Friday, January 5, 2007

The 2007 Yankee bullpen

Brian Cashman doesn't have a lot to work out between now and opening day. Our starting rotation and lineup are pretty much set. Our bench will be decided in Spring Training. Our bullpen is a different story.

The Yankees have the following locks, barring a trade:

Mariano Rivera - 75 innings, 1.80 ERA
Kyle Farnsworth - 66 innings, 4.36 ERA
Mike Myers - 30.2 innings, 3.23 ERA
Luis Vizcaino - 65.1 innings, 3.58 ERA
Brian Bruney (20.2 innings, 0.87 ERA)

I am going to exclude Scott Proctor for a moment, whom the Yankees are preparing to start "just in case" (102 innings, 3.52 ERA)

The Yankees have on the 25 man roster right now (no options)

Sean Henn (9.1 innings, 4.84 ERA)

And on the 40 man roster, with options:

T.J. Beam (18 innings, 8.50 ERA)
Chris Britton (53.2 innings, 3.35 ERA)
Jeff Karstens (42.2 innings, 3.80 ERA)
Darrell Rasner (unsure, may be out of options) (20.1 innings, 4.43 ERA)
Jose Veras (11 innings, 4.09 ERA)
Jeff Kennard

It seems unlikely that the Yankees will consider a normal 6 man bullpen. They will carry 7 relief pitchers. I'm not going to pretend to know what Cashman will do, but I will tell you what I would do.

  • Trade Brian Bruney. His 20 innings were a major fluke last season. He walks too many people. Bruney will never have success in the major leagues with a walk rate that high. His trade value will never be higher. Sell high.
  • Trade or waive Sean Henn. He isn't going to be a useful major league player. The arm surgery really killed him. Henn didn't take to the bullpen well and he's out of time. Maybe he'll clear waivers, but I doubt it.
  • Keep Scott Proctor in the bullpen. He was very good last season, and hasn't been a full time starter since he was in the Dodger organization.
  • Promote Chris Britton. He was better than any of our relievers besides Mariano last season. He may have some speed bumps, but he's going to be a good reliever for a long time. Of course, if he has a poor spring training, he can be sent to the minors for more seasoning.
  • Promote Darrell Rasner. I'm not too sure, but he may also be out of options. He should be promoted and given the longman role. Karstens could probably do a slightly better job, but Karstens also has two option years left. If Rasner struggles, he can be sent down in favor of Karstens or someone else.

I think that this could be a very good bullpen. I think that, barring injury, it could be the best bullpen in the majors. Some quick predictions:

Mariano Rivera, 80 innings, 1.80 ERA
Kyle Farnsworth, 72 innings, 3.10 ERA (yes, he'll recover)
Scott Proctor, 90 innings, 3.70 ERA (Even though he could easily go down with an elbow injury)
Chris Britton, 65 innings, 4.05 ERA
Luis Vizcaino, 65 innings, 3.85 ERA
Mike Myers, 32 innings, 3.00 ERA
Darrell Rasner, 75 innings, 4.50 ERA

That's a very solid little staff. One or more will probably go down with an injury or by simple ineffectiveness, but that is why we have T.J. Beam, Jose Veras, Jeff Kennard, and J.B. Cox at AAA.