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?