Whether they want to pursue this philosophy or not, the Yankees won’t be overspending on bullpen help this year. Two pitchers the Yanks had targeted to some degree — Troy Percival and David Riske — have opted to go elsewhere, and that’s probably a good thing.
According to Buster Olney, Riske, the Brewers and a multi-year contract worth about $4 million per are a good fit. For Riske, his timing couldn’t be better. The Brewers just lost their closer, Riske had a great season and Scott Linebrink and the White Sox just torpedoed the relief market.
So Riske, 31, with decent career numbers, will get a large contract and probably break down at some point. At least, that’s what always happens to the Yanks when they sign relief pitcher to large deals. Strike that one off our list.
Percival, the Yanks’ other target, is heading for a two-year, $8 million payday with the Rays. While the Yanks were willing to pay Percival more to set up for Mariano Rivera, the Rays are offering Percival and his 324 career saves a chance to close. Maybe now the Rays will actually manage to beat the Red Sox once in a while.
I’m not that upset about missing out on either of these players. Riske is probably the safer bet, but he’s getting overpaid. Meanwhile, Percival is just a few years removed from basically retiring from baseball due to inoperable arm problems. After spending 2006 on the bench, he threw 40 innings for the Cardinals in 2007.
But here’s his dirty little secret: Percival, 38 and not getting any younger, pitched on back-to-back days twice all season, and one of those times was for 0.1 innings in a 15-1 blowout. The Yanks already have one headcase reliever who can’t throw on back-to-back days. Why do we need another who’s one slider away from blowing out his arm?
So with these deals, thus ends the Yanks’ half-hearted desires to sign two guys who, like the nationally televised Knicks are getting paid too much. I like this approach almost as much as I like the internal options the Yanks have available. Maybe they’ve finally learned that expensive relief options are just as ineffective as inexpensive options.