Hal Steinbrenner anoints David Robertson closer


Via Joel Sherman: For the very first time, someone with the Yankees acknowledged David Robertson will be the team’s closer this coming season. “I have a lot of confidence in Robertson and so does [Joe Girardi],” said Hal Steinbrenner. “Robertson is going to be our closer, and I believe he will do a good job. We have done a lot to improve our team and we just have to understand that you cannot be perfect everywhere.”

Robertson, 28, has been one of the top setup men in baseball these last three years (1.91 ERA and 2.31 FIP) and has done pretty much everything you could ask a potential closer to do before actually giving him the job. I want the Yankees to add some more bullpen arms but making Robertson the closer is the right move. There’s nothing left for him to prove in a setup role and if the Yankees don’t let him close in 2014, some other team will give him that opportunity when he hits free agency after the season.

Categories : Asides, Death by Bullpen


  1. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Please bold that last sentence next time, or just increase the don’t. Some folks don’t seem to conprehens that statement.

  2. KyleLitke says:

    It was a little silly when Cashman claimed Robertson would have to compete for the job in Spring Training. If the Yankees signed Balfour or Rodney, sure, I could see a competition happening, but as the team stands right now, come on. Who is Robertson competing with? Kelley? Preston Claiborne? No disrespect to those guys but there was a zero percent chance of them beating out Robertson for the job.

  3. BamBamMusings says:

    At this point, there really isn’t any insurance worthy RPs out on the market. Balfour would be a good 7th inning guy.

    • The Great Gonzo says:

      There are a ton of broken relievers out there worth signing for insurance… granted, our premiums would go through the roof, but still.

  4. Rob S. says:

    You can’t really complain this off-season about what the Yankees didn’t get. Still, I really wish that they had signed an established closer. Robertson is always flirting with disaster as a setup man and has been terrible whenever he’s been asked to close. I don’t think the guy can handle the pressure now that he knows that Mo is not backing him up. I hope I’m wrong about Robertson. I’m not comfortable with him in that role but I guess he’s done enough to merit the opportunity.

    • lightSABR says:

      Yes, David Robertson’s career save percentage is only 44%, but he’s only had 18 save chances in 6 years of pitching for the Yankees. You can’t read anything into that, especially when his performance has otherwise been outstanding. The sample’s too small.

      My biggest worry about Robertson closing was his walk rate, which was up around 4.8 per 9 innings in 2009 and 2010. But the last two years he’s been at 2.8 and 2.4 per 9, which isn’t Mo – no one is – but isn’t that big a deal when you’re also striking out 10 or 12 per 9 innings.

      Robertson’s going to do fine.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        You can get a blown save in the 8th inning. If Robertson inherits a one-run lead in the 8th and he blows it, he gets a blown save. If he gets through the inning clean and gives the ball to Mo, he gets a hold. It’s silly.

        • Eselquetodolosabe says:

          Psychological, no ? 7th, 8th innings ain’t the ninth, if they were, the “closer” designation would have little importance.

        • lightSABR says:

          Ah. I didn’t know that. But it does make sense – I thought that was more save chances than I remembered Robertson getting.

          Glad to hear there’s even less basis for the “Robertson can’t close” nonsense than I thought.

          • Eselquetodolosabe says:

            Sarcasm, right ?! What’s silly to me is putting all of your eggs in Robertson basket. He’s never really closed, and the time he tried, he was mediocre. Now, NY isn’t done building the ’14 team, but I would say that a more than quasi-dependable closer “or two” is kind of important…., especially when you’ve had the stellar offseason that NY has had. Not having a reliable closer, or another that could step in if the other faulters, now that’s silly.

            • lightSABR says:

              You realize that closing is just pitching in a different inning, right? You’re still facing the same lineup. You’ve still got to get three outs. They don’t put in a juiced ball or shrink the strike zone just because the game’s close and it’s getting late. If Robertson fails next year – and I have no reason to believe he will – it’ll be because he’s injured, or his fastball slows down, or he starts missing his spots, or his curveball loses its bite. It won’t be because “he can’t close.”

              If you’d judged Mo based on his first half-dozen save chances, the way you’re judging Robertson, you’d still be complaining about how we should have brought in a proven closer to replace Wetteland.

              • Eselquetodolosabe says:

                No way that outs in th eighth are the same as outs in the ninth. Just ask the eighth inning guy making 5mm, vs the “closer” making 12mm. That ain’t by accident. I’m not saying Robertson can’t do it, I’m just saying he hasn’t, and he might not be able to, though I’m rooting for him. You prepare for success, doesn’t happen by accident. NY should stack the success odds by bringing in a “closer” type or two – even a reclamation project (Hanrahan), or a buy low guy like (gulp !) Rodney. I’m rooting for Robertson, but I’d still be cautiously optimistic.

                • lightSABR says:

                  On one point we agree: yes, the team should totally bring in another reliever. Though my main reason for saying that isn’t fear that Robertson will fail – it’s just that the bullpen is going to throw 10-20 innings, and Robertson will only be able to cover 4 or 5 of those.

                  But beyond that, I couldn’t disagree more. As much as I love Mo, the “saves” stat is worthless, and closers are massively overpaid in comparison with their actual contributions to the team. The reason GMs don’t wise up and stop overpaying them is probably the same reason football coaches punt too often on fourth down – they’re covering their backsides. Fans get madder when you blow close games than when you just lose by sucking, so GMs overspend on closers to the detriment of the team.

        • lightSABR says:

          Also, yes, that’s really silly. I mean even sillier than the rest of the saves stat.

      • Now Batting says:

        My biggest worry is Robertson’s pitch counts. I have no doubt about Robertson’s effectiveness in the 9th but he always goes deep into counts. It wouldn’t be extraordinary to see him throw 40-50 pitches in back-to-back games. I still think the Yankees need a strong reliever that can close when Robertson can’t go.

      • qwerty says:

        Right, sample size is too small, but have you actually watched him pitch the 9th inning to close out a game. He’s extremely inconsistent. That’s not someone I would feel very confident in closing out games.

      • jim p says:

        John Wetteland BB 3 per 9; K 9.5 per 9 inninings.

        Mo made our standard for ‘closer’ but really around baseball even the best were more like Robertson.

        Of course, we all know Cashman failed by not getting Mo to come back. He could have pitched lefty for another decade.

      • RetroRob says:

        Set up men generally have very poor save percentages. They can be credited with a blown save in the 8th, just as the closer can in the 9th, but the 8th inning guy rarely gets to close the game to record a save. Hence, bad save percentages.

    • I'm One says:

      I don’t think we’d be fully comfortable with anyone after all the years of Mo closing. However, Robertson has improved each year. I’m as comfortable with him as I would be with anyone else they could sign. Rodney? Balfour? They don’t make me feel any better than I do with Robertson. He deserves this shot. I’m certainly willing to accept a few hiccups as he grows into the role (Remember Mo’s first season as closer?).

    • Laz says:

      Closers are overblown. He has proven he can handle the 8th inning, so should be the closer.

    • jjyank says:

      “and has been terrible whenever he’s been asked to close.”

      That’s a hell of a sample size you base that on.

      • I'm One says:

        And let’s not forget that he was most likely injured when he took over in ’12. After 3 games (I think), he went out with an oblique strain.

    • Scully says:

      If you only “guess” he’s done enough… what more would a guy have to do to make you feel comfortable giving him that opportunity? The guy is one of the three best setup men in baseball. I’d also go so far as to say that he’s probably already one of the best 15 closers without having become the regular guy yet. His stuff is electric.

  5. Farewell Mo says:

    He’s earned it.

    My only complaint is he needs a better entrance song, something more intimidating than “sweet home Alabama”

  6. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    Robertson has never closed for a prolonged stretch. Did it for a bit and had some hiccups. I’m not saying he can’t, but that determination won’t happen until he actually does it…., for a prolonged stretch…., and it’s irrelevant who proclaims his pre-determined pecking order out of the pen. In a perfect world though, I’d add at least one “closer” type…., just in case.

  7. Blubber123 says:

    I know, I know ……….. but they could reunite Marmol with his old pitching coach.

    He’ll scare the shit out you from time to time but usually get the job done.

    Anyone think he’s an set up option????

    • Tanuki Tanaka (Formerly Bob Buttons) says:

      He’ll get the job done from time to time but usually scare the shit out you.

      There. FIFY.

      Since ’09 he had one season below 1.3 WHIP. His career BB/9 is higher than his H/9. Most importantly he will be 31.

  8. Jersey Joe says:

    I still want Hanrahan or Bailey or another reclamation reliever to be the setup man. Balfour would be fine too. I want some insurance for Robertson in case the closing thing becomes a disaster.

  9. OldYanksFan says:

    Sorry for being off topic, but if there are other old farts out there, here is something I just found… a blast from the past.

    The Designated Hebrew

    I had forgotten that he was the overall 1st draft pick.

  10. highland cow says:

    “Robertson is going to be our closer, and I believe he will do a good job. We have done a lot to improve our team and we just have to understand that you cannot be perfect everywhere.”

    Doesn’t really seem like Hal’s singing Robertson’s praises here…

    • Tanuki Tanaka (Formerly Bob Buttons) says:

      Hal is secretly waiting for Kimbrel to become FA so he can kick Robertson aside.

    • vicki says:

      that’s okay. hal’s got a good cop/bad cop thing going with levine, who immediately shot drob an email telling him “u r a leader” and he’s just gotta put a CHIP on his shoulder.

  11. Captain Turbo says:

    Great news. D-Rob is a Yankee success story and he will do great in the closer role. You can’t replace Mo but you can come close and he will.

  12. Neil says:

    Since it now looks like we won’t make the $189 mil cap this season, why not go all in with 1 year deals?

    Sign Balfour for $10 mil/1 year to compete for the closer’s job (but probably set-up, and hand D-Rob close).

    Heck, even sign Garza/Jimeniez/Santana for $15-20 mil/ 1 year.

    I doubt Drew will come on a 1 year deal unfortunately.

  13. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    D-Rob deserves it. Fan favorite, True Yankee™, and always entertaining.

    Someone drive him over to Mo’s so he can be baptized and the torch can be passed.

    If he survives, he is worthy.

  14. TWTR says:

    If he does well, as I would expect, they should try to extend him in season.

  15. The Other Mister D says:

    How about we start paying relievers for HOW they pitch instead of WHEN they pitch. A guy who can come in with the bases loaded and work out of that jam is always going to be a more valuable weapon than one who can get “the save”.

  16. RetroRob says:

    D-Rob as closer is great. Now they need to replace D-Rob in the 8th.

  17. mt says:

    This David Robertson hesitation baffles me somewhat – Mo was a set-up man that replaced Wetteland when Weteland left – were there any guarantees that Mo would be great? No.

    If Yanks keep DRob as a set-up man this year without giving him a chance to be a closer, Yanks will either have to pay to retain him as a free agent closer without ever seeing him do the role or, more likely, he will just go to another team who wants a closer without hesitation.

    If he tries the closer role this year and fails (hopefully with opportunity over more than an evaluation period of a couple of weeks) then there would be cause to possibly go in a different direction (trade Ichiro plus a prospect for Putz?) but I see no good from preventing Robertson from starting the year as closer.

    For those who want Balfour, do we just dismiss Orioles backing out of his contract because of his knee and ankle? I know Orioles are not necessarily the model franchise here but I would have to believe there is some legitimate physical concern.

    Bullpens also morph throughout year – witness Cardinals and Red Sox last year.

  18. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    Hal, you becoming dad before our very eyes ? Let the “baseball” people decide who the closer is…., or at least have your brilliant baseball mind be heard behind closed doors. This is very Georgie like Hal, very Georgie like.

  19. The Great Gonzo says:

    Robertson should close, and the deck should be stacked behind him with all the reclaimed pitchers you can fit into one Scranton Wilkes Barre Express bus…

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