Fitting the 2013 bullpen pieces together


(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

Despite losing Mariano Rivera to a season-ending injury in early-May, the Yankees still got a solid 3.43 ERA (3.62 FIP) out of their bullpen this season. David Robertson and Rafael Soriano did most of the heavy lifting while lefties Boone Logan and Clay Rapada were solid overall. Right-handers Cory Wade, Joba Chamberlain, Derek Lowe, Cody Eppley all had their moments. Ten different players made at least ten relief appearances for New York in 2012, and one of them was not Rivera (nine games).

Mo is due to return next season — he is still unsigned, however — and he’ll replace the departed Soriano. The rest of the bullpen falls into place behind him with Robertson in the eighth inning, Joba in the middle innings, and the two lefties doing the matchup thing. That’s five of the seven bullpen spots already accounted for, and the Yankees will have David Aardsma available on Opening Day as well. The former Mariners closer is coming off Tommy John (and hip) surgery and adds some dirt cheap ($500k) bullpen depth. So that’s already six of seven spots theoretically accounted for.

That final spot would presumably go to a long man, be it David Phelps or Adam Warren or some free agent. Joakim Soria has made it no secret that he would like to pitch in New York next season, and frankly I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love to see the 28-year-old former Royals closer with the Yankees on an incentive-laden one-year contract. The only real issue with adding him is that it would leave the Yankees without a true long man, unless they (gasp!) stretched Joba out so he could go multiple innings. That would be pretty awesome actually, but let’s assume that’s not an option.

The Yankees could, in theory, trade a reliever so they could sign Soria and still carry a long man. Carrying two left-handed relievers is a luxury but not a necessity, and there is definitely some merit to the idea of trading Logan as he comes off a career-high workload (80 appearances and 55.1 innings) and is one year away from free agency. Rapada has been better against lefties both this year and over the last few years anyway, though Logan can at least fake it against righties in an emergency. There’s always the option of trading Joba, who is also a year away from free agency. I’d rather keep him and deal a lefty, but that’s just me.

Aardsma, Logan, and Rapada can not be sent to the minor leagues next season without first clearing waivers, and that definitely won’t happen. Some team would grab ‘em. Robertson’s definitely not going to Triple-A and I suppose there’s a chance Joba could go down, but it would surprise me if the team made the move. Eppley figures to be the up-and-down guy, and it would behoove the Yankees to add another arm or two on minor league contracts if they don’t feel Chase Whitley or Mark Montgomery are ready. Even if they are, adding the extra depth is never a bad thing. Remember, the team’s projected primary right-handers for 2013 (Rivera, Robertson, Joba, Aardsma) all spent time on the DL this season.

I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, I just kinda started thinking out loud about the bullpen and which spots were already accounted for. Ideally, I would like to see the Yankees trade one of their lefties — Josh Spence, Juan Cedeno, and possibly even Cesar Cabral serve as left-handed depth in Triple-A — add Soria, and carry a true long man who would allow Joba to remain a one-inning setup-ish man. Neither Logan nor Rapada will fetch much of anything in a trade, but maybe they serve as a second or third piece in a package. With Rivera, Aardsma, and potentially Soria coming off injury and expected to be handled carefully, carrying two LOOGYs might be a little inflexible.

Categories : Death by Bullpen


  1. Jersey Joe says:

    Kind of random but I wish we had a Shelley Duncan type in the minors to platoon with Ichiro.

  2. JW says:

    So curious to see what happens with Joba’s free agency, whether Mike’s right and he flees. Beyond bittersweet if he starts and excels elsewhere.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      I’m actually very curious as to what happens there as well. Does he flee if he’s seen as the true heir to Mo by the time free agency hits? That wouldn’t be a bad place to settle down in.

      • Andy Pettitte's Fibula says:

        I gotta think he’s gone. Way more money for starters than relievers and he was never given a fair shake as a starter. You would think some team would give him a chance.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        If he gets a closer or top set-up offer, I think he might just stick in the BP rather than take a “build your value” low-ball SP offer. Less risk and more immediate $. If not starting might be the logical move. A lot obviously depends on 2013.

  3. The Real Eddard says:

    The bullpen is one place where the Yankees can save money and still be effective. Don’t re-sign Soriano. Go with the kids. Joba, Logan, Robertson and Phelps can set up just fine. We don’t need a $15 million set up man. We don’t even need a $15 million closer for 2014 because we have DRob who can take over for Mo. Look at the smart teams like Tampa who don’t overpay these dime a dozen closers. Mo is one of a kind but Drob or Soriano there’s no difference except $14 million.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula says:

      Mo is going to pitch for the Yankees as long as he wants just like Jeter.

      • The Real Eddard says:

        Yes, I didn’t mean Mo when I said we don’t need a $15 million closer for 2014. I meant Soriano or anyone else not named Mo. I do think this is his last year, though. But they shouldn’t rush out and get another $15 million guy if Mo does retire after next year. Go with DRob for much less.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Idiot or performance art?

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        This is actually one comment that I kind of agree with him on. I don’t want Soriano back. I’d prefer, if they feel they need someone else, that they sign Soria, who would no doubt be much cheaper. I do agree, however, that the Yankees’ will have Mo back for nearly as long as he wants to return.

  4. Darren says:

    You want to know now because you are impatient. But this comment makes no sense. It’s not like the Yankees are going to lose out on a different free agent pitcher because Andy is taking his time. There is no replacement for him.

    It’s like when your hot, nice, cool girlfriend took her time to figure out if she’s gonna stay in NYC or move back to San Diego. If she leaves, your Plan B is to eat Beefaroni from a can and watch replays of 1998 ALDS Game 2 in your boxers and ratty Bam Bam Meulens muscle shirt. Adam Warren is the Beefaroni. It’s not a good Plan B. Let Andrew Eugene Pettitte take as much time as he needs and let’s hope he comes back.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Looks like you replied in the wrong thread, although the Beefaroni stuff deserves to be bumped up to classic status.

      • MannyGeee says:

        Beefaroni would be in… dare I say it… Burrito status?

        Also, I follow that hot broad to San Diego. I think a more fitting comparison would be she chooses you over becoming a nun or a lesbian or something. Its not like Andy is thinking “NYY or San Diego”. He’s thinking “Pitching in 2013 or staying home and mowing the lawn”…

        But yeah, Beefaroni FTW!

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      If your girlfriend is hot, nice and cool why wouldn’t you move to San Diego with her?

    • Darren says:

      Speaking of comments that don’t make sense, I’m gonna go move this badboy to the Pettitte post, where iit belongs. Nothing to see here, folks.

    • jjyank says:

      I enjoyed this analogy.

  5. Robinson Tilapia says:

    I’m intrigued by Soria, and would like to see them add someone, but there’s enough pieces here for this bullpen to be in sound shape for 2013 without much tinkering. Mike’s right as to the lefty situation being strong, and you’ve got guys like Montgomery and Goody on the fast-track to build an army of DRob-like-highsocked-robots for the future.

    Wanting to see as well how Aardsma looks.

    I also just got off the phone with Stairs. He’s watching what you all have to say.

    • jjyank says:

      I’m taking the elevator today.

    • mitch says:

      In the best case scenario the bullpen looks to be in good shape for 2013 without adding anyone else. The problem is joba, aardsma, and even mariano come with health concerns. I think it’s important to add another late inning guy for depth. (not that soria wouldn’t come with health concerns of his own).

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      build an army of DRob-like-highsocked-robots for the future.

      It all started with Mo (minus the high socks). They’ve been refining it ever since, with DRob being the one where they finally got it right again.

    • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

      Fish, by the way, are you feeling the Knicks yet??

      • Robinson Tilapia says:

        What actually sucks is how little coverage I get of my team here in NYC unless I seek it out, which I have little time to do sometimes. I can’t even tell you what the Heat’s record is right now. This is the plight of the guy still rooting for his original team while living in NYC.

        I’m glad the Knicks are doing well. NYC always deserves a winner. We’ll be there to trounce them in the end again. Don’t you worry.

        • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

          The NBA in general is kind of on the back burner until football season ends.

          All you have to do it put on ESPN if you want Heat news where it’s all Lebron all the time with some Kobe and the Lakers sprinkled in.

          • Robinson Tilapia says:

            What is this E-S-P-N you speak of?

            The problem with the NBA being on the backburner is that I’m barely getting to the NFL right now.

            • Andy Pettitte's Fibula (formerly Manny's BanWagon) says:

              If you’re a Miami fan of the NFL, you’re not missing much. They’re well on their way to a 6-10 or 5-11 season.

              • Robinson Tilapia says:

                I definitely embraced the Dolphins when I was in Miami but, in the end, I was a New York football fan originally, and I just couldn’t stomach the general awfulness of that franchise once I moved back. I grew up a Giants fan and, while I find the Jets more interesting (probably from a sociological perspective) now, I go back and forth between both now.

  6. Drew says:

    I think adding another bullpen piece is going to be critical. Health concerns/ineffectiveness are a big question mark, remember in the middle of the season where the Yankees were 1 reliever away from having Logan as the closer? Soria or Madson would be a huge upgrade. You gotta think its going to take some time for Aardsma to get back to being the pitcher he was, and there is a chance he could just be a bust. I think saying that the Yankees are good is a bit foolish, having quality depth is always important.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I’m sure that the Yankees are looking for quality depth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should just sign every shiny toy at whatever cost it takes. (Thought they often have and might again.) They have quality depth beyond the MLB level already. They have Montgomery and several lesser BP prospects in the minors, as well as plenty of starting prospects who might be ready for MLB relief in 2013.

      I’m sure that they’re looking into a bunch of the BP options out there, and seeing what their market values are.

  7. Ted Nelson says:

    I think your logic on looking into moving Logan if the BP gets overcrowded is solid. He’s been a solid acquisition, but there’s a chance his trade value actually exceeds his value to the Yankees. Maybe they can get a useful bench player, fringe prospect they’re high on, or at least a promising reliever with more years of control.

    “and he’ll replace the departed Soriano.”

    Did he sign somewhere or wishful thinking? I don’t think it makes any sense to bring him back, but who knows what they’ll do if he isn’t off the market?
    Maybe they are helping to boost the demand for him to make sure they get their draft pick? Doubt he goes unsigned, so that doesn’t make much sense really.

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