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The Tuesday Discussion: The End Is Just The Beginning

July 27, 2021

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This week we asked our writers:

The Yankees’ bullpen, especially the back-end, was supposed to be a strength, but the Yankees have failed to close out a bunch of winnable games.

How would you address the Yankees’ bullpen problems?

Here are their responses:

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Lincoln Mitchell – I would do nothing to address the Yankees bullpen problem. Fixing a bullpen is something you do once you’ve built a good team. It is not something that a mediocre team that should be rebuilding should do. The worst thing the Yankees can do right now is trade even a second tier prospect for another reliever. That would demonstrate just how disconnected they are from reality. It would be far wiser to forget about building the bullpen until they build an offense and maybe trade some relievers now if they can get anything for them.

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Paul Semendinger – The young kids have brought energy and life to the team, but I think the Yankees are kidding themselves if they fashion themselves as a contender.

A non-contending team has little need for a closer. Now is the time for the Yankees to trade Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and many of the rest. Keep Johnny Loaisiga and any young pitcher who could be part of the next great Yankees run, but the older guys should be traded for young players.

Quick Quiz – How old is Chad Green?

Answer – We think he’s young, but he’s now 30. He’s been a big leaguer since 2016. Time flies!

Now is the time to try out some of the young arms in big spots. The Yankees should use this time this season to see how certain players respond to the big leagues. It’s time to plan to the future, not to go chasing the dreams of the last few seasons that have now passed them by.

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Tim Kabel – I think that the Yankees should try to build their bullpen from within with young arms. In the recent past, they have developed Jonathan Loaisiga, Chad Green, and Luis Cessa. They should concentrate on doing the same with Albert Abreu, and possibly Nick Nelson. In addition, when Michael King comes back, I believe he is better suited to the bullpen than the starting rotation. He has done well in that role. Nestor Cortes could go either way as a starter or reliever. To me, that group would be a good starting place rather than using people like Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson, and the now departed Adam Ottavino.

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Mike Whiteman – If the Yankees can upgrade the bullpen at a reasonable price, they should absolutely do so. No rentals though. If I’m Brian Cashman, I’m considering a pitcher with the ability to contribute in 2021 and beyond.

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Cary Greene – If I were the Yankee GM & was charged with fixing the bullpen, I’d start with a full STOP! The trade deadline is a great time of year to give away pieces that are nearly ready and just need a little bit more polish. Trading controllable assets is what got the Yankees into this mess to begin with and it forced them to allocate close to $40 million in payroll just to field a bullpen. That’s almost the entire payroll of the Cleveland Guardians. Wouldn’t the Yankee bullpen look a lot better now with Garrett Whitlcok, Zack Littell and J.P. Feyereisen in it right now?

I would stop using nearly finished bullpen guys as trade bait. That means I’m sticking with pitchers like Albert Abreu, Brooks “meltdown” Kriske and others. I’ll write more on this subject this week, but my “stop” program means we need to take a better look at what we already have and do a better job at “finishing” pitchers up — too much upside exists not to make this a focus.

Next, I believe the Yankee bullpen is fine, the problem is that the managing a bullpen isn’t Aaron Boone’s forte. On Sunday, he brought in Jonathan Loaisiga who had just gotten back from Covid. Loaisiga has zero experience closing out games. Zack Brittton was fresh and he should have been deployed. On Thursday night, Chad Green was brought in for the save but Boone showed poor in-game decision making ability as Luis Cessa had just powered through a five-pitch 8th inning and should have been brought out to start the 9th with a two-run lead.

Therefore, I’d be left with no choice but to fire Boone and hire John Flaherty as an interim manager. Flaherty is better equipped to manage what is a perfectly competent, if not overpaid, bullpen already.

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Ethan Semendinger – There is no one obvious solution to upgrade the Yankees bullpen this year and given the performance of the team (and how that performance stacks up across the league), I wouldn’t want them to try and upgrade the bullpen. The recently acquired Clay House is definitely not the answer and I agree with Lincoln Mitchell (above) that trading any type of prospect for a guy like him is a move I’m not a big fan of.

However, I think the best move for the Yankees to improve their bullpen is to try and get rid of players like Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton. Maybe consider trading a guy like Chad Green as well. Addition by subtraction could help on the surface and giving some prospects near the MLB a shot to learn out of the pen could also go a long way.

This team isn’t going to win a world series and the quicker the FO realizes that the better.

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