Here is an assessment of the New York Yankees bullpen for the 2008 season:
Closer: Mariano Rivera Grade: A+
Without question the greatest closer of all time, Rivera is continuing to produce as he always has. With the most dominating cutter ever in the history of baseball, Rivera can be almost impossible to hit.
Setup Man: Joba Chamberlain Grade: A
Following up a magical rookie year, Joba has yet to disappoint. The 21 year old has yet to allow a run and has displayed a fastball that has been clocked as high as 101 mph. While some believe that Joba may be best suited as a starter, Chamberlain is already establishing himself as one of the premier setup men in baseball.
Middle Reliever: Latroy Hawkins Grade: B-
Signed as a free agent during the offseason, Latroy Hawkins was expected to replace the departed Luis Vizcaino. Despite a lackadaisical start from Hawkins, we must remember that Vizcaino started his Yankee career in similar fashion last year, only to become one of our most viable options out of the pen around September.
Middle Reliever: Kyle Farnsworth Grade: D+
In spite of his unquestionable physical talents, Farnsworth has yet to show any ability to succeed in pinstripes. Thus far, Kyle’s 98 mph fastball has not done him any good, as big league hitters seem to have no problem taking it out of the park. I for one believe that Farnsworth is doing a poor job of blending in with the club, and it would likely be a wise decision for the Yankees to trade him by the All Star break.
Middle/Long Reliever: Brian Bruney Grade: B+
Thus far, the versatile Bruney has been utilized both as a long reliever as well as a middle reliever, as evident by Joe Girardi’s option to actually start him against the Devil Rays in hopes that he would eat up innings prior to a potential rain delay. In spite of a poor outing the other night against the Rays, Brian Bruney has still shown a great amount of promise this season, as he has now learned to control his fastball and mix in his other pitches at the right time. I believe that Bruney will become a viable threat out of the pen.
Lefty Specialist: Billy Traber Grade: B+
When the season first began, I looked through the Yankees’ 25 man roster only to find a name that I have never heard of. Billy who? What happened to Sean Henn? Kei Igawa? However, I am now inclined to say that Joe Girardi made the right choice. Traber’s herky-jerky motion is perfectly suited for the role of lefty specialist. He makes it extremely difficult for lefties to pick up the ball’s trajectory in the air. I truly believe that Traber is bound for success with the Yankees.