Spring training will no doubt show us a battle between relievers looking for their spot in the bullpen. Barring a Ben Sheets surprise, we already know what players will make up most of the bullpen. They are:
Certains: Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves
Strong Candidates: Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Boone Logan
Weaker Candidates: Mark Melancon, Edwar Ramirez, Jon Albaladejo, Wilkins De La Rosa, Zach Kroenke*
*Has to be returned from the Rule V draft
The Yankees will likely carry 7 relief pitchers on their roster. That means that two candidates will make the team. I don’t know about you, but the prospects of two of Mitre, Gaudin, and Logan don’t make me feel very confident. Logan and Mitre have career ERAs in the 5s, and really only make sense in a super-specialized role (Mitre as mop-up guy and Logan as an extreme LOOGY). Gaudin at least has a major league track record of consistently keeping opponents to a slight below average ERA. He’s pretty clearly the best of the lot.
Boone Logan has an option, so he can go down. But will the Yankees send the very affordable Sergio Mitre to waivers? I don’t think they will. I think that its much more likely that they trade Gaudin’s 3 million dollar salary and use Sergio Mitre as their long man and spot starter, which will almost certainly cost them wins. The other possibility is that they carry both Gaudin and Mitre, which seems incredibly redundent with one of Hughes or Chamberlain and Alfredo Aceves also on the roster.
I would much rather see Mitre jetisoned and one of the weak candidates be given the spot in spring training. Mark Melancon’s time is coming eventually. We’ll have to see when that will be. I think that Melancon disappointed a lot of Yankee fans this season, but only because expectations were incredibly high. Melancon had an admirable minor league season, but showed jitters in his brief major league time. With certainty and stability to his routine out of spring training, I think that Melancon could really show us what he’s got. God knows he doesn’t have anything more to learn in Triple-A (2.84 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, 1.65 IP/G) that would justify sending him back down.
I really believe that keeping Mitre is one of those “easy” decisions that the Yankees need to avoid making. Interia is the only thing that justifies his roster spot. At the very least, Alfredo Aceves can do Mitre’s job 10x better. I’m open to trading Gaudin if freeing up the salary space helps bring back Johnny Damon or bring in Reed Johnson or someone else in left field, but even then Mitre should go.
But that’s enough of me. My vote is for Gaudin and Melancon. What do you guys think? How would you construct the 2010 bullpen?