Mr. Cashman, Tell Me You Have a Plan

Let me get this straight: 

  • The Yankees just traded reliever Scott Proctor for part-time Dodger infielder Wilson Betemit
  • Meanwhile, the Red Sox just obtained Eric Gagne (2.16, 17 of 18 saves) from the Rangers, despite having a killer closer in John Papelbon (2.15, 23 of 25 saves). 

Am I missing something?

  • CONSENSUS  There was one, right?  Yankees need bullpen pitching BADLY.  NOT batters.
  • A BAT FOR THE BENCH?  Let’s look at our oft-maligned bench.
    • Anchored by the mending Johnny Damon (.247), replaced in center by Melky Cabrera, who has improved  to .291 from April’s .200, hitting .373 in July as an every day player
    • Enriched, we hope, by the upcoming return of refurbished slugger Jason Giambi
    • Ignited by Make-It-Happen Miguel Cairo ("the best .239 player in baseball," John Sterling reminds us.), a defensive star and utility player who has hit .255 overall but much higher during periods of everyday play covering first base while the injured Giambi’s replacement Doug Mankiewitcz was on the DL, and until farmhand Andy Phillips was appointed permanent substitute.  If that sounds like teaching in NYC, where teachers who have more than paid their dues after a decade or two in the system are being forced into substitution while youngsters take over the classrooms, you’re right.
    • No offense to Betemit (.231), but, … well, do we need him more than we need Proctor?  And isn’t the point that we needed to ADD to our bullpen?
  • BULLPEN –  Yankees just traded their righty reliever Scott Proctor (3.81 ERA) Why?
    • True, he hit a wall in June when he averaged 5.17 runs.   But his July ERA is 2.84!
    • He has pitched in 52 games.  Last year he entered 89 and ended the season at 3.52.
    • Consensus is that manager Joe Torre overused him last year.  Umm.  Would you say he was ON PACE to burnout again this year?  Remember the uniform-burning ritual?
    • Why are so many Torre Dynasty relievers in the running for most innings pitched?
    • Does Torre have a pattern of overusing a reliever as his trusted go-to guy?  Hmm.
      • Lefty Ron Villone was so wiped out last year that his arm was dead by  postseason.  To recognize his contributions, the Yanks started him in the minors this season.  Today his ERA is 3.12 after 23 games.  He ended last year with a 5.04 ERA after 80 games.  Looks like Torre might have learned something here. 
      • Is Mike Myers the new trusted lefty?  Uh-oh.  2.61 after 50 innings.  Already!
      • Wherever and however he pitches, the one comment you can count on hearing about Mike Stanton is that he’s on the list of the hardest-working lefty relievers in baseball.  He pitched in over 70 games for over half of 6 years with the Yankees (over 60 for the other 3).  As a Met, he reached his pinnacle of 83 games in 2004, and still managed to keep his ERA at 3.16.   Did Torre start him on this path?  At this point, I get the feeling that he he keeps going in order to see how many innings his career can survive.
      • Remember righty Paul Quantrill in 2004?  Get ready:  86 games, 95.1 innings.  Remember him burning out his arm? 
      • You get the idea.  And don’t forget the great relievers they let go.  Remember the Stanton – Mendoza combo?  I’m still smarting from that one.

So, Mr. Cashman-  Would you mind ADDING to our bullpen rather than taking away from it?  Between you and Mr. Torre, we’re losing our relievers faster than we can win our games.

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