The long battle for long relief
By Jon Lane
The Yankees announced this afternoon in Clearwater that Kei Igawa has been reassigned to the Minor League camp. Such ends the worrisome thought that the left-hander would make the big club.
My guess is that they’ve been trying to buff Igawa’s trade value, which right now is the pits. Allow me to offer assistance: He was 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) with 45 walks and 117 strikeouts in 156 1/3 innings pitched for Scranton last season. In 25 of those 26 appearances, he allowed four runs or fewer.
Well, um, he has good stuff when harnessed correctly. At best (generously), he’s a Quadruple-A pitcher who flat-out gets bombed by big-league hitting, but he could have some success as a fifth starter in a quiet market.
Hey, I’m just trying to help. Remember that the Brewers almost took him off the Yankees’ backs as part of a proposed deal for Mike Cameron that flamed out.
Igawa’s demotion leaves Alfredo Aceves, Dan Giese and Brett Tomko as contenders to make the team as a long man (Jason Johnson was reassigned over the weekend). The Phillies belted Giese for three runs on four hits in an inning (Chris Shearn’s live blog). Aceves is 1-1, 4.97 in five spring appearances (two starts). Tomko is 0-1, 1.46 in six games after pitching a scoreless inning in Clearwater.
At this point, with two weeks’ worth of exhibition games left, Tomko may be the one to stay north, but he’ll be neck-and-neck with Giese. Yeah, Giese may sport a 7.42, but he was also beaten up by heavy rains as well as the Phillies’ bats and has equity with Joe Girardi after stepping up as his long reliever and spot starter last season.
Aceves is a promising right-hander would only benefit from more work at Triple-A and would be called up should the bullpen require reinforcements.
Who should be the Yankees’ long man and why?