There is more than one way to build a bullpen, and the Yankees employ basically all of them. They have high-priced imports (Rafael Soriano), homegrown pieces (Mariano Rivera and David Robertson), trade pickups (Boone Logan), and scrap heap signings (Cory Wade). A few seasons ago they went the scrap heap route and signed Brian Bruney to a minor league contract about six weeks after the Diamondbacks released him in the middle of the 2006 season.
Bruney, then just 24, saved a dozen games for Arizona in 2005, though he pitched to a 7.43 ERA and 5.11 FIP while doing so. Bruney was young, threw very hard, and had a track record of racking up huge strikeout totals, so the Yankees took a flier on him. He struck out 22 in 14.1 IP for Triple-A Columbus before being called up in mid-August. Bruney was dominant the rest of the season, striking out 25 and allowing just a pair of runs in 20.2 IP. That earned him a spot on the roster next season.
Over the next three seasons, Bruney was dominant, terrible, hurt, and everything in between. A Lisfranc sprain derailed an otherwise strong season in 2008 (1.83 ERA and 3.45 FIP), then elbow trouble cost him the eighth inning job in early-2009. He went on the DL, rushed himself back, then re-injured it. During his 3+ seasons in pinstripes, Bruney had pitched to a 3.25 ERA (4.66 FIP) with 8.18 K/9 and 5.70 BB/9 in 144 IP. That amounted to 0.5 fWAR and 2.5 bWAR. It seemed like he came to camp 10-20 lbs. lighter every year, but it never helped him harness his admittedly nasty stuff.
The Yankees traded Bruney to the Nationals two years ago today, receiving a player to be named later in return. That player was Jamie Hoffmann, who the Yanks instructed Washington to take with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft the next day. Hoffmann didn’t make it through Spring Training, but the Yankees were likely to non-tender Bruney later than month because he was due to make close to $2M in 2010. Bruney has pitched to a 7.23 ERA with 32 walks and 32 strikeouts in 37.1 big league innings since then, bouncing from the Nats to the Brewers to the Mets to the White Sox. He’s currently a free agent and struggling to hang on, so the Yankees likely received the best stretch of his career after rolling the dice.
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Here is tonight’s open thread. There’s college basketball on all over the place, plus the Rangers and Islanders are both playing tonight. Talk about whatever you like here, just don’t be a jerk.