The Poor Man’s Analyst

Predicting the New York Bullpen, Part 1 of 1.

with 4 comments

So I just wrote this pretty long and well-researched post on the Mets bullpen situation, figuring out what I thought was probably going to happen. I almost always do the research as I’m writing a post (I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it seems to add a degree of objectivity and/or authenticity). About half way through, I glanced at the 40-man roster and saw the name Rocky Cherry at the top. This name has two things significant about it: One, it’s an absolutely awesome name to have. Two, the Mets just drafted him in the Rule 5 (not Rule V) draft, so he fills the last spot in their ‘pen. So this was supposed to be a two part piece, but now you only get one. Such is life.

The Yankees have recently adopted the “throw shit at a wall and see what sticks” approach to building a bullpen. After Mariano Rivera, that is. The bullpen thrived in 2008 under the watchful eye of Joe Girardi, despite consisting almost exclusively of unproven pitchers. There was some debate over whether or not the same success would have happened under Joe Torre, but that’s outside the scope of this post. Much of the bullpen was a revolving door for a lot of the season, but it seemed to settle in during the second half. With that, we look ahead to next year. Here are the lead-pipe locks to make the team next spring:

  1. Mariano Rivera
  2. Damaso Marte (L)
  3. Brian Bruney
  4. Jose Veras

They’ll carry twelve pitchers total, seven in relief, leaving three open spots for this group: Edwar Ramirez, David Robertson, Phil Coke (L), Steven Jackson, Jon Albaladejo, Humberto Sanchez, Mark Melancon (not on 40-man), Alfredo Aceves (long-relief), and Dan Giese (long-relief). Whew that’s a lot of names. If and when the Yankees sign anybody else this off-season, one or more of these guys could be gone. There’s some hope that Melancon could make the team out of spring training, but with all these names on the list, I see him staying in AAA until at least May. Edwar will probably make the team just based off of last year’s success, so we’ll throw him in. Phil Coke really impressed a lot of people last fall and is versatile, having been a starter throughout his minor league career. He’s a maybe. David Robertson has a shot, but it would take a big spring for him to make it, in my mind. Between Coke and Robertson, chances are one will make it. My money is on Coke, simply because he’s a lefty, can pitch 3+ innings in a pinch, and doesn’t have the occasional control issues that Robertson does.

Sanchez was horrendous in the Arizona Fall League, so he has to be out as well. Jackson is productive, but nothing special, and probably wouldn’t impress enough in spring to go up north with the big club. He’ll get serious consideration when somebody goes down to either injury or ineffectiveness. Albaladejo is a strange case. He’s coming off some kind of elbow ligament sprain, which caused him to miss most of last season. I think they’ll put him in AAA just to prove he’s healthy and effective before calling him up.

That leaves one spot. I think this is the year that the Yankees finally own up to their word and take a long reliever on the staff. The two remaining names are Alfredo Aceves and Dan Giese, veterans of the Mexican and independent leagues, respectively. Aceves blew through the minors all the way to the show last year, albeit at the age of 25. Giese was a spring training invitee who started the year in the AAA ‘pen, moved to the rotation for a spot start, pitched like Sandy Koufax for a while, and ended up as the Yankee swing-man for a few months.

So there’s two questions to be asked: What should they do? What will they do? I believe they should begin the season with Giese in the ‘pen, and let Aceves get comfortable in the AAA rotation. Sometimes pitchers aren’t completely ready to go on April 1st, and you don’t want to hurt Aceves’s confidence right off the bat. If Giese is successful, then great. If he sucks, then bring up Aceves and let him have a shot at holding down the 12th spot in the bullpen.

What will happen could be a different story. When the Yankees sign another free agent pitcher in the coming weeks, they will have to drop somebody from the 40-man roster to clear space. That man might very well be Mr. Giese. He won’t be the first to go–that will probably be Chris Britton or maybe even Shelley Duncan–but there’s a chance he could be second, depending on how many more guys they sign. Let’s say for a second that Giese makes it through the winter still on the 40-man. There are few things in this world that Brian Cashman likes more than showing off his young talent. Girardi could be pushed towards taking Aceves even if he prefers Giese, although that’s just speculation on my part.

I’m sorry I don’t have a straight answer, but here’s what I think will go on with those last two spots, during the month of April at least. There will be a revolving door between Giese, Aceves, Coke, and Robertson, much like the beginning of last season with Edwar, Albaladejo, and Ohlendorf. Guys will go up and down based on how often and how well they’ve been pitching. Look for Cashman and Girardi to be pretty creative with the back end up the bullpen, possibly turning it into a relative strength along the way.


Written by dcn29

December 12, 2008 at 3:22 AM

Posted in Bullpens

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4 Responses

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  1. Is there really as much need for a long reliever this year? With last year’s train wreck of starting pitchers there were a lot of short outings by inferior *cough* Ponson *cough* pitchers that resulted in a need for a long reliever.

    But, this year might be different. If healthy, this rotation would be better served by a stable of quality short relievers. And if several starters aren’t healthy, then the Yankees would be better served by having someone like Aceves or Giese stretched out at AAA and ready to step into the rotation.


    December 15, 2008 at 7:59 PM

  2. That’s a good point, and may ultimately be the route the Yankees wish to take. But when was the last time the Yankees had a long relief option as good as Giese or Aceves? I think they’ll at least start out the year with a long-man as the starters continue to build up arm strength in the beginning of the season.

    This story was somewhat of an issue last March, but I doubt it gets much play next season with all the stories about the new acquisitions. Nobody wants to write about Dan Giese when there are “CC Getting Comfortable” articles to be written 😉


    December 15, 2008 at 8:11 PM

  3. Mo

    -Albaladejo was impressive in winterball 16 scoreless innings and 10 for 11 in save opportunities.
    -Giese has earned another look with last years success and Coke will get a shot as a starter in AAA before writing him off as a BP arm.
    -Robertson should be in the mix and first to replace an ineffective arm in the pen


    December 21, 2008 at 12:15 AM

  4. That’s certainly possible, I just think they’ll take it easy with Albaladejo to start the season. It’s only my opinion, I’m not the one making decisions.


    December 21, 2008 at 1:15 AM

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