Feinsand: Yankees need to re-sign David Robertson already

By on November 29, 2014

When will the Yankees do something already?

That’s the question that was undoubtedly asked over Thanksgiving tables across the tri-state area on Thursday as pinstriped fans wonder when they’ll have something other than turkey and mashed potatoes on their hot stoves.

Max Scherzer! Jon Lester! James Shields!

No, the Bombers won’t be finding any Black Friday deals on any of these shiny new toys, nor will they be seeing any discounts from the likes of Brandon McCarthy or Chase Headley.

The Yankees should be commended for not overreacting to a second straight non-playoff season, but there’s one move they need to make that wouldn’t be considered an impulse buy.

Bring back David Robertson.

Shiny new toys are always in fashion during the holiday season, but when it comes to putting a baseball team together, there’s something to be said for the trusted and familiar.

Robertson did a remarkable job stepping into the closer’s role following Mariano Rivera’s retirement, making a seamless transition into what could have been an awkward situation.

Brian Cashman said recently that Robertson “checks every box,” from his ability to handle the pressure of the job, the bright lights of New York and everything else that’s been thrown his way.

So what’s the problem?

It can’t be money. The Yankees have plenty of that. They might not want to shell out nine-figure deals to the big free agents, but Robertson doesn’t fall into that category.

The Yankees aren’t a team with a long-standing “Don’t pay for a closer” policy, having paid Rivera about $ 135 million between 2003-13.

I’m not suggesting that Robertson should be tabbed as the next Rivera — any comparisons to the legend are tired, quite frankly — but the righthander showed himself to be every bit as dependable, thrusting himself into the upper echelon of closers in his first season on the job.

During Rivera’s final three seasons, he posted a 2.02 ERA; Robertson’s was 1.91 during the same stretch, providing the Yankees with a nearly unbeatable 1-2 punch.

Hitting remains a question mark for Brian Cashman, but he can solve any potential bullpen problems by resigning David Robertson.

Last season, Dellin Betances emerged as a lights-out setup man, pairing with Robertson for a similar combo at the back end of the bullpen. The Yankees were 68-5 when leading after seven innings, 69-2 when leading after eight.

For all the problems the Yankees had last season, the bullpen wasn’t one of them. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The Royals and Orioles were the last two teams standing in the American League this season, both relying heavily on deep, loaded bullpens that took the pressure off the starters and turned games into six-inning affairs.

Last time I checked, the Yankees’ rotation wasn’t made up of Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, David Price and Adam Wainwright. There are myriad questions hovering over the starting five, from the health of Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia to the durability of Michael Pineda to the identity of the other two starters.

Expecting seven or eight innings a night from their starter is too much to ask, but if Joe Girardi has the ability to mix and match in the seventh, then hand the ball to Betances and Robertson, the Yankees won’t need more than six solid innings.

That’s assuming they can score some runs, of course. But that’s another issue for another day.

Could Betances step up and fill the closer role if Robertson walks? Probably. But the 26-year-old has one season under his belt — hardly a track record to suggest he would be a sure thing. Plus, who takes over the setup role if Betances moves to the ninth? Andrew Miller? Luke Gregerson? If you’re going to pay a free-agent reliever, why not spend on the one you’ve drafted and developed yourself?

Before last year, the Yankees hadn’t let a homegrown player in his prime walk away as a free agent for a very long time. Robinson Cano changed that, although the magnitude of his contract in both length and dollars made that an unusual situation.

The Yankees have watched Robertson blossom from 17th-round draft pick to All-Star setup man to stud closer. Now they’re going to let him walk away at the age of 29 as he enters his prime? It makes no sense.

Is Robertson worth the money he’s looking for? The numbers suggest he is.

Over the past four seasons, only one reliever has pitched at least 260 games with a lower ERA than Robertson: Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel signed a four-year, $ 42 extension with the Braves last February, buying out his three arbitration years plus one free-agent season. Robertson made it to free agency, so it isn’t unrealistic for him to expect $ 50 million over four years.

The bullpen was one of the few bright spots for the Yankees during an otherwise difficult season. Give the fans something to be thankful for and keep it together. 

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Baseball – NY Daily News

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Feinsand: Yankees need to re-sign David Robertson already

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