Friday, June 02, 2006

Free Agent Relievers

During the dynasty run, the Yankees could count on solid work out of the bullpen from Mendoza, Stanton, Nelson, and of course Mariano. The setup corps for Mariano was solid, if unspectacular.

Stanton, Nelson, and Mendoza moved on, while the Yankees looked to replace them with high priced free agent relievers who quickly became high priced free agent flops. Names like Steve Karsay and Felix Heredia flopped while old favorites like Randy Choate and Sterling Hitchcock floundered. The Yankees would even unsuccessfully attempt to bring back all three of Stanton, Nelson, and Mendoza at different times.

The result? Lots of guys on the DL, lots of blown games, and fewer wins for the Yankees. Brian Cashman finally succeeded in bringing in a good high-priced setup man in Tom Gordon, but he moved on for greener pastures this offseason.

The solution? Cashman went on a blitz of the free agent market. He signed Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers and Octavio Dotel to big (at least for relievers) deals.

It's way too early (in his 3 year deal) to call the Farns a bust yet, but he certainly isn't giving anyone reason to be confident in him. Mike Myers likes to walk the first left handed batter he faces every game - which is a big problem when you only face one batter per game. Octavio Dotel hopefully will contribute in the future, but he is on his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Is it a surprise that the two best relievers in the Yankee bullpen have come not from big money deals but small ones? Ron Villone was acquired from Florida for a fringe prospect and Scott Proctor came to the Yankees in the ancient Robin Ventura trade. Both have been solid in setting up Mariano - but Joe Torre has decided that they should be handed less important roles than Mike Myers and Kyle Farnsworth.

The Yankees have the bullets to fight through these injuries. Joe Torre's job is to put the bullet into the revolver. However, Torre continues to exercise his worst option in games, and Brian Cashman doesn't make it any better (*cough* Erickson). The Yankees have plenty of options, and now they just need to use them. But right now, the gun is being reloaded with blanks.