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Breaking Down the Yankees Bullpen

By Mike Silva ~ February 13th, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva.

As we approach our “Pitchers and Catchers” show this Sunday, I would like to set the stage for how both New York teams fair in the bullpen, starting rotation, bench, and starting nine. I will give my thoughts throughout the weekend leading up to the show at 7pm.

Although there will be much debate in Tampa this spring, none of it will be about Joba Chamberlain being a part of the Yankees bullpen. One of the residual effect of the Yankees focus on young arms is they have tons of options for their 2009 pen. This is how I see it shaking out:

Closer: Mariano Rivera


Guaranteed Role: Damaso Marte

Strong Possibilities: Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Alfredo Aceves, Jonathan Albaladejo, Phil Coke, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, David Robertson, Mark Melancon

Outside Looking In: JB Cox, Kei Igawa, Jason Johnson

As you can see, the Yankees have so many arms to choose from in their 2009 bullpen. Outside of veterans Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte, you can’t predict how the rest will be slotted. One thing is for sure, there will be a decent arm that will start the year in Scranton Wilkes Barre.

If Bruney, Veras, and Ramirez perform as they did last season, you can bet they will be part of the mix. Our very own Phil Allard mentioned on Wednesday’s show that Bruney could very well be the favorite for setting up Rivera.

As always, the question remains how many pitchers will Joe Girardi carry? Faced with a starting rotation that is plagued by age, innings limitation, and injury risk you would think 7 relievers is a safe assumption. The reports on Aceves have been solid all winter, leading me to believe he is the perfect “swing man” that could spot start and provide long innings. That leaves Robertson, Hughes, Albaladejo, Coke, Sanchez, and Melancon.

You get mixed reports on whether the Yankees view Coke as a starter or reliever. Sticking with my theme of needing two lefties in a championship bullpen I would give Coke the advantage. This is a guy that pitched to a 0.61 ERA in 14 innings. A combination of Marte and Coke will make life very difficult for the big lefty AL power hitters this season. It might be worth it for Big Papi alone.

The big name left out of the mix is Phil Hughes. Once the symbol of the Yankees renewed focus on their farm system, Hughes has become the apparent odd man out. The question remains would Hughes be better served with a full year of AAA or as the sixth starter on the Yankees? Regardless he should get a chance to start considering that twelve pitchers started at least one game for the Yankees in 2008.

I believe the Yankees have the makings of a great bullpen with tons of upside. There may not be tons of proven arms, but they will not be short on quality, hard throwing relievers with potential. How many teams can say they have pitchers like Albaladejo, Melancon, Robertson, and Sanchez waiting in the minors? If anything, the Yankees renewed farm system should yield a top notch bullpen for the foreseeable future.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Breaking Down the Yankees Bullpen

  1. Giuseppe Franco

    Shocking as it sounds, I agree wholeheartedly.

    The strength of the entire farm system is not only young pitching – but strong bullpen arms.

    This is one of the many reasons why Joba will be a starter and will remain one.

    Melancon will be part of that pen by June if not sooner and will be a force in the late innings.

    This Yankee pen has the most upside since the dynasty years and they will significantly benefit from the reduced workload as a result of a much improved rotation.

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