Saturday, February 21, 2009

Build Me A Bullpen

Now that the offense and starting pitching are more or less set, the next thing to sort out is the bullpen. We'll assume the Yankees are going to go with seven guys out of the bullpen. We know Mo is the closer, and we know Marte will be in there, and it is probably about 99% likely that Brian Bruney is in the mix, so that leaves four bullpen slots to be filled. Let's break it down:

The Front Runners:
Jose Veras: Veras had the second most appearances out of the bullpen after Mariano last season, and seemed to earn Joe Girardi's trust. He has great stuff (9.83 K/9), but often struggled with control (4.53 BB/9). That's too many walks for a setup role, but he should be a solid middle reliever. I think if he has another stretch like he did in June and August last year (2.08 ERA in 22 games from June 25 to August 16 last year) the Yanks should look to trade him given their surplus of live arms and his erraticness (I hope that's a word).

Edwar Ramirez: Third in appearences last year, he posted a solid 3.90 ERA. He is similar to Veras in that he has a high K rate (10.25) but also can be wild (3.90 BB/9), but gives the Yankees a different look than Veras, relying on his change rather than fastball and slider. He can be lights out at times, but is disaster-prone. He did seem to mature as a pitcher last year after reportedly working with Mo, cutting his walk rate nearly in half. He also threw his fastball and slider more while going to the change less. Still, he profiles as a middle reliever.

More Middle Relief:
Jonathan Albaladejo: Acquired from the Nationals last year for Tyler Clippard, he made only seven appearances for the Yanks last year, posting a 3.95 ERA, then getting sent down and getting injured while in Scranton. Though he didn't show it in his brief stint in the majors last year, he has good control, but is less overpowering than Veras and doesn't miss as many bats as Edwar. I think his poor walk rate may have something to do with the fact that he was misused last year. Girardi made him the de facto long man, which is not his ideal role. He should be better this year, and I think he has a decent shot at breaking camp with the team.

David Robertson: The 23 year old posted a 5.34 ERA in 30.1 IP last year, but that ERA is inflated due to a few bad outings, and for the most part he was effective last year. D-Rob is another guy with a strong K Rate (10.68) and poor walk rate (4.45). He has a strong minor league track record, and if he improves his control a bit he could be a very good reliever.

Mark Melancon: Though he has no major league experience, Melancon could be the guy on this list (Mo excluded) who has the biggest impact out of the pen come September. Last year he was coming off Tommy John surgery and sped through four minor league levels, posting strong numbers at every stop. His longest stint was in Trenton, when he posted a 1.81 ERA and .89 WHIP in 49.2 IP. He will likely start the season in Scranton, but could be called up as early as May, and could eventually work his way up to an eighth inning role.

Kanekoa Texeira: A 23 year old righty acquired in the Nick Swisher deal, he put up strong numbers between Hi-A and AA last year. He has pretty good stuff, good control, and keeps the ball in the yard. He likely will not make the team out of spring training, but could be in the mix later in the year.

JB Cox: Cox is another guy who was rehabbing from TJ last year. He was a highly rated closer coming out of Texas, and had a very good pro debut in 2006. He pitched well for part of the year last year, but ran out of gas towards the end (which makes sense given the fact that he hadn't pitched in a year), which inflated his numbers a bit. He's another guy who likely won't make the team out of camp, but if he can rediscover his 2006 form can be a contributer at the big leage level during the season.

Possible Long Men:
Dan Giese: A 33 year old, Giese is a bit of a late bloomer, but he had some big league success last year, both out of the bullpen and in spot starts. He posted a 3.53 ERA in 43.1 IP, and while he is not as overpowering as some of the guys listed above, he doesn't walk many batters. He does not possess the upside of anybody I have already named, but he can go multiple innings and could provide some value as a long man.

Phil Coke: Coke is a 26 year old lefty who made his major league debut last year as a reliever, though he had been a starter his whole minor league career. He gave up just one run and ten baserunners in 14.2 IP, but will likely start in Scranton's starting rotation. He has posted decent strikeout rates and good walk rates in his minor league career, but I think he will likely end up in the bullpen, where he could potentially have value as a long man, middle reliever, or lefty specialist.

Alfredo Aceves: Another guy who made his major league debut last year, Aceves made four pretty strong starts last year and will start the year in Scranton's rotation. I think he is more likely than Coke to remain a starter, but could potentially fill a role as a big league long man.

There are your options for the bullpen this year. The Yanks pen made improvements last year, and I think it should be even better this year. Mo, Marte and Bruney are a good top three, and given the Yanks' bullpen depth they should be able to fill it out very well. My guess for the pen to start the year is Mo, Marte, Bruney, Veras, Edwar, Albaladejo, and Giese, but that will surely change as the year goes on.

6 comments:

Mike NYY said...

CL- Rivera
SU- Marte
SU- Bruney
MR- Veras
MR- Edwar
LMR- Coke
LM- Giese

They have more than enough relievers to get by without rushing Melancon. He won't be needed in April games. I think he`s ready but I guess its best to be safe.

Rob Abruzzese said...

My guess is they go with
CL - Mo
SU - Bruney
SU - Marte
MR - Ramirez
MR - Veras
MR - Albaladejo
LR - Aceves

Barring injuries I feel like this will be the group. Mark Melancon will be up by May though. Giese will get DFA'd.

BTW, can you guys add me to your blogroll?

Mike NYY said...

I don't think they`re going to give up on the idea of Aceves as a starter so quickly.

I don't see why not but you better email Charlie, I think he`s the only one with administrative powers.

Charlie said...

Sure thing Rob, I did but I think your link is dead right now.

Charlie said...

Never mind; got it to work.

Brad said...

CL - Mo
SU - Joba
SU - Bruney
MR - Ramirez
MR - Marte
MR - Veras
LMR - Coke
LM - Giese

Turn games into 7 inning affairs

Rotation - CC, AJ, Wang, Pettitte, Hughes