4 May 2012
While we all hope that Mariano Rivera won’t decide to retire off of this injury, the fact remains that the 2012 Yankees need to regroup and figure out how to replace him. As I see it, there are three choices they can make.
1- Give the job to David Robertson. Robertson has been lights out and he appears to have ice water in his veins so it would be a good fit. In a way they would be passing the torch to a guy who resembles Rivera pre 1997.
2- Give the job to Rafael Soriano. Soriano has closed before and done it in the AL East, so he could certainly do it. Furthermore, letting him close now would allow him to rack up some saves and increase the chances that he opts out of his contract after this season.
3- Move Phil Hughes to the bullpen with the idea of making him the closer in the near future. Probably not going to happen, nor am I saying it should- yet. But, if Hughes continues to be a two-pitch pitcher, it’s hard to see how he stays in the rotation. He’s been in the bullpen before so it isn’t the craziest idea. But, I think the Yankees won’t make this move unless Hughes bombs in his next few starts. After all, Rivera was once a mediocre starter.
Lost in all of this is a move which didn’t get a lot of notice at the time, but could become important later this season- the signing of David Aardsma. Aardsma saved 69 games from 2009-10, but he’s essentially been injured since then. When the Yankees signed him in February Cashman said he was a month behind Joba in his comeback (before Joba’s ankle injury) so he could be ready to pitch in July. Hopefully, the Yankees don’t have a big hole in their bullpen come July, but if they do, Aardsma could be a solid addition.
If the choice were mine, I give the job to Robertson. The Yankees were going to need to develop a new closer one of these days, why not go with the home-grown guy?