Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009 Yankees: Are They The 2008 Mets??

Be it a groan, cheer, or a clever series of words strung together, everybody in and around baseball had an extreme reaction to the New York Yankees' offseason spending.

Through 10 games, it's not fair to judge the performances of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, or Mark Teixeira so far.

Fans and critics alike must give them ample time to settle in before making the decision to laugh at the Yankees' reckless spending or write a nasty letter to their own team's front office for not shelling out the green to land the big names.

After 10 games, however, it is fair to judge one aspect of Brian Cashman's latest Death Star, which may have been overlooked when being constructed this offseason—the bullpen.

Before going on, let me take you back to last September. Call me masochistic, but for some reason, I can't help but listen to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman broadcasts on the radio.

As nauseating as it is, it's also like watching Bill O'Reilly or Pat Robertson—you just can't predict what they're going to say next.

Driving in my car, Sterling and Waldman were previewing the 2009 roster when Sterling blurted out something which really made me scratch my head.

He said something along the lines of the Yankees having the most feared bullpen in baseball with the combination of Phil Coke, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera.

OK, as much as it pains me, I will admit Rivera is a great reliever.

Chamberlain, too, but as we all know now (and most of us knew then, or so I thought), isn't in the bullpen. He's a starter until he undoubtedly gets hurt again.

Now join me, everyone outside of Yankee Nation, when I say "Phil Coke? Who the hell is Phil Coke?"

I follow the Yankees enough to know who he is, but what baffled me was how anyone, even John Sterling, could crown someone with a dozen career appearances as one who should be "feared."

Maybe Coke was in the game, or had just left the game, so he was on Sterling's mind while he was sucking up to Yankee brass.

Really though, Phil Coke?

Coke had a great little run in 2008, only allowing one earned run in 14.1 innings pitched, but come on—feared? He's not even established!

Fast forward to present day, my suspicions may have had some legitimacy to them. Coke, in five appearances, has allowed seven runs, four earned, to the tune of a 9.00 earned run average.

He has yet to work a perfect full inning.

Coke isn't the only problem within the 'pen. Damaso Marte, acquired last July in the Xavier Nady deal, has appeared three times this season. In the lefty-specialist's first two outings, he faced four batters, retiring three of them.

Thursday was a different story. The offense he was facing wasn't that of the Royals or Orioles; it was the Indians.

Marte squeezed three innings worth of batters—the entire Indians lineup—into one inning. He allowed the runner he inherited from Jose Veras to score, then six more who were his own responsibility.

Veras has allowed a run in three of his five outings, including three against the Indians.

Edwar Ramirez has only allowed a single run to score in his two outings (3.1 innings of work), but has an alarming 2.40 WHIP, albeit early in the season.

Jonathan Albaladejo was effective against the Orioles, but the Rays got the best of him in two of his three innings of work in Tampa.

Newcomer David Robertson, who was just called up to take the injured Xavier Nady's roster spot, gave the Yankees a promising two scoreless innings of work, but wasn't exactly lights out in his 25 appearances last season (5.34 ERA in 30-plus innings pitched).

The Yankees are forced to make a decision, but the injury to Nady makes it a little harder. With only four outfielders on the roster, it's near impossible to permanently move Nick Swisher to the setup role, and they apparently need his bat much more than anyone could have anticipated.

To sum up, it's early in the season, but the Yankees' two left-handed specialists can't be trusted to get outs, nor can the righties leading up to Mariano Rivera, and the most impressive reliever so far other than their closer is their right fielder.

They've lost in situations where they were winning late, lost where they were called upon to hold a tie, and have let marginal deficits become huge deficits.

But hey, at least the new ballpark looks great!

1 comment:

Eric said...

The only people that fear the Yankees SHOULD be the Steinbrenners with that huge payroll. I don't think they care though.