Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Bullpen - A Season Long Strategy

The Yankee bullpen has been a constant sore point for the team for the last few years. Ever since the loss of Stanton and Nelson the bridge to Rivera has been weak at best. We have seen Karsay, Hammond, Farnsworth and others fail as the eighth inning guy. Tom Gordon was a good performer but had a weak constitution.

This year the bullpen is perhaps more up in the air then it has ever been and I believe it will be a rough year for the pen. I have always believed that a strong pen depended on two factors- a strong closer and a strong starting staff. If you look around the league there are a couple of middle inning guys who perform well year in and year out, but mostly you have a lot of variation in their performance from one year to the next. This is due mostly to them being overexposed. Lights-out relievers end up being closers and the rest are very comparable. If you continually put relievers in the right situations they can have success; however if they are asked to perform more then they are capable of they flop( think of Farnworth whenever he is asked to close).

So this brings me to the current Yankee team. We have the strong closer that will save our middle guys from real big spots late but we have a starting staff that will have to be babied. Three pitchers who will have to be held under 200 innings is a death sentence to our pen. So what do we do? You can expect a couple of casualties because of the innings limitations set on the big three so the goal is to protect the guys with the most upside. So let's break the candidates down into three categories

The Vets
  • Rivera
  • Hawkins
  • Farnsworth


  • Jose Veras
  • T.J. Beam
  • Chris Britton
  • Brian Bruney
  • Matt DeSalvo
  • Sean Henn
  • Darrell Rasner
  • Kei Igawa

Legit Prospects

  • Alan Horne
  • Jeff Karstens
  • Jeff Marquez
  • Ross Ohlendorf
  • Scott Patterson
  • Edwar Ramirez
  • Steven White
  • Chase Wright
  • Jonathan Albaladejo
  • Humberto Sanchez
  • Mark Melancon
What we want to do here is abuse the fillers while protecting the veterans and the legit prospects. To do this we should almost project to blow a couple relievers out. The bullpen I suggest would change as these fillers began to fade while folding in some of our better prospects as they get ready.

Best April/May Bullpen

  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Hawkins/Fansworth
  • 6th -Ohlendorff, Veras
  • Long Relief-Edwar, Igawa

The two guys you abuse in this bullpen is Veras and Igawa. Igawa can absorb a bunch of innings and Veras can be the guy who gets a lot of one inning fill appearances. The goal here is to ease Edwar and Ohley into their roles putting them in situations where they can succeed.

Best Midseason Bullpen

  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Ohlendorff,Fansworth
  • 6th -Hawkins, Bruney
  • Long Relief-Edwar, Rasner

By midseason the Yankees should look to increase Ohlendorf's role while still protecting Edwar. Edwar is a reliever with a lot of upside but he is going to really have to be watched closely. Bruney and Rasner become our fall guys with this pen.

Best Late Season/Future Bullpen

  • Closer- Mo
  • 7th/8th- Ohlendorf,Fansworth
  • 6th -Edwar, Hawkins
  • Long Relief-Marquez, Melancon

As we prepare for the postseason we setup the bullpen with the best chance in the bullpen and introduce the fresh arms and high upside of Marquez and Melancon. Edwar has now been eased into a role with more impact and Hawkins is still in the mix but in the middle innings not the final bridge to Mo.


Yankees Muse said...

correct me if I'm wrong but I think Matt Desalvo is gone. I was trying to find stats on him the other day and I think I read something about him being non-tendered

Old Goat said...

Rasner was non-tendered as well.

Also, while I am not arguing that things are up in the air with the bull-pen, the three starters are three of six. That makes a bit of difference.

I envision some sort of rotation within the rotation. Wang, Pettitte and Mussina will get regular starts, but the three young arms are going to be taking up two rotation slots. That is what will help.

Marquez might get an early call up. Karstens will probably get another chance. Igawa might even contend for a starting job, even though that seems doubtful.

Girardi and Eiland are going to be the key to making this work.

BombersGM said...

On January 5, 2008 he signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves.

You are correct I was working off an old list.

BombersGM said...

Rasner was not offered a new contract by the Yankees and became a free agent on December 12, 2007, but was resigned a couple of days later to a minor league deal.

So he is still in the mix. I like the idea of the six man rotation but Girardi said he had no plans to open the season with anything but a five man rotation.

MLBGM said...

You propose to 'abuse' Veras and Igawa. But you really think the Yankees will give up the W's that would cost? There's a reason that Torre abused the Nelsons, Proctors and Stantons of the world - they were good and gave the Yanks the best chance to win.
Can you imagine the uproar if Girardi started using Igawa consistently in the middle of close ballgames?
No way that happens.

iYankees said...

i honestly think that jose veras could be great in the bullpen. he might be a sleeper in the whole thing if he can be consistent.

also, with edwar, as long as girardi picks appropriate times to bring him in, i think he'll dominate. i always thought having farnsworth in there throwing the 7th was a good idea (have him throw fastballs with a few sliders), then, bring in edwar for the 8th (he could set-up) and have him throw changeups and some fastballs.

the different look from the 98 mph fastball to the 90-92 mph fastball plus the devestating change would work well for edwar and would change things up on hitters.

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