Nevertheless, it did make me wonder if the Yankees aren’t saturated with bullpen talent and, if so, if it might not make some sense to shop some of those bullpen arms for a younger position player. Think about it, the Yankees opening day bullpen will definitely include Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, and Boone Logan as the lefty specialist, will probably include Cory Wade (who makes a heck of a last guy in the bullpen), and could see Phil Hughes added to the unit as well. And oh yeah, at some point next season Joba Chamberlain will returnto be thrown back into that mix too. That’s an abundance of riches to be sure, and even if Cameron is wrong about the value of middle relievers, it’s hard to see where the team will come up with meaningful innings to give to all of those guys.
With that in mind, I’m not sure it wouldn’t behoove Brian Cashman to shop David Robertson around to see what teams might be interested in giving up to acquire the Yankees’ strikeout happy set up man. Don’t get me wrong, I love D-Rob as much as the next guy and would be sad to see him go, but his value is probably as high as it will ever be right now, and he probably isn’t really as good as his 2011 numbers make him out to be. We all know he can generate strikeouts, of course, but he also continues to walk a lot of batters in the process(4.73 BB/9 last year), which is going to come back to bite him when his 0.14 HR/9 and 2.3 HR/FB% catch up to him. If Robertson’s numbers move closer to the 3.82 ERA and 3.58 FIP he registered in 2010 with much more normal peripherals, losing him wouldn’t hurt nearly so much if the return was sweet.
Ideally, the Yankees could swap some of their excess pitching for a talented young corner outfielder who is ready to play int he big leagues right now. This would fix their short term hole at the designated hitter position by allowing them to have Nick Swisher fill the role of primary DH and help them meet their 2014 payroll target by filling an open starting spot at tremendous value. If they get the right player in return, it’s basically a win-win for the short and long term.
The question, of course, is who this player might be. The name that springs to mind immediately is the Phillies’ Dominic Brown, and such an idea doesn’t seem as improbably to me as it should. The Phillies are in win-now mode to the extreme, given a) their aging roster b) the strain on the payroll Ryan Howard‘s contract is going to begin to create and c) the fact that Cole Hamels looks likely to become a free agent at the end of this season, they spent big on the bullpen by bringing Jonathan Papelbon to town (before which they were reportedly willing to spend big to keep Ryan Madson in town), and they might be enticed by the possibility of adding one of the best setup men in baseball from last season to the mix as well and, quite frankly, general manager Ruben Amaro just doesn’t seem to be a fan of the idea of letting Brown become a regular for the Phillies anytime this decade. The standard “my trade proposal sucks” disclaimer applies here, but I’ve got a hunch this might not be so crazy. And depending on what the ancillary pieces of the trade are, a Robertson-for-Brown swap could be a huge windfall for the Yankees.
Not that I’ll mind watching Robertson strike out the side wearing pinstripes when he doesn’t get traded this month by any means.