How to manage the bullpen without really trying

I too would like to keep Brian Bruney an arm’s length away from pitching ever again for the Yanks. (Photo courtesy of Bombers Beat)

On the one hand, it’s hard to get too worked up over last night’s loss. On a night when the Yanks’ pitching staff hands out 11 walks and Kei Igawa throws the ugliest five shut-out innings you’ll ever see, it’s tough to expect a loss.

Furthermore, the Yanks, in need of just one win to clinch a postseason berth, will record that victory before the season is out. And seeing Alex Rodriguez crush a grand slam is a comforting thought for those of us a bit worried by his recent dearth of power.

But on the other hand, haven’t we seen this before? A Yanks starter struggles through five innings with the lead, and Joe Torre cannot once again put together a good combination of relievers to hold a five-run lead for four innings.

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Edwar Ramirez promoted, but it’s the wrong move

From the Post:

The Yankees have promoted 26-year-old right-handed reliever Edwar Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he will report today to provide support for a bullpen that has been wretched.

To make room for Ramirez, the Yankees are expected to send infielder Chris Basak down to Scranton.

Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton, Edwar’s thrown 43.1 innings, allowing only 19 hits and 3 earned runs while striking out 80. Yes, 80 strikeouts in 43.1 IP. He’s been beyond stellar this year, and the call-up is well deserved, but here’s the problem: it’s thw wrong move.

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Bullpen gets credit where credit is due

The bullpen has been a source of early-season strength for the Yankees. (Photo courtesy of flickr user Rodrigo Amorim.)

So we know that the Yanks’ starting pitching has left much to be desired. I covered that early today. I can only hope that warm weather and a few times through the rotation will clear up this messy picture.

But on the other hand, the Yanks’ bullpen deserves some credit. Let’s take a look.

IPHERBBKERA
Mariano Rivera2.010040.00
Kyle Farnsworth2.010110.00
Scott Proctor3.232224.91
Luis Vizcaino3.121112.70
Brian Bruney2.210160.00
Mike Myers4.010320.00
Sean Henn4.220100.00
Totals22.11139181.21

So the Yanks’ bullpen has been the antithesis of the starting rotation. They’ve allowed less than a baserunner per inning and are recording just shy of a strike out per inning. Brian Bruney has been tremendous, and Mike Myers has been stellar in saving the arms as well. Even Andy Pettitte — not included on this list — got into the act today recording one more scoreless inning for the pen.

For Yankee fans, this early season bullpen success comes as a relief. For too long, we’ve watched Joe Torre trot out one subpar reliever after another. Remember Paul Quantrill? Steve Karsay? Felix Heredia?

Right now — and I know it’s early — those days seem behind us. The Yanks have a full slate of bullpen arms with whom I would feel confident seeing in any given situation. The blue door opens in left centerfield, and I feel relief instead of heartache.

Of course, the bullpen can’t keep pitching half of the team’s innings. But that’s a story for another day.

Build-a-Bullpen

Much has been made of the state of the Yankees bullpen. There are loads of choices, but realistically there are only two spots to hand out. Mo, Farnsworth, Proctor, Myers and Vizciano can be considered locks. You can bitch about Myers all you want, but I don’t think anything will affect his status as a LOOGY in this pen. Such is life.

Your task: select and justify the final two bullpen spots from the following list.

Karstens, Rasner, Britton, Bruney, Villone, Ohlendorf, Sanchez, Beam, Henn, Bean (just for fun)

Personally, I’m going with Rasner and Britton. There’s no reason to let Britton fester in the minors if he can repeat or even improve on his performance last year. If he doesn’t work out, he still has options, and can be replaced by another member of this list.

I like Rasner because of his performance so far this spring. Okay, so he’s only pitched twice, but he has looked good both times. At 26 years old, it’s getting to the point where he either peforms or he he might not ever. Might as well get a glimpse now.

As for the others: I’d rather see Karstens, Sanchez and Ohlendorf develop as starters at AAA; Bruney has spent much of the spring sick and/or hurt, so he could use some more time to build up strength; Villone was greatly overworked last year, and who knows how long he’ll last this year; I’m not completely sold on Beam as a major league reliever.

Chime in, everyone. The comments are waiting.