Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cashman's Midseason Trades Have Provided No Relief

Danny Graves' release by the Reds only adds to the rumor mill of relievers on the market, which includes Baez, Wagner, and Mesa. Although Flush and Mo have improved over the past few weeks, I'm sure the Junkees will be in the hunt for an extra arm. Will it make a difference? History is not on the Yankees' side.

From '97-'00, there was no reason for the Junkees to go out and get someone. Nelson, Stanton, and Rivera was the formula. In '01, the Junkees panicked, especially after Carlos Almanzar blew a big lead against the Mets. George had to get someone, and ended up with Jay Witasick and Mark Wohlers. Having no legitimate righty reliever likely cost the Yankees the World Series. Aside from the possibility that Rivera may have been worn out from too many two-inning saves, Witasick's awful Game 6 performance helped put the game out of reach and let RJ exit early.

In '02, a healthy Steve Karsay filled the void. He did a good job, but the Yankees' starters imploded in the ALDS.

In '03, Karsay's injury put Cashman in crisis mode once again. The revolving door of relievers included Al Reyes, Antonio Osuna, Juan Acevedo, Jason Anderson, Dan Miceli, Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco, Gabe White, Jeff Nelson redux, and Felix Heredia. Only the latter 2 were aroudn for the popstseason, and did really badly. In Game 7 of the ALCS, it was Mike Mussina whom the Yankees relied upon to keep the Sox at bay; they were staying far away from the pen.

In '04, Cashman made his best mid-season relief move: Tanyon Sturtze. But even there, you still wonder when this guy will have his Esteban Loaiza moment and suddenly crash back down to earth. And getting a hold against the Devil Rays is not a tough job and doesn't have much of an impact. And even Sturtze couldn't prevent the Yanks' collapse. And like '02, the starters were a big part of the problem. The best relief corps in the world won't save you if your starters can't put in a decent effort.

And the Yanks had no decent lefty in the pen. Heredia was a disaster, and CJ Nitkowski was a joke. A solid lefty is vital for postseason success. In '96, Graeme Lloyd got Ryan Klesko out in some big spots. Without a lefty specialist there, maybe the Yanks come home empty.

After last october, the Yanks want someone, not just Gordon, to put out there in a big spot. But even if the Yanks manage to get someone for the pen, it's hard to get excited about him.

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