Talking Yankees' Pitching With a True Yankees Fan
John was kind enough to do the same today as he took time out of his busy work day to complete an e-mail interview on the team's pitching staff.
PH: What do you expect from the newly acquired Matt Thornton in the Yankees' bullpen this season?
JS: A life without Mariano Rivera, I can barely remember one. We were given a little taste of such an existence in 2012 when he tore his ACL shagging fly balls in Kansas City, but this is the real thing now. It goes without saying that the bullpen will take quite a hit from his absence in 2014, but the need to find replacement arms is far surpassed by the need to plug other holes on the roster, as evidenced by the their flurry of moves this off-season.
However, the departure of Boone Logan to the Colorado Rockies for 3 years, $16 million created a more pressing need to address the holes in the pen. One of those holes will be filled by Matt Thornton, who the Yanks signed to a two-year, $7 million deal earlier this week.
Thornton will essentially step right into the role occupied by Logan, at roughly half the cost. Thornton is 37, but still throws very hard, and should slide right into the seventh and eighth inning role setting up for Dave Robertson. Thornton has also served as a part time closer for the White Sox, which gives the Yankees some additional experience closing games that will come in handy if Robertson needs a day off.
For the level of importance placed on a bullpen nowadays in MLB, many teams have shown the ability to be able to reconstruct their bullpen throughout the course of the season. Take last year’s World Series for example – the two closers, Koji Uehara and Trevor Rosenthal, were both their teams third closer of the season. Boston navigated injuries to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey before landing on the gold mine of Uehara, and the Cardinals lost Jason Motte and demoted Edward Mujica before promoting Rosenthal to the role. How many saves did Rosenthal have during the regular season? That would be three.
While I think it is important to have stability from top to bottom on the roster, I am willing to give a little leeway here, and trust that Cashman will find the next Shawn Kelley, Cory Wade, or even Boone Logan, who was a throw-in to the Melky Cabrera-Javier Vazquez trade a few years ago. Also, one of the few strengths of the Yankee farm system is prospects who project to be relievers, like Preston Claiborne.
PH: It is expected that the Yankees will make a big push for Masahiro Tanaka, especially if things changed and he is allowed to come over to Major League Baseball. If the Yankees are able to sign him, what kind of impact do you think he will have on the team's starting rotation?
JS: Well, with the recent developments coming out of the NPL, it looks like the Yankees are a long way from acquiring Tanaka. The Rakuten Golden Eagles have voiced their extreme displeasure at the new cap put in place for the posting system (limiting the posting fee to a meager $20 million). The cap was put in place to favor the players, allowing them to get more money in their contracts as a result of the bidding wars. Now, it appears Rakuten will offer Tanaka an extension to become the richest player in NPL history, instead of losing him to MLB for $20 million.