Comparing the bullpens of Boston and New York

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There’s a lot to dislike about the Rafael Soriano signing: the loss of a draft pick, the injury risk, the salary and the fact that Sergio Mitre is still the fifth starter. However, there’s one thing to be very happy about, and that’s how strong the Yankee bullpen figures to be.  Last summer at TheYankeeU I spent a fair amount of time using Baseball Prospectus’ Tommy Bennett’s methodology on reliever dominance.  Bennett’s jumping off point is trying to understand and evaluate Mariano Rivera; even advanced metrics can’t consistently rate Rivera accurately.  This is because he has the relatively unique ability to sustain a consistently low BABIP and prevent home runs.  Stats like FIP and xFIP would then prove relatively useless to analyze Rivera.  For instance, take a look at Rivera’s Fangraphs page.  His ERA has been below his FIP and xFIP virtually every year of his career.  Anyone care to predict that this year will be different? Bueller?

So Bennett tried out a different methodology to evaluate reliever skill based on two stats: SIERA and WXRL.  He described them in an earlier piece accordingly:

The gist is [SIERA] gives an estimation of a pitcher’s controllable skills (fly ball rate, strikeout rate, ground ball rate, and walk rate) and considers how they interact with one another. Put simply, it’s a way to evaluate the totality of a pitcher’s skills while looking beyond contingent (or luck-based) factors.

WXRL, on the other hand, is a metric based on win expectancy. It simply measures, compared to replacement and adjusted for quality of opposing lineup, how the likelihood of the reliever’s team winning changed from when he entered the game to when he left.

This is simple enough.  The next step Bennett took was to calculate a Reliever Score based on the two stats.  The methodology sounds complicated but is relatively straightforward.  Cue Bennett again:

We’ll take WXRL and SIERA for all pitchers who have pitched solely in relief. For each pitcher, we’ll calculate how many standard deviations they are away from the mean in each category. Then we’ll add them together. For example, a pitcher who was one standard deviation better than the mean in both SIERA and WXRL would get a score of two.

For our purposes I’ve set slightly different parameters.  I set the cutoffs at 20 innings for relievers only, used data from the 2010 season, and then pulled out the relievers on Boston and New York.  The results for Boston are first.  Keep in mind that a higher number with WXRL is better (based on Win Expectancy), and that SIERA is like FIP, so it’s scaled and comparable to ERA.

Daniel Bard registered the highest Reliever Score in the Boston bullpen based on a very high WXRL score in 2010.  This is hardly surprising; Bard is an elite pitcher with an incredible arsenal who often found himself in high leverage spots for the Red Sox last season.  One interesting aspect to the chart is seeing Bobby Jenks grade out better than Papelbon in SIERA.  Boston earned accolades from the stat community for their signing of Jenks, and rightfully so. Jenks’ SIERA score is sending the same message that his FIP sends – that his peripherals were intact and that a bounceback wouldn’t be unexpected.  Jenks registers a low WXRL, but that’s not surprising given his poor results in 2010; if his BABIP normalizes and he’s used in high leverage spots this number ought to increase in 2011.  All told the most interesting aspect of this chart is that Jenks scores the best among any Boston reliever in K/BB ratio and SIERA.  If he is able to recover and have a better 2011 it’ll really help out Boston’s middle relief and make his contract look like a steal.

One area of weakness is the lefty reliever.  Doubront appears headed back to AAA this season, leaving only Hideki Okajima coming from the left side.  Okajima’s numbers are some of the worst of any reliever on this list.  He’s historically tough on lefties (3.50 K/BB ratio, 0.591 OPS against), so he could have greater value in 2011 if used more sparingly.  Now to the Yankees:

Here we see the strength and depth of the Yankee bullpen.  Simply put, Rivera and Soriano are a two-headed monster.  It wouldn’t be a surprise for Soriano’s BABIP and HR/FB ratio to rise in 2011, especially in Yankee Stadium behind the Yankee defense, but he’s always been a strikeout-heavy pitcher equally adept at limiting free passes.  It’s also notable how well Joba Chamberlain looks.  A lot of fans love the idea of Joba the starter, and for good reason, but Joba the reliever is probably underrated at this point.  Much like Bobby Jenks, Joba’s advanced stats and peripherals make him look far better than his ERA would indicate.  In fact, as Moshe from TYU noted, he looks very similar to Daniel Bard’s statistical profile, and their respective SIERA numbers back this up:

And yet, the numbers show that Joba was about as good as Bard was last season, and that with a little bit of luck, the perception about him would likely be vastly different. Furthermore, Bard is actually 3 months older than Chamberlain, a fact that would surprise most but suggests that they are on equal footing in terms of development. I do not mean to suggest that Joba was actually better than Bard in 2010, as there is something to be said for ERA and results, such that I would not explain all of Joba’s struggles away using the “luck” factor. But the peripherals clearly tell us that these two pitchers should be regarded similarly, and I would be far from shocked if Joba and Bard put forth extremely similar seasons in 2011.

Alongside Joba in middle-to-late relief is David Robertson, the forgotten cog in the bullpen wheel.  Both of these relievers are probably capable of manning the eighth inning, so hopefully they’ll be able to prove themselves in high leverage spots this season.  It’s almost an embarrassment of riches, to be frank, and really underscores the fact that the Yankees could extract more value from Joba as a starter than as a reliever.  The Yankees also figure have two solid lefties this season.  Given the strength of the Soriano, Chamberlain and Robertson, it stands to reason that Feliciano can be used more sparingly than he has been in the past, deployed particularly against lefties.  Get ready for long games full of pitching changes and endless unfunny binder jokes.

At great cost the Yankee front office (and ownership!) has assembled a very good bullpen this winter.  If they’re able to acquire another starting pitcher and/or persuade Andy Pettitte to return then the staff on the whole figures to be very solid.  It’s also pretty safe to say that this bullpen looks better on paper than Boston’s heading into this year, and may in fact be the best in baseball.  The Yankees have missed out on a lot this offseason, but the bullpen is very respectable.  Hey, it’s the little things.

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  • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 Hannah Ehrlich

    Trust me, some of us have not forgotten about David Robertson. /swoon

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      high socks ftw

  • Monteroisdinero

    Enough with the Soriano injury risk stuff. Guy has been healthy 4 of the last 5 years. Almost every Yankee position player had injuries last year. Part of the game. In my opinion, Mariano at 41 is just as likely to be injured although now less so with Soriano taking some of the load.

    • Chris

      Totally agree. Its not like he’s gonna be counted on for 200 innings. He’s always been eexcellent when he’s been healthy. I think the steinbrenners saved cashman from himself.

    • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

      All depends on where you put your cutoffs, right? “Healthy 4 of the last 5″ makes it sound like one year was a fluke. Healthy 4 of the last 7 (also true) sounds a bit different. I’m not expecting him to get injured, but you can’t ignore his history.

      • Chris

        I think they’re really only rolling the dice that he’ll stay healthy for 1 more year because if he does, he’s gonna opt out for sure and let Boras work his magic.

        • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno (The Manchine)

          which makes the contract that much worse. giving up the pick for a 1 yr deal?!? geesh

          • Chris

            If he opts out they’ll get 2 picks back next year.

            • Gonzo

              In one year, they’ll also have a better idea of what the farm can contribute to the pen.

            • Angelo

              Yeah. It’s actually much better if it turns out to be just a 1 year deal. Bruno probably forgot to acknowledge those factors.

          • Sick Nwisher

            They will get 2 picks if he opts out. Stop whining about the pick, this is not the NFL.

      • Ted Nelson

        I would advocate leaving it to the medical professionals. A guy suffering an injury several years ago does not necessarily increase his risk of suffering another one in the next 3 years. Certainly in some cases it does, but in other cases the injury could be fully heeled and the could be a ton of evidence it’s not a recurring injury in most people. Since I have no medical training or even access to Soriano’s medical files, all I can do is hope the Yankees did their due diligence.

        How it “sounds” really means nothing. I would compare this to the amateur diagnoses about Greinke’s social anxiety disorder.

        • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

          “I would leave it to the medical professionals”

          then:

          “A guy suffering an injury several years ago does not necessarily increase his risk of suffering another one in the next 3 years.”

          Now I’m confused. I thought we were leaving it to the medical professionals?

          • Ted Nelson

            “Not necessarily”

            Reading the next sentence would have immediately cleared up your confusion: “Certainly in some cases it does, but in other cases the injury could be fully heeled and the could be a ton of evidence it’s not a recurring injury in most people.” I have no idea which case it is here, but I also assume you don’t either. The Yankees actually employ trained medical professionals who actually get to examine Soriano.

            If you really think you know more about the state of Rafael Soriano’s health than the Yankees, good for you. A+ for your medical knowledge. If you get injured a few times it ALWAYS means you are an injury risk going forward. No professional athlete has EVER recovered from injury problems early to have a healthy run in their prime. All great points. Glad you’re writing for RAB. They needed a medical expert.

            • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

              You know, the purpose of this article wasn’t to emphasize Soriano’s injury risk. In listing things you could dislike about the deal, I wasn’t implying that I disliked them, rather that I could see why people would dislike them. Regardless, when considering Soriano’s health you can look at it from three different perspectives:

              1 – Soriano is an injury risk. In three of the last seven years he’s barely been healthy, and he’s already had reconstructive surgery on his elbow.

              2 – Soriano isn’t an injury risk. He’s past the so-called injury nexus, and he’s over the elbow problems that plagued him early in his career. Given that the Yankees only need 70 innings out of him (and not 200 like a starter), it’s not really anything to worry about.

              3 – We don’t know if he’s an injury risk or not. We can speculate, but ultimately there’s no way of knowing.

              I imagine you side with perspective 3. I’m there with you. I’m not more worried about Soriano than I am about CC or Rivera. What you can’t do, though, is argue that Soriano isn’t an injury risk (which you did below when you said it wasn’t a “huge concern”) while simultaneously telling me that I’m not allowed to have an opinion to the contrary because I’m not a doctor. Either we’re agnostic about injury risk or we’re not. I imagine you’re mostly just angling for a fight, given the inflammatory way you’ve talked to people in the comments today, but I figured I would at least explain my reasoning on it. GOOD DAY SIR!

              • Ted Nelson

                Honestly it’s more because Friday was basically Mike Axisa bashes every possible aspect of the Soriano deal and glosses over one positive for one second day.

                Like Mike, you list the negatives while ignoring every positive besides his pitching. For the pick negative, there’s the chance he nets at least one pick when he leaves and possibly two. For the injury concern there’s the recent health and the age positives. And the Sergio Mitre thing is just irrelevant IMO. That’s not related to the Soriano signing. The Yankees could have signed Lee and still gone out and signed Soriano. They could have signed Soriano and Francis on the same day. So, to me the only real negative is his salary.

                “What you can’t do, though, is argue that Soriano isn’t an injury risk (which you did below when you said it wasn’t a “huge concern”) while simultaneously telling me that I’m not allowed to have an opinion to the contrary because I’m not a doctor.”

                That’s purely semantics. I stand 100% behind a statement that it’s not a huge concern relative to other FA signings (at least for pitchers). In my opinion, this agrees with my stance that it’s beyond my comprehension or expertise. It’s not a huge concern to me, because if the Yankees’ medical staff and front office cleared him that’s a lot more reliable to me than speculating on injuries from several years ago with no medical expertise. At best, if I did a study based on the info I can attain, I think I would find mixed results. Relief pitchers get hurt and some guys are just nagged by injuries throughout their careers. In general, though, elite relievers probably have their most success right around the 31-33 window Soriano is signed for.

                Anyway, I appreciate you explaining your reasoning. I just didn’t see the need to take a potshot at the deal to open your piece without explaining your reasoning at all. And I found 3 of your 4 critiques to be incorrect or at least debatable.

                I am not angling for a fight, I am angling for well thought out and well explained analysis of the issues. And to challenge unsubstantiated claims. Your “I’m confused” response was not exactly mature or friendly. And as I tried to explain afterwards, you were twisting my words to discredit my point.

                • http://twitter.com/stephen_mr Stephen Rhoads

                  Well, I wasn’t trying to twist your words to discredit your point because I more or less agree with your point. I didn’t intend this piece to address anything about the Soriano signing other than the way advanced metrics grade out our bullpen w/r/t Boston’s; the opening sentence was basically just a lead-in designed to get us to the second sentence and the thesis of the piece, that the Yankees bullpen is cashmoney. I’m less opposed to the deal than others are (although not c-c-c-razy about it), so maybe I should have chosen a better way to get to my main point. Thank you for the response.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Fair enough. My problem with the opening sentence probably had as much to do with the overall coverage of the Soriano deal on RAB than the sentence itself.

                    I liked the bullpen analysis. I don’t necessarily think you needed a totally different lead-in, I just would have liked to see the positives given equal weight. Given the context of the general reaction to the Soriano deal and the sentence you wrote, it makes sense to mention the negatives… just after all the criticism of the deal I am sensitive to biased coverage of the signing.

                    I don’t actually love the Soriano deal. I would definitely like to see less $ or only 2 years. I just think that a lot of positives have gotten no play on RAB and that the only definite negative is $. This bullpen piece is one good example of the positives. The comp picks the Yanks might get, the fact that he’s entering theoretical prime years, his recent good health, his not actually being a starting pitcher and everyone’s real problem being with Cliff Lee spurning the Yankees… these are all things I am repeating ad nauseum because I think they need to be mentioned.

  • Chris

    Petitte really is the key. They should be able to acquire 1 good starter but without Andy they’ll need 2 assuming they can’t count on Burnett which I’m not.

  • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno (The Manchine)

    Joba & Nunez for Wandy?

    • Chris

      Nunez is worthless. Joba’s value is probably too low for Houston to bite. I’d rather see Joba given the chance to start.

      • http://www.retire21.com first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

        If Nunez is “worthless” why have at least two teams asked for him during trade negotiations?

        • Chris

          The guy is a utility infielder at best.

          • http://www.retire21.com first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

            Young cost controlled utility infielders have value.

            • Chris

              Cost controlled? What does a utility infielder make, $1-$1.5 million per year? Minimum salary for 2010 is $400K. You think that extra $1 million you’re saving makes a big difference? Just look at the money teams gave to free agents this winter. You’re not going to go far with $1 million.

              • Nigel Bangs

                A utility infielder on the Yankees gets significant playing time on virtually any other team.

                • Chris

                  So you’re saying Nunez is a valuable trade commodity, right? Good luck with that one.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Alcides Escobar was the centerpiece to the Greinke deal, and he’s not much better than Nunez. Nunez is a SS. Look around the league at some of the guys who started at SS last season and then tell me Nunez is worthless. Several starting SS had OPS’ in the .600s.

                  • Shaun

                    Why is there so much hatred for Nunez? The guy performed pretty well in his call up and everything he has done in the minors basically point to him being similar to Elvis Andrus, which isn’t really a bad thing. Nunez will never be like Jeter (aren’t many who will ever be)I can see him being a starter on more than a few teams in the MLB.

                    • Hughesus Christo

                      “…everything he has done in the minors basically point to him being similar to Elvis Andrus…”

                      WTF?

                    • Chris

                      It’s mind boggling that people can compare Nunez to Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar. Take off your Yankee blinders and see Nunez for what he’s really is, a fringe prospect who at best is gonna end up a light hitting middle infield utility man with no power and a little speed.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      “Take off your Yankee blinders and see Nunez for what he’s really is, a fringe prospect who at best is gonna end up a light hitting middle infield utility man with no power and a little speed.”

                      You realize you also just described Alcides Escobar, right?

                      http://www.baseball-reference......coba001alc

                      http://www.baseball-reference......nez-002edu

                      If you read what I wrote you’ll see that I am not touting Eduardo Nunez. I am saying there is little talent at the SS position right now. Look at Escobar’s MiLB number next to Nunez’s. Look at how many SS started around the Majors last season with dismal OPS’… Then tell me you disagree.

    • kosmo

      How about Nova and Adams and one other prospect for Carmona ?

      • Matt

        I’d do it if Cleveland would. Carmona is at least a solid number 3 with upside.

        • kosmo

          of course rumors everywhere that NY has interest in Carmona.Cleveland wants to shed payroll .Yanks can do a 3 or 4 for 1 swap.Yanks can, as an example , give up Nova ,Brackman and Adams or Joseph.

          • Matt

            I’d try to keep Brackman out of that deal if I could.

            • http://www.theyankeeu.com/author/steve-s/ Nostra-Artist

              Carmona doesn’t strike anybody out, walks 3 per 9 and was horrendous for 2 of the past 3 years. Why not just keep Nova and let him do the same for no money?

              Giving up Brackman+Nova and Adams/Joseph is just setting your stock of talent on fire.

              • Mickey Scheister

                Agreed. I will always remember Carmona giving up some big homeruns when he was in the tribes pen several years ago. One in particular to David Ortiz. I know it’s an extremely small sample size and he’s much improved since then, it just sticks with me. I feel Nova or Joba could put up comparable numbers without giving up 3 other prospects. Especially if including any of the three B’s.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    Hey, if we’ve got a lead headed into the seventh we might be set. The question therein is, can Sergio Mitre keep a lead for 6 innings?

    • ZZ

      The idea being thrown around here so much that Soriano does not help a weak starting staff is beyond ridiculous.

      First and foremost, Mitre or whoever will be the 5th starter is not the only pitcher on the staff. The other times when a starter takes you deep into the game you are more likely to win that game with Soriano. If the 5th starter really is Mitre or as bad as him, on the rare occasion he gives you a good game you are more likely to take full advantage and win the game. A better bullpen also takes pressure off the SP by being able to reduce their workload. Girardi does not have to push CC as hard if he trusts his bullpen more to protect the lead once he is out of the game. I remember on several occasions last year CC being gassed but Girardi had no faith in his bullpen leading up to Mariano so he left him in there. If the SP just keeps you in the game we are much less likely to see a Chad Gaudin strolling out of the bullpen to put the game out of reach, if the Yankees have a stronger and deeper bullpen like they have now.

      I could keep going on, but I think made my point.

      • The Three Amigos

        You did not make the point that Soriano helps a weak starting rotation. He helps the bullpen, meaning we should blow less leads and enable a few more comebacks. However, even if Soriano pitched literally a 0.0 ERA and had a 3 WAR for the year and 70 IP, that in no way helps helps the back of the rotation pitch better.

        If the score is 10-10, because our offense is great and our starting pitching sucks, it helps then in the later innings. But that still has no bearing on innings 1-5.

        The example you gave has CC pitching less innings and being better for him. OK, I can see that, but how does that help starters # 4 and 5 by CC getting more rest? It doesn’t. The point remains that until you sign a quality starter in the 4 or 5 hole, the rotation doesn’t get better. Based on your argument, sign Pujols because he will make the starters better too. Since he will add so many runs that who cares about starts 4 and 5.

        • Ted Nelson

          It doesn’t help the rotation pitch better. That should be really obvious and is not worth stating. It’s a logic thing. Most people here are not stupid. You’re basically arguing over semantics instead of the real issue.

          The point is that Soriano can take pressure off the rotation by helping the pitching staff be more effective as a whole. It’s not just about holding leads. Taking innings away from bad and/or tired starters, not giving innings to bad relievers, and keeping yourself in games you’re losing are also valuable.

          If you can pull Nova out of games (I don’t expect Mitre to break camp in the rotation once the Yankees acquire Garcia, Bonderman, and/or Blanton… and neither should you… I’m really tired of people crying Mitre before the season even starts) after 2 go rounds through the line-up and spare him from facing the top of the order a third time… you’ve increased your chance on winning. Provided that the bullpen holds. You need a strong bullpen to hold.

          The Yankees line-up is adept at wearing down starters and then putting runs on the board as the starter tires and mediocre relievers enter the game. So, even if your starter throws 5 innings and leaves with a 3 or 4 run hole… if the bullpen holds that’s a very winnable game. If you have to leave the starter out there for the 6th or your bullpen doesn’t hold… it’s a lot less winnable a game.

          A baseball game is 9 innings and a run scored in any of those innings counts as one point for your team. Pretty basic stuff.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        I remember on several occasions last year CC being gassed but Girardi had no faith in his bullpen leading up to Mariano so he left him in there.

        I don’t remember these games at all. In fact, I remember a few games where he did the exact opposite, took out a rolling CC for the bullpen. Box scores?

        • Ted Nelson

          CC pitched 240 innings and was 3rd in MLB (2nd in the AL) in IP… Hard to argue he was under-used. You can always argue either way on whether a guy should or should not be pulled. When a guy gives you that many innings, though, I’d just be happy and not advocate him getting 300 IP and blowing out his arm.

          Not that I think it’s that important to look at Soriano’s impact on CC in particular. It’s about the pitching staff as a whole. The Yankees will give up less runs as a team than they would have had they not signed Soriano. This will be a direct result of his innings and well as an indirect result of the innings taken away from inferior and/or tired pitchers.

  • Mike

    Sorry Joba, but I’d rather have Bard by a long shot.

    • http://www.retire21.com first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

      I think I might bookmark this comment and revisit it in October.

      • Angelo

        You should. Seriously.

      • Mike

        October? He might get traded by then.

  • I am not the droids you’re looking for

    Wait. We signed Rafael Soriano?

    Where the fuck is TSJC?

  • @TheDog_man

    I’d say a bullpen is not a little thing. It’s a huge thing. It was a key reason for 2009.

    • http://ww.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

      Huge thing compared to what though? Yes it’s great that a bullpen can close a 1 run game, but your SP needs to get you to the 7th before that can happen, and your offense needs to score enough too.

      • mike c

        You do know there’s also other good relievers that can be used as well. Best bullpen ever?

      • Ted Nelson

        It’s not just about preserving leads. There is this crazy thing that few people on this site seem to have heard of called a “come from behind win.”

        This concept involves the other team scoring more runs early in the game, but ultimately–after 9 or more innings–your team having a higher number of runs on the scoreboard than the other team.

        I was also shocked to learn that the sole function of a bullpen is not to preserve 1 run leads… Really crazy stuff. Totally out there. I mean, what will these kids today think of next? I mean the score after 9 innings is more important than the score after 5? Since when?

  • Chris

    My biggest problem with the Soriano signing is If the Yankees were going to pay $11 million per year for a setup man, they should have offered Kerry Wood arbitration. If he would have accepted you’d have a quality setup man for about the same cost as Soriano on a 1 year deal and if he declined you’d have an extra high draft pick.

    • Nigel Bangs

      I have a hard time believing that the plan was to bluff desire in Cliff Lee to drive up his price and then, once the dust has settled, go after the real target in Soriano.

      The circumstances of the offseason are why Soriano is a Yankee.

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

        The circumstances of the offseason are why Soriano is a Yankee.

        And the knee-jerk reactionaries in the front office who aren’t baseball ops people too. They carry a lot of the blame and/or credit for the Soriano deal as well.

        • Chris

          Cashman still should have been able to come to an agreement with Wood and Berkman where they could have offered them arbitration and have them decline like they did with Javy. they were both Type B’s so it wouldn’t have affected their ability to sign elsewhere. Cashman just threw away 2 sandwich round picks for no good reason.

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

            That’s a bit of a stretch. Those draft pick deals aren’t easy to do, and Berkman would have earned twice his 2011 salary via arbitration. If anything, the Yanks should have picked up Wood’s option, but who knew that Randy Levine would force the team to sign Soriano for an absurd amount?

            • Chris

              I don’t know why it’s a stretch. The yanks did it with Javy and the red sox did it with Felipe Lopez. Berkman especially wasn’t gonna sign with the Yankees to platoon at DH. Knowing that the yankees have the deepest pockets I find it hard to believe an agent would double cross the Yankees.

              • Ted Nelson

                Get a life. You have no idea what Cashman did or did not offer Wood and Berkman. He might well have asked them if they’d be willing to decline arbitration, and if either had half a brain they might have said “hell no I’m not.” Wood could have gotten $11-ish mill in arb and only got $1.5 mill in FA. I can see leaving a mill or two on the table to go to your preferred destination, but $10 mill?????? Suck it up and live in NY for an extra year. Retire after that and live where ever you damn well please. Kerry Wood will not make $10 mill for the rest of his baseball playing career. You’re also ignoring that Kerry Wood was bad for 1.5 seasons before coming to the Yankees and is more likely to be bad than good in 2011. Soriano is pretty sure to be very good.

                Berkman actually wouldn’t have been leaving too much money on the table, but it would have been a big risk for the Yankees to offer a contract they didn’t want to pay him and for Berkman to leave that money on the table.

                So, you are basically advocating the Yankees spending $20+ mill on two mediocre bench players and giving up on Cliff Lee before he made his decision. Good plan. This is why Cashman is GM and you are not (and I am not also).

            • mike c

              Nobody knows that, but whatever helps you sleep easier at night

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

                Mike c: What’s this directed at? Me or Chris?

      • RiddlemeThis

        I’ve heard the great one himself; Mariano Rivera; had more than a little to do with convincing ownership to overrule Cashman.

        • Hughesus Christo

          If true, Mo needs to stfu.

          • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

            Mo doesn’t have to STFU but the FO shouldn’t be making their decisions based on what a player says. That’s stupid.

    • Ted Nelson

      Kerry Wood was not a quality relief pitcher for all of 2009 and half of 2010. He caught lightning in a bottle in NYC. Clearly the market does not feel he can come close to that output going forward, or he would have gotten a whole lot more money.

      I will take a 31 year old Rafael Soriano for 3 years at 11 mill per over a 34 year old Kerry Wood at 1 year 11 mill per.

  • Dave the Ox

    Administrators, please; some word-limit max for these weekend writers. It’s the weekend. I’m rundown. Shorter, sweeter would be nice.

    • Big Juan

      No one’s forcing you to read it all. For everyone that complains about how long the articles are and how much effort it is to read it all, I’m willing to bet there are more people who really enjoy the writing and love having something to read on a slow Sunday.

      If you really want short and sweet there’s always Bleacher Report.

      • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

        Bleacher Report–not sweet

        • Big Juan

          More sarcasm than serious.

    • Riddering

      What are you, a Pedroia fan? ;)

      No, but really, if you need some lighter Yankee reading fare I suggest checking this out: http://tinyurl.com/4p3mf5m

  • http://yanksdraftsandprospects.blogspot.com/ Jake H

    the BP will be a huge strength for the Yankees. I think Soriano will opt out after the year also. This gives the Yankees time to develop Robertson and some of the relief prospects from the 2010 draft.

  • David

    Lets not get to overwhelmed with the depth of one inning talent. How about a long or middle man (they have room for 1 more pitcher dont forget Nova and Mitre will be starting). It seems that either Joba and Boone will be pitching 3 or 4 innings some nights. Bad bullpen construction so far

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

      Having a bunch of really good arms is not “bad” bullpen construction. Their long man will presumably be Mitre, if they land another pitcher, or a Romulo Sanchez type up from AAA. An unknown long man doesn’t at all make the bullpen “bad.”

      • mike c

        Bad bullpen? That’s crazy talk

  • Mickey Scheister

    I’d be overly ecstatic to see the farm hands given an opportunity to succeed in the pen or rotation. Rather than giving up too much for another teams back of the rotation option.

    I really hope if someone gets shelfed they go to the farm and not, gulp, Gaudin…

    I NEVER want to see Gaudin in a Yanks uni EVER again, ANY AA or AAA option is better than Gaudin.

  • Dillon

    Guys at RAB.

    Before I critique subject matter I want to thank u guys for having the site that I prob visit most of the net. I love it, thx!

    The bullpen strength article is good and true, but why haven’t you guys written more about the elephant in the room? Brian Cashman’s reign as a final decision making GM has been for plenty enough time to ask: How can you possibly allow your team to be in position to enter the 2011 season with a starting 5 of CC, Hughes, AJ, scrap heap, and rookie? The Sox have Lester, Bucholtz, Beckett, Lackey, Dice-K. As great a pen we could have, it won’t mean a thing with that starting 5 disparity.

    • Ted Nelson

      Ummm… they have asked that. That’s a main point of the Joba should be starting whine… I mean article.

      A better question, though, is whether you’d rather Cashman overpay to get a mediocre starter before the season or bide his time until a good starter becomes available at a reasonable price? That’s the question you should be asking yourself as a fan. The answer seems really painfully clear to me. Instead of going out and giving up a ridiculous package of prospects for an overpaid #3 starter… wait until teams are looking to deal pitchers. Everyone thinks they’re a contender in January, or at least wants their season ticket buyers to think they are.

      And, don’t be so mesmerized by names. Dice-K stinks and the Sox vastly overpaid to acquire him. Lackey is alright but declining and the Sox vastly overpaid to get him. And Beckett’s coming off a bad year. Chances are pretty decent that Someone internally can emerge and match up with Dice-K. Chances are also pretty good that at some point before the trade deadline the Yankees will have traded for someone as good as or better than Lackey. The Yankees don’t even need to beat the Red Sox in the regular season. They just need to get into the playoffs. Can do that with the Wild Card. Then it’s a different game and who your 5th starter is becomes irrelevant.

    • bpdelia

      i’m a consistent Cashman defender but I have to admit that this is a least a fair question to ask.
      There really wasn’t anything he could do this offseason and I’m not suggesting that anything could have been done but it is a fair critique to say that it is the GMS responsibility to go into a season with a rookie who the scouting reports suggest has a best case ceiling of a #5 and Mitre who we would be thrilled if he pitched only slightly less than league average. Again, not saying this was a no brainer easy problem to solve but there is some validity to the critique.
      I personally am pleased to not be locked into any contracts that would preclude 2 out of the B’s, Noesi, Nova, Mitchell, Phelps, Joba, et al from filling the 4 and five slots soon. It isn’t terribly unrealistic to project that within 2 years we should be able to get two league average or better starters from that group.

      • Ted Nelson

        I just find the emphasis a lot of people are placing on “going into the season” to be impatient. Spring training has not started, yet fans are already criticizing Cashman for his starting rotation as if it were set in stone. Furthermore, the rotation that starts the season doesn’t have to be the one that ends it. A much better trade might come along in-season than now.

        The Yankees can spend a couple of mill on a Freddy Garcia/ Jeremy Bonderman type shot in the offseason. See how it goes. And then if they need to go out and get a starter mid-season. If the alternatives Cashman is looking at are that or giving up some sort of Jesus, Banuelos, etc. package for some Wandy Rodriguez as if he were an elite pitcher… I think the choice is clear. Hence, I think criticism is unfair at this point. If at the end of the season the Yankees are not in the playoffs… criticize away.

  • Ted Nelson

    “There’s a lot to dislike about the Rafael Soriano signing: the loss of a draft pick, the injury risk, the salary and the fact that Sergio Mitre is still the fifth starter.”

    Soriano has nothing to do with Sergio Mitre being a leading candidate for the 5th starter job. Unrelated. The Yankees didn’t decide to sign Soriano over Cliff Lee or something. The Yankees will figure out their rotation in due time.

    The draft pick is hardly a factor at all. You’ve got about a 20% chance of getting a MLB player at the #31 pick, and maybe a 5% chance of getting a good one. Plus the Yankees stand to recoup or double that pick when Soriano leaves. Non-factor. Good chance the Yankees actually gain long-term here if Soriano leaves as a Type A FA.

    You’ve got an injury risk with any player. Soriano is going to be 31-33 on this deal, so it’s not a huge concern. I mean what medical training and intimate knowledge of Rafael Soriano’s files do you have to say that injuries he suffered several years ago point to a pattern of “injury proneness” that will impact him going forward. It’s as ridiculous and arbitrary as the amateur diagnoses that Greinke can’t hack it in NY because of social anxiety. Let’s leave these things to the medical professionals.

    So, you’re left with the salary. That’s the only real downside to this signing. The Yankees overpaid. A top end closer is going to be getting at least like 9 mill per, though, especially in what should be prime years. So, they gave the guy at most $3 mill too much per season. 1.5% of their budget… I’m ok with that. I’m not thrilled, but I’ve moved on.

  • bpdelia

    I think we’ll end up getting a starter at some point and the number 5 this year will be a combo of Nova, Noesi, Brackman, Phelps and hopefully Joba. One of those guys will emerge as a reliable 5 at worst.

    I would hope that Banuelos and Bettances earn promotions to SWB after the all star break and next year we will see one of them crack the rotation around June.

    Again, as constructed the yankees can make the playoffs and thats the goal. For me I want to just compete until We can see where these arms are. IF Bettances and Banuelos stay healthy this season we will be in a great position going forward. If a trade is to be made I’d want it to be for a Garland, Blanton type fifth starter and requires us to give up Nova, Laird type returns.

    • twac00

      I think Joba will be the #4 and if Cash uses his ninja magic to make a deal for a pitcher Joba will shift to the #5 slot. At least I hope that’s the case.

      • Ted Nelson

        Unless there’s some breaking news, the Yankees are reportedly in the running for Freddy Garcia and Jeremy Bonderman as we speak.

        I completely agree that Mitre is probably not opening the season in the rotation. And I wish people would stop bashing Cashman for what his rotation looks like in January.

        • Matt

          Ted Nelson needs to come back to reality. He criticizes the Red Sox for signing Dice K and Lackey but didn’t Cashman make the same kind of mistake with Burnett (not even to mention Igawa and Pavano)? Cashman most likely is going to end up give up a kings ransom for a number 3 or 4 starter type in sometime in June or July to cover up for his inability to put together a championship caliber starting rotation before the season started. Bonderman, Garcia…you must be kidding.

          • Ted Nelson

            I never said that Brian Cashman is perfect and has never made a mistake in his life. I said that the Red Sox do not walk on water just because their roster looks good on paper, and that the Yankees are returning a 95 win team.

            I am dealing with reality. The reality is that it’s January. The Yankees have not announced their starting rotation yet. They have not finished the 2011 season yet. So, why are you already deciding what is going to happen before and during the 2011 season?

            The Angels picked up Dan Haren mid-season last year and did not give up “a king’s ransom.” Cliff Lee was traded in season. There’s no evidence that you have to pick up players in the offseason or that prices rise in-season as a rule.

            Bonderman and Garcia are going to cost about $2 mill plus incentives and are better than Sergio Mitre. Maybe you get lucky and they have quality seasons. Worst case you’re back where you started with Mitre or whoever and out 1% of your 2011 budget. Medium case they give you an up-and-down couple of months until you find someone better. I’m not saying I really want either. I’m saying that depending on the trade market right now, one or both of those might be the best short-term move(s).

            There’s reality for you champ.

  • Mike HC

    How is Sergio Mitre still being the fifth starter a downside to the Soriano signing? If the Yanks didn’t sign Soriano, wouldn’t Mitre still be the fifth starter? I don’t get that at all.

    Also, this analysis seems to be ridiculously, unnecessarily complicated. FIP does not give an accurate picture of only Mo(?), so they made a stat specifically to mirror how great Mo really is? Why not just look at the results then and forget all the other noise. It mushes a ton of different factors together, some objective and some subjective, into one number which gives an accurate picture of nothing in particular. I honestly feel like I would know less about the effectiveness of relievers if I took any of this analysis seriously. Just my opinion obviously.

    • Mike HC

      This might have been a bit harsh. Take my general point, and scale it back a notch or two.

  • Brock Cohen

    I have to say, this metrics really make me reconsider the wisdom of the Soriano signing. He will help, no doubt. But losing out on 13 mil plus, plus luxury tax implications, plus a first round draft pick in a stacked draft (I realize we’d get two if he opts out), is probably too much to give up considering how strong the pen already was in the first place.

    Unless, of course, they plan on giving Joba another shot.

    But I admit to being occasionally seduced by pretty, shiny things, hence my initial positive reaction to the Soriano deal.