Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review the relievers. This will not include closers. If you are just catching on we have been doing a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.
Red Sox Bullpen
The Red Sox bullpen has some interesting pieces. There's the unlikely setup man in Hideki Okajima, the aging sinkerballer in Mike Timlin, the situational lefty in Javy Lopez (not the catcher), a long reliever in Julian Tavarez, and two inning eaters in Kyle Snyder and Manny Delcarmen. Much of the success of the Red Sox can be attributed to how well some of the pitching has been on the back end. They found a reliable closer in Papelbon (who will be reviewed in a future post), and Hideki Okajima proved to be a really good set up man. Between the two of them the 8th and 9th innings were locked down. Okajima was also used to close a few games when Papelbon couldn't. Delcarmen and Snyder are two relevant pieces to the bullpen as well. Delcarmen posted a 2.05 ERA in 44 innings, while Snyder pitched for a 3.81 ERA in 54.1 innings. Add to that mix a situational lefty that logged 40.2 innings with a 3.10 ERA and you have the makings of a pretty solid bullpen.
The Yankees bullpen has several question marks right now, and all but three of the spots are up for grabs. Kyle Farnsworth, Latroy Hawkins, and Mariano Rivera are all confirmed members of the bullpen. Take away Mariano, and you have two players you don't want pitching the 8th inning for you. Hawkins experienced some success last season with Colorado, but he's coming back to the AL east where he used to pitch when he was with Baltimore and his numbers then weren't overly inspiring. Farnsworth should have been traded several times in the past, and unless he has a major comeback (he is in his walk year), he will go down as one of the more dissapointing free agent signings. The rest of the bullpen needs to be figured out with players like Brian Bruney, Chris Britton, Jonathan Albaladejo, Kei Igawa, Sean Henn, Edwar Ramirez, Scott Patterson, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Heath Phillips etc... There is some legitimate big league talent in that group, and some promising up and comers, but all of them have something to prove and none of them are guaranteed a spot right now.
Winner: Red Sox. Adding Joba to the Yankee bullpen would certainly help, but with him projected as a starter, there is a lot of uncertainty with the Yankee bullpen. Two out of the three secured spots in the bullpen aren't dominant pitchers. There is no legitimage set up guy. I believe the Yankees have a lot of potential talent, but until they prove it over the course of a season, they will come second to a Red Sox bullpen full of established arms.