By Jon Lane
For those new to following the Yankees, or ones who skim past the transactions section, Brian Bruney was signed by the Yankees in May 2006 shortly after the Arizona Diamondbacks designated him for assignment. In layman’s terms, Bruney was plucked off the scrap heap. There was no break out the fancy buffet press conference welcoming him to New York City and shirts/jerseys stitched with BRUNEY 38 weren’t made for sale up and down River Avenue or at your local retail outlet.
There’s that old as Angel Berroa saying about one man’s trash. The Yankees took a flier on Bruney and caught lightning when the right-hander’s explosive fastball made him an important member of the bullpen. In the last few weeks we’ve all learned just how important. This is not the older than cavemen expression, “Don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” The Yankees are feeling the effects of Bruney’s absence and bracing for what may turn out the worst possible news.
Bruney has pain in his right elbow and has no clue why. He’s been disabled for the second time in a month and is visiting with Dr. James Andrews, synonymous with the famous procedure called Tommy John surgery. Dr. Andrews’ recommendation will be the difference between a suspension bridge to Mariano Rivera, and one made of fraying rope and decaying wooden planks that connect two ends of a mountain.
David Robertson is back with the Yankees. Mark Melancon could get another shot. Others (read Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves) will see further action in the seventh and eighth innings. In short, the Yankees will evaluate internal options and not make a panic move, which is the right thing to do. But that’s not stopping the speculation. Our partners at River Ave Blues run down a list of options that could be made available in a trade. One name in particular intrigues me, Huston Street.
Street’s career is regaining traction four seasons removed from his Rookie of the Year campaign in Oakland. He was traded to Colorado in the Matt Holliday deal and earned back his closer’s role after Manny Corpas pitched poorly. He’s 25 years old, has pitched in the postseason, and is now working for a last-place team that may be sellers at the trade deadline. That means he’s going to cost the Yankees at least one high-end prospect (Zack McAllister?). Street is 7-for-7 in save opportunities with the Rockies and currently has a scoreless streak of 11 innings in 12 games. He’s a free agent after the season, so it’ll behoove the Rockies to not lose him for nothing.
If you’re the Yankees, do you make a play for Street? Yes. He’s young and battle-tested (only time will tell if he’s New York tough), and this won’t turn out to be an Eric Gagne situation. For those who forgot, the Red Sox acquired Gagne from the Rangers for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and Engel Beltre, and to say he was a failure in Boston is a compliment. (Of course, in spite of Gagne, the Red Sox won their second World Series in four seasons.)
One more nugget, Street’s 101 career saves are the fifth-most by any player before the age of 26. If he pitches well enough in New York, the Yankees could decide to extend him and groom him as Rivera’s successor, which finally (you’d think) would end this Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes to the bullpen nonsense. The one player in the organization that has the look of the post-Rivera closer is Melancon, but give me production over potential any day, as long as that production is young , still peaking and a cost that doesn’t tear apart the farm system Brian Cashman is painstakingly rebuilding.
Street hits all those checkpoints and more.