Saying Goodbye To Boone
Earlier this offseason during a 2013 roster discussion, the subject of the lefties came up, and who we might see during the next campaign. With his last year of arbitration pending, the fate of Boone Logan had become the center of those discussions. These talks have been rekindled, with the Nats filling their roster and the recent availability of Mike Morse, who Washington is said to be looking for a left handed reliever to bring back in a package for Morse. Boone has been a staple in the Yankee bullpen for several years now, and while he’s been the target of fans’ angst at times, he’s served the team fairly well. He hasn’t exactly been a LOOGY when you look at his splits, but he’s posted an ERA in the mid 3’s while posting a solid K/9. He has walked a few too many for most peoples tastes, which is probably the biggest rub on his stat line. One of the reasons his name was brought up in trade talks is that he faced his career high in batters in 2012, and led the league in appearances, which doesn’t take into account all of the times he was warmed up and never made it into the game. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he was Proctor’d, but towards the end of the year I kept thinking I’d get a view of the dugout and see Joe Torre on the bullpen phone calling Boone’s number. Another reason they might look to move Logan is that he’s in his final year of arbitration, and while a few million normally wouldn’t be a hindrance to the front office, these days everything counts. Add in the fact that the Yankees actually have quite a few choices for left handed relief, and you have a recipe for a Logan departure from the BX. Personally, if I’m Washington I’d ask for one of the players to follow, but since Boone has been a topic of discussion for many we’ll stay on that track. Even if Washington is a no go, left handers are a sought after commodity, so if they balk it doesn’t necessarily mean that 2013 will see him in pinstripes.
First on the list is Clay Rapada. He served as the second lefty out of the pen, a luxury we didn’t have the year before. This must have been matchup Joe’s wet dream, and he took every chance he could to utilize them. Clay also took a bit of flak over the course of the year, but it is what it is. Having the greatest ever coming out of the pen for so many years has spoiled the rotten out of Yankee fans for life. Clay isn’t a youngster, he’ll be in his age 32 season and has bounced around the majors for a few years now. What he did in 2012 was pretty impressive though; he posted a 149! ERA+ over 70 appearances (only 38.1 IP) which equated to a 2.82 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and a 4 BB/9, which like Logan is a bit high. Only one of those free passes was labeled as intentional, but I’d be interested in how many of those official walks were right handed hitters that he just stayed off the plate from and didn’t go for the obvious IBB. With all that said, he has a spotty history and a walk rate that you worry about, but he wouldn’t be a bad choice to call on so long as he doesn’t pitch to RHB. In 2012 he only pitched to 33 righties, but got tuned up to an .849 OPS, as opposed to a .518 mark against same handed hitters. LOOGY indeed.
On to the minor leagues there’s a handful of guys that could come north with the team come spring. First off is Cesar Cabral, who was on his way to winning that second spot over Rapada until he ended up getting injured during training camp. Assuming he’s 100% come ST, he could once again make a play for a spot in the pen. Cabral was drafted by the not-much-of-a-rival these days Red sox and had shaky numbers from level to level, but put together a nice spring until the lights went out. He’s another low-cost alternative that would be necessary especially in light of the self imposed budget we all keep dreading. One of our own, Juan Cedeno could be another candidate. Cedeno isn’t a youngster either, he’ll turn 30 this August, and he also had a spotty early career but caught on with NY and pitched in the traveling circus that was the SWB Yankees. Juan threw 64 innings for Scranton, striking out 57 and walking 21 which isn’t too shabby. That was good for 2.81 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Not exactly blow your house down numbers, but solid none the less.
On to Francisco Rondon, who pitched through three levels with NY this past year, ending with a pair of innings in Scranton. Most of his time was spent in Trenton, where he pitched 63.2 innings, where he struck out 70 but walked 39. His ERA came in just under four in that time, and gave up six home runs, the most of his MiL career. I won’t write the guy off, as he’s not as age advanced as some of these other fellas, but he’s gotta get it figured out soon and get those walks under control. Last but not least is Vidal Nuno, whose performances I looked forward to every week in 2012. He’s not a flashy stuff kinda guy that can mow down hitters with a big FB, he’s not a young top prospect type….he’s a guy who partied a little too hard when he first turned pro, had to turn to the indy leagues, and came back a better, wiser pitcher. He’s got a 4 or 5 pitch mix that he locates well and keeps hitters off balance and controls the plate very well. His FB only sits in the high 80’s (touches maybe 90-91 at times), but he walks very few, 27 BB’s in 114 IP, and struck out 126 in 2012. That’s a K/BB of over 4:1 and an ERA of 2.54 pitching mostly in Trenton. He’s not one that I’d bet on them breaking camp with, but he’ll be in Scranton at some point in 2013 and could be called up if he’s moving along like he has. I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for guys like this. He doesn’t come with the high ceiling tagline, or have dominating stuff but the guy seems like he can just pitch. Being a junkballer you have to be smart to succeed, and I dig that.
In summation, having a cheap bullpen is a great way for them to shed a few million, and with a well stocked farm system in terms of relief they need to get some of these guys some innings before they are forced to. I’d like to see them do that all the way around the roster, partly because I’m looking forward to seeing these kids on the big stage, and partly because I don’t want to see a bunch of shell shocked newbies in 2014 when management no choice but to play them.