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bullpen1129.jpgLet's take a break from the Johan Santana madness for the afternoon and take a look at what might be the biggest area of need for the Yanks (especially if Pettitte returns), the bullpen.

Looking back on last season, the first thing that jumps to mind is the dominant back-end of the pen down the stretch. Of course, that dominance was mostly due to Joba's insertion as the 8th-inning guy. The Yanks have been rumored to want Vizcaino back, but that's far from a done deal, so we're going to examine what the Yankee pen would look like should the season start today. Let me warn you ahead of time, it's not a pretty sight.

First, here's the complete stats for the pen from last season (minus a few emergency appearances from Mussina and Pettitte, plus Henn's start at the end of the season is included here, just because I didn't feel like pulling those stats out. It was basically a pen appearance anyway, he only went 3 innings).

2007 Bullpen
NAME W L Sv Hld IP H ER BB SO K/9 WHIP ERA
Joba Chamberlain 2 0 1 8 24 12 1 6 34 12.75 0.75 0.38
Mike Myers (17 CWS) 3 0 0 4 40.2 38 12 16 21 4.65 1.33 2.66
Ross Ohlendorf 0 0 0 1 6.1 5 2 2 9 12.79 1.11 2.84
Mariano Rivera 3 4 30 0 71.1 68 25 12 74 9.34 1.12 3.15
Chris Britton 0 1 0 0 12.2 9 5 4 5 3.55 1.03 3.55
Scott Proctor (31 LAD) 2 5 0 11 54.1 53 23 29 37 6.13 1.51 3.81
Ron Villone 0 0 0 4 42.1 36 20 18 25 5.31 1.28 4.25
Luis Vizcaino 8 2 0 14 75.1 66 36 43 62 7.41 1.45 4.3
Brian Bruney 3 2 0 6 50 44 26 37 39 7.02 1.62 4.68
Kyle Farnsworth 2 1 0 15 60 60 32 27 48 7.2 1.45 4.8
Jose Veras 0 0 2 1 9.1 6 6 7 7 6.75 1.39 5.79
Sean Henn 2 2 0 2 36.2 44 29 27 28 6.87 1.94 7.12
Edwar Ramirez 1 1 1 3 21 24 19 14 31 13.29 1.81 8.14
Colter Bean 0 1 0 0 3 5 4 5 2 6 3.33 12
Jim Brower 0 0 0 1 3.1 8 5 2 1 2.7 3 13.5
Totals 26 19 34 70 507.3 478 245 249 423 7.504 1.433 4.35


All told, the Yankee pen was pretty comparable to the rest of the league. The WHIP a little higher than you'd like, but after the atrocious starts of Vizcaino and Rivera, the pen settled down and as I said before, dominated down the stretch securing wins in tight games. The long view isn't always the best way to judge a pen, but these are the numbers we have to work with, and they aren't horrible.

Now, here's the list of guys who are probably lost from the pen going into 2008 (Vizcaino may return).

Arms Lost From the Pen
NAME W L Sv Hld IP H ER BB SO K/9 WHIP ERA
Joba Chamberlain 2 0 1 8 24 12 1 6 34 12.75 0.75 0.38
Mike Myers (17 CWS) 3 0 0 4 40.2 38 12 16 21 4.65 1.33 2.66
Scott Proctor (31 LAD) 2 5 0 11 54.1 53 23 29 37 6.13 1.51 3.81
Ron Villone 0 0 0 4 42.1 36 20 18 25 5.31 1.28 4.25
Luis Vizcaino 8 2 0 14 75.1 66 36 43 62 7.41 1.45 4.3
Totals 15 7 1 41 235.5 205 92 112 179 6.841 1.346 3.52


This data tells the first half of the story. The Yanks are going to be without some quality statistical production from these guys. Joba's unreal numbers skew the data a bit, and I nearly choked when I saw how good Mike Myers numbers were, but you can't argue with the production. The only poor stat in this group is the K/9 number, which dragged down the overall number for the pen. That stat should not be overlooked, especially when you consider the type of situation these guys often came into. Sometimes a strike out is vital when you bring a guy in with men on base.

Now comes the toughest pill to swallow...

Arms Left In the Pen
NAME W L Sv Hld IP H ER BB SO K/9 WHIP ERA
Ross Ohlendorf 0 0 0 1 6.1 5 2 2 9 12.79 1.11 2.84
Mariano Rivera 3 4 30 0 71.1 68 25 12 74 9.34 1.12 3.15
Chris Britton 0 1 0 0 12.2 9 5 4 5 3.55 1.03 3.55
Brian Bruney 3 2 0 6 50 44 26 37 39 7.02 1.62 4.68
Kyle Farnsworth 2 1 0 15 60 60 32 27 48 7.2 1.45 4.8
Jose Veras 0 0 2 1 9.1 6 6 7 7 6.75 1.39 5.79
Sean Henn 2 2 0 2 36.2 44 29 27 28 6.87 1.94 7.12
Edwar Ramirez 1 1 1 3 21 24 19 14 31 13.29 1.81 8.14
Colter Bean 0 1 0 0 3 5 4 5 2 6 3.33 12
Jim Brower 0 0 0 1 3.1 8 5 2 1 2.7 3 13.5
Totals 11 12 33 29 271.8 273 153 137 244 8.079 1.508 5.07


Those numbers are pitiful in every single category, except K/9. This shouldn't come as news to anyone, especially considering the biggest name left besides Mo is Kyle Farnsworthless, but I didn't think the numbers would be that bad.

So, what can we do to fix this? Well, first of all, I don't think the free agents the Yanks have been linked to in rumors (Troy Percival, David Riske and Ron Mahay) are even remotely the answer. I don't think the Yanks think so either, that's why they're dead-set against overpaying for a mediocre reliever or two. The plan seems to be using the young guys (Ohlendorf, Edwar, Veras, Igawa and maybe even Chase Wright) to fill out the pen. It's an admirable idea, and you may wind up finding a gem in Ohlendorf or maybe Veras, but as a whole I don't think this group is up to the task.

Here's my solution: Ideally, if the Johan Santana deal does happen, I'd expand it to include Joe Nathan. Nathan is almost assuredly gone after this season, so while the Twins are rebuilding with trades they may as well move him. I wrote up one possible scenario yesterday.

Short of that, I think the Yanks best option is to kill two birds with one stone. Neither Phil Hughes, nor Joba Chamberlain have the workload built up for the Yanks to be comfortable with either of them throwing 200 innings this season. I think the Yanks should use each out of the pen for extended periods of time this year. Figure they have 350 innings between them this year, use 150 each as a starter, and 25 each as a reliever. Both should be able to handle it (Joba did it last year, Hughes did it in the playoffs), it will ease the workload on the young guys and give the Yanks another effective arm out of the pen for a little more than half the season.

Figuring out exactly when and how to use them in the pen would be a complicated process, but I'm pretty sure Nardi Contreras and Girardi can come up with a solution if they put their heads together.
by Brian on Nov 29 2007
Tags: Bullpen | Phil Hughes | Trade Rumors |