The Soft Underbelly

Fan Confidence Poll: July 2nd, 2012
Update: Yankees sign Luis Torrens, Yancarlos Baez, and Alex Palma
Shave that facial hair, Chad. (AP)

The injuries to CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have hurt the Yankees in more ways than one. Obviously the biggest loss is in the rotation, where both guys where providing the team with lots of high quality innings every five days. As we saw with Adam Warren, plucking a kid out of Triple-A and inserting him into the rotation is much more effective in theory than in practice. It’ll be impossible for David Phelps and Freddy Garcia to replace what Sabathia and Pettitte the team on the field, so the Yankees are just going to have to hope they can tread water for the time being.

The losses of CC and Andy go beyond the rotation, however. Garcia’s move to the rotation also weakens the bullpen despite what will surely be D.J. Mitchell’s best efforts. Cory Wade’s crash back the Earth and the still weird acquisition of Chad Qualls further weaken the middle relief corps. Both Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley have been effective matchup guys, but asking them to face batters of the opposite hand on a regular basis is a recipe for trouble. There’s no way around it, the team’s biggest weakness right now are those innings between the starter and the Boone Logan/David Robertson setup duo.

To make matters worse, Garcia is not stretched out — he’s probably scheduled for something like 60-70 pitches tonight — and Phelps is expected to throw only 80 pitches when he makes his return to the rotation on Wednesday. Not only is the middle relief a sore spot, but the Yankees will send two starters to the mound against the Rays this week who will be unable to pitch deep into the game. The Mitchells and Wades and Quallses will be ripe for exposure. That also puts some pressure on Ivan Nova to give the team some distance on Tuesday. After years of beating up on the middle relievers of other teams, the Yankees might get a taste of their own medicine against Tampa.

The good news is that this is just temporary. Sabathia figures to be back shortly after the All-Star break and both Garcia and Phelps will get stretched out before long. Middle relief is relatively easy to fix, at least in the sense those guys are easy to replace if they stink. The Yankees aren’t committed to any of them long-term, so if Qualls stinks they can cut him and try someone else. If Wade doesn’t right the ship they can send him on his way. Joe Girardi & Co. have been building and rebuilding bullpens on the fly for five years now, no reason they can’t do it again. For the next three days though, we’re all going to have to hold our breath whenever that bullpen door swings open prior to the seventh inning.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 2nd, 2012
Update: Yankees sign Luis Torrens, Yancarlos Baez, and Alex Palma
  • Jim Is Bored

    “There’s no way around it, the team’s biggest weakness right now are those innings between the starter and the Boone Logan/David Robertson setup duo.”

    Every single MLB team is weakest at that point. And some don’t have the security of a D-Rob/Logan.

    If this is our team’s biggest worry, I’m pretty happy with it.

    • jjyank

      I agree. I think relative to other teams, the Yankees bullpen, even middle relief, is a strong suit.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I still don’t think the Qualls acquisition is weird. He’s sort of a “name” guy as far as relievers go, cost next to nothing, and the team probably holds out hope that he can pivot and be effective in the short-term. Beats shelling out someone of value for middle relief help. That being said, I’m not expecting much from him.

    This is where depth matters and, when people come on here and comment about the team wasting their time signing AAA depth, they don’t get it. The team is here because they now need to reach into that depth.

    My hope again is that DJ Mitchell makes the most of his opportunity to show he belongs in the big leagues. Phelps has made the most of it thus far. Warren didn’t do it in his first opportunity.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I still have hope for Warren.

      Without any proof at all, it would seem to me that nerves would cause a “location” guy to get hit pretty hard, whereas they would cause a “stuff” guy to be wild. Probably not accurate, and I’m not even sure Warren was missing his spots, but it’s what I’m telling myself to believe he’ll be better if he gets a second chance.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I definitely have hope for him. I just think these three guys are in “step up and impress” mode this season and that fallbacks, for whatever reason, don’t help anyone’s cause.

    • Ted Nelson

      Agree, but I think Qualls will be fine. 7 Hs, 6 Ks, and 1 BB in the 8.1 IP (9 Gs) between a couple of shellings. I’m sure there will be the occasional shelling in NY, but should also be a lot of clean innings.

  • Steve (different one)

    Qualls seems like he was picked up because they think it’s possible Wade is cooked. Looking for a veteran guy to throw some mediocre innings in low leverage situations.

    They don’t need him to be great, just better than Wade, who can’t be trusted at all right now.

    Having an era around 4.5-5, means you are giving up a run every other inning. That would be a clear upgrade over the current version of Wade, who seems like he gives up 3-4 every time out….

    That said, I’ll be surprised if Qualls is on the roster on Sept 1. They’re throwing crap against the wall and hoping for something to stick.

  • Matt

    Count me in the camp who thinks it’s weird, but it’s less so if there’s some notion of optioning or DLing Wade. But otherwise, the timing makes it even odder. If the roster move isn’t Wade – I suppose it could be Eppley, which would make no sense currently, essentially replacing a ROOGY with a less effective version – then you have to assume it’s Mitchell. In which case the notion of a three game set in Tampa, two of those games being started by Freddy and Phelps, who aren’t stretched even if effective, without a long man in the pen, seems nonsensical.

    Not like I’m married to Cody Eppley. But I think Joe does a good job using him and that he’s legitimately effective against righties. Qualls, I worry a bit about being used as more of a full inning guy, when it’s not longer clear he has any ability to handle lefties.

    I’m happy enough to have Qualls, no problem having depth, or just throwing middle relievers against the wall, but strange timing giving the current needs of the staff.

    • Matt

      Let me just correct myself on one point and that’s, looking at it a little more,it’s probably fair to say that Qualls, even now, would be an upgrade over Eppley, if he’s only going to be used right on right.

      Career Splits v. RHB (and these are MLB splits, so Eppley’s got an awfully SSS, he’s got, I believe, a pretty substantial MILB track record in handling RHB):

      Eppley: .318 wOBA, 5.23 FIP
      Qualls .306 wOBA, 3.84 FIP

      2012 v. RHB

      Eppley: .279 wOBA, 4.14 FIP
      Qualls .291 wOBA, 3.42 FIP

      looking at Qualls’ splits since 2008, he’s been extremely effective against righties (much more so than I would have thought) – but 2009 was the last time that lefties didn’t simply kill him.

      v. RHB .291 wOBA, 3.42 FIP
      v. LHB .483 wOBA, 8.97 FIP

      v. RHB .247 wOBA, 3.18 FIP
      v. LHB .367 wOBA, 4.88 FIP

      v. RHB .320 wOBA, 3.02 FIP
      v. LHB ,449 wOBA, 5.57 FIP

      v. RHB .275 wOBA, 3.65 FIP
      v. LHB .329 wOBA, 2.58 FIP

      So I suppose then that if one wants to view Qualls as an upgrade over Eppley, he may well be, just provided that he’s strictly used ala Eppley, to match up against RHB (or in garbage time). That said, I’d be surprised if the move is for Eppley, and a pen with all of Qualls, Eppley and Rapada makes virtually no structural sense.

  • jjyank

    I don’t mind Qualls. Like I said in the game thread yesterday, given the team’s track record of scrap heap pick ups, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

  • crawdaddy

    I don’t think it’s weird either with Wade having problems, Aardsma’s set back and with two starters being stretched out again. With middle relievers you generally try to catch lightening in the bottle.


    I’ve brought this up before, and i’ll do it again.. I’d look into the padres Carlos Quentin and Huston Street.. See if we can do a deal like we did with Pittsburgh a couple yrs ago where we got Marte and Nady in the same deal.. Quentin is miles above Andruw Jones, and would be power off the bench, and a solid starter against lefties in LF, and if we lose Swisher, Quentin could be a solid guy to fall back on.. Street, Roberton, Logan, and Soriano, makes for a sweet 4some at the end of games, and then when we get Joba back, were in total control at all parts in the pen, esepcially if Rapada keeps pitching well.. I think that deal would make the most sense for the yanks, and i’d be willing to give up quite a bit to make it happen..

    • Robinson Tilapia

      This is exactly the type of trade where the other team would ask for the moon and stars.

      I suppose Marte’s playoff run was worth Tabata, but I think the asking price here would be players I’m not willing to move for either of those two.

      • Steve (different one)

        That, and Tabata not being very good, and probably older than believed….

      • Ted Nelson

        Agreed. Fairly marginal short-term upgrade that’s probably not worth it. I know nothing about his health, but if healthy i think Andruw will turn it on against LHP soon.

    • BK2ATL

      Quentin alone would cost substantially more than the Marte/Nady package. We wouldn’t be the only players in that game against teams better equipped to offer higher-end prospects. Same with Street.

      Also, Jones is a MUCH better defender than Quentin, and less injury-prone.

      Check out what SD got in return for Latos, Gonzalez, as well as Mike Adams. They’re not gonna roll over and give away their key pieces for nothing.

    • Kosmo

      Last year the Giants gave up probably their best pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler for 2 months of Beltran. No reason to suggest that the Pads would want nothing less.


        Carlos Beltran is significantly better then Carlos Quentin, and some would say, a super star, with 5tool talent.. Quentin is a bit injury prone, and not a 300BA type hitter, and not a switch hitter.. All things tht would make Quentin a bit cheaper.. And it dosen’t have to be 2months of anything, as we can easily re-sign Quentin, and it gives us a fall back option, if we lose swisher.. Look at all the prospects we gave up in the Mate/nady deal, not one of em has amounted to much.. Also, our farm is just rotting away and losing value by the day.. No one is probably gonna tuch Dellin Betances at this point,a nd i’m sure teams are a bit weary about Banuelos now, and Heatahcott is always hurt, and Warren and Dj mitchell have done nothing but lose value, and Bichette has shown no power, and Culver’s not improved his hitting at all, and Romine is injured, and Laird has turned out to be a topped out at Triple AAA type player, and so on and so fourth.. Another words, its not as if were losing sure first talent.. Not to mention, were trying to win this yr, and are pretty darn close.. A move like this can push us over the top, and if we can get Street, it gives us another alternative down the line to fill Mo’s shoes, if RObertson dosen’t succeed there, and if we lose soriano after next yr…

        • Ted Nelson

          Beltran wasn’t/isn’t an injury risk?

          Cheaper than Zach Wheeler is still expensive.

          If no one is trading for the Yankees “rotting” farm system, why are the Padres trading him to the Yankees? (That’s how farm systems work, though. The Yankees is not rotting. Any of those guys could turn it around tomorrow, and you conveniently left out like 90% of their prospects who are having fine years.)

    • 7commerce

      Reasonable moves…Q & St. May just be too rich for our blood (yep, I wrote that)…but good mid to long-term improvement. What do u give up to land those 2 players…effect on 25-man roster?

  • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

    They should give DeWayne Wise a chance as lefty out of the pen. He looked pretty good the other day.

  • your mom

    If the Yankees win 1 of 3 in Tampa I’ll take it. Just beat the damn Red Sox this weekend!

    • Rafael Soriano

      Have the feeling they are going to sweep the Rays. The Rays are playing very poorly right now and their pitchers, outside of Price are doing so well either. I’m thinking 2 of 3 minimum. I’ll take a split with the Sox. Some combination of 5-2 on this road trip would put them 21 above .500 before AS break.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I can see 5-2 this stretch. Book it.

        • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

          Dude, 7-0.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            *changed booking*

        • Rafael Soriano

          Weird. I didn’t know this..Courtesy of ESPN today.

          “The Tampa Bay Rays host the New York Yankees on Monday having lost two straight, six of seven, and nine of their past 12 games. Since the 12-game stretch began on June 20, the Rays have scored 3.1 runs per game (26th in MLB) and hit .215 as a team (28th in MLB).

          The Yankees, conversely, come to town winners of two in a row and seven of their past nine games but they haven’t had much success at Tropicana Field of late.

          The Yankees have lost their past seven road meetings with the Rays, tied for their longest road losing streak against a single opponent in over 20 years. The Yankees haven’t lost eight straight such games since losing 15 in a row against the Rangers during a stretch spanning the 1989, 1990, and 1991 seasons.”

          So yeah, a sweep this week is in order.

      • Kramerica Industries


    • Brian S.

      Yeah I could give a shit about the Rays. But man, how sweet would it be to go 6-0 in Fenway? It would be like last year in reverse.

  • Fernando

    It’s got to be either a DL stint or a demotion for Wade. I wouldn’t get rid of him, as he was valuable until this recent stretch. Qualls has been effective before though he had a terrible 2010 (only time in the AL).

    If Qualls fails, he can easily be dumped with retreads like Igarishi, DelCarmen, Bulger, Thomas and Cedeno waiting in the wings in AAA. They could also give Whitley a chance, since he’s been pitching multiple innings in AAA.

    The team has been successful in finding cheap pickups(Garcia, Colon, Wade, Ayala, Eppley and Rapada) so they’ll keep picking up guys until they find the right combo.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Just go longer with our starters when they are pitching well. No micromanaging the staff until Boone/Drob or Soriano are game-eligible. There is nothing wrong with a CGSO or staying in the game after giving up an 8th inning hit when we are up 3-1 etc.

    • Steve (different one)

      Well, Nova was only up 2-1 when he was lifted. Letting him face Dunn in that spot would have been dumb.

      Sometimes the players give up runs. It’s not all on the manager.

      • BK2ATL

        Dude, Nova was lifted in the 8th inning. Fine. The relievers combined to close out the 8th inning. Again, fine. Things went according to plan.

        At that point, against a 1st place team with offensive firepower, you bring in your “closer” to close out the game to START the 9th. There’s no mixing-and-matching in the 9th. No need to over-think it. Soriano wasn’t available. Robertson was the closer from before the game even started. Everyone knew it.

        The only thing that changed, and the reason that things went left, was Girardi’s over-thinking of the situation. He certainly would’ve let Mariano start the 9th in that situation. Same with Soriano. He put Robertson in that awkward situation, where he wasn’t even warmed up enough.

        There was no good excuse for that. Rapada and Eppley shouldn’t have been used in the 9th. Point-blank, it all started there. Management. They should never have been in that situation to begin with.

        • Steve (different one)

          Don’t disagree, but that isn’t the complaint I was responding to.

    • Ted Nelson

      The starters have been consistently going deep into games. There is such a thing as fatigue, though.

  • Kosmo

    Qualls will be auditioning for a job thru the month of July in the meantime NY will definitely be looking to upgrade the bullpen come the trade deadline. Right now the biggest concern is with the bullpen.
    NY should be looking for a solid veteran reliever.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      This is exactly the line of thinking I don’t get. A “solid veteran reliever” will have too high of an asking price for someone who will be pitching mostly low-leverage innings. When I see a guy like Qualls, I think this is exactly the type of low-risk depth the team should be acquiring.

      I personally would never, ever give up anything of value for middle relief. I am also never, ever, going to be hired as a GM.

      • Fernando

        I agree with you Robinson. No need to pay anything for a middle relief guy that won’t be pitching much. There’s a bunch of vets at AAA and a few young options like Whitley at AAA.

        • Kosmo

          IMO Yanks aren´t looking toward vets at AAA for help if they did then no need to acquire Qualls and Whitley hasn´t been pitching that well of late.

          The Yanks can´t with confidence feel comfortable with the likes of Rapada, Eppley or Wade/Qualls.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Why wouldn’t they comfortable? They’ve been about as effective/ineffective as anyone else they could stick there.

            80’s fans, remember when the Yanks somehow wound up with Lee Smith for a couple of months?

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, i think that theyl’ll look but only touch if it’s low risk and/or good value… And Qualls is exactly that type of low risk veteran.

  • BK2ATL

    Count me in the weird Qualls’ acquisition group.

    Unless they are shutting Aardsma down long-term, don’t think Wade will correct himself after a bad June, and don’t think Joba will be ready until September, then I guess it’s purely a speculative depth move.

    At this stage, he’s gotta be nothing more than the 6th short reliever in the bullpen after Wade, Rapada, Eppley, Logan, Robertson, Soriano, before the long man (Mitchell/Phelps).

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Even with pushing Wade to the back of the line for now, that’s not a bad bullpen.

      • Brian S.

        15 day DL please.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          *Brian S. placed on 15-day DL, at his request. Jeter rejoices.*

    • Ted Nelson

      Qualls is better than Eppley and right mow better than Wade.

      What’s weird about acquiring depth?

      • BK2ATL

        You say this based on what???

        Qualls is available for a reason, esp. from a team in need of relievers. And that reason wasn’t money.

        Eppley has performed better than both Wade and much better Qualls lately.

  • Kramerica Industries

    Funny to see the nature of how bullpens work.

    Two weeks ago, the entire bullpen was deep. The questions were “who can really be axed if/when Jobber and/or Aardsma return?”

    Between Wade’s total ineffectiveness, the injuries to Andy and C.C., and Aardsma’s setback, suddenly the bullpen looks a whole helluva lot thinner than it did then, didn’t it?

    Just more reason why there’s no reason think about that stuff in serious depth. Invariably, “good” bullpen problems sort themselves out, for better or for worse, usually for worse.

    • Kramerica Industries

      Fortunately, the Yankees are seeing what should be a reeling Tampa Bay team with one actual good hitter in their lineup right now*. If there is a lineup in the American League for Freddy and Phelps to navigate, it’s this one**.

      *Kiss of death. I’m pretty sure the Rays had a lineup loaded with .220 hitters last year when they hit five home runs against Sabathia, so I just damned this series.

      **Non-Seattle division

    • Jim Is Bored

      Thinner being relative of course. Since we’re still in amazing shape compared to most other teams.

      • Kramerica Industries


  • LiterallyFigurative

    I don’t see the big deal in regards to adding Qualls.

    Most bullpen guys are of the lightning in a bottle variety. They may be good for a year, then stink the next. Heck some guys are month to month. Maybe we’ve gotten all we can get out of Wade.

    Qualls, or some AAA guy can be the middle guy. It’s really not a big deal. These kinds of guys are middle relief guys simply because they aren’t good enough to be late-inning guys. You use them until they aren’t doing the job anymore.

    Define a spoiled Yankee Fan: Worrying about the 24th and 25th men on the roster of a team 5 games in first place.

  • Samuel

    “To make matters worse, Garcia is not stretched out — he’s probably scheduled for something like 60-70 pitches tonight.”

    Then If Garica is doing well, he throw’s more than 6-70 pitches. What is the problem with having a journeyman 35 year old pitcher throwing more than “what is is scheduled for?”

    So now the rule is to baby the arms of guys who are not going to be with the team after this season?

    Have him throw till his goddamned arm falls off.

    • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

      You want to win the game. If you push him too far over his pitch limit, he will likely lose his effectiveness.

      • Samuel

        What pitch limit? It is an arbitrary number which General Joe decided. It is to “build Garcia up” (a 15 year veteran BTW) gradually in pitches.

        Why even need to do this with a veteran who isnt with the team next year?

        It is not due to any effectiveness issue, but a not going to get any of our pitchers hurt issue. If it was effectiveness they would be worried about, Garcia wouldn’t even be pitching in the rotation. His numbers were way better in relief, and they should have left him in the pen.

        But if by some sort of miracle Garcia is effective 5th-6th inning at around 70 pitches, no reason to remove him for a middling reliever like Wade.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          What he is trying to tell you is that it’s not about an arbitrary pitch limit. It’s about Freddy getting gassed.

          • Samuel

            If Freddy is going to get gassed by the 60 pitch limit (as the reader suggests), then they should let someone else start the game.

            Then if that guy gets into trouble, bring Freddy in during the middle innings, when he has been most effective this season.

            Why let the other team know how many pitches, innings or batters a starting pitcher is going to face?

            It’s not so hard.

  • Mike Myers

    Are we forgetting about our ace in the hole? The guy with a 0 ERA and a K per inning ratio?


    • LiterallyFigurative

      The tandem of Swisher and Wise make this bullpen downright unhittable.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I think I still got it. Brian, call me.

        Jose Canseco

  • LiterallyFigurative

    I actually think the Yanks could use another multi-inning arm, given the fact that Garcia and Phelps aren’t stretched out enough. They are starting 3 of the 7 games. Igarashi or someone along those lines would be a better choice than Qualls, just for the next week.

    My guess is Mitchell will be on the team until he gets used, then he’ll be sent down. If he has to pitch tonight, then he’d be sent down tomorrow, as they would need a long man to caddy for Phelps.

  • Fernando

    Yankees sign two of Baseball America’s top 4 international prospects. OF Alexander De Palma for 800K and C/3B Luis Torrens for 1.3 million. Leaves 830K in the budget.

    However, teams can sign as many as six guys for 50K or less or an unlimited amount for $7,500 or less WITHOUT the amounts counting towards the 2.93 million budget. So in other words, still lots of room for the scouts to do their thing.

  • Rocky Road Redemption

    IF this is our biggest problem, our team completely kicks ass.