How Romulo Sanchez Fits

The time is not now for Banuelos
2011 Season Preview: Joba & Robertson
Attractive, Romulo. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Heading into spring training, the Yankees bullpen situation appeared relatively set. Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Pedro Feliciano constituted six out of the seven members. Sergio Mitre or Ivan Nova figured to be the last. But, as so often happens, guys got hurt. While Mitre appears ready for action again, the Yankees are taking a more cautious tack with Chamberlain. If he doesn’t respond to treatment for his oblique, his absence could open up an opportunity in the bullpen.

One pitcher who could benefit is Romulo Sanchez. Acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Eric Hacker, Sanchez entered his second Yankees camp with an ultimatum. Since he’s out of options, the Yankees must add him to the active roster or else expose him to waivers. Given his hard-throwing nature, there’s a strong chance that another team takes a chance. Previously Sanchez’s departure seemed a foregone conclusion. But now with a couple of injuries in camp he might have a chance.

When the Pirates traded Sanchez to the Yankees, he didn’t appear to have much potential. For the first two years of his minor league career he possessed the undesirable combination of low strikeout rate and high walk rate. But in 2007 he started mowing down more hitters and walking fewer, which led to his first big league call-up. That was a mostly unsuccessful 18 innings, but the promise was still there. But in 2008, in AAA, his strikeout rate dipped again. He did pitch 13.1 big league innings scattered throughout the year, but he wasn’t particularly impressive. That helps explain why the Pirates traded him for a low-potential pitcher such as Hacker.

Again in 2009 Sanchez saw his strikeout rate spike, this time to nearly a batter per inning in Scranton. His walk rate was still high, but that’s always easier to stomach with a high strikeout rate. In 2010 he showed that it was no fluke, as he struck out 8.3 per nine. Of course, he also walked 5.1 per nine. His lack of control was on display during his paltry 4.1 innings in the Bronx, most of which came during an early May appearance against the Red Sox. The potential remains, but the control issues are what holds Sanchez back.

This spring has seen more of the same. Sanchez has pitched in four games, totaling 4.1 innings, and has walked four batters. Yet he has struck out only one. Even still, as Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday, scouts have been impressed by Sanchez. That’s not too surprising, since spring stats, especially in such a minuscule sample, can be deceiving. If he really has looked impressive this spring, it would be a shame for the Yankees to lose him. With their current injuries, they might not have to.

If Chamberlain opens the season on the DL, I’m fairly certain that Sanchez would take his place. That would only last a week or so, but it would give Sanchez a big league audition before the Yankees make a decision on him. Perhaps that extra time will convince the Yankees that Sanchez is a suitable replacement for Sergio Mitre. But, chances are that it will just delay his inevitable placement on the waiver wire.

On a team with fewer options in the bullpen, Sanchez makes sense. Even on the Yankees he might provide a better option than Mitre in the seventh-man/long-man bullpen role. Still, the concerns about his wildness will probably prevent him from capturing a long-term spot on the team. Injuries to two relievers might open up a temporary opportunity, but Sanchez still likely won’t be a Yankee come May.

The time is not now for Banuelos
2011 Season Preview: Joba & Robertson
  • kosmo

    I´d say yes Sanchez is a “suitable replacement for Mitre“.

  • Mister Delaware

    The crazy thing about that picture? He’s drinking, not spitting.

    • Dale Mohorcic

      Then he sucks impressively.

    • Chops

      Don’t judge. He has a drinking problem.

  • Fair Weather Freddy

    Perhaps they can get something for him if he is impressing scouts. hate to just let him go for nothing then

  • Monteroisdinero

    He’s a hard thrower with an excellent changeup that he can throw for strikes. I like him.

    • Joe Pawlikowski

      I don’t see any indication that he throws anything for strikes.

  • bottom line

    Ayala has also looked pretty good this spring. Excellent movement on his pitches. Is he recovering from injury? A realistic option?

  • Andrew

    Romulo needs to make the roster so they can do a shot-for-shot remake of Heavyweights starring him, Colon and Garcia.

  • UncleArgyle

    Wait, is that a picture of Romulo Sanchez, or the Dinosaur who killed Newman in “Jurrasic Park”?

  • the Other Steve S.

    I applaud your ongoing efforts to find a way to get meat-tray off this team.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    “How Romulo Sanchez Fits


    • MannyGeee

      well played… I was going with “with a shoehorn” or “barely”…

      but snuggly is a TON better….

      see what I did there? these things write themselves

  • Jorge

    I’d be fine with Sanchez in place of Mitre. I liked the small sample I saw out of him last year, and my fantasy of getting a couple Wang/Webb type of years out of Mitre faded away a while ago. I don’t think it’d come back and bite the team if they did that.

  • steve s

    How ironic. Even if UYW (James) baseball comments proved to be ultimately correct any “thinking” contributors to this site know that once the ad hominem attacks are included in the argument the credibility of the source goes south. If the goal, on the other hand, is to attack Mike on his home turf (in a misguided attempt to persuade people who generally like Mike and his opinions to your view) you again are showing poor judgment leading to a negative halo effect on your baseball comments. IMO if you combine making your points with a little common politeness you’d have a more receptive audience for your positions.

    • steve s

      Don’t know how this happened but this comment belongs to the prior thread on Manny.

  • Jobu The Voodoo Troll

    I think that the correct caption for that picture is:

    “Romulo Sanchez spits venom at an opposing batter during spring training game”

  • MannyGeee

    His lack of control was on display during his paltry 4.1 innings in the Bronx, most of which came during an early May appearance against the Red Sox. The potential remains, but the control issues are what holds Sanchez back.

    I was at that game.

    First Dallas Breaden throws his No-NO and “represents the 219” with his toothless meth smoking grandma (I tried to stay off his mound, but I failed tremendously)… then had to watch the C’s win a playoff game in the Boston Beer Works outside of Fenway… then Bad AJ makes the trip to Fenway and gives up a homerun to JEREMY FKING HERMEDIA, then I got lost leaving that shithole.

    fantastic experience

  • Mister Delaware

    I’ll be the dissenter and say I don’t see the point of carrying him. A 23 year old guy who works in the mid 90s but hasn’t been able to show command or dominate the minors is one thing but Romulo is about to turn 27. If he can’t maintain a better than 2.0 SO/BB in the minors, what should we expect when he’s facing legit big leaguers? Not to mention (SSS aside) that his numbers actually got worse when he went from rotation to pen in SWB. Upside (righty) bullpen arms in the system are great but they shouldn’t be in the Bronx until having proven some level of minor league dominance, a la 2008 David Robertson.

    I’m with the poster above, I’d rather see Ayala get the spot and see if he has a few more months of decent results in his arm. If nothing else, atleast we can be relatively sure he won’t come in, walk two guys and have to get yanked right back out.