What Paul said

At the risk of inciting a numbers-based riot, I direct your attention to Tyler Kepner’s latest notebook in The Times with a quote from Number 21 himself:

“I’ve always been blown away by the way the fans have treated me there,” O’Neill said in a telephone interview. “I have absolutely nothing against LaTroy Hawkins, but it’s unbelievable what the fans have done. It makes you feel good as a player, obviously, because that tells you they appreciate what we did as a team.”

To me, it sounds like Paul would love to see his number retired. That is a rather pregnant “but” after the LaTroy Hawkins mention. Either way, perhaps we should put this story to rest for now.

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Hawkins rewards Yankee fans’ maturity

Nice work, folks. We’ve booed LaTroy Hawkins into submission. I hope everyone feels good about that. Hawkins, previously wearing number 21, will switch to 22 tonight after fans couldn’t deal with someone else wearing the number seven years after Paul O’Neill retired. No word yet if the Omar Moreno or Jimmy Key fans plan on booing Hawkins for the switch.

Number 21 returns to the field

While Morgan Ensberg couldn’t stand the heat he got for picking out Paul O’Neill’s former number, the long-dormant 21 will return to the field this week if the Yanks ever get to begin their season. LaTroy Hawkins, in an effort to honor Roberto Clemente, will don 21 this year, and Bryan Hoch traces the feelings surrounding O’Neill’s number. It will be interesting to see how Hawkins is received for taking what many Yankee fans believe is a number that belongs in the Yankee Pantheon. Hawkins has previously worn 32 and donned 22 with the Yanks in Spring Training. He grew tired of having Brian Bruney call him “Roger.” Doesn’t that sound endearing?

LaTroy Hawkins Day

Tyler Kepner in The Times and Mark Feinsand in the Daily News both tackle LaTroy Hawkins today. The Yanks’ latest veteran addition to the bullpen is impressing his bosses during the early days of Spring Training. Hawkins is a vital piece in the bullpen this season; if he can turn in some consistency from the set-up role, Joba would be free to move to the starting rotation.

Anatomy of an effective bullpen

In 2007, the Padres and the Red Sox topped their respective leagues in bullpen ERA and batting average against. Thing is, entering the season, neither team had much to boast about in that department. In fact, the Sox pen was in such shambles that Jonathan Papelbon told Tony Francona that he wanted to move back to the closer role (or at least that’s how Boston tells the story). So how did these two teams come out ahead?

Skilled closer

Obviously, the first step in building a bullpen is creating a viable endgame. Both Trevor Hoffman and Jonathan Papelbon qualify as such. They keep things relatively stable at the end — Papelbon more than Hoffman, though, as he blew just three saves last year (and we remember a couple of ‘em), while Hoffman was the goat in seven games, including the most important one for the Padres.

There’s not much else to say about this. We have it in Mo, who I think we all can agree is better than Hoffman at this stage of his career.
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