New York Yankees’ Steinbrenner: Building the Bullpen Comes First

New York Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner told the media that building the bullpen is the number one priority for them during this offseason. Is he late coming on board or did he just miss the postseason completely?

I don’t know how much Hal Steinbrenner actually knows about baseball, but he’s either hired a tutor or maybe he just watched the postseason.

But in a story published yesterday by MLB.com, he spoke on a wide range of topics that included the direction he wants to see the Yankees follow this winter. Sounding more like his father than he ever has, he said that the number one priority of the Yankees has to be their bullpen. Hopefully, Brian Cashman was listening because he is the man charged with carrying out the orders of the boss.

The news must have been music to the ears of Aroldis Chapman, who the Yankees have made no secrets about in wanting to sign after renting him out to the Cubs for a couple of months last season. Because you can’t get any luckier than having the deep-pocketed Yankees hot for your services.

The Yankees Jump on the Bandwagon

But beyond that, the only real news in Steinbrenner’s pronouncement is that the Yankees are jumping on the bandwagon of a trend in baseball that is already becoming entrenched. Bullpens rule! And you only had to have watched this year’s World Series and the battle between Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, as well as the psychological war that went on between the two managers to know that the game is evolving before our eyes.

Steinbrenner “blamed” the need for a strong bullpen on the fact that the Yankees will be fielding a young staff of starting pitchers, who probably will not be able to pitch deep into games. And he’s right about that. But not for the reason you would think.

They won’t get deep into games because they won’t be allowed to. They’ll all be subject to that god-almighty pitch count theory that suggests that their tender little arms can’t go much further. And that’s the way it is in baseball. An idea comes along and a couple of teams have success with it, and suddenly everyone is in agreement that it’s the greatest thing since Thomas Edison walked the planet.

The “shift” is the same thing. It worked to largely end the once Cooperstown-bound career of Ryan Howard, so let’s try it on all these lefties who don’t know any better than to pull every pitch they see.

A Simple Game Getting Mired in Specialization

So now, the game is reaching the point of no return regarding what is nicely being termed “specialization,” where the third baseman will play second on a certain batter but be directed to shade into the shortstop hole on the next hitter. And of course we have the endless parade of “specialist” relievers who wear out a path toward the mound from the outfield. And this of course drives the suits at MLB nuts because they are (supposedly) answering fans’ prayers to shorten games.

Look, I don’t pretend to be a baseball expert any more than Hal Steinbrenner is. But I do know this much about baseball. Starting pitchers are babied, number one. And number two, the games after the fifth inning are impossible to watch. They’re like the final two minutes of an NBA game that take a half hour to play.

But I also know this. Aroldis Chapman has to be with the Yankees if they are going to be competitive in 2017. And it has nothing to do with the youth in their starting staff.

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