Archive for Damaso Marte

At 51-37, with the third best record in baseball, leading the Wild Card and just three games back in the AL East, the Yankees had a fine first half. Yet it was a tumultuous three months, wrought with streaks and injuries and strange trends, causing mass panic at times among Yankees fans. Over the extended All-Star Break, we’ll go over each position to see what went right, what went wrong, and how things look for the second half. First up we looked at the starting pitching, now it’s time to take a look at the relievers.

The expectations

The 2008 bullpen was one of the best in the business – ranking second in baseball in both FIP (3.82) and K/9 (8.66) – and the relief corps was expected to approximate that performance in 2009. The cast of characters was essentially unchanged, save a contract extension to southpaw Damaso Marte. Brian Bruney was set to join him as the primary bridge to Mariano Rivera, while rookie Phil Coke was primed to assume a key role. The rest of the pen was going to be filled out by a series of interchangeable parts, including Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Jon Albaladejo, and David Robertson.

The results

The results so far have been a mixed bag. The bullpen was dreadful in April, better in May, and flat out dominant in June. They currently rank second in the majors with a 1.26 WHIP (just one baserunner every 100 IP out of the league lead), yet their ERA (4.19) is just 22nd best in the game. The relievers have thrown the fourth-most innings in the American League, a number that has to come down to avoid a second half burnout. That burden falls on the starting rotation, however.

The bullpen’s revival is the result of the the massive turnover in personnel from April to June. Let’s touch on the major pieces.

Mariano Rivera

Coming off a fairly major shoulder surgery, Mariano has been as fantastic as ever in 2009. Of course he did experience a rough go of it early after giving up some homers, but since May 21st he’s posted a 1.86 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Mo’s 14.33 K/BB is far and away the best in the game (next best is Scott Downs’ 8.06 mark) and the best of his Hall of Fame career. It took a little longer than usual, but Mo’s in midseason form and is as good as ever. He’s the least of the team’s concerns right now.

Brian Bruney & Damaso Marte

Bruney came out of the gate pitching like a man on a mission, out to prove all the B-Jobbers wrong about the lack of a solid 8th inning option. He struck out 12 and allowed just three hits over his first nine appearances, but went down with an elbow injury in late April. After being out for four weeks, Bruney lied about being healthy and came back too soon, ultimately landing himself back on the disabled list for another four weeks. He’s been nothing short of terrible since returning, allowing opponents to tattoo him for a .930 OPS. Right now, he’s a part of the problem and not the solution.

Marte’s season is just 5.1 ugly innings long, as a shoulder injury has shelved him since late April. When he was on the mound he was terrible, but how much of that is because of the injury we’ll never know. Currently rehabbing in Tampa, there’s still no timetable for his return.

Phil Coke & Phil Hughes

After a dynamite showing last September, Coke looked like he was poised to become the shutdown lefty reliever the Yanks have lacked for years. Coke’s overall numbers are rock solid, as are his splits against lefties, but his season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. He was very good in April, pretty terrible in May, but fantastic since June rolled around. The only member of the bullpen to stick on the 25-man active roster all season besides Mariano Rivera, it’s no stretch to call Coke the Yanks’ second most reliable reliever of 2009.

The other half of Michael Kay’s stupid little Philthys Club, Hughes moved into the bullpen after Chien-Ming Wang appeared ready to become an effective starter once again, and has done nothing but dominate. His numbers out of the bullpen (18.1 IP, 0.65 WHIP, .379 OPS against) are better than Joba Chamberlain‘s first 18.1 innings of relief in 2007 (0.82 WHIP, .467 OPS against), more evidence that if you put a good starter in the bullpen he’d be a damn good reliever. There’s not much to say here, Phil Hughes the Reliever has been tremendous.

Al Aceves & David Robertson

The dramatic turnaround of the bullpen coincides with Aceves’ recall from the minor leagues. His 40 innings of stellar relief work have been just what the doctor ordered, as he’s pitched in every role and succeeded in every situation. Robertson has had his moments, mostly in low leverage spots, but he’s been an effective super-high strikeout arm that can go multiple innings if need be. He’s been pretty much everything you could want your fifth best reliever to be.

Jon Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Brett Tomko & Jose Veras

Edwar and Veras were two stalwarts in last year’s pen, providing rock-solid middle relief all summer. This year was a different story, as the two combined to allow 28 runs and 70 baserunners in 43 IP. Edwar soon found himself back in Triple-A while Veras found himself with the Indians after being designated for assignment. Albaladejo has been up and down while Tomko was mostly down, but both guys have mostly acted as the last man out of the pen. Neither has been great nor horrible, they’re just kind of there.

The Up and Down Crew

Anthony Claggett was terrible in his one outing and doesn’t figure to be back up anytime soon. Stephen Jackson didn’t even manage to get into the game in his eight days on the big league roster before ending up in Pittsburgh. Mark Melancon has been meh in his limited showings. Zach Kroenke, Romulo Sanchez, Amaury Sanit and others are stashed away in the minors awaiting their turn.

Expectations for the second half

With the success the bullpen has experienced over the last month or so, it’s tough not to be optimistic about the second half. However, a key piece in Hughes or Aceves (or both if it comes to it) could be lost if their services are needed in the rotation. Don’t be surprised if the team seeks out another relief arm at this year’s trade deadline. Regardless, the Yankees will need the bullpen to do the job consistently in the second half if they plan on making the postseason.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (102)
Jun
27

Musings on the Nady/Marte trade

Posted by: | Comments (42)

Yesterday was an inauspicious anniversary for Xavier Nady. As the X Man announced that he would need a second Tommy John surgery and would be out for the season, he and the Yanks celebrated the 11-month anniversary of the trade that brought him and Damaso Marte from the Pirates to the Yankees. It was a bittersweet celebration indeed.

Last year, as the Yankees tried to mount a run on the Red Sox and Rays, they found themselves just a few games out of a playoff spot at the end of July. They need to fill a few holes. The bullpen needed a lefty power pitcher, and with Melky Cabrera mired in a season-long slump, the team needed an outfielder. Unwilling to pay or just not interested in the very steep price for Jason Bay, Brian Cashman killed two birds with one stone as he sent Jose Tabata, Dan McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens to Pittsburgh for Marte and Nady.

With Nady on the shelf now until he hits free agency and Marte MIA with an ambiguous shoulder injury, the word “bust” has floated around the Yankees. Was this trade — four young guys for two now-injured players — a bust? It’s easy to say yes, but I’m not so sure.

First, we have to consider how the two players the Yankees landed did at the time. That’s really what assessing this trade is about. If they performed to expectations, if they did the job, and if the Yankees didn’t give up all that much at the time, it isn’t a bust. Anything after that would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

Last year, Nady came over and impressed. A late September swoon left his triple slash line at .268/.320/.474, but as the team tride to amount an August attack, Nady hit .308/.351/.523 with 19 RBI. Marte had an ugly 5.40 ERA, inflated due to a 1.1-inning, five-earned run appearance in Texas. Without that appearance, he was a reliable reliever for the Yanks down the stretch.

This year, of course, the story has been anything but that success. Nady hurt himself early on, and Marte has a 15.00 ERA to go with a shoulder problem. While their 2008 numbers were good, the 2009 totals haven’t earned either much praise.

On the other side of the deal were the four players the Yanks gave up. Karstens and Ohlendorf have stuck around in Pittsburgh this year. That’s more a testament to the Pirates’ place at the bottom of the NL than anything else. Karstens is 3-4 with a 4.80 ERA. He has just 26 strike outs in 65.2 innings, a 1:1 K:BB ratio and a 1.45 WHIP. Ohlendorf is 6-6 with a 4.75 ERA. His K/9 IP is hovering around 4.5. These numbers look halfway decent on the Pirates, but in the AL they would amount to nothing.

While Ohlendorf and Karstens are what they are, the deal rests with the two players not in the Majors. Dan McCutchen is 26 at AAA with mediocre numbers (5-5, 4.34 ERA, 60 K in 74.2 IP). At best, he’ll be a swing man who makes a few spot starts for the Pirates. And then there is Tabata. After missing much of the season with an injury, Tabata has come on strong of late. He’s hitting .270/.354/.330 on the season. He is 11 for his last 34 but with no extra-base hits over that time.

To judge a deal, we have to look at it when it was made, and at that point, the deal was not a bust. It was nearly a steal. If Tabata develops the power and ability to be what people think he can be, the deal probably ends up being a wash. Yet, success has eluded Tabata, and his development has seemingly stalled out. It is disappointing to see Marte and Nady on the shelf, but that doesn’t make the deal a bust. If I were to go back in time and were to be unaware of what the future holds for Nady and Marte, I’d do it again. Would you?

Categories : Analysis
Comments (42)

Mark Feinsand tweets that Dr. James Andrews gave Damaso Marte‘s left shoulder two thumbs up, and the pitcher will return to Tampa. He’ll continue his rehab there, but there’s still no timetable for his return. As poorly as he pitched earlier this year, a healthy and effective Marte would go a long way to improving any bullpen, not just the one in the Bronx.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (17)

Marc Carig has updates on some injured Yanks: Brian Bruney threw 20 pitches yesterday and felt no pain in his elbow (so he says). He thinks he’s a week and a half, or possible less away. Damaso Marte threw 25 pitches from a mound in Tampa and has started to throw some breaking balls, but there is no timetable for his return. Xavier Nady played catch at 75 feet and played in another Extended Spring Training game, but like Marte there is no timetable for his return. Mo knows the Yanks could use all three now.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (15)

Well that explains it. The Yanks have placed lefty reliever Damaso Marte on the DL with a bum shoulder, according to PeteAbe’s 10:23 & 10:59am updates. Marte came back from the WBC with a sore shoulder, but he says this latest ailment occurred when the team was in Boston. No word yet on how long he’ll be out; Anthony Claggett has been called up to take his spot on the roster.

Categories : Asides, Injuries
Comments (74)
May
02

Have you seen this man?

Posted by: | Comments (57)

The Forgotten Reliever

That is Damaso Marte, the second highest paid player in the Yankees’ bullpen. In his ten big league seasons he has put up a 1.26 WHIP, 132 ERA+ and 9.70 Kper9. He last pitched in a game on April 25th, 2009, seven full days ago.

Amazingly, we’ve seen Joe Girardi manage his bullpen eerily similar to his predecessor Joe Torre: using the same two or three relievers day after day while the rest of the bullpen corps rot. The team is currently carrying eight relievers. Eight. Yet it seems like we’re always having Jose Veras (awful) or Jon Albaladejo (he’s had his moments) shoved down our throats.

Come on Girardi, you’re better than this.

Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP

Categories : Death by Bullpen
Comments (57)

Just a couple bits of actual Yanks news for the early afternoon:

  • The MRI results are back for both Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte. Cano has shoulder bursitis (didn’t they know this before?) and will be out until Friday. Marte is day to day with shoulder inflammation. So while it’s not great news, it certainly could have been worse. The extended nature of this year’s Spring Training should have these guys back on track soon enough.
  • The Marlins returned Zach Kroenke to the Yanks. He hasn’t had a great spring, and after getting shelled in his last appearance was nowhere to be seen for the Marlins. His return is unsurprising.
  • Juan Miranda has been optioned back to AAA. It would have taken a monster spring from Miranda for him to take a bench role, and that clearly wasn’t happening. He’ll get more at bats this way.
Categories : News
Comments (53)
Mar
14

Cano & Marte to get MRI’s

Posted by: | Comments (1)

After coming back from the WBC with what appeared to be minor injuries, Robbie Cano and Damaso Marte will get MRI’s tomorrow after being checked out by team doctors. Cano’s injury is being described as right shoulder tendonitis, while Marte is dealing with left shoulder inflamation. Cano pinch hit in today’s game game against the Astros and played catch after the game, so hopefully that’s a sign that it’s not too serious. Marte hasn’t tested the shoulder as far as we know, and says he hurt himself working with 25 pound weights.

Categories : Asides
Comments (1)
Mar
13

Cano & Marte hurting

Posted by: | Comments (19)

Fresh off a dramatic and historic loss to the Netherlands in the WBC, Robbie Cano and Damaso Marte returned to the Yanks today nursing some minor injuries, says Pete Caldera. Marte has pain in his left pectoral, believed to be the result of weighlifting, while Cano’s right shoulder is barking. It’s possible Cano’s injury is a result of the workload and intensity of the WBC games. Both players are going to get checked out by the Yanks’ medical staff today, and won’t see action this weekend as previously thought. The injuries sound minor, so hopefully they won’t be out very long.

Categories : Asides
Comments (19)

Via Tim, we learn that the Yankees have signed reliever Damaso Marte to a three year deal worth $12 million. The story comes from Impacto Deportivo, a Spanish-language site. I believe they also broke the Luis Castillo signing last year. We’ll monitor this for further confirmation. If true, it seems like a decent deal for the Yanks. At least we won’t have to hear pundits scream in the Spring about the Yankees bringing in a lefty reliever just for the sake of it.

Update: It’s official.

Categories : Asides
Comments (75)