Sunday, January 4, 2015
After all the recent upheaval, has the Yankee bullpen improved? The answer may depend on how we read Hemingway.
Posted by el duque at 8:02 AM
This weekend, the diligent souls at River Ave - (a YES subsidiary, we may have to start noting this more often) - counted up the dazzling list of 17 bullpen arms - Seventeen! - that shall compete in Tampa for the five or six bullpen slots. From Betances to Nick Rumbelow, seventeen names! It's like the Eskimo words for snow. Yes, that Master of Recycling, Brian Cashman, has amassed a battalion of arms, potentially the best pen in baseball. Uh... only one, eency-weency problem...
It's business as usual.
I don't want to be a pill here. But every winter, the Yankees unveil a grand wave of bullpen could-be's. And every one of them looks good on Jan. 3.
I don't mean to dis River Ave, (even if they are owned by Rupert Murdoch,) but this year's bullpen Charge of the Light Brigade is not that much better than last January's garden of earthly delights.
Consider last year's emerging Super Bullpen: We had David Robertson to close. Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton - our new stud lefty free agent - could handle the eighth. There were the up and comers - Preston Claiborne, Mike Montgomery, Jose Ramirez, and Graham Stoneburner - and the sixth starters - Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Alfredo Aceves, maybe Chris Bootcheck and Bryan Mitchell. We had the ever-intriguing Matt Daley, Chris Leroux, Caesar Cabral, Jim Miller and the long-time disappointment, Dellin Betances. If he was closed out of a starter role, we might use Ivan Nova out of the pen. That's 19 men. Oh... and we also had Nick Rumbelow!
Listen: It's nice that the Evils have horded new arms from San Diego, Atlanta, Miami and the Mets. But as warm as this field looks on Jan. 3, things could turn cold fast on April 3. We still have no proven closer. If it turns out that either Andrew Miller or Betances cannot close, we might find either one compromised to the point of not even doing well in the eighth. And who is our eighth inning shutdown? The new guys, Carpenter and Wilson? Neither has pitched in NYC. And unless we add another starter, we're going to need a seventh inning man, and probably a sixth. Seventeen arms won't be enough.
This team is still a developing Kodak snapshot. I do not believe the Yankees think Chris Young is their fourth outfielder, considering how listless Carlos Beltran looked in RF last year. I do not believe Chris Capuano is anybody's idea of a 150-inning, fifth starter. I do not believe A-Rod intends to accept the DH role without a fight. I don't know what Cashman has in mind. But seventeen bullpen names? Oh, Jake, wouldn't it be wonderful? Yes, Lady Brett, isn't it pretty to think so?