The Constant Question of the 'Pen

Brian Bruney is back. Jose Veras is out. The Yankee bullpen, the 7th worst in baseball with a 4.75 ERA, has been a big issue for the team, and a major discussion topic here at 6P8OBJ. Currently our bullpen is as follows...

RHP Mariano Rivera 3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
RHP Brian Bruney 3.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP
RHP Alfredo Aceves 2.70 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
RHP David Robertson 2.25 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
LHP Phil Coke 3.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
RHP Phil Hughes 5.13 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
RHP Brett Tomko 5.56 ERA, 1.59 WHIP

Bare in mind that Tomko had a horrendous two-out, four run appearance against the Mets on the 12th. Before that game is ERA was an impressive 2.53 and his WHIP was a decent 1.27. While you need to count all his stats, I don't think we should release a guy based on one very poor outing.

Hughsie has made 3 relief appearances this year (June 8th against Tampa, June 10th in Boston, June 12th against the Mets). He was pushed to the 'pen after Wang reclaimed his rotation spot, which he could lose depending on tomorrow's start. Hughes will be groomed as a starter however, and is the most likely player to take Andy Pettitte's rotation slot in 2010. In his short relief career Hughes has pitched well, striking out 8 in his 5.2 innings of work to the tune of a 3.18 ERA, walking 2 and allowing 4 hits. For those of you who say Joba should be in the 'pen, maybe you should have suggested Hughes. It is a small sample size, obviously, so don't bank on him being a huge part of the 'pen, although who knows, anything can happen in baseball. What I like about that short sample, however, is to think he pitched that well against the three teams that are arguably the Yankees' three biggest rivals. If he pitches like that against everyone, I'd love to see him stay in the 'pen for this year, if he can't perform there then he should be sent to Scranton to start. Hughes's future rests on Chien-Ming Wang's start tomorrow, because a solid start will win Wang his rotation spot until he proves he can't handle it.

That bullpen looks pretty solid now, with Jon Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, and Jose Veras out of there and Alf Aceves, David Robertson, and Brian Bruney in the team has vastly improved itself. However things change. Bruney's health is always in question. Robertson only has 12 big league innings under his belt this year.Tomko might very well be as bad as he was against the Mets. A poor appearance by Wang tomorrow would most likely send Chien Ming to Scranton and Hughsie to the rotation. With those risks, the Yanks may need to ponder promoting Zack Kroenke or Mark Melancon, although both of them are risky as well. The Yanks' might also need to look outside of the organization...

There are any number of relievers that could be traded before July 31st including Danys Baez, George Sherrill, Takashi Saito, Huston Street, Chad Qualls, and Jose Valverde. I think Valverde is too expensive ($8mm with an ugly 4.82 ERA). Saito is unlikely, as the Red Sox won't help out their main competition. Huston Street isn't likely to be traded soon with the Rockies trying to extend their win streak to twelve and currently standing only 3 games out of the wildcard. While Sherrill and Baez play for the O's in our division, that wouldn't stop Baltimore from dealing with the Yanks. If we offer the best package, they'll take it since Sherrill and Baez would be helping our team now, while the O's have no chance at making the playoffs, and our package would most likely include prospects that could help them as they look to the future.

Baez, a 31 year old righty, has a 3.31 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and has struck out 23 in his 32.2 innings of work this year. Baez makes $5.5mm this year, plus $500 thousand if he is traded. He'll be a free agent after the season.

Sherrill, a 32 year old lefty, sports a 2.55 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and has struck out 23 in his 24.2 innings of work. he'll make $2.75mm this year, and won't hit free agency until after the 2011 season.

Both are appealing candidates, but I prefer Baez. As Baez is more expensive, a free agent after the season, and not currently holding down the closer's role (Sherrill's job) he should cost less in terms of prospects. We've seen how Mo pitches when he isn't in a save opportunity, and perhaps moving Sherrill out of a closer's role would have the same poor effect. We have Phil Coke and once he recovers from injury Damaso Marte will be back in the 'pen, so we aren't in dire need of a lefty either. I don't think a package for Baez would have to blow anyone away. Maybe John Rodriguez and his stellar offensive season, fallen prospect Eric Duncan, and Casey Fossum to hold a rotation spot for the remainder of the year? Perhaps they'd be interested in another fallen Yankee prospect, Alan Horne? Or maybe they'd like the Yanks 26 year old righty Josh Schmidt who has torn up double A with 1.96 ERA through 33 innings. A timespan in which he has struck out 39 hitters. Some mix and match combination of Rodriguez, Duncan, Fossum, Horne, and Schmidt ought to be able to net the Yanks Baez. As an Oriole, Baez has experience pitching in the AL East, a definite benefit of acquiring him. Baez isn't one of the best in the game, but he could really help the club if we were to lose an effective reliever due to health, inconsistency, or ineffectiveness. The players I mentioned aren't very important to the future of the Yankees, but could have value to Baltimore. So a deal seems to make perfect sense.


Anonymous said...

Wang can't go to the minors because he has no options left. The only way he can do that is by getting a mysterious injury to go on the DL.

Kevin S. said...

You're right. My apologies. Well Wang will either be floated on the trade market, sent to the DL with a so called mystery injury, or pushed to the pen. Maybe he'll be waived and the Yanks'll get out of some of his salary, although that is pretty unlikely.