May
18

The Bullpen Problem

By

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

While last night’s win was perhaps the best of the season (who am I kidding? It was easily the best), the reason the game went from comfortably ahead to excruciating nail biter was because the bullpen failed to do it’s job. Before we go any further, let me say I had no issue with Joe Girardi‘s bullpen usage. The only had so many bullets to use last night, and he used them when he saw fit. That’s not the problem. The problem is that the relievers just didn’t get the job done.

Boone Logan, brought in to pitch the 6th because three of the next four batters were either lefthanded or switch hitters, immediately threw three balls to the first batter he faced. Two pitches later, Victor Martinez was trotting around the bases because he wasn’t fooled by a fifth consecutive fastball in the 92-93 range. Logan then allowed an 0-2 single to David Ortiz, but escaped the inning on a double play and a ground out. The Yankees had just given themselves a little breathing room with a run in the bottom of the 5th, but the big lefty gave that run back.

Chan Ho Park, fresh off the disabled list, pitched a relatively uneventful 7th inning before getting smacked around in the 8th. He had to be bailed out by Damaso Marte, who then needed to be bailed out by Javier Vazquez in the 9th. Overall, Yankee relievers put eight men on base and allowed four runs in four innings of work yesterday, and the only strikeout came courtesy of Vazquez, the last out of the game recorded by Yankee pitchers. Phil Hughes finally had an off night, but the bullpen just wasn’t able to pick him up.

Part of the problem has been the availability of some pitchers recently. Both David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain were unavailable against the Red Sox on Monday after working hard over the weekend, and you have to figure that Marte and CHoP will be unavailable tonight after throwing a combined 56 pitches yesterday. “Our bullpen is a mess,” said Girardi after yesterday’s game, referring to being shorthanded, not necessarily the overall performance. Instead of being able to use the relievers he wants to use, Girardi’s stuck using guys he has to use. When you’re forced into doing that, well bad things tend to happen.

Yes, Al Aceves is injured and that’s created a huge hole in the bullpen. However, some of the other guys out there just aren’t getting it done. Logan is allowing batters to get on base 38.5% of the time. Robertson still isn’t right even though his last four appearances have been scoreless. Park, who I believe will be better as he gets a little further away from his injury, is still getting back in the groove of things. The long reliever situation has been an absolute mess since Sergio Mitre has been pressed into spot start duty.

Joba and Mariano Rivera have been more than fine in the 8th and 9th innings, so there’s no concern there. Even Sunday’s meltdown was the product of a ground ball single, a walk to the reigning AL MVP, a strikeout of the AL leader in wOBA, and a ball off Mark Teixeira‘s glove. How often is that going to happen? Answer: Not very. You just tip your cap to the Twins and forget about it.

But the Yankees don’t have to deal with the unreliability of Robertson and Logan if they don’t want to. Both players have minor league options remaining, and there are viable options in Triple-A Scranton to fill-in as they get themselves right. Mark Melancon is there just waiting for a legitimate shot, not just a call up to be used in mop-up duty before being sent down a week later. Romulo Sanchez impressed in his lone big league appearance of the season. Even Jon Albaladejo has been killing it this year. It would be tough for any two of those three to be any worse than Robertson and Logan have, so why not give them a shot? The team was quick to pull the trigger on a bullpen makeover in 2009, what’s the holdup in 2010?

Maybe part of it is loyalty. Robertson was an important part of the bullpen down the stretch and in the playoffs last year, so maybe the team feels he deserves the benefit of the doubt. I’m confident that he’ll get himself back on track in the time, but there comes a point where it’s not worth the detriment to the team. Logan doesn’t deserve that benefit of the doubt; frankly he’s been pitching exactly like he had been prior to joining the Yankees. He has a lot to do to earn his spot. Being young, cheap, lefthanded, and able to throw hard will keep getting you chances, I guess.

Pulling a trigger on a bullpen makeover isn’t an easy decision, especially when you’re talking about young and talented players who have the tools to succeed. Sending down Robertson or Logan isn’t the end of their Yankee careers, they could be back within a month if they buckle down and work on sorting themselves out in the minors. The Yankees have options, but right now they don’t appear interested in using them unless they have no other choice.

Miraculous comebacks like the one we witnessed last night aren’t always going to happen. The bullpen should be able to preserve leads, and right now the guys who enter the game prior to the 8th inning just aren’t getting the job done.

Categories : Death by Bullpen

89 Comments»

  1. A major ‘pen overhaul seems long overdue.

    Maybe start filtering guys like Melancon, and Sanchez in slowly. Replace the weakest link, and give them an extended look, win/lose, let them get a fair shot.

    From Farm reports, Melancon seems to be doing great, and he, more than anyone is a guy I want to see get a long long in the bigs.

    • The Three Amigos says:

      I would not be surprised at all to see Melancon up tonight and Logan down. At worst, Melancon can give you innings.

  2. A.D. says:

    The annoyances of carrying 6 starters & Boone Logan

  3. Rose says:

    Rivera is Rivera and he’ll have these strange mishaps every so often…especially after not pitching for a while. Joba Chamberlain isn’t 2007 Joba Chamberlain and who knows if he ever will be again. People have seemed to figure out David Robertson or something. Chan Ho Park is back in the AL. Boone Logan is Billy Traber 2.0. Marte is what he is.

    Last year you had Rivera, a domininant Phil Hughes and a lights out David “The Admiral” Robertson. This year you just have Rivera…that’s basically the difference and it’s a big one.

    • A.D. says:

      Joba Chamberlain isn’t 2007 Joba Chamberlain

      There’s really no reason to believe that 24 innings in 2007 was representative of anything.

      • (looks up from carefully shrinkwrapping and sorting catalog of Shane Spencer rookie cards)

        What? What is that that you just said?

      • Rose says:

        I don’t understand. His velocity is significantly less as well…

        • bexarama says:

          Really? This is an amazing point that no one has noticed before. I wonder if it’s the source of his troubles.

          • andrew says:

            I’m not sure if this is sarcasm because my sarcasm meter is broken, but people have definitely talked about his velocity a lot around here. The RABbis continuously said that returning Joba to the ‘pen would not automatically return his fastball to the upper 90s like people had hoped. They were right.

            • bexarama says:

              It’s completely sarcasm. Joba’s velocity and the possible reasons for it declining have been talked about a LOT.

              Of course it didn’t. His latest outings before the one on Sunday were very promising, though. That said, control and command >>> velocity. I saw him hit 96 plenty of times last year – when he was getting lit up.

              • Rose says:

                That said, control and command >>> velocity.

                Nobody is denying this…but if you have similar control and command regardless – I’ll take the 97.4 mph over the 93.9

          • Rose says:

            I don’t understand the sarcasm…but then again…my head spins a lot on this board.

            I said that Joba wasn’t 2007 Joba. Anno Domini assumed I was solely talking about results and responded accordingly. I bring up a much more important factor he left out. You jump in clearly not understanding the situation and here we are.

            Just making a point. He’s not bad by any means…he’s just lost quite a bit on his velocity and his control seems to have gotten even worse as a result for whatever reason.

            2007: 97.4 average mph on fastball
            2010: 93.9 average mph on fastball

            That is a fairly significant jump to anybody’s standards. he’s still effective…but he’s not going to be blowing anybody away with intimidating stuff anymore.

            • bexarama says:

              You’re just acting insanely disappointed that he’s not 2007 Joba. I know, 2007 Joba was beyond awesome, but thinking that was sustainable is setting yourself up for disappointment. Also, we just don’t know why his velocity is down. Injury? Bad mechanics? None of this? We don’t know.

              Joba’s made a bunch of appearances and he’s been very good to excellent in most of them. He didn’t have it in the first game of the season against Boston, or that one game in Los Angeles. He was okay in the game against Minnesota; if that weirdly hit ball is caught by Tex, and I’m still not sure what happened there, he gets out of the inning.

              Even with the lowered velocity, he looks better and more consistent than he has for a while. I hope he can carry this over to a starting role next year, but it’s nice to see and about all you can expect from a reliever. A sub-1 ERA for an entire year is not something you should expect.

              • You’re just acting insanely disappointed that he’s not 2007 Joba. I know, 2007 Joba was beyond awesome, but thinking that was sustainable is setting yourself up for disappointment.

                Repeated for emphasis.

                Joba can and will be a good, even a great major league pitcher. He’s never going to be as good as 2007 Joba, though. Nobody is.

                • Rose says:

                  Emphasis for somebody else maybe. I’m not acting disappointed. I presented factual information between two periods of a young pitchers career. I explained below that it’s more frustration of not knowing why it happened than it is wishing it never did.

              • Rose says:

                You’re just acting insanely disappointed that he’s not 2007 Joba.

                Disappointed is certainly not the word I would use. But there is no denying he was absolutely filthy and incredibly intimidating when he would come in then.

                Also, we just don’t know why his velocity is down. Injury? Bad mechanics? None of this? We don’t know.

                There we go. This is the frustrating part. Zumaya is out longer with an injury…pitches like 80 total innings in 3 years and pitches 101 mph again no problem…Joba throws 99 mph and such…gets hurt but misses far less time…loses 4 mph on his fastball and doesn’t throw above 96 mph ever again.

                I’m not harping on the mph but I just don’t get. You’re right…it could be anything…but it’s still strange to me. That’s all.

        • pat says:

          Maybe because he beganthe year in the bullpen and doesn’t have a seasons worth of arm strength from starting in the minors all year? Like he did in 2007.

    • JGS says:

      For what it’s worth, Joba has the same K-rate as 2009 Bullpen Hughes with about 1 extra walk per nine innings.

      “Joba 07″ was a function of a 24 inning sample and a .246 BABIP. That mythical person never really existed except in small bursts–Joba ’10 is perfectly capable of that

  4. MikeD says:

    The only bullpen move I disagreed with last night was bringing Logan in to face Victor Martinez. His (Martinez’s) splits this year are dramatic, with horrible numbers against right-handed pitchers (.445 OPS), but kills lefties (1.103 OPS). Granted, the splits are unusual for his career, but they exist this year, so bringing in a poor quality lefty Logan to face Martinez as opposed leaving Hughes in for one more batter is the one I’d take back.

  5. pat says:

    I was hoping to wake up to a Boone Logan-free bullpen this morning. He is beyond useless. Briguy, I applaud you for trying to catch some lightning with the big lefty, but it’s time to cut bait. He blows and should be demoted. This is why we have had good bullpens the past couple years, because you’ve been willing to give under performers (Veras,Edwar, etc.)the boot and give over performers their shot. Please Cash, I don’t ask for much just get ride of Boone for me.

  6. Matt says:

    Luckily the offense bailed the Yanks out last night. With CC on the mound tonight, hopefully he can start the bridge to Joba-Mo without any help.

    I did an interview with Nick Swisher last night if anyone is interested. It’s a funny read and definitely worth checking out if you have a few minutes.

  7. JohnC says:

    I think Sanchez does better as a starter than a reliever cause it takes him a while to settle in and find his command. A reliever doesn’t have that luxury most of the time.

  8. JohnC says:

    What are the chances they play tonight? Weather forecast is not looking good. Although a rainout wouldn’t be the worst thing, as CC would face the Rays tommorrow.

  9. DSFC says:

    I don’t really care who they give a shot – Melancon, Alby, Sanchez, whoever. Just get Boone Logan outta there. Guy’s been a terrible pitcher in the majors his whole career. A nice spring training and good numbers in Scranton earned him a chance, but he’s shown quite clearly that he isn’t up to the job.

  10. was thinking the same thing, but, they don’t have a lot of common off days. There’s a thurs before a 3 game set, that the yanks have off, but the Sox do not. The other series doesn’t have any off days surrounding it.

    So, it looks like it’s a twin bill sometime, cause I doubt they’d have it as the game they wait and see if they need, too big of a gate to turn down.

  11. YankFanDave says:

    I agree that a move should be made, not out of panic but out of current need. If they don’t make a move not only is it a strange vote of confidence in a worrisome bullpen, particularly Logan; but also, a sign of lack of confidence in the minor league arms. The latter is very strange in that the Yanks felt comfortable moving relievers this off season because they seemed to have confidence in those same minor league options for the bullpen.

    • MikeD says:

      Sending Logan down wouldn’t be panic. It’s not as if he has a track record of being good. Giving Robertson more of a chance makes sense since he was exceptional last year and was great in the minors. There’s no track record (a good one, that is) for Logan.

  12. Steve H says:

    Mark Melancon is there just waiting for a legitimate shot, not just a call up to be used in mop-up duty before being sent down a week later.

    Repeated for emphasis. Melancon has the stuff, pedigree and track record to get a real shot at becoming a big part of the pen. Bringing him up for 1 inning in a 12-2 game doesn’t afford him that opportunity. His upside is as good as that as anyone in the pen save Mo and Joba.

  13. A.D. says:

    If Boone Logan really is the best option for that spot in the pen, then let all the guys at AAA lose the MLB spot back to him

  14. FWIW:

    Jonathan Albaladejo, Scranton Wilkes Barre, 2010:
    16 games, 16 games finished, 10 saves, 1-1 W/L
    17.1 IP, 69 batters faced, 21 K, 6 BB, 2 HR, 10.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.923 WHIP, 1.56 ERA

    Mark Melancon, Scranton Wilkes Barre, 2010:
    15 games, 7 games finished, 5 saves, 4-1 W/L
    23.0 IP, 98 batters faced, 31 K, 8 BB, 3 HR, 12.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.261 WHIP, 2.74 ERA

  15. Andrew says:

    I don’t see Robertson getting sent down, wouldn’t it have happened already after his terrible late April/early May stretch of appearances? He has been better, if not fully back to where he was in 2009, of late and his K ability is a big asset, so getting him right is probably more important than shuffling in a fresh body for his spot. To me he is not the problem as much as the infatuation with Logan, which has to end today in light of how few available arms there are out there for tonight’s game.

  16. tbord says:

    The elephant in the room is Chan Ho Park, not Logan. Park is key to carrying the lead to Joba or Mo. The highlight of his season so far, was his diarrea interview (IMO). Maybe he should have stayed in the NL where he can get away with his cheese. Boone Logan should be given every opportunity to stick around. We need the lefties.

  17. Cnight_UP says:

    Minus Day1, and Day 1 off the DL, Park has been pretty good…

  18. Rose says:

    So, how does everyone feel about Boone Logan for real?

    The next Billy Wagner? lol

  19. bearpen says:

    Lefty with great stuff poor control…send him to cardinals (under the tutelage of Dave Duncan) and buy him back..lol

  20. zs190 says:

    Chad Jennings posted on LoHUD that Melancon is most likely coming up tonight if the game is not rained out. (Yay!) Except Logan is not going down and it would be Golson instead. (I guess Swisher can start today if that’s the case, also yay!)

    Only downside: I really do not want to see Boone Logan pitch for us again. What good is he if he can’t command his pitches so he doesn’t pitch deep enough to be a long reliever and doesn’t get lefties out to be a LOOGY? He’s like our version of Scott Schonoweiss, who just sticks around to suck.

  21. EvoLuTioN aka Jobamania says:

    Boone Logan could be optioned to make room on the roster, but I’ve heard the Yankees might send Greg Golson down in order to keep the extra reliever.
    via lohud

    LOL

    • tbord says:

      Seems management knows a few things you all do not. One – They don’t trust Marte. Two – There is no one better in AAA. Three – The season is young, with time he will improve. Four – Phil Coke is gone, get over it.

      • Cnight_UP says:

        1. Who cares about Phil Coke?

        2. It doesn’t matter if you’re left handed if you cant get ANYONE out.

        • tbord says:

          Logan’s numbers are identical to Marte’s (Our #1 Lefty). You exagerate mightily when you say he cannot get anyone out. Logan is this year’s Phil Coke, a role that Girardi feels strongly about. And while you are entitled to your opinion, many in this foruum hated the Joba/Phil decision. Many were wrong about that too. Good news is that Yankee management is not influenced by your baseball opinions.

          • A.D. says:

            Logan’s numbers are identical to Marte’s

            They aren’t, against lefties:

            Marte: 278/350/389
            Logan: 333/500/500

            Marte hasn’t done as expected, but it’s better than Logan

          • And while you are entitled to your opinion, many in this foruum hated the Joba/Phil decision. Many were wrong about that too.

            No, we weren’t wrong. Those of us on this board who hated the Joba/Phil decision didn’t hate it because we though Phil would suck, we hated it because we didn’t want Joba sent to the bullpen.

            Those who hated the Joba/Phil decision this year were virtually unanimously in favor of the loser of the competition going to Scranton to stay in the rotation. Our disappointment in the front office’s decision has everything to do with the curtailment of Joba’s 2010 innings by putting him in the bullpen, it has nothing to do with how well or how poorly Phil would have pitched.

            • tbord says:

              Absolutely disagree. One simply has to look at the mysterious loss of velocity Joba exhibited as a starter. Miraculous is it not that his velocity from the year before is beginning to reemerge. No, Joba was never cut out to be the starter that Sir Phil will be. This is not a knock on Joba, just a realization that he is a much better Relief Pitcher. Many fans were oblivious to this, thank god the front office acted otherwise. We now have two solid young cost controlled members of the pitching staff, instead of one, or one and a half. And Highes development is not stalled in any way.

      • A.D. says:

        They don’t trust Marte.

        This may be true, but not a reason to keep Logan up, who has a 1.000 OPS against lefties.

        There is no one better in AAA.

        We can’t know that without actually trying them out, and there are guys with talent in AAA, they just may not throw with their left hand.

        The season is young, with time he will improve.

        Maybe, but he hasn’t been good so far in his career, and he can improve his control in AAA.

        Phil Coke is gone, get over it.

        This makes no sense in the context of these posts.

        • tbord says:

          1. It is reason to keep him right where he is – He can pitch himself into a role or out of a role. The Yankees are doing the right thing, and showing patience.

          Melancon and Albie have both been up before with mixed results – They will surely get an opportunity during the season – After Park craps the bed.

          His career stats are limited at the ML level. This is the time to find out if he is a viable reliever.

          The Phil Coke comparison is valid.

          • bexarama says:

            How is the Phil Coke comparison valid? I just don’t understand how. FWIW I didn’t really think of Coke as a LOOGY, he was just a left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen.

            Also, as others have said, we don’t know if there’s no one better in AAA. If Melancon can live up to the hype, I’d much rather have him in the pen than Logan.

          • The Phil Coke comparison is trash. Phil Coke was a left-handed starter who was okay and then finally put a breaking ball together. He didn’t really project to be anything but a #5 starter in MLB for a variety of reasons and so he was moved into the pen.

            He always had good control and command. He was a prospect for reasons other than simply throwing in the 90s with his left arm.

            Boone Logan is the opposite of Phil Coke.

  22. Cnight_UP says:

    # Warning Track Power May 18th, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    again with melancon? why does this guy so many chances? he reminds me of Ian Kennedy. dominates in AAA, but can not get hitters out in the big leagues.
    maybe this is the time when Melancon shows up and pitchers well enough to stay on the team for the remainder of 2010. I hope so because we can use a dependable arm in the pen.

    If Golson is sent down, that better mean that Swisher is 100%. I don’t mind adding the extra reliever for the 1 sox game remaining and the 2 games vs the rays.

    via lohud…hahaha

  23. ADam says:

    I wish that Logan would go away… same for Randy Winn… I can’t look at those two anymore… they make me physically ill.

    I think we can fix the problem (not there is much to complain about) but give Sanchez and/or melancon a real shot this year and get Logan and Winn of the roster. I’d rather have Golson/Weber as the 5th outfielder. Hell Id rather have swish in left and Thames in right rather than Winn in the line up.

    If Ace is gonna be out for a while with a bulging disc the bullpen cant include Boone Logan.

    The Pen
    Mo
    Joba
    Marte
    D-Rob ( Needs to figure his $&!# out)
    CHP (Ditto)
    Melancon/Sanchez
    Mitre

    The Outfield
    Gardy
    Grandy (when healthy)
    Swish
    Thames
    Anyone except Randy Winn (Golson/Weber/Winfree)

    • zs190 says:

      I don’t see why there is so much hate for Randy Winn. He’s a good defender in LF and RF with a decent arm. He runs the bases reasonably well and is not a clogger though he hasn’t really tried to steal many bases (his track record suggests he’s a good base stealer, but not a high volume one). He has a .800 OPS or abouts in the the last 10-12 starts he’s gotten, what more do you want from your bench OF?

      • I’ve been really bearish on Winn, but he’s produced well of late. Am I confident he won’t shit the bed going forward? No, but he’s been better than people (including myself, at times) give him credit for.

        • zs190 says:

          Splits for Randy Winn

          May
          .265/.375/.412
          vs RHP
          .270/.372/.405
          UZR: 18.7 UZR/150

          Yeah, the sample isn’t big, but he played well when given play time and not used against LHP. If he’s a complete player then he wouldn’t be playing as a bench guy for us, as is I’m fine with the production he’s given us.

        • I think a reasonable expectation of Winn is something like a .750 OPS vs RHP and good defense.

          I would be happy with that from a backup OF which is why I was okay with the signing. Now that people keep dying it’s more frustrating but the frustration will pass.

      • MikeD says:

        Winn is a solid player and a good guy to have on our team if he’s still up to being Randy Winn. He’s been a regular for almost a decade with a life-time BA in the mid-.280s an OBP of .350. Good defensive OFer and good base runner. The question about him is one of age. Does he still have the skills that made him Randy Winn. His BA dropped to .260 last year and his power left him, although his defense remained. It might just have been an off year. It’s been hard to tell so far since he hadn’t had the opportunity to play much until Grandy went down, and he has been playing better since then.

        It would not be good if we lost him now since it’s likely anyone who replaces him from AAA will be worse.

  24. andrew colin says:

    the real source of this trouble is the unnecessary trade for Ganderson. Phil Coke, a quality young lefty was in that trade. No trade, we still have COkeandLogan isinAAA where he belongs. And austin jackson could be doing his great work alongside Brett Gardner. How’s that trade workin out Mr. Cashman? and we won’t even mention the signing of DH Nick johnson. Why would anyone think he would stay healthy? Matsui was perfect for the spot. Bad general managing, very bad.

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