. and we all remember how that played out, i think street would be the best option, a guy who has set up and who has closed…..qualls would also be a nice option but i could only imagine what he would cost…

    What about hughes to the pen? i mean i know it is not horribly logical, but just for the rest of the season come in for 1 inning throw 95 with a nasty curve…. that is of course only if wang gets his act together…. but i dont think it is something that should be shot down right away….

    • handtius

      The Yankees should not, under any circumstance, put Hughes in the bullpen for the rest of the season as a 1 inning reliever or a long man. That will stunt his development and stop him from moving into the rotation next year. Horrible move and should be shot down immediately.

    • whozat

      A) The idea has been debated in other threads on this site already, and I don’t think anyone has anything more to say about it.

      B) Why would Hughes in the pen make any more sense than Joba in the pen?

      • handtius

        It doesn’t. It just doesn’t.

        Joba to the bullpen = B-Jobbers

        Hughes to the pen = ?


        • whozat


        • Mike P


    • Drew

      Ugh… Ask me in 3 months when he’s around his innings limit and Wang is Wang again. Phil needs innings! He’s 22! He need innings! Innings!

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

      What about hughes to the pen? i mean i know it is not horribly logical… but i dont think it is something that should be shot down right away….

      A) No.
      B) You’re right, it’s not horribly logical, it’s horribly illogical.
      C) It is something that should be shot down right away.


  • Chris

    I still have a little hope about Bruney. He has pain in his elbow, but there was obvious cause from the MRI. That would suggest that Tommy John surgery is not the most likely outcome. Beyond that, I don’t know that the possible outcomes would worry me that much.

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      They keep saying its not the ligament. That’s good, that means he’s not a TJ candidate. But there are other tendons involved in the elbow and one of them could require surgery, which would shelve him for months.

      • Bo

        We have to operate like Bruney is done. Elbow issues are never good and you cannot sit around and wait and hope.

      • Zack

        They said he’s going to a nerve specialist too. So surgery to release tension on the nerve is also possible. Gagne had that in the past, Pujols did it over the summer as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

    Acquiring Chad Qualls would not be good for my fantasy team.

    That’s right, Lanny. I went there.

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


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

        In teh fantasy, I just got Hanley and Harang for Kinsler and Oswalt.

    • A.D.


  • Tony

    What is the bullpen ERA for May? I would venture to guess “not bad.”

    • radnom

      Well, they have not been used much. Still, to be fair, a lot of those walk offs don’t happen without the pen keeping it close the last couple innings.

      Still, anytime your #1 and #2 guys behind your closer go down long term – it cause to at least test the waters for reinforcements.

  • Joey

    Kind of thought of it jokingly, thinking more about it now. Realistically, would Pedro Martinez accept a move to the bullpen at this stage (end) of his career, and would he do any good?

    • John Stossel

      That is where his career started.

      Martínez’s career started with Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992 as a relief pitcher. After a brief September assignment in 1992, he turned in a strong season as the Dodgers setup man in 1993, going 10–3 with a 2.61 ERA,119 strikeouts, in 107.1 IP in 65 games.
      From Wikipedia: http://tinyurl.com/r3y3jf

      Maybe he would be willing to do it, play up the whole “full circle” thing, and hopefully his asking price will come down by mid-June.

      • D Gold

        With those numbers, “strong season” is an understatement.

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

        BTW, I loved your piece on 20/20 the other day, John Stossel.

        Say hello to Stone Phillips for me.

        • John Stossel

          This just in: John Stossel only strokes his mustache.
          He will only say hello to the ladies that flock to John Stossel and his glorious mustache.

          I’ve been waiting to say that…

    • radnom

      Holy crap, I totally forgot Pedro even existed.

      Do not want him anywhere near this team though.

    • jonathan

      If you are thinking about pedro, why not throw Orlando Hernadez in the mix too. I just read on MLB trade rumors that he wants to come back and pitch. I think that his delivery and stuff would play up well for one or two innings. Plus the guy is just money in the playoffs

  • Scott

    Pedro. . . . . . . . hmmmmmmmmmmm. . . . .a little expensive, but he loves the big stage and would love to stick it to the red sox. I think he would fit great as a 8th inning guy.

    • whozat

      Based on what? His stuff is a mere shadow of what it used to be.

      • handtius

        Maybe as a one inning guy he could be good, but I agree, I wouldn’t take him on, unless it was for the league minimum.

      • Joey

        but his fastball would be even faster in the BP!!!!!! sorry Ben, I’ll go sit in the corner. But seriously, would it be enough to get by for 1 inning? I really haven’t seen him pitch at all since he went to Queens. Figure the BP would keep him healthy (hopefully) the rest of the season, he pitches somewhat effectively, we don’t have to give up any prospects/minor leaguers, just cash. If he’s serviceable (again, I don’t know) why not?

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

          I don’t know if Pedro can break 90 mph anymore. In one inning or in six.

          I’m doubtful. I think they’re both probably done.

          • jonathan

            I agree that velocity on the heater is important, but we have been getting shut down by guys that thow 88-89 all year. Andy hits 90 sometimes, I think that Pedro and el Duque could get by in the pen with their secondary stuff. Pedro has a nasty curve and change coming off of 88-90 mph heater, el duque is just all deception and breaking stuff. I think either in the pen would be an up grade over Veras or Albie who have mid 90s heat but no feel for it.

            • jonathan

              Plus Pedro would come cheap I would say 2 million if we sign him in June and he would be pitching with purpose trying to win a contract for next year. El Duque we could sign to a minor league contract and see what he has left. He can join Fossum and Towers in SWB, 3 has been starters and one never was (Igawa) AAA.

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

                Yeah, I get what you’re saying, and I preach around here as much as anyone that velocity does not equal greatness, but Pedro always relied on his velocity so much that I fear that his diminished velocity due to age and injury has left him with much less effectiveness.

                I could be wrong, but I doubt Pedro can really be a good pitcher anymore, not even for an inning. I’m not sure he’s a better one-inning pitcher than Veras, Edwar, or Albaladejo.

          • ledavidisrael

            Tampa Bay shows us you don’t need flame throwers in the pen.

            Not that I m on the pedro ban wagon, but his control and at least one existing out pitch should be the decideding factors in his success out there.

            • wildwoodbike

              Um, have you actually seen Tampa’s pen??? For chrissakes, they just blew an 10 run lead and have the second worst pen ERA in the bigs. Last year was smoke and mirrors, a little luck and career years by guys nobody wanted. Now they’re all pitching back to their career norms. Kinda shows why having that 95-100mph heater with movement is important at this level; kinda like the one thrown by he who shall not be discussed here…

              • nmc

                you mean Kyle Farnsworth?

  • Cor Shep

    I’d love Street in as our 8th inning man. But the question is, how much longer is he under contract. If it’s 2-3 more years I’d say yes trade Zach or Bleich, in addition to getting a low level position prospect or somethin. Reasonable??

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

      Street is shaky, even at his best. I don’t love the Street idea.

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

      Street can become a FA after next season.

      • Reggie C.

        Street hasn’t given up a single earned run in his last 10 appearances. I’d welcome the trade even at the cost of McAllister and a reliever (Robertson). This kid …25 (really??) … could get a taste of the Bronx and possibly postseason ball. If he excels, i dont see how the Yanks don’t make Street the biggest offer anyways to secure his services the next 4 years.

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

          Yup, I’m on board with acquiring Street.

          I wonder if we could get them to gamble on the upside of a Jairo Heredia instead of Zach McAllister as the centerpiece of the deal. Heredia and, say, Brandon Laird? Not enough?

          • MattG

            Don’t touch street. They install some sort of microchip into pitcher’s shoulders in Beane’s internment camp, and they only work for 5-6 seasons. Huston’s time (as well as Haren’s) is nearly up.

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

              Ooooookay… That’s a stab at humor, right? You don’t really believe that Street and Haren can’t possibly be good pitchers anymore, do you?

              Street averaged 67 innings a year in his four years in Oakland. I think the notion that he was overworked there is overblown.

              He’s only 25 years old, he has a career ERA of 2.91 and a career WHIP of 1.075. He’s a quality arm.

              • MattG

                No, I really think Oakland installs a microchip in their pitcher’s arms to improve their performance. I thought Billy wrote about it in his book.

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


                  You mean the book that he didn’t write, the one that somebody else named Michael Lewis wrote?

                • MattG

                  I don’t know about that. Is that the version with all the words, or the Marvel comic version I have? BTW, can you believe the size of Beane’s biceps?

    • Adam

      I agree, Street would be sick. he’s only 25 and he would be a great set up man. I would give up Z Mac for him reluctantly but I would try to finagle that trade a bit more before offering up a prospect as good as he is.

  • touchtoneterriost

    Just like last year people (especially the people who made those dumb “Save the Big Three” shirts) thought the Yankees putting Joba,Hughes and Kennedy in the rotation was a good idea but rather it ruined last season and everybody thought Bruney and Marte as set-Up man this year was a good idea.

    The Yankees never learn.They haven’t got anybody to replace Jorge,Jeter,Bernie and MO.Sad people think overrated NL relivers and past their prime starting pitchers can be set-up en.

    • Joey


      • handtius

        but come on..this one is sooooo easy. Just one, just one…Julio Lugo. BAM.

    • whozat

      Yeah! They should have foreseen that both guys would get injured and try to pitch through it, getting hurt even WORSE!

      They should have gotten a proven guy, like when the Sox got Okajima. Everyone knew HE’d be great. I mean, a 38 year old NPB veteran…OBVIOUSLY he was perfect!

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

      All of this is batshit insane.

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


  • John

    It’s obvious we need more reliable arms in the pen. If we can’t put Joba in there, and people seem to be balking at the idea of Hughes to the pen, Burnett has been spotty and Pettite is getting old….so what about sending C.C. to the pen for some relief? That way he can pitch EVERY day instead of just throwing a complete game every 5th day.

    • John

      thats not me but i thinks this was a bad joke

  • Mike

    I don’t ever want to see Veras again.

    • handtius

      He hasn’t given up a run or an inherited run in his last 7 appearances. maybe he’s turning it around.

      • radnom

        4.1 innings

        • handtius

          I just checked…oh, sorry, 7 games.

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

      I don’t ever want to see Veras again.


      (Click on it. No, seriously, click on it. Trust me.)

  • steve

    a cheap option could be mike macdougal who has an optout with the nats.

    • steve

      also, the mets need a first baseman. maybe something with them that gives up miranda?

      • Mike

        Mets pen stinks! Just ask Santana.

        • Bo

          Who would the Mets give up for Miranda? Do we really need to be subjected to Green or Stokes?

  • Drew

    Bro’s and Chica’s, I’m all for Street. Yeah, a guy like Z-Mac has upside, but how often does that upside realize itself? Our rotation is essentially set for the next half decade (if all goes well, which I admit is unlikely). Bringing in a guy like Street not only provides us with options for the closer role in 10 years when Mariano can no longer throw (humor me), but Street can solve a problem we’ll have for the next few years. Plus, as you metioned he’s still young.

    • handtius

      I still wouldn’t give up Z-mac..depth at starter is important. I think we could put together a package that could work though, possibly, if we needed to.

      • Drew

        I hear ya. I’m a big fan of Street though. I’d be willing to deal an unproven prospect for a solid bullpen arm. Can’t blame you though.

    • Reggie C.

      If McAlister is the biggest name the Rockies will settle for in trading Street, then Cashman must do it.

  • RalphieD

    i like street..he has my birthday (not year tho) Aug 2nd

  • Peter Lacock

    I’m in favor of trading for no one. Personally, I was never high on Bruney (or Edwar) so to me it’s just a minor bump in a typical season. There are too many good arms and someone (like Ace has already) will step up as guys round into midseason form. Robertson should be better now that it’s ‘been there, done that’ and he knows what he’s doing.
    I am however hip to a trade in a month or so assuming everyone (except apparently Bruney) is healthy by then. I see 5 C’s with similar skills that are capable of backing Jorge and handling SWB. Of the 5, Molina is soon a FA and has the most value. I would be OK with offering him (and Miranda) for a piece or more youth and have Cash or Cervelli help Jorge, but not so OK with offering McAlister or those like him.

    • MattG

      I am in favor of trading Jose Molina…Cervelli has proven his worth (unless Cervelli should still be playing full-time?)…but not for 30-something relief pitchers.

      For months, we have been suggesting the Yankees trade a reliever. Now we are suggesting they acquire one. Weird.

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

        For months, we thought our best two non-Mo relievers, Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte, would be pitching pain-free in the 7th and 8th innings all season long. That is now in serious doubt.

        The bullpen plan has changed.

        • MattG

          I did not see Bruney as anything more than a slight leader in the 8th inning “bridge-to-Mo!” challenge. As he is the only reliever to have distinguished himself, I agree, circumstances have changed.

          But is that reality, or perception? On April 1, the gap between Bruney and Other Relievers was small. On May 1, it was huge. One month is a very small sample size for anyone, but square that for relievers.

          On April 1, the thought of losing any right-handed reliever was mitigated by having so many others of similar quality. What really changed since then to make this an issue? Are we suddenly certain that Bruney was the only one of the horde capable of getting consistent outs, or that Bruney himself was even capable of continuing his success?

          I think this is perception more than anything. One of the others will string together a bunch of scoreless outings.

  • nilnil

    I dont like any trade just to get another Marte and give up some arms in the farm! We can give Pedro a try as a long man, like the Dodger useing Weaver as a reliever. In addtion, Coke, Melancon and Aceves are fine for the 8th. Kontos can also be converted to setup man.

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

      Kontos can also be converted to setup man.

      I would be interested in seeing both Kontos and Zack Kroenke up here in the bullpen; they’re both doing well in Scranton and they’re 24 and 25 respectively, they’re old enough to be given a shot.

      Also, WLDR, Garcia, and Dunn should get an audition in September. (Won’t help for the 2009 playoffs, but they may be part of the long-term solution.)

  • big boy

    mo, street, marte, coke, melancon, robertson, aceves

  • BronxBomber44

    If Nady returns healthy… he’s a Boras client, entering FA this year… could we deal him?

    • Bo

      I guess you missed the memo about him having an elbow problem and not being able to throw.

  • desus

    Joba but with a twist
    We do it Bobby Valentine style, make him wear dark sunglasses and a fake mustache.

    Then can put one of those tilde’s over one of the vowels in his name, and say he’s one of their Dominican prospects.

    Joba remains a starter, while JÓBA is a 8th inning beast.

    This post sponsored by oaktag.

  • JP

    Meh….they don’t need anyone. Use the minor leaguers.

    The set up man is an over-rated thing. Don’t care what these MLB managers think and do, they are stupid and they are mis-using bullpen pitchers.

    The term “closer” shouldn’t even exist. Your relief ace should be used when there are men on base and the game is on the line in the 7th inning or later, perhaps in the 6th occasionally. The ace should pitch 1-2 innings in these scenarios.

    The rest of the bullpen fills in the blanks.

    Explain to me why Madson is the “set up” man and Lidge a “closer,” right now anyway?

    Relief pitchers are overrated. If you have good starting pitching, and the relief guys stay rested, and are not seen by the opposing teams too often, their effectiveness goes way up. You see it on almost every championship team. Championship teams have good starting pitching, always, and this makes the bullpen more effective.

    • Tony

      sounds good on paper – but men work to their full capacity when they know their roles & can prepare accordingly

      Ideally I would like a closer & a fireman

      that way you cover all the bases & still have defined roles that these guys can fall into

      • JP

        Tony, my point is that it worked on the field for years. It’s not just an “on paper” thing. Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, even Eckersly, all the old relief aces came in the game when it was on the line and pitched 1,2, occasionally 3 innings.

        What has happened is that Sparky Anderson and then Tony LaRussa started “systematizing” the righty-lefty thing, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s absurd.

        How often do they bring in lefties to face Hideki Matsui, and at least during a few seasons, he’s had a better batting average against lefties than righties. The Phillies “lefty specialist” this season apparently is performing better against right handed hitters than lefties, according to the YES guys.

        I’ve always wondered why you’d take up a roster spot with a “lefty specialist” pitcher, when you could just as easily keep an extra offensive player on your bench, to exploit the lefty-righty matchup from the opposite side of the ball?

        Today’s teams hold so many pitchers that they have tiny benches, so they can’t pinch hit as often.

        No, I don’t agree with the defined roles thing. If some pitchers perform better in a defined role, it’s only because it’s what they’re used to. If they didn’t spend their entire careers thinking they had a defined role, they wouldn’t know any better, and would do just fine.

        • thurdonpaul

          you have some very valid points there

  • Jake H

    I don’t want any of those guys really. Street scares me, he was way overworked in Oakland.

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

    I hate myself for throwing this idea out there, but depending on how things shake-out in the ‘pen for the next month, how the ‘pen looks for the rest of ’09, and how the draft unfolds… I would think Drew Storen might enter this conversation at some point.

  • john e.v.

    This is the oddest comment board sometimes. I can’t believe nobody has bothered to point out that the entire premise of the post is faulty. The Yankees don’t need a trade, they don’t need any of the washouts and has-beens listed. Aceves, alone, is a quality pitcher who can serve as the ‘all-important’ almighty bridge to Mo.

    This is an issue that’s been blown way out of proportion. The Yanks don’t need one guy who can pitch the eighth to get to Rivera. Look at this team. It’s not a formula team like the old days. They win in a variety of ways. The Yanks need a group of solid, reliable bullpen pitchers, period. If four different guys can pitch a good inning, there’s no problem here. Aceves needs more work; he’ll be fine. Robertson is a good pitcher. Whether or not he adjusts to the bigs is the only question for now. Tomko’s best years may be behind him, but he’s smart and can carve out a place for himself if he tries. Melancon is killer. He might not be the next Mo only because there IS no next Mo. Anywhere. But given a little time to develop and adjust, Melancon has the potential for greatness.

    The shake-out will be frustrating at times, but the Yanks have the pitching they need. It’s still a little streaky, but it’s settling into place. By August, Yankee haters like Gammons and McCarver will be talking about how good our bullpen is because it will be so self-evident that even they can’t avoid mentioning it.

    Of course, they will continue to knock the stadium. And the payroll. Always gotta dismiss the Yanks somehow.

    • Pasqua

      I don’t think this post assumes that Aceves WON’T be valuable, only that they will need more in that bullpen. Even if you believe that Aceves will become a consistenly reliable reliever (which might be a stretch as he doesn’t have “lockdown” stuff), an Aceves / Rivera tandom won’t necessarily be enough to keep the team afloat.

      Of course, I don’t see anything out there on the market that will meet our needs and keep the trade cost low, so…

      • Pasqua

        By the way, I agree with you in principle. There might be a better chance that we get lucky with some of the homegrown guys than find success via a trade for a veteran.

    • Chris V.

      Yeh I pretty much agree with everything you said John. The Yankees should NEVER trade for a bullpen arm with all the assorted arms they have in the minors right now. Mix and match, its the bullpen, this is where Cashman and Girardi earn their money.

    • JP

      Well said. I agree.

      • Bo

        What’s faulty about having another reliable arm in the pen?

    • nmc

      Also, the bullpen was really exposed because of terribad starts by Wang and Hughes, and a lot of those guys pitched way more than they had to right away. A bullpen pitcher is not a good pitcher. (other than Mo), else he would be a starter. And since they pitch so few innings, the more they fall victim to small sample sizes. As the rotation goes longer and longer (Hughes goes more innings, no Wang, CC, Andy, and Burnett going deep), the less frequently the bullpen will be used.

      I mean, were they not pretty good in this homestand, what with the many one-run and extra-inning victories?

      Even if we get this one “eighth-inning” guy, who pitches in the seventh? Who pitches in the fourth when Andy gets knocked out in a game we absolutely have to win? One guy will not solve this bullpen.

  • Manimal

    I still believe in Melancon and Robertson so I am good for now. If and when they show the inability to pitch well at a major league level then I will be concerned.

    • Bo

      What has Robertson shown yet? He’s basically batting practice up here. His curve doesn’t fool many hitters on this level.

      • AndrewYF

        He has an 11.1 K/9 for his career.

        Unless you think he’s striking guys out on his blazing 90mph heat?

  • currambayankees

    Why do the Yankees need to aquire anyone? As I recall, Mo had no experience when he became the bridge to Wetland back in 96 but given the chance, a true chance at that, he performed and has been performing ever since. I’d like to see Melancon get another shot. Vera’s wildness is getting on my last nerve. The guy has great stuff but just cannot seem to through strikes on a regular basis.

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


    • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H

      If you’re counting on someone in our system to become the best relief pitcher in the history of mankind, then you might be waiting a long time, if not forever, for that to happen.

      • thurdonpaul

        doesnt Mo have a son ? :)

  • Anthony

    I just don’t get how you can write an article like after Hughes pitches the best game of his career and tell everyone to pretend that Joba to the pen isn’t the best idea out there? If Wang returns to form in the coming weeks and we believe Hughes can be a sub-4.00 ERA 5th starter, it’s Joba. Qualls? Street? For what? More young pieces? It doesn’t make sense. If not Joba, like a lot of you mentioned, let the young guys throw. Melancon has 1 or 2 shakey outings and it’s back to triple-A? Give the guy a chance. And yeah, Aceves is money, but I like him more in the long reliever role. He doesn’t throw hard enough to be an 8th inning guy.

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


      • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

        That is uncalled for. It’s unfair to bats.

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

          Technically, wouldn’t it be unfair to batshit?

          I never besmirched the intellectual capabilities of the noble bat. Just the lack of capability of it’s droppings.

          • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

            Although, the droppings are produced by the bat, and you are associating “but it’s the 8th inning!!!!!” lunacy to said droppings, which come from the bat, thus besmirching the bat.

            And tsjc, if you walk away knowing nothing else about me, know that I will not stand idly by while others besmirch the reputation of bats, both of the mammal and wood variety. You can talk smack about the aluminum ones all you want.

    • Tom Zig

      Mike Francessa’s pseudonym is “Anthony”

      • ckach

        Speaking of Francessa, I’m relatively sure that, on the show today, he advocated moving Joba to the pen and trading Austin Jackson for another starter.

        Did anyone else hear this who could either verify it or correct me if I’m wrong?

    • JP

      (Buries face in hands…)

      Pitching axiom: Starters are the most important thing. Without starters, you have nothing. The more good starters you have, the better your relievers will be. Most wins don’t require a closer. The best “stat-head” analyses of pitching shows that you are better off with your ace throwing 180-215 innings as a starter than 75 in relief, even as a “closer.” Mariano Rivera has been on the Yankees the last 8 years and hasn’t been able to drag them to a WS victory, so I doubt Joba will be the answer we’ve all been waiting for, either.

      Joba Chamberlain-becomes-Roy Halladay >>>>>>>>> Joba Chamberlain-becomes-Mariano Rivera.

  • MattG

    Do NOT trade for relief pitchers. This should be tattooed inside every GM’s eyelids. I am sure there are examples where this has worked, but I can think of none. Instead, I can think of many high-profile failures (well, I can’t think of those either, because my memory sucks).

    RP is too volatile. The pitching the Yankees have in house is just as likely to do the job. In March, I was certain that I would prefer to have Melancon in that spot, over Bruney, by the end of the year anyway. Give it time–while I think none of these guys has 60 innings of dominance in them, I think every one is capable of 10 straight scoreless appearances. This combination of pitchers will do a passable job.

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

      I am sure there are examples where this has worked, but I can think of none.


      • MattG

        Sorry, I should’ve specified, in-season. For whatever reason, you setup your bullpen in Nov and Dec, and for good or bad, you play it that way.

        I can only think of Gagne outside of the Yankees, and Marte & Witasick for the Yankees. I know there are others.

        Thinking out loud now–maybe relievers are at their root failed pitchers, that can only succeed in a stable environment. This would be ironic, yet giving a reliever a spring training, a defined role, and a consistent amount of work in one place might be the way to get a sub-par pitcher to pitch at major league quality. For a while.

        This would go a long way to explaining the volatility of relievers.

        Nah, it’s just sample size, but regardless, don’t trade for relievers. Ever. Pitch what you’ve got, because it is practically 100% as likely to assure you of a positive outcome.

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

          I’d say 90% of the time you shouldn’t trade for relievers. Not 100%, just 90%.

          I agree with you. But, if I can get 25 year old Huston Street without giving up a good prospect, just a handful of solid ones, it’s probably worth it. Street’s youth combined with his impending free agency and his superfluousness in Colorado may mean they won’t demand a true stud for him in return.

          • MattG

            On July 31, you maybe right. It being May means you’d have to offer a stud to get him now. Even in July, if Street is a likely type A, he isn’t coming for nothing.

            • Bo

              Yea, GM’s don’t trade to improve the pen. Keep going down in flames with unreliable arms. Are you serious?

  • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H

    I think they first have to kick the tires on Huston Street and see what it would take to get him from the Rockies.

    If not, any of the other guys mentioned are basically on the same level.

    • MattG

      Qualls (large gap)
      Street (small gap)
      Valverde & Springer

      I realize Qualls is older, but I don’t think that is a consideration. He comes with less risk than the rest.

      Yankees can’t get him though, because they do not have any capital Qs for their uniforms. :)

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

    But, yeah, overall, I’m in favor of not making any trades. I’d rather not give up something for a half a season of some reliever. Robertson and Melancon deserve extended looks in the big club’s pen and hopefully now they’ll get it.

  • JohnC

    Lets get Romulo Sanchez up here and see what he’s got.

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

      Romulo and Humberto, the Fat Sanchezes, FTW!

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  • http://www.twitter.com/MatthewHarris84 Matt H

    Pen arms in baseball these days are such a role of the dice, that you just got to find someone within, or give up basically nothing for and hope he can perform.

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

      That’s why Rauch intrigues me a bit. He’s had success, and he’s completely underperforming right now. He’d come cheap. Perhaps he’s a better as a buy-low guy.

  • Joe

    Scott Patterson. He has dominated AA and AA for three years now, the Padres picked him up last year, but the Yankees could surely use him again. They could get him for nothing, too. And as one poster correctly notes, it should be a rule that a good GM NEVER makes trades for bullpen help unless it’s a top O’ the line closer.

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

      And as one poster correctly notes, it should be a rule that a good GM NEVER makes trades for bullpen help unless it’s a top O’ the line closer.

      I don’t think that’s the rule.

      I think the rule is, you don’t give up quality prospects for bullpen help. You can and should make oodles of trades for bullpen guys, as long as you’re not giving up things that are useful.

      Trading Tyler Clippard for Jon Albaladejo is a good trade for bullpen help. Trading Eric Hacker for Romulo Sanchez is a good trade for bullpen help. Buying cheap, fungible arms is a great bullpen strategy.

  • mikef

    1. I like the Duqe comment, as he will not crack under pressure, which is 1/2 the issue with Robertson/Melancon thus far, and he can throw strikes- which is the issue with Edwar/Veras/Marte etc. Sounds good and free, although he could never hold runners on base.

    2. Just as important as the pen is the bench/healthy starters, as matsui looks cooked and swisher is right behind him. Hopefully Nady will be a help, but I hope Cash will find another outfield bat to give Damon/Matsui some time off in the warm months or in case of injury. I don’t think Melky can keep this up (of course) and the risk of a really sub-standard outfield and a DH on death’s door is possible if Damon misses a few games over the rest of the season. With nady’s arm in doubt, I think the Yanks will be better served over the long-haul with another bat than with making a deal for the pen.

    • MattG

      1. but Gagne, of the 1,000 save streak, crumbled in Boston. Now we know he can’t handle pressure, but before that, there were no signs (unless you count the All-star game).

      But maybe his pharmacy didn’t have the right MA address?

      • John Stossel

        I don’t really agree with a lot of what mikef said, but I completely disagree with your analysis of Gagne.

        While in Cali he was “Game Over Gagne”, every time he tried to pitch the eighth inning or pitch in a non-save situation, there was disaster.

        the problem the Red Sox encountered was taking him out of the closer role, which he mentally couldn’t handle for some reason (a ridiculous reason, I’m sure).

  • Brian Boehringer>>>>Everyone Else

    Two Words:
    Brian Boehringer

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    There’s always this crazy idea called “Phil Coke and Al Aceves.” Would cost us a lot less prospects, and would produce the same results as any of the retreads and never-beens described above.

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

      Knock the list if you want, but there’s really nothing bad you can say about Chad Qualls. Dude’s been good his entire career. If you can knock him for anything it’s the price it would take to acquire him.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        How many middle relievers, in the past, have switched teams mid-season, who you could say this about, and have wound up doing nothing? You don’t put any stock in a middle reliever’s stats somewhere else.

        I wouldn’t trade anything more than a B-level prospect for a guy like Chad Qualls. Sorry. Not trying to disrespect at all.

  • Brian Boehringer>>>>Everyone Else

    Or if you don’t like Brian as an option you could always go with this guy:

  • Bo

    I don’t know how anyone can advocate not going out and getting another reliable arm. Another good arm out there won’t help?? There is no chance that Cashman doesn’t go out and get another arm for the pen. None.

    • JP

      Because it’s nearly impossible to assess what a “reliable arm” is for a relief pitcher. Relief pitchers, in general, are guys who aren’t good enough to be starting pitchers. Because they come in after the opposing team has been facing another pitcher for the last 2 hours, they have more success, statistically speaking, than starters. They can throw harder and go balls out all the time, because they are in there for 1 inning max, usually. Effective middle relief pitchers come and go with the wind. Get a good, effective starting pitching staff – heck, even a well-manged, average one where you get plenty of innings out of your starters – and the middle relief will take care of itself.

      I’m not saying you completely avoid the trade market or free agents for middle relievers, but to give up prospects for some erstwhile middle relief “ace” like Chad Qualls is a poor bet, in my book. You’re likely to do just as well with existing minor league talent, at least considering the fact that the Yankees seem to have pretty good minor league pitching right now.

  • daneptizl

    Joba to…. the HOF!

  • donttradecano

    Lost all this craziness, is the real answer for the Yanks… take a guess

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

      Nick Swisher as the 8th inning guy.

      • donttradecano

        Close. The other Superhuman, child saving pitcher in the organization.

  • nick blasioli

    houston street is my best choice for our bullpen,…it seems like the gm makes all the right moves except the final one to put us over the finish line….

  • ChrisS

    Thankfully the rotation has stepped up and has pitched deeper into games this month, thereby placing lesser burden on the pen.

    That the starters are pitching a 1/3 of an inning more, on average, doesn’t have a demonstrable effect and the implication is probably false.

    Yankee Bullpen
    Mar/Apr – 68 Appearances, 71 IP, 71/32 K/BB, 6.46 ERA, 1.507 WHIP, .308 BABiP
    May – 65 Appearances, 72.2 IP, 54/37 K/BB, 3.84 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, .248 BABiP

    The pen is pitching just as many innings. My guess, the bullpen had a normal March/April and a luckier May. They had an average, but somewhat unlucky March/April (in large part thanks to two awful appearances by guys not with the team. On 18 April, Claggett managed to give up 8 earned runs in just 1.2 IP, and Damaso Marte’s 6 ER in one inning on 16 April.

    Take just those awful two relief outings out of the March/April numbers and you get 5.45 ERA in 69 1/3 IP. Not awful, but still higher than league average.

    I still don’t think they need to trade for relief arms. Adding Russ Springer is borderline useless. Huston Street in a steal? Sure, but giving up a starting pitcher for a reliever is dicey. Joba is starting because a starter is more valuable than a reliever. But they may as well stick Kontos or Melancon in there. The bullpen is the weakest link of this team (outside of health) but it’s really not that critical. I’d rather see the bullpen pitch to a 5.40 era than Kevin Cash getting Posada’s ABs or Cody Ransom taking swings out of 3B for more than a couple of games a month.

    Save the trades for a positional guy, preferably a young OFer with .850 OPS potential or an IFer that can hit.

    • donttradecano

      You mean normal May right?

    • mikef

      agreed – while I hate seeing the Yanks blow a lead or let a game fall out of reach, I am more frustrated when the lower 1/2 of the lineup looks like a Spring Training split-squad game and opportunities to take advantage of other teams weaknesses ( i.e. poor pitching) are missed beacuse of a short bench.

      BTW any reason the Mets haven’t made a move for Shelley Duncan and give him 60 AB’s?? He is totally wasting away at SWB for the Yanks, and I’m sure he could be had for a song. They might catch lightening in a botle for a month or so…..

    • Axl

      My guess, the bullpen had a normal March/April and a luckier May.

      I absolutely agree. I’ve been saying that all along. The bullpen still looks pretty just as awful although they’re just getting positive results. To gamble that something like “luck” will just continue is as stupid as thinking the bullpen has gotten “better” in the first place. Better results maybe…that’s about it. The walks are still outrageous for everybody…starters included. We’re clobbering the ball lately and have 17 come from behind wins which perhaps helps relieve some pressure and build confidence or perhaps it’s that old cliche where positive energy breeds more positive energy and positive results. Who knows. It would certainly make sense for this team who (every year) seem to slump together holding hands and hit the crap out of the ball together.

      Rivera isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore…so having a bunch of inexperienced nobodies bridging themselves to him isn’t exactly good for anybody. We lucked out last year getting decent numbers out of these jamokes and we use that small sample size to base everything on. The guys are still inexperienced nobodies. Hitters have made adjustments and these bad bullpen arms are paying the price now because they, themselves, don’t know how to adjust.

      Get an arm. But there’s nothing good available…and if history is any indication…regardless of who we get…they’ll stink too.

  • Jeff

    I’m personally more in favor of giving guys within the organization a shot. Aceves and Coke should be the primary setup guys. Robertson was pretty successful last year, so I’d give him a shot. I’d like to see Melancon come up and pitch too. I’m fed up with Vera’s coming in and walking the first batter he faces almost each time. He really needs to turn it around, its too bad he doesn’t have any options to go back down. I’m really not that high on Tomko, Wang can act as a long man for now so they should send Tomko down.

    What about Zach Kroenke? He’s in AAA pitching a 1.27 ERA and a WHIP of 1.17. Then at AA there’s Josh Schmidt with a 1.69 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and more than a SO/IP. I agree Kontos could be a good option as well.

  • Axl

    It’s funny how we’ve been searching for solid bullpen arms for years now and we trade away that Ramirez guy on the Red Sox who obviously is lights out for them. Seems about right…

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

      If the Yanks don’t trade Ramirez for Shawn Chacon, they don’t make the playoffs in 2005.

      • Axl

        Agreed. But if the Yankees trade somebody else instead…we do increasingly better this year and perhaps last as well.

        • Tampa Yankee

          And if the Yanks don’t trade Lowell in 1999 then the we beat the Marlins in 2003 and the Red Sox don’t win in 2007 because the Marlins can’t trade Lowell to the Sox w/ Beckett!!1!111!

          What if’s like this don’t make sense. Who is to say that Ramirez pitches like this for the Yanks?

          • Tampa Yankee

            Also who is to say the Rockies even trade us Chacon without Ramirez in the trade?

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

          Ramon Ramirez is currently “holding” opposing hitters to a ridiculously low .155 BABIP. His ERA is 0.74, but his FIP is 3.54. There’s little reason to believe he’s really THIS good.

      • ChrisS

        I’d say they made the playoffs in spite of having Chacon and Small starting 29 games. I’d credit Cashman with playing for a pair of tens and turning over a full-house. And then turning a 2-7 off-suit into a pot-winner. Small and Chacon were shots in the dark. With that starting staff they had no business making the play-offs, though scoring nearly 900 runs certainly helped.

        Maybe the more important take home lesson from 2005 is to not rely on two 40 year old starters, Carl Pavano, and a 36-year old starter to eat innings (you’ll probably hit with one, maybe two, but not all of ’em). That way, the team doesn’t have to trade young talent for marginal pitchers and get lucky. Then again, it’s not like Ramirez was much more than a 23-year old AA reliever with a 145:40 K:BB ratio in 132 IP. Well, his ERA was bad.

        It’s hard to look at the trade at the time and say it shouldn’t have been done, but they shouldn’t have been in the position where they desparately needed a starting pitcher because their old and historically fragile starting rotation turned out to be fragile.

  • Jorge (México)

    The solution is to activate Goose Gossage

  • JoeSit.(ragman)

    This blog very heavy on prospects i know, however what is the reality of all those young arms, or a high % of them that make it?

    Get me Street % Sherrill from Baltimore and yes I know the birds dont deal with Yanks.

  • http://www.keeperleaguegm.com KeeperLeagueGM

    There are very few good options (on the farm or via trade)…a few more that may make sense.

    Arthur Rhodes: Yeah…he is like 72 year’s old, but pitching lights out for the Reds and could be on the block.

    David Weathers: Could be a nice reunion in Pinstripes…same deal with the Reds. Lots of BB’s though.

    Kiko Calero: The Marlins can slot anyone into their bullpen. He’s pitched well so far…and with all of these relievers it is a “flip of a coin” anyway.

    • Joey

      Arthur Rhodes = LaTroy Hawkins v2.0

      I’ll pass

  • http://itsaboutthemoney.blogspot.com Jason @ IIATMS

    Keith Foulke’s a local guy these days.

  • http://yankeesmagazine.wordpress.com mike

    The Yankees have some internal options. First I like Aceves for now he is pitching will and sports that 1.84 ERA.
    With Bruney going down and seeing Dr Andrews (which is the kiss of death and will almost certainly put him on the 60 day dl) Assuming that he ends up on the 60 day this will free up a spot that they can try out some of their more dfa’able guys down on the farm. Ex. Fossum,Towers,Johnson. IF they suck put um on waivers they would probably clear and end up back in Scranton anyhow. Igawa has been good and has pitched from the bull pen before. Claggett sucks but has good stuff. Melecon can be brought back up and maybe Abaladjo (however its spelled) can pull his act together.

  • Herm

    I would like to see Huston Street as our setup man he was very good in Oakland.

  • Brendo

    The last thing this club needs is more set up man tryouts from these minor league average pitchers. Just go out and get sa quality arm like Street.

  • Ryan

    I would love to see Huston Street in pinstripes- but I shudder to think of what we’d have to give up to get him…

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