Mar
02

Why sending Aceves to the minors is a waste

By

Who would have thought that signing Chan Ho Park would cause such a ruckus? When pitchers and catchers reported two weeks ago the bullpen situation seemed set. Seven spots, seven pitchers. Then came Chan Ho, making eight pitchers for seven spots. Since then we’ve wondered who will take the fall. Ben wrote about it this morning, and Mike followed up with an excellent point on why Hughes, if he loses the 5th starter competition, should stay with the team in the bullpen.

We’re back, then, to the issue of who goes. As a hundred people and I bet between 80 and 90 say Sergio Mitre. The problem, as Ben noted, we can’t just assume the Yankees will trade him. I further doubt that they’d place him on waivers, since the team apparently likes him, and doesn’t want to reduce its leverage in a potential trade. It’s possible, of course, but I wouldn’t consider it likely right now. That could change, as always, between now and the end of March.

One option I’ve seen floated by a few writers is sending Al Aceves to AAA. He has options so it would be a painless process. Then, when something goes wrong — a pitcher gets hurt or pitches terribly — the Yanks can call up Aceves. Further, since he’d probably work as a starter in AAA they could have him both spot start and pitch out of the pen. They did this last year, optioning Aceves to start the season but recalling him in early May after the bullpen fared horribly in April. If it worked last year, I doubt the Yankees would rule it out this year.

Even still, I’m not convinced it’s right move. The team started out poorly last April, and the bullpen’s 55 runs allowed in 71 innings did not help matters. They recovered, turning the bullpen into a strength by mid-season. While the idea would be the same this year, there’s no guarantee that the Yankees can fight back from behind for a second straight year. With both the Red Sox and the Rays in the division, the Yankees should think only about bringing their best 25 players to the Bronx. They shouldn’t handicap themselves because of service time and option statuses.

In the past, I’ve argued that sending Hughes to AAA wouldn’t hurt that much. If the bullpen has holes, they can always recall him in a relief role. If the bullpen performs fine, he can continue building his innings in pursuit of pitching in the rotation without restrictions in 2011. That, however, runs contrary to another point I preach every April: a game on April 6 counts the same as a game on September 26. The implications might be different, but the win counts for just one. Wins now theoretically take the pressure off those late September games. In other words, sacrificing games in April makes no sense, even if the Yankees have shown over the past few years that they can overcome a poor start. Past performance, after all, does not guarantee future gains.

Last year Aceves showed that he can provide quality relief innings. Not only can he go multiple innings, a strategy I’d like to see employed more frequently, but he also fares well in his single-inning stints. Though only eight of his 42 relief appearances lasted exactly one inning, he allowed just four hits in them, facing just three batters over the minimum. That’s a short sample, and won’t accurately forecast his one-inning appearances in 2010, but we do know he’s succeeded in those short outings. Given the rest of his 2009 season, he should get a shot to show that he can sustain the performance.

While the Yankees have rallied back from early season deficits before, they shouldn’t count on doing that every year. For every 2007 and 2009, there’s a 2008. Falling behind becomes an even tougher scenario for the Yankees, who share division space with perhaps the two other best teams in the AL, the Red Sox and the Rays. The way to avoid falling behind — or at least to put all your resources to preventing it — is to bring your best 25 players north. Given his performance last season, Al Aceves figures to be in that group. Not only is sending him to AAA a waste of his talent, but also could hurt the team. The Yanks have every reason to start him in the major league bullpen.

Photo credit: Jim Mone/AP

Categories : Death by Bullpen

109 Comments»

  1. Bo says:

    You come north with your strongest and best team. You get off to a good start and go from there.

    You dont stash people in the minors to save at a later date. It’s all about winning. Development has to take a back seat to the ultimate goal.

  2. First Kabak speaks. Then Axisa rebuts Kabak. Now Pawlikowski rebuts Axisa. This is some crazy shit.

    Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria.

    /MQBB’d

  3. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    So who gets to write the Pro-Meattray piece?

  4. A.D. says:

    Aceves has less to benefit from going to the minor than anyone, it’s unlikely he develops further, innings aren’t an issue, and he’s likely a career swing-man. Additionally figure if anyone the Yanks are likely the least careful with him (as seen last year) so they’d consider spot starting him without much stretch time.

  5. Beamish says:

    Not only can he go multiple innings, a strategy I’d like to see employed more frequently, but he also fares well in his single-inning stints.

    I am all for that. I would rather see a trio of solid relievers rotated on 2-3 inning stints (only going to Mo in the 9th for the save) then this 1-inning/1-pitcher 30-year LaRussaism the pen has become. They have the talent to implement that.

    But that trio could be any of Gaudin/Mitre/Hughes/Aceves. Makes me wonder why 1-inning-Park is around at all.

    • vin says:

      Although I agree with your point… Park is anything but a 1 inning pitcher. Just last season he made 7 starts, and after getting moved to the pen he would routinely pitch multiple innings. He pitched 2 or more innings 11 times (in 38 relief appearances). It wasn’t until September that Manuel limited him to 1 inning appearances.

  6. Steve H says:

    Agreed with the post, Aceves stabilized the bullpen last year as much as (probably more)Hughes did with his multi-inning appearances. Aceves simply does not have the upside that Hughes has, you need to get as much value out of him now as you can.

  7. Steve H says:

    Simply put Mexican Gangster is not a minor league nickname.

  8. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    The problem with sending Aceves down is that it will stunt Igawa’s growth as a starter.

  9. Clearly, there’s only one way to settle this: Leave both Phil and Aceves in Scranton. Opening Day Bullpen:

    Mo, Marte, Robertson, Park, Gaudin, Mitre, and…

    John Van Benschoten.

    Your mind: BLOWN.

  10. Sorry, but we like the matchup better with Aceves.

    Aceves stays in the bigs. DRob – you’re gone.

    /girardi’d

  11. Accent Shallow says:

    Just out of curiosity, who has floated the idea of demoting Aceves?

    It certainly seems like a bad one — Aceves was a valuable and versatile cog in the ‘pen last year, and unlike Hughes, he is what he is — there’s almost no chance of him becoming a #1-2 starter, so there’s no reason to “develop” him in Scranton.

    /Ok, I completely agree with this article, but I didn’t just want to comment “+1″

  12. Riddering says:

    The Yankees BP options for 2010 are euphoric, especially as compared to the BP we had in April of 2009.

    • Mike HC says:

      I don’t quite get that. It seems like we have the exact same guys except we added Chan Ho. Is Chan Ho really that huge of a pick up that it makes this years group that much better than last year?

      • This time last year, Marte, Aceves, and Robertson were rather large questionmarks. They’ve all answered the great majority of those questions.

        Also, Gaudin has flaws and Mitre has a lot of flaws, but their true talent level is still considerably better than the cast of relievers who filled out the back end of our April-May 2009 bullpen (i.e. Tomko, Veras, Albaladejo, Edwar, Claggett, Jackson, etc.)

        Even without Hughes, 2010 bullpen options >>>>>> 2009 bullpen options.

        • Mike HC says:

          Just because we did not know how they would produce, does not change the fact that they were productive and on the team. And we also had Mitre last year. Just because those guys were in the minors, or had questions, does not change the fact that we have the same group I forgot about Gaudin though. He does not change that much, but is a nice option to have. The Gaudin, Ho Park combo is not that great.

          Now, if you guys are saying the confidence we as Yankee fans have in the bullpen is far more than last year, I can agree with that. But the actual options, look pretty similar to me.

          • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

            last year:

            mitre – recovering from tommy john and unavailable.

            robertson – never pitched in the major leagues before, unproven, could suck, could rock

            aceves – never pitched out of the bullpen and had success in small sample in septembr against other teams scrubs, could suck, could rock

            marte – injured, unavailable after wbc and briefly sucked cause still unjured when came back

            bruney – inconsistent, could suck, could rock at all times

            veras – sucked

            edwar – sucked

            albaladejo – still not enough sample to choose either way could suck, could rock

            tomko – suck

            clagget/jackson – they’re on the pirates or got cut by the pirates. nuff said

            2010:

            robertson – proven he can be a solid option and has a yr under his belt in the majors, could regress but is proven

            marte – healthy and is a very good relief pitcher and has been for many years

            aceves – proven and was outstanding last year. even with a regression he will be huge and better than veras et all

            mitre – upgrade over tomko

            gaudin – guy k’s a batter and inning and is death on righties meaning >>>>>>>edwar/veras/bruney/et all

            park – not a fan personally but has proven mlb success and pitched well last yr on best team in nl in large sample

            2010>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>2009

            • Mike HC says:

              Just because those guys could have sucked does not mean they did, and does mean they did not produce. Confidence in the bullpen in 2010 >>> than 2009, but the actual people, are the same. With the additions of Gaudin and Ho, but even Gaudin was on the team for about half the year.

              Being in the minors counts. The whole plan was to give everyone a shot. The guys that started the year just had the first chance.

              • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

                no. veras, edwar, and bruney and tomko are all worse and lesser talents and pitchers than park, gaudin, mitre, and everyone else. the skill level is maybe even 3 times higher than last year by just taking those 4 guys out and replacing them with these 3. and you cant count having marte if he was injured for 3/4 the year. in the minors fine, but marte no. mitre either. there was no telling if either one would even pitch and therefore they were afterthoughts. plus coke is gone as well.

                this year it is possible that less people get a shot due to ineffectiveness because the talent level is so much higher. my prediction is more people will get a shot via injuries or trades

      • bexarama says:

        In April 2009, the bullpen was very, very different than it was by the time we were celebrating the WS. Veras, Edwar, Bruney, Albaladejo, I forget whether Tomko was in there from the beginning or not…

        • Mike HC says:

          See above. I’m just saying just because we had other guys in the mix, and didn’t know how the current guys would produce, they were still with the team. We had the same guys, minus Ho and Gaudin.

          • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

            see above. no we didnt. with marte injured, you didnt have gaudin, mitre, park, marte, or robertson because he was an aaa reliever and didnt break camp with the team.

            so really al you have the same are MO and aceves compared to last year’s opening day bullpen

            • Mike HC says:

              cool. I guess I’m counting guys in the minors as part of the team. And fifth adding guys like Gaudin and Ho are nice, but I would not say it puts us in such a far superior place to last years group. I guess we just disagree. Not much more to write.

      • Thomas says:

        Well most of the pen options have had another year worth of data and many of the weaker links have been removed, while the stronger guys have moved up.

        Last year
        Rivera
        Marte
        Coke
        Bruney
        Veras
        Ramirez
        Albaladejo
        In the minors
        Robertson
        Melancon
        Sanchez
        Claggett, Jackson, etc
        Aceves (as a starter)
        Hughes (as a starter)
        Kennedy (as a starter)

        This year
        Rivera
        Marte
        Hughes/Chamberlain
        Park
        Aceves
        Mitre
        Gaudin
        Robertson
        In the minors
        Melancon
        Sanchez
        Nova (as a starter)

      • Riddering says:

        I wasn’t pointing to a big difference between last year’s overall bullpen. The difference comes in comparing what the BP was in the beginning of 2009 to what it is now.

        The additions: Aceves, More Experienced D-Rob, Hughes/Joba, Park, Healthy Marte.

        No more: Bruney, Veras, Claggett, Ramirez, or relying on Albaladejo.

        • Riddering says:

          Heh. You people did all the work for me while I went to warm up some soup.

        • Mike HC says:

          Ok. I guess I misunderstood your original post a bit. The literal guys on the Major League level are better than the guys that started the year. I was comparing it to the entire year. My bad.

  13. Mike HC says:

    I’m 100% in on this one. Well done. Aceves is our do it all guy, on the Major League level. Pitch one inning. Spot start for 4 innings. Get us through the the 6th and 7th in a Joba start (hopefully that changes this year).

    If we are keeping Mitre around for whatever reason, he would be the next starter in line anyway. Not that I can think of a real good reason to keep him around anyway, but if the Yanks were not to use him as the 6th starter, he would be beyond worthless. Moving Aceves down to AAA makes the least sense out of almost anyone. Unless he struggles of course.

    As Cashman has mentioned, and many people here know (we just like to bullshit about the Yanks too much) all of this talk is usually rendered moot by injuries, surprisingly shitty performance, etc … Still fun to speculate though.

    • Not that I can think of a real good reason to keep him around anyway, but if the Yanks were not to use him as the 6th starter, he would be beyond worthless.

      That’s still an oversimplification, though. Sergio Mitre has never yet been a solid big league pitcher, but that doesn’t mean he’s utterly incapable of being a solid big league pitcher. He has two quality pitches; perhaps a move to short relief would work for him.

      Bringing him north for a month or two to find out wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. He wouldn’t be the first marginal starter to become a better, more solid pitcher by moving to the pen and scrapping his subpar 3rd/4th pitches.

      • Dirty Pena: The Triple Entendre says:

        Bringing him north for a month or two to find out wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. He wouldn’t be the first marginal starter to become a better, more solid pitcher by moving to the pen and scrapping his subpar 3rd/4th pitches.

        I’m gonna TSJC (v.) TSJC (n.) and repeat this for emphasis.

      • Mike HC says:

        true. I did think about the reliever thing but just left it out. There is only so many different options and contingencies to go through before you drive yourself crazy, ha.

        I guess there is a chance he can become a solid reliever, and I don’t dislike Mitre long term. He should be able to pitch in the Majors. I guess he can be our Tomko for a while. A guy that can pitch a bunch of innings in blowouts to try him out.

        • That’s all I’m saying. Do I want Sergio Mitre’s number retired in Monument Park immediately? No. Should his contract be extended and should he be guaranteed every single high leverage 8th inning, because he’s a lock to dominate? No.

          Is it a horrible, awful, untenable idea to leave either Aceves or Hughes in Scranton for a month or two while we see whether or not Sergio Mitre with two full years post TJS can regain some of his form and pitch effectively as a swingman on the big club, adding either direct or surplus value? No, it’s not a horrible, awful, untenable idea. It’s a perfectly reasonable and sound strategy, given certain conditions.

      • Templeton "Brendog" Peck says:

        He wouldn’t be the first marginal starter to become a better, more solid pitcher by moving to the pen and scrapping his subpar 3rd/4th pitches.

        exhibit chan ho park

        • Dirty Pena: The Triple Entendre says:

          How can you possibly compared Sergio Mitre and Chan Ho Park?!?!!?!?!??!!? YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BASEBALL!!!

          /no.27′d

  14. JohnC says:

    Will the next post be:

    WHY KEEPING IGAWA IS A WASTE?

  15. Dirty Pena: The Triple Entendre says:

    Someone bring me some milk! The spice! I cannot handle it!

  16. Rich says:

    “Who would have thought that signing Chan Ho Park would cause such a ruckus?”

    That’s an easy one. Anything and everything causes a ruckus in Yankeeland.

  17. sonny boy says:

    The bullpen was really horrible at the beginning of last season due to poor, really poor choices of not being Robertson or Aceves north eventh though they more or less proved themselves in 2008 near the end of the season in MLB game situations. Aceves is a great player. I’m not saying Park’s role will be minor, but it will, barring injuries, be and should be small.

    • The bullpen was really horrible at the beginning of last season due to poor, really poor choices of not being Robertson or Aceves north eventh though they more or less proved themselves in 2008 near the end of the season in MLB game situations.

      And yet, the Yankees still persevered and won the division.

    • Thomas says:

      People weren’t sure of Robertson and Aceves at the start of last season and had players with superior 2008 ahead of them. For example,
      Veras 2008 57IP 3.59 ERA
      Robertson 2008 30IP 5.34 ERA
      Aceves 2008 30IP (most as a starter) 2.40 ERA

      • SONNYBOY says:

        So did we abandon taking the “best 12″ last season? Or is Girardi more conservative with the roster than he is game situations? I mean the whole group of them started the season bad. I think they have learned from that.

  18. [...] Joe Pawlikowski and Mike Axisa both make points about why sending Aceves and Hughes respectively to the minors [...]

  19. [...] Joe Pawlikowski(River Ave Blues) argues that sending Aceves to the Minors would be a waste, given hi… One key stat from the article? The bullpen gave up 55 runs in 71 innings during April last season before Aceves was called up. After his callup, Aceves was 10-1 out of bullpen and was a key cog for the team. He has minor league options, but it would be foolish to send him down. Aceves is #5. [...]

  20. [...] Joe Pawlikowski(River Ave Blues) argues that sending Aceves to the Minors would be a waste, given hi… One key stat from the article? The bullpen gave up 55 runs in 71 innings during April last season before Aceves was called up. After his callup, Aceves was 10-1 out of bullpen and was a key cog for the team. He has minor league options, but it would be foolish to send him down. Aceves is #5. [...]

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