A Bunch of Bull

Everyone recognizes that it will be the rarest of occasions when the New York Yankees offense is kept in check. What's more, many expect that the rotation will be much improved over last year's collection including a return to form for Randy Johnson and to a much lesser extent, Mike Mussina. And of course, the indomitable Mariano Rivera anchoring the bullpen. But what about the bridge from starter-to-Rivera? With just one series completed, it is crucial to avoid a "mountain out of a molehill" situation, but the Yankees' bullpen didn't necessarily exude strength before the season and after the three game set with Oakland, we see why:

IP: 6.67
H: 8
R: 7
ER: 4
BB: 5
K: 6
ERA: 5.40
WHIP: 1.95

I know, I know, sample size! However, what is there about Jaret Wright, Tanyon Sturtze, Scott Proctor, Ron Villone, Mike Myers, and Kyle Farnsworth that makes me believe I shouldn't expect tons more of the same? Nothing. This is not a good bullpen. Wright was an awful signing from the get-go, Sturtze is on a three-year decline in earned run average, but the trend is less appealing when you consider that last year's 4.73 was the best mark, Proctor at least shows some promise, but hasn't been able to parlay minor league success into major league consistency. Meanwhile Villone and Myers are old re-treads at 36 and 37 years old, respectively. That leaves Farnsworth as the X-factor. He is coming off of his best season that was split between Detroit and Atlanta. He was brought in to replace Tom Gordon, who bolted to become Philadelphia's closer. His transition into the Yankee fabric will be key to any success this team expects to have this season. It isn't the strongest of trends in terms of determining success, but since 2000, Farnsworth has posted his best seasons in odd-numbered years while struggling mightily during the even-numbered ones.

ERA+ Since 2000 –
2000: 66
2001: 154
2002: 55
2003: 129
2004: 96
2005: 198

Without a reversal in this trend or a quality level of unexpected performance from the other bullpenners, this team is doomed to relinquish several leads its offense puts up, as it did the past two evening to the Oakland Athletics.


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