Aceves’s ailing back opens the door for Logan

Bronx Banter Breakdown on the Yanks' pitching
Could the Yankees call on Montero in 2010?
Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP

Just as the Yankees added a member to their bullpen, they might have lost one. Yesterday we learned that Al Aceves will miss his appearance today as he suffers from lower back issues. He missed nine days last August with soreness in the same area and struggled as he tried to pitch through it. In the three appearances between his missed time he threw six innings and allowed nine runs on 11 hits and two home runs. There’s a chance that he could recover by Opening Day, but chances are the Yankees want to make sure he’s 100 percent before he returns.

This isn’t all bad news. If Aceves does open the season on the DL the Yankees can backdate the move either nine days or the date of Aceves’s last appearance, whichever is shorter. Since Ace has not appeared in a game since Friday the Yankees can basically get a running start on his DL time. He would be eligible to come off the DL on Friday, April 9, meaning he’d miss just three games. The Yankees could certainly use this rule to their advantage, allowing Aceves time to rest and build back up before returning to the team in Tampa, or perhaps on the 13th at home at the latest.

All spring long Joe Girardi has expressed a desire to carry two lefties in the bullpen. Given the team’s construction, however, that didn’t seem realistic. Seven pitchers lay claim to the seven bullpen spots, only three of whom have options. With David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Aceves ready for significant roles, there is no way the Yankees would option any of them. It seemed for a while that Girardi would have to settle for a bunch of righties who fare well against both same and opposite handed batters. The Aceves injury, however, now appears to open a spot for either Boone Logan or Royce Ring, both of whom have fared well this spring.

Logan has the leg up here because he is on the 40-man roster. Drafted in the 20th round of the 2002 draft, Logan began his minor league journey as a starter, but after abysmal performances in rookie ball during his first two seasons the Sox moved him to the bullpen permanently in 2005. He hasn’t started a game, majors or minors, since. He adjusted well — extremely well, even, considering the White Sox basically moved him from rookie ball straight to AAA (with a 5.1 inning layover in A+). After a cup of coffee in 2006, Logan found himself in the majors to stay in 2007.

His first tour of the majors didn’t go too well. He pitched 50.2 innings for the White Sox in 2007 and got hit around. His 4.97 ERA nearly matched his 4.84 FIP. His strikeout rate of 6.22 per nine fell far below the levels he attained in the minors, and his 3.55 BB/9 and 1.24 HR/9 rates also contributed to his poor performance. He came back in 2008, though, with 8.93 K/9 and 2.98 BB/9. His home run rate went even higher, sapping his performance. The .393 BABIP didn’t help either. After the season the White Sox traded him to the Braves in the Javy Vazquez trade. Apparently the duo is a package deal.

Atlanta took advantage of Logan’s options, sending him down to start the season and recalling him toward the end of June. You might remember his season debut on June 25, when he loaded the bases for A-Rod, who singled home a pair of runs to give the Yankees a four-run lead. Things got better, as Logan didn’t allow a run over his next nine appearances. But in August he got touched up a couple of times, inflating his ERA. It’s tough to judge Logan’s 2009 given the tiny sample, but clearly he wasn’t any great shakes.

As a lefty specialist Logan has some potential. He has faced 289 same-handed batters over his career and other than a way too high .340 BABIP everything looks pretty good. He could do with fewer home runs, but his strikeout and walk rates have been acceptable at the major league level. His FIP and xFIP, 3.81 and 3.65, indicate that he might be of some use, but he’ll need an improvement in his home run and walk rates if he’s to find success even in a matchup situation. In other words, even if he does break camp with the team because of Aceves’s injury, don’t expect him to stick around long.

Still, it appears that Girardi will get his wish. It might be for only a few games, but if the Yankees choose to exercise caution with Aceves then Logan should be heading to Boston with the team. Given both David Ortiz’s and J.D. Drew’s abilities against lefties, though, I hope he doesn’t register an appearance before joining the reserve bullpen in Scranton.

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Bronx Banter Breakdown on the Yanks' pitching
Could the Yankees call on Montero in 2010?
  • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

    Based on potential and track record, I’d be far more comfortable replacing Aceves with Melacon if need be, but it seems clear from Girardi’s managerial style that Boone Logan will get that call. It shouldn’t even be that close though.

    • radnom

      If Aceves isn’t ready for opening day it is possible both of them could be in the pen – with Hughes in the minors, skipping his first start.

  • bexarama

    aaaagh I am so tired of the “lefty in the bullpen” thing. For sooo long the analysis was like…

    Analysts: David Ortiz!!! The Yankees need a lefty in the bullpen.
    Yankees: (get a lefty in their bullpen)
    Analysts: Okay, the Yankees need a second lefty in the bullpen.

    It’s not a terrible idea because we don’t know if postseason Marte or regular season Marte is gonna show up, but… really. Especially considering that, as you said, David Ortiz handles lefties pretty well in his career. Not as well as he handles righties, but quite well (in 2006, he OPS’d .988 against lefties. Yikes.). Lefties did seriously hold him down in 2009, though.

    • bexarama

      good lord I do not think I am capable of typing a non-blabbery comment that makes any sort of sense today

      • Joe D.

        I think what you was trying to say was: “If we’re making personnel decisions that revolve around a fat, old, broken DH, then we’re in trouble anyway.”

        • bexarama

          hah. yes.

    • A.D.

      agreed, talent > handedness. The Yanks have a young reliever in Melancon that is probably better against lefties than Logan despite handedness.

      • bexarama

        this was basically what I was trying to say. I would like to see ONE lefty in the pen, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see the need for two, especially when Logan is kinda meh

    • http://www.retire21.org Mike R. – Retire 21

      It’s the nature of the bullpen. Last year it was “Who’s pitching the 8th!?!?!? We’re doomed!!!!!!”. Once hughes found himself in that role it was “Who’s pitching the 7th!?!?!?1?11? We’re doomed!!!”

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

        Nature of the bullpen or the nature of an overreactive fan base and sports media analysts?

        • SamVa

          Well played… I can’t wait until we start arguing about who is going to mop up games that we are winning by 10+ runs. “I can’t believe they put —– in in this situation… What are they thinking? We need to go out and get —— he’s the best mop-up man in the game.”

    • Bo

      Because baseball wisdom/facts of the last 100 yrs that leftys have a hard time hitting leftys is false???

  • http://www.theyankeeu.com/ Nostra-Artist

    Getting a short look-see at Logan will be OK, but I want to carry the 12 best pitchers, not take someone based on handedness. D-Rob has a reverse platoon split, you don’t need a 2nd lefty.

    • Accent Shallow

      Yes, but is that something that he can be expected to maintain?

      I’d be skeptical.

      • Rick in Boston

        According to minorleaguesplits.com:

        David Robertson (career)
        vs. RHB: 389 BF, .153 BA against; 147/42 K/BB
        vs. LHB: 229 BF, .170 BA against; 75/22 K/BB

        • SamVa

          He sucks.
          Clearly he needs to start pitching lefty’s outside.

          /ESPN sport’s analyst’ed

        • Accent Shallow

          That’s a positive, but unless there’s something in his past or his repertoire to suggest otherwise (which judging from this there does not appear to be), we should expect him to trend towards a neutral split.

  • Bo

    If you dont think that Logan will get shots at leftys esp Ortiz n Drew the first two weeks hes on the roster you havent watched Girardi manage the past 2 yrs.

  • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

    Late as Hell on this but I cannot respond to the idea of Logan making the team with anything other than barfing sounds. *barf*