Final Roster Spots: 7th Reliever

Throughout the day, I will be looking at the battles for the final spots on the Yankees roster: the last reliever, the battle for CF, and the utility infielder fight. I’ll start with the 7th reliever.

As of now, it seems clear that Mariano Rivera, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Phil Coke will make the opening day roster barring injury. It was assumed for most of spring training that the Yankees would carry a long reliever to fill that final slot, with Dan Giese, Alfredo Aceves, and Brett Tomko being the candidates. However, Joe Girardi suggested this afternoon that the battle for the final relief spot is more complicated than that:

So it looks like Joe Girardi may not take a long reliever after all.
This morning at 8:30 a.m., Girardi talked about the competition between Brett Tomko, Dan Giese and Alfredo Aceves, discussing the importance of today’s game since all three were pitching.
But when someone asked Girardi if the rest of the bullpen was pretty much settled, the manager said something interesting.
“Albaladejo has pitched great,” Girardi said.
At first, I thought maybe Albaladejo was in the mix for a spot we all assumed would go to Jose Veras or Edwar Ramirez, but after the game, it all became a lot clearer. Albaladejo, who can pitch two innings at a time, could combine with Phil Coke to form a long-man committee of sorts. All of a sudden, Tomko, Giese and Aceves weren’t only competing with each other, but with Albaladejo as well.

Let’s look at the spring numbers for the four candidates:

1. A Aceves 4.60ERA, 15.2IP, 14H, 8ER, 4HR, 6BB, 7SO
2. D Giese 6.89ERA 15.2IP, 22H, 12ER, 5HR, 4BB, 17SO
3. B Tomko 1.17ERA, 15.1IP, 12H, 2ER, 1HR, 2BB, 12SO
4. J Albaladejo 0.93ERA, 9.2IP, 8H, 1ER, 0HR, 1BB, 8SO

To me, that looks like a two man race. Giese has shown himself to be an all or nothing type, allowing plenty of hits and home runs while striking out the most batters. Aceves has been decent, but has walked too many batters and has allowed too many home runs. The Yankees may take one of the previous two due to last season’s performance and their potential to be better than a known commodity than Tomko, but I think the wide disparity in performances makes that unlikely.

Looking at Tomko and Albaladejo, both clearly deserve to make the roster. However, the decision between them will come down to a philosophical one: does the team need a long reliever or not? If the Yankees think that the multiple innings that they can get from Bruney, Coke, and Albie make a long man superfluous, then Albie will win the job. Personally, I hated that they went without a long man at the start of last season and jerked Albie and Ross Ohlendorf around as to their roles. With Joba on an innings limit, the Yankees might be better served giving Tomko a shot to start the season. Albaladejo will get his chance eventually.

What do you think?

0 thoughts on “Final Roster Spots: 7th Reliever

  1. “the decision between them will come down to a philosophical one: does the team need a long reliever or not? ”

    I’m not sure its philosophical as much as based on who’s in your rotation. They can count on CC and Wang giving them length in the games they pitch. Pettitte has been a reliable 200 IP guy for most of his career. If AJ Burnett’s transformation from a thrower to a pitcher is for real (I believe it is) then the 221.3 IP he threw last year was no mirage. The only guy who looks like he won’t be giving you innings is Joba, and hey, the bullpen has to get SOME work in somewhere.

    So my answer is no, they don’t need a long man. I take the best pitcher and one who I can use situationally and that’s Alby. He can give me a ground ball and get me a DP when I need one, that’s more valuable to me than Brett Tomko being used once a month.

    For the ‘once in a blue moon’ times that a starter gets knocked out early or gets injured, you can piece it together those days. Chances are, the bullpen will be well rested.